About the Course

Whodunit?: Mystery and Suspense in Literature and Film

This writing class explores the techniques great writers and filmmakers use to convey mystery and suspense in popular culture. You and your classmates will learn and discuss how elements like sound and cinematography build suspense in film; the literary merits of the mystery genre, and what mysteries tell us about humanity. You’ll read works by classic mystery writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Agatha Christie, and watch clips from early horror classics and noir films from the ’40s and ’50s. By examining characterization and plot techniques used in literature, and elements like camera angles and lighting techniques used in film, you will learn the ways writers and directors build suspense and heighten tension on the page and onscreen. You’ll also build your critical thinking skills by writing critical essays analyzing elements of mystery and suspense, and show off your own storytelling skills by writing scenes using techniques you’ve learned in the course. 

Typical Class Size: 16-18

Course Overview

Summer Dates & Locations

Registration deadline:

Session One

Ursinus College
Collegeville, Pennsylvania
Residential cost: $6,599
Commuter cost: $5,799

Session Two

Ursinus College
Collegeville, Pennsylvania
Residential cost: $6,599
Commuter cost: $5,799
Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, California
Residential cost: $6,819
Commuter cost: $5,999

Testing and Prerequisites

  Math Verbal
Required Level Not required CTY-Level
Check your eligibility using existing test scores If you do not have existing test scores:

Students must achieve qualifying scores on an advanced assessment to be eligible for CTY programs. If you don’t have qualifying scores, you have several different testing options. We’ll help you find the right option for your situation.

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Cost and Financial Aid

  • Tuition
    • Varies
  • Application fee
    • Nonrefundable Application Fee - $50 (Waived for financial aid applicants)
    • Nonrefundable International Fee - $250 (outside US only)

Financial Aid

We have concluded our financial aid application review process for 2024 On-Campus Programs. We encourage those who may need assistance in the future to apply for aid as early as possible.

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Course Materials

Students should bring basic school supplies like pens, notebooks, and folders to their summer program. You will be notified of any additional items needed before the course begins. All other materials will be provided by CTY.

Sample Reading

These titles have been featured in past sessions of the course, and may be included this summer. CTY provides students with all texts; no purchase is required.

  • Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

Technical Requirements

Students must bring a tablet with a keyboard, laptop computer, or Chromebook for use during the session. A smartphone will not be sufficient.

About Language Arts at CTY

Explore storytelling

Want to have fun reading popular stories and writing your own tales of adventure? Pen your hero's journey and explore a diverse range of books in Behind the Mask: Superheroes Revealed, or have fun shaping your prose and experimenting with different formats and styles in Fiction and Poetry.

Find your voice

Take your writing to the next level! In Writing and Imagination, you can build your vocabulary and gain the tools to write your own creative fiction. You'll learn to craft compelling narratives about your own experiences at the college level in Crafting the Essay, and have fun learning new literary devices and figurative language in Writing Your World.

Meet our instructors and staff