April 1, 2022 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

On the cold, rainy night of March 23, 2022, a group of party guests set out to determine who among them was responsible for the demise of famed movie director Roland Barthes.

The amateur sleuthing was part of a Murder Mystery Evening in the Student Life Centre during which 25 students of French 4110G portrayed characters they had learned about in class and put their detective skills to use, analyzing clues and interrogating other characters to determine who killed Barthes.

The Murder Mystery Evening was a final project for French 4110G for four students: Casey Bradley, Alexia Doris, Victoria Noon and Brooklyn Wuytenburg. The four students wrote the story, assigned the characters, described the costumes and set the scene, entirely in French.

“Even though this event was a new experience for all of us, the creators and those who attended, it was a night we will never forget. It was an excellent opportunity to practice our French and incorporate material we had learned in class,” says Wuytenburg.

French 4110G focuses on textual semiotics: the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. The students have been studying the semiotics of the detective story, reading from a French translation of The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe.

Taking part in the murder mystery made the course material of semiotics come to life as the students tried to determine who the murderer was through clues and actions, rather than just words. The students used different hints from other characters and worked together to determine the additional messages through codes, symbols, and icons.

“The event allowed for experiencing a hands-on and more physical approach to learning about semiotics, which gave us a better understanding of semiotics and course content,” says Noon.

 Planning the evening gave the students hands-on experience to connect with the course material. All four students wish to enter the teaching field, so the evening was a chance to learn more about event planning. “The event was also an excellent experience to know what it is like to adapt to situations when things do not go according to schedule,” says Doris.

The event offered all students an opportunity, after many months of lockdowns, for a night out with their classmates.

“Everyone took their acting skills to the next level and truly portrayed their characters. All the students played their roles with ease, and it was so much fun seeing their characters come to life,” says Bradley.

The four student organizers say they recommend group events like this and look forward to attending more murder mystery nights.