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It might be September already, but colleagues in Modern Languages & Cultures continue to undertake their research. This summer, Dr Tom Whittaker, Senior Lecturer in Film & Spanish Cultural Studies, has been busy working on a monograph entitled Deviant Noise: Quinquis, Criminality and Sound in Spanish Film. The book is the first English-language study to explore cine quinqui, an enormously popular genre of crime and delinquent films made during Spain’s transition to democracy, in the late 1970s and 1980. In films such as Deprisa, deprisa/ Fast Fast (Carlos Saura, 1980) and Yo, El Vaquilla/ I, El Vaquilla (José Antonio de la Loma, 1985), delinquents (popularly known as quinquis) played theatrical versions of themselves, often re-enacting the bank robberies and crimes they actually had committed in real life.

Juan José Moreno Cuenca ('La Vaquilla') in Yo, El Vaquilla

Juan José Moreno Cuenca (‘La Vaquilla’) in Yo, El Vaquilla

In rethinking the commonly held relationship between sound and image in Spanish film, this book explores both cine quinqui and Spanish youth subcultures primarily through their sonic expression. From the rough-hewn vocal performances of real-life delinquents to the music of rumbas, it shows how sound in the quinqui film is characterized by its deviant and transgressive nature.

In doing so, the book explores the social location of the quinqui delinquents  as ‘noise’, an unwanted and excessive sound which intrudes on spaces where it does not socially belong. In drawing on theories of Sound Studies and Cultural Criminology, Dr Whittaker’s book ultimately shows how as ‘deviant noise’, the sound of the quinquis drew attention to the fragile borders between criminality and order during these years, at a time when the broader culture of criminal justice in Spain failed to live up to its promises of a progressive democracy.

José Antonio Valedelomar and Berta Socuéllamos  in Deprisa, deprisa

José Antonio Valedelomar and Berta Socuéllamos in Deprisa, deprisa

As well as working on this monograph, Dr Whittaker has also been busy checking the final proofs and compiling the index of the book Locating the Voice in Film: Critical Approaches and Global Practices (co-edited with Dr Sarah Wright), which will be published in December with Oxford University Press.