Effective Date of this Description/Syllabus: Spring 2018

Prepared by: Dr. Rhonda Wilcox

Honors House 104, 678 359-5296


Spring Office hours: MW 11:00-12:15, 4:30-5:30;

TR 12:30-1:45, 5:00-5:30


Course Description/Syllabus

Course Designation (discipline abbreviation & number): COLQ 2991

Course Title: Colloquium in the Humanities

Class hours per week:   3

Laboratory hours per week: 0

Credit hours: 3

Division offering course: Humanities

Course description for college catalog: A colloquium on selected topics in the humanities emphasizing the development of critical thinking skills

Course Topic: Detective Fiction: From Poe to Paretsky and Beyond

Prerequisite: ENGL 1102


Course objectives and description: Students will become familiar with seminal works of the significant literary genre of detective fiction, beginning with the work of Edgar Allan Poe and covering authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Sara Paretsky. This course will involve a great deal of reading—but it is reading of some of the most popular authors the world has ever known. These authors make using your mind a pleasure. Detective fiction by its nature invites critical thinking (a major component of the course): How is the mystery solved? Are readers fairly given clues? We will also consider differences of subgenre, such as hard-boiled vs. cosy. Why do we enjoy these tales? We will use J. G. Cawelti’s classic Adventure, Mystery, and Romance to guide understanding of the form. Additionally, we will discuss the social context of the stories, including socioeconomic class, ethnicities, and gender.


Required texts:

John G. Cawelti, Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture. ISBN 9780226098678

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Purloined Letter,” available free online through Project Gutenberg

( www.gutenberg.org )

Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, available free online through Project Gutenberg

Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. ISBN 9781434404374

Dorothy Sayers, The Nine Tailors. ISBN 9780156658997

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. ISBN 9780679722649

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, available free online through Project Gutenberg

Sara Paretsky, Blood Shot. ISBN 9870440204206

Louise Penny, Still Life. ISBN 9780312541338

Jim Butcher, Storm Front. ISBN 9780451457813



Essay One (Unresearched)--10%

Essay Two (Term Paper)--25%

Pop tests / class participation—15%

Midterm Exam--20%

Final Exam--30%


Standards: A=90-100; B=80-89; C=70-79; D=60-69; F=below 60; B+ =88; B =85; B- = 82; C+ =78, etc.


Essay One will be 600 to 800 words long and will involve analysis of the literature but no secondary research.

Essay Two (the Summary Project) will be 1200 to 1500 words long and will involve analysis of the literature and application of the ideas of Cawelti’s Adventure, Mystery, and Romance.


Students will be required to produce essays, and possibly other assignments, on a computer (available in the Instructional Complex and the library; or students may use their own).


A student must pass the in-class final exam essay to get a C or better in the course.


ADA and 504

If you have a documented disability as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, you may be eligible to receive accommodations to assist in programmatic and/or physical accessibility.  The Counseling and Accessibility Services office located in the Student Center, Room 212 can assist you in formulating a reasonable accommodation plan and in providing support in developing appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access to all GSC programs and facilities.  Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist you in meeting the requirements.  For documentation requirements and for additional information, contact Counseling and Accessibility Services at 678-359-5585. 


Title IX

Gordon State College is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.  If you (or someone you know) has experienced or experiences any of these incidents, know that you are not alone. All faculty members at Gordon State College are mandated reporters.  Any student reporting any type of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking must be made aware that any report made to a faculty member under the provisions of Title IX will be reported to the Title IX Coordinator or a Title IX Deputy Coordinator.  If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, you must contact the Counseling and Accessibility Services office, Room 212, Student Life Center.  The licensed counselors in the Counseling Office are able to provide confidential support.


Gordon State College does not discriminate against any student on the basis of pregnancy, parenting or related conditions.  Students seeking accommodations on the basis of pregnancy, parenting or related conditions should contact Counseling and Accessibility Services regarding the process of documenting pregnancy related issues and being approved for accommodations, including pregnancy related absences as defined under Title IX.


Student evaluation of instruction (Your chance to grade the teacher!)

