Michael Andrew Arntfield
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Academic and police careers
Arntfield was a police officer and detective in London, Ontario from 1999 to 2014 when he left policing to accept a customized academic appointment at University of Western Ontario where he teaches what he calls "literary criminology" in a combined English literature, professional writing, and crime studies program. The program developed in part from a scholarly book series he was invited to co-direct by Peter Lang Publishing in New York, and through which he coined the term "the criminal humanities". Arntfield completed his PhD at Western in 2011 while working in a plainclothes police unit and with his dissertation focusing on police murders in the United States and Canada.
Cold case research
In 2011, Arntfield created a student-run unsolved crimes think tank and case evaluation study group known as the Western Cold Case Society. The volunteer initiative was modeled on an earlier undergraduate course on serial homicide and crime history that Arntfield designed and taught while completing his doctorate and still a police officer. The Society receives roughly 30-50 requests for review and audit per year, mostly from private citizens and the families of murder victims who have grown frustrated with police inaction or ineffectiveness.
Arntfield’s work has also served as the inspiration for several television productions currently on air or in development. Aside from appearing as a regular commentator on crime in the Canadian media, including as an expert panelist on the CBC’s long running investigative documentary series The Fifth Estate, he also hosts and helped create the true crime reality series To Catch a Killer, which airs internationally on the Oprah Winfrey Network and on subsidiaries of the A&E Network and CBS across Europe, Asia, and Oceania. In May 2015, Arntfield was retained by HBO’s British distributor to be the spokesperson for the DVD and digital release of the true crime documentary The Jinx, and was used to explain to European media the investigative value of documentary journalism with respect to cold cases.
Arntfield has also authored or co-authored over a dozen books, including the best-selling and controversial Murder City for which he is arguably best known. In the book he advances a hypothesis, often employing an epistolary format through the use of a now deceased detective’s original diary notes, that over a specific interval in the 1960s and 1970s, the city of London, Ontario spawned or otherwise housed more serial killers per capita than any city in Canada, and likely beyond. In 2015, it was announced that Emmy Award-winning Sullivan Entertainment had acquired the television rights to the book, and that a dramatic network series was in development even ahead of the book's release date. Arntfield is signed-on to serve as both co-executive producer and technical consultant for the series.
Arntfield currently holds a Canadian federal research grant to study the sociolinguistic underpinnings of cyberbullying, trolling, and other forms of cyberdeviance and electronic harassment. Having collected over 40,000 samples of cyberbullying text from news message board and social media sites and analyzing their contents, Arntfield has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and research papers appearing in textbooks in which he argues that cyberdeviance in many cases has a distinct sexual and fantasy-based component. He argues that cyberbullying and acts of trolling should therefore be understood as being more akin to a paraphilia than traditional physical bullying. In 2016, Arntfield will serve as the visiting Fulbright Research Chair in crime and literature at the English department at Vanderbilt University after being selected as part of a rigorously competitive process overseen by the U.S. Department of State. He will be furthering his research on literary criminology and cyberbullying while there, as well as developing a Vanderbilt iteration of his Cold Case Society. He will return to Western in the fall of 2016.
- Introduction to Forensic Writing. Co-author: Justice K.A. Gorman. Toronto: Carswell (2014)
- Murder City: The Untold History of Canada’s Capital of Serial Homicide, 1959–84. Victoria: FriesenPress (2015)
- Healthcare Writing: A Practical Guide to Professional Success. Co-author: Dr. J. Johnston. Calgary: Broadview Press (2015)
- Gothic Forensics: Criminal Investigative Procedure & Evidence in Victorian Horror & Mystery. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan (2016)
- The Criminal Humanities: An Introduction. New York: Peter Lang Publishing (2016)
- Practical Criminology. Toronto: Nelson Education (2018)
Articles in edited books and anthologies
- Crime in America: 1921-1940. In: The Social History of Crime & Punishment in America, 5th Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2012)
- Corporate Criminal Liability. In: The Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2013)
- Workplace Deaths. In: The Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2013)
- Watergate. In: The Encyclopedia of Lying & Deception. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2014)
- Fantasy & Imagination. In: The Encyclopedia of Lying & Deception. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2014)
- eMemoriam: Digital Necrologies, Virtual Remembrance, & the Problem of Permanence. In: Digital Death: Mortality & Beyond in the Online Age. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger (2014)
- Cybercrime & Cyberdeviance. In: Criminology: A Canadian Perspective, 8th Edition. Toronto: Nelson (2014)
- Grab Some Wall: A Man in Uniform, Metropolitan Toronto, & the Fog of the Street. In: Screening Justice: Canadian Crime Films & Society. Winnipeg: Fernwood Press (2015)
- Necrophilia & Digital Media. In: Necrophilia: A Global Anthology. San Diego: Cognella Press (2015)
- Necrophilia in English Literature, Poetry, & Prose. In: Necrophilia: A Global Anthology. San Diego: Cognella Press (2015)
- Cold Case Homicides: Challenges & Opportunities. In: Homicide: A Forensic Psychology Casebook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press (2016)
- "Toward a Cybervictimology: Cyberbullying, Routine Activities Theory, & the Anti-Sociality of Social Media." (2015) The Canadian Journal of Communication,
- "The Monster of Seymour Avenue: Internet Crime News & Gothic Reportage in the Case of Ariel Castro." (2015) Semiotica.
