Mystery Course Syllabi

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 foxwellpostmaster at gmail dot com.

Middle School and High School Levels

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

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

Mystery, Madness, and Murder (courtesy Katie York, Orono High School, Maine)

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) 

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)

"Bestsellers: Detective Fiction" (courtesy Stephen Tapscott, MIT)

"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)

The Detective Story (courtesy Roberto Dainotto, Duke U)

ELCS0040: Watching the Detectives (Post-1945 European Literature) (courtesy Lucia Rinaldi, University College London)

ENG129: Mystery, Murder, and Detectives in Literature (courtesy Audrey Le, University of Maine)

ENG147: Mystery Fiction (courtesy Sarah Boyd, U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

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.

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) 

ENGL 349: Classic Detective Fiction (courtesy Emily Hamilton-Honey, SUNY Canton)

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

ENGL 693: Crime Fiction: Art of Killing (courtesy Susanne Paterson, University of New Hampshire)

ENGL 2090-476: Mystery and Detective Fiction (courtesy Beth Blankenship, University of New Orleans)

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

ENGL 3072.31 Detective Fiction (courtesy Marilyn Rye)

ENGL 4467.61B Women's Detective Fiction (courtesy Marilyn Rye) 

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

Detective Fiction and Film (courtesy Rebecca Boylan, Georgetown)

Detective Fiction: Hardboiled (courtesy Jim Groom)

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)

SPAN 250A: Latin American Detective Fiction (courtesy Patrick Duffey, Austin College)

Syllabus on Navajo Mysteries and Culture: The Four Corners with Tony Hillerman (created by Bruce Morrissey, University Libraries, U of New Mexico)

Whodunit? Murder Mysteries in American Literature, Film, and Television (courtesy Stefan Brandt, University of Graz)

Other Resources

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

Teaching Crime Fiction. Ed. Charlotte Beyer. Palgrave, 2018.

Teaching with Mass-Market Paperbacks (includes lesson plans). Online exhibition, UNC  Libraries.

The Rapid Reads series from Orca Book Publishers includes short mysteries written for adults who are learning to read or are facing literacy challenges, ESL learners, and reluctant readers.

Last updated: April 2, 2022

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