Imperial Russia’s Female Crime Writers: Narrative, Gender and Genre

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This paper examines the contribution made by female authors to crime fiction in the late imperial era in Russia. Crime fiction enjoyed huge popularity during this period and offers insights into socio-historical context and literary practice that complement those of more canonical works. Most crime fiction during this period was written by men, some of whom had personal experience of the legal profession. This paper, however, focusses on the few women writers who wrote in the genre and asks how their works engage with the conventions established by their male counterparts. With reference to works by Aleksandra Sokolova (1833-1914) and Kapitolina Nazar’eva (1847-1900), it will consider issues of narrative construction, gender and genre. It will argue that these writers’ use of narrative privilege and perspective leads to a decentred approach to crime fiction. By extension, their treatment of male detective figures and female victims or perpetrators represents a particular approach to the ‘women question’. Finally, the presentation will offer some thoughts on the role of generic hybridity in female-authored crime fiction as a means of enriching the genre.
Period15 Jun 2023
Degree of RecognitionNational