Module title: Cities Real and Imagined

SCQF level: 11:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: CLP11148
Module leader: Tara Thomson
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Humanities and Culture

There are no pre-requisites for this module to be added

2019/0, Trimester 2, Face-to-Face,
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: Face-to-Face
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Tara Thomson
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
Teaching will involve weekly seminars to discuss the cultural, social and aesthetic contexts for each of the module’s texts, modelling the kinds of theoretical approach and analysis required in engaging with these texts, and opportunities to deploy these analytic strategies yourself in a student-centered learning environment (LOs 1,2,3,4,5). In weekly seminars, MA students will be joined by honours-level undergraduate students enrolled on the concurrent 4th-year version of this module (CLP10101). You will also be offered two additional seminars specific to MA-level guidance on learning outcomes and assessments (LOs 5,6).

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.

Emphasis will be placed on independent learning, reading and scholarship (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6).

Formative Assessment:

Summative Assessment:

Students will undertake one summative assessment on this module: a final project due in week 14 (LOs 1,2,3,4,5,6).

For the final project, you will have two options: either a conventional research essay (4,000 words), or you may produce a project informed by developments and methods in either the digital or public humanities, as well as urban theory introduced on the module, accompanied by a written critical commentary. Project format options may include a video essay, a digital mapping project, digital textual analysis, exhibition design, a literary city tour design, or other tasks that reflect forefront developments in the fields of digital and public humanities. The scope of the project will be agreed in consultation with the tutor; however, the accompanying critical commentary should be a minimum of 2,000 words, or a maximum of 3,000 words, depending on the scope of the project element (as agreed with tutor in advance).

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Seminar 32
Independent Learning Guided independent study 168
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Project - Practical 100 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6 14 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 3000
Component 1 subtotal: 100
Component 2 subtotal: 0
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 psychogeographies.

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 Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood 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 La Haine (dir. by Matthieu Kassovitz) and Akira (dir. by Katsuhiro Otomo). 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 explore the way particular cities have historically been represented in literature and culture
LO2: Analyse and examine the impact of 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 and real-life inhabitants
LO4: Evaluate how perceptions of urban space impact upon the social, political and cultural lives of city dwellers
LO5: Engage in critical dialogue and debate about the extent to which cultural artifacts can subvert hegemonic topographies of urban space
LO6: Generate ideas independently and exercise appropriate judgment to produce written and project work that challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
Contact your module leader