HUMN 1000: Mystery Fiction in Popular Culture
Fall Term 2007      

General Information

Instructor:         Dr. Mary Nielsen

Phone:              272-4407 or 1-800-829-4436


Web page:

Office:              224 LIA

Office Hours:    Monday: 8:00-noon

                        Tuesday: 9:25-10:40 a.m. (in Writing Lab)

                        Wednesday:  8:00-noon

                        Thursday: 8:00-noon

                        Friday: 8:00-noon

                        Also by appointment.

Writing Lab:     Tuesday: 9:25-10:40 a.m.

Midterm:          October 25, 2007 (last day to withdraw)

Course Description

Prerequisite: READ 0098 or COMPASS Reading score of 80 or above.

This course provides an introduction to mystery fiction as an expression of popular culture.  This course traces the historical and literary development and trends of mystery fiction from its mid-nineteenth-century beginnings; examines the elements of the classic mystery; explores the popularity of this medium; provides an overview of the numerous subgenres and their characteristics (from the “Golden Age” classics, to the cozy, to the hard-boiled thriller); and examines ways in which the characterizations, stereotypes, moral issues, and themes of mystery fiction reflect their own time and society.  Short story and novel reading will be supplemented by the inclusion of a small number of film, television, or audio renditions of texts.

Instructional Format

This course will be taught as a half-term class and will consist of seminar and small-group discussion and mini-lectures supplemented with the occasional viewing of films or playing of audiotapes.  Students will read and discuss a variety of short stories and novels that will vary with the preferences of the instructor.   

Short Stories

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Speckled Band.”


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia.”


Required Texts

Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Mass Market Paperbound, Berkley Publishing Group, 2004, ISBN# 0425200477

Harlan Coben, Deal Breaker, Paperback, Bantam Books, 1995, ISBN# 0440220440.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will

  1. See the place of contemporary mystery writers within the context of the 150-year mystery-writing tradition.
  2. Become familiar with the various approaches to mystery and detective narratives.
  3. Explore the relationships between mystery fiction and social issues and concerns of the times (limitations of justice, gender roles).
  4. Organize and communicate knowledge and ideas in a logical and purposeful way.
  5. Articulate understandings of course materials acquired through listening and reading.
  6. Make informed judgments in interpreting works of art, literature, and other aesthetic experiences.

7.  Read and interpret a variety of cultural expressions in literature, film, and other       


8.  Write coherently and creatively in response to reading and viewing assignments.

9.  Develop an appreciation of reading as a form of entertainment.


The class average will be determined as follows:

            40%: Reading Quizzes

            30%: Mystery Logs and Other Homework

            10%: Class Participation and Attendance

            20%: Final Exam

The grading scale is as follows:

            A = 90%-100%

            B = 80%-89%

            C = 70-79%

            D = 60-69%

            F = 59 and below


Students are expected to attend every class session.  Five points will be deducted from the class participation grade for each absence.  Three to five points will be deducted from the participation grade for each early departure or late arrival.

Late Work and Missed Quizzes

Reading quizzes will be given at the beginning of the class period.  These cannot be made up; however, I will drop the lowest quiz score.  If you miss a quiz, that will be the score that I drop.  Written assignments (reading logs) are due at the start of the class period.  Ten points will be deducted for each day (not class period) an assignment is late. 

Class Expectations

  1. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner conducive to a positive learning environment.
  2. Students are expected to read all assigned material and to come to class prepared.

Disability Support Services (Revised June 25, 2007)

Dalton State College provides equal access for all students to programs, facilities, and services of the College.  It is the student=s responsibility to voluntarily self-disclose a disability to the College and apply for reasonable accommodations in a timely manner, and according to the process established by the College:

$    Contact Academic Resources to discuss the process for self-disclosing a disability and requesting accommodations.

$    Provide a completed application and professional documentation that meet the University System of Georgia guidelines, and permit documentation to be assessed according to USG guidelines (the eligibility process may take up to 30 days). 

$    Allow a minimum of 30 days to implement accommodations, once eligibility is determined.

Dalton State College serves students with disabilities fully and completely.  To schedule an appointment to request services or more information, please contact:

                                                     Mary Andrews or Linda Wheeler

                                                               Dalton State College

                                         Academic ResourcesBDisability Support Services

                                                    Lower Level, Pope Student Center

                                                                650 College Drive

                                                            Dalton, Georgia   30720

                                                            Phone:   706-272-4429

              Students who are unable to come to Academic Resources to request services,

                                                         should call 706-272-4429.

                                Students who are unable to access the instructor=s office

                               should call the instructor at 706-272-4407 for assistance.

Drop/Withdrawal Policy (Revised June 25, 2007)

      Students wishing to withdraw from the course may do so without penalty until the mid-point of the semester, and a grade of W will be assigned.  After that point, withdrawal without penalty is permitted only in cases of extreme hardship as determined by the Vice President for Academic Affairs; otherwise a grade of WF will be issued.  (Please note: At Dalton State College, the Hardship Withdrawal process requires students to withdraw from all classes at the college.)  The proper form for dropping a course is the Schedule Adjustment Form, which can be obtained at the Enrollment Services Office in Westcott Hall.  The Schedule Adjustment Form must be submitted to the Enrollment Services Office.  Students who disappear, completing neither the official withdrawal procedure nor the course work, will receive the grade of FThis instructor will not withdraw students from the class.  Withdrawal from any Dalton State College classes is a student responsibility.  The last day to drop classes without penalty is October 25, 2007.

Complete Course Withdrawal (Revised June 25, 2007)

The proper form for withdrawing from all classes at the college after the official drop/add period but before the published withdrawal date is the Schedule Adjustment Form.  Students who are assigned to the Academic Advising Center for advisement must meet with an advisor or staff member at the Academic Advising Center (107 Liberal Arts Building) to initiate the withdrawal process.  All other students must meet with a staff member or advisor at the Office of Academic Resources in the Pope Student Center to initiate the withdrawal process.  After meeting with the staff member or advisor, all students will then finalize the withdrawal process in the Financial Aid Office.

Workforce Development (Revised September 13, 2006)

If a student receiving aid administered by the DSC Workforce Development Department drops this class or completely withdraws from the College, the schedule adjustment form must be taken to the Workforce Development Office first.  The office is located in the Technical Education Building, Room 112, and the hours are 9:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. -5:00 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 8:00 a.m.- 12:00 noon on Fridays.  The office phone number is 272-2635.