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English 301 | Naked  in Black & White
Psychological Snapshots from Film Noir to Pulp Fiction
A Special Summer 2006 Version of the Psychological Novel

William Anthony Nericcio, Professor of English and Comparative Literature,
Latin American & Chicana/o Studies, SDSU | 594.1524 | |

gildaladyIt lies.  The SDSU catalogue lies.

You open it and it tells you, "Psychological novel from its inception to present, including major works from a variety of cultures. Readings designed to aid students in discovering insights that great novelists have unearthed in their explorations of the human psyche. Prerequisites: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations II.C., Humanities." Don't listen to it. Don't fall for that scam. It's perjury with a capital "P."

Well, OK, maybe "lie" is too strong a word, too bold a claim. Let's just say, keeping it between you and me, that the old boiler-plate catalogue description tries to do too much and say too much, when all you really have to know about our peculiar summer exploration is that we will be spending a lot of time in the dark, a lot of time in the dark naked.

Ok, so now, I am lying.

gunPsychology, the human psyche in general--especially if we are to be influenced by the writing of a guy named Sigmund Freud--is a place of the dark, a place that is hidden, a place that is raw, closeted, clever, evasive, but, at the same time, it is a place as well that is very, very, naked, open, exposed, and at risk.

You doubt me? Start writing down your dreams during the course of this term and you'll shortly be very surprised by what you'll see. You'll see too much, be too naked on the page and on the silver screen.

lakeNot surprisingly, that's what the writers, artists, and directors we will experience have in store for us in the days that follow.

markerIn the six fast weeks that comprise this class, we will make the time to study closely a very particular and ultra-peculiar branch of "literature"--and let me make it clear here in the syllabus that when I write "literature" or use the word "text," I am talking about novels, short stories, and poetry--you'd expect that--, but I am speaking as well about films, graphic art, painting, and photography as well: in short, if it is capable of expressing a story, a dark sordid pulp fictiony and film noirish exposé on the workings of the soul, on the gyrations of the human mind, we are going to be down on it like gum on the shoe of a detective. 

"Film Noir" is a key genre from the medium of Film; "Pulp Fiction," trashy, dark, and cheap, is a key genre from the medium of Writing--one of the most interesting developments in publishing and writing in the 20th Century. Each give us weapons to unpack and lay bare the workings, the deep, dark, quirky, sexy, and obscene dynamics of the unconscious mind.


Edgar Allen Poe Short Stories, TBA
Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Charles Bukowski Pulp
Gabriel García Márquez Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Ann Bannon I am a Woman
Gilbert Hernandez  Blood of Palomar
Daniel Chavarria Adios Muchachos 
Chris Ware  Acme Novelty Library
Rosina Conde
Woman on the Road


Chris Marker La Jetee, 1962
Fritz Lang M, 1931
Frank Tuttle This Gun For Hire, 1942
Orson Welles  Touch of Evil, 1958
Henri-Georges Clouzot Les Diaboliques, 1955
Orson Welles The Lady From Shanghai, 1947
Charles Vidor Gilda. 1946
Quentin Tarantino Pulp Fiction, 1994
Georges Franjou Eyes Without a Face, 1959



This class deals with ADULT issues and activities. If you are squeamish about insanity, human sexuality, erotic taboos or if graphic art, literature and film leave you weak, angry, disgusted etc., PLEASE drop this class BEFORE you get the urge to call on your parents and clergy to remove your scandalous professor from his job! This is a university-level course exploring usually hidden elements of the human psyche: you should EXPECT to be disturbed and moved. 


ENGL  301 | Schedule Number 01433 | Title: Psychological Novel | 3 UNITS | May 24 - Jul 6 | 1200 1340 MTWTH | classroom AH-4176


This is NOT one of those pathetic, waste-of-time, high school-style classes where you can skip the readings, bs, forget to go to class, and get a solid "C." Members of our "NAKED IN BLACK AND WHITE" seminar must attend class having COMPLETED the reading and prepared to participate in class discussions. While I understand that NOT ALL STUDENTS ARE COMFORTABLE contributing to class discussion, I nevertheless expect you to exhibit signs of intellectual life and to share your curiosity, questions, gripes, and views on a regular basis. Undergraduates who know they are going to miss more than three sessions, for WHATEVER reason, during the term should look for another summer class.


Regarding quizzes and other torturous in-class surprises, NOTHING WILL BE WRITTEN IN STONE; the hotter and more lively the class discussions (NOT BY THE SAME THREE PEOPLE), the fewer busywork quizzes all of us will have to endure. There will be TWO written essay assignnments during our summer semester: the first essay will be an in-class short essay challenge; the second will be a 5-8 page researched IMAGINATION CHALLENGE that will make use of at least TWO published outside scholarly books related to YOUR chosen subject. NOTE: WHILE I WILL PROVIDE PROMPTS FOR THIS ESSAY, STUDENTS WILL BE ENCOURAGED TO DEVELOP AND PURSUE THEIR OWN THESES!


There will be a comprehensive, in-class final exam on the final day of our class, THURSDAY JULY 6, 2006. 


Plagiarism comes from the Latin word, "plagiarum" which means KIDNAPPING--not a GOOD thing. In the university, plagiarism refers to the art and crime of presenting other people's work under your own signature--definitely a bad thing. While the professor is forbidden by CSU/SDSU code from tattooing the word LOSER on the foreheads of guilty students, he can promise that felonious students will be remanded to the state-authorized SDSU executioners.


My office hours are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 to 12 and by appointment. Contrary to legends passed around by legions of SDSU undergraduate doofi (plural for doofus), "office hours" are not time periods set aside for students to "suck up" to professors in need of worship.  Office hours are times set aside by scholars for students in need of class assistance, etc.  USC has a great handbook for undergraduates that addresses the mysteries of "office hours"  and other undergraduate essentials: take a peek--the "office hours" description is toward the bottom of the page.


33%     Attendance | Quizzes 
33%     Essays 
33%     Exams 
1%      Attitude | Ganas | Chutzpah

Pulp/Noir Web Resources

Palace | Old Films Resource

Pulp Friction | Overview Article

brook barmanPulp/Noir Teaching Assistant

I am happy to announce more support for undergraduates taking our summer noir/pulp extravaganza/adventure.

Brook Barman, a senior Art and Literature student here at SDSU, will be acting as my Teaching Assistant for this section of E301.  She will shortly post her office hours.

Her contact info is here:  

Brook Barman,TA
E301 Professor William Nericcio