This course will explore detective fiction as it has developed as a formula since the 19th century. We will study the ideological underpinnings of the detective narrative, how the detective figure has shifted over time from a single professional investigator to a team of experts, and the formal requirements of the genre. What social function do detective narratives serve? What do they make people feel about their world? How does the detective narrative change when shifted between cultures, media, and historical periods?
We will read fiction by Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, Agatha Christie, Chester Himes, and Suki Kim; watch the films Vertigo (1958) and Fargo (1996); and discuss contemporary popular iterations such as Law and Order: SVU, the podcast Serial, and the 2016 Amanda Knox documentary.