2020 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
Lecture    (ZOOM)
Media-enhanced courses
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Academic year
Offered quarter
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 pertaining to urban space. At the end of the course, students will give a presentation about a film or a literary text of their choice.

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 "Ordinary" and everyday: an approach to urban space [pre-recorded lecture] Students understand the overall idea of the course. Students understand historical and theoretical context in which the ordinary and everyday life have been discussed in humanities.
Class 2 Architectural elements and mobility in urban space [online seminar] Students learn about symbolic meanings of architectural elements and how mobility elicits them in urban space
Class 3 Domestic space - the most mundane, the most horrific [pre-recorded lecture] Students learn about hidden functions of architectural elements in our everyday life
Class 4 Walking as poiesis [online seminar] Students understand the significance placed on "walking" by artists and writers in urban space in 20th century.
Class 5 Gaze of a tourist and the sacred ritual of everyday [pre-recorded lecture] Students understand the concept of the "society as spectacle"
Class 6 Review of the course, planning the presentation in Week 7 [online seminar] Students reviews the overall content of the course. Students start planning their presentation.
Class 7 Individual/group presentations about the film of your choice [online seminar] Students give presentation and receive feedback from other groups.

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


Handouts are distributed via OCW-i.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

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 in class, feedback sheet about the classes, a final presentation

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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