Captivating Criminality: Crime Writing, Darkness and Desire 24-26 April 2014

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Bath Spa University and Crime Studies Network
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Captivating Criminality: Crime Writing, Darkness and Desire
Bath Spa University and Crime Studies Network
At Corsham Court (
24-26 April 2014

How can crime writing be defined? Although crime fiction is traditionally regarded as a distinguishable literary form, what can be considered part of this genre? The various sub-genres that are encompassed under the title of crime writing, including the 'whodunnit', the Hard Boiled thriller, Golden Age narratives, and the 'whydunnit' psychological thriller are all so variable that a defining process becomes nearly impossible. Can Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment be classed as a crime novel? After all, there are murders, crimes, mystery, punishment and redemption – key themes of the genre. How do we go about contrasting pre-conceived ideas of the genre crime writing with a larger literary discussion?

This conference aims to consider the darker side of crime writing with particular reference to the process of captivation, fascination and desire, in relation to the texts themselves and also to us as readers: why does crime writing captivate? Crime fiction regularly outsells literary fiction and this demonstrates that we hunger for what this genre has to offer. This conference will bring together a number of disciplines to investigate these key themes. The conference will provide a platform for creative writers, historians, theorists and literary scholars to examine crime writing, from Gothic fiction of the eighteenth century to the current popularity of Nordic noir.

We are delighted to announce that the Award-winning crime author Val McDermid will be joining us to discuss the world of crime. Translated into more than 30 languages, with over two million copies sold in the UK and over 10 million worldwide, she has written 25 bestselling novels; The Vanishing Point – her latest novel – is her 26th.

Our second keynote speaker is S.J. (Sharon) Bolton whose books have been shortlisted for several international awards including the CWA Gold Dagger, the Theakston's Old Peculiar prize for crime novel of the year, the International Thriller Writers' Best First Novel and (four years running) the Mary Higgins Clark award for best thriller (Awakening won this). Her latest book, Dead Scared was published in April 2012.

Both Val and Sharon deal with the darker side of humanity in their writing. Indeed, Sharon speaks of the fact that she writes in order to 'face her own demons'.

We are also pleased that Professor Mary Evans will be joining us as a keynote speaker. She has been an emeritus professor at the University of Kent's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research since 2007 and at present is a centennial professor at the London School of Economics. Her monograph The Imagination of Evil: Detective Fiction and the Modern World, published in 2009, examines detective fiction and its complex relationship to the modern and modernity. She questions who and what the detective stands for and suggests that the answer challenges many of our assumptions about the relationship between various moralities in the modern world.

Bath Spa University and the Crime Studies Network invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing to attend this international, interdisciplinary conference about the dark nature of crime fiction. Panels may include, but are not restricted to:

• Reimagining the criminal mind
• The Gothic
• True Crime
• Foreign Bodies
• Ancient Bodies
• Crime and Modernism/Modernity
• Dostoevsky and Beyond: The Genealogy of crime writing
• Fatal Femininity
• Seduction and Sexuality
• The Criminal Analyst
• Others and Otherness
• Landscape and Identity
• Justice versus Punishment
• Lack of Order and Resolution

Please send 400 word proposals to Dr Fiona Peters ( and Dr Rebecca Gordon Stewart ( by 6 January 2014. The abstract should include a title, name and affiliation of the speaker, and a contact email address. Feel free to submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects. Postgraduate students are welcome. Papers will be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Proposals for suggested panels are also welcome.

The Crime Studies Network website is accessible at: