This course is discontinued

ENG2575 – Film and the Tragic Sense of (American) Life

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

“The tragic sense of life”—Miguel de Unamuno’s phrase for “the anguish of modern man as he is caught up in the struggle between the dictates of reason and the demands of his own heart”—sets the theme for this course. While the course introduces students to the American cinema, institutionally and in terms of its genres, we focus on film noir, studying several films that depict the archetypal American hero—D.H. Lawrence’s “stoic isolate,” a man who “lives by death”—locked in a struggle with a banal and lifeless world. Among the themes discussed are: the hero as a representation and deflection of class antagonism in America; the influence of technology & war on culture; consumerism and the banality of middle class life.

Learning outcome

To develop a critical perspective on popular culture. Learn to analyze film as an art form, and a cultural, political and mythical expression. Written tasks are designed to enhance students’ ability to think critically, imaginatively and clearly


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

Good reading skills in English. Grounding in one of the following disciplines helpful: literature, the history of ideas, media studies.


The course is taught throughout the semester with two hours per week (28 hours in all). There will also be a number of two hour film-viewing sessions in order to view films. Regular attendance is expected. Students are expected to use the mid-semester teaching break for study and writing.


The exam consists of two parts: 1. A term paper of 5 standard pages in length, worth 50% of the final grade. 2. A two-hour final examination held in the classroom at the last meeting, worth 50% of the final grade. Students must pass both the term paper and the exam in order to pass the course.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Results will be found on the StudentWeb within three weeks after the exam.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course




Spring 2006


Spring 2006

Teaching language