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Fiona Peters

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Personal statement

I joined Bath Spa in 2003, first teaching Cultural Studies and since 2009, English and Cultural Studies.I was awarded the title of Reader in 2016.

Throughout the past few years I have developed the study of Crime Fiction as a valid and exciting area of academic study and research. I started the Crime Fiction Strand in English Literature three years ago and now run a 2nd year module Crime Fiction and a 3rd year module Crime Fiction in the Contemporary World, both of which have proved enormously successful and popular.

My research on the crime writer Patricia Highsmith is internationally recognised. My 2011 monograph Anxiety and Evil in the Writings of Patricia Highsmith (Ashgate) has been called ‘the first properly academic study of this underrated author.’ This text has been adopted as set reading in Universities across the United States. On the strength of this, I was invited by Dr Janice Allen (Journal editor) to guest edit a volume of the prestigious ‘Clues’ journal, ‘Patricia Highsmith: A Re-evaluation’, to mark the twentieth anniversary of Highsmith’s death. This volume was published in November 2015.

A longstanding concern of both my teaching and research, one that has continuously developed over more than ten years, has been an interrogation of the theoretical concepts and cultural manifestations of evil. Seven years ago, as part of the Literature and Evil module, I ran the first field trip on the module, which has become established and recognised as a flagship research visit to Krakow and Poland. On the trip we visit Auschwitz concentration camp, the Schindler Factory Museum in Krakow, and the Holocaust memorial, Stasi Museum, Topography of Terror, Jewish Museum and Wansee Villa in Berlin.

However, while it is and continues to be important to me that learning, teaching and scholarship should gain the recognition that it deserves within the academy, I have also been instrumental in building a conference and research community outside BSU. I instigated and am Director of an international conference held annually at BSU’s Corsham Court campus, beginning in April 2014 with ‘Captivating Criminality: Crime Fiction, Darkness and Desire.’ Attracting delegates from the United States, Australia, all over Europe and elsewhere, the conference (with internationally renowned keynote speakers Val McDermid, Mary Evans and Sharon Bolton), has proved highly successful. ‘Captivating Criminality 2: Fiction, Traditions and Transgressions’, took place at Corsham Court from 25th-27th June 2015.

In 2015 I developed an international network: Captivating Criminality and this year’s conference is on the theme of Felony, Fear and Forensics. The network grew out of my belief that the study of this particular area of English is in need of a focused European perspective and thus I am now working towards establishing formal links with the University of Gdansk. 

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Glos
  • MA Sussex
  • BA(Hons) CNAA (Middlesex)

Qualifications, skills and experience

I direct and run an international network crime fiction network, Captivating Criminality Network. I established this network following on from the success of my international conference series, Captivating Criminality.

  • The first conference, Captivating Criminality: Crime Fiction, Darkness and Desire, took place at BSU's Corsham Court site in April 2014. Keynotes included Val McDermid. 
  • The second conference, Captivating Criminality: Crime Fiction, Traditions and Transgressions, took place in June 2015, with Professor Mary Evans, Paul Johnston and Shav Shiraz as keynotes.
  • The third conference, Captivating Criminality: Crime Fiction, Felony, Fear and Forensics, took place on 23rd-25th 2016.

I am an active member of the Bath Spa University Creative Writing Research Centre, and have delivered papers to an audience of staff and graduate students since its inception.

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Modern Languages Association (MLA)
  • Member of Association of Cultural Studies (ACS)

Bath Spa University employment

I joined Bath Spa in 2003, first teaching Cultural Studies and since 2009, English and Cultural Studies.

I was awarded the title of Reader in 2016.

External examiners

External Examiner, English University of Chichester 2011, and 2013 - 2017

Other external roles

  • Reviewer for texts on crime fiction for 'The Times Higher Education', 2015 - current
  • Reviewer for Women's Writing Journal UWE 2013 - current
  • External Validator for BA Media Studies with Visual Cultures, UWIC, Cardiff, Wales, July 2007.

