Mystery and Detective Fiction
MWF, 2:00 PM-3:00 PM
“Whodunit? The Golden Age of Detective Fiction”
This course introduces students to representative texts in the British tradition of detective fiction that flourished in the genre’s formative era from the mid-Victorian period to the “golden age” of crime fiction in the 1920s and 30s. Often disparaged for its conventions and narrative contrivances (the eccentric detective, the isolated setting, the stereotyped characters, the baffling clues), “cozy” British detective fiction remains a popular genre with audiences – witness the extended run of Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap, which has been in continuous performance on the London stage since 1952. This course seeks to explore that enduring appeal by reading our texts with an eye not only to their historical and political frameworks, but also to their engagement with such concepts as knowledge, identity, truth, and rationality. Far from being merely a conservative force for reinforcing existing social norms, detective fiction, as we shall see, also raises some tantalizingly subversive possibilities. Authors studied include: Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, E. C. Bentley, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and others. Course requirements include 3 short papers, active and involved participation, and a final exam.
In the event that we are not able to hold classes on campus at UBC Vancouver, this course will go ahead using a combination of asynchronous (recorded/text/online) materials and synchronous (real-time) classes in our designated timeslot.