Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Crimes in Historical Context
Tuesday 2nd May 2017 - Friday 21st July 2017
Delivery: Distance Learning (Online)
Journey into the 1930s Golden Age of detective fiction by exploring the novels, life and times of Dorothy L. Sayers, and her partners in crime, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.
In this course we gain a greater appreciation of Sayers' crime novels by placing the writer and her plots in historical context, through which her characters spring to life.
Her novels also provide interesting and topical parallels with modern times:
- wars and their aftermath
- boom and bust
- Europe in flux
- social and cultural tensions
- and the impact of scientific and technological change.
We will focus on Busman's Honeymoon and Gaudy Night, where the relationships between Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey are finally resolved, but Sayers' earlier novels, reflecting contentious and political issues of the day will also be explored. You are encouraged to read as many of Sayers' crime novels as possible before the course starts and a full reading list will be provided at the start of the course.
Deadline for Registrations: Tuesday 25th April 2017
Unit 1 Introduction – themes of the course
Unit 2 Two biographies – Dorothy L Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey in context
Unit 3 The impact of the First World War on interwar England
Unit 4 Revolutions, rebels and race
Unit 5 Sex, scandals and science
Unit 6 Relationships (1) Tradition and modernity
Unit 7 The ‘Woman Question’ in interwar England (1)
Unit 8 The ‘Woman Question’ in interwar England (2)
Unit 9 Relationships (2) Social issues
Unit 10 Dorothy L Sayers and other women crime writers in the interwar period
Unit 11 Dorothy L Sayers and religion
Unit 12 Some conclusions
Learning / Teaching Methods
This course is delivered via the internet using an online system called ELE: the Exeter Learning Environment. Students will be given a username and password to log in to the course. A 'unit' of course material will be released every week for students to work through and class discussions on this material will take place in the online forum. Some of this material will include feature films and documentaries.
Class discussions are asynchronous - i.e. students do not need to be online at a 'set' time - they can leave and collect messages from the online discussion environment at a time suitable for them.
Throughout the course, students will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area; these are optional and there are no assignments in terms of essays or other marked work. Students who might like to undertake an assignment may be able to arrange this with the tutor on an individual basis.
As this course is non-credit-bearing there are no exams or assessments.
All of Dorothy L Sayers crime novels are recommended reading and students are invited to refresh their memories of the following prior to beginning the course.
Any edition will suffice.
Whose Body? (1923)
Clouds of Witness (1926)
Unnatural Death (1927)
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
Strong Poison (1930)
The Documents in the Case (with Robert Eustace) (1930)
Five Red Herrings (1931)
Have his Carcass (1932)
Murder Must Advertise (1933)
The Nine Tailors (1934)
Gaudy Night (1935)
Busman’s Honeymoon (1937)
and it might also be interesting to read the most recent biography of her life
Dorothy L Sayers; her life and soul (1993) Barbara Reynolds