The Queen of Suspense: A Patricia Highsmith Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
March 26, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Sally Joan Jones (MPhil/PhD, University of Chester)
contact email: 

The Queen of Suspense: A Patricia Highsmith Symposium

University of Chester, Friday 14th September 2018


The twentieth-century American author Patricia Highsmith is arguably experiencing a posthumous resurgence of popular interest (and, we would argue, not before time), owing, in part, to the recent success of Todd Haynes’s adaptation of Carol 2014, and Anthony Minghella’s earlier remake of The Talented Mr Ripley 1999. Many titles from her extensive repertoire have, thankfully, recently been republished, with tasteful matching jackets, by Bloomsbury and Sphere in the UK.

However, though Highsmith is repeatedly cited by respected authors and critics, (notably Graham Greene and John Sutherland), as an important and influential literary figure, there is still, proportionally, very little serious scholarly study of her hugely significant contributions to literature. Highsmith, regardless of the fickle oversights of that ephemeral thing, the canon, can nevertheless be credited with shaping the sub-genre of modern suspense fiction as we now know it (along of course with the likes of Frances Iles, Celia Fremlin, Shirley Jackson and Robert Aickman et al.).

It seems fitting then, that academia finally acknowledges the literary output, and celebrates and engages with the prickly, contradictory, enigmatic and problematic persona of an individual who has been so monumental in shaping the climate of modern fiction. The Queen of Suspense: A Patricia Highsmith Symposium welcomes proposals for papers related to any aspect of Highsmith scholarship, and will particularly welcome innovative, new unexplored approaches to reading her work.

The presentation time for papers will be 20 minutes. Proposals may include, but are not limited to, the following themes:


National identity (identity in relation to place)

Socio-historical and political context

Identity and class/politics

Identity and social performance

Gender and LGBTQI+ identities

Constructions of masculinity/femininity


Others, Othering, Otherness

Satire and irony

Adaptation: Highsmith on screen/stage

Literary influence

Religion, superstition and philosophy

Original and the copy: Forgery and impersonation

Material culture/consumerism


Please send 300 word proposals to Sally Jones and Sarah Martin ( by 26th March 2018. Abstracts should include your name, email address, and affiliation, as well as the title of your paper. Please feel free to submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects.

A limited number of spaces are available for delegates wishing to attend without presenting. Please email before the deadline for booking information.


Attendance fees:

Full Fee: £20

Reduced Rate (students, ECRs not on a permanent contract/retired): £15