Murder & Mayhem: The Development of Crime Fiction from Victorian Sensation to the Golden Age

This four-week course traces the development of crime fiction from the 19th to the 20th century. We will begin with an examination of the rise of sensational crime reporting and its subsequent interpolation within Victorian Sensation novels by Charles Dickens and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, as well as analysing the rise of the gentleman detective in the 19th century, epitomised by Sherlock Holmes. From here we will travel into the early 20th century, also known as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, an era that produced many Queens of Crime including: Mary Roberts Rinehart, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and, of course, Agatha Christie.

DELIVERY MODE

  • Face-to-Face

SUGGESTED READING

  • Charles Dickens, Bleak House
  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret and/or Aurora Floyd
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
  • Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and/or all your favourites!

COURSE OUTLINE

  • Sensational Scandal: In this session we will establish crucial context, namely the public taste for crime reporting that accompanied the emergence of the newspaper. We will begin to consider how true crime made its way into fiction, looking specifically at the case of the ‘Bermondsey Horror.’ (Bleak House)
  • "Out, Damned Spot": In this session we will continue to look into the way popular crime reporting influenced fiction, adding further crimes into the mix, namely bigamy and blackmail. With these salacious crimes (which are so closely linked to feminine propriety, manners, and gossip) emerges the popularity of the sensation villainess and the law-abiding gentleman determined to uncover the truth. (Lady Audley’s Secret)
  • Elementary!: In this session we will examine Sherlock Holmes’s novelistic debut, which formally codifies the conventions of the gentleman-detective led crime novel. (A Study in Scarlet)
  • The Golden Age of Crime Fiction: In this session we will discuss Christie’s first published novel, in which the infallible Hercule Poirot makes his debut. Affectionately faulted for being ‘too ingenious’, we will analyse the ways in which Christie ushered in a new standard for crime fiction. (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) This session is also an opportunity to reread all your favourites from this era!

LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Trace the genealogy of crime fiction and the rise of the detective protagonist.
  2. Historicise interpretations of crime fiction, with a focus on the changing criminal justice system and the advent of crime reporting in early newspapers.
  3. Analyse crime fiction novels and assess their literary status.
  4. Appreciate the influence of Victorian Sensation novels on the Golden Age of Crime Fiction.
$149 Limited / $134

<p>This four-week course traces the development of crime fiction from the 19th to the 20th century. We will begin with an examination of the rise of sensational crime reporting and its subsequent

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08 Feb

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