Repositioning the debate

Cynthia S. Hamilton

in Sara Paretsky

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2015 | ISBN: 9780719096952
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9781781708729 | DOI:

Series: Contemporary American and Canadian Writers MUP

Repositioning the debate

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This chapter proposes two new frameworks for assessing the subversive possibilities of detective fiction: trauma literature and historiographical discourse. The discussion of trauma literature references the work of Caruth, LaCapra, Felman, Herman, and Luckhurst. The work of Ricoeur and White frame the discussion of historiographical writing. Neither of these frameworks has been recognised or used in relation to the analysis of detective fiction. Both have been suggested by developments over time within Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series. A discussion of detective fiction as a literature of trauma enables a perspective on the politics of agency within detective fiction. The examination of detective fiction as a historiographical discourse illuminates the way detective fiction can be used to expose the politics of marginalisation within the construction of historical discourses. As this suggests, the two frameworks are not discrete, but interrelated, for they intersect within a politics of identity.

Keywords: Trauma literature; historiographical discourse; detective fiction; Caruth; LaCapra; Luckhurst; White; Herman; Ricoeur; marginalisation

Chapter.  11134 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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