Detective Fiction: How Dead Is The Past? (Panel)

Maria Plochocki Announcement
Connecticut, United States
Subject Fields
Social Sciences, Journalism and Media Studies

Recent examinations of the functioning of the past within detective fiction – whether going back in time to reconstruct a crime or examine a larger criminal pattern/ trend in a past period – raise the question of how “dead,” to borrow Faulkner’s famous line, the past is. Whether considered from the standpoint of physics (time as a function of space and the expansion of the universe) or, as may seem more obvious, history, time is clearly neither dead/ finished nor objective, even indifferent, or perceived as such.


Papers are sought which examine the functioning and role of the past/ time perception in works of detective fiction, exploring the perspectives of individuals or whole groups (everyone involved in detection and pertaining to historical events/ memory) as well as more basic reconstruction of crimes. In particular, papers applying various disciplines, such as the sciences, psychology or history, to this question are welcome. For example, to what extent does past trauma, such as of a victim of murder or another crime, persist into the present and motivate the action of detective fiction, as has often been considered the case with fictional detectives? How does the victimization of a larger group, such as through genocide, serve to rationalize future crimes, such as those driven by vengeance? How authentic, and helpful, is going back in time to reconstruct not only criminal acts, but even motives and memories? To what extent do changes, whether in police practices, even entire regimes, serve to bury or even undo or compensate for the past?

Abstracts are due by 30 Sept. at the above URL; contact me with any questions.

Contact Information

Maria Plochocki

English/ Writing/ Humanities

Pace University/ University of Maryland University College/ CUNY

I am convening the above session for the NeMLA Convention, taking place 17 - 20 Mar., 2016, Hartford, CT.

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