College of Arts and Sciences | Cloak and Dagger
E103 | 7774 | Arnaudo


11:15 AM - 12:05 PM TR
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM T for required film viewing
See the Schedule of Classes for discussion section times.

This course introduces students to one of the most basic concepts of
literary criticism-literary genres-with specific reference to a
specific popular genre: the so-called thriller. Thriller is a term
that came into use in the late nineteenth century and was applied
not only to the detective story, the most famous examples of which
were A. Conan Doyle's tales about Sherlock Holmes, but also to a
closely-related literary genre, the spy novel, that also attained
great popularity during the period. The term thriller is often
unfortunately employed to denigrate books relegated to this generic
category.

The primary focus of this course will be to teach students how to
understand the rules of the game, the conventions and traditions
that govern any literary genre, with specific reference to the
thriller as exemplified by selected detective and spy stories in
both literature and the cinema. It is my hope that students will
apply the lessons they learn about genre in this class to any
literary genre, not only genres typical of popular culture but also
those associated primarily with serious literature (the epic,
tragedy, the sonnet, etc.).

Students will read the detective fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Friedrich
Dürrenmatt and Leonardo Sciascia. We will also examine several
detective films in the film noir tradition, including The Maltese
Falcon and The Big Sleep. For the spy genre, we will read a pre-Cold
War novel, at least one James Bond novel by Ian Fleming and a Cold
War spy novel by John Le Carre. In addition, we will screen two very
different James Bond films: one made during the height of the Cold
War, and Martin Campbell's Casino Royale (2006).