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Black & White & Noir: America's Pulp Modernism

Black & White & Noir: America's Pulp Modernism

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Key Metrics

  • Paula Rabinowitz
  • Columbia University Press
  • Paperback
  • 9780231114813
  • 9.02 X 6.36 X 0.69 inches
  • 0.98 pounds
  • Performing Arts > Film - History & Criticism
  • English
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Book Description

Black & White & Noir explores America's pulp modernism through penetrating readings of the noir sensibility lurking in an eclectic array of media: Office of War Information photography, women's experimental films, and African-American novels, among others. It traces the dark edges of cultural detritus blowing across the postwar landscape, finding in pulp a political theory that helps explain America's fascination with lurid spectacles of crime.

We are accustomed to thinking of noir as a film form popularized in movies like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and, more recently, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. But it is also, Paula Rabinowitz argues, an avenue of social and political expression. This book offers an unparalleled historical and theoretical overview of the noir shadows cast when the media's glare is focused on the unseen and the unseemly in our culture. Through far-ranging discussions of the Starr Report, movies such as Double Indemnity and The Big Heat, and figures as various as Barbara Stanwyck, Kenneth Fearing, and Richard Wright, Rabinowitz finds in film noir the representation of modern America's attempt to submerge and mask its violent history of racial and class anatagonisms. Black & White & Noir also explores the theory and practice of stilettos, the ways in which girls in the 1950s viewed film noir as a secret language about their mothers' pasts, the extraordinary tone-setting photographs of Esther Bubley, and the smutty aspect of social workers' case studies, among other unexpected twists and provocative turns.

Black & White & Noir: America's Pulp Modernism

Author Bio

Paula Rabinowitz's research and teaching are in the areas of American materialist feminist cultural studies. Her work considers the interlocking roles of cinema, photography, painting and material culture in and through twentieth-century literature. 

She focuses on contemporary and modernist American women’s art and literature; her work explores hidden histories within working-class, pulp and popular cultures. Her books include LABOR AND DESIRE: WOMEN'S REVOLUTIONARY FICTION IN DEPRESSION AMERICA; THEY MUST BE REPRESENTED: THE POLITICS OF DOCUMENTARY; BLACK & WHITE & NOIR: AMERICA'S PULP MODERNISM; and AMERICAN PULP: HOW PAPERBACKS BROUGHT MODERNISM TO MAIN STREET, which won the 2015 DeLong Prize for Book History Book from Society for the History of Authorship, Readers and Publishing (SHARP). 

She is co-editor with Cristina Giorcelli of HABITS OF BEING, a four-volume series of essay on clothing, fashion, dress and identity; and co-editor, with Ruth Barraclough and Heather Bowen-Stryuk of RED LOVE ACROSS THE PACIFIC: POLITICAL AND SEXUAL REVOLUTIONS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. She has also co-curated gallery exhibits on women and pulp fiction, women’s sound installation art and feminist film. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LITERATURE.

 

Research Interests 

American women, minority, and working-class writers
Visual culture
film, photography, media
US literary radicalism
Marxist and feminist theories
Modernisms
Cultural studies
American Studies

 

Education 

  • Ph.D.: American Culture, University of Michigan, , 1986 - none
    M.A.: American Culture, University of Michigan, , 1980 - none
    B.A.: American Studies, Brandeis University, , 1974 - none

 

Source: University of Minnesota 

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