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Night and the City: Film Noir and the Noir Imagination

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1689
Section 001
Instructor Rahul Hamid
Days F
Time 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



This course will examine Film  Noir  as a genre coming out of the moral unrest after World War II. Film  noir  expresses a despairing vision of the world borne of the brutality and absurdity that war forced humanity to face. The atmosphere of loss and isolation in this genre   has elicited a variety of readings, some emphasizing class and racial anxieties, and others the impact of suburbanization and changing gender roles. But this course also explores the relatinship between film  noir,  and existentialist themes in literature and philosophy. Existentialism approaches enduring questions that philosophy, religion and literature have always sought to answer: Does fate, free will or chance dictate our lives? What is the proper response to atrocity and how do we assign blame or establish a moral order in the face of it? We will analyze the fallen world portrayed in  noir  by tracing these questions in the philosophy and literature that precede and accompany the moment of classic  noir  in the forties and fifties. We will read Sartre, Camus, Primo Levi, Eli Wiesel, Raymond Chandler, The Book of Job, genre theory, as well as specific film studies texts. Films will include Fritz Lang’s  Scarlet Street , Howard Hawk’s  The Big sleep , Billy Wilder’s  Double Indemnity , Roman Polanski’s  Chinatown , and Robert Altman’s  The Long Goodbye .


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)