The concept of the “state of exception,” which is so crucial to Giorgio Agamben's claim for the continuity between the ancient founding of the polity and modern biopolitics, enables us to rethink more local and specified historical and aesthetic changes. By examining the genre of the roman noir in the works of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy, I will argue that we can witness a generic shift in the status of the “state of exception.” This shift concerns the relation between commodity culture, the law, woman, and the border figure of the detective, who is at once within and beyond the legal code.

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