I promised I'd post the list of books (etc.) I chose for my mystery as lit class

So here goes:

1.Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
2.The Murders In the Rue Morgue (Poe)
3.The Hound of the Baskervilles (film)
4.Murder On the Orient Express (Christie)
5.Columbo (TV episode)
6.The Big Sleep (Chandler)
7.Devil In a Blue Dress (Mosley)
8.The Talented Mr. Ripley (Highsmith)
9.The Name of the Rose (Eco)
10.The Silence of the Lambs (Harris)

It works out to about 150 pages of reading a week ("Name of the Rose" is 500 pages long). We start the discussion of "Big Sleep" on Monday. It's going pretty well so far--we're also writing a mystery story as a class.

Thanks to all who made suggestions--very helpful.

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Good list. The test is really what teaches best for you.
True dat. We're finding out all kinds of interesting stuff about ethics, class, gender, and our ideas about justice vs. the law. We're also talking a lot about technique and how mysteries work: I'm learning a lot, too.
Ya'learn soon after becoming a teacher that you really are going to learn more about your subject matter from YOUR students than you did when you were in college yourself. For me, when I taught, that was always a pleasurable experience.

Might I suggest Chandlers' Fairwell, My Lovely in book form? Wow, what a novel!
Sounds like it would be a fun class.
Thanks, Joe. I hope so--they seem to be enjoying it so far.
That's a good list. Columbo stands out. I'm interested, what did you talk about when you talked about this show?
I showed it right after we'd finished Orient Express because it occurred to me that Columbo is really Poirot, repackaged for a 1970s American audience. One of his tricks is that the killer always underestimates him--like Poirot he's a "funny little man" that needn't be taken seriously. So, it's an identity thing: the killer is not what he/she seems, but neither is the detective. Also we'd been talking a little about puzzle plotting, and how methodically it's all laid out, with the big reveal scene at the end. Columbo's interesting because it's a reverse puzzle: you see the killer commit the crime, and the fun is in watching Columbo drive them crazy as he sorts it out. We've been talking about sidekicks, too (Poirot tends to bounce ideas off of whoever's handy); Columbo recruits the suspect as a kind of surrogate sidekick, often asking them to imagine how the crime was committed. It's a great technique--really inspired. Finally, there's an obvious class drama always cooking in Columbo--he's this working-class Italian guy whose uncle drove a beer truck, or whatever, and the killers are always rich and/or famous. It appeals to our populist streak, I think, watching a working-class guy like Columbo outsmart the Hollywood swells. Columbo and Poirot are also sexually negligible, which is interesting--they have to relate to women differently than a Marlowe, say. I'll probably show more film as the semester goes on: I'm winging it still, a bit.
The novel The Exorcist has a character very much like Columbo, right down to the, "One more thing," on his way out the door. I always wondered if that novel inspired the character at all.
This is a class I wouldn't mind taking. Varied, but I can see where everything has its place. Thanks for sharing.

I agree with the previous commenters who mentioned they learned more from teaching than they did from, well, learning. Few things incite the mind like exposure to young minds putting something together for the first time. I miss that.
It certainly forces you to organize your thoughts in a way that makes sense. And yeah, I have a good core of smart, insightful students who often point stuff out that I hadn't noticed. It's a good group, though too big at 30 students.
I wish you were, too, Naomi.
I'd love to know what your students think of the ending to "The Name of the Rose." After the addictive build-up, I felt underwhelmed by the ending. However Umberto Eco is an incredible writer, so I'd like to know if I am simply the one who doesn't know a brilliant ending when he sees one.


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