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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Literature, Languages and Cultures

Undergraduate Course: European Detective Fiction and Society (LLLG07102)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryDetective fiction is a valuable barometer for the social and political climate of a country. This course explores what detective fiction can tell us about key moments in European history. From Sweden to Spain, we will look at how authors use the detective genre to express the challenges faced by their countries, and how society responds to these. We will be exploring the worlds of private eye Pepe Carvalho in Spain, Inspector Barlach in Switzerland as well as the intrepid Captain Bellodi who battles Mafia corruption in Sicily and Italy.
Course description A student on this course can expect to explore key examples of European detective fiction from Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Sicily and Switzerland. We shall consider the characteristics and role of each detective and examine how the authors use their writing, and protagonists, to express anxieties about social and political change. Through Sciascia's The Day of the Owl, we shall explore organised crime, political denial and the influence that has on justice and wider society. Durrenmatt's The Judge and his Hangman and Suspicion will present us with questions of moral complexity and political complicity. Changing society and social anxieties will be explored through the eyes of Mankell's detective Wallander and Montalban's detective Carvalho. These novels offer us a window into the challenges of their times and we will discuss those challenges by thinking about their context but also by close textual analysis.

Mini lectures will provide a contextual overview of each novel, followed by a guided discussion on themes, characterisation, plot and narrative style. The course will be taught in a small seminar setting, where participation will be supported and encouraged.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Analyse and evaluate the distinctive characteristics of detective fiction through close reading, using recognised literary critical terminology and methodologies;
  2. Articulate knowledge and understanding of how the detective genre has developed and diversified across Europe;
  3. Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently;
  4. Apply knowledge of cultural, political and socio-historical contexts in arguments.
Reading List
Sciascia, Leonardo., 2014. The Day of the Owl. London: Granta.
Durrenmatt, Friedrich.,2004. The Judge and his Hangman and Suspicion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Mankell, Henning., 2012. One Step Behind. London: Vintage.
Montalban, Manuel Vazquez., 2004. An Olympic Death. London: Serpent¿s Tail.
Simenon, Georges., 2014. The Yellow Dog. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

9.3.2 Recommended
Priestman, Martin ed., 2003. The Cambridge Companion to Detective Fiction. Cambridge: CUP.
Scaggs, John, 2005. Crime Fiction. London: Routledge.
Plain, Gill, 2001. Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Nestingen, Andrew and Arvas, Paula., 2011. Scandinavian Crime Fiction. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Confidence in discussing texts and expressing opinions
Ability to assess secondary material
Ability to articulate knowledge and arguments coherently
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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