This course traces the
formation of the hard-boiled novel, initially focusing on the works of such
progenitors Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, as well as the films based
on their work, in order to recognize the conventions that mark the style, or
genre. From there we will move through subsequent decades, analyzing both book
and film productions that have reignited this style/genre, and discuss its
value and its place in modern global culture.

This is a writing intensive course. Required reading
not listed below will be available to download and print via various online

Course Requirements


  • Attendance and
  • Informal
    response papers for every book/film combination
  • A four-to-six
    page essay on one of the first half readings/viewings
  • An eight-to-ten
    page essay on either an overall theme or a close analysis of a book and  film
  • A final exam

Required Texts

  • Raymond
    Chandler, The Big Sleep
  • Umberto Eco, The
    Name of the Rose
  • James Ellroy,
    L.A. Confidential
  • Patricia Highsmith,
    The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Dennis Lehane,
    Gone Baby Gone
  • Robert Towne, Chinatown
    and the Last Detail: Two Screenplays
  •  There will also
    be a course reader, featuring
    essays by Alain Silver, Anne Hockens, Foster Hirsch, James Monaco, Mark Conrad,
    et al.