Call for Chapters: Agatha Christie Goes to War

Editors: Dr J.C. Bernthal (Middlesex University) and Dr Rebecca Mills (Bournemouth University)
Chapter proposals are invited for an edited collection exploring and evaluating the role of war in Agatha Christie’s life and writing.

Christie’s work is now recognised not only as a distraction from twentieth-century anxieties and conflicts but also as a way of processing them. Christie’s career was created out of her war work in a Torquay dispensary and her awareness of Belgian refugees; her first husband Archibald Christie was an airman during the First World War and her second husband Max Mallowan served in North Africa during the
Second, leaving her behind in Blitzed London. Her work cannot be considered as insulated from these conflicts; themes of displacement, violence, military masculinity and women’s duty resonate throughout her fiction. Gill Plain and Alison Light, for example, have examined the traces of the First World War in the bodies and social scenes of Christie’s Golden Age fiction, while recent television adaptations of And Then There Were None (2015) and Witness for the Prosecution (2016) brought subtexts of post-traumatic stress disorder and social upheaval into the foreground as well as heightening military imagery through lighting and flashbacks.

b9d97fc5c9efe1f9fe739502752b6dc4.jpgEngaging with the legacy of the First World War is part of a turn away from a narratological focus on Christie and the clue-puzzle towards a multiplicity of feminist, queer, and sociological readings that contextualise Christie’s work within its contemporary literary, political, and social environments. Existing scholarship tends to focus on World Wars, especially the First, but Christie’s life and career covered diverse fields, stages, and modes of warfare. We aim to present the first detailed study of the theme of war in Christie’s fiction and life-writing, spanning a range of conflicts in England, Europe, the British Empire and beyond, and responses to events from the Boer War to the Cold War.

We therefore invite 300-500 word abstracts for contributions of 6000-8000 words that take a global and in-depth approach to wars and their traces in Christie’s work. Please include a brief biographical note. Topics might include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • – Re-evaluating the First World War in Christie’s life-writing and fiction
  • – Christie’s war work
  • – A comparative approach to war in the work of Christie and her contemporaries
  • – The Second World War—the Blitz, rationing, fifth columnists
  • – Codes and coding
  • – Gender and/or sexuality and war
  • – Displacement and exile
  • – Colonial wars and empire
  • – Foreign fields
  • – Nation, ideology and extremism
  • – Revolution
  • – Representations of Communism and Nazism
  • – The Cold War and global conspiracies
  • – The Spanish Civil War
  • – Thrillers and espionage
  • – War in Christie adaptations
  • – Memory and war
  • – Commemoration
  • – Loss and bereavement
  • – Terrorism

Deadline for abstracts: 30th June 2017. Estimated deadline for finished chapters: 30th November 2017.

Email: christiegoestowar@gmail.com