Breaking Convention: Diasporic Fiction and the Re-Making of Genre

deadline for submissions: 
February 22, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Lucinda Newns / King's College London
contact email: 

Breaking Convention: Diasporic Fiction and the Re-Making of Genre

A one-day workshop

16 May 2023, King’s College London

Deadline for abstracts: 22 Feb 2023

Genre fiction has long been derided as the lesser cousin of so-called “literary fiction,” associated with the conventional, the formulaic and the “popular.” Many genres have also been taken to task for their propagation of anti-progressive ideologies. This includes science fiction’s origins in the colonial adventure story (Kerslake 2007; Langer 2012; Rieder 2008), crime fiction’s association with managing urban “degeneration” (Knight 2011; McLaughlin 2000) and romance fiction’s role in reinforcing regressive norms of gender and sexuality (Smith 2008; Ferriss and Young 2006; Roach 2016). However, in recent years, contemporary diasporic writers have repurposed generic conventions to bring fresh perspectives to their respective genres and to the social worlds their fiction inhabits. Works like Oyinkan Braithwaite’s crime sensation My Sister the Serial Killer and Ayisha Malik’s Sophia Khan is Not Obliged (dubbed the “Muslim Bridget Jones”) have opened up new avenues for genre fiction as a potential tool of resistance. If, as René Wellek and Austin Warren assert in Theory of Literature, genre is an “institution,” then these writers are re-shaping it for their own purposes and to new ends.

This one-day workshop will bring together writers, scholars, students and publishers to exchange ideas and methods for approaching this burgeoning literary phenomenon and its growing impact in our multicultural, yet enduringly unequal, literary marketplace.

We are pleased to be joined by Ausma Zehanat Khan, award-winning author of the crime novel The Unquiet Dead, who will be talking about her new book Blackwater Falls.

We welcome proposals for papers on any genre, including sci-fi, fantasy, crime, romance/chick lit, comedy or horror, and engaging with any of the following topics/concerns:

  • Decolonizing genres
  • Multiculturalism and genre
  • Genre and the (non)secular
  • Genre and race
  • Publishing and marketing diasporic genre fiction
  • Reader responses to diasporic genre fiction
  • Diasporic genre fiction and literary value
  • Diasporic fiction and “the popular”

Please send a 250-word abstract (for a 20-minute paper) and 100-word bio note to

We anticipate that the majority of speakers will attend in person, but please indicate if a remote option would facilitate your participation in the event.

This event forms part of the AHRC-Funded International Network: “Muslim Women’s Popular Fiction”