Sunday, June 7, 2015

Planning the next stage.

I am waiting to hear details on my presentation, specifically how long I'll have to talk. At this point, I'm planning to write a 10-page paper that I will know well enough to talk about rather than from. I would rather not show slides, because, well, slides, but I'm a believer in having a plan B. So I'll have slides on a USB stick in my pocket and will consider between now and then putting together some handouts (even if just the lecture notes of the slides). 

Here's the abstract as submitted:

The investigator as a literary figure is a contentious one. Born out of traditions established by Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and tracing back to the Biblical Daniel and the story of Bel and the Dragon, the first locked room mystery), the investigator changed radically in 20th-century detective fiction--moving from amateur to professional, investigator to criminal--and continues to change within the genre. Without the investigator, without some figure fortified by curiosity and determination, much of the work of HP Lovecraft would not have been possible.

In the HBO series True Detective, the investigator has evolved into the "artist-investigator." This term is most often used in theater--and then only by a few groups--to describe an artist, employed by a theater company, who pushes against theater's current boundaries. Noteworthy is that the term is not used to describe an epistemology of investigation or the figure employing that epistemology, nor does the extant body of detective fiction criticism address the artist-investigator as part of its canon. These are critical omissions.

In this talk, a review of selected works by Robert W. Chambers and HP Lovecraft through the lens of detective fiction tropes and conventions, along with a discussion of True Detective, will show how the investigators in True Detective are a new kind of character derived from atelier fiction, weird fiction, and detective fiction. This new character, based on the aesthetics of crime and redemption, pits the artistic sensibilities of the detective against those of the criminal. This talk, by closely examining the above elements, sheds new light on the little-recognized figure of the artist-investigator. 

And here's the outline for a 10-page paper that treats the content:

Introduction: My topic in brief and what I'll talk about

Brief overview of movements in detective fiction

Brief overview of tropes and dynamics in detective fiction

The artist-investigator

   Definition in theater
   Epistemology of investigation
   Aesthetics of crime and redemption
   Artistic sensibilities of the detective
   Artistic sensibilities of the criminal

True Detective and the artist-investigator

   Chambers as source material
   Lovecraft as source material
   Cohle vs Hart as investigators
   Cohle as artist-investigator

Conclusion; Q&A

I'll need to write a longer version and trim it to 10 pages. This will give me a start on it.

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