Translating Crime: Production, Transformation and Reception


Organizer: Stewart King, Monash University

Co-Organizer: Louise Nilsson, University of Uppsala

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Following on the Crime Fiction as World Literature seminars at ACLA 2014, this seminar explores crime fiction as a form of literature made for or born in translation in Rebecca Walkowitz’s understanding of translation as a condition of production in much contemporary fiction. Although central to the crime narrative’s global spread, scholars of the genre often pay little attention to the role of translation in its production and development. As a globalised genre, many crime stories are written for translation or as translations. Many are also translated from text to screen and across languages, such as Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Henning Mankell’s Wallander series or the Americanisation of Sherlock Holmes in Elementary.

We invite contributions that explore the medium of crime fiction and its inherent translatability across languages and between media (TV, film, graphic novels). To what extent does the crime genre in its broadest understanding take advantage of a “literary system attuned to multiple formats, media and languages” (Walkowitz 4)? How does the genre address itself to multiple audiences? How does the crime novel travel and what transformations take place as it moves across languages and between media? Can pseudo-translations – those novels that translate a foreign culture or society, like Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 or Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti series, but which are not composed in the language of that society – act as national allegories, pace Jameson? In what ways can crime novels, particularly those from postcolonial or minority literatures, resist translation?

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