In a change to my normal academic routine, I’m embarking on research leave for a whole, glorious semester. The chance for this kind of leave comes around every three to four years, and is really invaluable, as it provides time to build up some proper momentum – in my case for writing up research on German and international crime fiction.
I’ll be focusing on two key projects. The first is a book, Detecting the Past: Representations of National Socialism and its Legacy in Transnational Crime Fiction. As the title suggests, it will explore how crime writers have depicted the Nazi period and its post-war legacy since 1945, exploring themes such as criminality, morality, justice, memory and guilt in larger historical, political and social contexts. One key area of interest is how ‘Nazi-themed crime fiction’ reflects the work of historians on the period. A recent example is David Thomas’ Ostland (Quercus, 2013), which draws on perpetrator studies by historians such as Christopher R. Browning to create a portrait of an ‘ordinary man’, police detective Georg Heuser, who comes to play an active part in the Holocaust. A compelling ‘psychological thriller’, the novel is also a sobering depiction of the mechanics of the Holocaust, and of the attempts to bring perpetrators to justice in the 1960s. It’s an excellent example of how history and the findings of historians can be made accessible to a wider public by harnessing the conventions and popularity of the crime genre. Incidentally, details of the 150 primary texts I’m working on can be found here – a number of which have been discussed on this blog over the past two years.
My second project is to finish editing Crime Fiction in German, a volume of essays for the University of Wales Press, which will act as an introduction to the subject for an English-language audience. As well as exploring the development of crime fiction in Germany, Austria and Switzerland from the nineteenth century onwards, the volume examines German-language crime from a number of different angles: the crime fiction of the former GDR; regional crime fiction; women’s crime fiction, historical crime fiction; Turkish-German crime fiction; and the enduring popularity of TV series such as Tatort (Crime Scene). It’s the first time this kind of comprehensive overview will have been published in English, which is very exciting. The volume will join others in UWP’s European Crime Fiction series, such as French Crime Fiction (2009), Scandinavian Crime Fiction (2011) and Italian Crime Fiction (2011).
Focusing my energies on academic writing means that I’ll be blogging a little less than I usually do over the next few months. But I’ll still be popping up with recommendations now and then, so please do not adjust your sets! And normal service will most definitely be resumed…
Seems as though you will be really busy Mrs P, but exciting projects all the same. Glad that we’ll still get the odd blog or two. Enjoy yourself. Hoo roo.
Thanks, Kathy P. Will do my best to squeeze every last drop of goodness from it all.
Lucky, lucky you! A sabbatical! And what exciting projects to be working on – look forward to hearing your updates.
I suppose I could take a sabbatical any time I like, being freelance, but the downside is no pay and the danger of being forgotten.
I know – I’m very lucky, and am really looking forward to getting my teeth into lots of writing. It’ll be bliss.
Yes, freelancing isn’t nearly as ‘free’ as the name suggests. Those who haven’t tried it probably imagine unlimited flexibility and total control, but I know that’s mostly not the case. Having said that, perhaps you could plan a sabbatical in at some point? My husband did something similar and it worked out really well. It was a 6- month career break planned two years in advance, which allowed him time to put the logistics in place. There was a bit of risk attached (left one job without having another lined up!), but it all went pretty much to plan.
Will keep in touch, sounds exciting and I’m glad for you.
Thanks, Jose Ignacio. Will still be checking in, so will definitely see you around 🙂
Very exciting for Mrs P – good luck and though I will miss more regular posts my TBR pile will appreciate the chance to have a few less titles added to it if you are making fewer recommendations 🙂
Thanks, Bernadette 🙂 And as a parting shot, have just finished and very much enjoyed Philippe Georget’s Summertime and the Cats are Bored (Europa Editions / World Noir)!
LOL…just brought that one home from the library thanks anyway. And as we are facing yet another stretch of what they officially designate extreme heat (5 days of 40+ temps) I won’t have the energy foruch but reading…though a book called Wintertime and all the cats are excited might be easier to get myself lost in
Now that is hot! One of the characters in Summertime has a pool that he and his family seem to spend a lot of time cooling off in – perhaps that will provide some vicarious relief!
Meanwhile, I’m typing this on a chilly evening with a woolly jumper on…
Best wishes for your sabbatical Mrs P, your projects sound very interesting indeed, hope you will still have time to watch The Bridge 2!!
Thanks and fear not, Blighty – nothing will come between me and that finale! I see that Martin and Saga were on breakfast TV this morning ahead of Nordicana at the weekend. Sofia Helin was very smiley, which was lovely to see.
Those topics should invigorate you. Have fun! Several buzz words in your description of the first project recalled “Maigret, Simenon and France: social dimensions of the novels and stories” by Bill Alder 2012 to mind. Although I doubt you’d want to expand that 150 volume data base, you might check it out if you haven’t already.
Thanks, David – I’ll definitely check out your recommendation. The more the merrier!
I”m very excited for you, Mrs. P! Have a wonderful and productive time. Your projects sound absolutely fascinating and I’m looking forward to reading both books!
Thanks very much, Margot. I’m very much looking forward to having a sustained chance to think, and to getting my thoughts down on paper at long last. It’s time!
