This seminar traces the rise and demise of American film noir during the 1940s and 1950s. A product of highly diverse influences and traditions, film noir is known for its stylized visual aesthetic, crackling dialogue, moral ambivalence, and existential gloom. Its style and language continue to inform filmmakers in Hollywood and worldwide to the day. This seminar positions the aesthetic shapes and traumatic narratives of film noir within the context of American culture and film history during the war and post-war years. As importantly, it explores film noir as a test case in order to probe dominant notions of film history, genre, and authorship, of cultural transfer, national cinema, exile, and the popular.
Since this course will be conducted in a seminar fashion, discussion and participation will be crucial. Ideally, the final paper will incorporate re-written versions of the first two papers.
Xerox packet available from Hi-Tech Copy Center, 375 N. Big Bend Blvd. (Includes all readings marked with an "*" in the Course Schedule.):