Film detection and the American City

Course Dates: 10/05/21 - 05/07/21
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Online
From Spade and Marlowe to Harry Callaghan and Popeye Doyle, the American city offers the gritty and protean terrain that endangers and protects the modern detective. This class will explore a range of classic American detective films, examining the development of genre and setting from the 1940s to the 1980s.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £159.00 Senior fee £127.00 Concession £97.00

Course Code: HF235

Mon, day, 10 May - 05 Jul '21

Duration: 8 sessions (over 9 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

The course explores the figure of the detective and the representation of the city in American film, examining the ways in which major writers and directors have treated the subjects, tracing the evolution of representations of both the private eye and the American urban landscape in the 20th century. Through a detailed look at a range of influential film makers, the course examines how the detective and the city to allow America and the world to project and reflect on its own experience.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

The class will offer a chronological survey of major influential films, which be discussed in the context of the careers and styles of their stars and directors, cinematography and editing, and in light of the development of the American cityscape and its representations in other art forms in the 20th century.

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Jules Dassin, The Naked City (1948)
Week 3: Robert Aldrich, Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Week 4: Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo (1958)
Week 5: Don Siegel, Dirty Harry (1971)
Week 6: William Friedkin, The French Connection (1971)
Week 7: Roman Polanski, Chinatown (1974)
Week 8: Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Have developed their literary, cinematic, historical, and cultural knowledge and expression through varied reading on the film, detective fiction and the city in literature and film.
• Students should develop understanding of key cinematic works on the American city and the figure of the detective, relating these to a knowledge of the main thematic, historical, literary, and political contexts of the city in literature and film.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No particular skills are needed other than an interest in film, culture and literature.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The class will be held in 2-hour sessions over eight weeks. The first half will be an interactive talk on the film, writer/director, themes and contexts. The following hour will be a round table and small group discussion of the texts/films in detail. Film extracts will be shown and readings will be provided by the tutor.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs. Watching the designated film before each class is not mandatory but will enhance your enjoyment of the course. Films are either free or cheaply available to view online and/or to borrow from local libraries.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other film studies courses on the web at, culture and writing/film studies.

Richard Niland

Richard Niland has published widely on Joseph Conrad and a range of other 19th and 20th century writers. He taught for many years at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and is interested in the various intersections of literature, culture, politics, music and film in different global contexts.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.