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Crime pays at this year's Off the Shelf

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Off the Shelf is one of the largest and most renowned literary festivals in the UK, each year bringing the biggest names in literature and the arts to Sheffield to celebrate words, ideas and conversation.

This year's Off the Shelf has been curated by Sheffield Hallam University in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, with three thought-provoking themes running throughout the festival: Crime, India, and Radicalism.

Here we highlight some of the events taking place across the festival (October 7-28) involving academics from Sheffield Hallam University.

The Crime theme for this year's Off the Shelf, curated by Professor Chris Wigginton, celebrates the diversity of crime literature and includes an afternoon dedicated to the genre. A real highlight of this year's festival will see Professor Wigginton in Conversation with Lee Child, one of the world's leading thriller writers, whose Jack Reacher novels regularly feature at the number one slot worldwide and have won scores of literature prizes.

As part of the dedicated crime afternoon, Professor Lisa Hopkins from Sheffield Hallam's English department will explore how detective fiction borrows from earlier literature and how such allusions add to the richness of the crime genre, in her talk The Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

On day two of the festival and as part of the India theme, Dr Sunita Toor, from Hallam's Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, will talk about her remarkable project with Indian police officers to improve access to justice, rights and protection for women and girl victims of violence. This free talk, illustrated with images and film from the project, raises the importance of empowering officers to combat this crucial issue.

The third of the themes, Radicalism, is featured in a talk from Dr Alison Twells about Edward Carpenter, who was famous for his writings on sexuality and as a pioneer of the gay liberation movement. This talk explores his significance as a class rebel who rejected his southern bourgeois background for the working-class north, as a prophet of the early socialist movement and as a campaigner for same-sex love.

From Sheffield Hallam's English department, Dr Charles Mundye will discuss Robert Graves, one of the most revered poets of the 20th century, and traces his terrible road from schoolboy to soldier-poet.

Professor Chris Hopkins will explore Walter Greenwood's 1933 novel Love on the Dole with an illustrated talk which will look at the neglected 1944 sequel novel, cast new light on the book’s censorship, and looks at how Greenwood supported the People’s War and the welfare state.

As part of Sheffield Hallam's Creative Writing Showcase during Off the Shelf, Julianne Pachico will talk about her debut book 'The Lucky Ones', whichcaptures the surreal turmoil of turn-of-the-21st-century Colombia. As a creative writing lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, Julianne will also be inspiring audiences with her story and discussing creative writing at the University.

And for those who lean more towards the big screen…

Martin Carter, principal lecturer in film studies, will introduce films from each of this year's themes. The first, Year Zero: Black Countryis a Billy Dosanjh documentary looking at the thousands of economic migrants from the former colonies who came to the railway town of Smethwick in the industrial heartlands of England, in search of a promised land.

Taking its place as part of the Radicalism theme, Reds is a Warren Beatty film (based on the book Ten Days that Shocked the World), which sets a romance against the backdrop of radical politics during the 1917 October Revolution. The film’s scale and ambition are epic and has won numerous awards. This rare example of Hollywood socialist cinema is screened on the centenary of those ten shocking days.

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As part of the Crime theme, Double Indemnity is one of the earliest and best-known examples of film noir. This is a tale of murder and betrayal that crackles with terrific one-liners and smoldering chemistry between femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck and fall guy Fred MacMurray.

And with Halloween just around the corner, journalism lecturer Dr David Clarke will introduce 2017 film Holy Terrors, a film set in Whitby, featuring four chilling stories by the Victorian master of the macabre, Arthur Machen - with an introduction from author of the book The Angel of Mons, and co-director of the film Dr Mark Goodall.

Whilst this year's line-up is certainly stellar, an important role of Off the Shelf is inspiring people to turn their own creative spark in to living breathing stories.

In our Writing Beginnings Workshop, Julianne Pachico will discuss how we can get over the fear of the blank page. This workshop with author and creative writing lecturer Julianne will give practical tools for overcoming uncertainty and helping create beginnings that are compelling.

Bringing writing skills right in to the 21st century, Reading on Screen – Digital Storytelling will give attendees an incredible opportunity to expand skills in this free three-day workshop which will help turn experiences of reading into a story - and then provide the skills to make that story into a short digital film which will be shown at an exhibition later in the year.

And for those hooked by the latest TV dramas, the Box Set Screenwriting Workshop should not be missed. High-quality TV drama is enjoying a renaissance. From Broken to Broadchurch, Poldark to Peaky Blinders, it is compulsive viewing for many. Jon Bridle is the course leader for BA Film Studies and Screenwriting at Sheffield Hallam and will help give you the skills needed to write a successful screenplay.

From high-octane thrillers to second-world war poets, and justice in India to writing the next Poldark, this year's Off the Shelf has something for everyone.

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For press information: Please contact Martin Webb in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email

For press information: Please contact Martin Webb in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email