The full syllabus is available here: syllabus.pdf.


In the PDF version of this syllabus, clicking on a title takes you to the bibliography entry. On some days there is too much reading; we will deal with this, the fundamental condition of research, in various ways over the course of the term.

Monday, September 11. Prelude: modernism made simple.

  • Please read in advance: Joyce, “The Dead.”

Monday, September 18. Precursor.

Monday, September 25. Founding.

  • The Sign of the Four, in Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes.
  • Ginzburg, “Clues.”
  • Boltanski, Mysteries and Conspiracies, chap. 2.

Monday, October 2. Systems.

  • Selections from Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes:
    • “A Scandal in Bohemia.”
    • “The Speckled Band.”
    • “His Last Bow.”
  • Pirkis, “The Redhill Sisterhood.”
  • Todorov, “The Typology of Detective Fiction.”
  • Moretti, “The Slaughterhouse of Literature.”
  • Cohen, The Sentimental Education of the Novel, 16–25.

Monday, October 9. Modernism’s other.

  • Sayers, Whose Body?
  • Leavis, Fiction and the Reading Public, introduction and pt. 1, chaps. 1, 3.
  • Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch.” The original Partisan Review publication (vol. 6, no. 5 [Fall 1939]: 34–49) can be viewed in an excruciating Flash-based digitization at
  • Huyssen, After the Great Divide, introduction and chap. 3.

Monday, October 16. Series.

  • Sayers, Strong Poison.
  • Altman, Film/Genre, chap. 7.
  • Bourdieu, “The Field of Cultural Production, or: The Economic World Reversed.”

Monday, October 23. Americans two ways.

  • Keene, The Secret of the Old Clock.
  • Collinson, “Arson Plus.”
  • Daly, “Knights of the Open Palm.”
  • McCann, Gumshoe America, chap. 1.
  • Recommended: spend a little time with the Detective Story materials on the Pulp Magazines Project.

Monday, October 30. Generational succession.

  • Selections from Chandler, Stories and Early Novels:
    • “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot.”
    • The Big Sleep.
  • Norman, “The Big Empty.”
  • Smith, “The Hard-Boiled Writer and the Literary Marketplace.”
  • Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder.”

Monday, November 6. High-brow.

  • Selections from Borges, Labyrinths and Borges, Ficciones; students with Spanish are very welcome to read in the original (the links are to magazine versions):
  • Auden, “The Guilty Vicarage.”
  • Holquist, “Whodunit and Other Questions.”
  • Underwood, “The Life Cycles of Genres.”

Monday, November 13. Pluralization (1).

  • Himes, Cotton Comes to Harlem.
  • Eburne, “The Transatlantic Mysteries of Paris.”
  • McGurl, The Program Era, 56–63, 216–220.

Monday, November 20. High-low boundaries dissolved?

  • Everett, Assumption. Don’t stop short of the spectacular ending.
  • Thompson, Merchants of Culture, excerpt.

Monday, November 27. Pluralization (2).

  • Paretsky, Indemnity Only.
  • Griswold, McDonnell, and Wright, “Reading and the Reading Class in the Twenty-First Century.”

Monday, December 4. Globalization, mass-culture style.

  • Mankell, Faceless Killers. Students with Swedish are very welcome to read in the original (interlibrary loan is your best bet, probably).
  • Berglund, “With a Global Market in Mind.”
  • Beecroft, An Ecology of World Literature, excerpt.

Monday, December 11. Tasting menu.

  • Preliminary reading reports.

Monday, January 8.

  • Final papers due. Submit on Sakai, then bring a paper copy to the graduate office by the end of the week.


  • Altman, Rick. Film/Genre. London: British Film Institute, 1999. Excerpt available on Sakai.

  • Auden, W.H. “The Guilty Vicarage: Notes on the Detective Story, by an Addict.” Harper’s 196, no. 1176, 406–12. Also reprinted in The Dyer’s Hand and the 1939–1948 volume of the complete prose.

  • Beecroft, Alexander. An Ecology of World Literature: From Antiquity to the Present Day. London: Verso, 2015. Excerpt available on Sakai.

  • Berglund, Karl. “With a Global Market in Mind: Agents, Authors, and t Dissemination of Contemporary Swedish Crime Fiction.” In Crime Fiction as World Literature, edited by Louise Nilsson, David Damrosch, and Theo D’haen. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017.

  • Boltanski, Luc. Mysteries and Conspiracies: Detective Stories, Spy Novels and the Making of Modern Societies. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge: Polity, 2014. Excerpt available on Sakai.

  • Borges, Jorge Luis. Ficciones. Edited by Anthony Kerrigan. New York: Grove, 1962. Excerpt on Sakai.

  • _________. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. Edited by Donald A. Yates and James East Irby. New York: New Directions, 2007. isbn: 9780811216999.

  • Bourdieu, Pierre. “The Field of Cultural Production, or: The Economic World Reversed.” Translated by Richard Nice. Poetics 12, nos. 4/5 (1983): 311–56. doi:10.1016/0304-422X(83)90012-8. Also reprinted in the essay collection The Field of Cultural Production.

