Under the Gun: An introduction to Crime Fiction


Silhouette of Sherlock Holmes against a brick wallOverview:
If you are a fan of the whodunit, interested in crime fiction or wondering what to watch on Netflix next, this introduction to international crime fiction is for you. You will examine a range of case studies in print, on film and television and analyse examples of the genre as it responds to changing social debates. Likewise, you will discuss the way in which crime fiction reflects upon issues of cultural identity, social and political concerns.

Recommended Reading and Viewing List:
Below is a list of the texts that will be discussed in class. In most cases, reading a few pages/chapters or watching an episode or two will be enough to illustrate some of the main issues addressed in class. Familiarising yourself with the material is advisable and you are more than welcome to keep exploring beyond the recommended suggestions.

Week 1. The Rules of the Game

Week 2. The Usual Suspects

Week 3. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman?

Week 4. Dressing the Part

  • Prime Suspect (season 1)
  • Forbrydelsen/The Killing (Danish original, season 1)
  • Engrenages/Spiral (season 1)

Week 5. Blood on the Menu: Food in Crime Fiction

Target audience:
This course is for anyone interested in the crime fiction in general, and those keen to expand their knowledge on a popular genre in the rise.

Learning objectives:
You will be encouraged to analyse and discuss examples of a genre which responds to changing social debates. By the end of this course, you will have:

  • learnt some of the general principles underpinning crime fiction.
  • a greater understanding of the flexibility of the genre.
  • appreciated the cultural importance of the non-English speaking crime fiction tradition.

Course outline:
Each session includes a lecture presentation with time for questions and group discussion. There will be 5 lectures which will be offered fortnightly to allow time for you to familiarise yourself with the books, films or series to be discussed. Topics will include:

Session 1: Introduction: The Rules of the Game

  • C. Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes

Session 2: The Usual Suspects

  • Hercule Poirot and Philip Marlowe

Session 3: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman?

  • Cordelia Gray, Kinsey Millhone, V. I Warshawski

Session 4: Dressing the Part (from Page to Screen)

  • DCI Tennison, Sara Lund, Laure Berthaud, etc.

Session 5: Blood on the Menu: Food in Crime Fiction

  • Pepe Carvalho and Commissario Salvo Montalbano

There is a short break halfway through each session and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

Carolina Miranda is Director of European and Latin American Languages and Cultures at Victoria University, Wellington. She is also a certified freelance translator and interpreter, and member of the New Zealand Centre of Literary Translation. She has published on Argentine, Scandinavian, Spanish and New Zealand crime fiction. Together with Jean Anderson and Barbara Pezzotti they co-edited The Foreign in International Crime Fiction: Transcultural Representations (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2012), Serial Crime Fiction: Dying for More (Palgrave, 2015), and Blood at the Table: Essays on Food in International Crime Fiction (McFarland, 2018). Her articles have also appeared in venues such as Clues and in the Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies.

Relevant links:
School of Languages and Cultures

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email: conted@vuw.ac.nz

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.