The Golden Age of British Detective Fiction

Overview

Detective fiction remains one of the most popular literary genres, and the so-called Golden Age of Detective fiction (1920-1945) is still regarded as a generic highpoint. This module will trace the development of detective fiction from the mid-19th century and will address how the work of authors such as Poe and Conan Doyle influenced the ‘big four’ authors of the Golden Age - Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers. The module will examine the generic conventions and innovations of the Golden Age and consider the enduring fascination of this sub-genre of crime fiction.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

Monday
This session will briefly consider the 19th-century origins of detective fiction through an examination of Edgar Allen Poe’s three short stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin (‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget’, and ‘The Purloined Letter’). We shall also consider the influence of the most famous detective of all, Sherlock Holmes.

Tuesday
Why are the years between the two world wars known as the Golden Age of crime fiction? This session will consider this question. We shall also examine the life and work of Agatha Christie with particular reference to her detectives Poirot and Miss Marple. This will be followed by analysis of Christie’s novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, with its controversial ending. 

Wednesday
In this session we shall consider Dorothy L. Sayers’s Oxford novel Gaudy Night and consider whether it can truly claim to be a “whodunnit”. The session will also briefly consider other novels by Sayers, with particular reference to her detective Lord Peter Wimsey, as well as discussing the critical assertion that Golden Age crime fiction is merely “snobbery with violence”.

Thursday
In this session focus will be on Margery Allingham’s 1952 novel The Tiger in the Smoke. This novel falls just outside the accepted span of the Golden Age, in which most of Allingham’s Albert Campion novels were published, and presages the move away from the “country house murder mystery” to the greater realism of the crime novel in the latter half of the twentieth century. 

Friday
The final session will investigate the salient characteristics of the Golden Age crime novel and consider why the genre still remains widely read and appreciated to the present day. If time permits we shall consider the work of Ngaio Marsh, the last of the four Golden Age “Queens of Crime”.

Fees

Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1635.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1120.00

Payment

All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.

Tutor

Dr Penny Billyeald

Penny Billyeald has taught courses on Shakespeare and literature of the First World War for OUDCE, as well as Thomas Hardy and Golden Age Crime Fiction for the Oxford Experience.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.

Application

Registratioin closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.

Accommodation

During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.