  • Chandler, Raymond. Stories and Early Novels. Edited by Frank MacShane. New York: Library of America, 1995. isbn: 9781883011079.

  • _________. “The Simple Art of Murder.” Atlantic Monthly, November 1944. Available on Sakai. Also reprinted in The Simple Art of Murder.

  • Cohen, Margaret. The Sentimental Education of the Novel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.

  • Collinson, Peter [Dashiell Hammett]. “Arson Plus.” In Penzler, The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. Available on Sakai.

  • Conan Doyle, Arthur. Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories. Edited by Barry McCrea. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. isbn: 9780199672066.

  • Daly, Carroll John. “Knights of the Open Palm.” In Penzler, The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. Available on Sakai.

  • Eburne, Jonathan P. “The Transatlantic Mysteries of Paris: Chester Himes, Surrealism, and the Série Noire.” PMLA 120, no. 3 (May 2005): 806–21.

  • Everett, Percival. Assumption: A Novel. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2011. isbn: 9781555975982.

  • Frow, John. Genre. London: Routledge, 2005. Excerpt on Sakai, though this fine book is worth owning.

  • Ginzburg, Carlo. “Clues: Morelli, Freud, and Sherlock Holmes.” In The Sign of Three: Dupin, Holmes, Peirce, edited by Umberto Eco and Thomas A. Sebeok. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983. Available on Sakai.

  • Greenberg, Clement. “Avant-Garde and Kitsch.” In Art and Culture, 3–21. Boston: Beacon, 1961. Available on Sakai.

  • Griswold, Wendy, Terry McDonnell, and Nathan Wright. “Reading and the Reading Class in the Twenty-First Century.” Annual Review of Sociology 31, no. 1 (August 2005): 127–41. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.31.041304.122312.

  • Himes, Chester B. Cotton Comes to Harlem. New York: Vintage, 1988. isbn: 9780394759999.

  • Holquist, Michael. “Whodunit and Other Questions: Metaphysical Detective Stories in Post-War Fiction.” New Literary History 3, no. 1 (Autumn 1971): 135–56. doi:10.2307/468384.

  • Huyssen, Andreas. After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism. ACLS Humanities E-Books. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986. MPublishing.

  • Joyce, James. “The Dead.” In The Norton Anthology of World Literature, vol. F, 1900 to the Present, 3rd ed., edited by Martin Puchner. New York: Norton, 2012. Available on Sakai.

  • Keene, Carolyn [Mildred Benson]. The Secret of the Old Clock. Fascimile ed. 1930. Bedford, MA: Applewood, 1991. isbn: 1557091552. Available on Sakai.

  • Leavis, Q. D. Fiction and the Reading Public. 1932. London: Chatto and Windus, 1965. Excerpt available on Sakai.

  • Mankell, Henning. Faceless Killers: A Mystery. Translated by Stephen T. Murray. New York: Vintage, 2003. isbn: 9781400031573.

  • McCann, Sean. Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000. Excerpt available on Sakai.

  • McGurl, Mark. The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. Excerpt available on Sakai.

  • Moretti, Franco. “The Slaughterhouse of Literature.” MLQ 61, no. 1 (March 2000): 207–27. A slight revision appears as part of Graphs, Maps, Trees, and an unrevised version is reprinted in the later Distant Reading.

  • Norman, Will. “The Big Empty: Chandler’s Transatlantic Modernism.” Modernism/Modernity 20, no. 4 (November 2013): 747–70. doi:10.1353/mod.2013.0114.

  • Paretsky, Sara. Indemnity Only: A Novel. New York: Dell, 1991. isbn: 9780440210696.

  • Penzler, Otto, ed. The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. New York: Vintage, 2010.

  • Pirkis, C.L. “The Redhill Sisterhood.” Ludgate Monthly 4 (1893).

  • Poe, Edgar Allan. The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe. Edited by Thomas Ollive Mabbott. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978. Baltimore: Poe Society, 2011–2017. A digital text of this modern annotated edition. The Poe Society site ( has digital texts of many other versions of Poe’s works. For serious Poe study, obtain the Library of America Poetry and Tales.

  • Sayers, Dorothy L. Strong Poison. New York: HarperCollins, 2012. isbn: 9780062196200.

  • _________. Whose Body? Mineola, N.Y: Dover, 2009. isbn: 9780486473628.

  • Smith, Erin A. “The Hard-Boiled Writer and the Literary Marketplace.” Chap. 1 in Hard-Boiled: Working-Class Readers and Pulp Magazines. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000. Excerpt on Sakai.

  • Thompson, John B. Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin, 2012. Excerpt available on Sakai.

  • Todorov, Tzvetan. “The Typology of Detective Fiction.” Chap. 3 in Poetics of Prose, translated by Richard Howard. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978. Available on Sakai.

  • Underwood, Ted. “The Life Cycles of Genres.” CA: Journal of Cultural Analytics, May 2016.