On the back of Broken Harbor (in the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French, of which we’re reading the first installment), a reviewer’s comment reads: “It’s literature masquerading as police procedural.” While the overlapping genres of detective fiction, mystery, and psychological thriller are vast, and diverse in literary merit, the books we’re reading for this course are all highly acclaimed examples of police procedural. As such, we’ll see mastery of the same basic tropes in these exemplary texts, and use an understanding of the devices of fiction to think about how the detective novel manages to create such appeal for so many readers. These novels—from Ireland, Japan, India, and Canada—all uncover things about the ideological and systemic construction of their settings, which of course transforms the characters, the plots, and the cultural work of each.
This class will give you opportunity to practice close reading and analysis skills, and to consider your observations in the context of a public intellectual context. Since these texts all have a robust popular following, working with them will give you the chance to think about how your English scholarship skills can apply to popular think-piece-writing. I hope you’ll find these readings as rich with insight as I do, and that you’ll enjoy seeing the world through the detective’s eye for detail and connection!
Multicultural, International Cultures (IC) courses study world cultures in critical perspective. They either treat an international culture in view of the issues raised in AC and IP courses (i.e., race and ethnicity, pluralism and mono-culturalism, prejudice and tolerance) or they analyze worldviews that differ substantially from those that prevail in the present-day United States.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture. Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.