Module Identifier EN34730  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Mr Michael J Smith  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours. 10 x 2 hour seminar workshops  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: 2 essays (3000 words each)100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

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)


2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 'The Sign of Four' (1890)

3. Agatha Christie, 'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' (1920)

4. Raymond Chandler, 'The Big Sleep' (1939)

5. P D James, 'Death of an Expert Witness' (1977)


6. Sarah Dunant, 'Birth Marks' (1992)

7. Ian Rankin, 'Black and Blue' (1997)

8. Denis Lehane, 'Shutter Island' (2003)

9. C J Sansom, 'Dissolution' (2003)

10. Kate Atkinson, 'Case Histories' (2004)


This module is at CQFW Level 6