English 4910/4925/4955/5950, Spring 2022

TR 3:30-4:45 p.m., Arts & Sciences 348




Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: TR 12:30-1:45 p.m. and 5:00-5:30 p.m. by appointment


Course Description


This course will examine the genre of American film noir by looking at its historical and filmic roots in German Expressionism, surveying significant noir films, comparing how other national film industries approach noir, and illustrating noir’s contemporary subgenres.  We will use multiple critical approaches such as a structuralist approach to understand the genre; a philosophical approach to comprehend the existentialist themes; a feminist/gender studies approach to analyze masculinity, femininity, and sexuality; and a psychoanalytical method to interpret unconscious desire.  Undergraduate assignments include a summary of a theoretical article, a scene analysis, a comparison/contrast paper, a group project, and a research paper. Graduate student assignments include an annotated bibliography and class presentation, a comparison/contrast paper, a book review, and a conference paper. This course fulfills the American Topics (ENGL 4910), Post-1800 Topics (ENGL 4925), or International Topics (ENGL 4955) for the English major, Literature concentration; this course fulfills one of the Three Courses requirements (ENGL 4910 or ENGL 4925) for the English major, Creative Writing concentration; this course fulfills a Major Area requirement (ENGL 5950) for the MA in English degree.


Course Materials


required textbooks (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Silver and Ursini, Film Noir Reader

Silver and Ursini, Film Noir Reader 2

required films (availability)

Blade Runner

Blue Velvet

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari


Double Indemnity

Ghost in the Shell

In a Lonely Place

The Killing (2007 television series)

Leave Her to Heaven

The Long Goodbye

The Maltese Falcon

Le Samourai

Veronica Mars (2004 television series)


recommended films (availability)

The Big Sleep



Devil in a Blue Dress

Mildred Pierce

Sunset Boulevard

Touch of Evil

Twelve Monkeys

The Woman in the Window

recommended textbooks (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 9th ed.

Monahan, Looking at Movies, 6th ed.

Naremore, Film Noir: A Very Short Introduction


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4910/4925/4955 Undergraduate Student Assignments


article summary, 5%

You will summarize a critical article about film noir in a 2-3 page paper and informal presentation.

scene analysis, 20%

You will analyze a scene from a film in a 4-5 page paper and informal presentation.

comparison/contrast paper, 30%

You will compare and contrast either 1) a film noir adaptation with its original novel, 2) two film noir adaptations of the same noir story, 3) or two film noirs in a 6-8 page essay.

group project, 10%

As part of a small group, you will either formally present on an international neo noir film or television show or you will record a podcast critically discussing an international neo noir film or television show.

research project, 35%

You will annotate a 10 source bibliography and write a 7-9 page research paper.


5950 Graduate Student Assignments


annotated bibliography and presentation, 15%

You will sign up to compile an annotated bibliography of an assigned film and teach the class.

book review, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will summarize and evaluate, appreciate and interrogate, a book of film noir criticism.

comparison/contrast paper, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will compare and contrast either 1) a film noir adaptation with its original novel, 2) two film noir adaptations of the same noir story, 3) or two film noirs.

research paper, 35%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper and present your work-in-progress paper to the class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


Course Policies



We will use the course site for the syllabus schedule and assignment prompts; supporting documents include an attendance record, a course grade calculation spreadsheet, FAQ, a GeorgiaVIEW walkthrough, a guide to literary analysis, a research methods guide, and paper templates. We will use GeorgiaVIEW for assignment submission and the course packet; if you experience technical issues with GeorgiaVIEW, contact the Center for Teaching and Learning at or 478.445.2520. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service to not only save but also archive versions of your work in case of personal computer calamities.


Because this liberal arts course values contemporaneous discussion over fixed lecture, regular attendance is required. Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will be dropped from the course and fail. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond three. I suggest you use your three skip days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and web surfing will be treated as absences. Unexcused absences include work, family obligations, and scheduled doctor's appointments. Excused absences include family emergency, medical emergency, religious observance, and participation in a college-sponsored activity. If you have a medical condition, extracurricular activity, or job that you anticipate will cause you to miss more than four days of class, I suggest you drop this section or risk failure. The university absence policy can be found here. You can check your class attendance record here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

Part of writing in a discipline is adhering to the field's style guide. While other disciplines use APA or Chicago style, literature and composition follows MLA style. Assignments such as in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted; however, formal assignments and take-home exams must employ MLA style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) margins, header, and heading, 2) font, font size, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length (not including Works Cited page) while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a additional one-third letter grade penalty. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to the MLA style checklist. Feel free to use these templates that are preformatted to MLA style.