    Near the end of this course, you will be asked to evaluate the instruction of the course by filling out a standard form that is used college-wide. Your honest responses on the form will assist the faculty of the college in providing the best possible educational experiences for Gordon students. In other words, your evaluation of my work can help me to improve, just as my evaluation of your work can help you to improve.


Plagiarism, Cheating:

    The English faculty of Gordon College views any form of cheating as a serious violation of commonly accepted standards of honesty. All student work must be solely that of the person submitting the work. Any giving or receiving of unauthorized help from others or from notes or other materials during the course of taking a quiz, test, or exam or in writing a paper will result in an F on the work; any use of forbidden materials such as rough drafts during the course of in-class writing will also result in an F for the assignment. Note that an F on the work involved in cheating is the minimum punishment; if justified by aggravating circumstances, the matter may be referred to the Academic Dean and/or the Judicial Committee or (according to a rule approved by the full faculty in Spring 2010) the Dean of Students.

Moreover, when source materials are used in the writing of papers, the student must document such use of sources both by clearly indicating material being used as quotation and by giving proper recognition when ideas or information has been paraphrased or summarized; the following principles enunciated in the section on avoiding plagiarism in James D. Lester's Writing Research

Papers: A Complete Guide, 8th edition, should be scrupulously observed:

1. Acknowledge borrowed material by introducing the quotation or paraphrase with the name of the authority. This practice serves to indicate where borrowed materials begin.

2. Enclose within quotation marks all quoted materials.

3. Make certain that paraphrased material has been rewritten into your own style and language. The simple rearrangement of sentence patterns is unacceptable. [It is unacceptable to simply rearrange sentence patterns.]

4. Provide specific in-text documentation for each borrowed item. For example, MLA [Modern Language Association] style requires name and page for all in-text references. Requirements differ for other fields.

5. Provide a bibliographic entry on the Works Cited page for every source cited in the paper.

6. Omit sources consulted but not cited in [your paper]. This point is important. You do not want your instructor leafing back through the paper trying to find your use of a source that, in truth, was not cited. (140-41)

Note that the indention of the six rules above is another method of indicating that material is quoted from someone else; when you have a long section to quote, then instead of using quotation marks, according to MLA rules, you indent. My indention of the six rules indicates that they are the exact wording by James D. Lester on pages 140-41 of his book. Overall, carefully follow MLA documentation rules.


Furthermore, you must avoid collusion. Here is a definition from the head of the Humanities Department:

Collusion is defined as receiving excessive help to the point that a work can no longer be considered the product of a single author and therefore cannot be accurately assessed an individual grade. If I suspect a submitted work to be the result of collusion, I reserve the right to refuse credit for that work if the claimed author is unable to demonstrate sole authorship. A good way to avoid this problem is to get help from the Student Success Center rather than from family or friends.

I may or may not decide to have you submit some of your work to Turnitin.com. Terms and Conditions of Use may be found at http://www.turnitin.com/static/usage.html.


LIBRARY HOURS: Mon-Thu 8:00 am--10pm; Fri 8:00 am--5 pm; Sun 2--10 pm; Saturday 10 am—2 pm

Attendance policy: Without class discussions and lectures, you might as well read this literature on your own. You will find that experiencing a group’s reaction to a piece of writing is something that cannot be recreated through merely reading class notes. This is not just a lecture class. (The root of the word “colloquium” refers to conversation.) You can contribute to the class: thoughtful questions can be just as valuable as insightful comments (though they should be the questions of a person who has read the material). Missing classes will reduce your ability to contribute and will therefore lower your class participation grade. (Significant tardiness will do the same.) Furthermore, specific in-class activities will be used to help establish your participation grade, and in most cases these activities must be carried out during a particular class period. People that miss more than three weeks of classes normally cannot keep up and fail the course as a result. If you must miss a class, let me know beforehand if you can (or leave a phone or email message as soon as possible); ask me or a classmate about assignments so you can prepare in case there is a pop quiz when you return to class. My home phone number is (404) 373-5328. If you cannot contact me or a classmate, then read the next assignment on the syllabus.

