Sapphic Sleuth:Investigating Identity, Causality, and Craft in Lesbian Detective Fiction

Douaihy, Margot (2019) Sapphic Sleuth:Investigating Identity, Causality, and Craft in Lesbian Detective Fiction. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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‘Sapphic Sleuth’ consists of my novel, The Scorched Cross: A Sister Holiday Mystery, and a reflective thesis on the process of and rationale for writing it. The commentary explains the critical-into-creative methodology established to write a novel that leverages detective genre conventions and fluidity to inhabit, subvert, and expand on genre tropes, such as masquerade and the hardboiled wise-guy voice, to recast the lone-wolf sleuth as a queer nun who investigates her imbricated identities in concert with the central crimes. This thesis explores how the novel was informed by a creative reading and analysis of criticism and detective fiction, particularly hardboiled private-eye fiction, with the goal of contributing an original variation on the amateur sleuth narrative. Following examinations of genre and the complex relationship of social identities and cultural institutions in detective fiction, the thesis articulates how amateur sleuth fiction like The Scorched Cross: A Sister Holiday Mystery exemplifies that relationship. These inquiries converge in the context of craft as I explicate the novel’s aesthetics and the system of poetics devised to queer the investigative sensibility and innovate within genre expectations to achieve thematic and stylistic synthesis. The critical commentary proposes that an application of queer analysis and the foregrounding of queer storylines in crime fiction, as illustrated in The Scorched Cross: A Sister Holiday Mystery, can situate a sleuth outside of heteronormative constructs thereby affording her unusual detection abilities such as interpreting, code-switching, passing, and inference – skills particularly relevant to a person at the margins. Through this commentary I argue that a theoretically grounded queer crime fiction practice can create a discourse between new works and canonical texts, underscoring the fluid nature of genre and the vital ways crime fiction can contribute to an expansive Creative Writing practice and pedagogy.

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Thesis (PhD)
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22 Nov 2019 15:05
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 01:40