French crime novels featured at Evening at Egan

Posted: Thursday, October 01, 2009

On Oct. 2, University of Alaska Southeast faculty member Robin Walz will present "Rogue Cops, Elegant Criminals, and the Popular French Crime Novel" in the Egan Lecture Hall.

French popular crime readers in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries loved stories about flamboyant rogue cops and sophisticated criminals. In this Evening at Egan presentation, history professor Robin Walz will talks about two real life individuals, Eugène-François Vidocq, who went straight from life in prison to becoming the Chief of the Paris "Security Police", and Pierre-François Lacenaire, the "poet-assassin" who became a popular celebrity as a murderer with refined tastes. Vidocq and Lacenaire each immortalized themselves in self-published memoirs, but more importantly they became models for fictional detective heroes and criminal anti-heroes in French popular novels. For what French readers loved more than solving crime puzzles or celebrating the triumph of law and order, were stories about shady detectives and clever criminals who beat the system for fame, profit, and amusement.

Robin Walz is associate professor of history at UAS and is the author of several books and articles on French cultural history.

His talk will be preceded by a pre-lecture Bookstore by the Bay event from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Several of Walz' books on the history of popular culture in modern France will be available.

All Evening at Egan events are scheduled for either the Egan Library or Egan Lecture Hall depending on the crowd expected.

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