Course No:  350:603
Index # - 14116
Distribution Requirement:  A5, B, D
Monday - 10:20 a.m.
MU 207

20C Genre: Case of the Detective

Andrew Goldstone

Detective fiction, probably the single most-read and best-selling category of fiction across the whole of the last century, nonetheless occupies a marginal place in standard literary-historical accounts, which give short shrift to commercial genres. The aim of this course is to see what twentieth-century literature looks like—and how we are to study it—if we take the proliferating formulas of detective fiction, rather than the singular modernist work, as the paradigm. How can we address major literary-historical issues---the shifting high-low divide, the process of formal change, the shifting media ecology, the representation of identity, the possibilities of literary politics, the scope of "world literature"---through this commercial yet intellectualized genre? How does an institutionalized commercial genre fit into, or disrupt, the theory of literary genre?

This course does not intend to produce graduate-level Baker Street Irregulars but to raise significant methodological questions relevant to many writers and many genres. I lay special emphasis on the fact that I can never figure out the culprit in advance and don’t really want to anyway. Readings may include fiction by Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Carroll John Daly, "Carolyn Keene," Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, P.D. James, Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ, Kalpana Swaminathan, and James Patterson et al. Readings in scholarship on genre may include texts by John Frow, Tzvetan Todorov, Wendy Griswold, Rick Altman, Franco Moretti, Ted Underwood, Paul DiMaggio, Sean McCann, Erin Smith, Jennifer Lena, Aristole, and Kim Wilkins et al.