Crime Fiction and Democracy (CFP)

International conference – Crime Fiction and Democracy

Université Paris Nanterre 22-23 June 2023

Organized by the Centre de Recherches Anglophones (Université Paris Nanterre) and Queen’s University Belfast, in partnership with the Centre de recherches pluridisciplinaires multilingues (Université Paris Nanterre).

The proposed multidisciplinary conference intends to explore the complex, multifaceted relationship between crime fiction and democracy, from the late 19th century to the present.

Recent research has highlighted crime fiction’s relationship to democratic institutions and shown the productivity of reading the history of the genre against the development and consolidation of Western liberal States. This conference seeks to build on such approaches and extend them in two ways.

Firstly, it will focus on crime fiction’s relationship not only to state institutions but, more generally, to the transformative spirit of democracy – a spirit which, according to our working hypothesis, is one of the forces that has driven and is still driving the growth and success of the genre, in its various manifestations. The conference will therefore aim at linking crime fiction’s sociological and cultural history to the achievement or failure of democratic aspirations in different national and international settings and at different periods. It will, on the one hand, try to show how the genre may have represented a modernizing, democratic force within the literary field overall, particularly as its aesthetics often foregrounds vernacular linguistic practices and attitudes, thus subverting traditional scales of values and paving the way for a more egalitarian vision of literature. On the other hand, it may also highlight how crime fiction has, at times, harboured or promoted reactionary, authoritarian or ‘vigilante’ tendencies. These conflicting positions within the genre – sometimes within single works – reflect both crime fiction’s ideological diversity and the elusive nature of democracy, as an elusive concept whose understanding may shift considerably depending on time and place. But they also, overall, testify to the role of crime fiction as a literary testing-ground for democratic impulses and values.

Secondly, the conference aims at a wide historical and geographical scale, in order to account for the evolutions and manifestations of crime fiction in various cultural areas. It will welcome papers looking at the cultural and political history of the genre both in regions where it has long been established (as in the US and Western Europe) and in others where it has only more recently been recognized, as in Eastern Europe and Russia, Africa, Asia, the Arab world, the Caribbean or Latin America. In such regions, too, the conference will aim at correlating the rise of crime fiction with the emergence, affirmation, rejection or breakdown of democratic aspirations.

In order to explore these theoretical perspectives, this conference invites 20-minute papers, either in English or French, focusing on the multiple connections between democracy and crime fiction throughout the world, and seeking, if possible, a broad analytical approach rather than the analysis of single works.

Suggested bibliography

Bloom, Clive, Cult Fiction: Popular Reading and Pulp Theory, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996

Boltanski, Luc, Mysteries and Conspiracies Detective Stories, Spy Novels and the Making of Modern Societies, Translated by Catherine Porter, Cambridge: Polity, 2014

Boucher, Anthony, “The Ethics of the Mystery Novel,” in Howard Haycraft, ed., The Art of the Mystery Story (1946), New York: Carroll & Graf, 1983

Broe, Dennis, Class, Crime and International Film Noir, Globalizing America’s Dark Art, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014

Corcuff, Philippe, Polars, philosophie et critique sociale, Paris: éditions Textuel, coll. « Petite Encyclopédie critique », 2013

Damrosch, David; Haen, Theo d’, Nilsson, Louise (ed), Crime Fiction as World Literature, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017

Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish, translated by Alan Sheridan, New York: Pantheon Books, 1977

Hardt, Michael & Negri, Antonio, Empire, Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2000

Haycraft, Howard, Murder for Pleasure, The Life and Times of the Detective Story, New York: Appleton, 1941

Jay, Paul, Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies, Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2010

Koselleck, Reinhart, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts, translated by Todd Samuel Presner & al., Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002

Manchette, Jean-Patrick, Chroniques, Paris: Payot, Rivages, 1996

Mandel, Ernest, Meurtres exquis: une histoire sociale du roman policier, Montreuil: PEC, 1984

McCann, Sean, Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism, Durham: Duke UP, 2001 

Miller, D.A, The Novel and the Police, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988.

Müller Elfriede & et Rueff, Alexandre, Le Polar français. Crime et histoire, Paris: La Fabrique éditions, 2002.

Oliver, Kelly & Trigo, Benigno, Noir Anxiety, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003

Pepper, Andrew & Schmid, David, Globalization and the State in Contemporary Crime Fiction: A World of Crime, London: Palgrave, 2016

Pepper, Andrew, Unwilling Executioner: Crime Fiction and the State, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. 

Rabinowitz, Paula, Black & White & Noir : America’s Pulp Modernism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2002

Selim, Samah, Popular Fiction, Translation and the Nahda in Egypt, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019

Tadié, Benoît, Front criminel : une histoire du polar américain de 1919 à nos jours, Paris : PUF, 2018

Wald, Alan, Trinity of Passion: The Literary Left and the Antifascist Crusade, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007

Žižek, Slavoj, Living in the End Times, London: Verso, 2010

Please submit proposals of up to 250 words, together with a bio of approximately 100 words, by January 15, 2023

to Dominique Jeannerod, Andrew Pepper and Benoît Tadié:;;

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by February 15, 2023. The conference is planned as an in-person event.

