EURONOIR

Through a Glass Darkly: European History and Politics in Contemporary Crime Narratives

Through a Glass Darkly:

European History and Politics in Contemporary Crime Narratives

Monica Dall’Asta, Jacques Migozzi, Federico Pagello, Andrew Pepper eds.

To talk about the crime genre—as opposed to detective or spy or noir fiction—is to recognise the comprehensiveness of a category that speaks to and contains multiple sub-genres and forms (Ascari, 2007). In this volume, we want to uncover the ways in which the crime genre, in all of its multiple guises, forms and media/transmedia developments, has investigated and interrogated the concealed histories and political underpinnings of national and supranational societies and institutions in Europe, particularly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Two most popular expression of the crime genre, the detective novel and the spy novel, have long been identified as ‘sociological’ in their orientation (Boltanski,2012). These forms often tackle enigmas or uncover conspiracies that are concealed by and within states, asking searching questions about the failures of democracy and the national and international criminal justice systems to deliver just societies. Similarly, following the example of U.S. hard-boiled fiction, the ‘noir’ variant of the genre has also established itself as a ‘literature of crisis’ (according to Jean-Patrick Manchette’s formula), where the shredding of official truths and of ‘reality’ itself ends up revealing dark political motives that elicit an even starker set of ethical and affective interrogations (Neveu, 2004). While the obvious links between the ‘noir’ and the ‘hard-boiled’ traditions of crime fiction (e.g. between Manchette and Hammett) suggest an American-French or trans-Atlantic connection, we are keen to stress that the sociological and political orientation of the European crime genre—especially since 1989 and the corresponding opening up of national borders and markets—requires examining both global/glocal and multi-national (and state-bound) issues and challenges. It is here that the European dimension of the proposed volume is best articulated because, to do justice to this context, we need to pay attention not just to discreet national traditions, but the ways in which contemporary iterations of the genre interrogate the workings of policing, law, criminality and justice across borders and nations (Pepper and Schmid, 2016).

The transnational framework of the DETECt project (Detecting Transcultural Identities in Popular European Crime Narratives) is necessarily and acutely concerned with civic and ethical issues linked to the construction of new European new identities. The proposed volume aims to explore the ways in which these new identities are formulated and thematised in European crime novels, films or TV series, particularly in relation to the interrogations raised by the uncovering of hidden aspects of both the historical past and the contemporary political landscapes. Contributions are encouraged which look at particular case studies or identify larger national and/or transnational trends or synthesise the relationship between individual texts and these larger trends. It is envisaged that the volume will be organised into the three sections outlined below. Prospective contributors are invited to identify where their articles might sit within this structure as well as to outline the particular focus adopted by their essay in relation to the general topic. The list of topics in each section is to be regarded as indicative rather than exhaustive.

  1. Crime Narratives and the History of Europe

European crime narratives from the last thirty years have frequently referred to collective traumas and conflicts that have torn European societies apart throughout the 20th century. Contributions are invited that look at the ways in which these fictional works have restaged and critically reinterpreted some of the most tragic pages in European recent history, including (but not limited to) the following iterations of violent rupture and social breakdown:

  • The Civil War and Francoist dictatorship in Spanish crime narratives (e.g. Montalbán, La isla minima);
  • Fascism, surveillance and the police-state (e.g. Lucarelli, Gori, De Giovanni) and the role of oppositional memory (e.g. Morchio, Dazieri) in Italian detective fiction;
  • Fascistic/right-wing nationalist movements in interwar Scandinavia (e.g. Larsson, Mankell);
  • The Third Reich as the historical biotope of crime fiction (e.g. Kerr, Gilbers);
  • The constant presence of wars as a breeding ground for crime in French crime novels: World War I and II, collaboration, the Algerian War, colonisation, post-colonisation (e.g. Daeninckx, Férey);
  • The heavy presence of Cold War images and axiology in spy novels and films, including those appeared after the fall of the Berlin Wall, both in Western and Eastern Europe (e.g. Kondor, Furst);
  • The ‘Troubles’ in Irish and British crime fiction (e.g. Peace, McNamee).
  • Crime Narratives and the Present of Europe

Our present time is characterized by a number of social, political, financial/economic crises that threaten the construction of a cosmopolitan pan-European identity in line with the EU’s founding ideals. Crime narratives attempt to offer realistic representations of such contemporary crises by putting in place a number of ‘chronotopes’ that symbolise social divisions and peripheral and marginalized identities. We encourage essays that examine the ways in which post-1989 European crime narratives have represented the emergence of nationalisms, xenophobia, racism and other threats to the social cohesiveness of European democracies. We also invite contributions that use the trope of the crisis to explore how the links between crime, business and politics have polluted or corrupted the democratic imperatives of European social democracies and institutions from the outset. Topics might include: 

