The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


This course offers a critical survey of the genre of detective fiction from its origins in the early nineteenth century to the present day. Using examples from British, American and/or Australian literature it discusses the evolution of this genre, its predominant types and its main formal characteristics. The course will study detective fiction as an attempt to come to terms with crime as a challenge to the modern social order.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 1 - 2017.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. A detailed knowledge of the history of detective fiction, including different types of detective fiction and their various social and cultural contexts

2. An ability to analyse examples of detective fiction in view of their thematic and formal features.

3. An understanding of the concept of a literary genre and the idea of generic evolution.

4. An understanding of the split between "high" and "low" literature and its significance in modern culture.


The course will undertake a chronological study of the history of detective fiction. It will identify the main types of detective fiction and discuss major authors such as Poe, Conan Doyle, Christie, Hammett and Chandler; readings will also include key critical contributions to the study of detective fiction. Seminars will consist of lecture parts on relevant theoretical and historical contexts, and group discussions focusing on individual texts

Assumed knowledge

20 units of 1000-level English

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Two or more written assignments