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Disciplines

Communication | English Language and Literature | Political Theory

Abstract

Noir Affect proposes a new understanding of noir as defined by negative affect. This new understanding emphasizes that noir is, first and foremost, an affective disposition rather than a specific cycle of films or novels associated with a given time period (the mid-twentieth century) or national tradition (the U.S.). Instead the essays in Noir Affect trace noir’s negativity as it manifests in different national contexts (from the U.S. to Mexico, France and Japan) manifests in a range of different media (films, novels, video games, and manga). The forms of affect associated with noir are resolutely negative: these are narratives centered on loss, sadness, rage, shame, guilt, regret, anxiety, humiliation, resentment, resistance, and refusal. Moreover, noir often ask us to identify with those on the losing end of cultural narratives, especially the criminal, the lost, the compromised, the haunted, the unlucky, the cast aside, and the erotically “perverse,” including those whose greatest erotic attachment is to death. Drawing on contemporary work in affect theory, while also reorienting some of its core assumptions to address the resolutely negative affects narrated by noir, Noir Affect is invested in thinking of the material, bodily, social, and political-economic impact of the various forms of negative affect noir chronicles. If much affect theory asks us to consider affect as a space of possibility and becoming, Noir Affect asks us to consider affect as also a site of repetition, dissolution, redundancy, unmaking, and decay. It also asks us to consider the way in which the affective dimensions of noir enable the staging various forms of social antagonism, including those associated with racial, gendered, sexual, and economic inequality. Featuring an afterword by celebrated noir scholar, Paula Rabinowitz, and essays by an array of leading scholars, Noir Affect aims fundamentally reorient our understanding of noir.

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