Fall 2014 Courses
Reading lists have been finalized as of March 28, 2014; registered students will have access to Blackboard Learn sites by the end of August.
Wait-listed students should check their Dal email regularly to see if they have been given permission to register. If you are on the waiting list for one of my classes and have not been given a spot by the beginning of term, come to the first class meeting(s): once term begins I give priority to students who show their commitment by attending.
All students should be aware that we will begin covering course content on the first day of term. Plan to be there! If you are not present, you should make arrangements to get notes from another student for any material that you’ve missed.
English 2040, Mystery & Detective Fiction
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 (ordered through the Dalhousie Bookstore)
Classic Crime Stories (Dover)
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 (Harper Collins)
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (Vintage)
Sjöwall and Wahlöö, The Terrorists (Vintage)
Sara Paretsky, Indemnity Only (Dell)
Ian Rankin, Knots and Crosses (Orion)
Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress (Washington Square Press)
In-Class Writing Responses: 10%
Midterm Exams: 2 @ 25%
Final Exam or Paper: 40%
A final version of this syllabus will be available on our Blackboard site; registered students will have access by the end of August.
English 3032, The Nineteenth-Century British Novel from Dickens to Hardy
In this class we will study British novels from the second half of the nineteenth century. Drawing on the now-established traditions of the novel, authors during this period found ways to revise or challenge its conventions by experimenting with fictional forms, techniques, and subjects. Our books this term are chosen to highlight the themes of love and work. How do (or can) people find meaning and satisfaction in their lives? How do you find your vocation? What if you can’t find one – or, recognizing one, can’t pursue it? How are your options affected by your gender? Can love be a vocation? Is love compatible with dedication to work? But we will be open to all of the issues (formal as well as thematic) raised by our readings. Our readings are long; you should be prepared to put in enough time to read them attentively (and especially if you’re a slow reader, you would be wise to get a start on your reading over the summer). 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.
All books have been ordered in Oxford World’s Classics editions. Students are strongly advised to use the assigned editions, for ease of finding the right page during class discussion.
C. Brontë, Villette (1853)
Dickens, Great Expectations (1860)
Eliot, Middlemarch (1871-2)
Gissing, The Odd Women (1893)
Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895)
Tentative Course Requirements
Reading Journal (15%)
Short Essay (25%)
Long Essay or Final Exam (40%)
Here is a draft of the course syllabus. Details may change between now and September.
A final version of this syllabus will be available on our Blackboard site; registered students will have access by late August.