Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Seventy Years of Swearing Upon Eric the Skull: Genre and Gender in Selected Works by Detection Club Writers Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie
by Lott, Monica L., Ph.D., Kent State University, 2013, 167; 3618871
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation “Seventy Years of Swearing upon Eric the Skull: Genre and Gender in Selected Works by Detection Club Writers Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie” shows how the texts produced by Detection Club members Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie challenge assumptions about the value and role of popular genre fiction and demonstrate how the detective novel engages pressing social issues related to gender in modern Great Britain. Sayers and Christie addressed serious concerns of gender in relation to topics including war and an emerging market economy in inter-war Britain; however, because they were doing so in genre fiction, their insights have not been fully explored. The popularity of detective fiction, according to critics, has resulted in a lack of criticism and a distrust of the popular. Christie, more so than Sayers, has been ignored by critics because of her popularity and the formulaic nature of her fiction. Glenwood Irons claims that Christie's popularity is responsible for the “general ignorance of the sheer volume of detective fiction written by women” (xi), while Alison Light theorizes that the dearth of Christie criticism, because of her popularity, is “an absence which the growth of 'genre' studies of popular fiction has yet to address” (64). My goal is to understand how Sayers and Christie responded to modern issues through their writing and to set their writing in context with contemporary concerns in inter-war Britain. I advocate for a reexamination of Sayers and Christie that goes beyond their popularity as writers of genre fiction and analyzes the ways in which their fiction incorporates modern concerns.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Clewell, Tammy
Commitee: Camden, Vera, Clewell, Tammy, DeJulio, Maryann, Trogdon, Robert
School: Kent State University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Womens studies, British and Irish literature
Keywords: Christie, Agatha, Detection club, Detective fiction, Mystery fiction, Sayers, Dorothy L., World War I
Publication Number: 3618871
ISBN: 978-1-303-87402-4
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