This course introduces students to the study of narrative through crime stories, providing an overview of the origins of detective and crime fiction and its development into the twenty-first century. Students will explore how works of crime fiction self-reflexively engage with acts of interpretation, storytelling, and artistic production. Course materials will include a diverse, transnational selection of crime fiction and its various subgenres: Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective narratives featuring Sherlock Holmes; Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo’s transcultural responses to Poe; the hardboiled detective stories of the American pulp fiction industry; the noir narrative and its cinematic manifestations as film noir and Hong Kong neo-noir; Scandinavian police procedurals (both televisual and literary); and Polish Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk’s contemporary ecofeminist reworking of the detective novel.
- Reading and interpretation
- Genre (detective fiction, hardboiled and noir, police procedural, etc.)
- High culture and popular culture
- Formal analysis of narrative
- Transnational and transmedial adaptation of works and genres
The majority of the texts for this course are short stories; these will be uploaded as PDF files on Moodle before classes begin. Uploaded readings will include stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Edogawa Rampo (a.k.a. Hirai Taro), Dashiell Hammett, Patricia Highsmith, and Henning Mankell.
Novels for purchase include the following:
- Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) (this is also available for free download as an Ebook on Project Gutenberg)
- Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (2009, trans. 2018)
Films, TV episodes, and selected clips will be screened in class.
This course aims to help students develop skills in literary interpretation, analysis, and argumentation through an engagement with the genre of crime fiction, preparing students for more advanced course offerings in English Studies. Students will also gain familiarity with the concept of genre and its applications in cultural analysis. The course’s inclusion of both visual media (cover art, film, television) and works in translation will expose students to the transcultural and transmedial approaches they may encounter in other undergraduate courses in literary studies or related fields.
We will meet for a two-hour interactive lecture on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:20 pm, and once a week for tutorial on Fridays from 5:30 to 6:20 pm. In tutorials, we will focus on discussion and complete some close reading and writing exercises.
Attendance and Class Participation (including short exercises) 20%
Short Essay 20%
Final Essay 30%
Final Exam 30%