Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Helmut Muller-Sievers

Second Advisor

Davide Stimilli

Third Advisor

Robert Adler Peckerar


The genre of the detective novel has been immensely popular for the last 200 years and continues to fascinate contemporary readers. This thesis explores the connection between modernity and the rise of such well-known detectives as Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes. Key to this exploration is an examination of how bohemian hobby inspectors are propelled by novel scientific inventions towards an unprecedented rational thinking, which brings their specific attention to bear upon the minutiae of the crime scene. It also traces these 19th century detectives back to the modern figure, which Walter Benjamin describes as the flaneur amidst the newly arisen crowds of the metropolis. The last chapter contrasts Sherlock Holmes with Wachtmeister Studer, a more Columbo-like figure of the early 20th century, created by the Swiss author Friedrich Glauser. Studer combines scientific thinking and a strong compassion for the suspects with his intuitive gut feeling to solve his cases, thereby breaking out of the tradition of brilliant, deductive geniuses, appearing instead as a normal human being with whom the reader can easily identify.