Exhibition: Cinéma premiers crimes (Paris, 17.4-2.8)


The wonderful exhibition Cinema’s First Crimes curated by Matthieu Letourneux (Paris X), Alain Carou (BNF) and Catherine Cauchard (BILIPO) opens tomorrow in Paris at the Galerie des Bibliothèques.

The “Visualising European Crime Fiction” project collaborated with its organisers to create a promotional website to be found at the following address:

Here below an excerpt from the press kit:

Cinemas premiers crimes enables today’s audiences to feel the same shivers that rippled through spectators a hundred years ago.

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Symposium : Towards a Digital Atlas of European Crime Fiction? (British Library Conference Centre, April 10, 2015)

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In the last decades the astonishing speed in the global circulation of cultural works and the unprecedented opportunities to gather and analyse large amount of data through electronic resources have opened up new possibilities for researchers in all disciplines. At the same time, the spatial turn in the Humanities has prompted scholars to consider the benefits of using maps and graphs to investigate the transnational history of cultural phenomena. However, while scholars working on quite traditional literary subjects have been quick to discuss and carry out the provocative claims made by Franco Moretti in The Atlas of the European Novel (1998), an ideal case study for such an approach, i.e. popular fiction, had been largely neglected.

The AHRC-funded project Visualising European Crime Fiction: New Digital Tools and Approaches to the Study of the Transnational Popular Culture has represented a first attempt to adopt this approach in the field of crime fiction studies, starting to collect data from different sources and exploring the uses of an online database and various visualisation tools. This exploratory project in partnership with the Paris-based BILIPO aimed at testing a number of strategies and possibilities in order to envision a larger, longer-term initiative to conduct extensive studies on the transnational circulation of popular fiction at the European level.  Researchers from a group of universities in the UK, France, Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic have collaborated to create sample datasets, the prototype database and a series of visualisations. Continue reading

Movie Stars and Crime Fiction


Jean-Paul Belmondo on the cover of the Italian translation of Meurs pas, on a du monde !,

Milano, Mondadori, 1981

The intermedia nature of Crime Fiction facilitates its international circulation. Crime Books benefit from the aura of Crime Films. Publishers are understandably tempted to figuratively suggest such links between printed works and moving images. It is frequent to find references to cinema on book covers.  In the case of translated books, this reference to familiar icons helps to reduce the “strangeness”  of a foreign work, by  highlighting the quasi-universal nature of its narrative. Audiences are thus reassured that the particular object of a given translation is part of a global cultural form. The  iconic images of Movie Stars are a pragmatic and economical way to put the stamp of a dominant cultural industry on exogenous books.  Their perceived national particularism, which  might otherwise be seen as a deterrent for the mass market is thus watered down. The celebrity of the actors represented serves as an international currency. Continue reading

Detection Series in France in the 1920’s

International Crime Fiction Research Group


In France, the 1920’s saw  a decisive evolution in the critical recognition of the crime genre (with, notably, the 1929 publication of Régis Messac’s thesis on the detective novel)  and in the organisation of the publishing industry towards the promotion of crime fiction. The most notable series created at the time was certainly the perennial “Le Masque”. It was by no means the only significant one.  Neither was it the first. Here are a few landmarks

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Out of the Slaughterhouse of Literature

One of the original aims of the current AHRC project on Crime Fiction Viz is to show books which are difficult to locate, or have been long forgotten ; to make the unread reappear ; to allow to see books, which had become virtually invisible. Such are the following novels,  original best-sellers but whose international career was hampered by a set of adverse circumstances. Many of them have been ignored,  lost, binned or destroyed. In some cases, there are probably only  few surviving copies spread across the world, and most  had been hidden for decades in obscure, opaque and remote,  private or public collections.


 San-Antonio, Moi, vous me connaissez? Kourier, Nijny Novgorod, 1992

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A Bibliography of novels and anthologies inspired by the crimes of Jack the Ripper (Marginalia, November 2014)


The latest issue of the invaluable resource for all researchers in popular cultures that is MARGINALIA, Bulletin bibliographique des études sur les littératures et le film populaires, is devoted to the intertextual and intermedia circulation of the figure of Jack the Ripper. It offers a bibliography of novels and anthologies inspired by the crimes of Jack the Ripper, ranging from historical mysteries, to modern thrillers or serial killer novels inspired by the killer  and to speculative fiction, steampunk ,fantasy, etc.

The full 32 pages dossier is available at :

Marginalia is published Four times per year by NORBERT SPEHNER  (

You can find the previous issues of Marginalia at :