The Contemporary “Bad Guy”
October 31, 2015 at Kennedy Hall
University of St. Andrews
“Violence is very much with us, and we like to see it: I doubt if you can change that, and I’m not sure you should want to.” Ruth Rendell
As Terry Eagleton notes in his essay On Evil: "Evil, like religious fundamentalism, is among other things a nostalgia for an older, simpler civilisation, in which there were certitudes like damnation and salvation, and you knew where you stood... In a curious sense, evil is a protest against the debased quality of modern life." Both Eagleton and Rendell indicate a certain satisfaction that comes from blunt narratives of the darker side of human behavior. We want to see violence, and evil gives a simple explanation. But in this postmodern world, when do we find catharsis in pure evil, and when do we want a more complex, ambivalent story?
This conference aims to discuss the complications of contemporary portrayals of evil and crime in literature and wider popular culture. These can be within the “Crime” genre or outside it.
Avenues for exploration may include but are not limited to:
• Psychosocial explanations for the “bad guy/girl”
• Evil Nature/Saving Nature
• Evil’s formal effects on the novel
• Gender, race and religion translated through villainy
• Technologies of crime/ Posthuman criminality
• Disability and villainy
• Post vs. Pre- 9/11 evil
• Inhuman antagonists: plagues, ghosts, zombies, etc.
• Narrative choices in light of crime
• The success of the Serial podcast, Gone Girl (novel and film), and other crime story phenomena
Academics and research students alike are invited to submit a proposal. Submissions should include a title together with a 250-300 word abstract for a 20-minute presentation by September 1, 2015. As an interdisciplinary conference we also welcome papers from outside the Arts & Humanities for consideration. Please also include your name and affiliation. Proposals should be sent to Lenore Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org
About our Keynote Speaker:
Diane Negra is professor of film studies and screen culture, as well as head of film studies at University College Dublin. She is the author, editor or co-editor of ten books including Extreme Weather and Global Media (Routledge, 2015) and the forthcoming The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness (forthcoming, Routledge, 2016).
Dr. Fiona Peters is Reader in Crime Fiction at Bath Spa University in the UK. She is a Patricia Highsmith scholar and is director of the Captivating Criminality project.