LAW AND HUMANITIES: REPRESENTING CRIME

JUNE 22-24, 2018 – MELUN, FRANCE
CONFERENCE of the PARIS 2 RESEARCH CENTER, “LAW AND HUMANITIES”

 

Hosted by the Institut de Droit et d’Economie,  Université Paris II (Melun)

Call for papers

“The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” (Mark Twain)

The relationships between investigators, forensic experts and the justice system on the one hand, and the acts or representations of crime, violence and justice on the other have been evolving greatly throughout the centuries, and have sometimes given rise to intense debates.

Crimes, after having been committed, are immediately depicted in the media, sometimes with very little distance both in time and relative to the immediate information given. That said, crime has constantly been a favorite subject for authors and artists alike, starting with plays like Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex.

Complaints against the media for not providing a truthful depiction of the investigation are a recurrently expressed by the police, forensic experts and/or the justice system. Works of fiction are also criticized for their lack of verisimilitude. As a result, in 1946, the French Prix du Quai des Orfèvres was created. Its jury is composed of 22 members and includes police officers, magistrates, lawyers and journalists, and is presided by the head of the Paris criminal police (Police Judiciaire). It rewards novels that are realistic depictions of police work as well as of the justice system.

Conversely, due to works of fiction – whether they be novels, movies or TV shows -, the general public has a high level of expectation that crimes will be solved, something Val McDermid called, in her 2014 essay Forensics, “the CSI effect” with victims and their families thinking that due to scientific progress, all criminals can be prosecuted and that no crime will go unsolved. Moreover, in the eyes of the public scientific progress means that justice will prevail – and very quickly so -, and if it does not, forensic experts are suspected of having been inaccurate or careless. Indeed TV series like CSI (US) or Silent Witness (UK) give us a very inaccurate vision of investigations, with forensic experts also being investigators and with precise results obtained within a few minutes.

This conference aims to (re)think how the visual media, fiction and art may have an impact on crime as well as the perspectives held by criminal investigative professionals (police, justice, forensic experts…) and how this all may influence the representation of crime, its investigation and court cases. This conference will endeavor to offer new insights into more recent shapes of this intricate interplay.

Scholars and practitioners from various disciplines and approaches (history, literature, media and communication studies, law, political science, sociology, anthropology, economy etc.) are welcome to submit papers that deal with the following topics:

–     Fictional representation/mediatization/definitions of crime, violence and justice in news or informational formats, film, documentaries, novels, television drama or radio plays.

–     Media and/or artistic approaches to events related to crime, violence and justice.

–     The production and reception of news, works of art and fiction dealing with crime, violence and justice.

–     The crime scene, the investigators, the scientists, the criminal and the victims in news and fiction.

–     Media, history, fiction, arts and criminology.

–     Teaching future police officers, investigators and detectives using fiction as a starting point.

–     Works related to specialized narratives or FASP.

How to submit a paper:

Please send your proposal (title, an abstract of 500 words, a short biography) to representingcrimeconference@orange.fr <mailto:representingcrimeconference@orange.fr> , deadline December 14th, either by inserting your text directly in the body of the mail or attaching a WORD-file or PDF document.

February 15th, 2017: notification of abstract decisions

Proposals for presentations of artistic or (multi-)media projects are welcomed.