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PS Crime Fiction : Course Description

Course Description ^top

subject area: literature and cultural studies
language: English

In this course, we will try to get a broad (and necessarily eclectic) overview of the popular genre of crime fiction. In the first session, we will discuss Fforde's The Big Over Easy for his parody of the rules of detecting and then start the historical survey with selected stories from the Newgate Calendar (1774) and by E.A. Poe (1841-44). Wilkie Collins's 'sensation novel' The Moonstone and Doyle's The Sign of Four will take us to the establishment of the genre 'proper'. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey is our example for the 'Golden Age' of detecting, and Chandler's Marlowe is of course the paradigmatic hard-boiled detective - immortalized in Bogart's film noir depiction and updated in neo-noir Sin City. We will then explore the fascination of Jack the Ripper - the case itself and 20th-century depictions such as A. Moore and E. Campbell's serial graphic novel From Hell (1991-98) and the Hughes brothers' film adaptation. With The Mermaids Singing, we will finally discuss the currently very popular character of the forensic profiler and return to Fforde for a final evaluation.

cover Dorothy Sayers

Reading List ^top

(01) Jasper Fforde, The Big Over Easy (2005)
(02) Newgate Calendar (1760ff), selected stories
(03) Edgar Allan Poe, selected stories (1841-44)
(04) Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1868)
(05) Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1887)
(06) Dorothy L. Sayers, Whose Body? (1923)
(07) Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)
(08) Val McDermid, The Mermaids Singing (1995)

Please keep in mind that the reading load for this course is especially heavy (approx. 2000 pages!!). You should therefore have finished reading at least The Big Over Easy and The Moonstone by the beginning of the summer term - preferrably more!

cartoon Punch

books you need to buy: Fforde, The Big Over Easy (Hodder and Stoughton, € 7,95), Collins, The Moonstone (Penguin, € 6,95), A.C. Doyle, The Sign of Four (Penguin, € 5,95), D.L. Sayers, Whose Body? (HarperTorch, € 5,95), R. Chandler, The Big Sleep (Penguin, € 9,62), V. McDermid, The Mermaids Singing (Harpercollins, € 8,47)
Please keep in mind that shipping might take up to a fortnight!

other texts: A reader will be provided for our first meeting.

(01) Albert and Allen Hughes, From Hell (2001)
(02) Howard Hawks, The Big Sleep (1946)
(03) Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, Sin City (2005, selected episode)
Film screenings will take place directly after class. Attendance is mandatory!