Scientific committee :

Margaret Atack (University of Leeds)

Katia Ghosn (Université Paris 8)

Brooks E. Hefner (James Madison University)

Alice Jacquelin (Université Paris Nanterre)

Dominique Jeannerod (Queen’s University Belfast)

Matthieu Letourneux (Université Paris Nanterre)

Andrew Pepper (Queen’s University Belfast)

David Platten (University of Leeds)

Lucia Quaquarelli (Université Paris Nanterre)

Benoît Tadié (Université Paris Nanterre)

The Crime Genre and Crisis

The Ninth Interdisciplinary Conference of the International Crime Genre Research Network, Ireland

The Crime Genre and Crisis

Friday 16 – Saturday 17 June 2023

University of Galway, Ireland

In 2022 Collins Dictionary chose ‘Permacrisis’ as their word of the year, reflecting a sense of moving from one crisis to another: pandemic; warfare; mass migration; climate change and environmental breakdown. We read about energy crisis, economic crisis, supply chain crisis, mental health crisis, political crisis, global crisis in gender-based violence. Crisis breeds fear and uncertainty but can also represent a turning point and the potential for urgent, radical action. The aim of this ninth interdisciplinary conference is to examine how the crime genre reflects and engages with ideas of crisis. Indeed, crisis is at the heart of the genre, with crimes affecting individuals, families, communities, nations, forcing them to confront terrible acts and face up to devastating truths. Furthermore, the embeddedness of the modern subject within transnational and global networks of travel, commerce, exchange, influence, raises complex questions of complicity and responsibility in local and global crises. We invite submissions on the theme of crisis within the genre, from the individual to the global. We also invite scholars to consider to what extent genre production reinforces a sense of helplessness in the face of these crises and to what extent it suggests or proposes potential solutions. 

As always, we welcome submissions from those working on crime fiction and film, and wider media production. We invite proposals for papers or panels from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives: literature and languages, criminology, anthropology, economics, politics, sociology, gender studies, health, law, etc. Our ambition remains to bring together researchers from a broad range of disciplines, countries and cultures to share knowledge and insights. We welcome established, early career and postgraduate scholars.

Papers can be on any aspect of crisis and can be on crime fiction production from the inception of the genre to the present day. Papers are welcome from any language area, but must be delivered in English and should be no more than twenty minutes in length.

Gender-based violence: Within the broader call, we include an invitation to scholars working on gender-based violence in the crime genre to register their interest in joining a research network to share expertise in this area.

Submission of abstracts and proposals for panels:

Please send abstracts (of 200 words maximum) along with brief CVs to by Friday, February 10, 2023. Please use the same contact for any other conference or network related questions.

Conference organisers:

Dr Kate Quinn and Monika Jurkiewicz (PhD candidate), Spanish and Latin American Studies, University of Galway

Conference committee:

Marieke Krajenbrink, German Studies, University of Limerick

David Conlon, Spanish and Latin American Studies, Maynooth University

Dominique Jeannerod, French, Queen’s University Belfast

Diana Battaglia, Spanish Studies, University College Dublin

Jean-Philippe Imbert, SALIS, Dublin City University.


The InterCriPol research network, whose mission is to reopen and solve cold cases of fiction, organizes an international conference on mythology on 3-5 March 2023, in Athens. The conference has as its starting point Pierre Bayard’s recent book, Œdipe n’est pas coupable (Minuit, 2021), in which Sophocles’ solution is questioned. The two-day conference will be followed by a visit to the crime scene and a reconstruction.

As many readers, first and foremost Voltaire, have pointed out, the investigation that is the subject of the Oedipus Rex tragedy, concluding that the king of Thebes is guilty, is carried out in a hasty manner and is based on incomplete and contradictory testimonies. A persistent, confusing and unanswered question is how many attackers were present when Laius was killed. Therefore, as many ambiguities remain with regard to the murder of Laius, the guilt of Oedipus cannot be taken for granted. The play’s inconsistencies need to be detected, with the help of goodwill and willing researchers / detectives. Four articles that reexamine the case are already available online:

Any paper – in French or in English – that seeks to further explore all possible hypotheses concerning the Labdacids is very welcome. Papers may also investigate another work of ancient Greek drama, or another episode of Greek or Roman mythology. In either case, the work chosen must be subjected to rigorous detective criticism, put under scrutiny and reviewed under the guidelines of InterCriPol:

Please submit proposals by September 30th 2022  to or

For any further information or any suggestions, please contact: and

Screening Crime in the Arab World

Conference : “Screening Crime in the Arab World”
4 – 6 May 2023
Saint Joseph University of Beirut

