True Crime: Fact, Fiction, Ideology
Keynote lecture: 'The Moors Murders and the "Truth" of True Crime', David Schmid (University at Buffalo, SUNY), author of Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2005).
As Mark Seltzer notes, 'true crime is crime fact that looks like crime fiction', a popular genre that is obsessed with real-life murder and extreme acts of criminal deviance. Emerging as a genre in magazines of the mid-twentieth century such as True Detective Magazine, and drawing on earlier discourses of confession, memoir and speculation, true crime first received attention as a form of literature with the publication of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1966). It has since diversified into a variety of other media, from television series such as Neil McKay's Appropriate Adult (2011) to Hollywood films about famous works of the genre, such as David Fincher's Zodiac (2007). In recent horror-crime fiction and film, such as Adam Nevill's Last Days (2012) and Scott Derrickson's Sinister (2012), the act of writing and filming true crime is presented as ensnaring its creators in the gruesome worlds they seek to capture. While its adherence to orthodox law and order perspectives, typified by a tendency to present offenders as monstrous and evil, may seem to position true crime as a conservative genre, its fascination with the lives and minds of serial killers can sometimes lend it a transgressive quality.
True Crime: Fact, Fiction, Ideology is an interdisciplinary conference seeking to explore this genre in its myriad incarnations. Proposals are sought for 20 minute papers. Possible topics may include:
True crime in popular culture
Forensic psychology and criminology
Prison narratives and memoirs
True crime in fiction and metafiction
The politics of true crime
True crime and the law
Theorizing true crime
Serial killers and profiling
The ethics of true crime
'Proto-true crime' – early examples of the mode, predecessors and precedents
Please send 300-word abstracts to David McWilliam and Hannah Priest at email@example.com by 31st March 2014. All enquiries should also be sent to this address.