Outlander and Crimes of the British Empire

deadline for submissions: 
July 1, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Erin E. MacDonald, Fanshawe College
contact email: 

I am in need of ONE essay for a collection called Outlander as Crime Fiction, pre-approved to be published by McFarland. A Ph.D. is preferred but please feel free to send your proposal even if you are a doctoral student. Email me if you would like to discuss an idea before submitting a proposal. At this point, I only need one paragraph describing your general topic/idea. The completed essay due date is flexible but I'm looking at probably Sept/Oct. 2022 at the latest. Most of the collection has already been written. 

Topic: Crimes of the British Empire in Diana Gabaldon's Lord John (and Outlander) Series

Most people have heard of the wildly popular STARZ television series Outlander, and the series of books by Diana Gabaldon upon which it is based. However, both series are often mistakenly labelled as romances, despite the author’s attempts to recategorize her novels. Although they do contain elements of romance, they also include time travel; social, political, and military history; and a great deal of crime. Both the Outlander books and TV series are rife with rape, theft, and murder, and the spinoff Lord John series of novels and stories always involves John Grey in a mystery that, it seems, only he can solve. Other works have been written about the romantic, historical, science fiction, and fantasy elements in Gabaldon’s writings, but none has focused on the volume and scope of their numerous crime fiction aspects or on the fact that Lord John acts as an amateur sleuth in every work in which he appears. This  collection of 15 scholarly essays highlights the mystery and crime elements of both series, exploring their connections and comparisons to more traditional crime fiction and providing unique insights into Gabaldon’s treatment of crime in the eighteenth century. Essays may take a literary, historical, postcolonial, cultural studies, gender/queer studies, popular culture, or interdisciplinary approach, and do not need to cover the entire series. 

Ideally, this essay would discuss the ways in which Lord John negotiates, resists, and punishes crimes of the British Empire in the Lord John stories such as "A Plague of Zombies," "Beseiged," and "The Custom of the Army." In these tales, John Grey travels to British colonies in Jamaica, Cuba, and Canada as an agent of the British government--essentially, an enforcer of British law and interests. He is expected to put down a slave revolt, fight against the French in the Battle of Quebec, and serve as military governor of Jamaica. However, he occupies a unique position as both a privileged insider and member of the establishment and an outsider with a criminal secret (he's gay). As such, he possesses a deep empathy for others who are being oppressed. Instead of simply doing his job, he finds ways to punish the real criminals and to emancipate or to help in some way those whose only crime is not being white, male, and British. Bringing in other works from the main Outlander series may also be possible. I welcome your ideas. 

Essay length: approximately 15-20 pages

Style: Formal (no first-person) but avoid using an overabundance of jargon- or theory-heavy language, as the book is meant to appeal to both academics and a wider audience. Some theory is welcome but provide brief explanations where applicable. Please use MLA documentation format. 

If you are interested in contributing to this collection, please send a 300 word abstract, a proposed chapter title, and a short bio (100 words) as an email-attachment to eem@sympatico.ca by July 1, 2022