The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction

The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction
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36 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Mystery Fiction’s Secret Formula
Delve into the controversial viewpoints on what the first true mystery novel was, study important components of early mysteries and writers, including Poe, Doyle, and Christie - and why their…
Episode 2 The Detective Is Born
Usually flawed, quite often brilliant, and sometimes not even aware of their role, the dectective is a staple of the genre. This lecture will scrutinize the many ways the detective…
Episode 3 The Criminal
On the other end of the spectrum from the detective, we find the criminal. Equally important to the success of the story, explore a fascinating cast of notorious characters who…
Episode 4 The Sidekick
Where would a Sherlock be without a Watson? The story of the sidekick isn't required in a successful mystery but they remain pivotal and entertaining characters who deserve their own…
Episode 5 Detecting Clues
The clue is so imperative to the successful mystery story that there are few elements more subject to rules and regulations. Yet for all the requirements around how, when, and…
Episode 6 Case Closed? The Problem with Solutions
Once you have perfected the components already reviewed - a detective, a criminal, clues, and potentially a sidekick - all that remains is solving the mystery. But as you'll learn…
Episode 7 The Locked Room
Having reviewed the essential components of a successful mystery, Professor Schmid moves to the various subgenres of mystery and suspense, starting with the locked-room stories popular during the Victorian age.…
Episode 8 The Dime Novel
The "dime novels" of the 19th century are often considered cheap, serialized pulp fiction, but proved to be a turning point in the history of suspense fiction. Take a new…
Episode 9 Murder in Cozy Places
As society changed, and the grim story lines of mystery and suspense more often reflected harsh reality, a new type of novel emerged to keep the audience shaken. Authors began…
Episode 10 Return of the Classic Detective
Revisit the role of the detective through the lens of the Golden Age of fiction, including the hard-boiled crime fiction of the early 20th century. Examine how social influences such…
Episode 11 The City Tests the Detective
Professor Schmid reveals how the city is often portrayed as more than merely a backdrop, but rather as a character, as much so as the detective, sidekick, or criminal. Chaos,…
Episode 12 The Private Eye Opens
Often confused with "the detective," the private eye is different from the classical version of the detective in terms of motivation, methods, lifestyle, and beliefs, and is the major contribution…
Episode 13 African American Mysteries
Professor Schmid challenges the stereotypical lack of diversity in most mystery and suspense fiction by presenting the contribution that writers from other races and ethnicities have made to the genre.…
Episode 14 The Femme Fatale
One of the most iconic characters in mystery is that of the femme fatale. Uncover the many iterations of this definitive character and the different approaches writers have used to…
Episode 15 The Private Eye Evolves
As the mystery genre adapted to social transformations, the characters themselves evolved. Professor Schmid examines traditional examples of the private eye and compares them to a modern take as illustrated…
Episode 16 Latino Detectives on the Border
Stepping back to once again take a multicultural look at mystery and suspense, Professor Schmid examines the world of Hispanic writers and characters. Examine over a century of work and…
Episode 17 The Lady Detective
From complicated clients to lusty love interests, from sprightly sidekick to detail-oriented detectives, women have always played a role in mystery and suspense fiction. Professor Schmid introduces you to female…
Episode 18 Violence Waits in the Wings
Much like the setting and the character, the use or lack of violence, and the amount and intensity depicted, can provide more clarity into the mystery you're trying to solve.…
Episode 19 Violence Takes Center Stage
Building upon the insights revealed in the previous lecture, you'll examine mysteries that don't use any violence and compare them to stories that are borderline gratuitous in the depiction or…
Episode 20 Psychopaths and Mind Hunters
In the last century, with the increased interest and research into how our minds work, the concept of "whydunit" became just as intriguing as the concept of "whodunit." Once authors…
Episode 21 Police as Antagonist
Sometimes cast as helpful, sometimes as a hindrance, the police are typically prominent players in mysteries and suspense novels. Professor Schmid reviews stories where the police are at odds with…
Episode 22 Police as Protagonist
The shift of the role of police from a passive, outside observer to an active participant and even protagonists, came about with the emergence of the police procedural. Journeying from…
Episode 23 Native American Mysteries
Professor Schmid uncovers the understudied world of Native American writers and characters. He reveals how the context of Native American settings has changed many of the classic elements you find…
Episode 24 The European Mystery Tradition
Inheriting the legacy of mystery and suspense from American writers, Europe took the genre far more seriously. Travel through France, Germany, Italy, and Spain to see how the genre manages…
Episode 25 Nordic Noir
The last decade has seen Nordic noir enter the American mainstream, though they have been popular in their homeland for half a century. Professor Schmid takes you through this progressive…
Episode 26 Japanese and Latin American Mysteries
Take an international journey starting in early 20th century Japan with Taro Hirai to modern Japanese suspense writers such as Natsuo Kirino. Then, travel to Africa and discover the lesser-known…
Episode 27 Precursors to True Crime
Professor Schmid moves away from fiction to look at the novelization of true crime stories. Although considered a modern phenomenon, he traces examples back to 16th century America, where they…
Episode 28 True Crime in the 20th Century
Spend some time focusing on the modern forms of true crime, which Professor Schmid notes are integrally related to mystery and suspense fiction as the genre draws upon both fiction…
Episode 29 Historical Mysteries
Explore how many writers take the foundational elements of mystery and suspense and move them to earlier periods of history, often mixing true events and historical facts with fictional characters…
Episode 30 Spies, Thrillers, and Conspiracies
Start this section by comparing and contrasting mystery and suspense genres through the lens of realism and how spy and conspiracy suspense novels often take realism one step further by…
Episode 31 Female-Centered Mystery and Suspense
In this lecture, women step out of the three traditional roles they are typically reduced to in the mystery and suspense genre: victim, femme fatale, or detective. By examining a…
Episode 32 Poetic Justice
Often a staple in mysteries, poetic justice is frequently used to help the reader feel a sense of satisfaction in the ending, especially in a genre where many mystery and…
Episode 33 Courtroom Drama
A majority of mysteries conclude as soon as the crime is solved; once a criminal was apprehended, there was no motivation to read further. Professor Schmid discusses how the genre…
Episode 34 Gay and Lesbian Mystery and Suspense
Examine the reasons for the popularity of gay and lesbian mystery and suspense fiction, focusing in particular on how these narratives both draw upon and selectively reinterpret elements of the…
Episode 35 Adapting the Multimedia Mystery
The most famous characters in mystery and suspense are often revisited again and again in many forms. Professor Schmid takes you through a number of variations of Sherlock Holmes, from…
Episode 36 Mysterious Experiments
Professor Schmid concludes the course by speculating on modern changes such as mash-ups with other literary genres, twist endings, and lack of resolution. You'll wrap up with a review of…

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