Comparative Literature | Detective, Mystery & Horror Literature
C217 | 1122 | West, K
Section meets COAS Arts & Humanities requirement
Class Meets: MWF 11:15-12:05 BH208
Edgar Allan Poe not only wrote some of our finest “tales of terror,”
but also practically invented the genre of analytic detective
fiction. His literary career suggests that these two literary forms
are in some way connected, and that what links them is a fascination
with or before the unknown.
By examining the ways in which various writers of detective and
horror fiction manipulate their readers (as well as the reader’s
role in the creation of such texts), we will investigate the
connection between mystery and horror. We will ask ourselves: Why do
we like to be frightened, at least in literature? What purpose does
a detective serve for his or her author and reader? What are the
similarities between the criminals of detective fiction (and its
detectives!) and the monsters of horror fiction?
We will focus on texts in which horror and mystery are combined and
consider the detective figures and writing strategies of authors
such as Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Jorge Luis
Borges, Umberto Eco, and P. D. James. We will also take into
account such films as Halloween, Scream, The Usual Suspects, and The
Ninth Gate, using theoretical perspectives from Eco, Borges, Carol
Clover, Linda Williams, Laura Mulvey, and other critical thinkers.
Required written work: a reading/viewing journal, two 3-5 page
papers, and one short class presentation.