Essay #1 For this first essay, you will focus in detail on a sequence from a

Essay #1

For this first essay, you will focus in detail on a sequence from a

Essay #1

For this first essay, you will focus in detail on a sequence from a film we have seen in class, arguing that its formal patterns inflect and help construct the film’s overall take on one or more of the key themes or issues engaged by the film.
The format for this paper is quite specific, but easy to do. You will write 4 or 5 brief chapters of around 250 words (more or less one double-spaced page), each prefaced by a sketch of or a frame grab from each shot of your sequence, focused on a unique and interesting observation you made about some formal or material aspect of the shot and sequence.

You will then write a summary, final chapter (500 words, more or less), talking about what you gleaned from the experience of doing this work and how it ties in with your engagement with the topic you have centered on. Here are some sample topics and questions, but you can follow your own path in response to any of the recommended or required readings; your only requirement is that you be in dialogue with one or more other members of the critical community you will now be a part of, having done this essay.

Sample topics:

How is queerness made visible, and how is it effaced, elided, repressed and censored in the sequence you have selected? How does queerness function in the text in relationship to our potential identification with the (often but not always) male protagonist?

Noir as and about the aesthetic: How do statues, paintings, songs, scents, fashions, and other objects play a role in the sequence you have selected? And why do they play this particular role in this particular text overall? What do aesthetic objects have to do with the economies of exchange and desire in the text, and with the constructions of gender and experiences of desire?

Laura Mulvey, in her landmark essay on narrative pleasure in the cinema, delineates two approaches to the narrative presentation of the (often) noir heroine: fetishization or narrative resolution, through either rescue or punishment. How does your sequence challenge or support Mulvey’s claims?

The Noir texts we have considered so far this term rarely feature racialized subjects or address head-on issues of race and ethnicity; and yet, as we have noticed occasionally (and as we will discuss in depth later this semester) race appears often to inflect and permeate these texts, often in the form of “ambiguities” and asides reminiscent of Dyer’s work on Noir’s queerness. Does your sequence surface any of these issues?

Films Noir, especially those that are framed as investigations of one kind or another, often play in complex ways with narrative modalities, aspects, tenses and personhood. These experiments often trouble the audience’s and the protagonist’s relationship to the story, and often include radical shifts in focalization. How does your sequence articulate and contribute to the meaning of these experiments as part of its particular text?

Nino Frank, in his use of the term “film noir” in his 1946 essay “The Americans Also Make ‘Dark’ Films,” hailed such films as the “death of the detective genre.” How does your sequence invoke epistemological issues of deduction and knowing; how does it participate in this killing (if it does) and why is this idea, right or wrong, important or interesting?

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