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[Dis]solving genres: arguing the case for Welsh crime fiction

Phelps, Catherine Margaret 2013. [Dis]solving genres: arguing the case for Welsh crime fiction. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Walter Benjamin’s suggestion that great literary works not only add to canonical literature but also ‘dissolve’ genres may not seem apt in an examination of crime fiction, a genre noted for its rigidity and structured form. Though much of this mass-marketed, populist fiction cannot be perceived as great literature, nonetheless, some do work to dissolve genres, to re-shape them to different ends. This is especially true of Welsh crime fiction written in English. This thesis posits that there is a wealth of undiscovered Welsh crime fiction written in English and that those neglected works are necessary to the study of both crime fiction and Welsh writing in English. Central to this argument is my assertion that Welsh crime fiction (as it will henceforth be referred as) is a separate genre that contains its own specific tropes and paradigms, markers that are indicative of a certain Welsh cultural identity. As this study also acts as a survey of a previously unexamined area, of necessity, the works under question are the product of a extensive period: from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. While the chapters are arranged thematically, I have also tried to keep a sense of a chronological order with a sense of authors writing against or responding too previous generations of crime writers. In this manner, a tradition can be seen to be forming, one which re-imagines Welsh identity over this protracted period. As this literature springs from a nation that has frequently been defined as ‘other’, the Introduction starts with an examination of the so-called Blue Books and how they came to define the Welsh character for those outside Wales. Following this, Chapter I discusses how English crime writers absorbed these discourses and played out their ensuing anxieties in their work. Chapter II then explores an emergent Welsh crime fiction, one which both mimics and subverts anglocentric paradigms. This subversion is also played out in socialist crime fiction, the focus of Chapter III. Interestingly, these re-workings and re-imaginings of anglocentric norms are dealt with in different ways by male and female authors so Chapters IV and V will deal with male and female appropriations of genre respectively. This thesis concludes by asserting that Welsh identity is influential in forming a new genre, one that takes a rigid and hierarchical structure and adapts it to its own ends.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 28 May 2016 01:30

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