CFP: [Gender Studies] MLA Special Session: Gender and Narrative Form in 20th-Century Detective Fiction

full name / name of organization: 
Lauryl Tucker
contact email:

This panel seeks papers examining the expression of gender in the
narrative techniques of 20th-century detective fiction writers. As a
form inherently concerned with criminality, epistemology, concealment and
strategic disclosure, detective fiction also necessarily reflects, for
instance, how gender concepts are policed, mystified, voiced and
deduced. The conventions of detection narrative can easily be called
conservative, insofar as they represent a logically legible world in
which one kind of outsider, the detective, can reliably discovers
another, the criminal, through a kind of systematic, attentive close
reading practice. Yet recent critical attention to the often subversive
cultural politics of detective fiction has complicated and enriched our
understanding of this genre, and these works often meditate on their own
conventionality in ironic ways that show what else is at stake in the
telling of the tale:

What has gender normativity to do with crime and its solution?

Why does the frequently eccentric masculinity of the detective attract a
certain kind of gendered biographer/sidekick/narrator, and how does this
mediation work?

What kind of access does this genre allow to female voices and narrative

Where are women located among the several (often quite slippery) levels
of embedded narration?

Does detective fiction construct a gendered readership?

Please send a 500-word abstract to Lauryl Tucker ( by
20 March.

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Received on Wed Feb 13 2008 - 14:53:44 EST

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