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Topics in Film and Literature

ENGL 292.910
instructor(s):
TR 5:30-8:30

This course will examine what is typically known as "film noir." We'll begin by looking at how the genre (if it can be called that) was formulated by French critics of the 1950s who were hypnotized by the tenebrous images and ominous themes of certain style of American cinema.

Like these critics, we'll ask what "film noir" reflects about American life. In particular, we'll concentrate on the way these films speak to percolating anxieties about changing aspects of domestic life (such as women in the workforce), new international "threats" (such as communism), and a shifting notion of what history itself means. Readings will range from Sartre's theories of the "roman noir" to more recent accounts of the "noir" movement, including texts by Dana Polan, James Naremore, and Joan Copjec. And, of course, we'll see a great many films, including: Billy Wilder's _Double Indemnity_, Howard Hawk's _The Big Sleep_ and _To Have or Have Not_, Stanley Kubrick's _The Killing_, Stuart Heisler's _The Glass Key_, John Huston's _Beat the Devil_, Michael Curtiz's _Mildred Pierce_.