Farish M, 2005, "Cities in shade: urban geography and the uses of noir" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23(1) 95 – 118
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Cities in shade: urban geography and the uses of noir
Received 8 March 2002; in revised form 28 April 2003
Abstract. This paper historicizes American cities after the Second World War through the rich motif of noir literature and film. But, in doing so, the paper is also a critical consideration of noir's work in urban studies. Noir has been drawn, often usefully but also unfortunately, away from its referents, from the terrain that it most directly summons but also from the spaces in which its contradictions are most apparent. Moving from a discussion of the distractions of Chinatown to contextual themes such as mobility and ruin, the paper links noir criticism and noir texts with broader debates in postwar urbanism and modernism. As just part of these discourses, noir not only is irreducible to certain essences, but can potentially perform the opposite role, challenging conventions of urban understanding and practice. The result would be a more detailed and subtle account of modernism's American geographies.
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