Revisiting World War I as Crime Story


Course Description

February 2022 Update: This course will now take place entirely on Zoom.

George Orwell, in his essay “Inside the Whale,” says “the books about the Great War were written by common soldiers or junior officers who did not even pretend to understand what the whole thing was about. Books like All Quiet on the Western Front, Le Feu, A Farewell to Arms, Death of a Hero, Good-bye to All That, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, and A Subaltern on the Somme were written not by propagandists but by victims. They are saying in effect, ‘What the hell is all this about? God knows. All we can do is to endure.’”

While World War I led its victims to explore this horrifying enduring through literature, today’s writers of crime fiction are turning back to the Great War, using it as the backdrop to their thrillers. What was it about the First World War that has inspired crime writers to go back into history and view it from a modern perspective? Is it simply that there is no better cover for plain old-fashioned criminal activity than the carnage and chaos of the front line? Can today’s crime writers deliver the authentic atmosphere that George Orwell describes? Has our increased awareness of the psychological trauma of war drawn us more darkly into the crime story? What are the literary currents that inspire crime writers to situate their protagonists during and in the aftermath of the First World War?

Books to Purchase (will be available at Argo Bookshop during the weeks prior to the course beginning):

    • A Test of Wills by Charles Todd (9780062091611)
    • Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (9781616954079)
    • A Gentleman's Murder by Christopher Huang (9781942645955)

Please note that this course has a maximum enrollment of 14 students.

Priority is given to students who pay upon registration.

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Course Details

First Session: Tuesday 15 March 2022

Course Length: 12 weeks, Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Discussion Team: Linda Benguigui, Irene Menear, Sara Pistolesi

Degree Credit: 3.0 credits

Course Fee: 

$150.00 (standard tuition)

$100.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$185.00 (standard tuition)

$135.00 (promotion for new students)


Course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session. Please note that non-attendance does not constitute a withdrawal.

Students pursuing studies for credit are encouraged to consult with their advisers as they register for courses.

Course leaders, and students wishing to use credit vouchers, should call (514) 935-9585 to pay by phone or to schedule an appointment to pay in person.

If you are a RETURNING student

If you are NEW to TMI

Questions? Stuck? Give us a call at (514) 935-9585
or email us at