Screaming ‘Black’ Murder: Crime Fiction and the Construction of Ethnic Identities

Stähler, Axel (2019). Screaming ‘Black’ Murder: Crime Fiction and the Construction of Ethnic Identities. English Studies, 100(1), pp. 43-62. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/0013838X.2018.1543754

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A significant segment of crime fiction is concerned with the representation of ethnic identities and may to some extent be considered paradigmatic of the participation of literary texts in discourses on race and minorities. This article explores constructions of ethnic identities in American, British, and South African crime fiction from the 1920s to the early twenty-first century. In particular, the focus is on such texts in which the ethno-cultural identity of the detective gives special prominence not only to the ethnic particularity of the fictional character itself and of its environs but frequently also to that of its author. Main texts discussed are Rudolph Fisher’s The Conjure Man Dies (1932), Earl Derr Biggers’ The House Without a Key (1925) and The Black Camel (1929), Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) and Little Scarlet (2004) as well as James McClure’s The Gooseberry Fool (1974) and Patrick Neate’s City of Tiny Lights (2005). It is argued that all of these texts have a distinct subversive potential of which the construction of ethnic identities becomes the main vehicle because these identities are the products and the catalysts of the conflicts negotiated in ethnic crime fiction and correlating to “reality”.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > American Studies
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Literary Theory

UniBE Contributor:

Stähler, Axel

Subjects:

800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 810 American literature in English
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures

ISSN:

1744-4217

Publisher:

Taylor & Francis

Language:

English

Submitter:

Axel Stähler

Date Deposited:

18 Jun 2021 09:21

Last Modified:

18 Jun 2021 09:21

Publisher DOI:

10.1080/0013838X.2018.1543754

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/153081

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