This course will explore our culture’s fascination with stories of crime and detection. We’ll spend a week on foundational short stories by Poe, Conan Doyle, and Dashiell Hammett, then look at some best-selling private eyes by contemporary writers. Among the questions we’ll explore: What historical and cultural forces help to explain the rise of the detective in the late nineteenth century and his (and her!) proliferation in our own time? Why are the formulas and conventions of genre so attractive to readers as well as writers? What special pleasures and insights are on offer in detective stories? Students will write a response journal and a brief essay on a text (or film or TV series) not on our primary syllabus.