Module title: Cities real and imagined

SCQF level: 10:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: CLP10101
Module leader: Tara Thomson
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Humanities and Culture

Module Code CLP09129.
Any SCQF 9 module in literature, film, photography, cultural studies, sociology, psychology, or related discipline (at module leader discretion).

2019/0, Trimester 2, FACE-TO-FACE, Edinburgh Napier University
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: FACE-TO-FACE
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Partner: Edinburgh Napier University
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Tara Thomson
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
Teaching will involve weekly lectures giving the literary/filmic and social context for each of the module’s texts and will also model the kinds of analysis required in engaging with these texts (LOs 1,2,3,4,5). In tutorials, you will then have the opportunity to deploy these analytic strategies yourself in a student-centred learning environment. From the first week of the module you will be actively addressing LOs 1, 2 and 3 in tutorials, and as the module progresses and you develop confidence and expertise you will also engage with LOs 4 and 5 during tutorial sessions. The assignments are designed to emulate this progress, beginning with the earlier LOs and culminating in the advanced LOs. Emphasis will be placed on independent learning, reading and scholarship (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), and this independent learning will be documented throughout the trimester in a blogging assignment (LO 1, 2, and 3). Blogs will be shared with the class and used to shape tutorial discussions, providing you with peer and tutor feedback on your ideas, and helping you to develop your critical analyses of the content to meet LOs 4 and 5 in discussions and in the final project. A range of interactive and creative learning and teaching methods will be used to cater for different learning styles, including interactive discussion, individual oral contributions and small group work, independent research, reading and writing, in-class project work such as mapping literary texts, online discussion and listening.

Formative Assessment:
There are no separate formative assessment tasks assigned on this module. However, students will receive formative feedback on their blogs from classmates, in the form of blog comments, and classmate and tutor oral feedback on their blog posts as part of weekly tutorial discussions.

Summative Assessment:
Students will undertake two summative assessments on this module: 1) a blog, with a rolling deadline for individual posts from week 3 to week 12 (LOs 1, 2, 3); and 2) a final project due in week 14 (LOs 1,2,3,4,5).

For the blog assessment, you will be asked to form a group of 3 to 5 students and your group will set up and design a shared blog page on WordPress (a free open-source blogging platform). Each student in the group will write three blog posts each throughout the trimester (800 words per post), and each student will be assessed individually, on your own written contributions. The blog will be assessed at week 12, with all posts taken together as a portfolio. Your collaborative activities will not feed into the assessment grade, but you will receive feedback from your tutor on your blog design and management that may help you to more effectively plan future collaborative and online projects.

For the individual blog posts, you will be given the option to use a wide range of formats, including audio and video recordings (such as podcasts or short films), image curation and production (with commentary), reflective commentary, traditional close reading, creative writing and more. The range of formats will cater to different learning styles, and give you the opportunity to engage with different methods of cultural analysis and online knowledge production. As part of this assessment, you will also be asked to comment periodically on other students’ blog posts, to promote discussion and provide formative peer feedback.

For the final project, you will be offered a range of critical and creative writing options, including a traditional written essay, a video essay with critical commentary, or mapping activities with accompanying critical commentary.

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Independent Learning Guided independent study 170
Face To Face Lecture 10
Face To Face Tutorial 20
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Portfolio 50 1-3 12 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 2500
Project - Written 50 1-5 14 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 2500
Component 1 subtotal: 50
Component 2 subtotal: 50
Module subtotal: 100

Description of module content:

On this module you will explore the idea that cities are more than mere physical places: instead, as some critics have said, cities ’are feats of the imagination and they affect the ability to imagine’. This module takes both contentions seriously, grappling with a diverse array of literary and cultural representations of urban space. Given that more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, the study of urban representation is more relevant than ever. Throughout this module, we will engage with theoretical concepts from cultural geography and urban studies to ask how literature, film and culture imagine the city and what unpalatable cruelties or empowering possibilities they discern in urban space. Indicative topics include: Urban representation and imagining the city; the sensory geography of urban space; gendered urban experience; urban space and social exclusion; dystopian urban fictions; and psychic geographies.

Studying a wide range of works about cities will build a critical understanding of the different ways authors and filmmakers have responded to urban geography. The city has always been pivotal to literary and cultural developments, particularly since the nineteenth century rise of urbanisation, and on this module we will scrutinise how literary and cinematic depictions of the city and the city-dweller have changed over time. We will begin the module by looking at nineteenth-century classics such as Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Man of the Crowd’ and Charles Baudelaire’s famous poetry of nineteenth century Paris (in translation). We will then read influential modernist gems like Jean Rhys's Quartet and Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, followed by postmodern and contemporary depictions of urban space, like Paul Auster’s City of Glass, the works of Joan Didion, and films like Chungking Express (dir. by Wong Kar-Wai) and City of God (dir. by Fernando Mereilles). Simultaneously, we will examine how changes in urban geography underpinned and enabled particular cultural tropes and movements, notably twentieth-century modernism and postmodernism, and how more contemporary works attempt to critically revise historical representations of the city and urban experience. Throughout the module, we will put our city fictions in dialogue with interdisciplinary readings analysing the city as an arena for economic, political and social action.

Learning Outcomes for module:

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:
LO1: critically reflect on the way particular cities have historically been represented in literature and culture
LO2: analyse particular literary and cultural representations of urban space
LO3: critically reflect on the ways literary and cultural representations of cities construct the identities of their fictional inhabitants
LO4: conclude how perceptions of urban space impact upon the social and cultural lives of city dwellers
LO5: appraise the extent to which cultural artifacts can subvert hegemonic topographies of urban space

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
CLP10101 Cities Real and Imagined