Areas of expertise

My teaching specialisms include psychoanalytic theory, the literary and cultural manifestations of evil and love and desire, and crime fiction. I have incorporated these into the range of modules that I designed and teach at Bath Spa. These are also fully incorporated into my research, demonstrated by the wide variety of topics I write and present on.

Modules in my specialist area include:

EN6052. Literature and Evil.

This third year module raises and explore a variety of questions concerning the ways in which ‘evil’ is represented through a variety of literary texts, including survivors’ testimony, ‘true crime narratives’such as In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter and a graphic novel, Maus. by the end of the module students will have gained an understanding of the complexity, centrality and key status of evil within culture and its centrality to cultural theory – in particular psychoanalytic theory and Kantian and post-Kantian theory.
The module includes an eight day Field Trip to Krakow and Berlin.

EN6056. Crime Fiction in the Contemporary World.

This third year module approaches the genre thematically and includes some or all of the following authors and texts as exemplars of the particular historical and methodological features of each sub-genre: 1. The 1980s 'feminist' private eyes, 2.Contemporary British crime fiction. 3. Contemporary US crime fiction. European crime fiction.

EN6053. Love and Desire in Contemporary Literature and Culture

This third year module The desire for someone or something is at once the most basic, commonly shared form of expressing our sense of who we are, and yet represents what is most unique, possibly most bizarre about each of us. This module draws on challenging ideas from psychoanalysis, philosophy and literary theory to map some of the perverse pathways of human desire and their centrality to debates over cultural expression, politics, freedom and identity. It also locates these ideas in their historical and cultural contexts.Through a combination of theory and literature, the module examines different examples of ‘deviant’ desire (fetishism, sado-masochism etc, ) as well as literary representations of love and desire including erotic literature, Mills and Boon and texts such as Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (1920), Georges Bataille’s The Story of the Eye (1928) and Kazou Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989)

EN504. Crime Fiction.

This second year module chronologically traces the genre of crime fiction from its beginning, with Wilkie Collins and Sherlock Holmes, through the Golden age of Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey and Nicholas Blake, through the hard boiled fiction of Raymond Chandler to the psychological texts of Simenon, Patricia Highsmith and Barbara Vine.

Current scholarship

  • I am currently working on three forthcoming publications:
    • The MacFarlance Companion to Ruth Rendell, forthcoming 2016.
    • Special edition of 'Contemporary Women's Writing' on Ruth Rendell eds Ruth Heholt, Fiona Peters and Gina Wisker (Oxford University Press), forthcoming 2016. Including my paper: 'The Family Romance in Rendell/Vine.'
    • 'Gothic Influences: Darkness and Suicide in Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell.' 'In Suicide and the Gothic.' Andrew Smith ed. Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2017.
  • I am currently, in collaboration with Professor William Hughes, engaged in a bid for external funding from the Wellcome Trust's seed fund, for the research project 'Fascinating Forensics.'
  • I have been invited as keynote speaker at 'Cultures of Memory' conference, New York, May 2016, as part of a project run by Syracuse University, USA, Massey University, New Zealand and York St.John University, UK.
  • I was invited by the lancet Psychiatry to write a piece on 'Highsmiths Psychopaths'to coincide with the film release of 'Carol.'Forthcoming as 'The Talented Ms Highsmith', The Lancet Psychiatry, Jan 2016
  • Times Higher Education asked me to submit my choices of favourite work and pleasure books of 2015, for inclusion in the 24th Dec 2015 issue.
  • In October 2013 I was invited to Lund University, Sweden, to give a series of lectures and seminars on Patricia Highsmith, for both staff and graduate students.

