Dark Economies: Anxious Futures, Fearful Pasts
Falmouth University, UK. 7-9 July 2021
After the success of the Folk Horror in the Twenty First Century conference hosted by Falmouth University, we are holding another related conference in 2021.
We are aiming to have a face to face conference at the beautiful Falmouth Campus in Cornwall. With sub-tropical gardens and the beach nearby, there will be a ‘Welcome to Dark Falmouth’ cemetery walk above the lovely Swanpool lake, an art exhibition, a gig and street food in place of the more usual staid conference dinner. If we’re going to beat Covid we want to do it in style!*
The present is dark. With the rise of Covid-19, right-wing populism, global migrations and immigrations, continued violence, abuse and crime, prejudice and intolerance, there is increasing anxiety about the future. The Earth itself is under threat from environmental catastrophe and a mass extinction event is anticipated. The collapse of society, morality, and the environment was often also feared in the past, particularly in Gothic, horror and dystopian fictions and texts. What were the monsters of the past? What are our monsters now?
Anxieties and uncertainties abound in the age of the post-human and the post-digital. Ours is a world with the dark web and past and present dark economies. Yet, there is radicalism and light here too as boundaries are traversed, subverted and annihilated. Gender binaries are collapsing. The old patriarchal order is at least seriously under threat (if not yet quite dead) in the light of movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, Black Lives Matter and the LGTBQi wave of positivity. Capitalism is shaking and activism is reshaping the world.
This conference addresses these issues head on. By encouraging provocative, radical and respectful discussions, we aim to generate serious interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary engagements with scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists. The conference will look back to the past in its examination of how dark concerns and anxieties were envisioned, and to the future and the visionary imaginings of how things can be. The debates will range from the local to the global. While the conversations will be transnational, the setting for the conference will be Cornwall, UK. Historically associated with pirates, piskies, and general lawlessness, Cornwall is a Celtic fringe that literally hangs off the end of England. With sublime landscapes, surging seas and deep mines, Cornwall is made up of black granite and makes the perfect backdrop for a conference on dark economies.
The papers called for and selected will be asked to address some of the following issues:
- The climate emergency
- The destruction of the environment
- The politics and economies of fuel and energy
- Extinctions and annihilations
- Decadence and/or Degeneration
- Past fears of environmental changes (agricultural revolution and legal amendments) and their effects on the rural population
- Degeneration and moral disintegration
- The ‘monsters’ of the present and past, and their representations and responses in Horror and Gothic fictions and texts
- Crime and criminality throughout the ages
- The dark side of gender abuse and violence in the time of #MeToo and Incel rages
- Anxieties around the digital – the dark web, AI and the non-human
- Consideration of the post-human
- Slavery: modern and historical
- Issues of immigration and displacement
- Gendered fears
- Fears surrounding progress: industrialisation, new technologies, medical scientific and advances
- Fears and anxieties surrounding colonisation
- Dystopian representations of the future
- Dystopian representations from the past
- Historic ecological visions
- Folklore and Folk Horror
- Dark economies and tourism in the regions and localities, including Cornwall
- The rise of populism
- Racism in politics and society
Each paper will present a clear challenge to conventional and traditional ways of thinking. The aim of the conference is to explore the fears of the past and the contemporary, as well as the grave anxiety being expressed by many groups and individuals about the future – for both humanity and the world.
Please send 250 word abstracts + a short bio to: Darkeconomiesconference@gmail.com
We also welcome panel proposals, ideas for screenings of short films, or workshop proposals.
Submission deadline: 1 February 2021
* However, if the darkness continues we will move the conference online.
Edited Collection: The Crossroads of Crime Writing: Historical, Sociological and Cultural Contexts/ Intersections/ Perspectives
Proposal/abstract deadline: November 1, 2020
Final essays due: April 2021
The Crossroads of Crime Writing: Historical, Sociological and Cultural Contexts/ Intersections/ Perspectives
This volume, which will be proposed to a leading independent academic publisher, seeks to explore the implications of crime writing in its various narrative forms through essays which situate orientations fictional and non-fictional, past and present in relation to public perspectives. Just as real crime has served as inspiration for fictional accounts, Kieran Dolin reminds us in Fiction and the Law (Cambridge Press, 2009) that crime literature has long influenced popular understanding of social institutions as well. And so, we are not only interested in offering a comprehensive overview of crime writing in its diverse forms, but in examining how crime writing simultaneously reflects temporal biases and influences popular conceptions of politics, the law, psychology, the self, and more.
Over a century ago, in his examination The Sensational in Modern English Fiction (1919), Walter Clarke Phillips declared, “Whatever sources of appeal may come or go, there is one which from the very structure of modern democratic society seldom bids for applause unheeded — that is, the appeal to fear” (2). And, it is to this appeal that we owe the abundance of crime writing at our disposal— a trove of mystery that undoubtedly fascinates in its ability to entertain while safely reflecting the ugliest truths about ourselves and the societies in which we live.
It is in this vein that Catherine Nickerson asserts in “Murder as Social Criticism,” that crime fiction “is deeply enmeshed with most of the thornier problems of the Victorian, modern, and postmodern eras, including gender roles and privileges, racial prejudice and the formation of racial consciousness, the significance and morality of wealth and capital, and the conflicting demands of privacy and social control” (American Literary History). And, this is just as true of Gothic and Victorian Sensation novels which generally expose social anxieties in relation to cultural, institutional and individual identities as it is of the ever-growing contemporary genre of True Crime which typically concentrates “upon certain events and figures as kinds of cultural flashpoints, and it also has a long history, from colonial narratives to early twentieth-century pulp fiction” (Rosalind Smith, “Dark Places: True Crime Writing in Australia”).
We invite essays that provide new insights into the works of significant authors, series or sub-genres of crime literature that we once thought we knew and/ or examine the intersections of the real and fictional within the broader genre of Crime Writing in meaningful ways. Contributors are encouraged to dissect the historical, cultural, and/ or sociological significance of crime fiction, as well as examine how such works influence true crime writing or vice versa. Possible essay topics could include (but are not limited to) the following:
• The History/Genesis of Mystery/Crime Writing and/or its Structure or Tenets
• The Nineteenth-Century Police Force and the Detective Novel
• Intersections between the Real and Fictional in Historical Crime Novels
• British Aesthetic vs. American Hardboiled Crime
• The Dime Novel and/or Early Hardboiled Fiction
• The Police Procedural and Popular Culture
• Historical Mystery as a Means of Contextualizing the Current
• Crime Writing and Gender Roles
• Racial Consciousness and Detection
• Socio-economics of Crime and Detection
• Socio-political Readings of the Gentleman Detective and/or Hardboiled Detective
• Cross-Dressing and/or Queering in Mysteries
• LGBTQ+ Portrayals in Mysteries
• Intersections between Detective Film and Literature
• Exploring Law through Literature/ Legal Thrillers
• Lawyers and the Courtroom Drama
• The Serial Killer and Contemporary Culture
• Holmesian Influence/Pervasiveness in Western Culture
• American Realism in Crime Writing
• Capers/The Criminal Mind
• Crime Fiction’s Influence on Journalistic Reporting/True Crime
• (Neo)Gothic or (Neo)Victorian Sensation Novels
Please email 500-word abstracts along with a 200-word biographical statement to Meghan Nolan (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rebecca Martin (email@example.com) by November 1st, 2020.
The deadline for selected essays of 5000-7000 words is April 2021.