Upcoming conferences: Mobilities, Literature, Culture and Hardboiled History

In between frantically writing up my thesis over the next two months, I’ll be squeezing in speaking at two very exciting conferences. Later this month, I will be at Mobilities, Literature, Culture at Lancaster University. This will be the inaugural conference for the new Palgrave Macmillan book series, Studies in Mobilities, Literature and Culture, and the two-day programme is filled with fascinating-sounding panels.

My paper is titled ‘He respects no boundary lines’: Suspect Mobility, Criminalistics and the Hard-boiled Novel. Drawing on material from my thesis, it considers the relationship between mobility and transgression in the early-twentieth century American city, and how this relationship, as framed by the criminological theory of the time, served to justify specific law enforcement tactics and inspire the development of new investigative techniques. I conclude by considering the cultural construction and interrogation of these practices in the ‘hard-boiled’ novel, taking Raymond Chandler as a case study.

In May, I’ll be attending a symposium at the University of Warwick that I’m very excited about – Hardboiled History: A Noir Lens on America’s Past. I’ll be doing my best to start the day off well with my paper, ‘Something is wrong here’: James Ellroy and the Historiography of Noir Los Angeles. Beginning with James Ellroy’s own understanding of ‘noir’, I go on to argue that his L.A. novels develop a specific vision of the city – a milieu in which both prominent and obscure moments in Los Angeles history are implicated in a single pessimistic vision of violent crime and ubiquitous municipal corruption. I’ll also speak a little about the influence of this vision on other works, including season two of True Detective and the 2011 videogame L.A. Noire.

As I’ve not been back to Warwick since I completed by MA there in 2004, I’ll also be wandering around the campus as much as possible, hoping that the feeling of the tarmac under my feet conjures the odd Proustian reverie. Or at the very least, I’ll be doing my best to avoid boring other attendees with my reminiscences.

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Author: Alex Pavey

I'm a UCL English Literature PhD, researching Los Angeles literature and cinema across the twentieth century - particularly, although not exclusively, narratives of crime and detection.

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