Cell phones, Blackberries, and other electronic devices: So that we can make the best use of our limited time together, silence your cell phones and any other electronic devices before class begins,. Exception: Emergency personnel may leave theirs on and slip out of class to take phone calls in the hall when necessary. If you have a job as an EMT (or similar work), notify me during the first week of classes and be sure to sit near the door. Also, if you have some other sort of emergency situation for which you wish to stay in cell phone contact, speak to me about the problem before the relevant class period in order to be granted an exception. All students should remember that they will receive a class participation grade, and cell phone interruptions disturb discussion. Furthermore, texting during class implies that you don’t really think our class needs your full attention. What kind of impression do you think that will make on the teacher? On the other hand, on some occasions I may ask students to pull out cell phones to search for information. Be mindful about your cell use.

Late papers: Late papers are penalized five points per calendar day. I am very strict about this policy. On the other hand, I am very reasonable about giving extensions (without grade penalty) for good cause IF you arrange the matter in a timely fashion before the due date. If you do not get an extension beforehand, then the penalty will stand unless you can produce evidence of flood, earthquake, avalanche, or other natural disaster intervening in the composition process. (I.e., you must provide evidence of a serious problem).

Feel free to visit me to talk about the course (whether you have a problem or just an interest). You may also leave messages on or under my door. You may call me at my office at 678-359-5296. My email address is rhonda_w@gordonstate.edu. If you find yourself involved in an English Emergency, you may also call me at home (404-373-5328). That is the landline I have kept for my students’ convenience. In general,





Read the assignments before the date on which they are listed (except for the first class period, of course).


Week 1 (1/10) Introduction; “The Purloined Letter” (first published in 1844)


Week 2 (1/15) MLK Holiday; (1/17) A Study in Scarlet (1886); Cawelti Ch. 1 (pages 5-36)


Week 3 (1/22) The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), Ch. 1-8 (pages 5-99); (1/23) Ch. 9 to the end (page 155)


Week 4 (1/29) The Nine Tailors (1934) through “A Full Peal” second part (pages 1-127); (1/31) through “A Full Peal” fifth part (pages 128-204)


Week 5 (2/5) Through “A Short Touch” first part (pages 205-308); (2/7) to the end (page 397)


Week 6 (2/12) Cawelti Ch. 4 (pages 80-105); (2/14) Essay One due at start of class


Week 7 (2/19) The Maltese Falcon (1941), Ch. 1-14 (through page 139); (2/21) Ch. 15-20 (pp. 140-217, end)


Week 8 (2/26) The Big Sleep (1939), Ch. 1-22 (through page 141); (2/28) Ch. 23-32 (through page 231, end)


Monday 3/5: Last day to drop classes without WF


Week 9 (3/5) Cawelti Ch. 6 and part of Ch. 7 (pages 139-182); (3/7) Midterm Exam


Week 10 (3/12) Blood Shot  (1988) Ch. 1-12 (through page 114); (3/14) Ch. 13-22 (pages 115-192)


Week 11 (3/19-23) Spring Break


Week 12 (3/26) Ch. 23-35 (pages 193-298); (3/28) Ch. 36-end (pages 299-376)


Week 13 (4/2) Cawelti Ch. 5 (pages 106-125); (4/4) Still Life (2005) Ch. 1-3 (through page 76)


Week 14 (4/9) Ch. 4-8 (pages 77-187); (4/11) Ch. 9 (pages 188-208)


Week 15 (4/16) Ch. 10-14, the end (pages 208-318); (4/18) Storm Front (2007)  Ch. 1-6 (through page 70)


Week 16 (4/23) Ch. 7-19 (pages 71-226); (4/25) Ch. 20-27, the end (pages 227-308)


Week 17 (4/30) Essay Two (Term Paper) due at beginning of class


Final Exam (30%, in-class): Tuesday, May 8, 10:15 am—12:15 pm


Throughout the semester, additional readings, writing, and tests may be assigned.

Any variation in syllabus policy is at the instructor’s discretion.