Spring 2021

Film & Television Studies 096
Film Noir, the City & Existentialism
Professor Hilary Neroni

How is the city represented on film? Our experience of cities is often conflicted: we feel both a great sense of community and an aching sense of alienation. Cities bring all the elements of humanity, good and bad, into close proximity of each other. Out of the history of film, film noir has emerged as particularly attuned to these extreme social tensions and how they impact and infect us as individuals. Film noir is a type of film that has a dramatic style often marked by stark lighting and intricate plots featuring cynical heroes and detectives that have to get their hands dirty in order to solve the crime. In this course, we look at the history of film noir and the city while studying such films as Double Indemnity, The Big Clock, and Chinatown. We also spend time considering contemporary film and television that either falls into the category of film noir or is influenced by it, including films such as Dark City, Fargo, and Devil in a Blue Dress, and television series such as Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Top of the Lake. To investigate these topics we study existentialism, the philosophy most associated with film noir. This philosophy provides a way to think about the experience of the subject.

History 096
London: The Global City
Professor Paul Deslandes

This course explores London’s long history as a global city by examining developments from the medieval period to the present. In addition to examining the urban experience of people from a diverse range of backgrounds, it explores London as a site of encounter. Topics covered will include global trade and foreign merchants; travel and tourism; the legacies of empire; immigration; racial violence and racial conflict; museums and the presentation of cultural difference; exhibitions and expositions; food and foodways; and the meanings of multiculturalism. We use a range of source material to uncover the history and the complexity of the city’s past including articles and books by historians of London, primary texts, visual media, and films.

Fall 2020

Religion 032
Ghosts in the City
Professor Tom Borchert

This course is an examination of ways that ghosts haunt cities, particularly in Asia. Cities and ghosts are conceptualized differently in the Chinese or Thai spheres than in the United States, and we will look at when and where ghosts appear and how this shapes the communities in which they appear. We use stories of ghosts in cities to consider some of the central questions of the Humanities: Who and what counts as a human? How do humans exist in the world? What are the consequences of human actions? The material from the course includes ghost stories and ethnographic material from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bangkok and other cities.

World Literature 025
Tales from the Global City
Professor Ignacio Lopez-Vicuna

What conventional boundaries must we transgress in order to form authentic communities? How can we live together as diverse groups of strangers? In the late-20th and early 21st centuries, world cities are crucibles of diversity and mobility, yet globalization and privatization lead to individuals’ isolation and alienation. In this course, we examine the individual’s search for connectedness, purpose, and beauty in the international metropolises of New York, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City through literary fiction and nonfiction, framed by the lenses of urban theory and architecture. Additionally, we consider the extent to which diverse bodies (marked by gender, race and ethnicity, and sexuality) are free (or not) to circulate in urban space, and how.