ENGLISH 230 - Introduction to Short Story and Novel
Section: 001 Whodunit?: Investigating Detective Fiction in Literature
Term: WN 2013
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Whodunit? When the first stories about private detectives (and the first was not Sherlock Holmes, by the way) began circulating in the 1800s, they garnered a phenomenal response from the British and American public. Magazines clamored to publish them, authors scrambled to write them, readers devoured them, and a new genre — that of detective fiction — was born. So popular were these tales, in fact, that when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew weary of writing about Sherlock Holmes and decided to kill off the detective in one final story, the public outcry created such a backlash that Conan Doyle ended up bringing Holmes back to life again a few years later. Ever since, Sherlock Holmes has remained an iconic image in our cultural consciousness, and he has been joined by an eclectic — and fascinating — array of fictional detectives, many of whom we will encounter as we scrutinize this genre with a magnifying glass (deerstalker hats optional).


In this class, we will, of course, read works by some of the most famous detective fiction writers:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes)
Agatha Christie (Miss Marple, Monsieur Poirot)
Edgar Allan Poe (C. Auguste Dupin)
G.K. Chesterton (Father Brown)
Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey)

To fully explore this genre, however, we will also read a number of modern stories from writers like Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone), Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew), Franklin W. Dixon (The Hardy Boys), and Donald J. Sobol (Encyclopedia Brown), to name a few—as we examine how various whodunit authors effectively use tone, mood, setting, characterization, and other narrative techniques to create suspenseful plots and iconic characters.

The big question we will ask ourselves is why—and how—does this genre hold a special fascination for us even today? What is it about these characters that captivate us so?

Some seats in this section are reserved for sophomores.

Course Requirements:


Students will be expected to read and participate vigorously in class discussions. Written assignments include short reading responses, a brief analysis paper, and a longer term paper.

ENGLISH 230 - Introduction to Short Story and Novel
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (REC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
003 (REC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
Dollar Bill Copying
Pick up the coursepack from Dollar Bill Copying at 611 Church St. The Coursepack is required.
ISBN: 9780141439617
The Woman in white, Author: Wilkie Collins., Publisher: Penguin Books [1861 ed., 2003
ISBN: 9780448095707
The secret of the old clock ; and, The hidden staircase, Author: by Carolyn Keene., Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap Back-to-ba 1987
ISBN: 9780448089034
The secret of the old mill, Author: by Franklin W. Dixon., Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap [Rev. ed.] 1980
ISBN: 9780062073891
Lord Edgware dies : a Hercule Poirot mystery, Author: Agatha Christie., Publisher: HarperCollins 1st Harper
ISBN: 9780156658997
The nine tailors : changes rung on an old theme in two short touches and two full peals, Author: Dorothy L. Sayers., Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1962
ISBN: 9780312353810
A is for alibi, Author: Sue Grafton., Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin 1st ed. 2008
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