American Mysteries: Urban Crime Fiction from Eugène Sue’s Mysteries of Paris to the American Noir & Steampunk

Join us for an exciting international conference,  featuring 20 speakers & writer Jean-Christophe Valtat. February 26-28  & March 1, 2014, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020).  Program.

This conference focuses on the innovative genre of urban mysteries, which has been largely unexplored as a global cultural phenomenon.  Starting with one of the first literary mass-successes, Eugène Sue’s serialized novel Les Mystères de Paris (1842-43 [The Mysteries of Paris]), the launch and reception of the urban mystery was one of the first occurrences of cultural globalization. In the months following the French publication, the novel was translated into several languages and gained international success from southern Europe to North America, from northern Europe to Latin America, Russia, and, finally, at the turn of the century, in Japan and China. Sue’s Mystères de Paris also initiated the production of hundreds of novels worldwide with considerable local variation, such as Reynolds’s Mysteries of London (1844-1848), Juan Martínez Villergas’s Los Misteríos de Madrid (1844), Ned Buntline’s The Mysteries and Miseries of New York (1847-48), Edouard Rivière’s Antonino y Anita ó los nuevos mysterios de Mexico (1851), Camilo Castelo Branco’s Os Mistéros de Lisboa (1854).  Our UCSB mystery conference focuses on the translations, adaptations and transformations of the Parisian mystery novels in the United States, from George Lippard’s The Quaker City (1844) and Edward Zane Carroll Judson [Ned Buntline]’s The Mysteries and Miseries of New York (1847-48), to the influence this neglected popular genre had on the modern detective novel and the making of the film noir.

We start and end our exploration with two special events: 1) A reading with writer Jean-Christophe Valtat and his new take on the mystery genre and noir fiction, with his cult hit, the steampunk epic Aurorarama (2010), part of the trilogy of The Mysteries of New Venice; 2) And the screening of Chan is Missing (1982), Wayne Wang's version of the film noir reimagined via two Asian-American cabbies searching San Francisco's Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with their money. 

Location of events at UC Santa Barbara:
-Opening special event with writer Jean-Christophe Valtat: February 26, Old Little Theatre, College of Creative Studies.
-Colloquium February 27-28 and March 1: McCune Conference Room, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.
-Closing special event, Chan is Missing: March 1, 4:30-6:30pm, Theater and Dance Building 1701.

This Colloquium is organized by the Department of French and Italian,  the Comparative Literature Program & the Graduate Center for Literary Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in collaboration with Université Montpellier III and the Center RIRRA 21 (France) and the support of the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, Inc.
UCSB co-sponsors include: the College of Letters and Sciences and its Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, the College of Creative Studies, the Multicultural Center, the East Asia Center and the Center for Modern Literature, Materialism and Aesthetics (COMMA); and the Departments of Asian American Studies, English, East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, Film and Media Studies, and History.    


date of event: 

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 17:00


McCune Conference Room, HSSB 6220