ACLA (American Comparative Literature Assocation) 2018 Seminar Proposal: Crime Fiction and Global Spaces
Georgetown University, Washington DC, 7-10 March 2019
The transnational “turn” in crime fiction and studies of the genre has produced a new understanding of the complex interplays between crime, policing and security. Just as crime is increasingly understood as a transnational phenomenon linking spheres of production and consumption across discreet national territories, policing now constitutes a set of networked activities connecting internally-facing police forces and externally-facing intelligence/security agencies across the globe. This seminar provides an opportunity to think about how crime fiction has sought to make sense of these transformations and the accompanying reordering and disordering of global spaces.
We are keen to explore what these changes mean for crime fiction as genre; that is, as an elastic and endlessly varied body of work that is nonetheless recognizable as crime fiction. Individual papers might consider the ways in which crime fiction contributes to a larger biopolitical project, whereby populations are scrutinized, managed and regulated, or whether the genre’s most incisive interventions come from writers who are keen to interrogate the disorder and violence that is inevitably bound up in, and caused by, new techniques and dispensations of power. If the lone cop investigating a murder in a single locale remains an important staple, the genre’s opening up to the global dimensions of crime and policing requires or presupposes inevitable mutations; and as such we are especially keen to think about the emergence of new hybrid forms as the distinctions between crime, sf, thrillers, war fiction, spy and espionage forms are eroded. We also welcome papers that consider representations of the populations and resistance movements targeted by both criminalization and by the militarization of policing (Occupy, BLM, or activist groups in the Global South).
This seminar is particularly interested in the seeming collapse of distinctions between “internal” and “external”, between policing and militarization, and between realm of everyday life and the spectre of militarized violence. Just as crime can no longer be understood as belonging exclusively to either the domestic or international realm, policing and security initiatives inevitably bleed into one another. And just as domestic policing increasingly assumes a military dimension (police in paramilitary gear and armored vehicles being “sent” into “unsafe” parts of the city), militarization that assumes an international dimension is typically characterized as policing or “police actions.” We want to consider how these semantic blurrings are interrogated in and by genre fiction and what kind of thematizations of order and disorder are created. Papers are also encouraged that explore how or whether the internationalization and indeed militarization of policing and security (“war on drugs”, “war on terror” etc.) produces a particular kind of fiction capable of connecting discreet encounters within particular locales (e.g. cities) and across disparate parts of the globe.
We welcome papers that explore crime fiction as what Jameson might call a process of “cognitive mapping,” where the totality of social relations are explored or at least hinted at within individual or serial works (e.g. The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Millennium Trilogy). Alternatively, contributors might think about whether the ordering of space in one locale is repeated and repeatable elsewhere and if not, what the Marxist and post-colonial implications of this distinction might be (e.g. whether violence and disorder, for example, in poorer areas in the Global South are directly related to the policing and governance practices pursued elsewhere).
In welcoming papers on these and related questions from as many parts of the globe as possible, the seminar hopes to build on and deepen the discussions pursued so well in “Crime Fiction as World Literature” (ACLA 2015), “Translating Crime: Production, Transformation and Reception” (ACLA 2016), “Worlding Crime Fiction: From the National to the Global” (ACLA 2017), and “Crime Fiction, Cosmopolitanism and Non-Violent Crime” (ACLA 2018).
If you are interested in submitting a paper to this seminar stream, you will need to do so (and provide an abstract of 200-250 words approx.) via the American Comparative Literature Association website by Thursday 20 September (https://www.acla.org/annual-meeting). But we would encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible to register your interest: Patrick Deer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Andrew Pepper (email@example.com).