Despite the genre’s comparative youth, detective fiction has proven unusually adaptable and stunningly prolific. In the less than 200 years since its birth, detective fiction has traveled to virtually every region of the globe and into countless languages, found a home in both high art and popular culture, penetrated media including print, cinema, the internet, and the iPhone app, and spawned subgenres as sundry and specific as the police procedural, cooking detective fiction, medieval monk detective fiction, and lesbian detective fiction. This class seeks to understand the genre’s explosion in the wake of Edgar Allan Poe’s seminal stories by surveying the diverse material that falls within its capacious generic boundaries, as well as work by those who theorize detective fiction. In addition to reading classics by Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie, we will read detective fiction from outside the Anglo-American world, discover what separates men from women detectives, explore both Hollywood and television’s fascination with the detective, and see what happens when the detective gets self-consciously conceptual in works by writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Paul Auster. All readings will be in English.
The Class: Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: regular attendance, active participation in class discussions, three short papers of varying lengths, and a final paper of 10-12 pages
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Enrollment Preferences: Comparative Literature majors and those planning to major in Comparative Literature
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills