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

Undergraduate Course: European Detective Fiction and Society 2 (LLLG07106)

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. From Italy to Scotland, via Norway, Czech Republic and France, we shall consider how and why authors use the detective genre to express the challenges faced by their countries. Paying close attention to narrative voice and characterisation, we shall explore social and political change and themes such as organised crime through the worlds of, among others, Lieutenant Boruvka of the Prague homicide bureau, Inspector Montalbano in Italy and the maverick Harry Hole who battles police corruption as well as his own demons.
Course description A student on this course can expect to explore key examples of European detective fiction from Italy, Norway, France, Czech Republic and Scotland. 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 Camilleri's The Potter's Field we shall explore organised crime and Montalbano's anxiety for his colleagues in a new world of policing. Pierre Lemaitre's Alex will present us with questions of retribution and the morality of crime while Skvorecky's Lieutenant Boruvka asks us to consider bureaucracy and policing in changing historical times. Nesbo's Harry Hole will allow us to discuss corruption and internal police politics in Norway. We finish the course with a return to Scotland to explore Inspector Rebus' insights into the changing scene of domestic politics as the Scottish parliament is constructed. These novels offer us a window into the challenges of their times and we shall discuss those challenges by thinking about their context and through 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 an understanding of how the detective genre has developed and diversified across Europe;
  3. Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently, applying knowledge of cultural, political and socio-historical contexts within these;
  4. Analyse contemporary responses and reactions to the novels by evaluating and assessing ideas from non-literary texts such as criticism or journalism;
Reading List
Camilleri, Andrea. 2015. The Potter's Field. London: Picador.
Lemaitre, Pierre. 2013. Alex. London: McLehose Press.
Skvorecky, Josef. 1991. The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka. London: Norton.
Nesbo, Jo. 2009. The Devil's Star. London: Vintage.
Rankin, Ian. 2008. Set in Darkness. London: Orion.
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 oral communication of complex ideas and arguments, analytical thinking, critical thinking, handling complexity and ambiguity
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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