Film Noir: History and Sexuality

Subject SCRN30004 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture, a 1-hour tutorial and a 2-hour screening per week
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 102 hours across the semester, including class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:

Usually 12.5 points of first year Cinema/Screen & Cultural Studies and 25 points of second year Cinema/Screen & Cultural Studies.

Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Objectives, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry. It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit:


Prof. Barbara Creed

Subject Overview:

This subject offers a close study of film noir texts from Pandora’s Box to Body Heat and Mulholland Drive with a focus on the history and evolution of film noir, and its changing representations of sexuality and society. The subject will consider the way in which social, political and moral factors influence cinematic style and subject matter. Topics studied will include the silent period; noir and German expressionism; noir horror; classic Hollywood noir of the 40s; postmodern noir and the evolving image of the femme fatale. Students should complete the subject with an understanding of the relationship between film and society; the historical and stylistic development of the film noir body of texts from the silent period to the present; of the symbolic relevance of the changing image of the femme fatale in the film noir; and of postmodern cinematic practice in relation to contemporary film noir.


On completion of the subject students should have

  • developed a critical understanding of the history of film noir – its origins, aesthetics, values and relationship to society;
  • the ability to apply various theories to an analysis of film such as semiotics, theories of gender, feminist film theory, psychoanalytical theory and queer theory;
  • be able to understand how political, sexual and cultural changes in society can exert a marked influence on the style and meaning of a film ‘genre’ such as noir.

Tutorial presentation done throughout the semester (10%), essay of 1500 words due mid-semester (30%) and an essay of 2500 words due in the examination period (60%). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. All assessment must be submitted in order to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • critically evaluate visual texts in relation to meaning and style;
  • present their ideas in both verbal and written forms at an intermediate level and in conformity with the conventions of academic presentation;
  • participate in group discussion and be sensitive to the contribution of others.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Cinema Studies Major
Cultural Studies Major
Screen and Cultural Studies
Screen and Cultural Studies
Screen and Cultural Studies

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