Presentation on theme: "Marija Dalbello Reading Interests of Adults Detective / Mystery Fiction Rutgers School of Communication and Information Image credit:"— Presentation transcript:
Marija Dalbello Reading Interests of Adults Detective / Mystery Fiction Rutgers School of Communication and Information email@example.com Image credit: Victor GAD
Overview _______________________________________ What is detective fiction? Relevant approaches and theories Horizons of expectation Hermeneutic specialization Transformed play History and types of detective fiction and detectives Narrative structure and genre formula 7-step formula (plot typology) 4 constitutive elements of detective story Action of the large scale Convention and invention at the core of detective story Conclusion
What is detective fiction? _______________________________________ Detective fiction is an art of symmetry, it seeks the appearance of logical necessity, like classical tragedy, and like tragedy, it seeks the unity of place - the locked room, the ship, or train in motion.(Barzun, in Dove, 4) Game of ratiocination Transformation of crime into game Fundamentally an intellectual undertaking As if watching a magic trick which a magician immediately explains puzzle Genre of hermeneutic specialization WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Relevant approaches and theories Horizons of expectation _______________________________________ Interpretation is pre-structured Historical relations of text and reader: first reading determines all subsequent readings Negativity (what is not told in the text) provide opportunities for a reader to question what comes next Multiple interpretations possible (no regulative context such as in conversation) Text is not object but product of interpretation Theories and theorists Reception theory (W. Iser) Reader-response (S. Fish)
Relevant approaches and theories Hermeneutic specialization _______________________________________ The reader’s need to find out what happens next Most stories have hermeneutic qualities In the detective story the reader asks of any information How it fits in How it will all come out Detective fiction is rich in structured blanks which indicate patterns in the text Blanks are programmed Suggestions related to later developments Transformation of signs into clues: Is this fact important?
Relevant approaches and theories Transformed Play _______________________________________ Absence of stress - Presence of strain Similarity of crossword puzzle and detective novel: Sets tasks or set of related tasks for the reader Shaped by convention Neither has goal beyond itself Gadamerian concept of play transformed into art: Story becomes work of art Story is transformed into structure (abstraction) Detective story refuses to go beyond the bounds of play - it is not about the real world but end in itself Classic (determined, symmetrical, disciplined reading) Hard boiled (includes goal-free non-hermeneutic elements)
History and types _______________________________________ Formal-problem detective story Problem solved by means of reason E.A. Poe, C. Doyle Golden age of mystery (1920s-1940s) Hard-boiled private eye detective story Problem solved by means of pursuit and conflict rather than reason American invention Time frame: 1940s-1950s Gothic and romantic suspense involving crime Time frame: 1960s-1970s
History and types _______________________________________ Decline of the mystery genre in the 1970s and counter- measure activities in the 1980s of: Mystery Writers of America Sisters in Crime (founded in 1985)- to promote gender equality in crime publishing Revival in the 1980s: Cozier mysteries placing emphasis on sleuth’s personal relationships Diversity and popularity of the genre in the 1990s: Detectives: ethnic, male, female, gay Genre-blending with romance, SF, historicals Police procedural more recent transformation: Detective is an expert, professional, specialist Rules of the police department in play
Rules of detective genre formula _______________________________________ These rules determine the genre formula: Detective-protagonist is prime mover of the action of the narrative The detection-plot supplies the major theme of the story Minor themes may exist but detection is always basic Blanks are the propellants of the text There is the problem to be solved, presented as insoluble There is the solution, which is always reached before the story ends
Detective story plot _______________________________________ 7-step basic plot of all detective fiction (George Dove) Problem First solution Complication Period of gloom Dawning light Solution Explanation Hermeneutic interpretation of clues in terms of action of large scale (Knight & McKnight) Red herring (first puzzle) ~ Focal mystery with the ironic connection between the two Test scenario (red herring) ~ Solution (focal mystery)
Convention and invention _______________________________________ Constitutive conventions define a genre and are essential to it Detective integral to the story - detective’s story Centrality of the main plot Problem difficult to solve Solution cannot be revealed too early There must be a satisfying solution Regulative conventions characterize a genre but are not essential to it Detective story without a murder is possible Recurrent stereotypes Most Likely Suspect, The Death Warrant
Conclusion _______________________________________ Convention regulates genres Limits of genre formula and how genres break out Creativity and invention at the boundaries integral to interpretive play Creativity and invention at the boundaries integral to continued relevance