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Sentient ink, curatorship and writing the new weird in China Miéville’s Kraken: An anatomy
Katharine Cox

This chapter reads metaphors of ink, tattoo and tattooing in China Miéville’s Kraken as Miéville’s curatorship of the new weird, which reveals complex associations with body, place and meaning. This chapter challenges Miéville’s theorisation of the new weird and details a historically nuanced understanding of the relationship between writing, detection and tattooing in weird fiction. The weird as part of crisis-blasted modernity opens up to older, suppressed representations of the weird associated with the idea of the Kraken, the etymology of ‘weird’ and the associations of the tattoo which are active in the text. Here, the use of tattoos as a metaphor for writing highlights the body’s potential as a site to reclaim power in literature more widely, and so exceed the genres of weird and detective fiction. This chapter’s emphasis on modes of ink and tattooing can be extended and used as a means to explore contemporary ontological debates of self, embodiment and representation.

in Tattoos in crime and detective narratives
Marking and remarking
Editors: Kate Watson and Katharine Cox

Tattoos in crime and detective narratives: Marking and remarking examines representations of the tattoo and tattooing in literature, television and film, from two periods of tattoo renaissance (1851–1914, and around 1955 to the present). The collection reads tattoos and associated scarification, such as branding, as mimetic devices that mark and remark crime and detective narratives in complex ways. The chapters utilise a variety of critical perspectives drawn from posthumanism, spatiality, postcolonialism, embodiment and gender studies to read the tattoo as individual and community bodily narratives. The collection develops its focus from the first tattoo renaissance and considers the rebirth of the tattoo in contemporary culture through literature, children's literature, film and television. This book has a broad appeal and will be of interest to all literature and media scholars and, in particular, those with an interest in crime and detective narratives and skin studies.

Reading the tattoo in Lemony Snicket’s A series of unfortunate events
Caroline Jones and Katharine Cox

This chapter explores how the changing meaning of the tattoo in Lemony Snicket’s A series of unfortunate events disrupts initially simplistic representations of good and evil for the child protagonists and reader. As a result, the changing interpretations of the tattoo also charts the shift in the three central characters’ self-identity and sense of community belonging. Early representations of the tattoo as a sign of fear and surveillance are complicated after book six through the revelation of the secret society known as V.F.D., where membership is usually denoted through an eye tattoo. However, following the society’s split, it is impossible to read the intentions of the bearer of the tattoo. An appreciation of the complexity and evolving meaning of the tattoo mirrors the children’s increasingly sensitive readings of literature and character. The children are often confronted with damaged or incomplete documents and textualities which mean that the children are reliant on partial interpretations. The tattoo is central to the books’ representation of the malleability of meaning, of the promotion of research alongside reading, as demonstrated through the children’s growth in understanding that the world is complex.

in Tattoos in crime and detective narratives
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Katharine Cox and Kate Watson

The introduction establishes the theoretical concept of remarking drawing on Jacques Derrida’s theories of the simultaneous act of difference and communality in writing (re-marking), before defining the tattoo and historical methods of tattooing. Reading the tattoo as simultaneously under and over-coded, the chapters argue that the tattoo has a meta, self-reflective and subversive function within the crime and detective genre itself. The introduction positions the collection’s approach to tattooing through a mini-literature review considering contemporary sociological, anthropological and historical responses. Tattoos offer complex articulations of place, gender, animal ethics, rule of law, violence, trauma, art, race and narrative. By responding to the sheer diversity of critical approaches that focus on the body and narrative – including, but not limited to, posthumanism, spatiality, postcolonialism, embodiment and gender studies, culminating in an interdisciplinary skin studies – the chapters demonstrate how the tattoo speaks. It is a complex story.

in Tattoos in crime and detective narratives