  • The Kosovo War, and more broadly the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, as the first signs of a generalised geopolitical chaos (e.g. in French noir novels);
  • The financial crisis of 2008 and its devastating consequences for individuals, communities and whole societies (e.g. Bruen and French in Ireland; Markaris in Greece; Dahl in Sweden; Lemaitre in France);
  • The migrant crisis (within and outside the EU) and the emergence of new anxieties about belonging and/or otherness (e.g. Mankell, Dolan, Rankin);
  • Climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction (e.g. Tuomainen, Pulixi);
  • The blurring of crime and capitalism and the depiction of crime as a form of social protest vis-à-vis the effects of global capitalism and neoliberal deregulation and privatisation (e.g. Manotti, Carlotto, Heinichen, the TV series Bron);
  • Inquiries into the effects of contemporary forms of patriarchy, gendered violence and misogyny and their links to other forms of oppression and domination (e.g. Lemaitre, Slimani, Macintosh, Gimenez-Bartlett Larsson, McDermid).
  • Crime Narratives and the Future of Europe

European crime narratives explore a broad range of social and cultural identities across different scales: from the more stable identities attached to local contexts through the new mobile, precarious and mutating identities fostered by the dynamics of globalization. This section will look into how these different identities and their complex interplay can suggest ways to frame the future of Europe. Contributions could address how crime narratives try to make sense of the complex, if yet perhaps contradictory, set of representations circulating across different European public spaces and collective imaginaries. On the one hand, we might ask whether something like a European crime genre even actually exists, given that these works typically demonstrate suspicions about ‘outsiders’ and only rarely offer positive representations of post-national transcultural identities. On the other hand, however, the genre does give us glimpses into what might be achieved through cross-border policing initiatives, organised under or by Interpol and Europol, in the face of organised crime gangs involved in transnational smuggling and trafficking networking. Contributions to this final section are encouraged to reflect upon how crime narratives produced by and in between the discreet nation-states frame the hopes and limits of European cohesiveness and the continent’s future or futures. Essays could focus on one or more of the following topics:

  • The interplay between local, regional, national and transnational identities as represented through specific narrative tropes, such as in particular the local police station, the interrogation room, the frontier or border, and so on;
  • The connection between social deprivation at the local end of the geopolitical scale and different global systems and networks at the other end;
  • The role of borders, cities, violence, rebellion, policing and surveillance in producing new identities and subjectivities not wholly anchored in discreet nation-states. Attention could also be given to formal innovations insofar as these allow or enable the expression of new identities;
  • The hope and consolation offered by the resilient community or village (Broadchurch, Shetland) or the extended family (Markaris’s Kostas Charistos series) in the face of the messy, brutal contingencies of a world ruled by criminal and business elites;
  • Social banditry as a form of contestation directed against social inequalities produced by capitalism (Carlotto’s Alligator series; La casa de papel).

If you are interested in submitting a proposal to be considered for inclusion in this volume, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biography to info@detect-project.eu by May 31, 2020. We would encourage you to identify the section of the proposed volume where your essay would be best situated. We are looking to commission up to 14 essays in total of 7000 words each including footnotes and bibliographic references.

The Mysteries of Bucharest

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Today in Bucharest is the opening  of the Mysteries of Bucharest  Festival (Misterele Bucureștiului, June 7 to 9, 2019). This Festival, which is part of the  2019 Romania – France season (Sezonului România – Franța 2019), is organised for the first time this year. It is a partnership between the National Museum of Romanian Literature,  the Quais du Polar Festival (Lyons), the French Institute of Romania and the Theater of Romanian Playwrights. Its title pays homage to  Ioan M. Bujoreanu’s pioneering (and sole) novel Mistere din Bucureşti, published in two volumes (1862 and 1864), which is generally considered as the first crime fiction novel written in Romanian. Bujoreanu himself was paying homage to  the seminal Mysteries of Paris, by Eugène Sue (Les Mystères de Paris), which had appeared as a 90 installments serial in Le Journal des Débats, between June 1842 and October 1843.

