Ruth Mayer (Université de Hanovre) :
“In the Nick of Time? Detective Film Serials, Temporality, and Contingency Management, 1919-1926″
Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Défense, salle L 205
Vendredi 11 décembre, 15-18h
Séminaire « Fictions médiatiques », LPCM (Association internationale des chercheurs en Littératures populaires et Culture Médiatique) et CSLF (EA 1586, équipe Phistem)
coordonné par Anne Besson (Université d’Artois) et Matthieu Letourneux (Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Défense).
This paper investigates the structural and narrative rearrangements of the classical detective plot in the context of the American entertainment culture of the 1910s and 1920s, paying particular attention to the film serial, as a particularly underresearched cinematic format of the day. In the focus of attention will be the detective genre’s ‘time politics.’ The classical detective story of the nineteenth century invokes the detective as the time keeper and manager of time, enacting a characer who dexterously fashions random facts into temporal sequences of cause and effect. The detective films, and here especially serial films of the 1910s and 20s, abandoned (or lost grip of) this ideal. Temporal impositions – close calls, last-minute rescue actions, ticking time bombs, and speeding vehicles – gain central significance in this context. The detective is no longer in control in this world, he is routinely getting lost and abducted, drifting along rather than ingeniously conjecturing from a safe distance. The temporality of the detective serial is a temporality of presence, and its work consists in disclosing spontaneous options of action and intuitive modes of coping with the complexities of modernity. The fact that the detective is more often lost than on top of things, is the point of this narrative format rather than an inherent weakness or shortcoming.