Violent First-Person Narratives

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Joanna Wilson-Scott
contact email: 




Deadline for abstracts: 1st November 2020

Contact: Dr Joanna Wilson-Scott (


This collection seeks to explore violent first-person protagonists, the individuals in charge of narrative focalisation, and chart them cross-culturally and throughout history. For Gérard Genette, there exists in literary criticism an “improper although common” conflation between two concepts: the hero and the narrator (1980, 223). Whilst such an exploration centres on whether the hero and the narrator can exist simultaneously as the writers of the work, there is a separate tendency to assume that narrators are, by definition, heroic. Novels such as Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (1991), Iain Banks’s The Wasp Factory (1984), and Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy (1992), to name but a few, put rapid end to such assumptions through their use of violent first-person protagonists, those who expose readers to the inner workings of the violent individual.

Although a work of literary criticism, the collection welcomes into its integrated analysis interdisciplinary considerations of the aetiology of violence, both local and transcultural. As a unifying theme, we ask contributors to root their analyses of violent individuals into wider cultural and temporal understandings of violence, exploring such novels as narratives of causality. We also welcome studies that seek to establish both contextual analyses of violence as well as transatlantic and/or transcultural connections. The work will draw upon Hannah Arendt’s concept of the banality of evil, approaching violent first-person protagonists as complex characters who are simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. Crucial to the first-person narration of what will be termed throughout as the violent-eye individual is what Colin McGinn refers to as a “shock of recognition”, achieved when the reader enters into the violent protagonist’s “most intimate thoughts and emotions” and discovers there a “familiar face” (1997, 50). This approach not only facilitates greater understanding of violent individuals but also enables us to rethink local and global, and historical and contemporary theories of the aetiology violence, a consideration at the heart of this work.

Chapters may consider, but are not limited to, the following areas:

  • Environmental violence
  • Anglophone (regional American, Irish, Australian, etc.) and non-anglophone literature
  • Graphic narratives
  • Colonial and post-colonial violence
  • Violence on the move
  • Liminal violence
  • Political violence
  • Fantasy vs reality
  • Dystopian fiction
  • War and military studies
  • Song lyrics

Abstracts of up to 500 words should be received by 1 November 2020, along with an author bio of up to 100 words. A leading university press in the United Kingdom has expressed interested in the project. Submissions should be sent to