Happy new year!
What are your plans and priorities for 2016?
I have been enjoying my research and administrative work for Sophie Hannah, and preparing for a few exciting projects. Some of these, I can tell you about and, as always, some of them I can’t yet. I’m also looking forward to graduating from the University of Exeter with a PhD on 23rd January.
In November, my chapter on ‘the maladroit detective’ in UK crime fiction from the nineteenth century was published in Barry Forshaw’s excellent handbook for general readers, Crime Uncovered: Detective (Intellect, 2016). This chapter was something of a departure for me, focussing on masculine coding and professional incompetence in cockney policemen created by Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Colin Dexter. The book has already been well-reviewed and it’s a great volume to be part of, dealing as it does with crime fiction on a global scale, with highly distinguished contributors (and me). It is also one of the only books looking specifically at police detectives in fiction. I’ve worked with a few well-known editors now and must say that Barry Forshaw is one of the best: he made it very clear who we were writing for and what the tone of the volume should be.
In January, my article on uncanny cutlery and its absence in the fiction of Roald Dahl will be published in the first issue of FEAST, an interdisciplinary journal. This article was even more of a departure for me. I focus on the presence or lack of cutlery in three Dahl texts: a children’s novel, a young adult story, and an adult story. Using Freud’s theory of the uncanny, and some work that has been done in children’s literature studies, I argue that Dahl uses eating as an allegory on adolescence, introducing readers to a world that is desperately in need of structure. Cutlery offers a particular insight on this reading because it is something that Dahl was apparently unaware of writing about. Dahl started off as ‘something completely different’ after the PhD but I’ve found myself completely hooked and am hoping to attend a forthcoming conference in Cardiff. And guess who gets too many ideas than they know what to do with…
I would love to produce a scholarly companion to Roald Dahl’s The Witches. There is so much there to analyse.
— Dr Jamie Bernthal (@jcbernthal) November 27, 2015
A few days ago, I self-published something very special. It’s an ebook of a 17,000 word novella. This is the first time I’ve put my creative writing out on the internet in half a decade. Dead in the Water is a murder mystery set on board the Titanic. I wrote it as my MA Creative Writing dissertation in 2011 but after some negative feedback from a famous writer I lost all confidence in my writing and myself. I had planned to self-publish it in time for the 2012 centenary of the Titanic tragedy, but became convinced that it and I were not worth anyone’s time. Anyway, recently I reread the story and was incredibly proud of it. I think that this is a really great narrative with good suspense, strong characters, and an insightful use of period. The feedback was, apparently, for a different project and the writer who provided it was notoriously troubled. So why don’t you read the story – just £1.99 from Amazon UK (free on Kindle Unlimited) and $2.93 from Amazon US – and let me know what you think? I’ll post again on this story in a few weeks, and am hoping to make a physical booklet featuring Dead in the Water with more fiction and an assay, around Easter time.
Very exciting news! The world’s first English language scholarly edited collection devoted to Agatha Christie is soon to be published by McFarland. I edited this very special book which features contributions from across and beyond the humanities. Contributors include Merja Makinen, Sarah Street, Michelle M Kazmer, Charlotte Beyer, and half a dozen up-and-coming young academics. The Ageless Agatha Christie is aimed at students, scholars, and the general reader: it focusses on lesser-known aspects of Christie’s life, work, and legacy. Another blog post will follow when the book is published in the Spring. But for now you can
find out more and pre-order from the publishers!
On a related note, and as a reward if you have ploughed through all this, here is some news that hasn’t technically been announced yet. The Ageless Agatha Christie is also the title of a forthcoming conference, which I am co-organising once again with the fabulous Mia Dormer at the University of Exeter. Save the date – the conference will take place on Monday 20th June 2016 in Exeter. We have attracted two amazing keynote speakers and with a stated theme of ‘adaptations and afterlives’ we are beyond excited to be launching the call for
papers this weekend.
I want desperately to tell you about all the other exciting stuff that’s happening but that’s enough for now! Stay tuned for a blog post on my next academic project – which deals with Agatha Christie and much more – in the next few months. This will also include a request for help!