Intro to Lit: Lit & Culture (Mystery Fiction)


For this course,
we will be reading, explicating, and analyzing prose fiction, focusing on the
sub-genre of fiction known as mystery. We will give most of our attention to seminal
hard-boiled detective stories, and to books that play off of this type of
fiction, in the form of parody, or by integrating other sub-genres, such as the
historical novel and science fiction. No matter what form of mystery story we
read and discuss, we will focus on time-tested story elements such as PLOT, POINT OF VIEW, CHARACTER, and SETTING, VOICE, and THEME, as well as the various ways in
which NARRATIVE is constructed. We
will also explore the popularity and literary value of this sub-genre, which is
known in some circles as roman noir, in response to its cinematic equivalent,
film noir.
We will also examine what these stories say about contemporary culture.

This is a
writing-intensive course, designed to foster critical thinking via essay writing,
peer interaction and class discussions.

Course Requirements

• Attendance
and Participation

• Response
papers for each major work

Two formal essays (4-5 pages)

• A
revision of one of the essays


Final exam

Texts (available through
Revolution Books, 2626 S. King Street)

• Raymond Chandler, The
Big Sleep

• James Ellroy, L.A.

• Natsuo Kirino,Out

• Dennis Lehane,
Gone, Baby, Gone

There will also be a course reader (available from
Professional Image, 2633 S. King Street), featuring short fiction by authors
such as Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, Louise Erdrich, Michael
Chabon, Robert Coover, John Sayles, Scott Turow, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly,
and Joyce Carol Oates.