‘Playing Their Own Private Detectives’: Forensic Fandom and True Crime

A typewriter and a piece of paper splattered in blood that reads "true story".
Public lectures / seminars

Wednesday 26 June 2024

04:00 PM - 05:00 PM


Institute of Creative Cultures building, Coventry University

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Event details

Interest in true crime has grown exponentially over the last decade and a half, spurred on by podcasts like Serial and documentaries such as Making a Murderer. Along with this interest, however, has come an audience of websleuths who adopt fan practices like close readings of a text and paratexts to uncover the ‘true’ narrative – what Jason Mittell refers to as forensic fandom as a practice where fans examine a text to uncover its larger narrative.

Through using social media platforms to highlight, share and interrogate moments related to the crime and its context, true crime fans may uncover clues which can help police solve the case. However they may also create a true crime narrative which features a motive, circumstances and ultimately perpetrator which does not exist.

This talk explores forensic fandom through three recent true crime cases: the disappearance of Gabby Petito; the disappearance of Nicola Bulley; and the stalker at the heart of the Netflix drama Baby Reindeer. It highlights how forensic fandom can be used and abused, blurring the lines between fiction and reality in an increasingly mediated society.