Call for Papers

Date: 11 July 2018

Venue: Senate House, London

Keynote: Melissa Bissonette, St. John Fisher College, NY

Conference Fees: £15 salaried, £10 student/unwaged

The development of the crime narrative and detective literary genre has been extensively studied with scant regard to its historical context. Despite the genre’s deep connection with the history (and subsequent public perceptions) of factual crime, as well as the development of the legal system, the police force and detective figures across the world, well-established chronologies of the crime-fiction genre have tended to focus on the literary development of the genre in isolation.

This focus has led to the establishment of various entrenched chronologies, such as the now well-known ‘Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle’ triumvirate across the nineteenth century. Many subsequent studies have revolved around these established ‘standards’, and thus sometimes read crime narratives in comparison with texts which they are quite unlike.

The purpose of this conference is therefore to explore the interrelationships between crime-narratives and crime-history. It seeks to contextualise crime narratives and detective-fiction more closely with the development of the legal system, law-enforcement, detection, criminal justice and historic crime itself across the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Possible topics for papers might include (but are not limited to):

  • The relationships between crime-narratives and crime-history
  • The development of the police in fiction
  • The representation of policing mechanisms in fiction
  • The development of the police-procedural
  • Crime fiction and lawyers, coroners, trials, judges and court reporters
  • Crime/policing in print culture and periodicals
  • The Capital Punishment debate in print culture and periodicals
  • Criminal narratives of transportees (to Australia and Virginia for example)
  • Accounts of crime in the forces (Army and Navy)

Please send abstracts of 250 words to by March 31, 2018. For more information, please see (

Conference organisers: Samuel Saunders (Liverpool John Moores University and Debbie Webber (University of Winchester)