Instructor: Andersen M/W/F 3:35 – 4:30pm
Crime does pay, at least in publishing. Detective fiction is a bestselling genre, but how did it become so popular? Why, it’s elementary my dear Watson! This course will investigate the usual suspects—including Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie—as well as a rogues’ gallery of authors who have pushed the boundaries of this genre from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present day. We’ll search for clues in the literary criticism and theory of detective fiction, in order to uncover how the conventions of the genre were established, and how the genre has changed over time. Along the way, we’ll discuss questions of literary taste. Why is some literature considered highbrow, while the rest is relegated into categories of genre fiction, and who gets to make these decisions? We’ll probe questions of epistemology: what constitutes proof and evidence, and how do we know what we know? We’ll discuss the unconscious bias that leads characters to pin guilt on the foreigner or other characters on the margins of society. Students will participate actively in discussion, and respond to the course texts with short essays, blog posts, and creative projects.