Ref: C2523077

We will explore a selection of detective novels and short stories and discuss which is the most important element of crime fiction: the crime, the perpetrator, or the investigator? Alongside this, we will also discuss the importance place or region in detective fiction and how time and setting can influence the novel or story. The novels we will read are: 'The Big Sleep' by Raymond Chandler, Peter Høeg’s 'Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow', Ann Cleeves’ 'The Moth Catcher' (Vera series), Kate Atkinson’s, 'Case Histories' and Sarah Waters’ 'Fingersmith'. We will also examine short stories by authors such as Guy De Mountpassant, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edith Wharton and G. K. Chesterton.

Course aim

The course will consider whether there is any correlation between crime and region in detective fiction. We will also examine how the genre has changed over time.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for anyone who loves reading, researching and discussing their findings.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Note down three examples of how class and/or gender are represented in the novels/stories/poems..
  • Give three examples of how either the crime and/or detective are influenced by place region or community
  • Confidently discuss how crime ficion has changed over time
  • Give three examples of the different 'types' of detective and/or detective fiction

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need to purchase or borrow the following: 'The Big Sleep' by Raymond Chandler, Ann Cleeves' 'The Moth Catcher, Kate Atkinson's 'Case Histories', Sarah Water's 'Fingersmith' and Peter Hoeg's 'Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow'.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • It would be helpful (but not essential) for you to read the novels before the course begins. You will find it helpful to read the extracts/short stories, etc before the weekly session.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course outline

Literature Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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