Conferences

  • ‘The Dark Shadows of the Past in the Novels of Barbara Vine’, Crime Fiction Here and There, Now and Again, University of Gdansk, Poland, September 2014.
  • ‘Suicide and the Holocaust Survivor’, First Global Conference on Suicide and Self Harm, Athens, Rome, November 2013.
  • ‘Camembert or Pickled Herring? Transcending Cultural Stereotypes in Contemporary Crime Fiction.’ Crime Fiction in the Modern Era Conference, Leeds University, September 2013.
  • ‘The Perverse Charm of the Amoral Serial Killer: Tom Ripley, Dexter Morgan and Seducing the Reader.’ Crime Fiction Here and There Conference, University of Gdansk, November 2012.
  • ‘Sexual Subjectivities’ ‘Crossroads’: The Association for Cultural Studies Bi-annual Conference, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, June 2010
  • ‘What Women Want’: Ist Global Conference on Women, Evil and the Feminine, May 2009
  • ‘Theorising Love and Desire’: ‘Crossroads’: The Association for Cultural Studies Bi-annual Conference, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, July 2008.
  • ‘Little Love Affairs’: Third Global Conference on Sex and Sexuality, Krakow, Poland, December 2006.
  • ‘There is no Sexual Relation’: Second Global Conference on Sex and Sexuality, Vienna, Austria, December 2005.
  • ‘Mediating the Contemporary Uncanny’, Third Global Conference on Monsters and Monstrosity, Budapest, Hungary, May 2005
  • ‘Desirelessness’, First Global Conference on Sex and Sexuality, Salzburg, Austria, October 2004
  • ‘Phenomenology and Embodiment in Sartre and Lacan’, Phenomenology and the Human Sciences Conference, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, October 2004.
  • ‘Frankenstein, Anxiety and the Gaze’, Second Global Conference on Sex and Sexuality, Budapest, Hungary, May 2004

Research supervision

I am Higher Degree Tutor for English. In this role I am the first port of call for prospective research students interested in studying at Bath Spa University. I liaise between them and suitable supervisory teams and, in conjunction with Graduate College, support their progress from application to completion.

  • I am currently Director of studies for one PhD in English: Annabel Wynne, 'Nocturnes and Nocturnalisation: Night in the fiction of Elizabeth Bowen, Anna Kavan and Daphne du Maurier, 1938-1949.'
  • I am currently second supervisor for one PhD in Creative Writing: Euan Stuart, What Men Want.

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

Anti-hero
book

Peters, F and Stewart, R, eds. (2015) Anti-hero. Crime uncovered series . Intellect, Bristol. ISBN 9781783205196


Thoughts of love
book

Peters, G and Peters, F, eds. (2013) Thoughts of love. Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne. ISBN 9781443848718


Anxiety and evil in the writings of Patricia Highsmith
book

Peters, F (2011) Anxiety and evil in the writings of Patricia Highsmith. Ashgate, Farnham. ISBN 9781409423348


Genealogies of identity: interdisciplinary readings on sex and sexuality
book

Peters, F and Breen, M, eds. (2005) Genealogies of identity: interdisciplinary readings on sex and sexuality. Rodopi. ISBN 9789042017580


Tom Ripley and Vic Van Allen: Patricia Highsmith’s antiheroes
book_section

Peters, F (2015) 'Tom Ripley and Vic Van Allen: Patricia Highsmith’s antiheroes.' In: Peters, F and Stewart, R, eds. Anti-hero. Crime uncovered series . Intellect, Bristol, pp. 18-32. ISBN 9781783205196


The perverse charm of the amoral serial killer: Tom Ripley, Dexter Morgan and seducing the reader
book_section

Peters, F (2014) 'The perverse charm of the amoral serial killer: Tom Ripley, Dexter Morgan and seducing the reader.' In: Elias, U and Sienkiewicz-Charlish, A, eds. Crime scenes: modern crime fiction in an international context. Gdansk transatlantic studies in British and North American culture series (6). Peter Lang, Frankfurt, pp. 283-296. ISBN 9783631641545


What women want? Raunch culture and the erosion of 'dangerous' femininity
book_section

Peters, F (2009) 'What women want? Raunch culture and the erosion of 'dangerous' femininity.' In: Ionoaia, E and Fisher, R, eds. Evil, women and the feminine. Interdisciplinary Press, Oxford.


