Students are required to complete the following assignments during the course.


At times you choose during the term, write a brief (probably 2-3 page) summary of each of 3 of the “ancillary essays” assigned in relation to major readings. The point of the summary is clarification through repetition; just summarize. Do these exercises at your own pace throughout the term; give them to me in hard-copy.

Short Essays

Occasionally we’ll also do ‘quick shot’ essays. When a class discussion leads to a critical crux, a crossroads, or a need for clarity, we’ll collectively set a question near the end of a class period, toward a short (approximately 2 page) essay for the next class.

A Mystery

Near midterm we’ll aggregate what we’ve learned about “classic” forms of detective-fiction. Each student will write a short (approximately 6 page) form in one of the “classic” modes (country-house, materialist-detection, police procedural, etc.). Submit the story’s solution to the instructor (final scene, missing information, last page, whatever) and update the rest on-line. We’ll work through them in class to see what we can learn about expectations, thematics, stylistics, assumptions, and strategies of the different modes.

A Discovery

Discover a writer or genre we haven’t discussed, or haven’t discussed much, in class. Read a few examples. Write an essay that lays out the facts, interprets or otherwise explains why the mode or the narrative or the detective matters. You may want to locate the new material in the context of other work(s) we’ve discussed. (e.g., Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins stories update noir and ‘hardboiled’ techniques, with an African-American detective/narrator in LA in the late 1940s.)

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assignment Written Assignments