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California University of Pennsylvania Los Angeles Popularity Essay


Essay: Examining the Genre of Noir

Word Count: 1200 words

choose one of the following prompts.

Essay Prompt #1: Nina Revoyr’s Southland employs some of the elements of the Noir genre but blends it with a coming-of-age story and an examination of the historical landscape of South-Central Los Angeles to stand the genre on its head. Compare and contrast the tone, characters, and plot of the novel to Didion’s essay, “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream” and Polanski’s film, Chinatown, to examine how Revoyr’s narrative fits into the Noir genre and how it differs from it.

Essay Prompt# 2: Landscapes like South Central L.A., and the people who live there, are often featured in Noir as gritty, but two-dimensional. They are also usually associated with criminality and the California Dream gone wrong, but Revoyr strives to provide a fundamentally different take on this landscape (and the people who live there) in the novel. What has she done differently in your estimation, and why do you think it is important in terms of providing a more inclusive rendering of landscapes and people?

Essay Prompt# 3: In the end of the Southland, Revoyr uses the biases and assumptions of the two protagonists, Jackie Ishida and James Lanier, to create a Noir-esque ending where nothing is ever what it seems. How, specifically, does the ending fit in with the Noir genre? What, in your estimation is the tone of the conclusion? Does it differ from the tone in the conclusion of the movie, Chinatown, or is it similar?


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