2018 Special Lecture: Urban Space in Literature and Cinema

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Academic unit or major
Humanities and social science courses
Kiuchi Kumiko 
Class Format
Media-enhanced courses
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Syllabus updated
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Course description and aims

This lecture discusses various aspects of city culture in the context of modernisation. "City" here means not only an architectural structure in and of urban space but the entity of its relationships with human activities, and how these relationships are represented. The class consists of mini lectures by the tutor and students' discussion and group presentations. In view of "city as text" the course introduces cultural, media and linguistic theories and analyses art works featuring urban space. At the end of the course, students will produce a short film featuring Tokyo in a group.

Student learning outcomes

(0) To experience the pleasure of noticing elements surrounding your everyday life in urban space
(1) To understand the functions and meaning of the elements
(2) To familiarize yourself with the theoretical discourse related to (1)
(3) To acquire knowledge of the history, society and culture of different cities by looking at art works (literature, photography, film etc.)
(4) To understand some theoretical concepts to address the questions of "angles" and "subjectivity" adopted in art works.


Urban space, City, Modernisation, Literature, Cinema, Photography, Architecture, Everyday life, Media, Group work

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Mini-lecture by the tutor on a literary text and/or an audiovisual artwork which is followed by group discussions

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Urban space in literature and cinema (question of genres) Understand how different genres define the shape of the image of urban space
Class 2 Angles and meanings + cartographic cinema Understand the basic rules concerning film angles and their meaning
Class 3 Movement and speed + Map-Reading and Ciné-tourism Understand functions of the cartographic imagination in our reconstruction/re-imagination of urban space
Class 4 Narration + films as sites of memories How different modes of narration define the impression of films
Class 5 Cinematic topographies within their social and cultural practices Understand how social and cultural context can be shown in film
Class 6 Database cinema: visualising the cinematic urban archaeology and geo-locating movies in the city Understand how images of urban space in the past can be archived.
Class 7 Discussion and editing for the screening
Class 8 Screening and discussion


Handouts are distributed in class.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

François Penz and Richard Koeck, eds. (2017) Cinematic Urban Geographies (NY: Palgrave).
A more comprehensive bibliography will be provided in class.

Assessment criteria and methods

Contribution to group discussions, assignment, a short film and an essay on the production of your film

Related courses

  • LAH.H313 : Special Lecture: Urban Space for the Future

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

Intermediate communication skills in English


Content of the course and the class dynamics are subject to change depending on the number of students and their interest.

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