CFP: The Contemporary Bad Guy, October 31, St Andrews

Posted by Matt Foley on August 05, 2015 in Blog, News tagged with , , , , , , , ,

The Contemporary Bad Guy on October 31,  2015

Female violence is a specific brand of ferocity. It’s invasive. A girlfight is all teeth and hair, spit and nails — a much more fearsome thing to watch than two dudes clobbering each other. And the mental violence is positively gory. Women entwine.” Gillian Flynn

As Terry Eagleton notes in his essay On Evil: “Evil, like religious fundamentalism, is among other things a nostalgia for an older, simpler civilisation, in which there were certitudes like damnation and salvation, and you knew where you stood… In a curious sense, evil is a protest against the debased quality of modern life.” Yet Flynn’s quote suggests that evil and cruelty can manifest in more complex ways; her reference to “positively gory mental violence” seems to contradict Eagleton’s notion of evil as a simplifying force. In fiction, when do we find catharsis in pure evil, and when do we want a more complex, ambivalent story

This conference aims to discuss the complications of contemporary portrayals of evil and crime in literature and wider popular culture. These can be within the “Crime” genre or outside it.

Avenues for exploration may include but are not limited to:

  • Psychosocial explanations for the “bad guy/girl”
  • Evil Nature/Saving Nature
  • Evil’s formal effects on the novel
  • Gender, race and religion translated through villainy
  • Technologies of crime/ Posthuman criminality
  • Disability and villainy
  • Post vs. Pre- 9/11 evil
  • Inhuman antagonists: plagues, ghosts, zombies, etc.
  • Narrative choices in light of crime
  • The success of the Serial podcast, Gone Girl (novel and/or film), and other crime story phenomena

Academics and research students alike are invited to submit a proposal. Submissions should include a title together with a 250-300 word abstract for a 20-minute presentation by September 1, 2015. As an interdisciplinary conference we also welcome papers from outside the Arts & Humanities for consideration. Please also include your name and affiliation. Proposals should be sent to Lenore Bell at lb553[at]

About our Keynote Speaker:

Diane Negra is professor of film studies and screen culture, as well as head of film studies at University College Dublin. She is the author, editor or co-editor of ten books including Extreme Weather and Global Media (Routledge, 2015) and the forthcoming The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness (forthcoming, Routledge, 2016).

The webpage for the event can be found here.

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