Special Issue - Breaking Convention: Genre Fiction in a Global Frame

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Lucinda Newns, Bishop Grosseteste University (UK)

Special Issue of Literature, Critique, and Empire Today (formerly the Journal of Commonwealth Literature)

Deadline for abstract proposals: 15 July 2024

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; Mukherjee 2003) and romance fiction’s role in reinforcing regressive norms of gender and sexuality (Smith 2008; Ferriss and Young 2006; Roach 2016). Genre fiction as a whole has also been overwhelmingly Western and dominated by the Anglophone centres of publishing in Britain, North America and Australia. Even within these spaces, researchers have pointed to the severe under-representation of writers of colour in this lucrative sector of the literary market (Spread the Word, 2015).

Despite these challenges, contemporary writers from around the globe have been repurposing 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, Ayisha Malik’s Sophia Khan is Not Obliged (dubbed the “Muslim Bridget Jones”) and Mohsin Hamid’s dystopian novel The Last White Man have opened up new avenues for genre fiction as a potential tool of resistance. Despite its seemingly conventional framework, genre provides a distinctive lens that can move us beyond well-worn cultural tropes and form productive dialogues between the local and the global.

This special issue will bring together current research on this burgeoning literary phenomenon and its growing impact on our global and multicultural, yet enduringly unequal, literary marketplace. We welcome proposals for 6,000-word articles on any genre, including (but not limited to) sci-fi/speculative, fantasy, crime, romance/chick lit, comedy or horror, and engaging with any of the following topics/approaches:

  • Genre across cultures
  • Decolonizing genres
  • Local genres
  • Genre and race
  • Multiculturalism and genre
  • Genre and religion
  • Teaching genre fiction in a global context
  • Publishing and marketing genre fiction
  • Digital spaces and genre fiction
  • Reader responses to genre fiction
  • Genre fiction and literary value
  • Global literature and the popular
  • Genre across mediums

Please send 300-word abstracts and a 100-word bio note to lucinda.newns@bishopg.ac.uk.

All articles will be subject to anonymous peer review and final editorial approval.