Noire is the new noir: the Série Noire and the Franco-American detective traditions

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
The American University of Paris
contact email: 

Noire is the new noir: the Série Noire and the Franco-American detective traditions


Saturday, November 5th, 2016, The American University of Paris.


Plenary speaker: Aurélien Masson, director, Gallimard Série Noire


In 2015, the Série Noire, Gallimard’s iconic crime fiction imprint celebrated its 70th birthday. Throughout its history, the collection has published cult and classic texts from authors as diverse as Raymond Chandler and Chester Himes to Jean-Patrick Manchette and Thierry Jonquet in its distinctive yellow and black covers. Some of its writers were destined for mainstream and literary recognition outside the world of detective fiction, others, such as James Hadley Chase, James Gunn and Jean Amila were to remain appreciated only by a narrow, but voracious band of crime aficionados.

            Best known for its compelling depictions of detectives striving to close cases in murky and ambiguous moral milieux, the novels of the Série Noire also maintain a consistent dialogue – both explicit and implicit – between France and the USA. While the early years of the collection post World War II saw pro-American feeling manifest through the popularity of US writers, the Série Noire gradually became more critical of American culture, politics and society as time progressed through 1968 and towards a contemporary networked and late capitalist world of American hegemony. If, as Dennis Porter argues, the figure of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe brandishing a Colt Detective pistol is quintessentially American, what are the implications when the image is doubled in a French setting by Manchette’s Martin Terrier? What does it mean when French language detective fiction is translated and filmed by Hollywood?

            This one-day conference at the American University of Paris (AUP) will consider how the Série Noire reflects the dynamics of the relationship between France and the USA. It will explore how the novels of the Série Noire can be understood as a prism through which the social, political and cultural links between the two nations can be better understood.

The organisers invite proposals for twenty-minute research papers in English or French. Possible themes for exploration could include, but are by no means limited to, the following:


  • ·      The French writers of the Série Noire
  • ·      The American writers of the collection
  • ·      The Série Noire and race
  • ·      The women of the Série Noire: writers and characters
  • ·      Consumerism and capital
  • ·      American culture seen from France
  • ·      French culture viewed from the USA
  • ·      La France profonde in the Série Noire
  • ·      Impact of the Série Noire in American fiction
  • ·      Film adaptations of Série Noire texts
  • ·      French and American crime styles


Proposals (maximum 300 words), together with a short biography indicating your academic background, affiliation and research interests or short CV, should be submitted via e-mail to Russell Williams ( and Alice Craven ( by June 30th, 2016. Please include your name, academic affiliation (where appropriate), and contact details.


This conference is jointly organised by the AUP departments of Comparative Literature and English and Film Studies.

Dr. Russell Williams
Department of Comparative Literature and English
The American University of Paris
118, rue Saint-Dominique
75007 Paris, France