Mapping the shadowlands: urban noir detective fiction and psychogeography
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:48 by Annemarie Lopez
This practice-based thesis is composed of an exegesis and novel extract. The exegesis investigates how urban noir detective fiction and psychogeography have been used to explore, represent and engage with the city and whether these genres remain relevant today. Specifically, it explores the origins of both psychogeography and urban noir detective fiction in the London writings of William Blake, Thomas De Quincey and Charles Dickens. It considers how the themes, preoccupations and approaches of these writers were taken up by two strands of urban writing: the Los Angeles novels of Raymond Chandler, and Situationist psychogeography. Furthermore, it considers how these two strands of urban representation have continued to evolve and influence each other: Situationist psychogeography into the contemporary literary psychogeography of writers such as Iain Sinclair and Rebecca So lnit; and Los Angeles noir into a global phenomenon, including the Glasgow noir of William McIlvanney, the Marseille noir of Jean-Claude Izzo and the Shanghai noir of Qiu Xiaolong. This leads to a consideration of how urban noir detective fiction has been used to represent Sydney, and how strategies from psychogeography might further enhance these fictional representations. Ultimately, it argues for the continued value and relevance of noir detective fiction, in particular when enriched by psychogeographic approaches. The final creative component of this thesis is an extract of a noir detective novel set in Sydney, titled Way to blue. The novel uses the classic noir detective model informed by the research in the exegesis to explore Sydney through the story of the search for a runaway teenage girl.