Module Identifier EN34720  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Mr Michael J Smith  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours 10 x 2 hour seminar workshops  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: 2 essays (2,500 words each)100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate a broad understanding of the historical development of detective fiction in the twentieth century;

2. describe and evaluate a variety of critical approaches to the genre;

3. locate particular works of detective fiction within their historical and cultural contexts;

4. analyse in detail the handling of language and narrative in particular works of detective fiction, and the ways in which they engage with and relate to the conventions of the genre.

Brief description

Literature that deals with crime and detection has a long history - the Book of Genesis, the Oedipus myth, Hamlet etc. This module looks at the more formalised presentation of crime and its detection since the late nineteenth century; at a self-conscious body of writing with its own developing conventions and generic `laws' (usually laid down only to be ingeniously broken). The texts are chosen so as to offer an introduction to some of the main styles and sites of crime fiction - from the country house mysteries of Agatha Christie to the 1990s urban desolation of Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels - and to give some sense of the genre's historical development and its responsiveness to cultural change. Weekly two-hour seminars will be in a variety of formats, often but not always requiring student presentations.


Week 1

1. Reading Detective Fiction (material to be supplied)

Classic British Detective Fiction

2. The Age of the Great Detective: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890)

3. The Golden Age: Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)

American Noir

4. Hardboiled/Softboiled: Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)

5. Mind Games: Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island (2003)

6. Oedipus Walks the Mean Streets: James Ellroy, L.A.Confidential (1994)

Serial Detectives

7. Inspector Rebus: Ian Rankin, Black and Blue (1997)

8. Wexford: Ruth Rendell, Harm Done (1999)

9. Warshawski: Sara Paretsky, Total Recall (2001)

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (2001) The Sign of Four Penguin
Agatha Christie (2001) The Mysterious Affair at Styles HarperCollins
Raymond Chandler (1988) The Big Sleep Penguin
Dennis Lehane Shutter Island Bantam 055381382X
James Ellroy (1994) L. A. Confidential Arrow
Ian Rankin (1998) Black and Blue Orion
Ruth Rendell (2000) Harm Done Arrow
Sara Paretsky (2002) Total Recall Penguin
** Recommended Consultation
Scott McCracken (1998) Pulp: Reading Popular Fiction Manchester: Manchester University Press
Martin Priestman (1998) Crime Fiction: From Poe to the Present Plymouth: Northcote House
Martin Priestman (ed.) (2003) The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6