1868.08 - The Attraction of Detective Novels

Course number
The Attraction of Detective Novels
This two-week intensive course will attempt to broadly cover the dominant position of crime novels in mainstream fiction, without, of course, forgetting the deep historical roots of the genre. Not least the Scandinavian boom since the legendary Sjöwall-Wahlöö caught the readers’ attention.
The course will examine the question of genre and the basic conditions of narrative in theory and practice. We will also discuss the equivocal quality criteria of genre literature. Does it still make sense to uphold two separate qualities of circulation, highbrow literature versus popular fiction, or have the boundaries in practice dissolved by now? And why is the crime fiction genre so immensely popular, both in writing and on TV? Are people attracted to how murders sensationally transgress social conventions? Or, in the so-called femicrime novel, rather to the broader portrayal of lifestyles and period? When at its best, does the genre perhaps convey current answers to the big questions of life, gender struggle, the law and tragedy?
Learning and teaching approaches
The American and British traditions will be widely referenced, however, the main focus will be on more in-depth reading of current Scandinavian crime novels. Sweden and, to a certain extent, Norway are the front-runners. The ultimate objective of the whole course will be an extensive analysis of Swedish Arne Dahl’s masterpiece “Europa Blues” (2001); this book summarizes just about all the points I wish to make. A suggested broad reading list and a concentrated compendium will be circulated well in advance of the course.
Assessment method
Written 4-hour exam or set take-home assignment.
Malan Marnersdóttir