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What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order. ~PD James

ENGLISH 147 Mystery Fiction surveys the (mostly) prose genre of modern mystery fiction, introducing students to significant literary works, movements, publishing trends, and debates that stimulated the development and popularity of 19th century mystery fiction and have carried the genre through its contemporary iterations. Readings include works by “classic” Ango-American mystery writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler (mostly men, you’ll notice), but will range far beyond these canonical authors,

The goals of this course are to

  1. understand the historical development of mystery fiction  as a genre
  2. understand its genre conventions and the sociocultural influences that shape and are shaped by it
  3. explore the social function of the the mystery genre as a cultural artifact