This conference will focus on Arab crime films and TV series, by which are meant, broadly, works of fiction centering on crimes, criminals and criminal investigations (by law enforcement agencies or ordinary citizens), from the beginning of Arab cinema to the present. The term “Arab” is understood in a broad sense, as referring to any film or series produced in the Arab world and/or having Arabic as a main language.
The aim of the conference is not to impose a rigid taxonomy on these crime dramas, but to read them in their historical contexts of production and reception and to reflect on the multiple dimensions – narrative, cultural, social, legal, political, etc. – of crime and, where appropriate, of criminal investigations in Arab movies/shows.
The film industry in the Arab world took up the themes of crime and its investigation from an early stage. Since its rise in the 1950s, Arab cinema, particularly in Nasser’s Egypt, has featured a plethora of crimes, criminals, magistrates and investigators. The themes and atmospheres of Arab crime films are often reminiscent of American or French film noir: featuring black-and-white cinematography and dramatic music, mixing melodramatic crime stories (often murder stories) with social realism, it gives pride of place to desperate situations in which injustice, disorientation, madness and fate take centre stage.
The same applies to TV series, which were very successful long before the development of pay platforms and complex series, and often foreground criminal investigations. Parolin’s observation about Egyptian series applies to the field in general: “Enigmas or crimes often constitute the central narrative device of whole shows that are not necessarily identified as belonging to the same genre” (Parolin 2021a). The prominence of these enigmas or crimes is today reinforced by the emergence of platforms such as Shahid VIP, which were conceived under the influence of Netflix. These contribute to revitalize popular genres and to root the crime genre in the television habits of Arab audiences.
The substantial corpus of noir films and police or crime series, their place in the movie/TV landscapes of the Arab world, the formal or aesthetic expressiveness to which they aspire, the sometimes complex and elaborate discourses which they formulate on the world of crime, their appropriation of thematic or stylistic motifs from other cinemas (notably Hollywood), their critical reception and popular success: all these aspects invite us to think of them in terms of genre and to investigate their contexts, their codes, their characteristics, as well as the variety of readings they allow.

A few cinematic and serial milestones

Early cinematic representations of crime include such milestones as Rayā wa Sakīna (Raya and Sakina, 1953) or al-Waḥš (The Monster, 1954) by director Salah Abou Sayf, based on scripts by Naguib Mahfouz. Although investigations may be haphazard, the pursuit of the culprit at the head of an organized criminal system and the suspense that characterise them bring them close to the gangster film or film noir. These films also show that, while rooted in a local context, the cinema of the Egyptian classical period explicitly refers to certain Hollywood authors and codes. This trend can also be seen in Youssef Chahine’s Bāb al-ḥadīd (Cairo Station, 1957) or al-Iḫtiyār (The Choice, 1971). More recently, the German-Danish-Swedish production The Nile Hilton Incident, a multi- award-winning film by Swedish-Egyptian director Tarik Saleh (2017), has been largely perceived as “true film noir” in the Egyptian style (Jean-François Rauger, Le Monde, 2017).
Crime films appeared in the Maghreb in the mid-1970s, but only gained international visibility at the turn of the millennium. Thus Nour-Eddine Lakhmari’s Casanegra (2008, in Moroccan dialect) or Faouzi Bensaïdi’s Bay‛ al-mawt (Death for Sale, 2011) are powerful testimonies to the breakdowns and vulnerabilities of Arab societies.
Literature helps to fuel the cinema with tales of enigmatic murders. The Franco-Algerian film Morituri (2007), directed by Okacha Touita, is adapted from the novel of the same name by the writer Yasmina Khadra. The Egyptian Ahmad Mourad wrote the screenplays for the films adapted from his own noir novels: al-Fīl al-azraq (The Blue Elephant, 2014) and Turāb al-mās (Diamond Dust, 2018), directed by Marwan Hamed. In Morocco, Abdulillah Hamdoushi wrote a screenplay based on his novel al-Ḥanaš (al-Ḥanaš, 2017).
Crime drama on television is also on the rise in some Arab countries, especially during Ramadan. This is the case, for instance, with Egyptian series such as Man al-ǧānī? (Who is the culprit?, 2015); Istīfā (Preliminary Report, 2015); Kalabš (Handcuffs, 2017) or Ḍidd maǧhūl (Unsolved Case, 2018). In Syria, Luġz al-ǧarīma (The Mystery of Murder, 2003); Ḫaṭṭ al-nihāya (The Path to the End, 2002-2017) or Kašf al-aqni’a (The Masks Fall, Ramadan 2011) are among the leading shows. In Morocco, al-Qaḍiyya (The Affair, 2006-2007), al-Ġūl (The Ogre, 2016) or al-Sirr al-madfūn (The Buried Secret, Ramadan 2020) illustrate the criminal phenomenon. And the list is long.

Guidelines for conference papers

The following dimensions and issues may be addressed during the conference:

  • The noir/crime/detective dimensions of Arab films and series. What kinds of crimes are committed? What are the roles/functions of criminals, victims and investigators? On what principles and methods are investigations based and what do they reveal? What are the value systems, the ideologies, the historical, socio-political, economic and psychological motives, the dominant points of view, the visual style, the narrative characteristics of these crime films and series?
  • The place and popularity of the crime genre in the production and distribution systems of Arab films and series, possibly in comparison with those of other countries within the region and beyond.
  • The relationship with true crime. Some real stories have made the headlines and given rise to fictional adaptations – whether in films, radio or TV shows – such as the famous case of the two sisters Rayā and Sakīna (1919-1920) or, more recently, the murder of Suzanne Tamim (2008), which has inspired a number of television series, including Layālī (2009), Ahl Cairo (2010), al-Murāfaʿa (2014) or the above-mentioned film The Nile Hilton Incident. It would be interesting to address the perceptions of such cases, their fictional narrativization, the link between crime fiction and history, or to investigate the social contexts in which such adaptations are rooted.
  • The many interactions and relationships between Arab crime films/series and foreign works. One may, for example, seek to shed light on their kinship with film noir or series in other countries, as well as on the specific modalities of investigation in the case of transnational transpositions, as for example in such shows as Grānd Hotel (2016) adapted from the Spanish series Gran Hotel, or Zayy iš-Šams (2017) adapted from the Italian Sorelle.
  • The comparative study of literary crime fiction and its film or television adaptations. Major directors such as Salah Abou Sayf or Tawfiq Saleh were inspired by novels by Naguib Mahfouz (al-Liṣṣ wa-l-Kilāb, 1962) or Tawfiq al-Hakim (Yawmiyyāt nāʾib fī l- aryāf, 1969). (Parolin 2021b).
  • The role of writers and screenwriters in the creation of these works and in the cumulative perception of a noir/crime/police genre in the Arab world.

