The Blues Detective
First-Year Seminar Program 185
Many writers have found the detective story to be a great genre in which to explore crime and moral ambiguity. This course examines theories about the genre and the African American cultural practice of riffing or ‘signifying’ on known formulas. Reading various works, we will discuss why black writers might have turned to a genre considered mere entertainment, features of the social world they represent, and effects on readers of their riffing on established conventions.