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The phenomenology of crime in Croatian crime novels


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Čutura, Vladan. (2018). The phenomenology of crime in Croatian crime novels. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Croatian Language and Literature.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij kroatistike) [mentor Grgas, Stipe and Brešić, Vinko].

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The specificity of the approach in this paper is that the scientific findings will precede the review of popular culture, more precisely the crime novel, in order to inscribe the meanings that literature has to deal with causes and phenomena of criminality. Such an approach assumes lax boundaries between criminology, literary and cultural theory. As such, new themes and approaches came from the radical peripherals to the centre of knowledgeable interest which resulted in new crime directions and schools. Such insights will serve the methodological and analytical approach to the Croatian criminal novel. It is that by combining the theory of classical criminological science with culture and media studies, cognitive sciences, deconstruction, psychoanalytic semiotics and feminism that these theories have come to important notions in the interpretation of the phenomenon of crime through the numerous products of popular culture. Crime has always been a focus of interest in different disciplines, but the cultural studies and cultural criminology disciplines have begun to be interested in this phenomenon and in the field of culture to try new ways to understand the problem. This was confirmed by the fact that, because of its complexity, the phenomenon of crime cannot be and has never been the subject of just one discipline and it is therefore logical that the boundaries between disciplines should be relaxed. Such an approach necessarily leads to the spread of discourse regarding the boundaries of crime. There are several important facts that justify attempts to investigate the faintness of fictional texts of crime novels with the theories of criminology and, in general, with the world of crime. First, in this work, I am interested in how the crime was “packaged” in this popular genre that has recently been interpreted solely as a cheap entertainment. By crossing two discourses, literary theory and criminology, I want to examine with which criminological concepts the authors of Croatian crime novels negotiated and how they changed the narrative of crime in this genre. More precisely, if we approach a criminal novel as one of the many narratives on crime, it can testify on the occurrences and causes of deviant behaviours. The aim of the paper was to point to possible overlap points and ways in which criminology can serve as an analytical object in approaching various scientific concepts like criminology, social control and criminal law. It was also intended to illustrate how these ideas can be used in the creative analysis of the problem. Such an approach required the examination of cultural and social meanings on the various criminal-related phenomena in Croatian crime novels. Though literature is one of the narratives on crime, most academic criminologists have not been honouring it in their research until recently, but it is the stories that allow us to pursue crime and criminals in a different kind of complexity than those we encounter in classical criminal studies. The fact is that literature and culture are involved in building our reality and they shape the way we think about certain phenomena, including the phenomenon of crime. According to the literary text, I used the same approach as a narrative of the crime, such as crime news, criminological texts, offenders’ biographies or case studies. With this approach, it becomes clear that there are numerous insights into our social world. The important conclusion I tried to contribute to is the conclusion reached by two American authors - Nicole Rafter and Michelle Brown (2011), that criminology is not only produced by scientists, but by many participants in popular culture, including those who write and read crime novels or watch and record criminal films. According to their conclusion, it can be said that crime, albeit a negative social phenomenon, is also a cultural resource. The idea and the inspiration for such an approach have been found in the theory of cultural criminology and in one of the fundamental insights of the representative of this orientation, that the phenomenon of criminality must also be studied by analyzing both the criminal activities shown in the media, and culture of everyday life. What is cultural criminology at all? It is a theoretical, methodological and interventionist approach to crime investigation, where crime and social control are interpreted in a cultural context. The phenomenon of crime is also approaching as a cultural product and a creative construct, with emphasis on the interpretation of meaning and on representation and power in the construction of crime and the formation of experiences. In building such a concept, it was necessary to step out from the framework of academic criminology to other ideas and scientific interests, such as literature, music, art, architecture and philosophy. In this sense, cultural criminology means to things; new analytical objects and new ways of analysis centered on symbolic meanings. If we ask ourselves whether or not we need cultural criminology, the answer is that cultural interpretations complement and alter existing knowledge about problems that are hidden beneath manifest contents and problematize the purity of the concepts of crime phenomenon which are often the product of precisely designed data of criminological and criminal law analyzes and theories. This moves the boundaries of criminological theory beyond known concepts, including understanding the perception of crime in pop culture, in which forms this popular literary genre is involved. An interdisciplinary approach becomes clearer in which places overlapping two crime narratives that often seemed to be opposing fields - academic and literary, and that cultural dynamics largely define criminality that is not just statistics and other bureaucratic calculations. It is important to note why crime novels have become the focus of new criminological theories and there are several reasons for this. First, every crime and criminal act always appear and interpret as narrative events, regardless of whether the testimonies are from the courtrooms, insights of social sciences and criminology, through biographical case studies, newspaper reports, or, discovering crime by reading crime novels. Secondly, the themes that were produced by popular culture originated