 Presentations may choose to take a panoramic view, or to focus on a particular country or historical period, or on specific creators or works, all of which are relevant to the conference.

Abstracts in Arabic, English or French and of no more than 400 words, should be received by 15 May 2022. They should include, in a Word document, the author’s name, position, institution, e-mail address and a brief biographical note.
They should be sent to Katia Ghosn: and and to Benoît Tadié:
Early June 2022: sending of the scientific committee’s opinion to the authors for acceptance of the communication proposal.

Participants are responsible for their own transport and hotel expenses. They are invited to ask their research center for reimbursement.
Languages: French-English-Arabic.

Scientific Committee: Karl Akiki (Saint Joseph University of Beirut) ; Katia Ghosn (Paris 8 University) ; Toufic El-Khoury (Saint Joseph University of Beirut) ; Gianluca Parolin (Aga Khan University) ; Benoît Tadié (Rennes 2 University) ; Dork Zabunyan (Paris 8 University).

Bibliographie indicative / Select bibliography

  • Ahmed Bedjaoui et Michel Serceau (dir.), Les cinémas arabes et la littérature, Paris, L’Harmattan, collection Images Plurielles, 2019.
  • Pierre Beylot et Geneviève Sellier (dir.), Les séries policières, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2004.
  • Luc Boltanski, Énigmes et complots, Paris, Gallimard, 2012.
  • Raymond Borde et Étienne Chaumeton, Panorama du film noir américain (1941-1953) (1955), Paris, Flammarion, 2004.
  • Denise Brahimi, 50 ans de cinéma maghrébin, Paris, Minerve, 2009.
  • Ian Cameron (ed.) The Movie Book of Film Noir, Londres, Studio Vista, 1992.
  • Claude-Michel Cluny, Dictionnaire des nouveaux cinémas arabes, Paris, Sindbad, 1978.
  • El-Khoury Toufic, Aliénation et déterminisme dans le film noir classique (1944-1949), Paris, L’Harmattan, collection Champs Visuels, 2020.
  • Jennifer Fay et Justus Nieland, Film Noir. Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalisation, Londres et New York, Routledge, 2010.
  • Jane Gaffney, «The Egyptian Cinema: Industry and Art in a Changing Society », in Arab Studies Quarterly, Vol.9, N°1, Belmont, 1987, p. 53-75.
  • Katia Ghosn et Benoît Tadié (dir.), Le récit policier arabe/Arabic Crime Fiction, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz verlag, 2021.
  • Terri Ginsberg and Chris Lippard (eds.), Historical Dictionary: Middle Eastern Cinema, Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2010.
  • Nathaniel Greenberg, The Aesthetic of Revolution in the Film and Literature of Naguib Mahfouz (1952-1967), Lanham/Londres, Lexington Books, 2014.
  • Sebastien Layerle et Monique Martineau-Hennebelle (dir.), « Chroniques de la naissance du cinéma algérien », Collection CinémAction, N°166, Charles Corlet, 2018.
  • Berrah Mourry (dir.), « Les cinémas arabes », Éditions Charles Corlet, collection CinémAction, N°43, 1987.
  • Fawzī Nāǧī, Waqāʾiʿ būlīsiyya fī l-sīnimā, Le Caire, GEBO, 2012.
  • Gianluca Parolin, « Bunyat al-Tahqîq fî ‘Yawmiyyât Nâʾib fî ’l-Aryâf’ Bayna al-Riwâya (1937) wa-l-Fîlm (1969) », in Salmā Mubārak & Walīd al-Ḫaššāb (eds.), al-Iqtibās: Min al-adab ilā al- sīnimā. Maḥaṭṭāt fī tārīḫ muštarak, Le Caire, al-Marāyā, 2021c, p. 141-162.
  • Thomas Pillard, Le film noir français face aux bouleversements de la France d’après-guerre (1946-1960), Nantes, Éditions Joseph K, 2014.
  • Samir Saif, Aflām al-ḥaraka fī l-sīnimā al-miṣriyya. 1952-1975, Le Caire, General Egyptian Book Organization, 1970.
  • Galāl al-Šarqāwī, Risāla fī tārīḫ al-sīnimā al-‛arabiyya, Le Caire, General Egyptian Book organization, 1970.
  • Alain Silver et Elizabeth Ward (dir.), Film Noir. An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (1979), New York, The Overlook Press, 1992.
  • Dominique Sipière, Le récit dans les séries policières : d’Hercule Poirot à Mentalist, Paris, Arman Colin, 2018.
  • Yves Thoraval, Regards sur le cinéma égyptien, Beyrouth, Dār al-Mašriq, 1975.
  • Sue Turnbull, The TV Crime Drama, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
  • Shafik Viola, Arab Cinema. History and Cultural Identity, Le Caire, The American University in Cairo Press, 1998 (2007).
  • Magda Wassef (dir.), Égypte. 100 ans de cinéma, Paris, Institut du monde arabe, 1995.
  • Collectif, « al-Sīnimā al-maġribiyya », Maǧallat Āfāq, n° 85-86, Rabat, Manšūrāt Ittiḥād kuttāb al-Maġrib, juin 2014.

