Tattoos in crime and detective narratives

Marking and remarking

Edited by Kate Watson and Katharine Cox

Tattoos in crime and detective narratives


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2867-6
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: June 2019
  • BIC Category: Literature, Other graphic art forms, Literature: history & criticism, Crime & mystery fiction, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century, Society & social sciences / Crime & criminology, Body Art & Tattooing, ART / Body Art & Tattooing, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism


Tattoos in crime and detective narratives examines representations of the tattoo and tattooing in literature, television and film, from two periods of tattoo renaissance (1851-1914, and c1955 to present). It makes an original contribution to understandings of crime and detective genre and the ways in which tattoos act as a mimetic device that marks and remarks these narratives in complex ways. With a focus on tattooing as a bodily narrative, the book incorporates the critical perspectives of posthumanism, spatiality, postcolonialism, embodiment and gender studies. The grouped essays examine the first tattoo renaissance, the rebirth of the tattoo in contemporary culture through literature, children's literature, film and television. The collection has a broad appeal, and will be of interest to all literature and media scholars, but in particular those with an interest in crime and detective narratives and skin studies.



International Crime Fiction Association Book Prize for non-fiction books


Introduction Katharine Cox and Kate Watson
Part I: Psychoanalysis, patternings, and the medical imagination
1 A knot of bodies: The tattoo as navel in Louisa May Alcott's 'V.V.: Or, plots and counterplots' - Alexander N. Howe
2 Making Manhattan: Urban hieroglyphics, patternings and tattoos in Edgar Allan Poe's 'The tell-tale heart' and Herman Melville's Moby Dick; Or, the Whale - Spencer Jordan
3 Medical men: Speculations of morality and spirituality in Arthur Conan Doyle's writings - David Beck
Part II: Practitioners, place, and contemporary identities
4 From naïve artists to integrated professionals: The portrayal of tattoos in Sarah Hall's The Electric Michelangelo and Alan Kent's Voodoo Pilchard - Hywel Dix
5 Mis-reading moko: Cross-cultural tattooing in Caryl Férey's crime fiction - Ellen Carter
6 Transforming tattoos of the girl with the dragon tattoo - Kerstin Bergman
Part III: Urban textualities, humans and other animals
7 The killing floor and crime narratives: Marking women and nonhuman animals - Kate Watson and Rebekah Humphreys
8 The tattoo wakes: Sentient ink, curatorship and writing the new weird in China Miéville's Kraken: An Anatomy - Katharine Cox
Part IV: Children's literature: Dark marks, scars, and secret societies
9 Dark marks, curse scars and corporal punishment: Crime and the function of bodily marks in the Harry Potter series - Lucy Andrew
10 'Since the schism': Reading the tattoo in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Caroline Jones and Katharine Cox
Part V: Film: Adaptation, memory, and constructions of self
11 The ink of the real: Memory and identity in Christopher Nolan's Memento - Peter Figler
12 The Bounty mutiny and its adaptations: Tattooing, primitivism, class and criminality - Matt Oches
Part VI: Television: Branding, tech-noir, and fan culture
13 Hunting for the branded body in Supernatural: Tattoos, the Mark of Cain and fan culture - Karin Beeler
14 Generic branding: Tattoos, transgenics, and tech-noir in James Cameron's Dark Angel - Will Slocombe
15 Tattoos, deviance and consumer culture in North American television: Criminal Minds, CSI: NY and Law and Order - Ruth Hawthorn and John Miller


Kate Watson is a Teacher of English and an Independent Scholar

Katharine Cox is a Principal Lecturer in English at Sheffield Hallam University

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