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Golden Mysteries: An exploration of Mystery Novels from the 1920s–1940s   

Perhaps you like to relax by curling up with a cup of tea and reading a story about crime. Why exactly is murder and mayhem so popular and even relaxing to read about?

The mystery genre is one of the most popular genres today, but it is relatively new. The first modern detective novels were published by Edgar Allan Poe in the nineteenth century, which ushered in a boom of mystery novels in America and the UK in subsequent years. In this class, we’ll study mystery novels of the 1920s through 1940s—including books by Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie; hardboiled crime novels; and Nancy Drew—and we’ll learn what made them so popular. The mystery genre is uniquely positioned to reflect and address fears of the populace, so studying these novels gives us unique insight into what people cared about most when they were published. We will also examine why it’s so fun to read about horrible crimes and try to understand what we get out of it.

Dr. Brittney Rakowski is a Lecturer in the University College at the University of Oklahoma. Her research and teaching interests include twentieth-century American literature and film, gender studies, and rhetoric. 


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