This class will examine several major works by two founders of the mystery novel. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) were friends and sometimes collaborators who became among the most famous authors of their time and their works remain exciting and compelling today. They created complex plots and immersive fictional worlds that not only kept readers guessing, but raised critical questions about identity, social values, and class, gender, and race relations.

By Dickens, we will (most likely) read his masterpiece Bleak House, his novel of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities, and his final, incomplete novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. By Collins, we will (most likely) read his fascinating “sensation” novels Armadale and The Moonstone.

The class will help students develop skills in close reading and interpretation. Students will write short response papers to help stimulate class discussion. There may be occasional short quizzes to focus attention on parts of the reading. Students will also be asked to create a final project (creative or analytical) that reflects back on topics covered in the class.