May 27, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Mark Blacklock, Birkbeck College
contact email: 

We invite proposals for papers for True Crime Fictions, to be held on Friday 1st July 2016.

This one-day, interdisciplinary conference investigates the growing corpus of hybrid fictions working with accounts of true crimes and their increasing interest to literary, legal and criminological scholars. With the establishment in 2012 of a prize rewarding fiction in the tradition of the journalist and author Gordon Burn, whose novels explored the mediation of crime reporting and whose non-fiction deployed novelistic technique in its accounts of true crimes, British literary prize culture has acknowledged a developing field with roots in the Gothic tradition, advanced in the work of Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Don DeLillo and continued by James Ellroy, David Peace and Cathi Unsworth.

Building on previous work in the field of genre fictions at Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Literature, True Crime Fictions will consider the complex legal and ethical stakes of such work and its reworking of representational traditions. What cultural work is done in the interstices between the actual and the imagined of traumatic mass-cultural phenomena? To what extent does the new writing work into older traditions? Why is this form of fiction increasing in popularity now and how does it figure in the British and international literary landscape?

We anticipate that this conference will be of interest to a range of researchers from the fields with which it intersects, but also to a general audience of creative writers and crime fiction enthusiasts. Practising authors in the field will contribute alongside critics. We particularly welcome proposals for papers that consider:

  • The literary history of fictions based on true crimes
  • The tradition of the non-fiction novel
  • Theories of literary mediation and realism: ‘Reality Hunger’
  • The Great American Crime: Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Don DeLillo
  • Gordon Burn and David Peace
  • The gender politics of crime
  • The true crime fiction as meta-history
  • The ethics of reportage-based fiction
  • True crime comics.

Please email proposals to by 27th May 2016.

True Crime Fictions is organized with the generous support of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.