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Film Noir: History and Sexuality (SCRN30004)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codeSCRN30004
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject offers a close study of the phenomenon of film noir from its precursors in silent cinema, through classical and B film noir, to digital cinema. Film Noir: History and Sexuality will invite students to consider the way in which cultural, political and technological factors influence the aesthetics, narrative form and style of film noir. A key focus of this subject will be the changing representations of gender and sexuality and the challenges posed to regimes of censorship in cinema. Movements studied will include the silent film; German expressionism; classical Hollywood noir; noir revised by New Wave directors (particularly in France and Hong Kong), postmodern noir, post-noir and digital noir in the broader media ecology. Students should complete the subject with an understanding of various approaches to film historiography (including an exploration of archival histories, media archaeologies, intersections of memory and history as well as digital histories), a comprehensive synthesis of noir and its variants and an opportunity to connect theory and practice using digital tools.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should have:

  • a broad and detailed knowledge of the fundamental characteristics of film noir and an understanding of the transformation of its aesthetic and narrative across time;
  • a clear understanding of the historical and theoretical discourse specific to the study of Film Noir and the application of research principles and practices available to Screen Studies scholars;
  • an advanced knowledge of various approaches to close analysis and visual literacy and 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 within the cultural, historical and technological 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; and
  • an understanding of the importance of film theory and the ability to apply translate theoretical paradigms to inform the creation of content using digital tools.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:

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

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

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

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • A 15 minute Seminar Presentation, 1,500 words, (30%), written up and submitted one week after its presentation in class
  • A 2,500 word essay. This could take the form of a Research Essay, a Video Essay, an interactive Noir Media Archaeology, or a Reflective Essay that contextualises and offers a rationalisation for a creative project. (50%), due in the examination period
  • Contribution to a Digital Noir Map (500 words – equivalent), 20%, due in week 9
  • Hurdle: 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.

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorWendy Haslem
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hoursTotal 56 hours: a 2.5-hour screening and a 2 hour seminar per week.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

Last updated: 10 August 2019