Why is detective fiction so popular? Why are good mysteries impossible to put down? How do their plots and characters work? In this course we’ll check the nineteenth century roots of the detective novel, sample its mid-twentieth century renaissance, and look at the foundations of the current mystery boom. We will explore the rise of the "whodunit," the development of U.S. crime writing in parallel with the British tradition, and the "noir" vision of human nature and society that emerges from the crime tradition. Authors covered will include Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Walter Mosley, Mo Hayder, and Lucha Corpi. We will compare these books to several films, including Chinatown, Pulp Fiction, and Ghostdog. Requirements: exams and two papers, one of which can be a detective story.
First works: Poe, “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Doyle, “Mystery of the Dancing Men,” Chandler, The Long Goodbye.