#DETECt2021 – Day Three
#DETECt2021 – Day Three
A reportage of #DETECt2021 Conference. Written by Nicola Pimpinella and Lavinia Sansone, Students of the Dams Degree Course (Link Campus University).
The final day of the DETECt Conference at Link Campus University started with parallel sessions taking place in rooms A, B and C, followed by a plenary session.
PARALLEL SESSION 7
Panel A7: The Foreigner in Crime Fiction
Through the analysis of Deon Meyer’s post-apartheid, African noir “The Last Hunt” (2018), this panel reflected on the historical and contemporary relationship between Africa and Europe in relation to crime fiction: the panel focused on the complex interconnections between the two continents in terms of time, space, crimes and characters. In such sense, “The Last Hunt” comes across as “a hybrid literary product” that brings the local dimension into the global one, constantly moving from the national to the transnational level: by mentioning the central character’s exile in Bordeaux, the panel went on to stress the theme of mobility, while also complicating the socio-political landscape. Moreover, “the detective figure straddles the fine line between hero and villain”, which is typical in noir and therefore proves the osmotic relationship between fiction traditions that are only geographically distant.
Panel B7: The Geography of TV Crime Dramas: Local / Global
Starting with “The Break” (2016-2018), this panel wondered whether detective fiction is a “glocal” genre, as it exports local situations abroad and imports global ones: “crime fiction is a travelling structure, applicable and thereby a world literature par excellence” (Hedberg). Moving onto the topic of peripheral locations, the panel went on to list the “many reasons for choosing a tight-knit community as a setting to our dastardly plots” (Kiernan). In the case of Arctic and Greenlandic noir, the panel analysed “Thin Ice” (2020-present) to discuss opportunities and challenges of remote locations from a production perspective: so, it is inevitable that, for instance, the pitfalls shape both narrative and aesthetics, which can, however, benefit from it; in fact, “Iceland has become the centre of Arctic film and TV production, also concerning crime narratives”.
Panel C7: The Contribution of Digital Humanities to Cultural Studies Research
Commenting on the digital infrastructure built by DETECt Project, this panel reflected on diversified resources, integrated tools and services supporting research, teaching and learning activities. Mentioning the MOOC on “Euro-Noir” created by DETECt, the panel described the different objectives of a MOOC on crime fiction as part of a research project: for instance, its ability to reach a large public has the potential to build a strong international learning community where it is possible to spread research outcomes and encourage transnational dialogue. Analysing the locative screen tourism experience “DETECt Aarhus”, the panel went on to show how smart screen tourism can provide “a multifaceted perspective on locations”, as it encourages people to explore local cultures: users can visit the places of the fictional worlds depicted in films and TV series.
Plenary session: Crime, Creative Industries and Contemporary European Media Policies
Research Fellow Federico Pagello from Università di Chieti-Pescara chaired this session that saw the participation of two teams of researchers, Italian and Danish. Research Fellow Luca Antoniazzi from Università di Bologna talked about the potentials (e.g. pursuing extra economic goals in media policy) and weaknesses (e.g. absence of future-led policies) of the new AVMSD. Next, Associate Professor Luca Barra from Università di Bologna focused on “foreign content and its travelling paths”: in his paper, he went on to the topics of format adaptations, subtitling and dubbing, which help to circulate ideas, safeguard minority languages and, eventually, build a more diverse European culture. Moving to the Danish team, Assistant Professor Cathrin Helen Bengesser from Aalborg University reflected on the geographical imbalances in fiction funding decisions while analysing Creative Europe’s TV Programming Scheme: for instance, looking at application statistics, you may notice that “big applicants have below average success rate” and “smaller applicants often do get a chance (but hardly ever for fiction)”. Finally, Associate Professor Kim Toft Hansen from Aalborg University took the example of “The Team” (2015-2018) to illustrate how TV crime drama can be a form of transcultural communication: as the first genuine “European” series of its kind (5 different European producers, 7 European broadcasters, 6 different languages, etc.), the series proves “the European added-value” behind the promotion of “differences that transcend various traditional cultures” (Hepp).
In the final afternoon, it was the turn of a keynote speech, a round table discussion and, finally, the DETECt Screenwriting Contest award ceremony.
