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FRN2702 - French Noir: Dark Visions of Self and Society in post-war France

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Philip Anderson


Not offered in 2007


This unit will take as its starting point the interest aroused in post-Occupation France by American cinema and the French identification, within that filmic production of which France had been deprived, of a genre: film noir. Students will study the history of noir in France, paying particular attention to representative filmic and literary works ranging from the pre-war period to the present day. They will situate its emergence and development in France in its socio-political and (inter-) cultural context. They will make a critical analysis of the genre and its shifts.


Upon completion of this course students will have:

  1. Familiarized themselves with the history of the genre known as noir in France, with its emergence at the interface of two cultures (American and French), with the tracing of its antecedents in French high and popular culture, and with the development of the genre at the interface of high and popular culture up the present day.
  2. Questioned, analyzed and argued conclusions about connections between the genre and socio-political history and contemporary thinking on modernity.
  3. Questioned, analyzed and argued conclusions about connections between the genre and contemporary thinking on the human subject.
  4. Studied a number of filmic and literary works, making a critical analysis of the genre as it is posited, comparing existing hypotheses with filmic and literary texts and developing and testing their own hypotheses.
  5. Developed a critical understanding of the notion of genre itself, paying special attention to the problem of its crossing cultures and filmic and literary discourses.
  6. Developed their language skills in French, especially in the area of exposition and argument, practising those skills in oral presentations and essay-writing.


2 seminar presentations: 30%
Essay (1000 words): 25%
Essay (1500 words): 30%
Visual test: 15%

Contact hours

1 lecture and 1 x 2-hour seminar and 1 x 2-hour screening per week


At least French Studies 4 at any year level (FRN1040, FRN2040)