welcome to English 231!
This course is for any reader who's ever stayed up all night to finish a mystery novel.  We read classic and contemporary detective and mystery narratives, and focus on how this genre developed, how it attracts and holds readers, and what kinds of social and political issues it raises under the cover of "light" fiction. We'll read some well-known and well-loved classics in a variety of subgenres. I've tried to keep readings as manageable as possible. Many readers find that they enjoy the readings so much that they finish a long text in a single session.

Because of the large number of students requesting enrollment, English 231 will be run as a large  interactive lecture course.  Exams will be based on texts, issues, and terms discussed in readings, lectures, and discussion.   I encourage students to speak up in class, ask questions and introduce topics they think are of interest to the class.  A standing extra-credit assignment allows students to improve their scores and learn about the construction of exams by writing exam questions themselves.

 texts
Texts for English 231 are widely available at libraries and bookstores. Click on the links below to buy the books directly from amazon.com. I recommend that you buy the editions we'll be using in class, but it is not absolutely necessary.

Required Texts & Recommended Editions
Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (Vintage Crime)
Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Harper Mystery)
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (recommended: Penguin, or any other edition)
Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca (Avon Books)
Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs (St. Martin's Paperbacks)
Edgar Allan Poe, any edition that includes "Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Gold-Bug," and "The Purloined Letter." Recommended: Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Stories (Penguin).

recommended text
Tony Hillerman, ed. The Best Mystery Stories of the Century. This anthology of short stories will introduce you to the best writers in contemporary detective and mystery fiction.

exams & assignments
There will be three exams: two midterms, each worth 30% of your grade, and a final exam worth 40% of your grade. Class participation will be used in borderline cases to raise a student's grade. Since exams will be based on class discussion, you should aim to miss a maximum of two classes.

Exams will be offered in two formats; you will always have your choice of formats, even until the date of the exam itself. Multiple-choice exams will require students to have mastered main concepts, a few key terms, and some analytical techniques; they will feature a combination of multiple-choice questions. Essay/short answer exams will feature a choice of identification questions covering key terms, plus an essay. The essay topic will always be announced in advance to facilitate preparation, because some students need time to think through a question and prepare a response. The essay will require writers to apply key concepts to texts we've read.

Working hard and having fun are the two top priorities in English 231. Neither works without the other. Students who attend regularly, take clear, well-organized notes, and complete the readings thoughtfully and on-time are likely to succeed in the course. I do everything I can do to help students succeed in this course, including spending class time discussing exam-taking techniques, but I can only help students who work to capacity.

Go directly to exam and assignment resources

lecture materials
Because we read primary texts rather than use a textbook in English 231, my lectures are very important. I make my lecture notes available on the web to all students.  These notes are a supplement to class attendance, not a replacement for class attendance and for your own accurate, attentive note-taking. You may use them to supplement your own notes, to review for examinations, or to catch up if you should miss a class.

Go directly to course lectures


communicating with me
You're always welcome to drop by during office hours to discuss course business or to introduce yourself or share ideas about detective and mystery fiction - no appointment is necessary during these times. Also, feel free to use e-mail to contact me at any time. When demand is heavy, as during course registration, I may hold extra office hours and/or post sign-up sheets.

If you miss a class, be sure to find out what you missed, including assignments or handouts, from a classmate rather than from me. This helps both of you: your classmate learns from teaching you, and you find out what you missed. Extra copies of in-class handouts will be available in an envelope on my office door.

Every student in English 231 must provide a working e-mail address and must check his/her e-mail at least twice a week in case there are important updates about the course. Click here and then press "send" to automatically be included on this list.

calendar of reading assignments, lectures, and exams
Be sure to complete the assigned readings (to the end of the indicated chapter or section) before coming to class on the date indicated.
Some weeks feature longer and more complex reading assignments than others.
I reserve the right to change the schedule with reasonable notice.

Go directly to course calendar

©Lisa Jadwin, 1997-2008. All rights reserved.
Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2008.