Crime Fiction and the Creative/Critical Nexus (for publication in October 2016)

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TEXT: JOURNAL OF WRITING AND WRITING COURSES (An international electronic refereed journal published twice yearly - ERA rank A)

The aim of this special issue is to examine the interaction of the creative and critical in the genres of crime fiction, true crime and academic crime fiction studies. It is not our intention, however, to leave this interaction to the serendipity of juxtaposition. For our purposes, therefore, creative writing and literary criticism will not be considered discrete practices; rather, it is at the junction and amalgamation of what may otherwise appear different discursive modes that we wish to tease out the "critical/creative nexus" with a focus on the craft of writing.

As the quintessential instance of "popular" literature, crime fiction is often regarded as a static genre, defined by rules and conventions and evolving only as a result of minute variations on well-established themes and formulae. As Stephen Knight (2015) argues, this is often to the detriment of the crime fiction text itself. And yet, this assumption of stasis is itself predicated on a separation of creative and critical discourses that is much less clear-cut than commonly assumed. On the one hand, the process of writing crime fiction always involves a self-reflexive observation of the work's place within the genre as such. While the crime fiction label obliges the writer to affirm at least some generic conventions, the desire for originality pulls in the opposite direction, compelling the writer to break the rules. This act of strategic positioning is a critical activity. On the other hand, crime fiction allows for other critical positions than that of the passive scholarly observer. As Pierre Bayard's experiments in "detective criticism" have shown, it is in the nature of classic detective fiction to open up so many possibilities that perfect closure is simultaneously necessary and impossible. By exploiting these lingering possibilities and effectively rewriting the stories, Bayard is operating at the critical/creative nexus.

In particular, we wish to highlight four principal axes of crime fiction's critical-creative mobility: 1) the mobility of genre; 2) the mobility of meaning; 3) transnational mobility; and 4) transmedial mobility. The purpose of this insistence on mobility is to further an understanding of crime fiction as a more dynamic, more creative genre, and as such as a privileged site of intersection for textual analysis (and critical theory) and creative writing (as both creative practice and as a field of study of increasing importance in the university sector). With this in mind, we invite close textual analyses that test the ways in which crime fiction is a genre in constant flux, driven in new directions by the innovation inherent in creative and critical practice.

Abstracts: 200 words
Articles: 5,000 words (due 31 May 2016)

Journal Information and Style Guide:

Editors: Dr Rachel Franks, Dr Jesper Gulddal and A/Professor Alistair Rolls (University of Newcastle, Australia)