2013-14 Teaching


English 2040, Mystery and Detective Fiction (Fall 2013)

E. M. Forster wrote, “‘The king died, and the queen died’ is a story. ‘The king died, and the queen died of grief’ is a plot.  ‘The king died, and no one knew why the queen died until they discovered it was of grief’ is a mystery, a form capable of high development.”  To that I would add, ‘The king died, and the queen died, and everyone thought it was of grief until they found the puncture wound in her throat’—now that is a murder mystery, and that too is capable of high development.  (P. D. James)

From historical to clerical, from academic to urban, from culinary to equestrian, from regional American to vintage English—today, mystery and detective fiction comes in every imaginable variety.  In this course we will look at the origins of the genre in the 19th century and then trace some of its developments in the 20th century.  We will consider formal issues, such as the conventions, limits, and possibilities of a genre premised on secrets and lies; we will look at what these fictions say, directly or indirectly, about meaning, knowledge, law, justice, gender, society, and morality; and we will ponder the ethics of finding crime entertaining.

Reading List

 Selected short fiction (e-texts; details TBA)

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (Oxford World’s Classics)

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (Oxford World’s Classics)

Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

P. D. James, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

Sjöwall and Wahlöö, The Terrorists

Sara Paretsky, Indemnity Only

Ian Rankin, Knots and Crosses

Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress

Likely Course Requirements:

In-Class Writing & Worksheets: 10%
Midterm Exams: 2 @ 25%
Final Exam or Paper: 40%

A detailed syllabus including a full schedule of readings and assignments and information about course policies will be available on our Blackboard site; registered students will have access by  the end of August.

English 3031, The Nineteenth-Century British Novel From Austen to Dickens (Fall 2013)

In this course we will study British novels from the first half of the nineteenth century. During these decades, authors experimented with both the form and the subject matter of fiction as they transformed the novel from a generic upstart into the century’s dominant literary form.  Broad issues our discussions are likely to engage include the relationship of the present to the past, of the individual to society, and of the individual to modern institutions and systems (such as government, law, religion, or industry); problems of self-discovery and identity; questions of love, marriage, and morality; questions of gender, class, and race; and the role of the artist, especially the novelist, and of literature, especially the novel, in investigating, articulating, and affecting all of these issues.  At all times, our primary concern will be to read our books closely and revel in them—to understand, analyze, and appreciate their richness and variety of form, language, and content. To this end, we will pay careful attention to textual detail as well as to these larger themes and patterns. Our readings are long; you should be prepared to put in enough time to read them attentively. But they are also delightful, so your effort will be heartily repaid in pleasure. Regular, well-informed, and enthusiastic class participation will be encouraged; regular, well-informed, and enthusiastic writing will be required.

Reading List

Walter Scott, Waverley

Jane Austen, Persuasion

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

All books have been ordered in Oxford World’s Classics editions: I highly recommend that you use the assigned editions, as it is easier to proceed with class discussion if everyone can literally be on the same page.

Tentative Course Requirements

Reading Journal (15%)

Mini-Midterms (20%)

Short Essay (25%)

Long Essay or Final Exam (40%)

A detailed syllabus including a full schedule of readings and assignments and information about course policies will be available on our Blackboard site; registered students will have access by mid-August.


English 1010, Introduction to Prose and Fiction (Winter 2014)

In this section of English 1010 we will study examples of prose and fiction that illustrate the power of language, when artfully deployed, to surprise, move, anger, persuade, and entertain us. Because reading and writing have never been just (or even primarily) academic exercises, we will focus especially on works that address important social, moral, and political questions, paying close attention to how good writers use literary and rhetorical strategies to further their ideas and achieve their effects. You will be challenged to engage actively and critically with our texts through debate, discussion, and writing of your own. The course objectives are, first, to enhance your love of reading, and second, to provide you with the skills, vocabulary, knowledge and experience to express and support well-informed opinions about what you read, whether in or out of class.

Book List

English 1010 Section 2 Bundle: packaged and sold together

The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Short Fiction

The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Literary Non-Fiction

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (Broadview edition)

Elie Wiesel, Night

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Carol Shields, Unless

A detailed syllabus including a full schedule of readings and assignments and information about course policies will be available on our Blackboard site; registered students will have access by the end of December.

English 4205, Women and Detective Fiction (Winter 2014)

To Sherlock Holmes, she was always the woman.
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia”

At least since Irene Adler beat Sherlock Holmes at his own game, women have had a complicated relationship with both detectives and detective fiction. Though often depicted as either victims or femmes fatales in early detective stories, women characters did frequently have central roles, and even before Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple appeared in 1930, they did their share of crime-solving too. Women writers have also been prominent in the field from its early days: Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh were major figures in the ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction in the 1920s and 1930s, for instance, and P. D. James, Sue Grafton, and Sara Paretsky are only a few of the many women whose crime fiction tops today’s best-seller lists. In this course we will read a sampling of mystery writing by women featuring female investigators, paying particular attention to the different things our readings suggest about women’s relationships to crime, law, justice, morality, knowledge, and power.

Plans for the 2014 version of this class are still tentative; check my web page (https://maitzen.wordpress.com) for updates.

Book List

 Stories (xeroxes and e-texts)

Agatha Christie, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories

Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock

P. D. James, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

Sue Grafton, ‘A’ is for Alibi

Sara Paretsky, Indemnity Only

Katherine V. Forrest, Murder at the Nightwood Bar

LaPlante/Mirren, Prime Suspect I (available as a DVD or, much more cheaply, through iTunes)

Course Requirements will probably include regular short reading responses, a seminar presentation, and a longer critical essay.

A detailed syllabus including a full schedule of readings and assignments and information about course policies will be available on our Blackboard site; registered students will have access by  late December.

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