Course Information

“…when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” ~Sherlock Holmes

~~ Fall 2020 Syllabus: Updated 8/14 ~~~

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson College as a “community of inquiry” by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning.  Through the study of detective fiction and film, students will:

  • critically analyze information and ideas in the texts we discuss;
  • examine issues from multiple perspectives;
  • discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one’s own views, with clarity and reason;
  • learn to find, evaluate, and correctly incorporate outside sources so as to avoid plagiarism;
  • create clear academic writing.
  • utilize the small group seminar format to interact and engage in discussion with your peers as well as with me, your professor

For our particular FYS, we will examine the appeal of the mystery and suspense genre.  We’ll work to develop an understanding of the literary devices used to foster audiences’ experience of mystery and suspense, including point of view, characterization, plot, and setting.  In mysteries, characters and plots are driven by issues of power, crime, and law, but also gender, desire, politics, class, race, individuality, and society—just to name a few!  This is a genre driven by questions: questions of identity (Who is it? Whodunnit?), questions of epistemology (How do we know? What do we know?), and questions of hermeneutics (How should we interpret and understand?). Over the course of the semester we will examine 19th- and 20th-century short stories, novels, and films as well as a range of secondary readings that will provide theoretical frameworks through which you will become the investigators of literary and cultural contexts.

Contact:  Professor Sarah E. Kersh




Background Photo:

iko. nouvelle vague (the residues of alphaville). 5 Nov 2011some rights reserved. Web. 26 August 2015

nouvelle vague