Women’s interest in crime, and violent crime in particular, has become increasingly apparent in recent years. Women now read more crime fiction and thrillers than men, are the primary audience for a number of popular true-crime podcasts (listeners of My Favorite Murder even refer to themselves as “Murderinos”), and increasingly enter fields of study that put them in close contact with the after-effects of violent crime, making up approximately 75% of current forensic science graduates.
This panel explores women’s interest in, and subsequent shaping of, the crime literature genre, including fiction and non-fiction true-crime narratives. While crime literature has historically been associated with both male authors and readers, as epitomized by the hardboiled detective tradition, women have always written about crime, deception, and murder. Agatha Christie’s mysteries, the 1940s pulp novels of Vera Caspary and Dorothy B. Hughes, the current turn toward “domestic noir” as seen in the enormous success of writers like Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, among countless other examples, all attest to women’s influence on the genre.
In true investigative fashion, this panel makes the following interrogations: How have female authors played a role in (re)defining the genre of crime literature? How are women represented in crime literature: Beautiful corpses? Femme fatales? Adept investigators or skilled murderesses? How have female authors used the crime narrative as a means to respond to specific cultural attitudes or anxieties? Has women’s commercial success in writing thrillers actually undermined their critical literary authority? How do authors negotiate often graphic depictions of violence directed toward the female body?
The panel encourages a broad range of submissions and will accept proposals related to crime literature across time periods and geographic locations. Explorations of gender and crime in podcasts, documentary series, visual arts, etc. will also be considered. Please submit 300-word abstracts.