in all forms of crime and often caused certain reactions to its content. Third, there is a whole history of a relationship between criminology and literature. Literature is embedded in the foundations of criminology and criminal law since its creation in the mid-19th century. The first criminologists would regularly seek evidence in literary texts for dubious scientific theories, where literature was often instrumentalized. By returning to the past of the criminological discipline, one will show that criminology has "always been" contaminated with cultural, especially literary factors. Finally, crime novels have become a research topic in criminology due to the contemporary relationships between power and influence, as well as the explosion of the entertainment industry and the globalization of crime in culture, media, and economy. In order to inscribe these types of meanings and try to explain them, it is important to focus on the conceptions of crime circulating in the texts of Croatian crime novels. There are two dominant research directions in this paper. The first is the diachronic approach, which has shown that Croatian crime novels have to be interpreted within the positions of ruling socio-political and ideological narratives. In that part, I examined the ways in which symbolic images and narratives related to the phenomenon of crime and the time within which they were formed. Such an approach proved to be important for yet another reason, as it allows to describe the relationship between official crime policy and the Keith Hayward and Jock Young (2012) thesis that the phenomenon of crime and the cultural product and creative construct incorporating representational power. The second approach will be to define the ways in which the subjects of literature that overlap with the scientific interests of criminal law and criminology are discussed. In this case, I will approach the literary text as a scientific object that enriches the existing analysis of established concepts in the field of criminology. The main research question in the paper, which is basically theoretical, is whether a criminal novel with a focus on the problem of crime can be the basis of empirical data and the fact of establishing a common model of the study of phenomenology and the etiology of crime. The research question led to the fact that crime novels can contribute to the research of numerous criminal phenomena and enrich the criminological methodology of this issue. The objectives of this research can be divided into the underlying goal and several applicable goals. It is fundamental to point to and overlap the points and ways in which crime novels can further explain some of the basic criminological concepts and illustrate how these ideas can be used in creative analyzes and interpretations of phenomenology and etiology of crime. Also, I would outline four applicable work goals. The first is to show that disciplinary enrichment ˗ criminology in the field of literature and literacy in the field of criminology can be achieved. Another, to contribute to the existing archive of the interpretation of the criminalistic genre. The third is to draw attention to a somewhat neglected link between the phenomenon of crime and literature. The latter will encourage a wider debate that would produce new hypotheses and research on correspondence between criminological and cultural-theoretical approaches in the field of music, film, theatre, media and other phenomena of popular culture. The scientific methods I will use in such an endeavour will be to analyze and interpret manifest contents of the phenomenon of crime in literary and criminological texts. They will be compared by comparative analysis to gain insight into their overlapping, offer insights and describe the results of the research. The work consists of two parts. The first part of the paper deals with several important concepts, such as the problem of interdisciplinarity, the definition of classical criminology, development, methodology and theory of cultural criminology, the phenomenon of evil, the influence of cultural practices on the development of criminology and the social history of the formation of the criminal genre. In the second part of the paper I have dealt with interpretations of Croatian crime novels in four historical stages ˗ the first and second phase of socialism (Anthony Šoljan, Branko Belan, Milan Nikolic, Paul Pavlicic and Goran Tribuson), transition period (Ivica Đikić, Robert Naprta, Ivana Bodrožić, Drago Hedl, Jurica Pavičić, Nenad Stipanić) and a modern novel (Želimir Periš). One of the aims of the paper was to present the possibility of disciplinary enrichment. It is an attempt to reconceptualize criminological theory in relation to culture, assuming that it can play an important role in relation to criminology, constituting its discourse and social significance. An interdisciplinary approach has demonstrated the way in which "fictitious reality" in literature can be useful in explaining the importance of imaginative and creative thinking in social sciences. This goal has also led to the enrichment of existing archives of reading and interpreting crime novels. I believe this work will inspire a broader debate that would produce new hypotheses and research by crossing criminological and cultural theoretical approaches in the field of popular culture in music, film, theater, the media and other popular culture phenomena. With this intent, I also believe in the possibility that literature is only one single segment of culture that can be studied this way. As one of the most important conclusions of this paper, thanks to the diachronic approach in the history of the Croatian crime novels and also the history of criminology, I would point out that most of the criminal behaviours stems from economic and political structures, arrangements and vice versa and criminology and criminal law have often been weapons in defence of such structures. This is evidenced by almost all crime novels, from Marija Jurić Zagorka to the latest novels by Želimir Periš, which point to the arbitrariness of the border between criminal and noncriminal behaviour as one of the fundamental political ideas of today.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Croatian literature, crime, criminal novel, criminology, cultural criminology, popular culture
Subjects: Slavic languages and literatures > Croatian language and literature
Departments: Department of Croatian Language and Literature
Supervisor: Grgas, Stipe and Brešić, Vinko
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij kroatistike
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2019 12:27
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2019 12:27

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