Cityscapes (EAF3504)

StaffProfessor Joe Kember - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

We will explore the twentieth-century development of the concept of the metropolis and investigate the ways in which changing models of modernity have reflected and contributed to representations of the city in this period. We will also consider the representation of city life in the context of theories of the everyday and of temporal and spatial organisation. The module aims to give students the opportunity and research skills required to utilize in their own work a variety of texts, including well-known and scarce titles. Seminars will bring together literary, filmic, televisual and non-literary texts.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an informed appreciation of specific films and literary texts which represent the city and patterns of urban living;
  • 2. relate a range of texts to prominent models and conceptualisations of the city developed during the twentieth century and demonstrate some knowledge of the historical development of these conceptualisations;
  • 3. demonstrate an awareness of critical debates around the issues of 'everydayness', 'modernity' and 'urban space' in relation to representation of the city;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse film and literary texts of different periods and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context;
  • 5. demonstrate advanced skills in the close formal, thematic, generic and authorial analysis of different kinds of films and literary texts;
  • 6. demonstrate advanced skills in the research and evaluation of relevant critical and historical materials for the study of film and literary texts;
  • 7. demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to films and literary texts;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups;
  • 9. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose;
  • 10. through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.

Syllabus plan


  • Everyday Life and the City

  • London: Characterisation and/of the city at the fin-de-siecle

  • Crowds, ‘neurasthenia’: Representations of urban modernity in the 1900s and 1910s

  • The city planners: Mobility, visuality, and the 1920s city film

  • The view from the street: Re-enchanting urban space

  • LA stories, 1939: The Day of the Locust and The Big Sleep

  • New York 1: Naked City

  • New York 2: Expressive spaces in the Musical

  • Paris: Naked City, everyday life

  • New York 3: Urban rhythms in Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese

  • Noplace cities: LA and contemporary sci-fi

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled33film screenings
Guided independent33study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent70seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent131reading, research and essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay352000 words1-7, 9-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Open essay10500 words1-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Essay553500 words1-7, 9-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7, 9-10Referral/deferral period
Open essay750 words1-7, 9-10Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-7, 9-10Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Viewing:

Selection of early British and US city films (1896-1905)

Fantômas (Louis Feuillade, 1913)

Regeneration (Raoul Walsh, 1915)

Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttman, 1927)

A Propos de Nice (Jean Vigo, 1930)

The Crowd (King Vidor, 1927)

Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948)

Naked City, ‘A Hole in the City’ episode (David Lowell Rich, 1/2/61)

On the Town (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1949)

New York Stories (Coppola, Scorsese, Allen, 1989)

Bringing Out the Dead (Martin Scorsese, 2000)

Dark City (Alex Proya, 1998)         


Core Reading: 

Edgar Allen Poe, The Man of the Crowd

Arthur Conan Doyle, selection of short stories

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (Penguin, 2000)

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (Vintage, 1996)

Henry Roth, Call it Sleep (Penguin, 1994)

R. L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (any modern edition)

Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust and The Dream Life of Balso Snell (Penguin, 1991)


Secondary Reading:

Stuart C. Aitken and Leo E. Zonn, Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle: a Geography of Film (Rowman &

Littlefield, 1994)

David B. Clarke (ed.), The Cinematic City (Routledge, 1997)

Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (University of California, 1984)

Ben Highmore, Everyday Life and Cultural Theory: An Introduction (Routledge, 2002)

Henri LeFebvre, Writings on Cities (Blackwell, 1996)

Francois Penz and Maureen Thomas (eds.), Cinema and Architecture: Melies, Mallet-Stevens, Multimedia

(London: BFI, 1997)

Screen 40:3 (1999), Special edition: ‘Space/place, city and film’

Mark Shiel and Tony Fitzmaurice (eds.), Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context

(Blackwell, 2001)

---. (eds.), Screening the City (Verso, 2003)

Edward Timms and David Kelly, Unreal City: Urban Experience in Modern European Literature and Art

(Manchester: MUP, 1985)

Wide Angle 19:4 (1997); 20:3 (1998), Special editions: ‘Cityscapes’ I and II

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Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

film, cinema, literature, photography, city, urbanism, space, 20th century, modernity