CFP: Captivating Criminality (24-26 Apr 2014, Bath Spa U)


Captivating Criminality: Crime Writing, Darkness and Desire
Bath Spa University and Crime Studies Network At Corsham Court (
24-26 April 2014

How can crime writing be defined?

Although crime fiction is traditionally regarded as a distinguishable literary form, what can be considered part of this genre? The various sub-genres that are encompassed under the title of crime writing, including the ‘whodunnit’, the Hard Boiled thriller, Golden Age narratives, and the ‘whydunnit’ psychological thriller are all so variable that a defining process becomes nearly impossible. Can Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment be classed as a crime novel? After all, there are murders, crimes, mystery, punishment and redemption – key themes of the genre. How do we go about contrasting pre-conceived ideas of the genre crime writing with a larger literary discussion?

This conference aims to consider the darker side of crime writing with particular reference to the process of captivation, fascination and desire, in relation to the texts themselves and also to us as readers: why does crime writing captivate? Crime fiction regularly outsells literary fiction and this demonstrates that we hunger for what this genre has to offer. This conference will bring together a number of disciplines to investigate these key themes. The conference will provide a platform for creative writers, historians, theorists and literary scholars to examine crime writing, from Gothic fiction of the eighteenth century to the current popularity of Nordic noir.

We are delighted to announce that the Award-winning crime author Val McDermid will be joining us to discuss the world of crime. Translated into more than 30 languages, with over two million copies sold in the UK and over 10 million worldwide, she has written 25 bestselling novels; The Vanishing Point – her latest novel – is her 26th.

Our second keynote speaker is S.J. (Sharon) Bolton whose books have been shortlisted for several international awards including the CWA Gold Dagger, the Theakston’s Old Peculiar prize for crime novel of the year, the International Thriller Writers’ Best First Novel and (four years running) the Mary Higgins Clark award for best thriller (Awakening won this). Her latest book, Dead Scared was published in April 2012.   Both Val and Sharon deal with the darker side of humanity in their writing. Indeed, Sharon speaks of the fact that she writes in order to ‘face her own demons’.

We are also pleased that Professor Mary Evans will be joining us as a keynote speaker. She has been an emeritus professor at the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research since 2007 and at present is a centennial professor at the London School of Economics. Her monograph The Imagination of Evil: Detective Fiction and the Modern World, published in 2009, examines detective fiction and its complex relationship to the modern and modernity. She questions who and what the detective stands for and suggests that the answer challenges many of our assumptions about the relationship between various moralities in the modern world.

Bath Spa University and the Crime Studies Network invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing to attend this international, interdisciplinary conference about the dark nature of crime fiction. Panels may include, but are not restricted to:

• Reimagining the criminal mind
• The Gothic
• True Crime
• Foreign Bodies
• Ancient Bodies
• Crime and Modernism/Modernity
• Dostoevsky and Beyond: The Genealogy of crime writing
• Fatal Femininity
• Seduction and Sexuality
• The Criminal Analyst
• Others and Otherness
• Landscape and Identity
• Justice versus Punishment
• Lack of Order and Resolution

Please send 400 word proposals to Dr Fiona Peters ( and Dr Rebecca Gordon Stewart ( by 6 January 2014. The abstract should include a title, name and affiliation of the speaker, and a contact email address. Feel free to submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects. Postgraduate students are welcome. Papers will be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Proposals for suggested panels are also welcome.

The Crime Studies Network website is here.

CALL FOR AUTHORS: Violence in American Popular Culture

cropped-graham-wynd-sm1.jpgCALL FOR AUTHORS:  Violence in American Popular Culture (two volume collection of essays)




Discussion of violence in American popular culture is omnipresent but usually lacking in historical context. This leads to a great amount of unsupported generalization that creates confusion and misunderstanding about this crucial social and cultural issue. This collection will provide historical context by surveying how violence has been represented in American popular culture from the Puritan era to the present. It aims to be both historically comprehensive and to discuss a full range of media and genres, from the earliest execution sermons to the latest video games and websites. Armed with this information, the reader will have knowledge of exactly why and how violence has always played a fundamental role in American popular culture.




Each volume of the collection will be organized chronologically. The first volume will focus on essays that deal with violent events/phenomena in American history (such as Native American genocide and slavery) that have been treated across a range of popular cultural media. The second volume will focus on the treatment of violence in popular culture in a series of specific popular cultural media, such as execution sermons, television and film. The combination of the two types of essay exemplifies the manner in which the collection as a whole will provide the reader with both historical breadth and specific analyses of particular popular cultural genres.


The collection will include essays on the following subjects:
• Native American History
• Slavery
• The Civil War
• World War II
• Vietnam
• The Civil Rights Movement
• Domestic Violence
• Gang Violence
• 9/11
• The War on Terror
• Puritan Execution Sermons
• Criminal Autobiographies
• The Yellow Press
• Dime Novels
• Crime Fiction (Classic & Hard-Boiled)
• Film (2-3 essays on impact of Production Code, different film genres, etc.)
• Television (2-3 essays on different television genres, etc.)
• True Crime (both pre- and post-In Cold Blood)
• Music (2-3 essays on murder ballads, rap, metal, etc.)
• Video Games
• The Internet
Each essay will be approximately 8,000 words in length.
Publishing Information


This collection is under contract with Praeger Press. All submissions will be reviewed by the collection’s General Editor, Professor David Schmid, University at Buffalo. Each contributor will receive a free copy of the collection upon its publication.


Submission and Deadlines


If you are interested in contributing to this collection, please contact David Schmid by November 1, 2013. Please include a copy of your cv and a brief description of your academic and publishing credentials.  Please also indicate which essay/topic you are interested in writing about. Initial proposals will be due December 1, 2013, first drafts of essays by June 1, 2014 and revised drafts by August 1, 2014.