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Academic Research Grants 2016: Funded Research Report
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Sisters in Crime will award two academic research grants in 2017.  Requirements and application available at the main Academic Research Grant page.

Below are reports from researchers who were previously funded through this program.

 

Kelly Ross, Assistant Professor of English at Rider University

I am deeply grateful to Sisters in Crime for awarding me an Academic Research Grant to support my research on race, gender, and detection. The Sisters in Crime Grant has helped me to complete my book manuscript, titled Slavery and Surveillance: The Origins of Detective Fiction in the Antebellum United States. In the book, I argue that detective fiction in the United States emerged from the surveillance practices of the antebellum slave system. Until the open combat of the Civil War, the conflict between enslaved people and enslavers, overseers, and slave catchers was waged via methods we normally associate with detectives. Life in the slave society of the antebellum United States encompassed continuous surveillance, detection, disguise, and concealment. The panoptical eye of the overseer watching the field to keep everyone working, biometric data advertised on runaway posters, slave patrollers’ search of slave cabins to foil incipient rebellion: these examples of surveillance indicate the context of visibility that shaped enslaved lives. It is equally important, though, to attend to the mutuality of surveillance and detection: just as overseers were watching enslaved workers, the workers were watching them, learning to detect patterns of behavior that might be useful in day-to-day resistance as well as larger acts of insurrection. Just as slave catchers followed clues to trace fugitives, the agents of the Underground Railroad surveilled the movements of slave catchers and disseminated information about safe routes and stations across anti-slavery networks. Slavery and Surveillance will bring attention to the role of enslaved women and men in the development of US detective fiction, particularly in the chapter on surveillance and detection in antebellum slave narratives by authors including Mary Prince, Hannah Crafts (Bond), and Harriet Jacobs.

The Sisters in Crime Academic Research Grant enabled me to purchase 22 books—primarily scholarly monographs and edited collections—focused on race and crime, including Simone Browne’s Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. These books were essential to my argument in the introduction to my book manuscript and without the Sisters in Crime Grant they would have been prohibitively expensive. I will be presenting a conference-length version of that introduction at the Northeastern Modern Language conference in March 2017. I am sincerely thankful to Sisters in Crime for supporting academic research on diversity in detective fiction and I look forward to sharing the results of that research with a wider audience. 

 

Ann Rea, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

My book project is advancing and is aided by the Sisters in Crime grant. At present 15 contributors are working on their chapters, and I will be on sabbatical this spring and will write my own chapter about domesticity and espionage, using the books I have purchased with the grant.

The proposed chapters that I accepted cover a wide range of topics including the following:

• the genre hybrid of romance and espionage fiction in Helen MacInnes;
• two chapters on Bond novels and films, one exploring the narratives as misreadings of the women characters by Bond and another focusing on overlaps between colonialism and the portrayal of the "girls;"
• Agatha Christie's They Came to Baghdad as a challenge to espionage fiction's conventional reliance on a masculine, imperialist perspective in its use of a woman protagonist with a tourist's gaze;
• a chapter about women and ageing in fiction and film adaptations of fiction by Ian Fleming and John Le Carre;
• Nancy Mitford's portrayal of the glamourous woman spy in her novel Pigeon pie;
• an exploration of tourism and gender in Helen MacInnes's work;
• an examination of the television series The Americans as a nostalgic portrayal of the nuclear family in 1950s America;
• the queer masculine doubling in Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love;
• Ian Isherwood's spy fiction and queer modernism.

I believe that this collection will open areas of discussion in espionage fiction, a sub-genre of crime fiction.

The contributors include three critics who are particularly notable in their fields: Rosie White, who published Violent Femmes, an examination of women in spy films and television; Judy Suh who published an important book about fascism in interwar Britain; and Christine Berberich who has published widely in examinations of national identity construction in modern Britain.

When I receive the chapters at the end of June I will compile the book proposal for submission to the publisher and will begin to edit the chapters. After I return the chapters to their authors with my suggestions for revisions I will begin drafting my introduction which I expect to explore what the chapters reveal about gender's role in constructions of national identity, ideas about the sphere of espionage as oppositional to the domestic, and constructions of gender and sexuality as they uphold ideas about international relations.

Thank you again for your support. Without the Sisters in Crime grant I would have to juggle the use of library copies of the major criticism of spy fiction. Instead, I now own the books and can make them available to many of the contributors.

 

 

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