Studies in green: teaching ecological crime fiction

Walton, S (2018) 'Studies in green: teaching ecological crime fiction.' In: Beyer, C, ed. Teaching crime fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp. 115-130. ISBN 9783319906072

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Crime and detective fictions are inherently concerned with the ways in which ambiance, cultural geographies and place attachments may be factors in the instigation and detection of crime. Through readings of classic detective stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and recent Niger Delta petrofictions, this chapter explores ways of teaching those crime narratives which have pushed further, forcing detectives and readers to think beyond human dramas and to explore the roles that environmental factors, agencies and crises play in human transgression. Bringing ecocritical perspectives into the teaching of crime fiction may be challenging, but can engage students in some of the most demanding ethical, aesthetic and political questions of our time.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section

Part of the 'Teaching the New English' series.

Reading ecological crime fiction and reading crime fiction ecologically demands a shifting of focus to features of a text often dismissed backdrops to human activity: rivers, forests, landscapes, climate, or the planetary ecosystem. It provokes an adjustment of temporalities, urging students to situate human activity in seasonal, anthropological, evolutionary and deep time scales. Crime and detective fictions are inherently concerned with the ways in which ambiance, location, history and place-memory may be factors in crime and provide clues towards a mystery’s solution. Every crime novel is set somewhere, and investigation of that somewhere is a good place to start introducing students to wider questions posed by ecological reading. What forms of knowledge are best suited to excavating obscured histories of a landscape, and how are past transgressions built into the fabric of a place? Is the environment active or passive, and what kinds of relationships do characters and other agencies form with the world in which crimes are commissioned, investigated and solved? With these questions as starting points, students can be encouraged to think beyond the immediate and engaging human dramas of crime fiction, and to begin to explore the roles that other-than-human factors and agencies play in human transgressions and the process of detection.

Keywords: ecocriticism, ecology, detective fiction, crime fiction, econoir, petrofiction
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2018 12:17
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:51
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