Serial, True Crime, and Podcasting’s “Golden Age”

deadline for submissions: 
January 20, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Center for American Literary Studies
contact email: 



Penn State’s Center for American Literary Studies presents


Serial, True Crime, and Podcasting’s “Golden Age”


Friday, January 20, 2023, Noon–1:00 p.m. EST via Zoom


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When Adnan Syed was freed from prison recently, it sparked renewed interest in Serial, the first podcast to win a Peabody Award and the series that spawned arguably the most addictive podcast genre, true crime. Indeed, media critics have argued we’re living in a “golden age of true crime” in which a proliferation of true-crime podcasts are viewed by true-crime junkies and novices alike millions of times a day. The panelists on this webinar panel will take stock of the genre less than a decade after Serial initiated it, reflecting on pop culture’s fascination with true-crime podcasts and the genre’s past, present, and possible future(s). Following opening remarks, panelists will be joined by special guest Sarah Koenig, host and co-creator of the Serial podcast, for a question-and-answer session with the audience.



Dawn Cecil, Professor of Criminology, University of South Florida

Dawn Cecil studies media representations of crime and justice to uncover the main messages that contribute to people’s understanding of these issues. Her most recent book, Fear, Justice & Modern True Crime (2020), examines the current wave of true-crime televised series and podcasts to uncover their underlying messages about crime and justice, and to determine the role this popular genre plays in society. Cecil’s peer-reviewed work has been published in The Journal of Crime and Justice, The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Feminist Criminology, The Journal of Criminal Justice, and The Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture.

Adam Golub, Professor of American Studies, California State University, Fullerton

Adam Golub writes and teaches about popular culture, literature, music, monsters, and childhood in the United States. He is co-editor of Monsters in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching What Scares Us (2017). In addition to publishing numerous essays on topics including fandom, zombies, the blues, the history of education, and 1950s film and literature, Golub was recently interviewed by Rolling Stone, The Independent, and USA Today on the topic of true crime and popular culture.


Matt Jordan, Department Head and Associate Professor of Film Production and Media Studies, Penn State University

Matt Jordan is director of Penn State’s News Literacy Initiative for which he hosts the podcast News Over Noise. He writes and teaches classes about how today’s media systems have been altered by digital technology and what it means for democracy. He is executive producer of the Emmy Nominated documentary series HumIn Focus and author of dozens of articles and books on popular culture in America and Europe. His latest book is Danger Sound Klaxon! The Horn that Changed History.

Special Guest:

Sarah Koenig, Executive Producer, Serial Productions

Sarah Koenig is the host and co-creator of the Serial podcast and Executive Producer of Serial Productions, which became part of the New York Times in 2020. Before that, she worked at the radio show This American Life for ten years. She was also a newspaper reporter for a decade, including a nearly three-year stint in Moscow, Russia. 



Robert Nguyen, PhD Candidate in English and Visual Studies, Penn State


This webinar is part of the 2020-23 CALS “Unprecedented” Webinar Series.


For additional information, please contact Sean Goudie, director of the Center for American Literary Studies, at