Detective fiction and "The Original Crime": Baudrillard, Calle, Poe

Bran Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Baudrillard appeared uninterested in the detective story and his work barely features in studies of the genre. This essay argues, however, that analyzing detective fiction from a Baudrillardian perspective - concentrating in particular on how the genre is structured around a tension between the forms Baudrillard termed “production“ and “seduction“ - can nonetheless illuminate how it works and enable us to reassess how far classic nineteenth-century detective fiction adhered to the principles of scientific logic, panopticism, and positivism. The essay begins by exploring detective fiction generally in relation to Baudrillardian approaches to the object and seduction before looking at two very different examples of detective fiction, but which turn out to explore the opposition between production and seduction in similar ways: the parodic detective dramas of the contemporary conceptual artist Sophie Calle, and Edgar Allan Poe's classic detective story, “The Purloined Letter.“
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-463
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Politics: An International Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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