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Body of Evidence: A Conference on Crime Fiction, 24-26th February 2012
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Department of English, St.Stephen's College, University of Delhi
The classic detective story (more widely, crime fiction), a popular and populist sub genre of the novel proper, is, quite wrongly, considered one of its youngest branches. In point of fact it is one of its earliest and, historically, one of its most resilient partners. If the novel is roughly 250 years old, the detective story is not very much younger, predating by several decades the modern romance and the spy story, never mind the novel for children or the fantasy novel or modern science fiction. And it has remained relatively – compared to these others – unchanged in its skeletal structure, a structure that is transparently evident: a heinous and unexpected crime, an unknown perpetrator, a group of suspects, ambiguous clues, a detective, a thrilling (often mental) pursuit, and the successful unconcealment of the CRIMINAL(s) and the motive.
Of course, this admits of a wider latitude of possibilities than is comfortable; after all, quite apart from some questionable antecedents in Chinese and Arabic fictions, Oedipus Rex is as good a contender for this sort of plot as is Death on the Nile. Oedipus Rex, however, neither commences nor continues such a plot tradition; and so for the purposes of the seminar we intend to limit ourselves to a tradition of writing, unselfconsciously inaugurated in France in the 1810s (or Denmark in 1829) and surging forward to the present time. Indeed, its inaugural moment - contentious and opaque - is itself an area of considerable scholarly dispute. In the English-speaking world, however, by common critical consent, the crucial moment of origin is 1841, the year Edgar Allan Poe published The Murders in the Rue Morgue. We shall, therefore, limit ourselves to fictional narratives of crime, in translations (in their entirety, or with relevant Englished segments): books, of course, but also TV shows and film, plays and histories, indeed, any narrative form that fits the bill.
Several variations come immediately to mind. Below, we list some, but by no means all, of these as a general guideline towards papers, presentations, critical approaches and areas that could be covered. Presentations may be in the form of papers, AV presentations, or any other format that we can technically host within a reasonable time frame. We would also welcome readings from original work, exhibitions, art, computer graphics or, indeed, any other format.
• ABSTRACTS ARE INVITED AT THE LATEST BY 30TH NOVEMBER 2011.
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DR. GITI CHANDRA,