Crime Narratives

Subject ENGL40025 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours, 2 hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Prof Ken Gelder


Subject Overview:

This subject looks at a range of crime narratives across different media: short fiction, novels, ‘true crime’, memoir, film, and television. It will move chronologically from Poe to the present day, each crime narrative unfolding in radically different locations: an English village, the Tokyo underground, the Melbourne suburbs, and so on.

The subject is designed to introduce students to a number of different approaches to crimes of various kinds. It recognizes that crimes generate narratives. But crimes also generate frameworks of comprehension: philosophical, moral, ethical, criminal, psychoanalytical, familial, etc. The detective provides one of those frameworks, with a focus in particular on criminal profiling, character recognition, and moral agency. Crime narratives make us think about the limits of identity; they make us navigate our way across the extent of human action and reaction; and they always ask us to reflect on our proximity to the crime scene and the criminal act. Students will be asked to engage critically with these issues, negotiating the crime narratives covered in this subject and the frameworks of comprehension that have built around them.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who complete this subject will:

  • understand some of the key frameworks for comprehending crime narratives;
  • understand histories of crime narratives;
  • appreciate the complexities involved in the representation of crime and responses to crime.

A 1500 word preliminary essay 30% (due mid semester) and a 3500 word final essay 70% (due at the end of semester).

Prescribed Texts:

Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue, ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget’ and ‘The Purloined Letter’, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1845)
A Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890)
Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)
Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr Ripley (1955)
Alfred Hitchcock (dir.), Psycho (1960) – film
Truman Capote, In Cold Blood (1966)
Michel Foucault, I, Pierre Rivière, having slaughtered my mother, my sister and my brother… A case of parricide in the 19th century (1975)
Thomas Harris, Red Dragon (1981)/ David Slade (dir.), Hannibal (2013-14) – TV series
Haruki Murakami, Underground (1997-98)
Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005)
David Michod (dir), Animal Kingdom (2010) - film

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: English and Theatre
Graduate Certificate in Arts (Advanced) - English and Theatre Studies

Download PDF version.