This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others.
“There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life,” said Sherlock Holmes, “and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” Holmes was likely thinking of this course when he wrote those stirring words!
“There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life,” said Sherlock Holmes, “and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” Holmes was likely thinking of this course when he wrote those stirring words! Follow the greatest of nineteenth-century detectives in unraveling the bloody history of Victorian mystery fiction. Discern the early strands of modern mystery fiction in these pioneers of analysis. Learn the art of evidence, and the detective’s use of deductive and inductive reasoning. Alongside C. Auguste Dupin (the detective hero of Edgar Allan Poe), Sergeant Cuff (the idiosyncratic genius of London police concocted by Wilkie Collins), Sergeant Bucket (Charles Dickens’ homicide investigator), and the incomparable Holmes, we will tackle the bloody, messy problem of the murder mystery and its enduring fascination for readers. (We will also adjudicate the longstanding debate of who is truly the creator of detective fiction—Edgar Allan Poe or Wilkie Collins.) In addition to cultivating artistic appreciation and a love of reading, this class facilitates the development of critical reasoning, the disciplined use of the imagination, and a strong knowledge of historical and literary context.
Week 1: Introduction; “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841)
Week 2: Bleak House (1853), Chs. 1-15
Week 3: Bleak House, Chs. 16-32
Week 4: Bleak House, Chs. 33-49
Week 5: Bleak House, Chs. 50-67
Week 6: The Moonstone (1868), Prologue and “First Period” (Gabriel Betteredge’s Narrative, through Ch. 12).
Week 7: The Moonstone, “First Period” (Gabriel Betteredge’s Narrative, Continued to End).
Week 8: The Moonstone, “Second Period” (First, Second, and Third Narrative”)
Week 9: The Moonstone, “Second Period” (Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Narrative, with Epilogue)
Week 10: A Study in Scarlet (1887)
Week 11: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901-2), Chs. 1-9.
Week 12: The Hound of the Baskervilles, Chs. 10-15; Review & Conclusion
Penguin, Oxford, or Dover editions recommended; other editions accepted. Project Gutenberg (free online) versions of each are also available.
Homework: 3 hours reading per week, 1 identification quiz per week; miscellaneous small assignments. This course relies heavily upon in-class participation and completion of the small assignments (Moodle-based). A literary-critical writing project opportunity is available for extra credit.