You are here

C LIT 303 A: Theory Of Film: Genre

Film Noir

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
Location: 
SAV 264
SLN: 
11805
Instructor:
Eric Ames

Syllabus Description:

Film Noir

The term film noir was coined in 1946 by a French film critic who, when viewing a number of recently imported American films (The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Laura, and others), described them all as noir or "black," referring not only to their stylistic features (deep shadows, claustrophobic settings) but also to the existentially bleak and morally ambiguous vision that seemed to unite the films. Initially, noir was a critical term used for describing a post-war group of American-made crime films and the pulp novels that inspired them (stories by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, to name a few). At the time, however -- and many of these films had been made during World War II -- none of the filmmakers involved set out to make a film noir. Rather, they made thrillers, gangster films, detective films, police procedurals, and various types of melodrama. This course asks, how and when did film noir become a genre, and what does it mean to call it that? Where does genre come from? How does it originate? Who makes it? And how does it change over time? On another level, this course explores the films in terms of their historical contexts: namely, war, race, exile, trauma, gender, sexuality, modernism, and modernity. Finally, it touches on the emergence of "neo-noir," in order to see how the process of genre revision works under changed social and political conditions and in various cultural contexts. How can we explain the enduring appeal of noir as an international phenomenon?

This year, we are partnering with the Seattle International Film Festival for a series of special events! During the week of February 12-16 we will attend part of the "Noir City Film Festival" at SIFF Cinema Uptown. SIFF and festival organizers will also visit our class at UW. Festival attendance is required for the course, with two assignments based on festival films alone. A course fee of $35, the cost of a festival pass for students in this class only, will be applied at registration. Limit: 60 students. Questions? Email the instructor at eames@uw.edu

 

Additional Details:

The term film noir was coined in 1946 by a French film critic who, when viewing a number of recently imported American films (The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Laura, and others), described them all as noir or "black," referring not only to their stylistic features (deep shadows, claustrophobic settings) but also to the existentially bleak and morally ambiguous vision that seemed to unite the films. Initially, noir was a critical term used for describing a post-war group of American-made crime films and the pulp novels that inspired them (stories by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, to name a few). At the time, however -- and many of these films had been made during World War II -- none of the filmmakers involved set out to make a film noir. Rather, they made thrillers, gangster films, detective films, police procedurals, and various types of melodrama. This course asks, how and when did film noir become a genre, and what does it mean to call it that? Where does genre come from? How does it originate? Who makes it? And how does it change over time? On another level, this course explores the
films in terms of their historical contexts: namely, war, race, exile, trauma, gender, sexuality, modernism, and modernity. Finally, it touches on
the emergence of "neo-noir," in order to see how the process of genre revision works under changed social and political conditions and in various cultural contexts. How can we explain the enduring appeal of noir as an international phenomenon?

This year, we are partnering with the Seattle International Film Festival for a series of special events! During the week of February
12-16 we will attend part of the "Noir City Film Festival" at SIFF Cinema Uptown. SIFF and festival organizers will also visit our class at UW.
Festival attendance is required for the course, with two assignments based on festival films alone. A course fee of $35, the cost of a festival pass for students in this class only, will be applied at registration. Limit: 60 students. Questions? Email the instructor at eames@uw.edu

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to the history and significance of genre in film and/or television. May examine one or a selection of several genres, drawn from a list including, but not limited to, the western, melodrama, musical, thriller, sitcom, film noir, and documentary. Topics include form, ideology, authority, history, innovation, and parody.
Department Requirements Met: 
Cinema Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:20am
Share