Evil Incarnate: Manifestations of Villains and Villainy

11‐13 July 2014, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA



The 2014 Crime Studies Network conference is to be held outside the UK for the first time. The Keynote Speakers will be: Prof. David Frankfurter (Religious Studies, Boston University); Prof. Ronald Holmes (Justice Administration, University of Louisville); Prof. William Paul (Film Studies, Washington University in St. Louis)

The concept of villainy is a universal: the dichotomy of good versus evil has been a central conflict underlying ideologies and praxis across cultures and time. What, after all, is a hero without the villain as a foil? This conference asks: What defines villainy?  Is it moral? Cultural? Inherent or the product of circumstance? How are villains represented textually, culturally, and politically? What does the presence of the villain do  to the issues in which they are embedded? How would the issues change in their absence? By exploring the concept of villainy as it manifests itself, we want to explore the various permutations of villainy and their consequences. Ultimately, we seek definition for villains in an attempt to overturn the characterizing of this pursuit as “[T]he motive‐hunting of a motiveless malignity,” because, unfortunately, the designation of evil incarnate is also that of villainy beyond understanding (S. T. Coleridge). Instead, this conference asks whether W.H. Auden provided a more accurate depiction in his assertion that “evil is unspectacular and always human.” We hope that by coming to terms with villains and villainy, we can better understand the meaning of a hero’s victory.

The Crime Studies Network is a group devoted to the interdisciplinary study of representations of crime. We are interested in how crime is depicted and understood in a range of disciplines, including literature, film, history, law, language and linguistics, sociology, journalism, and art, and across historical periods and national boundaries. The Crime Studies Network is a point of contact and a discussion forum for anyone in a relevant discipline.