Course: Global Crime, Inc.

HC 421H

Professor: Casey Shoop

From the mean streets of Los Angeles to market stalls of Mumbai, and from the high rises of Tokyo to the villages in rural Kenya, a global crime wave has taken place in international fiction and film. The crime and detective genre has been both astonishingly durable and surprisingly supple as it has exploded in popularity and migrated around the world.

This course explores the relationship between the crime and detective genres and the processes of globalization in the late 20th- and early 21st centuries. We will examine the morphology of the crime genre as it goes global: how it adapts and evolves to particular cultural and historical contexts, as well as how it speaks to broader systemic and transnational concerns like capitalist exploitation and corporate malfeasance, post-colonialism, ecological devastation, and (hot and cold) ideological warfare. What is it about crime fiction that gives it such explanatory power in our contemporary moment? Why do we still need the venerable figure of the detective in our networked and hyperlinked worlds? What about the processes of modernization remaining hidden in plain sight like a set of clues demanding to be read?

Literary sleuths ourselves, we will investigate how imagined relationships to space (both physical and allegorical) in the genres of crime and detective fiction offer interpretative methods by which to map the complex and shifting terrain of globalization, specifically as they pertain to forms of criminality and injustice that would otherwise remain hidden. Along the way, we will also read some of the seminal essays in genre studies and globalization theory.

Possible writers may include Roberto Bolaño (Chile), John Le Carré and P.D. James (UK), Patricia Highsmith and Alicia Gaspar de Alba (U.S.), Pablo Ignacio Taibo II (Mexico), Clarice Lispector (Brazil), Vikram Chandra and Aravind Adiga and  (India), Moshin Hamid (Pakistan), Helon Hebila (Nigeria), Tana French (Ireland), Haruki Murakami and Natsuo Kirino (Japan), Orphan Pamuk (Turkey), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Kenya), Leonardo Padura (Cuba), Marlon James (Jamaica), among others.