TV crime thrillers are immensely popular in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. While they often differ widely in style, many of the series are rooted in a specific region. The most famous of these is Tatort which features 24 regional teams each with its own mood. While many popular German-language TV crime series remain little-known outside their countries of origin, a closer scholarly examination can provide valuable insights into the society and culture of the time and into the TV crime genre itself.
Examining the narratives of German-language crime shows from their origins with Kommissar and Tatort in 1969-1970, through the fall of the Berlin Wall, to today provides a snapshot of the social, cultural and even political history of the respective regions. Woven into the crime plots of each series are general societal challenges (including drug addiction, domestic violence, racism) as well as specific contemporaneous events (such as the mass shooting in the Munich Olympia shopping mall in 2016). A formal analysis of German-language TV crime series also offers a deeper understanding of how the genre’s style, with its combination of conservative and innovative elements, helps communicate its socio-cultural message.
This panel will examine the connection between culture, society and genre in German-language TV crime shows. We invite contributions that explore and evaluate the series themselves and/or consider correlations between the shows, the broader culture in which they became significant, and the genre as a whole. A publication of selected essays is planned.
Papers on this panel may address any of the following topics:
- Specific German-language series from 1969 to the present
- Original Netflix or Amazon Prime series in German (Babylon Berlin; Dark; Freud)
- Representation of the Other (foreigners, Gastarbeiter, LBGTQ+)
- Representation of Women/Feminism
- Regionalism (its significance and representation)
- Connection to American series (i.e. Dragnet inspired Stahlnetz, a predecessor to Tatort, which, in turn has taken up aspects of The Wire)
- Cinematography (style and its evolution)
- Tension between innovation and conservatism in content and form
- Narrative form and function
- Popularity of crime series and/or viewer responses
- Representation of (social) reality
Please send inquiries and 250-word proposals by Feb 25 to Anita McChesney (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Oliver C. Speck (email@example.com).
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