Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Great Courses: Mystery & Suspense Fiction (36 Lessons)

TV Screen Shot from "The Return of the Classic Detective," Lesson 10

Many library systems around the country make the online service called Kanopy available to its library card holders. With the exception of one short time-blip of a few weeks when the county decided Kanopy was just not in its budget, my library has given its patrons limited use of the service for the last 2-3 years. We are, however, limited to four movies, documentaries or series per month, so I assume that there may be different tiers on Kanopy depending on how much a library is willing to pay for the service. 

But four has always been plenty for me with the exception of the months when two or three of my movie choices turn out to be so bad that I can't finish them. Honestly, though, the real reason I keep coming back to Kanopy every month is that the service also offers quite a few educational courses from the Great Courses franchise. The good news is that each Great Course - even those that include as many as thirty-six  individual lessons - counted as only one selection against my allotted four. But Kanopy got even better after I received an email saying that my library no longer counts a Great Course as even one selection. In practical terms, that probably doesn't mean much since I have never gotten through more than one of the courses in a calendar month anyway, but it does make it possible for me now to fearlessly sample the courses without the risk of squandering my four selections in the process.

And,  that brings me to a course I'm doing there right now called "Mystery & Suspense Fiction," a thirty-six-lesson class that covers the history and evolution of both genres from their beginnings to 2016 (when the lectures were filmed). Each of the lessons are about thirty-five minutes long, and they are all presented by the same lecturer, Professor David Schmid, a man to whom I can gladly listen for all  twenty-one hours of "Mystery & Suspense Fiction." 

David Schmid is a New York Professor of English and Political Science

To this point, I've listened to eleven of the lessons, including: Murder in Cozy Spaces, African American Mysteries, Nordic Noir, The Sidekick, and The Criminal. 

The full course encompasses:

  1. Mystery Fiction's Secret Formula
  2. The Detective Is Born
  3. The Criminal
  4. The Sidekick
  5. Detecting Clues
  6. Case Closed? The Problem with Solutions
  7. The Locked Room
  8. The Dime Novel
  9. Murder in Cosy Places
  10. Return of the Classic Detective
  11. The City Tests the Detective
  12. The Private Eye Opens
  13. African American Mysteries
  14. The Femme Fatale
  15. The Private Eye Evolves
  16. Latino Detectives on the Border
  17. The Lady Detective
  18. Violence Waits in the Wings
  19. Violence Takes Center Stage
  20. Psychopaths and Mind Hunters
  21. Police as Antagonist
  22. Police as Protagonist
  23. Native American Mysteries
  24. The European Mystery Tradition
  25. Nordic Noir
  26. Japanese and Latin American Mysteries
  27. Precursors to True Crime
  28. True Crime in the 20th Century
  29. Historical Mysteries
  30. Spies, Thrillers, and Conspiracies
  31. Female-Centered Mystery and Suspense
  32. Poetic Justice
  33. Courtroom Drama
  34. Gay and Lesbian Mystery and Suspense
  35. Adapting the Multimedia Mystery
  36. Mysterious Experiments
I've already learned a lot about mysteries and how they've evolved over the centuries, and I highly recommend the class to other fans of either genre. If you are into mystery and suspense, as so many book bloggers and readers are, this one is not only great fun; it helps you appreciate the genre even more.

If any of you try this or one of the other Great Courses - or already have- I would love to hear what you think of them. 


  1. Replies
    1. It really is, Nan. There's so much good stuff out there these days that it's difficult to find the time to enjoy even a small percentage of it.

  2. This sounds fascinating and, I just checked if our library system offers this and happy day --yes it does - Watch up to 10 films per month.
    Unlimited Plays on Kanopy, Kids and The Great Courses. Thank you Sam!

    1. That's great,, 10 selections a month is really great. That verifies my suspicion that there were different tiers of the service depending on what your local library system was willing or able to pay. Enjoy!

  3. I've never heard of Kanopy. Sounds awesome. I'll have to see if my library has it.

    1. I hope you found that they did, Susan. Can't beat "free."

  4. Replies
    1. No problem, Cathy...hope it's something available to you and, if so, that you enjoy it.

  5. Oh my gosh, I would certainly be up for watching a Mystery and Suspense Fiction course. Talk about heaven!

    1. It's been a real eye-opener, Cath. I've learned a lot about the genre...and my list of things to look into and new authors is four pages long after only 13 of the lessons. LOL

  6. Thanks for posting this, Sam. I've seen Kanopy on my library's website, but never knew what it was all about. Just discovered that they offer 10 "play credits" per month. I can cancel Netflix now!

    We've been big fans of The Teaching Company and The Great Courses for years! I've done several of the literature courses (mostly on audio) and my husband done history courses that include video. The Mystery and Suspense Fiction course sounds like a good one.

    1. Ha...JoAnn, we cancelled Netflix for exactly that reason (among others) just a few weeks ago. You can only watch so many movies a month, after all.

      The Great Courses are generally so expensive that I've only tried them through Kanopy although I've flipped through their catalog a time or two and considered some of the audio courses. I've really enjoyed the Mystery & Suspense course...and still have 23 lessons to go.