Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Sherlock Holmes and Detective Fiction cancelled

ENGL 263.601
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

 In 1887, the young physician and hobbyist writer Arthur Conan Doyle published a mystery story entitled A Study in Scarlet in the small magazine Beeton’s Christmas Annual, introducing the world to consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. Though he was not the first literary detective, Holmes' eccentric genius changed the genre forever, spawning countless imitators and even rising from the dead by popular demand. This course takes as its focus the canon of Holmes novels and short stories, with their unique blend of old-fashioned romance, brutal violence, and modern forensic technique as a way to interrogate not only the aesthetics of Victorian London and rise of the detective novel, but also issues of popular culture, gender, and the nature of narrative itself. We will contextualize our reading with other contemporary detective stories such as Poe and Wilkie Collins, and explore modern Sherlockian appropriations from Neil Gaiman’s "A Study in Emerald" to the BBC’s über-popular television program “Sherlock”, asking how they use Conan Doyle’s work to comment on their own cultural moment. Course requirements may include occasional brief writing assignments or responses, a mid-term paper, and a final research project.