Intro to Lit: Genre

ENG 271: Introduction to Literature: Genre (Mystery and Detective Novels)

Instructor: Ruth Y. Hsu, PhD (

Subtitle of course: Whodunits, Mysteries, and True Crime (WI; DL)

Summer Session 2 (7/06/2020 to 8/14/2020) (asynchronous; online)


Are humans addicted to whodunits because we want to be the detective-hero or, secretly, we want to be the daring and rebellious criminal? Crime fiction is old and can be found in eastern and western cultures. Stories about mysteries, thrillers, and detecting can be found in fantasy, science fiction, realist novels, and more, going back to One Thousand and One Nights. Texts in this course include Serial, a game-changing 2014 podcast, detective stories by famous and popular authors, Lars Stiegson, P. D. James, Jodi Picoult, Louise Penny, and the acclaimed Knives Out! (2019 film).

Feedback on writing assignments and the audio-recording response will be both written and verbal (skype)

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • To be able to analyze the characteristics of mystery and detective narratives in ways that are appropriate to this course level;
  • Become acquainted with major authors in this area and their historical contributions to mystery and detective narratives;
  • To be able to compose formal papers appropriate to this course level.

Required texts (ordered through UHM Bookstore or free podcast)

  • D. James, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray Mysteries, Book 1)
  • Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Gamache Series, Book 6)
  • Lars Stiegson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Serial (podcast) (True Crime; free)
  • Knives Out! (2019 film)

Required writing and audio-recording assignments:

  • 400-word (minimum) forum post x 5 = 2000 words
  • One 4-5 minute audio-recording response to Serial on reading list
  • One final paper = 2000 words (minimum)