English Students Construct Murder Mystery Game

Eng 3250 murder mystery game participants

J’Accuse: Murder at Pandora’s Press

By Julie Flores and Jun Dennis Sadang, ENG 3250 students

Who killed Ms. Poppy Body?  Students in Dr. Angela Gili’s Texts and Gender, Detective Fiction course (ENG 3250) gathered in class on April 25 to present their accusations, vying to solve the mysterious death of the fictional lead editor at Pandora’s Press, Ms. Poppy Body, played by Dr. Micheline Soong.  Dr. Angela Gili and Dr. Christy Williams, faculty from the Department of English and Applied Linguistics (DEAL) constructed the Pandora's Press murder mystery game, in which ENG 3250 students took on roles as amateur investigators and interviewed faculty, administrators, and staff members—suspects and witnesses in the game—to discover the clues that would help them solve the murder. Participants included the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Allison Gough, librarian Elizabeth Torres, and faculty from DEAL (Dr. David Falgout, Dr. Laurie Leach, Professor Tyler McMahon, Dr. Hanh Nguyen, Dr. Deborah Ross, Dr. Mark Tjarks, and Dr. Micheline Soong), the Department of History & International Studies and the Women and Gender Studies minor (Dr. Linda Lierheimer), and the Department of Psychology (Dr. Katherine Aumer). Reflecting various forms of the detective fiction genre, from Sherlock Holmes to the Golden Age to the hardboiled detective novels exemplified by Raymond Chandler, to contemporary domestic noir illustrated by Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, students created their own game characters, each of whom worked at Pandora’s Press (as writers, interns, and receptionists). The students contributed clues to help shape the living narrative of the game, ultimately documenting their investigations in Pandora Press’s Crime House Anthology. The game served as an interactive learning model for the students, providing them an opportunity to apply what they learned about the detective fiction genre and its constructions and critique of gender.

(Top Row, Left to right) Alanna Solomon, Dr. Deborah Ross, Ella Willbrand, Dustin Connis, Kylie Cummings, Eliana Stein, Julie Flores, Dr. Linda Lierheimer, Professor Tyler McMahon.

(Bottom Row, Left to right) Elizabeth Torres, Dr. Mark Tjarks, Dr. Laurie Leach, Nina Dies, Jun Sadang, Dr. Angela Gili, Dr. Christy Williams