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Second Assessed Essay 2009-10

Crime Fiction 2009-10

Second Assessed Essay of 5,000 words

Due: Monday Week 3, 10th May 2010



  1. ‘[H]is evening coat is green and not black. If … you ask him why, he will probably answer that he does it to avoid being mistaken for a waiter.’ (‘The Queer Feet’, Chesterton) Write about the way that servants, service or servitude is represented in two crime novels you have read this term?



2. ‘Mr Audley still looked rather too bewildered to be really the man the empire wants’ (The Queer Feet’, Chesterton). ‘[Colonel] Race was a man of unadvertised goings and comings. He was usually found in one of the outposts of Empire where trouble was brewing’ (Death on the Nile, Christie). Consider what kind of ‘ trouble’ is ‘brewing’ within Empire in the first half of the twentieth century and what kind of ‘man’ (if any) is seen to be able to help in crime fiction written during this period.



3. ‘“Where did she get all that money from?”… “America, I’ve heard”’ (Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie). Discuss the relationship between crime, England, and ‘new money’ as they are seen in twentieth century crime fiction.



4. “That would mean looking at the case from an entirely different angle” (The Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie). By examining the narrative styles of at least two novels, show how the detective’s point of view works to correct the assumed reader’s flawed perspective of events.



5. “Artificiality…is a fundamental in all women with whom one falls in love” (Death and the Dancing Footman, Ngaio Marsh). Critically investigate the place of women within Crime Fiction of the twentieth century and how this may reflect changes in political, social and/or domestic attitudes toward women and/or gender relations.



6. Explore Ngaio Marsh’s use of either Theatricality or Intertexuality in one or two of her crime novels. Consider where it occurs, how it is used and what effects it has on the novel’s depiction of crime.



7. In her influential work Forever England Alison Light uses the term ‘Conservative Modernity’ to capture the way in which much early twentieth century fiction seems to look backwards and forwards at the same time. Examine how useful this critical term is when applied to two crime novels you have studied this term.



8. Examine the ways in which one of the following is presented and explored in any two crime fiction novels from the second term: religious beliefs and practices; family and familial suspicion; wealth and domestic security; expectations about detectives and ways of detecting crime; connections between crime and history; travel and moral loss.



9. You may construct your own question in conjunction with the module tutor and approval for this must be sought before the vacation period begins.