Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Detective Fiction and Serial: How Holmes, Dupin, and other Classic Detective Stories Shape Real Investigations

Presenter Information

Chloe HansonFollow

Class

Article

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Chloe Hanson

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Since Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, the tension between reason and revelation has been present in nearly all detective stories, either explicitly or implicitly. Notable detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Dupin seem to reject ideas of fate, revelation, and predestination. As the genre progressed, their contemporaries continued to attempt to move toward perfect, scientifically based reason. However, Dupin, Holmes, and others are able to reason at such high levels because of the author "playing God." The hand of the author effectively replaces revelation, the God-given divine truths present in Oedipus, with convenient information from which the detective may appear to reason with almost oracular power. In the popular podcast Serial, host Sarah Koenig takes on the role of detective, though she insists early in the podcast that she is no substitute for a professional. Her sentiments only serve to paint her as the sort of detective working with, but outside, the law; she is the kind of detective that we have read about and come to love because she seems real and accessible. We feel certain that we, too, could draw her same conclusions, if only we had all the pieces of the puzzle. This paper will explore the ways in which Koenig fits herself into the detective genre, playing both the detective and the authorial God figure, as well as the ways that Koenig ups the ante on the genre, both in form and content. It will examine the extent to which Koenig is successful as a detective reminiscent of Holmes, and the extent to which she fails, lacking the carefully placed knowledge from an all-knowing third party that allows fictional detectives to reason perfectly.

Start Date

4-9-2015 9:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

Detective Fiction and Serial: How Holmes, Dupin, and other Classic Detective Stories Shape Real Investigations

Since Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, the tension between reason and revelation has been present in nearly all detective stories, either explicitly or implicitly. Notable detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Dupin seem to reject ideas of fate, revelation, and predestination. As the genre progressed, their contemporaries continued to attempt to move toward perfect, scientifically based reason. However, Dupin, Holmes, and others are able to reason at such high levels because of the author "playing God." The hand of the author effectively replaces revelation, the God-given divine truths present in Oedipus, with convenient information from which the detective may appear to reason with almost oracular power. In the popular podcast Serial, host Sarah Koenig takes on the role of detective, though she insists early in the podcast that she is no substitute for a professional. Her sentiments only serve to paint her as the sort of detective working with, but outside, the law; she is the kind of detective that we have read about and come to love because she seems real and accessible. We feel certain that we, too, could draw her same conclusions, if only we had all the pieces of the puzzle. This paper will explore the ways in which Koenig fits herself into the detective genre, playing both the detective and the authorial God figure, as well as the ways that Koenig ups the ante on the genre, both in form and content. It will examine the extent to which Koenig is successful as a detective reminiscent of Holmes, and the extent to which she fails, lacking the carefully placed knowledge from an all-knowing third party that allows fictional detectives to reason perfectly.