The ‘‘metaphysical shudder’’ of the detective novel (CFP)

This call for papers is destined for a book-length publication in the bilingual collection Book Practices & Textual Itineraries (published at Université de Lorraine, France) which traces evolutions in the production, transmission and reception of books and texts over time and across cultural and disciplinary boundaries (more information about the collection here).

Experimented by many novelists from both sides of the Atlantic since the 1950s, the contemporary trend of the ‘‘metaphysical’’ detective novel calls the intrinsic metaphysical value of the genre into question. Shall we consider ‘‘metaphysical detective fiction’’ as a distinct sub-genre? We may legitimately wonder whether existential concerns would not permeate just about any sort of crime-based narrative. Would not the practical questions raised by the detective-character — who, where, when, how, and why? — be essentially linked with more profound interrogations? What exactly is this ‘‘metaphysical shudder’’ of the detective novel that Umberto Eco used to speak about? How would it manifest itself in American and European crime fiction over time? How could its conditions of writing possibly be described? These few questions sketch several philosophical, thematic, and narrative avenues for the enquiry of the metaphysics of crime fiction that this call for papers proposes to discuss.

Please read the complete CFP available below and send your proposals — title and abstract in English or French (400-600 words) — to Estelle Jardon ( by 15th December 2021. Final papers in English or French (7,000-9,000 words / 30,000-40,000 characters – space included) will be due by 1st May 2022 with publication anticipated in the fall 2022.

Read complete CFP (English version) below .

Contrary to the ‘‘metaphysical’’ detective novel which has attracted a growing scholarly attention, notably since the publication of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy in the late 1980s, the broader subject of the metaphysics of crime fiction has rarely been discussed yet. This can be partly explained by the fact that the two approaches seem to contradict each other: on the one hand, the use of the adjective ‘‘metaphysical’’ suggests that other forms of crime fiction are devoid of any metaphysical dimension; on the other hand, the belief in an intrinsic metaphysical value of crime fiction calls the relevance of the label into question. Yet, the American specialists Patricia Merivale and Susan E. Sweeney define the metaphysical detective story as ‘‘a text that parodies or subverts traditional detective-story conventions […] with the intention, or at least the effect, of asking questions about mysteries of being and knowing which transcend the mere machinations of the mystery plot […] by becoming self-reflexive (that is representing allegorically the text’s own processes of composition)’’. From its early beginnings then, with Edgar Allan Poe’s tales of ratiocination, the detective story would have followed another path, overtly philosophical and speculative, notably hinged upon the relative tragic irony which is to befall the detective-character. This particular sort of drama became a favorite of many prominent novelists of the post-war period (J. L. Borges, ‘‘Death and the Compass’’ [1954]; Alain Robbe-Grillet, The
Erasers [1953]; Friedrich Dürrenmatt, The Pledge [1958]) and continued to be experimented with by the succeeding generations of postmodernist writers (like the Americans Robert Coover, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon ; the Englishmen Peter Ackroyd, Martin Amis or Graham Swift ; the Italians Italo Calvino, Leonardo Sciascia or the Frenchman Patrick Modiano). These few examples help demonstrate that the label ‘‘metaphysical detective fiction’’ signals, if not a sub-genre of prestigious unclassifiable novels, at least a genre-breaking class of literary fiction under the guise of detective fiction.

Without neglecting these intellectual appropriations of crime fiction and their influence on the evolution of the genre, there seems to be a good opportunity to question the metaphysical potential of more authentic forms of popular crime fiction, too. One may legitimately wonder if existential pursuits would not be the inner workings of just about any sort of crime-based narrative. Would not the practical questions raised by the investigator — who, where, when, how, and why? — be essentially linked with more profound interrogations? Let us remember some of Umberto Eco’s motivations for writing The Name of the Rose like a detective novel: ‘‘and since I wanted you to feel as pleasurable the one thing that frightens us—namely, the metaphysical shudder—I had only to
choose (from among the model plots) the most metaphysical and philosophical: the detective novel’’. These few lines will hopefully provide a good starting point for discussing the metaphysics of crime fiction, not only as an inherent characteristic, but also as a driving force in the evolution of the genre.
The proposals to be submitted shall, therefore, focus on examining how exactly this‘‘metaphysical shudder’’ could manifest itself in crime fiction, from Edgar Allan Poe to this day, and from both sides of the Atlantic. The interdisciplinary collection of essays that is envisaged would particularly encourage the points of view of specialists of modern and contemporary philosophy to intersect with
the ones of European and American crime fiction specialists in the hope to better question the complex philosophical notion of ‘‘metaphysics’’ from the perspective of crime fiction. In the philosophical domain for example, proposals could concentrate on the metaphysical significance of crime fiction writing, or on the various interpretations and commentaries that the genre’s popularity and its avid
readers drew from many twentieth-century philosophers and intellectuals (Bloch, Brecht, Champigny, Deleuze, Jameson, Kracauer, Todorov, etc.).
If crime fiction is considered to be inherently metaphysical, how does this metaphysics differ or vary according to the different sub-genres of crime fiction that exist (the puzzle mystery story, the noir novel, the thriller)? Howard Haycraft, who was the first person to qualify crime fiction as ‘‘metaphysical’’, used the term to describe the religious and moral bends of Father Brown’s mystery stories written by the English Roman Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton. In the same way, Ross Macdonald used to say that Graham Greene’s novels This Gun for Hire and Brighton Rock ‘‘were ruthless in the portraiture of their villain-heroes, yet at the same time concerned with the salvation of their souls”. Some Christian writers in the first part of the twentieth century clearly found in crime fiction the best way to explore the nature of evil, crime and guilt. However, other writers often led readers to ponder on the same themes by following different routes, or rather by highlighting the importance that different superior forces play in life, such as strange twists of fate, chance and accident or contingency. These recurring themes of postmodern crime fiction in particularstill remain relevant to this day, like in The Suicide (2014) by Mark SaFranko, who imagines a detective-inspector from New-York, in the recent context of the 9/11 attacks, that the vagaries of his job expose to a suicide which ultimately leads him on the trail of his own culpability. Lastly, one cannot neglect the narrative form of the detective novel — this ‘‘reading-machine’’ (Thomas Narcejac) — prompting readers to be attentive to any trace of the hidden identity to be riddled out and uncovered along the pages.

