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Euro Noir: Transcultural Identities in European Popular Crime Narratives

KU Leuven University via edX


The crime genre, perhaps the most popular narrative genre of contemporary media in Europe, offers an ideal material for evaluating the impact of the Europeanization process on cultural production, distribution and reception.

Have you ever wondered how this genre has spread throughout Europe in the last three decades, becoming so popular? Is “Euronoir” a consistent reality beyond the widely exploited labels of Nordic and Mediterranean Noir? How is the diversity of European landscape, cultural history and societies represented in these dark stories, and how do they reflect about the contradictions of political integration, economic inequalities, social injustice as well as, of course, criminal activities within and across the continent? Would it be possible to define “Europe” through the lenses of crime narratives?

A newly formed transnational collaborative project funded under the EU Horizon 2020 research programme, has taken on the challenge and investigate how the concept 'Europe' can be given a place within media and transmedia narrative production. This course brings together the project’s main results and makes them accessible for fans, students and every individual with an interest in the genre as well as in the much debated issue of European identity.

The outline of this MOOC will follow the history of the European crime genre from 1989 to the present day, focusing on its main productions, reception and distribution in different European countries. In relation to that, a few case studies have been selected as exemplary material to understand and analyse concepts like diversity, ethnicity, gender, migration and transculturality.


Module 1: Introduction

In the first module, we give you tips on how to best navigate through the course, its modules and units. We will also introduce you to the topic of crime narratives in Europe and present the DETECt project.

Module 2: Crime Genre and Contemporary European Society

In the second module you will get familiar with the scholarly debate about the crime genre as a form of social criticism and learn how the crime genre has dealt with the major challenges of contemporary European societies. You will also able to understand the production of the contemporary European crime genre in relation to the notions of globalization, glocalization and cosmopolitanism.

Module 3: History and Politics in European Crime Fiction

What are the similarities and relationship between crime fiction and historiography? We try to find answers by examining the role of European crime novels in reflecting, recounting, and revealing history and current events as well as learning about historical crime fictions.

Module 4: Nordic Noir: Gender & Crisis of the Welfare State

In the fourth module, we introduce you to the major features of Nordic Noir as a transcultural phenomenon in the global and European context. You will learn about Nordic Noir’s main authors and works, recognize the role of transmediality in this production. Also, you will gain insight on how Nordic Noir has critically approached the issue of the decline of the Welfare State in the Scandinavian region.

Module 5: Mediterranean Noir: Migration & Transculturality

What is the connecting thread between Mediterranean Noir, migration and transculturality? In this module, we will provide insight into these aspects of the Mediterranean Noir, analyzing some iconic authors and considering the impact of this genre on Film and Television.

Module 6: Eastern Europe: Ethnicity & Diversity

Through this module explains and illustrates the role of gender representation in the production of East-European crime narratives. You will get familiar with the major trends in the production of Eastern-European crime literature, film and television series. You will also learn how East-European crime novels, films and TV dramas have critically approached the issue of ethnicity and cultural diversity.

Module 7: Conclusion: the Belgian Example

In this conclusive module, by taking the example of the Belgian crime production as a case study, we introduce you to two controversial aspects: multilingualism and language. Besides, you will have the opportunity to resume and gain a deeper insight into some of the key concepts tackled in the entire course.

Taught by

Fred Truyen, Jan Baetens, Monica Dall’Asta, Kim Toft Hansen, Caius Dobrescu, Sándor Kálai and Jacques Migozzi


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