This page includes reading, journal, and writing assignments

The content of these links is in constant flux, so be sure to refresh. Also, if you find any broken links--or you find newer and cooler ones--please email Mr. C. to contribute.

Mystery & Crime Literature Resources

Agatha Christie:

(Although these links below are from a comercial web site, the resources are excellent:)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Plots: The "Basic" Plots in Literature

People often say that there are only a certain number of basic plots in all of literature, and that any story is really just a variation on these plots. Depending on how detailed they want to make a "basic" plot, different writers have offered a variety of solutions. Here are some of the ones we’ve found:

1 Plot: Attempts to find the number of basic plots in literature cannot be resolved any more tightly than to describe a single basic plot. Foster-Harris claims that all plots stem from conflict. He describes this in terms of what the main character feels: "I have an inner conflict of emotions, feelings.... What, in any case, can I do to resolve the inner problems?" (p. 30-31) This is in accord with the canonical view that the basic elements of plot revolve around a problem dealt with in sequence: "Exposition - Rising Action - Climax - Falling Action - Denouement". (Such description of plot can be found in many places, including: Holman, C. Hugh and William Harmon. A Handbook to Literature. 6th ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co, 1992.) Foster-Harris’ main argument is for 3 Plots (which are contained within this one), described below.

3 Plots: Foster-Harris. The Basic Patterns of Plot. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959. Foster-Harris contends that there are three basic patterns of plot (p. 66):

  1. ’Type A, happy ending’"; Foster-Harris argues that the "Type A" pattern results when the central character (which he calls the "I-nitial" character) makes a sacrifice (a decision that seems logically "wrong") for the sake of another.
  2. ’Type B, unhappy ending’"; this pattern follows when the "I-nitial" character does what seems logically "right" and thus fails to make the needed sacrifice.
  3. ’Type C,’ the literary plot, in which, no matter whether we start from the happy or the unhappy fork, proceeding backwards we arrive inevitably at the question, where we stop to wail." This pattern requires more explanation (Foster-Harris devotes a chapter to the literary plot.) In short, the "literary plot" is one that does not hinge upon decision, but fate; in it, the critical event takes place at the beginning of the story rather than the end. What follows from that event is inevitable, often tragedy. (This in fact coincides with the classical Greek notion of tragedy, which is that such events are fated and inexorable.)

7 Plots 7 basic plots as remembered from second grade by IPL volunteer librarian Jessamyn West:
1. [wo]man vs. nature
2. [wo]man vs. [wo]man
3. [wo]man vs. the environment
4. [wo]man vs. machines/technology
5. [wo]man vs. the supernatural
6. [wo]man vs. self
7. [wo]man vs. god/religion

20 Plots: Tobias, Ronald B. 20 Master Plots. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1993. (ISBN 0-89879-595-8) This book proposes twenty basic plots:
7.The Riddle
10. Temptation
11. Metamorphosis
12. Transformation
13. Maturation
14. Love
15. Forbidden Love
16. Sacrifice
17. Discovery
18. Wretched Excess
19. Ascension
20. Descension

36 Plots Polti, Georges. The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations. trans. Lucille Ray.
Polti claims to be trying to reconstruct the 36 plots that Goethe alleges someone named [Carlo] Gozzi came up with. (In the following list, the words in parentheses are our annotations to try to explain some of the less helpful titles.):

1.Supplication (in which the Supplicant must beg something from Power in authority)
3.Crime Pursued by Vengeance
4.Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred
7.Falling Prey to Cruelty of Misfortune
9.Daring Enterprise
10. Abduction
11. The Enigma (temptation or a riddle)
12. Obtaining
13. Enmity of Kinsmen
14. Rivalry of Kinsmen
15. Murderous Adultery
16. Madness
17. Fatal Imprudence
18. Involuntary Crimes of Love (example: discovery that one has married one’s mother, sister, etc.)
19. Slaying of a Kinsman Unrecognized
20. Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal
21. Self-Sacrifice for Kindred
22. All Sacrificed for Passion
23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones
24. Rivalry of Superior and Inferior
25. Adultery
26. Crimes of Love
27. Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One
28. Obstacles to Love
29. An Enemy Loved
30. Ambition
31. Conflict with a God
32. Mistaken Jealousy
33. Erroneous Judgement
34. Remorse
35. Recovery of a Lost One
36. Loss of Loved Ones.

silva rhetoricae (The Forest of Rhetoric)

This online rhetoric, provided by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University, is a guide to the terms of classical and renaissance rhetoric. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest (the big picture) of rhetoric because of the trees (the hundreds of Greek and Latin terms naming figures of speech, etc.) within rhetoric.

This site is intended to help beginners, as well as experts, make sense of rhetoric, both on the small scale (definitions and examples of specific terms) and on the large scale (the purposes of rhetoric, the patterns into which it has fallen historically as it has been taught and practiced for 2000+ years).

Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking PowerPoint

Academic Discourse

The Write Way: Empire State College  

For Research

Writing About Literature

Writing About Literature: U of NC at Chapel Hill

Academic Writing: Reviews of Literature

Writing Conclusions: From Harvard

Academic Discourse

The Write Way: Empire State College

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library

Smithsonian Institution: American Social and Cultural History

FirstSearch Page: From CLC's Library

On-Line Data Bases at Warren

Philosophy Links

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Essays in Philosophy: A Biannual Journal

Chapter 5 of "Experiencing the Humanities" by Richard Jewell

Philosophy 101: Introduction to Philosophy

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Literary Theories

Literary Theories

From Purdue's OWL (online writing lab) An Introductory Literary Theory

Philosophy (relates to lit theory) A Must Read!

Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism

Contemporary Literary Theory

Kristi Siegel: Introduction to Modern Literary Theory

An Introductory Guide to Literary Theory

Here are some others


For Writing

These handouts are formatted as Microsoft Word documents and PDF files Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849. The Murders in the Rue Morgue Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.

These are Power Point Presentations

For Introductions and Conclusions

For Introductions and Conclusions--from Dartmouth

Writing and Thinking about Conclusions--from Harvard

For Invention

Invention PowerPoint: Common Topics (Topoi)

For Style

Stylistic Devices:

 For Fallacies


A List of Fallacies.

Informal Fallacies 

 For Writing in General

Some on-line guides and writing centers:

Purdue University's OWL (Online Writing Lab)

The Writing Center

Writing Tutorial Services

Resources for Students from Dartmouth

For MLA in-text citations
(parenthetical documentation)

LEO--Literacy Education Online

The Writing Center--University of Wisconsin Madison

Duke Library--This one is excellent

For Feminism: Remember, looking at feminism is a positive and constructive way of looking at issues in society! Students who avoid feminism, understand less than half the world!

National Organization for Women: NOW

Women in the United States: U.S. Department of State's Office of International Information Programs

Women's Human Rights Resources: Bora Laskin Law Library at the University of Toronto