Traces, Codes, and Clues: Reading Race in Crime Fiction

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Overview

Detective fiction featuring white women and people of color-such as Barbara Neely's Blanche White and Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins-has become tremendously popular. Although they are considered "light reading," mysteries also hold important cultural and social "clues." Much recent scholarly work has demonstrated that race is both a cultural fiction-not a biological reality-and a central organizing principle of experience. Popular writers are likely to reflect the conventions of their own historical situations.

In Traces, Codes, and Clues: Reading Race in Crime Fiction, Maureen T. Reddy explores the ways in which crime fiction manipulates cultural constructions such as race and gender to inscribe dominant cultural discourses. She notes that even those writers who appear to set out to revise outdated conventions repeatedly reproduce the genre's most conservative elements. The greatest obstacle to transforming crime fiction, Reddy states, is the fact that the genre itself is deeply embedded in the discourse of white (and male) superiority. There is, therefore, an absolute necessity to break away from that discourse-through reversal or other strategies-in order to produce work that defies, and thus helps readers to defy, the dominant ideology of race.

Maureen T. Reddy is a professor of English and women's studies at Rhode Island College. Her other books include Crossing the Color Line: Race, Parenting, and Culture, and the edited collections Everyday Acts Against Racism and Race in the College Classroom: Pedagogy and Politics.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813532028
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.68 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Cracking Codes 6
2 Countering Tradition 41
3 Tracing Whiteness 78
4 White Readings of Race 115
5 Writing the Other 153
Conclusion 188
Notes 193
Selected Bibliography 203
Index 209
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