| welcome to English
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
allows students to improve their scores and learn about the construction
of exams by writing exam questions themselves.
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 &
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
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).
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
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.
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
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,
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