Friday, 30 August 2019

Call for Papers - Mystery and Detective Fiction

Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Wednesday, April 15 – Saturday, April 18, 2020

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For conference information, please go to


The Mystery & Detective Fiction Area of the Popular Culture Association invites proposals for our annual conference. We seek proposals from educators, graduate students, and independent scholars for academic discussions on all aspects and periods of mystery and detective fiction, including history, criticism, and theory, as well as explorations of social justice, diversity, inclusivity, and other current trends in scholarship. We welcome a wide range of topics and approaches on writers and works ranging from classic to contemporary, but ask that proposals go beyond plot summary to extend existing scholarship in new directions. Proposals should have a clear and focused argument that can be developed adequately in a 15-minute presentation.

We welcome proposals on the following:
Regional detective fiction, including texts set in or around Philadelphia, PA
Storytelling styles, stock characters, and tropes relevant to the genre (e.g. individual mysteries compared to series, long-term story arcs)
Axes of diversity and identity politics in mystery/detective fiction(e.g., race/ethnicity/class/gender/sexual orientation)
Critical race theory and other approaches that interrogate marginalization
Various subgenres (e.g., hardboiled detective fiction /cosy detective fiction)
Mystery and detection on film (including film noir, horror, romance)
Overlaps with other genres (e.g., horror, romance, dystopia, Westerns)
Trauma theory and other psychological approaches (e.g., cognitive poetics)
Representing crime, justice, violence, stereotyping, etc.
Comparisons between fictional and “true crime”/news representations of crime
Questions of high/low culture
International incarnations of mystery, detective, and crime works
Analyses of promotional and/or contextual materials (reviews, handbooks, etc.)
Mystery community culture (e.g., conferences, associations, forums, bookstores, listservs, author events, fandoms)
The genre as represented outside of print media, including film, television, podcasts, mystery dinner theatre, computer games, transmedia experiments, etc.

Please submit your 100- to 250-word abstract outlining both your object(s) of analysis and your primary argument by November 1, 2019. If you are a first-time presenter in our division (it does not need to be your first time presenting at PCA/ACA), please identify yourself with a note after your abstract. First-time presenters in Mystery & Detective Fiction are eligible for the Earl Bargainnier Award.

To propose a panel, submit individual presentations, then email both area co-chairs with a request to be considered as a panel. This year, PCA/ACA is requiring a minimum of four papers per panel. In your email, name all participants and briefly explain the thematic link between your papers.

The Mystery & Detective Fiction Area of PCA/ACA is dedicated to recognizing, furthering, and promoting the scholarly study of all aspects of mystery and detective fiction. The M&D Fiction area offers an inclusive community where new and returning scholars can engage in sustained critical evaluation of texts, film, and television, podcasts, and other mediums relating to the theme. Each year we present the Earl Bargainnier Award for best paper by a first-time presenter in the M&D Fiction area and the George N. Dove Award for outstanding contributions to the serious study of crime fiction. In addition to panel presentations on all aspects of mystery and detective fiction, we organize a panel of local mystery authors and partner with other PCA sections with overlapping interests as well as coordinate formal and informal tours of the host city. We also invite members to participate in a group dinner, making this a truly collegial event. Members are also encouraged to participate in the annual business meeting, where we set the area’s course for the next year, and hold a raffle of fun low-cost items donated by area members.

For the rest of the year, we maintain contact through a listserv where we discuss ideas, circulate calls for contributions, and post book reviews and recommendations. 

To join the listserv, contact Karen Waldron at ( Follow us on Twitter: @pca_mystery.

Please send all inquiries to co-chairs:

Patrick Russell University of Connecticut
Jennifer Schnabel
The Ohio State University
August 1, 2019                 Submission Page Goes Live
October 1, 2019               Early Bird Registration Rate Opens
November 1, 2019           Deadline for Paper Proposals and Endowment  Grants
December 1, 2019           Early Bird Registration Rate Ends
January 1, 2020               Regular Registration Rate Ends
January 2, 2020               Late Registration Rate Begins
January 15, 2020             Brigman and Jones Awards Deadline
January 20, 2020             Preliminary Schedule Available
February 1, 2020             Presenter Registration Deadline – participants who have not registered are removed from the program.
February 2, 2020              Registration ends for presenters at midnight.
April 15-18, 2020             National Conference
All presenters must be current, paid members of the PCA and fully  registered for the conference.
Refund requests must be submitted in writing. Full or partial refunds will be processed according to the following schedule:
Requested by Jan. 1: 100% refund
Requested by Jan. 15: 75% refund
Requested by Jan. 25: 50% refund
Requested by Feb. 1: 25% refund
After Feb. 1: 0% refund
Membership fees are not refundable.

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