Film Noir: History and Sexuality

Subject SCRN30004 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2.5-hour screening and a 2 hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 170 hours across the semester, including class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:

Usually 12.5 points of first year Screen & Cultural Studies and 25 points of second year 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:


Dr Wendy Haslem


Subject Overview:

This subject offers a close study of film noir texts from Friz Lang’s M to David Lynch’s new noir 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 history; the stylistic development of the film noir body of texts from the silent period to the present; of new approaches to historiography; 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.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the subject students should have:

  • a broad and detailed knowledge of the fundamental aspects of the form of film noir, including key techniques of film style and narration and an understanding of the transformation of film noir across time;
  • an understanding of the historical and theoretical discourses that are particular to the study of Film Noir and through this enhance an understanding of research practices and principles specific to Screen Studies;
  • an understanding of the importance of film theory and the ability to apply appropriate theoretical paradigms to the study of the cinema;
  • an advanced knowledge of various approaches to close analysis and visual literacy and uses rigorous methods of inquiry and methodologies that are applied with intellectual honesty and a respect for ethical values;
  • an ability to contextualise and interpret the changing representations of gender across noir texts and across the social, historical and cultural contexts that produced them;
  • develop an understanding of complex film histories and the significance of national, stylistic and aesthetic movements to strengthen the methodological capacity and theoretical competency in Screen Studies and apply this knowledge and experience to a broad range of disciplinary contexts.

A 15 minute Seminar Presentation (1500 words) 30% (written up and submitted one week after its presentation in class), a 2500 word Research Essay - or - a 2500 word Reflective Essay that contextualises and offers a rationalisation for a creative project 60% (due in the examination period) and the role of Moderator of a Seminar Presentation 10%. The role of moderator involves introducing a presentation, engaging with the information offered and posing questions at the end.

This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 80% attendance.

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: Gender Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Gender Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Screen and Cultural Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Gender Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Screen and Cultural Studies
Screen and Cultural Studies

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