on specific novels

3-5 page essay in MLA style. (Remember: headers and bibliography are not included in the word count.)

All papers must be filed on turnitin.com. Follow the link above and use the Class ID and password listed on the syllabus.




you can choose 1 out of the 6 questions to answer

For this essay, you are required to base your answer on a discussion of TWO or THREE texts that we have studied this session. To succeed, your essay needs to quote specific examples as evidence.

1) Considering the novels and stories we have encountered, in what ways do the detective and criminal relate? Depending on the text, how similar or different are they in their morals and/or in the ways in which they navigate their shared world?

2) How does Devil in a Blue Dress respond to the hard-boiled detective fiction genre? What elements of those stories is Mosley appropriating, and how and why does he use them differently? In your essay, compare Devil in a Blue Dress to one or two earlier texts.

3) How does The City and the City respond to the hard-boiled detective fiction genre? What elements of those stories is Mosley appropriating, and how and why does he use them differently? In your essay, compare The City and the City to one or two earlier texts.

4) How does the literature we have studied define the concept of justice? Is there one standard, or is justice something that is always negotiated differently in different social contexts and in different time periods? Do you think justice was achieved in any of the books we have studied? Select two or three texts to analyze in your essay.

5) Both Devil in a Blue Dress and The City and the City foreground complicated and painful issues of identity. They probe the question of how one’s racial or national identity can determine how susceptible one is to the exercise of violence and power. The books also suggest that what you can see and know depends on what your identity is (or what other people assume is your identity). What is the significance of race and/or nationality in the books we have read, and how does that impact who can know what, and who is or isn’t victimized? In your essay, pick EITHER Devil in a Blue Dress or The City and the City and analyze it alongside at least one other book on the syllabus. If you want, you could instead compare Mosley’s and Miéville’s novels.

6) CREATIVE OPTION: How would Mosley or Miéville rewrite one of the Sherlock Holmes stories that we studied? Select one of the short stories in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection and explain HOW you think it would play out if it were an Easy Rawlins mystery, set in segregated 1940’s Los Angeles, OR if it were a case for Inspector Borlú when he was working for the Besźel Extreme Crime Squad. Note that you aren’t being asked to actually write this story. Instead, write an essay where you explain why you think the Holmes story you picked would translate into the world of one of these later detectives. To do that, you’ll need to sketch out HOW you’d plot out the story and WHAT ELEMENTS you would change/adapt and why. To score high on this essay, you will need to demonstrate not just that you understand the Holmes story and the later novelist’s style very well. You’ll also have to give some concrete and insightful details about how you would adapt the source story so that it fits with the core themes of the later detective.

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