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First-Year Research Seminar: The Detective Story: Solving Mysteries from Oedipus to Sherlock

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number FIRST-UG787
Section 001
Instructor Paul Grimstad
Days MW
Time 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


In the course we look closely at detective stories, novels and films, with attention to the basic narrative structure of criminal enigma and denouement and to the role in these works of interpretation. Starting with the proto-detective story  Oedipus Rex  we move on to Edgar Allan Poe’s invention of the genre proper in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” We then go on to read Poe's first “golden age” inheritors (Doyle's  The Hound of the Baskervilles  and its recent adaptation as part of the BBC television series  Sherlock);  the American “hard-boiled” writers ( The Maltese Falcon  and John Huston’s 1941 film adapation ) ; stories, plays and novels in which the reader must assume the role of detective ( The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd , “The Turn of the Screw”;  The Real Life of Sebastian Knight ); non-fiction forms which share some of the narrative features of detection (Freud’s “Wolf-Man” case study); neo-noir films ( Chinatown)  and works that mix detective fiction with science-fiction ( Minority Report) 


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)