Late Assignments

We're all busy with multiple classes and commitments, and adhering to deadlines is critical for the smooth running of the course. There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I give short extensions if you request one for a valid need at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. Because your completion of this course's major learning outcomes depends on the completion of pertinent assignments, failing to submit an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days of its due date may result in failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date may result in failure of the course.

Academic Honesty

The integrity of students and their written and oral work is a critical component of the academic process. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." The Undergraduate Catalog and Graduate Catalog define academic dishonesty as "Plagiarizing, including the submission of others’ ideas or papers (whether purchased, borrowed, or otherwise obtained) as one’s own. When direct quotations are used in themes, essays, term papers, tests, book reviews, and other similar work, they must be indicated; and when the ideas of another are incorporated in any paper, they must be acknowledged, according to a style of documentation appropriate to the discipline" and "Submitting, if contrary to the rules of a course, work previously presented in another course," among other false representations. As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, "since the primary goal of education is to increase one's own knowledge," any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty may fail the assignment and the course. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology from TurnItIn. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Writing Center

Writing consultants will work with any student writer working on any project in any discipline. To learn more about Writing Center locations, hours, scheduling, and services, please go to If you have questions about the Writing
Center, send an email to

Required Syllabus Statements

Additional statements regarding the Religious Observance Policy, Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability, Student Rating of Instruction Survey, Academic Honesty, Student Use of Copyrighted Materials, Electronic Recording Policy, Academic Grievance or Appeals, and Fire Drills can be found here.

COVID-19 Statement

Information regarding USG, GCSU, and course pandemic policies (including course delivery, attendance, and office hours) can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1

T, 1-11


First Day Handout

R, 1-13

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene, Germany, 1920, 77 minutes)

Telotte, "German Expressionism: A Cinematic/Cultural Problem" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 2

T, 1-18

Durgat, "Paint it Black: The Family Tree of the Film Noir" (Reader 1 37-52)

Erickson, "Expressionist Doom in Night and the City" (Reader 1 203-8)

Place and Peterson, "Some Visual Motifs of Film Noir" (Reader 1 65-76)

R, 1-20

The Maltese Falcon (Houston, US, 1941, 100 minutes)

Borde and Chaumeton, "Towards a Definition of FIlm Noir" (Reader 1 17-26)

Recommended: Higham and Greenberg, "Noir Cinema" (Reader 1 27-36)

Recommended: The Big Sleep (Hawks, US, 1946, 116 minutes)

Week 3

T, 1-25

Porfirio, "The Killers: Expressiveness of Sound and Image in Film Noir" (Reader 1 177-88)

Hollinger, "Film Noir, Voice-Over, and the Femme Fatale" (Reader 1 243-60)

Farber, "Violence and the Bitch Goddess" (Reader 2 45-56)

Recommended: Park, "Theory of Genre" and "Film Noir: The Genre Defined" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 1-27

Double Indemnity (Wilder, US, 1944, 108 minutes)

Paris, "'Murder Can Sometimes Smell Like Honeysuckle': Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944)" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Vereviss, "Through the Past Darkly: Noir Remakes of the 1980s" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Wilder, Interview (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: The Woman in the Window (Lang, US, 1944, 99 minutes)

Week 4

T, 2-1

Gaines, "Noir 101" (Reader 2 329-42)

Porfirio, "No Way Out: Existential Motifs in the Film Noir" (Reader 1 77-95)

Pamerleau, "Film as a Tool for Philosophical Investigation" (GeorgiaVIEW)

In Class Activity: Existential Investigations

R, 2-3

Detour (Ulmer, US, 1945, 68 minutes)

Erickson, "Fate Seeks the Loser: Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour (1945)" (GeorgiaVIEW)


Week 5

T, 2-8

McGowan, "Psychoanalytic Film Theory" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Christopher, "The Dark Mirror: Sex, Dreams, and Psychoanalysis" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Minturn, "Peinture Noire: Abstract Expressionism and Film Noir" (Reader 2 271-310)

In Class Activity: Psychoanalyzing Classic Film Noir Heroes, Femme Fatales, and Spectators

R, 2-10

In a Lonely Place (Ray, US, 1950, 94 minutes)

Biesen, "Manufacturing Heroines: Gothic Victims and Working Women in Classic Noir Films" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, US, 1950, 110 minutes)

