NeMLA 2022 Session on Detective Fiction

Maria Plochocki's picture
Call for Papers
June 30, 2021 to September 30, 2021
Maryland, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Literature, Philosophy, Popular Culture Studies
NeMLA (the NorthEastern Modern Language Association) will be holding its next conference 10 - 13 Mar., 2022, in Baltimore, MD, featuring a wide array of sessions of various formats on languages, literatures, pedagogy, and related topics. Review the full CFP below; the deadline to submit abstracts is 30 Sept.:
I'm convening the below session:

So What (Else) Is New?: Detective Fiction in the Post-truth Era

That nothing can be assumed or known for sure has long been a trope of detective fiction: the good guy (or gal) often turns out not to be; neither do/es the most obvious or expected suspect/s. In the timeline of detective fiction, this tendency has become more pronounced: Golden-Age detectives, managing to nab their suspect, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, and noir detectives doing the same, even though their work is not as restorative or reaffirming of order and reason (which are often not there to begin with), have been replaced by detectives who are often foiled in some way. The resolution they provide may come too late or reveal other mysteries, even evils, beyond their capacities or otherwise out of their sphere of influence; sometimes, the mystery outlives the detective or their deductive capacity, like Colin Dexter’s Insp. Morse, who dies having solved a mystery which turns out to be merely one of many in The Remorseful Day, or Henning Mankell’s Wallander, whose story ends with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in The Troubled Man.
More recent scholarship contextualises the genre in the post-truth, false-news world, where even the possibility of verifying a solution against some external reality is questionable. Truth is a construct of media and other powers or (eventually) altogether irrelevant, victim to our shrinking attention span or the b___s___ mindset identified in the early aughts. Where does this leave present-day detectives? How do they grapple with the (more than) possibility that any solution they provide, no matter the cost and other personal investment, will be covered up because it embarrasses or inconveniences someone in power? Or forgotten/ otherwise lost sight of? How does this scenario differ from the noir detectives of Chandler and Hammett? Papers addressing these questions, esp. specific case studies, are sought for this session.
Here's the link to the session description and to submit an abstract:
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Maria Plochocki

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