Mystery Course Syllabi 

Compiled by Elizabeth Foxwell

As part of the literacy efforts of Mystery Writers of America, this resource in progress is intended as an aid to those who may be new to teaching mystery and detective fiction or those instructors who wish to compare their approach to that of their colleagues. Many thanks to the instructors and scholars who so generously shared their syllabi.

Questions may be directed to syllabi <at> elizabethfoxwell dot com.

Middle School and High School Levels

Detective Fiction (courtesy John Parsons, Tamarac Secondary School, Troy, NY)

Everyone Loves a Mystery: A Genre Study (grades 6-8; courtesy International Reading Assn)

Expository Escapade--Detective's Handbook (grades 6-8; courtesy International Reading Assn)

Write Me a Mystery (grade 11; courtesy Harry Ransom Center, U of Texas at Austin)

Pittsburgh Teachers Institute:

- Collaboratively Crafting a Radio Drama Mystery (courtesy Barbara Gamrat, Sterrett Classical Academy)

- Elementary, My Dear Watson: Mystery and Suspense Writing to Expand Thinking (courtesy Sheila L. Carter Jones, Pittsburgh Montessori School)

- Investigating Literature through Mystery Novels (courtesy Kristen Kurzawski, John A. Brashear High School, Pittsburgh)

Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute:

- Seven-part curriculum unit on Society and the Detective Novel

- Ten-part curriculum unit on Detective Fiction: Its Use as Literature and History (including Detective Fiction for Remedial Readers)

- Ten-part curriculum unit on Gender, Race, and Milieu in Detective Fiction

- Using Detective Fiction to Raise Interest in High School Readers (grade 9; courtesy Barbara W. Winters)

College Level

A Suggested Syllabus for Teaching John Buchan (courtesy Kate Macdonald, U of Ghent, Belgium)

A Suggested Syllabus for Teaching Erle Stanley Gardner (courtesy Jeffrey Marks)

A Suggested Syllabus for Teaching Ross Macdonald (courtesy Tom Nolan)

A Suggested Syllabus for Teaching Ed McBain/Evan Hunter (courtesy Erin E. MacDonald, Fanshawe College, Canada)

A Suggested Syllabus for Teaching Cornell Woolrich (courtesy Francis M. Nevins Jr., Saint Louis U)

"Course Two: Weekly Undergraduate Seminars" (given by the late MWA Grand Master Hillary Waugh at Yale). Published in Robin Winks, ed., Detective Fiction 232-33.

CRJ 404: Crime and the Mass Media (courtesy Frankie Y. Bailey, U at Albany, SUNY)

ENG 231: Mystery and Detective Literature (courtesy Minette Estevez, Nassau Community College, SUNY)

ENG 258: Literary Types--Mysteries (courtesy David Schmid, U at Buffalo, SUNY)

ENGA 5831: American Crime Stories (courtesy Leonard Cassuto, Fordham U)

ENGL 844-010: Studies in American Literature: The Detective Story (courtesy Thomas Leitch, U of Delaware)
Note: Leitch also has a syllabus designed for undergraduates published in Winks, Detective Fiction 232-33.

ENG 3326-01: Women of Mystery (courtesy Judith Sornberger, Mansfield U)

ENGL 208K: Detective Fiction (courtesy Harry Froklage, Wilfred Laurier U, Canada)

ENGL / HONORS 292/492: The History of Mystery (courtesy Rachel Schaffer, Montana State University Billings)

ENGL 327/527-01: African American Detective Fiction (courtesy Norlisha Crawford, UW-Oshkosh)

ENGL 463: Feminist Detective Fiction (courtesy Rachel Schaffer, Montana State University Billings)

ENGL 2411: Popular Literature--American Detective Fiction (courtesy Pamela Bedore, UConn-Avery Point)

ENGL 3072.31 Detective Fiction (courtesy Marilyn Rye, Fairleigh Dickinson U)

ENGL 4467.61B Women's Detective Fiction (courtesy Marilyn Rye, Fairleigh Dickinson U)

The City as Landscape (courtesy Margaret Kinsman, London South Bank University)

Detective Fiction: Hardboiled (courtesy Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington)

Investigating Detectives (courtesy Margaret Kinsman, London South Bank University)

Landscapes of Murder: The Geography of Mystery Fiction (courtesy George Demko, Dartmouth)

Literary Genres: Detective Fiction (courtesy Brendan Riley, Columbia College Chicago)

Murder on Ice: Crime Fiction in Scandinavia (courtesy Linda Rugg, UC-Berkeley)


Other Resources
Murder 101: Essays on the Teaching of Detective Fiction. Ed. Edward J. Rielly. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.


Last updated: July 20, 2014
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