It is so cool we both love doing research on crime fiction! Best of luck, and see you in a semester 🙂
I can’t think of a more fascinating research area 🙂 What are you interested in / working on, Elena?
I researched moral relativism in crime fiction last year and this year it is feminism and new feminine detective role models in Rizzoli & Isles. And I hope to start my PhD this summer as well 🙂
Sounds great, Elena. Will the PhD be on crime fiction as well? There seem to be lots more postgraduate students interested in this area now, which is wonderful to see.
Yes, it wil. And I’m the only one – “the freak” my colleagues’ eyes say when I tell them – but the lovely professor tutoring me also loves it.
Good to hear that you have a supportive prof., Elena. Very important! I’m not sure where you’re based, but in the UK there do seem to be quite a lot of doctoral students who are working on various aspects of crime fiction. Perhaps worth forging some connections online or via conferences? There’s power in numbers 😉
I live in Spain, but I take your assumption of me living in the UK as a compliment to my English 😀
I really don’t know how to establish those connections apart from attending conferences and, until I get my M.A. I can’t present papers on them, just attend as part of the audience. But if you have any suggestions or want to talk, it’d be great!
Hi Elena – I thought you were based in the US or UK – fab language skills 🙂
There are a couple of university networks that might be able to put you in touch with postgrads working on crime (I’m an associate member of both of these):
Queen’s University Belfast: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/InstituteforCollaborativeResearchintheHumanities/ProjectResearchGroups/2013-14ProjectResearchGroups/InternationalCrimeFiction/
Cardiff University: http://slbtest1.cf.ac.uk/chri/research/cnic/index.html
These are both crime research ‘hubs’ and have organised events. As you say, conferences are a very good way to make connections too. Let’s keep in touch!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
You’re welcome 🙂
Good luck with the sabbatical Mrs P 🙂
Thanks very much, Cavershamragu 🙂
Enjoy your sabbatical! Good luck with the work!
Thank you, Lexie! Looking forward to it all greatly 🙂
Mrs P, that sabbatical sounds like hard work.
As you mentioned Christopher R. Browning I thought you might be interested in History on Trial by Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University. It is the story of the court case when she was sued for libel in the British courts by an alleged Holocaust denier. Her legal defence team was lead by Anthony Julius and among her expert witnesses was Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans and Christopher Browning from UNC. I was especially interested in this book because one of my numerous second cousins [our grandfathers were brothers who had twenty children between them] had a minor role in arranging the legal team.
Thanks for flagging this connection up, Norman, and how remarkable that your second-cousin was involved! I remember the Lipstadt case very well, and followed it in the papers at the time, although I haven’t read the book (that title absolutely spot on).
Christopher Browning and Richard Evans are both absolute stars in my book, for their clear and unwavering work on the Holocaust. I’ve seen Evans speak on the subject of the Holocaust and the law – a very learned and erudite man.
That is wonderful. I am sure you will enjoy your sabbatical, even if it is hard work. The list of crime fiction is a great resource (at least those I can read). I have read many of them but for others I did not realize the connection to Nazism.
I’m sure I will, TracyK. Yes, the list is interesting isn’t it? Lots of rich material there and I’m finding more all the time.The focus on National Socialism and/or its legacy varies quite a bit from book to book: some are wholly focused on the NS period, while others reference it in passing or in one narrative strand of many.
I’ll be seeing you on the 21st but good luck anyway x
Thanks, Sarah – look forward to seeing you in the big smoke x
Congratulations Mrs P, I am sure the sabbatical is well-deserved, and will be invigorating eh? I think we, the readers are the ultimate winners, as I bet you come back with a freshened approach after the research.
Down here in Australia, I shall be issuing the Swedish “Crimes Of Passion” series this year on DVD (Maria Lang – BBC next month I think), the final series of Swedish Wallander, and the new drama from Denmark “The Legacy”. It’s not crime – but then, neither was Borgen eh?
Have a wonderful time, and thanks so very much for your super blog passion!
Thanks, Simon! I’m sure the research leave will be invigorating. I finished off the last of my uni admin work today, and am already feeling energised!
Marvellous to see you flying the Scandi flag in Australia. Are these series as successful as they’ve been in the UK? I’d be interested to hear about your experiences / your view of the market.
Have a great sabbatical. Hope it is as fruitful as it is fun. We look forward to reading your posts of whatever comes up — book reviews, TV and movie news, notes from your research, etc.
Best wishes to you.
Thanks kathy d. Fruitful and fun sounds like the perfect combination; I’ll be sure to report back with a smorgasbord of delights. Happy reading!
I can’t tell you how fascinated I am by the topic of your research; at least in part, because it overlaps with my research interests in the immediate post-war period in Germany (1945-1947) and, in particular, German literature set in this time period written by authors who endured it. I read your post and was thrilled to learn of your research focus. I’m so grateful for the information you’ve supplied your readers. Do keep us informed of your progress and any future publications!
Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)
Ooh! Equally delighted to hear about your research interests, Judith! Are you an academic as well, or do you research in another capacity or out of personal interest? I’d really love to know which writers you’ve focused on in particular. Will definitely keep you posted and please do the same 🙂