University of Warwick, 19th May 2017

Confirmed Speaker: Warren Pleece, comic artist and graphic novelist (more to be announced)

Abstracts are invited for a one-day interdisciplinary conference at the University of Warwick, supported by the Department of History and the Humanities Research Centre. Hardboiled History seeks to bring together scholars interested in the ways contemporary media represents and reinterprets history, by exploring how and why “noir” resurfaces in depictions of America’s past across a variety of mediums.

Since the 1940s, when critics began to recognise Hollywood was producing a new “cycle” of films distinct in their visual style and cynical worldview, a wealth of scholarship has explored film noir as a genre (or “mood”, “phenomenon”), its ties to hardboiled literature, the industrial conditions that fostered it, and the tropes it codified. With their inherent darkness and existentialist explorations, the film noirs of this ‘classic’ period have come to be popularly understood as the productions that best explored and represented contemporary social anxieties in America around gender, race, wartime demobilisation, modernisation, and urbanisation.

Numerous successful films and television series continue to this day to be described according to their noir-like qualities. Yet, with noir novels, videogames, radio dramas, and graphic novels, noir needs to be conceptualised as a much wider phenomenon. This conference seeks to bring together scholars and practitioners interested in exploring the ways contemporary visual media and literature – in all its forms – continues to utilise, reshape or subvert preconceived notions of noir, often as a method for exploring and/or representing both the ‘classic’ noir period in America’s past, as well as more recent historical moments.

Proposals are welcomed from a variety of cross-disciplinary methodological perspectives. Papers can explore texts across mediums (e.g. film, television, videogames, graphic novels/literature, art, theatre, etc.). Industry practitioners or practice-based researchers who can offer reflections on these themes are actively welcomed. We also encourage papers that seek to challenge the delineation of noir – and its engagement with history – as a purely American phenomenon, offering international perspectives.

Please submit abstracts of around 250 words and a short biographical statement to, by 16 January, 2017. Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:

• How noir codified its association with particular historical moments and worldviews
• How artists use “noir” to explore the past and/or challenge history
• Space and place; alternate settings; international perspectives
• Noir codes/conventions used in other forms/genres; new sub-genres
• Character archetypes (subversions to or recreations of)
• Technical or production perspectives
• Notable actors/directors/writers/artists
• Reception/audience/fan studies

Esther Wright and Hannah Graves
Department of History
University of Warwick