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Genre Theory and Crime Writing.

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Connor Moon

on 1 February 2014

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Transcript of Genre Theory and Crime Writing.

The Task that Killed Me
- An Investigation by Connor Moon

Genre Theory
Crime Writing
The need for the organisation of texts into such groups for greater understanding and convenience is parallel with humanity’s ultimate desire for the predictable. On a basic level, genre allows us to select material on a shared comprehension of the subject matter.

The division and classification of texts into a range of categories relative to a variety of conventions which are commonplace in an aggregation of texts.
Prescriptive vs Descriptive
Hybridisation and Subversions
The descriptive model however, facilitates the dynamic thrust of genre, as it takes into account the phenomena of subversion in relation to set conventions, and the hybridisation of genres.
Crime Writing in Genre Theory
Completely irrelevant sentences that add no value to my presentation I wonder how long before my half asleep class realises because really..
The Skull beneath the Skin
Mulholland Falls
In a prescriptive theory, a text would be compared with a strict set of conventions and if this text did not meet the criteria it would then be discarded due to its failure to fall under all set conventions of a genre.

A descriptive model acknowledges the fact that a text cannot always contain all conventions and will in turn find the genre of “best fit” for a text.
“The boundaries between genres are shifting and becoming more permeable”. -Nicholas Abercrombie (Abercrombie 1996, 45).
“Each new work within a genre has the potential to influence changes within the genre or perhaps the emergence of new-subgenres (which may later blossom into fully fledged genres)”. - Daniel Chandler,
An Introduction to Genre Theory
Revenge Tragedy
- Familial conflict.
- Adultery leading to crimes of passion.
- The process of preparing acts of revenge.
- Exposure of the corrupt.
- Compromising letters.
- Play-within-a-play.
Romanticism and Gothicism
- Deep emotion.
- A focus on the darker side of the human psyche.
- Setting- including the metonymy of gloom and horror: as seen in the castle/manor of cosy and the ominous backdrop of film noir
- The presence of mystery and secrets
Crime Writing
Collectively, the conventions of Revenge Tragedy, Romanticism and Gothicism are all illustrated in Edgar Allan Poe’s archetypal,
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
(1841) which also saw the birth of the first literary detective, C. Auguste Dupin.
The Great Detective
- Heightened powers of ratiocination
- Stressed the importance of responder engagement to solve the crime with the detective
- Red Herrings
The Golden Age
- Flourished in the 1920s-30s
- Cosy School/ 'Locked Room' Scenario
- Small intimate group with a mix of aristocracy and lower classes to represent strict class separation post WWI
- Quintessentially British: 'miniature England' setting, formal register, sanitised depiction of death.
- Amateur sleuth gifted with deduction and observation.
Hard Boiled
- Dominantly American
- Follows loose cannon PI who works on his own moral compass.
- Urban backdrop with corruption and decadence.
- Usually film-noir style
- Lingering evil after a case
- Showed decline in morals in U.S.A before and after WWII
- Notion of 'pure justice'
Police Procedural
“Early detective stories tended to follow an investigating protagonist from the first scene to the last, making the unraveling a practical rather than emotional matter." (Carole Kismaric, Marvin Heiferman).
- Strict procedure of solving a crime
- Law enforcement, investigation, interrogations, forensics, legal battles
- 'howdunit' rather than 'whodunit'
- Lack of mystery widely attributed to its ongoing popularity since 1950s
- Technological advancements will continue to evolve the subgenre.
R3d H3rR1nG!!!!!!!!!!!!
tr1Ck3d @gA1n!!! xDDD
Embodiment of Values
Parody of Conventions
James appears to parody the pulp fiction criticism of the broader Crime genre and the subgenre of Cosy School through the exaggeration of many crime tropes: Ambrose’s Crime novel was cited as having ‘the writing style nicely judged for the mass market, neither good enough to jeopardise popular appeal, nor bad enough to make people ashamed to read it in public.’
“That’s something I learned when writing pop fiction. Never be the one to find the body”- Ambrose

"And it’s very convenient for us, isn’t it; a dead suspect who can’t deny what any of us choose to say about him? The butler did it. Even in fiction, I’m so led to believe, that solution is unsatisfactory.” - Ambrose
The graphic disfigurement to Clarissa’s corpse is more redolent of random hard- boiled violence than the sanitised death of cosy school. Similarly, the responder does not mourn Clarissa; rather they are positioned to empathise with the other characters who share valid reasons for wishing Clarissa dead.

“I don’t suppose anyone in this room is personally desolated by Clarissa’s death”
James not only manipulates the values of the responder due to a sense of guilt for not empathising with Clarissa but also subverts values embedded in Crime Writing itself: remorse for the loss of human life and the desire for justice.
Cordelia Gray’s portrayal as intelligent and independently successful also draws parallels with James’ own upbringing and feminist stance. James’ role in both her family and marriage as a supporter due to harsh circumstances is inadvertently embodied through Gray’s skills and determination as a detective.

Despite being set in a 1950s context, Tamahori is able to impose a modern perspective in regards to the atom bomb through the murder of Allison Pond, deemed “necessary” to prevent footage of test soldiers with terminal cancer being released to the general public.

Implementation of Modern Values
Tamahori utilises a ‘Chekov’s Gun’ plot device by introducing the roll of film in the opening scene that is in fact the catalyst for the murder of Alison.

tSbtS vs Mulholland Falls
General Timms
“A hundred may die so that a thousand might live”
“With Clarissa if you look back for enough it was a matter of eight ounces of Blue Stilton. Evil coming out of good if that means anything to you”
Max Hoover
Cordelia Gray
“She gazed appalled at the gently smiling face with its look of spurious sorrow, as if the full knowledge of what he had done had now only come home to her”
“Well General, I take them one at a time and right now I got Alison Pond.”
Restoration of Order
Subversion within their respected subgenres
“She glanced up at him, at the smile, the calm, almost exultant confidence. Already he was rejoicing in the release from boredom, buoyant with the euphoria of success.”
Cordelia leaves the island unfulfilled and the responder too leaves with the impression that justice outcomes have not been met. This hardboiled convention reflects the lingering of evil and malice even after the resolution of the case.
Mulholland Falls
Mulholland Falls reflects a different aspect of this restoration through the climatic death of the Alison’s murderer, Colonel Fitzgerald. The restoration of order comes full circle as Fitzgerald meets the same death as Alison when Hoover throws him from the plane after a violent struggle; thus signifying the deliverance of justice from the detective.
Fitzgerald's death ultimately reflects a cosy/hardboiled hybrid in regards to the restoration of order.
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