Honors Projects


Seamus CoonFollow


Published from 1970–1991, Joseph Hansen’s “Dave Brandstetter” series consists of twelve novels written in the hard-boiled detective style, featuring a relatively-out gay insurance detective as the titular protagonist. Many novels discuss then-contemporary social issues, including the ninth novel, Early Graves (1987), which attempts to address the AIDS crisis. The “Brandstetter” series has not been the subject of much scholarship, let alone individual novels in the series. This project attends to how the “Brandstetter” series typically embodies the hard-boiled genre more than it subverts it, as well as how Early Graves is forced to become subversive as the limitations of the hard-boiled detective genre conflict with the stakes of the AIDS crisis. Ultimately, the novel tries to cling to whatever conventional normalcy it can but is not entirely successful. In observing how the novel tries, and at times, fails to maintain its conventions, Early Graves reveals patterns of ideological prioritization which evidence both the limitations of the hard-boiled form and the novel’s attempt to cope with a jarring and tragic change in its world.


Integrated Language Arts Education

First Advisor

Bill Albertini

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Julie A. Haught

Second Advisor Department

Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2024