Sunday, January 2, 2011

And what exactly does this have to do with 18th-c British literature, Rebecca?

I've come a long way from my dissertation topic--The 18th-c English Gothic Novel--but many of my current interests can be traced back to the Gothic. The horror film, detective fiction, Victorian sensation fiction, contemporary Gothic, literature of the supernatural...all are traceable to the Gothic. Of course, I know next to nothing about Chinese film or fiction, and I look forward at least to clawing my way to a beginner's level of learning in these subjects. I'm especially interested, though, in finding out whether China's contemporary genre writing includes detective fiction of any kind.  My only experience is with the very fine Inspector Chen novels written by Qiu Xiaolong, who now lives and teaches in the US.

Detective fiction isn't just crime and punishment (and the accompanying gore and violence). It's also social commentary on the culture that produces it and it's a gauge of the fears, obsessions, tensions and contradictions of the culture. It's a production of popular culture, not high culture.  Does this genre exist in China?  For whom is it written?  In what ways does it differ from American detective fiction in its production, audience or characteristics? I have wanted for quite some time to add to my detective fiction teaching repertoire by creating a course on global detective fiction.  I've done quite a bit of reading in European and Latin American detective fiction and some (random and unsatisfying) reading of Indian detective fiction, so investigating detective fiction in China will make an important contribution to my course work and my understanding of the practice and place of this genre in a wide range of cultures. 

This is just one of the subjects I hope to be researching in the coming months.

1 comment:

Bette said...

I had no idea this was what you had in mind when you embarked on this Chinese adventure, Becky! I can't wait to see what you come up with in terms of Chinese detective fiction.

Speaking of detective fiction, I just finished a new novel called The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. It was entertaining, but not too deep. I did enjoy the parts of the book about Doyle himself. Did you know he & Bram Stoker were good friends? And that they both were friendly with Oscar Wilde? I didn't!

I just discovered a writer named Charles Todd whose mysteries are set just after WWI. Have you heard of him? I'm going to try his first one called A Test of Wills.

I'm also going to read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher soon. One of the nice things about my sabbatical is I'll be able to read more for pleasure! I'm reading a Trollope novel right now.

I look forward to reading more of your blogs!