There is no sexual relation
book_section

Peters, F (2007) 'There is no sexual relation.' In: Rumens, N and Cervantes-Carson, A, eds. Sexual politics of desire and belonging. At the interface/probing the boundaries (36). Rodopi, Amsterdam. ISBN 9789042022393


Looking in the mirror: vampires, the symbolic and the thing
book_section

Peters, F (2006) 'Looking in the mirror: vampires, the symbolic and the thing.' In: Day, P, ed. Vampires: myths and metaphors of enduring evil. Rodopi, pp. 179-189. ISBN 9042016698


Desire-less-ness
book_section

Peters, F (2005) 'Desire-less-ness.' In: Peters, F and Breen, M, eds. Genealogies of identity: interdisciplinary readings on sex and sexuality. Rodopi, pp. 123-137. ISBN 9042017589


Mad, bad or difficult: Mary Elizabeth Braddon's 'Lady Audley's secret' and the enigma of femininity
book_section

Peters, F (2004) 'Mad, bad or difficult: Mary Elizabeth Braddon's 'Lady Audley's secret' and the enigma of femininity.' In: Breen, M, ed. Evil, truth and reconciliation. Rodopi, pp. 197-213. ISBN 9042019239


The contraction of the heart: radical evil and proximity in Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels
book_section

Peters, F (2003) 'The contraction of the heart: radical evil and proximity in Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels.' In: Waddell, T, ed. Cultural expressions of evil and wickedness: sex, wrath and crime. Rodopi, pp. 189-206. ISBN 9042010150


Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine – family matters
article

Peters, F (2017) 'Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine – family matters.' Contemporary Women's Writing. ISSN 1754-1476


The talented Ms Highsmith
article

Peters, F (2016) 'The talented Ms Highsmith.' The Lancet Psychiatry, 3 (1). pp. 24-26. ISSN 2215-0374


Introduction: re-evaluating Patricia Highsmith
article

Peters, F (2015) 'Introduction: re-evaluating Patricia Highsmith.' Clues: A Journal of Detection, 33 (2). pp. 5-8. ISSN 0742-4248


Conformity and singularity in Patricia Highsmith’s early novels
article

Peters, F (2015) 'Conformity and singularity in Patricia Highsmith’s early novels.' Clues: A Journal of Detection, 33 (2). pp. 9-19. ISSN 0742-4248


Place and space: fantasy and nostalgia in the crime fiction of Barbara Vine
conference_item

Peters, F (2016) Place and space: fantasy and nostalgia in the crime fiction of Barbara Vine. In: Crime Fiction Here and There 3: Time and Space, 13 -15 September 2016, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland.


Felony, fear and forensics
conference_item

Peters, F, Evans, M, Troyer, J, Wynne, A and Hughes, W (2016) Felony, fear and forensics. In: Captivating Criminality 3: Crime Fiction, Felony, Fear and Forensics, 23 -25 June 2016, Bath Spa University, Corsham, UK.


Dark shadows: the weight of the past in Barbara Vine’s fiction
conference_item

Peters, F (2014) Dark shadows: the weight of the past in Barbara Vine’s fiction. In: Crime Fiction : Here and There and Again, 11 - 13 September 2014, University of Gdansk, Poland.


Little love affairs
conference_item

Peters, F (2006) Little love affairs. In: Sexualities: bodies, desires, practices, 29 Nov - 2 Dec 2006, Krakow, Poland.


There is no sexual relation
conference_item

Peters, F (2005) There is no sexual relation. In: Sexualities: Bodies, Desires, Practices (2nd Global Conference), 30 Nov - 3 Dec 2005, Vienna, Austria.


Monsters and others: mediating the contemporary uncanny through fictions
conference_item

Peters, F (2005) Monsters and others: mediating the contemporary uncanny through fictions. In: Monsters and the monstrous: myths and metaphors of enduring evil (3rd global conference), 9-11 May 2005, Budapest, Hungary.


Mechanical monsters and melancholia: from Frankenstein's monster to Edward Scissorhands
conference_item

Peters, F (2004) Mechanical monsters and melancholia: from Frankenstein's monster to Edward Scissorhands. In: Monsters and the monstrous: myths and metaphors of enduring evil (2nd global conference), 10-12 May 2004, Budapest, Hungary.


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