ELCS6003 - Crime Fiction: From the Picaresque to the Detective Novel
Value: 0.5 course units
Tutor: Dr Alexander Samson
Assessment: 2 assessed essays of 2,000 words each.
The modern novel was born out of a demimonde of urban criminality, the picaresque ironisation of quest narrative, the invention of the subject and birth of the public sphere, a centralised bureaucratic state in which crime and punishment aimed not simply to restore social order, but enforce justice with equity. Early modern anxieties about a threatening underclass of masterless men, cony catchers and gallant beggars were political in the same way that media-fuelled neuroses about casual violence by strangers are today.
This module explores the representation and constitution of self and society
in a selection of texts from the early modern period to the present day
and explores the issues of crime and punishment, justice, morality and
the relationship between news, reportage and fiction. The module will
include a visit to the Jill Dando Crime Institute and a special guest
session with a criminologist.
Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:
- Miguel de Cervantes, 'Rinconete y Cortadillo' in 'Novelas ejemplares', ed. Harry Sieber (Madrid: Catedra, 1998), vol. 1 or E'xemplary Stories', trans. Lesley Lipson, Oxford World Classics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). There is also a Penguin Classics edition.
- Francisco de Quevedo, 'El Buscón', ed. Domingo Ynduráin (Madrid: Cátedra, 1996) or ‘The Swindler’ in 'Two Spanish Picaresque Novels', trans. Michael Jacobs (Harmondsworth: Penguin, rev. ed. 2003).
- Daniel Defoe, 'Moll Flanders', Oxford World Classics (Oxford: OUP, reissued 2009)
- Edgar Allen Poe, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, 'The Mystery of Marie Roget' and 'The Purloined Letter' in 'Selected Tales', Oxford World Classics (Oxford: OUP, reissued 2008)
- Fyodor Dostoyesvsky, 'Crime and Punishment', trans. David McDuff (London: Penguin, 2003)
- Javier Marías, 'Corazón tan blanco' (Barcelona: Anagrama, 1996) or 'A Heart So White' trans. Margaret Jull Costa (Penguin Modern Classics, 1995 or Vintage, 2003).
Paintings and Images
- Rembrant Van Rijn, 'Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicholas Tulp'
- William Hogarth, 'A Harlot’s Progress', 'A Rake’s Progress', 'Gin Lane'.
- Vincent Van Gogh, 'The Prison Courtyard'
Initial Secondary Bibliography:
- Francis Barker, 'The tremulous private body: essays on subjection' (London: Methuen, 1984).
- Michel Foucault, 'Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison', trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Penguin, 1991)
- Stephen Knight, 'Crime Fiction, 1800 – 2000: Detection, Death, Diversity' (London: Macmillan, 2003)
- Martin Priestman, 'The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction' (Cambridge:CUP, 2003)