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Ergebnisanzeige "Crime Story and feminism "
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TitelCrime Story and feminism
BeschreibungCrime story and International Feminism: the Influence of Sara Paretsky on Crime Fiction around the World

Crime fiction has always been a literary genre endowed to men, owing either to its authors or simply for the personages chosen to communicate the plot. If one thinks of Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlow or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, it becomes readily apparent that the crime story as a whole, throughout the heart of the 20th century, became simply another way to proceed with the traditional cult of domesticity still existing within mainstream society. The compelling and often sensational plots worked out by these authors naturalized the genre’s characteristics. As a result, it became natural to include a masculine main character and a feminine villain, or women were simply granted with secondary albeit often gregarious roles. This is evident not solely in the authors just mentioned, but also in later writers and their subsequent characters, such as Georges Simenon’s Jules Maigret, Andrea Camilleri’s Commissario Montalbano, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s Pepe Carvalho, Petros Markaris’ Costas Haritos, and even resurfacing in the recent Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. These bestselling authors and their many (and often successful) transpositions into either movies or television series’, contributed to disseminate and consequently maintain this same discourse concerning sexual roles. Although in many cases these authors address this issue in an ironic manner, or they emphasize the weaknesses of their male characters – due often to their chronic ‘macho’ immaturity and ensuing lack of sense of responsibility (as in the case of Mikael Blomkvist’s Larsson character)-, the fictional world in which they embed their characters remains masculine, where women often experience difficulty imposing themselves as autonomous characters. In other words, we have not yet witnessed this literary genre transformed as a result of the actions of a real female detective, who not only behaves as a woman, but also advocates – through her work as a detective – for women’s rights. Even Agatha Christie’s renowned Miss Murple is more of a retired (we might say richly retired) individual who happens to entertain the “hobby” of investigating criminal cases that continuously involve her while on vacation. The detective work, in this case, becomes more of an exciting and leisurely pastime instead of the full-time, paid profession of the aforementioned characters.

We believe that the V. I. Warshawski series by Sara Paretsky has powerfully turned upside down and subsequently morphed the expectations previously related to this normally masculine crime fiction genre. Paretsky has created the very first embodiment of a feminist detective, Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski, who, while working as a private investigator based in Chicago, challenges the underlying social basis of these sex-based roles. Through her development of the beloved V.I. Warshawski, Paretsky has engaged a literary genre as popular and academically underrated as crime fiction to promulgate the female sex as fully independent from any traditional discourse and deeply revolutionary by any of crime fiction’s previously existing standards. Calling into question the sexist roles previously mentioned, Paretsky’s books cannot help but have a strong impact on the reader’s view of gender related social issues. This is the main reason why we maintain that Paretsky’s crime story fiction has enjoyed such popularity and current international acclaim, having been translated into almost thirty different languages. Through the engrossing and diverse plotlines executed by Paretsky, the “common” reader (man or woman) can approach the author’s books as both a literature of entertainment as well as a catalyst to question his/her everyday life.

Sara Paretsky has beautifully coupled the entertaining characteristics of this literary genre together with a serious and deeply rooted reflection centering on gender in contemporary culture. It remains one of the very few instances in which a character – V. I. Warsharwki – functions not only as a perfectly defined fictional figure, but also as a conveyor of a very important message about current society.

We invite proposals for a collection of essays entitled The Crime Story and International Feminism: The Influence of Sara Paretsky around the World. The contributions should meet at least one of the following criteria:
1) The essay should address crime fiction as a “gendered” literary genre, paying particular attention to questions of gender roles that have appeared, for example, in Paretsky's novels;
2) The essay should assess the international influence of Paretsky’s novels. How has the success of Paretsky's novels in different cultures affected the genre and its authors/readers?
3) What similar characteristics of Paretsky’s protagonist, V.I. Warsharwki, can be attributed (and subsequent parallels made) to other feminist female protagonists in novels of the crime fiction genre?

Please, contact Enrico Minardi: and/or Jennifer Byron:

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PersonName: Enrico Minardi 
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