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Final grades November 15, 2007

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Final grades and final papers will be handed in on December 3 from 10 to 12PM in room 207D.


Sci-Fi and Neo Noir October 29, 2007

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Todd Erickson in his essay Kill me Again: Movement becomes a Genre (in Silver & Ursini), discusses the emergence of noir motifs in films subsequent to the canonical period and suggests studying them as a new genre. “Contemporary film noir is a new genre of film. As such, it must carry the distinction of another name; a name that is cognizant of its rich noir heritage, yet one that distinguishes its influences and motivations from those of the bygone era” (pg. 321). Erickson proposes the term neo-noir because he identifies the films as new forms of noir. Thus neo-noir is “quite simply, a contemporary rendering of the film noir sensibility” (pg. 321). The neo-noir films, according to Richard Martin in his book Mean Streets and Raging Bulls, “not only [..] suggest noir’s continuing exploration of the collective anxieties of American society, but [..] also reflect a sustained tradition of artistic creativity and technical virtuosity nurtured within the confines of American genre cinema” (pg. 6) However, all attempts to validate the term neo-noir and its relation to film noir, deal with, what are by necessity, delicate boundaries considering that the subject of analysis is one of Hollywood’s most unstable genres.


Based on research into neo-noir, I would suggest that there are four basic types (if not more) of production. The first, perhaps the easiest to identify, are those films that constitute a remake of canonical films such as D.O.A, Farewell My Lovely and The Postman Always Rings Twice. The second is that which carries an inflection of nostalgia and make explicit reference to the style and the mood of noir, amongst which are titles such as, Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. The third kind could be identified as those films that pay homage to noir by making references to motifs, dialogue and scenes, such is the case of Pulp Fiction and generally of the work of Quentin Tarantino. The fourth category of neo-noir is perhaps the most difficult to define as all the films I have previously mentioned are examples in which film noir is deliberately referenced. This ‘group’ holds films that do not fit in to any of the aforementioned ‘categories’ and yet audiences can easily perceive certain tropes of noir within these films. Among these we find examples of films as diverse as Matrix, Blade Runner, Lost Highway, Basic Instinct and Black Rain.


Readings for Oct 31st. October 29, 2007

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Ensayos del libro de Annette Kuhn, Alien Zone II.
-Janet Staiger, Future Noir: Contemporary Representations of Visionary Cities (pg.97-122) (Presentation by: Juan Esteban Díaz)

Ensayos del libro de Mark Jancovich, Horror: The Film Reader
-Introduction (pg 1- 21) (Presented by: Julián Díaz)
-Andrew Tudor, Why Horror? The Peculiar Pleasures of a Popular Genre (pg 47 – 56) (Presented by: Manolo Constaín)

Assingments for Oct 24 October 17, 2007

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Readings for next class:
Essays from Annette Kuhn´s Alien Zone
-Janet Staiger, Future Noir: Contemporary Representations of Visionary Cities
– David Dresser, Race Space and Class: The Politics of Cityscapes in Sicence Ficiton Films

Chapter 4 from Rick Altman´s, Film / Genre.
-Are genres stable? (pg 49-68)

Chapter 5 from Bordwell &Thompson´s Film Art:
– The Animated Film (pg 144-154)

Película: Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii, 1995

Assignments: According to what was discussed in class, please write a brief analysis of the movie we watched and its relation to Noir. Keep in mind and refer to the anxieties that were played in Film Noir and the new anxieties that are played in Sci-Fi (Science Fiction).

Please remember that you must hand in a draft of the proyect you wish to develop as your final paper. The draft MUST include filmography and bibliography.

Week 11 October 3, 2007

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Please read :
Chapter 11 of Rick Altman´s, Film / Genre.
– Have genres and genre functions changed over time? (Sebastián Lerma)

Write a structured synopsis of the text.

All texts available here.

Towards a definition of film noir October 3, 2007

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French film critics concussed the term “Film Noir” in 1946. Due to the war and the German occupation not much cinema could be imported or screened in France during those years and the sudden release of all the movies left critics and audiences in awe and amazement. I dare say that it was the sudden release of these films that allowed French film viewers and critics to recognize certain common traits and moods between the movies. As Billy Wilder recognizes in an interview, filmmakers were not aware of the term “Film Noir” while they made the movies.

The French noticed a certain similarity between the gangster film, the police genre and the detective fiction. Authors like Raymond Chandler, James Cain, and Dashiell Hammett among others were already well know writers and film viewers were already familiar with some of the novels that served as inspiration to the movies, such as The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Farewell, My Lovely and The Maltese Falcon.


It is no coincidence that when you look up the definition of detective fiction you find that it resembles the definition(s) that critics tend to give of film noir. However, a closer reading of the attempts to define noir as a genre reveals that scholars have found it impossible to capture and define its essence in any absolute sense. In her article on Film Noir and Women, Elizabeth Cowie (in Copjec’s Shades of Noir) discusses the public’s fascination with film noir and how this plays a crucial role in the construction of the category as such. (more…)

Oral Presentations September 27, 2007

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Have a look at the final oral presentation schedule. Contact me if you have any questions.

Semana 10
Bourbon, noche y mujeres fatales: algunos temas noir
Ensayos del libro de Silver y Ursini, Film Noir Reader.
-Karen Hollinger, Film Noir, Voice Over and the Femme Fatale (pg. 243-259) Joan Manuel Galindo
-Todd Erickson, Kill Me Again: Movement Becomes Genre (pg. 307-329) Jean Peter Kluckhonn

Película: Detour, Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945

Readings for Sept. 26th September 24, 2007

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Cuarto capitulo del libro de Steve Neale, Genre and Hollywood.
 Film Noir (pg. 151-179)

Introducción y los siguientes ensayos del libro de Silver y Ursini, Film Noir Reader.
– Introduction
(pg. 3-16)
– Raymond Borde & Etienne Chaumont, Towards a Definition of Film Noir. (pg. 17-27)
– Charles Highman and Joel Greenberg, Noir Cinema (pg. 27-36)

Exam – Sept 19th. September 17, 2007

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Please read the text on Lone Star (in Janet Walker´s book) and if possible bring it to class on Wednesday, we will use it for the exam. You will be able to use your notes and other texts so make sure you bring them to class if you feel you might need them. Also remember to bring a pen (black, blue or green ink). I will not accept work written in pencil.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Assignments for Sept. 12th September 10, 2007

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Jaime Londoño will join us for lecture on the subject of the frontier. Later on today, I will leave a copy of the text that he will discuss at the photocopy place. The text was written by historian Frederick Jackson Turner and it is called The Significance of the Frontier in American History.