English 40 - Winter, 2017

Introductory Topics in Literature

    Topic: Detective Fiction

Class Information

Instructor: Simpson, David
CRN: 22762
Time: MWF 10:00-10:50
Location: 1227 Haring


    Edmund Wilson pronounced (in 1945) detective fiction to be completely lacking in "good writing, characterization, human interest and even atmosphere". It was not, in other words, true "literature". Concentrating on detective fiction written before 1950, this course will explore how we might best make sense of these works, and what might explain their popularity. We will read four novels (by Conan Doyle, Braddon, Tey and Chandler) available at the bookstore) along with a number of short stories and extracts (by e.g Poe, Christie, Hammett, Sayers among others). These materials will be made available in a course reader. (NB For those planning ahead: used copies of the novels can be found on the web, often very cheaply).


    A blend of papers (40%, exams (40%) and pop quizzes (20%).


    Playback, Raymond Chandler
    The Sign of Four, Conan Doyle
    Lady Audley's Secret, Mary Elizabeth Braddon
    The Man in the Queue, Josephine Tey