Detective Fiction

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Course Number: 
ENGL 089 920
Instructor: 

SLIGAR, SARA A

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Detective fiction is both one of the most popular genres and one of the most recent. This course will explore detective fiction as it has developed as a formula since the 19th century. We will study the ideological underpinnings of the detective narrative, how the detective figure has shifted over time from a single professional investigator to a team of experts, and the formal requirements of the genre. What social function do detective narratives serve? What do they make people feel about their world? What role has “true crime” and the documentary instinct played in detective narratives? How does the detective narrative change when shifted between cultures, media, and historical periods? What do these narratives suggest about the rule of law? We will read fiction by Poe, Collins, Christie, Himes, and Kim, and discuss contemporary popular iterations such as Law and Order: SVU, the podcast Serial, and the 2016 Amanda Knox documentary.

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