In the same spirit, proposals should attentively look for this ‘‘metaphysical shudder’’ as fleeting impressions, feelings or less subtle strategies infused within the narrative and which can consequently impact the reading process.
Based on these philosophical, thematic, narrative or structural levels of analysis (this list of examples is non exhaustive), proposals could either concentrate on the study of a single novel or a single writer, or privilege a comparative approach of several ones. The different points of view and approaches adopted will hopefully lead to the better comprehension of the divergence between the
juxtaposition (‘‘metaphysical detective fiction’’) and the coordination (metaphysics and crime fiction) of the terms in order to challenge the relevance of the former umbrella term and the seemingly arbitrary categorisation of some novels under it. This study will also ultimately aim at highlighting the essential literary value of crime fiction — the quality which makes it the memento mori of our time — as one of the last popular imaginary spaces which directly confronts man to the violence and the anguish of death without any real harm.

This call for papers is destined for a book-length publication in the bilingual collection Book Practices & Textual Itineraries, which is devoted to the study of book history and textual scholarship.

This collection traces evolutions in the production, transmission and reception of books and texts over time and across cultural and disciplinary boundaries. Published at Université de Lorraine, France, under the supervision of an international editorial advisory board, the collection aims at facilitating dialogue between book, text and image scholars and practitioners from France, Europe and the English-speaking world (more information about the collection here).
Please send your proposals — title and abstract in English or French (400-600 words) — to Estelle Jardon ( by 15th December 2021. Final papers in English or French (7,000-9,000 words / 30,000-40,000 characters – space included) will be due by 1st May 2022 with publication anticipated in the fall 2022.

Global Histories of Crime Fiction: Redefining a Popular Genre – seminar of the ACLA 2022 Meeting (CFP)

CFP: Global Histories of Crime Fiction: Redefining a Popular Genre 

American Comparative Literature Association 2022 Annual Meeting, 15-18 June 

National Taiwan Normal University 

Seminar organisers: Jesper Gulddal (University of Newcastle, Australia) and Stewart King (Monash University)

Crime fiction today is a uniquely global genre in the sense of being written, published, sold and read on a significant scale on all continents and in almost every country. It is also global in the sense that it serves across a wide range of locations as an important vehicle for investigating and interrogating relationships between law, crime and justice. This global orientation challenges the persistent notion that crime fiction is predominantly a UK and US phenomenon and that other crime fiction traditions are either peripheral or derivative. Publishers have already embraced the idea of world crime fiction, as evidenced by the large number of crime fiction translations, not only with English as the source or target language, but also between other languages. Similarly, readers around the world have few concerns about reading foreign crime novels, and the combination of familiar forms and unfamiliar, “exotic” content has become one of the major selling points of global crime writing. The scholarly literature has been slow in catching up with these developments, but the last few years have seen lively debate around the concept of crime fiction as world literature. Following on from these discussions, this seminar seeks to overcome one of the last bastions of conventional crime fiction scholarship, namely the tendency to write the history of crime fiction either as the succession of canonical Anglophone formats (classic, hardboiled, etc.) or as accounts of individual national traditions. We pose the question, how can we globalise the historical narratives around crime fiction and move towards an account of the genre that recognises its global diversity and transnational connections.

