This topic examines one of the most provocative and fertile genres in contemporary literature and cinema: the crime fiction genre. As a literary genre, crime fiction is relatively young; from its beginnings in the 19th Century, and through its major development in the 20th, the genre has responded vigorously to changing social-political and cultural environments. In the process, crime fiction has also blossomed into a major genre within the film and television industries. By examining texts taken from different historical periods, this topic will explore, interrogate and contextualise the crime genre itself, and will consider the complex cultural materials at work within it. Students will study a series of texts dealing with the themes of crime and detection, and will ultimately position these texts within a number of historical, cultural and critical contexts. Issues we will be explicitly concerned with will include: the "rules" of genre fiction itself; catharsis and its place in crime fiction; representations of ideas of justice, good and evil within the genre; adaptation of texts from one medium to another; and representations of ratiocination (logic-wielding) and their effects upon readers with regard to diegetic engagement and suspense.
This topic aims to: