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The Spanish Noir: Crime and Detection in Contemporary Fiction (Level 6)


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor and tutor: Dr Mari Paz Balibrea Enriquez
  • Assessment: a 3500-word essay (80%) and 10-minute presentation (20%)

Module description

In this module you will become acquainted with the history of detective fiction as a popular genre in Spain, while focusing on some of its major practitioners. We will link the emergence of detective fiction to major developments in Spanish history, namely the transition to democracy from dictatorship. Moreover, we try to make sense of its popularity in a newly defined society through an exploration of topics such as:

  • memory (or lack thereof)
  • urbanisation
  • neoliberalisation
  • freedom
  • the state
  • sexuality.

We will also discuss theoretical approaches to the study of detective and crime fiction. Authors to be analysed include Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Eduardo Mendoza, Lourdes Ortiz, Dolores Redondo, Juan Madrid, Andreu Martín, Alicia Giménez Bartlett and Marta Sanz.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module you will have:

  • in-depth knowledge of detective fiction as a genre, including current debates and approaches to the subject, particularly as it refers to Spain
  • awareness of critical approaches to the study of Spanish popular culture, and how, by choosing an approach, critics condition their object of study and their interpretation and placement within the history of Spanish literature
  • analysed and critically assessed dominant themes, salient authors and novels within the crime fiction Spanish tradition
  • gained skills in close textual analysis
  • awareness of the meanings and functions of crime and detection within the social and cultural contexts of their production and reception
  • engaged with complex literary criticism material.