- "Money. Armed. Quietly: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Institutional Holdup Notes." (2016) Semiotica – forthcoming/in press
- "Syntax & Cyberbullying: A Linguistic & Lexical Etiology of Offending." In development.
- "Mortuary Archaeology & Dumpsite Characteristics: A Case Study of Homicide Water Burials in Rural Canada." Co-author: R. Willmon. In development.
- "Out of Exile: The Recusal of the Chicago Police Department from American Crime Fiction, 1960-2010." The Canadian Review of American Studies. Vol. 43(1). 388-410 (2013)
- "Media Forensics & Fragmentary Evidence: Locard’s Exchange Principle in the Era of New Media." The Canadian Journal of Media Studies. Vol. 11(1). 2-27 (2013)
- "TVPD: The Generational Diegetics of the Police Procedural and the Automation of American Law Enforcement." The Canadian Review of American Studies. Vol. 41(1). 55-75 (2011)
- "Vulnerable Position Screening: HR Due Diligence or Police-Corporate Collusion?" The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture, & Change Management. Vol. 20 (9). (2011)
- "Hegemonic Shorthand: Technology & Metonymy in Modern Policing." The Communication Review. Vol. 11 (1). 76-97 (2008)
- "Wikisurveillance: A Genealogy of Cooperative Watching in the West." The Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. Vol. 28 (1). 37-47 (2008)
- "The Aesthetic Calculus: Sex Appeal, Circuitry, and Invisibility." The Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society. Vol. 27(1). 37-47 (2007)
Essays and editorials
- "Mean Girls to Mass Sociogenic Illnesses: A Criminal Ecology of Female Adolescents." In: Beyond Five Paragraphs: Advanced Essay Writing Skills. Toronto: McGraw-Hill-Pearson (2015)
- "Policing 2.0: The Necessity of Police-Academic Partnerships in a Knowledge-Based Economy." RCMP National Gazette. Vol. 74(4). (2012)
- London-inspired crime show hopes to Catch a Killer, by Chris Montanini, in The Londoner, published February 6, 2014; retrieved June 25, 2015
- releases/2015/June/western_university_true_crime_expert_named_fulbright_chair_at_ vanderbilt_university.html Western University true crime expert named Fulbright Chair at Vanderbilt University, published June 22, 2015; retrieved June 25, 2015
- "The Criminal Humanities: A New Book Series". uwo.ca.
- "Michael Arntfield - CRIMINOLOGIST, PROFESSOR, CONSULTANT – London Ontario – About". michaelarntfield.com.
- news/national/education/uwo-meets-csi-as-students-investigate-cold-cases/article4193018/ UWO meets CSI as students investigate cold cases, by Julian Sher, in The Globe and Mail, published August 29, 2011; retrieved June 25, 2015
- "Michael Arntfield - CRIMINOLOGIST, PROFESSOR, CONSULTANT – London Ontario – Cold Case Society". michaelarntfield.com.
- Wilkinson, Alec (2017-11-20). "The Serial-Killer Detector". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
- A true crime expert weighs in on HBO's 'The Jinx', by J. Wesley Judd, in the Pacific Standard, published March 19, 2015; retrieved June 25, 2015
- Ex-cop criminologist’s new book calls London 'Canada's serial killer capital' of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, by Jane Sims, in the London Free Press, published June 22, 2015; retrieved June 25, 2015
- "Murder City -". murdercitythebook.com.
- Western University professor Mike Arntfield learns the web trolls' language, by Mike Donachie, in Metro News, published March 24, 2014; retrieved June 25, 2015
- vanderbilt_university.html Western University true crime expert named Fulbright Chair at Vanderbilt University, published June 22, 2015; retrieved June 25, 2015