Keynote by Peppino Ortoleva
In the Beginning Was a Murder. The Changing Meanings, and Pleasures, of Crime
Full Professor Peppino Ortoleva from Università di Torino started his speech on the gratifications we get from following a crime story by mentioning The Mechanics of Emotion (1913): in this article, Cohan and Nathan argue “there are emotional reflexes as well as physical reflexes”. Professor Ortoleva went on to recall the Latin etymology of “emotion” (to move), claiming that movements of the psyche are essential for crime stories. Introducing what he calls “the field of the gratifications tied to detective fiction”, Professor Ortoleva started to explore “the vertices of this rough pentagon” and finally tried to consider the whole area: for instance, he mentioned the need for “a spice of danger” expressed by Agatha Christie’s Poirot, which blends with the vicarious experience of the audience; in fact, “noir genre is full of danger” and what makes it so interesting is the shift in emotions it provokes. Professor Ortoleva concluded that it is incorrect to regard a particular emotion as central, since “it is a field open to further investigation”.
During the discussion following the keynote speech, Full Professor Maurizio Ascari from Università di Bologna asked a few questions to Professor Ortoleva, who claimed, for instance, that nowadays “the notion of genre is partially blurred” and that according to him the two main supergenres in contemporary mass culture are noir and melodrama.
Concluding round table: Research Impact in the Humanities – New Directions
Associate Professor Luca Barra from Università di Bologna chaired this discussion that involved the testimonies of research projects like DETECt, ViCTOR-E and CInCIt. Full Professor Monica Dall’Asta from Università di Bologna and PI of DETECt Project pointed out what guided her team in the elaboration and evaluation of the project, of which one of the most successful activities has been the Screenwriting Contest itself, which highlighted “what it means to be European today in popular culture products”. Next, Full Professor Valentina Carla Re from Link Campus University, after hinting at the project results in terms of impact, offered some provocations considering the critical issues they have faced as scholars and researchers: for instance, she wondered “how can we make dissemination and promotion more interesting and attractive for researchers” or “how to manage an international press office”. Moving from DETECt, Full Professor Francesco Pitassio from Università degli Studi di Udine and PI of HERA ViCTOR-E Project mentioned some “pitfalls and advantages of measuring and assessing the impact of a research project”. Next, Associate Professor Simon Popple from University of Leeds talked about “the slightly different concept of impact” they have in the UK, which is closer to the concept of “social consequences of research”. Finally, Full Professor Massimo Scaglioni from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and PI of CinCIt Project suggested the importance of interpreting impact “as a substantial concept” and later mentioned some of the project’s academic challenges.
DETECt Screenwriting Contest Award Ceremony
The award ceremony was preceded by a conversation with writer and Jury President Maurizio De Giovanni. Interviewed by writer and Associate Professor Alessandro Perissinotto from Università di Torino, Jury President De Giovanni wanted to congratulate all finalists of the Screenwriting Contest for their new takes on crime fiction: in fact, he went on to talk about the reasons for the success of the crime genre, which DETECt Project has demonstrated to be international in scope. Next, hinting at the role played by literature in leading the way to TV seriality, the Jury President commented on his choice to take a close interest in the transformation of his novels into TV series. Moving to the setting of his literary series, he mentioned how important it is for him to portray a city of Naples that is far from postcard stereotypes, as in the case of “I bastardi di Pizzofalcone” (2017-present).
Approaching the proclamation of the winner, Ben Harris, Head of Programme for Serial Eyes, asked Jury members Steve Matthews (HBO Europe), Karen Hassan (Cattleya) and Giacomo Poletti (Mediaset Group) about their impressions of the projects to get an insight into how the mind of an industry executive works.
It was then the turn of two special mentions: the Special Mention for the Best Character(s), given by Link Campus University Student Staff, went to Peff and Solo from “Silver Ghost” by Carsten Jaeger, and the Special Mention given by DETECt Researchers went to “Red Planet Blues” by Harry Ayiotis. Finally, Jury member Karen Hassan, on behalf of the International Jury, announced the winner of DETECt Screenwriting Contest: “Magerdo” by Ewa Stec, for addressing “social and cultural tensions that can be of interest to viewers across Europe” and presenting “a suspenseful cat and mouse game between its main characters […] as a good crime story should do”.
Full Professor Valentina Carla Re closed the DETECt Conference thanking again all the Jury members and Ben Harris and congratulating all the participants of the Screenwriting Contest.