Race, Gender and Empire in American Detective Fiction


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SKU: 9780786465361 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

This book highlights detection’s malleability by analyzing the works of particular groups of authors from specific time periods written in response to other texts.
It traces the roles that gender, race and empire have played in American detective fiction from Edgar Allan Poe’s works through the myriad variations upon them published before 1920 to hard-boiled fiction (the origins of which derive in part from turn-of-the-20th-century notions about gender, race and nationality), and it concludes with a discussion of contemporary mystery series with inner-city settings that address black male and female heroism.

About the Author(s)

John Cullen Gruesser is a professor of English at Kean University and has published broadly on detective fiction.

Bibliographic Details

John Cullen Gruesser
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6536-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1274-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction: Manipulation, Malleability and Metafiction in American Detection 6
One • “Having defeated him in his own castle”: Character Rivalry, Authorial Sleight of Hand and Generic Fluidity in Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin Tales 25
Two • Expanding on Poe: Varieties of Detection in Key American Literary Texts, 1850–1882 55
Three • Subverting and Re-Entrenching Traditional Gender Roles: Female Sleuths, Dangerous Women and the Imperial Origins of Hard-Boiled Fiction 80
Four • Detecting Empire Abroad and at Home: Interrogations of United States Overseas Expansion and Jim Crow in Early African American Detective Writing 107
Coda: Black Freedom, Mythic ­Heroism and Hard-Boiled Motherhood in Contemporary American Detective Fiction 139
Appendix: Interviews with Valerie Wilson Wesley (May 2003, January and February 2013) 163
Chapter Notes 180
Works Cited 185
Index 195

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A distinctive and valuable analysis of cross-cultural currents within American crime writing, shedding new light on the genre’s representations of gender, race and empire”—CrimeCulture
  • “Essential read”—The Edgar Allan Poe Review
  • “Recommended…Gruesser is one of the most readable and stimulating professorial writers on crime fiction, and he has fresh insights to offer on race and gender”—Mystery Scene
  • “Combining historical breadth and detailed textual analysis, this ambitious and original examination of the importance of gender, race and empire in American detective fiction is indispensable for scholars and fans of the genre alike.”—David Schmid, author of Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture
  • “An astutely connective and yet wide-ranging study of the genre, showing it to have been from its inception a reader’s path to incisive critiques of gender, race, and American empire-building.”—Norlisha F. Crawford, editor, Clues special issue on Chester Himes (2010)