Monday, April 11, 2016

Clues 34.1: Agatha Christie.

Clues 34.1 (2016), a theme issue on "Reappropriating Agatha Christie" in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of her death, has been published; see below for abstracts. To order a print copy of the issue or to subscribe to the journal, email McFarland & Co.

Update, 4-26-16. The issue is now on Kindle and Google Play.

Clues 34.1: Reappropriating Agatha Christie
Guest editors: Alistair Rolls and Jesper Gulddal

Reappropriating Agatha Christie: An Introduction 

ALISTAIR ROLLS AND JESPER GULDDAL (U of Newcastle)
The Agatha Christie corpus has long been encumbered by agendas and critical perspectives that effectively prevent close analytical scrutiny of her novels. The authors explore possible avenues for a reappropriation of Christie and particularly highlight the need for irreverent rereading that brings to light the textual complexity of her detective fiction.

“Beautiful Shining Order”: 
Detective Authority in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express JESPER GULDDAL
Using the work of Pierre Bayard, this essay presents a “counterinvestigative” reading of Murder on the Orient Express (1934) that highlights the undermining of Poirot’s unshakable authority as a detective and his solution. The essay argues that the dénouement fails in accomplishing complete transparency and reducing the literary complexity of Christie’s plot.

Agatha Christie and the Fantastic Detective Story 

SUZANNE VAN DER BEEK (Tilburg U, The Netherlands)
The author problematizes the restrictive categorization of Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None via the critique by Tzvetan Todorov in his study on the literary fantastic. Christie’s work, she argues, overthrows the dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural as well as creates a fantastic detective novel.

Metafictional Agatha Christie: Self-Parody as the Perfect Crime 

IRENA KSIĘŻOPOLSKA (U of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw)
The author examines the narrative structure of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, emphasizing the self-reflexive quality of the novel and seeking to establish 
its parodic intentions. Through the use of formulaic unreliability, clichéd characters, facile plot devices, and a comic detective, Agatha Christie deliberately constructs her text against the conventions of the genre.

Transforming Justice? Murder on the Orient Express 1934–2010


MERJA MAKINEN WITH PATRICK PHILLIPS (Middlesex U)
This essay compares the Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and the Phillip Martin adaptation (2010). Viewing adaptations as transformations, the essay analyzes four differences; genre production, violence, justice, and Hercule Poirot, to argue for two differently rich texts sharing the same plot and characters across different  media.

Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly:
Stagnation, Negation, and Adaptation


ALISTAIR ROLLS
Two film adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly can assist in deconstructing the novel as a textual folly. A comparison of Dead Man’s Folly to The Body in the Library reveals that Christie’s tricks in the latter text, which may or may not have fooled Miss Marple, are also played on Hercule Poirot.

A Fitting End:
The Country House, Agatha Christie, and Dead Man’s Folly



STUART BARNETT (Central Connecticut State U)
Agatha Christie is often associated with the English country house and, by extension, a conservative and nostalgic politics. However, examination of her work—in particular, Dead Man’s Folly (1956)—reveals a pointed critique of the class of country-house owners.

In the Apothecaries’ Garden with Agatha Christie 

SYLVIA A. PAMBOUKIAN (Robert Morris U)
A dispensary assistant in her youth, Agatha Christie always depicted poisons in her fiction as complex entities, at once plant, medicine, and poison. In texts spanning her long career, Christie undermined clichés about the nature of poisons, poisoning, and the poisoner, especially through the character of gardener-sleuth Miss Marple.

Mundane or Menacing? 

“Nobodies” in the Detective Fiction of Agatha Christie


NICOLA BISHOP (Manchester Metropolitan U, UK)
In the changing cultural perceptions of clerks, Agatha Christie moves from characterizing two-dimensional “nobodies” to developing menacingly anonymous super-criminals. In examining the position of the clerk within early-twentieth-century culture, the author offers a new class reading of Christie’s middlebrow fiction.

Nowadays:
Trauma and Modernity in Agatha Christie’s Late Poirot Novels 


JESSICA GILDERSLEEVE (U of Southern Queensland)
Agatha Christie’s last-written Hercule Poirot novels, Hallowe’en Party (1969) and Elephants Can Remember (1972), enact a social and cultural anxiety arising from the problems of modernity and the need to know and understand the past so as to prevent its traumatic return. Only in this way can the detective enact justice.

The Paradox of Miss Marple: Agatha Christie’s Epistemology

KIMBERLY MASLIN (Hendrix College)
In creating her spinster sleuth, Agatha Christie challenges the dominant paradigm of objective, detached, and methodically acquired knowledge by legitimating intuitive and situated knowledge. Her epistemic approach, however, is not so clear since in her attempt to verify feminine epistemologies, Miss Marple resorts to traditional standards of verifiable knowledge.

“This Isn’t a Detective Story, Mrs. Oliver”:
The Case of the Fictitious Author 

FRANÇOISE GRAUBY (U of Sydney)
The character of Ariadne Oliver shows the “posture” of the author at work. Repressing the rational stage of composition creates a mythologized figure that inhabits a world of pure fiction. But Mrs. Oliver, by channeling Agatha Christie, also personifies a scrupulously thought-out writing plan.

Remediating Agatha Christie:
Social Media in A Murder Is Announced


KEAGHAN TURNER (Coastal Carolina U)
Agatha Christie’s A Murder Is Announced (1950) is essentially a novel about social media. Approaching this vintage text from the digital age, with a focus on media and communications technologies, reveals startlingly similar anxieties surrounding identity and community, privacy and voyeurism, and isolation and violence. Christie’s novel is revealed as ahead of its time.

REVIEW ESSAY
A Case of Ontology: Sherlock Holmes and New Critical Games of Shadows (covers Kerr, Conan Doyle; Ue and Cranfield, eds., Fan Phenomena; Vanacker and Wynne, eds., Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle)
 CHRISTOPHER PITTARD (U of Portsmouth)

BOOK REVIEWS
Marty Knepper, Guest Book Review Editor 



Isabel Anders. Miss Marple: Christian Sleuth. PHYLLIS M. BETZ

John Curran. Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making and Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making—More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks. 
DIANE M. CALHOUN-FRENCH

Hilary Macaskill. Agatha Christie at Home.
 RACHEL FRANKS

Agatha Christie Mallowan. Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir. 
LYNNE GOLDSTEIN

Agatha Christie, auth.; Mathew Prichard, ed. The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery. JOHN TEEL

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