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The History of Crime Fiction

ENGL 255.601
instructor(s):
M 4:30-7:10

This course will chart the development of the British crime novel. We will begin with the emergence of the novel as a form from the gallows literature of the 18th century and then end with the development of detective fiction in the late 19th century. Along the way we will be cross-examining the relationship between law and literature. In particular, the history of writing crime fiction will be considered in light of changes in criminal justice, such as the end of public punishments, the rising spectacle of trials, the legalization of divorce, and the invention of the police. Authors that we will read include Daniel Defoe, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle. There will be two papers required and a final exam; class participation is expected.