Week 6

T, 2-15

Leave Her to Heaven (Stahl, US, 1945, 110 minutes)

Telotte, "Voices from the Deep: Film Noir as Psychodrama" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Mildred Pierce (Curtiz, US, 1945, 111 minutes)

MLA Format

R, 2-17

Writing Day: Bring Your Laptops

Undergraduate Scene Analysis or Comparison/ Contrast Paper Due

Graduate Book Review or Comparison/Contrast Paper Due

Week 7

T, 2-22

Neroni, "Feminist Film Theory" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Grossman, "Film Noir's 'Femme Fatales' Hard-Boiled Women:
Moving Beyond Gender Fantasies" (GeorgiaVIEW)

In Class Activity: Feminist Film Theory

R, 2-24

Vertigo (Hitchcock, US, 1958, 128 minutes)

Silver, "Fragments of the Mirror: Hitchcock's Noir Landscape" (Reader 2 107-28)

Recommended: Armstrong, "Touch of Evil (1958) and the End of the Noir Cycle" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Touch of Evil (Welles, US, 1958, 95 minutes)

Week 8

T, 3-1

Erickson, "Kill Me Again: Movement Becomes Genre" (Reader 1 307-30)

Jameson, "Son of Noir" (Reader 2 197-206)

R, 3-3

The Long Goodbye (Altman, US, 1973, 112 minutes)

Ward, "The Post-Noir P.I.: The Long Goodbye and Hickey and Boggs" (Reader 1 237-42)

Recommended: Chinatown (Polanski, US, 1974, 130 minutes)

Week 9

T, 3-8

Ewing, "Film Noir: Style and Content" (Reader 2 73-84)

Cobb, "Writing the New Noir Film" (Reader 2 207-14)

R, 3-10

Blue Velvet (Lynch, US, 1986, 120 minutes)

Beckman, "From Irony to Narrative Crisis: Reconsidering the Femme Fatale in the Films of David Lynch" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Recommended: Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, US, 1995, 101 minutes)

Group Project Sign Up

Week 10

T, 3-15

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-17

No Class: Spring Break

Week 11

T, 3-22

Ursini, "Angst at Sixty Fields per Second" (Reader 1 275-88)

Žižek, "'The Thing That Thinks': The Kantian Background of the Noir Subject" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Literary Research Methods

R, 3-24

Blade Runner (Scott, US, 1982, 117 minutes)

Ursini, "Noir Science" (Reader 2 223-42)

Recommended: Twelve Monkeys (Gilliam, US, 1995, 129 minutes)

International Neo-Noir Group Topic Due

Week 12

T, 3-29

Veronica Mars, Season 1, Episode 1

Covey, "Girl Power: Female-Centered Neo-Noir" (Reader 2 311-28)

Recommended: Brick (Johnson, US, 2006, 110 minutes)

R, 3-31

Writing Day: Bring Your Laptops

Undergraduate Scene Analysis or Comparison/ Contrast Paper Due

Graduate Book Review or Comparison/Contrast Paper Due

Week 13

T, 4-5

Le Samouraï (Melville, France, 1967, 103 minutes)

Hayward, "French Noir 1947-79: From Grunge-Noir to Noir-hilism" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 4-7

International Neo-Noir Group Presentations 1-2

Victoria (Germany, 2015, 138 minutes)

Kamen Rider W (Japan, 2009-10)

Week 14

T, 4-12

Ghost in the Shell (Japan, 1995, 82 minutes)

Hitchcock, "Cyborg Affect and the Power of the Posthuman in the Ghost in the Shell Franchise" (GeorgiaVIEW)

In Class Activity: Le Tornado Warning

R, 4-14

International Neo-Noir Group Presentations 3-4

Sexy Beast (UK, 2000, 88 minutes)

Mother (South Korea, 2009, 128 minutes)

Group 4 Podcast: Mother (GeorgiaVIEW)

Week 15

T, 4-19

The Killing, Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2 (Denmark, 2007)

Nestingen, "Nordic Noir and Neo-Noir: The Human Criminal" (GeorgiaVIEW)

R, 4-21

International Neo-Noir Group Presentations 5-6

Elevator to the Gallows (France, 1957, 91 minutes)

Breathless (France, 1960, 87 minutes)

Week 16

T, 4-26

Research Paper Thesis, Outline, Annotated Bibliography Due

R, 4-28

Graduate Student Research Panel


T, 5-3

Research Paper and Annotated Bibliography Due