2019 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
Lecture notes 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 Introduction to the course Angles and meanings Students learn the basic rules concerning film angles and their meaning.
Class 2 Bordering space: borders and its visibility/invisibility Students learn political implications of a human behaviour: marking and bordering space.
Class 3 Elements: what separates and connects two places Students learn about hidden functions of architectural elements in our everyday life
Class 4 Landscape and the sense of places Students learn about the diversity of urban space (case study: Tokyo)
Class 5 Walking and spacing: modernology and hyperart Thomasson Understand some unique methods to observe urban space practised in the past in Tokyo
Class 6 Discussion and editing for the screening Draw out a plan to shoot a film
Class 7 Discussion and editing for the screening Finalise the film
Class 8 Screening and discussion


Handouts are distributed in class.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Elsewhere, Within Here (2010)
Georg Simmel, "Bridge and Doors"
Wajiro Kon, "What is modernology?"
Genpei Akasegawa, Hyperart Thomasson
Isoda Koichi and Alan Tansman, "Isoda Koichi's dilemma of domestic sensibilities" etc.

The list of reading assignments will be distributed in the first session of the course.

*All handouts will be distributed 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 style are subject to change depending on the number of students and their interest.

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