Cosy Crime: Violent Death and Domestic Comfort From the Golden Age to the Present

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This Research & Knowledge Exchange Doctoral Project brief summarises our priority areas of research interest under the heading of: Cosy Crime: Violent Death and Domestic Comfort From the Golden Age to the Present.

We welcome all research degree applications aligned with and in response to this brief.

Project brief details

Crime fiction is the most popular of all genres. Book shops have vast and prominent displays of crime fiction and crime predominates across the streaming services. The 2022 International Crime Fiction Association’s Book Prize was awarded to a collection edited by Phyllis M. Betz – Reading the Cozy Crime. One of the reasons this book won was because, despite this sub-genre being among the most popular of all, it has been neglected as a subject for study in favour of the more ‘serious’ genres including true crime, hard-boiled, and noir. The Cozy mystery is seen as much more ‘lightweight’ and (inevitably) as more of a woman’s genre. Yet as a genre and a sector it is growing at a great pace and what has been underexplored is the fact that many of the texts address darker subjects such as violence against women and domestic abuse. 

This proposed PhD will examine the phenomena of cozy crime, looking at issues such as age, gender, race, domestic violence, politics, conservatism, and the juxtaposition of violence, murder, and death. How can such dreadful crimes be ‘cozy’ at all? How do questions of history, place, memory, and nostalgia feed into this type of fiction? How does the cozy genre fit into our troubled society today? How can violence and comfort go hand in hand? How do other cultures and societies globally deal with the notion of cozy crime in their fictional representations? What impact has the genre had historically and in contemporary society?  

Cozy crime covers literature, film, television, theatre, digital and social media platforms, and games. The PhD can be critical or practice based, but we welcome proposals that interrogate the genre in innovative and exciting ways in any of these areas. Successful applicants will bring a broad and innovative vision to the subject of cozy crime. 

Strategic alignment

Projects deriving from this brief are expected to sit within the Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy and the following department.

Department School of Communication

All successful research degree project proposals must emphasise a clear alignment between the project idea and our Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy. 

Project brief lead

Dr Ruth Heholt: profile image
Dr Ruth Heholt

Project supervisor: Associate Professor Ruth Heholt

Dr Ruth Heholt is an active member of the International Crime Fiction Association and the ICFA have agreed that the successful candidate will have a fee waiver for their annual conference, be invited to peer review for the Association’s journal Crime Fiction Studies published by Edinburgh University Press, and there will be more opportunities for collaborative publications.   

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How to apply

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We welcome all research degree applications aligned with this Doctoral Project brief. ​To apply in response to this brief or learn about the application process click the button below.

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Project brief & project proposal enquiries

To discuss this project brief, ideas or project proposal responding to this brief, please contact: Associate Professor Ruth Heholt.


Application enquiries

For all other application related enquires please contact the Research & Development team.


T01326 255831

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