English 190

Research Seminar: Victorian Mysteries


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Spring 2011 Leibowitz, Karen D.
Leibowitz, Karen
TTh 12:30-2 109 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Collins, W.: The Moonstone; Doyle, A. C.: Sherlock Holmes: The Major Stories; Freud, S.: Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria; James, H.: The Turn of the Screw; Stevenson, R. L.: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Description

This class will explore the invention of Mystery as a literary genre. We will discuss the historical development of professional detectives in the 1840s and the creation of detective fiction soon thereafter. We will read a gripping history of the first celebrity detective in England alongside early experiments in detective fiction by Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and other nineteenth-century writers, culminating in Arthur Conan Doyle's "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." In addition to tales of professional crime-fighters, we will also read about accidental detectives, like the hero of The Moonstone, a wealthy gentleman who must discover a jewel thief in order to clear his own name and marry the woman he loves. As our focus expands from detective fiction to domestic realism and supernatural thrillers, we will investigate how the category of "mystery" informed Victorian approaches to sexuality, race, science, and psychology. In our readings of The Moonstone, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, "The Turn of the Screw," and Freud's "Case of Hysteria," we will see the intermingled sexual and racial politics of Victorian literature, which frequently associates female sexuality with criminality and invokes contemporary prejudices to heighten excitement, as well as attempts to categorize behavior as normal or deviant. Ultimately, we will be talking about the ways that all good fiction constructs a mystery that keeps you turning the pages, while you wonder what will happen next.

English 190 replaced English 100 and 150 as of Fall '09. English majors may fulfill the seminar requirement for the major by taking one section of English 190 (or by having taken either English 100 or English 150 before Fall '09). Please read the paragraph on page 2 of this Accouncement of Classes for more details about enrolling in, or wait-listing for, this course.

Please click here for more information about enrollment in English 190.

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