Metaphysical Detection: investigating the mysteries of being through reading and writing

A Threshold Academy class

Instructor: Zoe Tuck


Saturdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm ET (GMT-5)

July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, August 6



Meet on zoom





In this class we will explore the mysteries of being by reading and writing our way through the genre of metaphysical detection. This genre pairs the questions of philosophy with the questions of the mystery genre, which will be our approach, too.


For the first hour, we'll be discussing the week's reading. In the second, we'll do writing exercises and share our writing.

We'll start by asking what kind of mysteries a metaphysical detective might want to solve, then by asking what such a detective needs to know. Our guide for this will be Jedediah Berry's The Manual of Detection, which refers to and quotes a fictional manual of detection. Our notes from this class will help constitute our own manuals of detection.


In the following weeks, we'll read books that take us through various areas of being, like childhood, gender, embodiment, race, and nationality, while also taking us through different genres and styles. This will allow us to ask how genre and style (and their constituent elements) help illuminate an assortment of different questions.


The reading list includes:


  • The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

  • Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body by Megan Milks

  • The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine & Aviva Kana

  • The Conjure-Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher

  • The City and the City by China Mièville

  • Trans(re)lating House One by Poupeh Missaghi


There *may* be some special guests!


As we move through the class, we'll also inhabit various classic tropes (from a metaphysical perspective), such as:


  • recognizing and choosing cases
  • collaboration (i.e. working with a partner)
  • red herrings: digressions, distractions, dames (of all genders)
  • working outside of the system: what rules do you need to break to get results? 
  • Closing the case. How to pause, take stock, celebrate, review what you have done.


Metaphysical Detection