We welcome papers dealing with any aspects of world crime fiction and the historiographical challenges it presents. Suggested focal points include:

  • The historiographical challenges presented by world crime fiction 
  • Autochthonous crime fiction traditions in China, Japan, India, the Arab world and elsewhere
  • Appropriations and localisations of canonical English-language formats around the world 
  • Translation as a means of localising crime fiction
  • Lateral circulations of crime fiction that bypass the Anglosphere (such as between China, Japan and Korea, in the Mediterranean, and within the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War) 
  • Comparative perspectives on world crime fiction 
  • Formal innovation and hybridisation at the “periphery”
  • Indigenous and First Nations crime fiction 
  • Reinterpreting British and American crime fiction from a transnational perspective
  • Digital and data-driven approaches to world crime fiction 

Enquires: or 

Conference website: 

Submit a paper proposal here: 

Fictional Crimes/Factual Crimes. European crime fiction and media narratives of crime (CFP)

International conference

Paris Nanterre University, 7-8 October 2021

The close relationship between crime fiction and authentic events is a crucial aspect of popular culture, in Europe as elsewhere. On the one hand, crime fiction has always drawn from news stories and social issues as a source of inspiration to deal with and reveal the most unspeakable practices or hidden aspects of our societies. On the other, news media have regularly borrowed the devices of fiction to increase their dramatic appeal: among the most notable examples are the serialization techniques adopted by the 19th century press to report police cases, the “true crime” programs of cable and satellite television and the multitude of articles or reports that make use of fictional intertexts. A number of recent studies have shown the importance of these exchanges, highlighting how the communicational dynamics of news media and the narrative structure of crime fiction have displayed strong reciprocal affinities since the advent of modern media culture, ever since the appearence of the 19th century literary genre of the urban mysteries and up to the contemporary ambitions of much crime fiction to occupy the space of journalistic investigation. Such exchanges, which can be found everywhere in the western world and beyond, also thanks to their broad international circulation, play a significant role in the ongoing homogenization of European imagination.

Moreover, the relationship between media culture and crime narratives is not limited solely to the ways in which fiction borrows some of its plots from the news, or the news imitate the stylistic devices of fiction. Rather, it calls into play the discursive structures that underpin both the journalistic discourse and crime fiction (in all of its different varieties: mystery, investigation, revelation, sensationalism…). Such proximity suggests that the two domains share not only a common social (as well as political and psychological) sensibility to the world, but also similar hermeneutical and rhetorical strategies in their respective interpretations and reconstructions of reality. More generally, their complex interplay, far from being anecdotal, suggests the existence of a profound complementarity between discourse and imagination. Assuming the existence of a much closer relation between fictional and factual accounts of crime may help explain the parallel evolution undergone by the two domains during the transformation of the media ecosystem. In fact, each new medium has invented its original modes, both fictional and factual, of representing crime, reformulating earlier forms inherited from the past and adjusting them to its own logic and means of expression.

In this conference, we would like to examine the porosity of media discourses on crime, both fictional and factual, and their meanings in terms of cultural imagination, ideology and/or social discourse. We invite proposals from all fields of media studies–literature, press, radio, television, cinema, internet and social media–particularly in a European perspective. Emphasis should be placed on the contemporary period and the ways in which media contexts impact textual forms and formats. Proposals are welcome that interrogate the ambiguity between fiction and factual events: for example, case studies that analyze the ways in which fictional stereotypes, forms and styles are adapted into factual statements or, conversely, the ways in which true crimes are transformed into fictions. Investigations on cases that blur the boundaries between the fictional and the factual after a process of media adaptation or migration are also welcome as well as more theoretical, global, transversal or historical approaches.

Possible topics include, but are by no means not limited to, the following:

  • The circulation of figures and stereotypes between the fictional and the factual within the same medium: contamination of forms, genres and modes of expression; borrowings, adaptations or appropriations. Examples: political fictions, true crime documentaries, fictionalized authentic events, journalistic and documentary productions using fiction.
  • The transmedia circulation of forms and content, and its effects in terms of reconfiguration or shift of meaning from the fictional to the factual, and vice versa: how does the process of intersemiotic translation affect the limits of representation, and how does the process of content reconfiguration occur within the different media ecosystems, according to their uses and the generic boundaries they prescribe between fictional and factual? Examples: journalistic investigations converted into TV series or film fictions, factual re-readings of works of fiction in social media.
  • The dissemination of the same figures and motifs through different media, and the ways in which their different occurrences cohere at the intersection of the fictional and the factual. Examples: the recurrence of criminal motifs across the media sphere, the emergence of phantasmatic criminal figures, standing halfway between fantasy and reality (the female cat burglar, the criminal network, the white slave trade, the Satanist ritual, etc.)
  • The cultural, social, political or, more broadly, ideological meanings produced by processes of contamination, circulation or homogenization between fictional and factual narratives. The role of fiction in structuring the ideologemes of contemporary culture; the use of mixed forms, such as political fictions, documentaries or counter-cultural productions to express either hegemonic or counter-hegemonic discourses.
  • Comparative approaches of cases from different European countries: comparison and constrast of different media ecosystems, legislations, specific linguistic characteristics or cultural practices; investigation of particular national case studies.
  • Analyses using digital tools that will be able to superimpose several corpora (factual and fictional, different countries, etc.) and bring out common lexical and generic registers, and patterns of transformations and appropriations according to genres, languages and countries.
  • The circulation of imaginative content and forms across the different European countries, according to its effects: homogenization vs relocation or appropriation, variations in the imports distribution of such different globalized forms as the true crime, the thriller, etc.
  • The historical dimension of this circulation, with respect to both the collective imagination and the media sphere: archaeology of crime representation across the media (pastiches, reuse of documents or archives), persistence of forms inherited from other media (e.g. the urban mystery, the melodrama, the whodunit.), resurgence of forgotten motifs (urban legends, expert discourses shaped by serial stereotypes, and so on).

The conference is organized as part of the H2020 DETECt project and the ANR Numapresse project. The conference will be held at the Paris Nanterre University.

