Whodunits: The Art of Detective Fiction July 8 - 13, 2018
No popular literature has a more dedicated following than the mystery novel. Foremost among the reasons for its popularity is that mystery fiction provides the entertainment of a well-constructed puzzle, one that challenges the reader to discover whodunit. Within that genre, detective fiction offers the dark and gnarled pleasure of a crime at its center, one that requires a detective-the reader's friend and persona-to solve the puzzle. The best examples also tell a good story with provocative dialog, interesting characters, and a clear eye to setting and arresting detail. Most of all, they are simply fun intellectually.
The Art of Detective Fiction will explore the genre at its best, from its 19th-century origins into the Golden Age enigmas and increasingly serious realism of the 20th, with close attention to some cunning recent examples. We'll compare classic British and American mysteries and various types of detective protagonists-from the great mind of Sherlock Holmes to the incisive perceptions of the eccentric Hercule Poirot, from the gritty cynicism of Elmore Leonard to the elegant whimsy of Louise Penny. We'll also enjoy several excellent film adaptations of detective fiction, along with a study of Alfred Hitchcock's distinctive spin on the genre. With examples of Nordic noir and post-colonial rejoinders among our considerations, our program will offer a rare compass to appreciating detective fiction's extensive and enduring appeal.
We're especially pleased to feature a diverse and expert faculty to guide our explorations: Professors Edward Adams and Taylor Walle '07 from the English Department, Toni Locy from journalism and mass communications, and Fred LaRiviere from biochemistry, plus W&L trustee Billy Webster '79, among others, will share their enthusiasms as well as their fondness for skullduggery. Rumor has it that campus proclivity for mayhem may require a CSI. Participants should bring sharpened wits.