English R1A

Reading & Composition: Noir Fiction and Film

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2008 Chris Eagle
MW 4-5:30 30 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

James M Cain, Double Indemnity; Truman Capote, In Cold Blood; Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep; Graham Greene, The Third Man


"This course focuses on the period of American fiction and cinema often referred to as �Noir,� a cycle of crime and detective stories dating roughly from 1939 to 1958. We will begin the semester by trying to get at what exactly makes noir fiction and noir films �noir.� In doing so, we will gain a familiarity with the cinematic features typical of noir style (night-for-night lighting, flashback and voice-over narration, unreliable narration, objective versus subjective camera, etc.) and attempt to connect these formal features back to the novels and pulp stories on which they are based. Some of the primary questions guiding our discussion will include the issues of gender and sexuality implicit in the figures of the Private Detective, the Femme Fatale, the Hit-man, and the Aesthete. We will also address the role of slang and dialects in the new �hard-boiled� American lexicon developed by writers like Chandler , Hammett, and Hemingway.

Our method throughout will be a close in-class analysis of the texts. Our focus will be on the development of your close-reading skills as well as an improvement in your writing. While R1A is primarily designed to improve your writing, it is also a seminar, and so I anticipate active participation in the discussion from all members of the class. "

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