ENG 382 Seminar: Reading Amer. Lit., Topic: Film Noir and American Fiction 1930-1950

Dean Flower, T 3:00 PM-4:50 PM

 Topic: Film Noir and American Fiction, 1930-1950.  Discussion of the relation between the "hard-boiled" school of American writing—from Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler in the 1930s to Dorothy B. Hughes and Patricia Highsmith in 1950—and the film genre that emerged when these works were adapted for the screen.  The films of such directors as John Huston, Michael Curtiz,  Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray, and Alfred Hitchcock will be discussed, with some attention to the Neo-Noir phenomenon of the 1970s (Roman Polanski) and after. Topics will include the popular reception of such bleak and violent narratives, their capacity for disruption and social critique, their extreme representations of misogyny and patriarchy, their distinctive styles and aesthetic principles, their European sources, and their inbreeding effects on one another.

The following is the syllabus used in 2011. The works to be studied will be very similar but not identical.

Required reading (books available at the Campus Center bookstore)

Dashiell Hammet, The Maltese Falcon (Vintage)

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (Vintage)

James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce (Vintage)

Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (Da Capo)

Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place (Feminist Press)

Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train (Norton)

Required viewing (two DVDs of each film are on reserve in Neilson)

The Maltese Falcon (1941), dir. John Huston

The Big Sleep (1946), dir. Howard Hawks

Mildred Pierce (1945), dir. Michael Curtiz

Double Indemnity (1944), dir. Billy Wilder

The Woman in the Window (1945), dir. Fritz Lang

In a Lonely Place (1950), dir. Nicholas Ray

Strangers on a Train (1951). dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Chinatown (1974), dir. Roman Polanski

Applicants for this seminar should send an email request to dflower@smith.edu, providing your major, class year, contact information, a listing of course work appropriate to the subject, and a brief indication of the nature of your interest. Those accepted will be informed within a week after the close of pre-registration this spring.