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RIC Professor Cited for Contributions to Crime Fiction

Maureen Reddy

Maureen Reddy

Some say crime doesn’t pay. But others might beg to differ.

Maureen Reddy, a professor of English and women’s studies at Rhode Island College, recently earned an award for her contributions to the writing of mystery and crime fiction.

She is the 2013 recipient of the George N. Dove Award, an honor given by members of the Mystery and Detective Fiction Caucus of the Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association (PCA/ACA).

Reddy, who is a member of PCA/ACA, said her interest in crime fiction began in the late 1980s.

“A number of female authors, such as Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and Marcia Muller, had begun writing crime series featuring female protagonists. It signaled a new direction in the genre. Prior to that, it seemed the genre was stuck in old formulas,” she said.

In 1988 Reddy published her first book, “Sisters in Crime: Feminism and the Crime Novel,” in which she explored the work of female crime novelists and the new paradigm shift in crime fiction.

“The greatest obstacle to transforming crime fiction is the fact that the genre itself is deeply embedded in the discourse of white (and male) superiority,” said Reddy, in her latest book, “Traces, Codes, and Clues: Reading Race in Crime Fiction” (2002).

“That’s what interests me most about crime novels,” she said, “its tendency to reflect current social issues and attitudes.”

Reddy shares her interest in gender and race in U.S. and British crime fiction with her students. She has taught a graduate-level course on crime fiction and this year is teaching an undergraduate Core 4 (Connections) course, titled “Women, Crime and Representation.”

“Students tend to enjoy reading and writing about crime fiction, although, initially, they are not sure if it should be considered ‘great literature,’” she said.

Among her many other honors and awards, Reddy is a two-time recipient of PCA/ACA’s Koppleman Award (1995 and 1997) for Excellence in Feminist Studies of Popular Culture and American Culture.

She has written dozens of articles, reviews and conference papers; she’s the author of seven books and dozens of chapters in books.

“I am very touched to receive the Dove Award,” she said. “It is always good to be recognized by one’s peers.”

Reddy received the award at the PCA/ACA annual conference in Washington, D.C., in March.