We are absolutely delighted to announce that Prof. Mary Evans will be running a special seminar for postgraduate students and Early Career Researchers. This seminar will take place on Wednesday 27th June in the afternoon. Spaces are limited so if you would like to attend please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The purpose of this seminar is to set out some of the issues involved in the study of crime fiction. The seminar is not intended to be an exercise in ‘how to’ study this considerable and important genre of literature but it is designed to help us to think through some of the ways in which it is possible to manage both the extensive original work and the secondary literature.
One way in which we might start this discussion is to think about how we might define the ways in which crime fiction differs from mainstream fiction. It has conventionally been regarded as a ‘genre’, but does that definition still hold and is it helpful? With this question comes the issue of whether we need a different theoretical literature to study crime fiction. Given how much has changed in literary theory in the past forty years it is also worthwhile here to consider whether or not literary theory has actually changed enough to encompass forms of fiction outside its traditional definitions. We also have to ask if literary theory itself is sufficient for the analysis of all fiction or whether we have to turn to other, additional disciplines. Amongst the many issues contained within the broad frame of these considerations is that of confronting the often unspoken assumption that crime fiction (in common with romantic fiction) is by definition less important and less prestigious than that of conventional fiction.
The above constitute a starting point for the seminar. But there will also be time to reflect on the history of crime fiction, its difference across geographical areas and its recognition of those central social differences of class, gender and race. This encourages us to think about the connections of crime fiction - across the decades of its existence - with complex forms of social change. All these are broad questions, inevitably connected with those more precise aspects of the study of crime fiction which have to be answered; for example, the choice of theme and subject.
Finally, the premise of this seminar is that crime fiction merits serious critical attention.