University of Notre Dame

Mystery Fiction

Course Number: ENGL 13186-8
Instructor: Margaret Doody

This course will deal with detection and mystery in fiction from Sophocles to Dashiell Hammett. The syllabus includes films to be chosen by the students .We follow the detective and the criminal (often strangely connected); that pursuit encourages us to consider various genres, including classic tragedy, the Gothic novel, the “thriller,” and film noir. Entering the dark Paris streets of Poe’s Dupin, the foggy London of Sherlock Holmes, and the pleasant Chinese tea-gardens and rough highways known to Judge Dee, we hope to be surprised. We will consider what kinds of pleasure the “mystery story” offers us, and why such a repellent matter as murder provides such strong entertainment. The study of mystery turns us towards philosophical mysteries, questions regarding good and evil, revenge and justice, the appeal of the ugly and the sublime.