Eugène Sue’s success abroad offered a blueprint for the circulation of crime novels (lato sensu) in Europe from the middle of the 19th century. Sue’s Model circulated in fact twice. It was indeed disseminated both through numerous translations of his novel, Les Mystères de Paris, which proliferated throughout Europe, and through the imitation and adaptation of the narrative frame of Urban Mysteries to other European Capital Cities.  Los Misteríos de Madrid (Juan Martínez Villergas,1844), The Mysteries of London (G. W. H. Reynolds, 1844-1848), Les Mystères de Bruxelles (Édouard Suau de Varennes, 1844-1846), Die Geheimnisse von Berlin (N.N., 1844) followed in quick succession, setting a European trend (I Misteri di Roma Contemporanea  (B. Del Vecchio, 1851-53);   Os Mistérios de Lisboa (Camilo Castelo Branco, 1854), which would also disseminate elsewhere. The phenomenon exported to America too, of course, with notably The Mysteries and Miseries of New York (Ned Buntline, 1848)[1]

The Mysteries of Bucharest festival highlights the interconnection between European Popular Cultures. It shows how Crime Fiction speak to Europeans of different languages, cultures, religions and origins. It thus contributes to a better knowledge of cultural Europeanisation and to a  renewal of cultural narratives of Europe, beyond national borders, as promoted by the Horizon 2020 Call ” Understanding Europe – Promoting the European public and cultural space”  (H2020-SC6-CULT-COOP-2016-2017).   It will also give an opportunity to showcase research carried out in the H 2020 funded  DETECt project – Detecting Transcultural Identity in European Popular Crime Narratives –  which links Today’s crime fiction culture with European cultural heritage.

The full programme  of the festival is here 

[1]  For more details and examples (in French) see : Les Mystères urbains, directed by  Filippos Katsanos, Marie-Ève Thérenty & Helle Waahlberg: http://www.medias19.org/index.php?id=630 and Matthieu Letourneux, “Les ” mystères urbains ”, expression d’une modernité énigmatique.” Alla ricerca delle radici popolari della cultura europea, Looking for the Roots of European Popular Culture, Dec 2009, Bologne, Italie. ffhal-00645212 https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00645212/document

 

 

 

 

Europeanness in Contemporary Crime Fiction

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“Unified in Diversity?”

The Promotion and Reception of Europeanness in Contemporary Crime Fiction

Call for abstracts

While there is clearly still some way to a European media market that knows no borders––there is certainly not yet a single European market, and there are still a great many frontiers and boundaries to negotiate––, one must acknowledge that crime narratives travel extremely well in Europe, be it in the form of literary fiction, film or television series. From the perspective of cultural studies, this harbours the potential for transnational exchange, transculturalism, and the emergence of a shared European identity, thus serving as a vehicle for cultural exchange and debate.
On the other hand, one might argue that crime shows which do stress their Europeanness by means of location marketing and inviting cultural tourism are fundamentally Europuddings by appropriating a well proven storytelling formula and setting these narratives to European locations, which are exotic and appealing to most of the audience worldwide. In that sense, one might question whether the generic concept of Noir, which has certainly travelled from the very North to the very South of Europe, enables a European dialogue or jumps from the regional/local to the global and thereby skipping notions of Europeanness.
The aim of this proposed panel is to examine whether, and how, crime narratives are advertised as European in promotional material such as trailers, covers, posters, copywriting, ads and the like. At the same time, we invite case studies which do not only focus on the promotional strategies but also focus on reception by looking at newspapers, magazines, websites, social media, and so on. This panel will therefore explore how Europeanness has been conveyed through promotional strategies, and will discuss which factors have proven relevant for this Europeanness to be detected by critics and audiences.

We invite case studies in literary fiction, film and television series. For example, we are looking for analyses of cross-media phenomena such as Inspector Montalbano, the Millenium trilogy, or Babylon Berlin, which originated from literary works and became transnationally successful television series. Such cases would be especially interesting since the market logic for audiences in literary and screen reception is still markedly different. We are also particularly interested in case studies about television series such as The Team, Crossing Lines, or Eurocops, whose presumed Europeanness is already embedded in their production process.

Please send your abstract until April 10th 2019 to both federico.pagello@unibo.it and M.Schleich@qub.ac.uk
This panel will be part of the conference “EURONOIR: Producers, distributors and audiences of European crime narratives“ held from the 30th September to October 2nd 2019 at the Aalborg University in Denmark.

NOIReland 2019

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NOIRELAND

8-10 March 2019

Europa Hotel, Belfast

For full programme details visit: http://www.noireland.com

Some of the highlights include bestselling crime novelist Ann Cleeves, the creator of Vera and Shetland television series. Belinda Bauer whose bestselling Snap was nominated for the 2017 Booker Prize. Number one bestseller Stuart MacBride; the multi award-winning Denise Mina; Belfast’s own CWA Gold Dagger winner Steve Cavanagh and the team from RTE television’s hit series Love/Hate and Taken Down.