This course will examine detective fictions as both a mode of thinking (we ask questions about our lives) and as a literary genre. As a mode of thinking, it’s been around since Sophocles (we read Oedipus the King); as a literary genre it emerges in the nineteenth century (Edgar Allen Poe, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle), develops through classic twentieth-century and modernist and noir-ish texts (Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterton, Raymond Chandler) and booms through postmodern uses of the genre’s structures (Jorge Louis Borges, Patricia Highsmith, and others). We’ll end with some film examples (Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock.) We’ll also consider formal, ideological, and philosophical aspects of detective fiction, using essays by structuralist/ narratology critics (Barthes, Peter Brooks) and essays by other recent critics including Jaques Lacan and Sally Munt. We’ll pay special attention to the cognitive work of “detection” and to the character of the detective: his or her social position, gender, intelligence, and wit.