Proposals should be sent before 31st March 2021, in English or French, to and

Download the Call for Papers in English and in French.

Captivating Criminality 7: Crime Fiction: Memory, History and Revaluation (CFP )


7th Annual Conference of the International Crime Fiction Association, in association with Bath Spa University

Captivating Criminality 7: Crime Fiction: Memory, History and Revaluation

2-4th July 2020

Newton Park campus, Bath Spa University, Bath UK.

Call for Papers

The Captivating Criminality Network is delighted to announce its seventh conference, which will be held in Bath, UK. Building upon and developing ideas and themes from the previous six successful conferences, Memory, History and Revaluation, will examine the ways in which Crime Fiction as a genre necessarily incorporates elements of the past – the past in general and its own past, both in terms of its own generic developments and also in respect of true crime and historical events. The CfP will thus offer opportunities for delegates to engage in discussions that are relevant to both past and present crime writing.

As Tzvetan Todorov argued in “The Typology of Detective Fiction,” crime fiction in many of its various sub-forms has a special relationship with the past. In classic forms of detective fiction, the central event around which the narrative is organized – the murder – occurs in pre-narrated time, and the actual narrative of the investigation is little more than a form of narrative archaeology, an excavation of a mysterious past event than is only accessible through reconstruction in the present. But this relationship between crime fiction and the past goes beyond narrative structure. The central characters of crime writing – its investigative figures – and frequently represented as haunted by their memories, living out their lives in the shadow of past traumas. More broadly, crime writing is frequently described as exhibiting a nostalgic orientation towards the past, and this longing for the restoration of an imagined prelapsarian Golden Age is part of the reason it has been association with social and political conservatism. On the other hand, there is a strong tradition of radical crime fiction that looks to the past not for comfort and stability, but in order to challenge historical myths and collective memories of unity, order, and security. Val McDermid argues that ‘…crime is a good vehicle for looking at society in general because the nature of the crime novel means that you draw on a wide group of social possibilities.’ Thus, crime fiction has been used to challenge, subvert and interrogate the legal and cultural status quo. Crime fiction’s relationship with the past is thus inherently complex, and represents a fascinating, and underexplored, focus for critical work.

Papers presented at Captivating Criminality 7 will thus examine changing notions of criminality, punishment, deviance and policing, drawing on the multiple threads that have fed into the genre since its inception. Speakers are invited to embrace interdisciplinarity, exploring the crossing of forms and themes, and to investigate and challenge claims that Crime Fiction is a fixed genre. Abstracts dealing with crime fiction past and present, true crime narratives, television and film studies, and other forms of new media such as blogs, computer games, websites and podcasts are welcome, as are papers adopting a range of theoretical, sociological and historical approaches.

Topics may include but are not restricted to:

· True Crime

· Gender and the Past

· Crime Fiction in the age of #me too

· Crime Fiction from traumatised nations

· Crime Fiction and Landscape

· Revisionist Crime Fiction

· Crime Fiction and contemporary debates

· Crime Reports and the Press

· Real and Imagined Deviance

· Adaptation and Interpretation

· Crime Fiction and Form

· Generic Crossings

· Crime and Gothic

· The Detective, Then and Now

· The Anti-Hero

· Geographies of Crime

· Real and Symbolic Boundaries

· Ethnicity and Cultural Diversity

· The Ideology of Law and Order: Tradition and Innovation

· Gender and Crime

· Women and Crime: Victims and Perpetrators

· Crime and Queer Theory

· Film Adaptations

· TV series

· Technology

· The Media and Detection

· Sociology of Crime

· The Psychological

· Early Forms of Crime Writing

· Victorian Crime Fiction

· The Golden Age

· Hardboiled Fiction

· Contemporary Crime Fiction

· Postcolonial Crime and Detection

Please send 200 word proposals to Professor Fiona Peters, Dr Ruth Heholt and Dr Eric Sandberg, to by 15th February 2020.

The abstract should include your name, email address, and affiliation, as well as the title of your paper. Please 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.

Caribbean Noir (2) – CFP

Confiant Pepin

The  Centre Aixois d’Etudes Romanes (Aix-Marseille University) calls for papers for its 2nd conference on  Caribbean Crime Fiction in Spanish, French and English.  The conference will take place on May 28 & 29, 2020, in  Aix-en-Provence.

All submissions must be received by 30 September 2019.

Learn more, including how to submit your paper here , or contact the organisers :

Nelly Rajaonarivelo :

Dante Barrientos Tecún :

To see the full call (and some impressive art), click here



Noir & Journalism (CFP)

No pockets


Call for papers

 Noir & Journalism

University of Pau and Pays de l’Adour

University Savoie Mont-Blanc,  Chambéry,

October 1st to 4th, 2019

An international conference, investigating the multiple  relationships, influences and representations linking crime narratives with journalism will take place in France, in October 2019 (1st to 4th), in presence of authors Dominique Manotti and Leonardo Padura. The conference venues are located on two campuses : in Chambéry, on October the 1st  and 2nd and in Pau, on October the 3rd  and 4th .

The full programme of the conference (In French) can be accessed here.

Please send 300 word abstracts by the 4th of May  2019 

to the Organizers of the conference:

– Emilie Guyard (University of Pau)

Myriam Roche (Savoie Mont Blanc University)

Journalism Conference