CFP: Captivating Criminality 2015

2nd Captivating Criminality Conference

Crime Fiction, Traditions and Transgressions

25-27 June 2015, Bath Spa University

Crime fiction has traditionally been defined as a distinguishable literary form, but in what ways has this genre evolved? 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 varied that a defining process becomes nearly impossible. Murder, crimes, mystery, punishment and redemption are all key themes found in the genre, and yet in what ways have these changed, developed and transgressed since the traditions of the genre were first at the forefront of writers minds?

This conference aims to consider the traditions of crime fiction, in particular in reference to the ways in which these have been transgressed. Even as these ‘traditions’ were being formalised, seen in Ronald Knox’s ‘Ten Commandments’ (1928) and S. S. Van Dine’s ‘Twenty Rules’ (1929) for example, they were being broken and played with. 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 18th century to the current popularity of Nordic noir.

We are delighted to announce that the award-winning crime author Paul Johnston will be joining us to discuss the world of crime. Born and bred in Edinburgh, this award-winning author of fifteen crime novels spends much of his time in Greece, where his best-known character, half Greek half Scots missing persons specialist Alex Mavros, is also based. He has two literature degrees from Oxford University and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh. He was awarded a PhD in creative writing by the University of St Andrews in June 2014. For more information see

We are also pleased to welcome back Professor Mary Evans. 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.

Our third keynote speaker is still to be confirmed (to be announced shortly).

We welcome proposals on all aspects of transgression or tradition within the broad genre; some particular topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Transgressions within ‘conventional’ Golden Age’ Crime Fiction
  • Intertextuality within Crime Fiction
  • Crime Fiction and the Law
  • The transgressive origins of the Genre – Gothic and/or Sensational Fiction
  • Crime Fiction and the Literary
  • Crime and Modernism/Modernity
  • True Crime
  • Unreliable Narrations
  • Reimagining the Criminal Mind
  • Fatal Femininity
  • Undermining gender structure
  • Seduction and Sexuality
  • The Criminal Analyst
  • Others and Otherness
  • Lack of Order and Resolution

We invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing to attend this international, interdisciplinary conference about the dark nature of crime fiction and its evolution.

Please send 400-word proposals to Dr Fiona Peters ( and Dr Rebecca Gordon Stewart ( by 14 February 2015. 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.


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