English 159 - Summer Sessions I, 2016

Topics in the Novel

    Topic: The Detective Novel

Class Information

Instructor: Dobbins, Gregory
CRN: 53641
Time: TR 2:10-4:40
Location: 141 Olson


    This course will be concerned with development and legacy of the detective novel. For the most part, it will focus on the classic American noir tradition of the "hard-boiled detective". We be reading writers like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James Cain and Patricia Highsmith who are most identified with the emergence of noir. We will then look closely at a group of more recent American writers (Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Patricia Cornwell and Walter Mosley) who have reinvented noir for a more contemporary understanding of the detective novel, before finally considering the way in which writers from other countries (Derek Raymond, Stieg Larsson, and David Peace) have adapted noir to their own national traditions. WARNING: this may be a summer school class, but there will be a LOT of reading for it. All of the books are wonderful, highly entertaining, engaging, and these novels are constructed in a manner that will lead you to read them very quickly; indeed, one of the ways to think about how well a detective novel succeeds in its aims concerns the degree to which you are unwilling to put the book down before you read all of it. So you will enjoy the reading, and you will do it quickly; but be forewarned in advance that there will be a lot of it.


    Attendance and Discussion; short writing assignments; either two 5-6 page essays OR one 10-12 page term paper.


    The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
    Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley
    The Maltese Falcon, Hammett
    The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cain
    The Body Farm, Patricia Cornwell
    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
    Strangers on a Train, Highsmith
    Get Shorty, Leonard
    The Black Dahlia, Ellroy
    I am Dora Suarez, Raymond
    1974, Peace