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Imagining the City


Admission requirements

This course is available for students in the BA Urban Studies programme and to a limited amount of external students.


The course is divided in twelve lectures for all students, and four small-scale tutorial work groups. The divison between the two is that in the lectures concepts are introduced in relation to a humanities approach to urbanism In the work groups students are putting the concepts into practice.

In the lectures we consider:
1) How we can systematically study urban environments, from a humanities perspective, as a complex of human-technological interactions. We take serious here, that the humanities’ object of study is a host of “cultural techniques”. If the dominant medium of architecture is space, this is always a shape-in-process: the shaping of space. This shaping of space does ntot take place independently: it is always a lived space, or a space of living.
2) We study this shaping of space firstlly in relation to tropes that have propelled the production of space, and are adequate tools to analyze these. One such trope is the ‘body politic’, another one the city as a jungle, or as a labyrinth, or as a utopian space.
3) Secondly we study the city in relation to media. On the one hand media find their place in cities architectonically, when theaters, circuses or stadiums are built, cinemas and studios, or newspapers headquarters. City spaces also come to life through media-specific representations: in novels, films, on social media. Finally, urban environments are mediated themselves: an urban environment experienced through, or lived by social media is a radically different one than one in which newspapers created social ties.
4) Thirdly we will consider in terms of genres, as forms and forms of organsation. For instance, how do urban environments come to life through stories, but also: how can they be read as narratives themselves?

The tutorial sessions for Imagining the City provide the occasion for students to ask questions about the content of the lectures and will have a workshop-like character: during the four sessions each group will work towards the group-based poster presentation (40% of the final grade).

Midterm assessment: poster presentation on the basis of a research question.
In groups of four to five, students decide on an object of research. They choose an urban environment or situation, taking the course book (Imaginations/Cancellations) and lectures as a toolkit. Working together, they define a research question, with clearly defined aspects. The poster presentation presents the object of study as an object of study; i.e. in such a way that it becomes visually apparent which angles of analysis the group will use to approach the object as an object worthy of research in line with the imaginations/cancellations approach.

The course ends with an individually made, final exam of two hours about the book and the lectures.

Course objectives

General learning outcomes

See tab Additional information for the overview of the programme's general learning outcomes. In the assessment methods below is outlined which general learning outcome will be tested through which method.

Course objectives, pertaining to this course

At the end of the course, the student can:
1) are capable of analyzing – on the basis of tropes, media and genres – how the realities in cities have been made possible by, produced by, captured by, and influenced by cultural techniques;
2) are sensitive to the intrinsic relation between urban imaginations and cancellations;
3) can interpret and ‘read’ the city for its different meanings – both in terms of the representations of cities, and in terms of how cities themselves appear as a distinct form of (semiotic) text;
4) can distinguish the different forms of culture that are dynamically related in and through cities;
5) are able to choose a distinct humanities approach to the city on the basis of a focused research question.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Tutorial (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every tutorial session of the course. If a student is unable to attend a tutorial or lecture, they should inform the lecturer in advance, providing a valid reason for absence. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If they are absent from a tutorial without a valid reason, they can be excluded from the final exam in the course.

Assessment method


  • Participation during tutorials
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1-2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 13-15, 19-24, 26
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-5

  • Midterm exam
    Poster presentation and research question
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1-2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 13-15, 19-22, 26
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-5

  • Final exam
    Written examination: case studies, close readings and theories
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1-2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 13-15, 19-22, 26
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-5


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorial grade 20%
Midterm Exam (group assignment 40%
Final Exam 40%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.

  • Please note that if the Final Exam is lower than 5.50, you will not pass the course, regardless of the grade for the other assessment components.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the final exam grade is lower than 5.50, there is a possibility of retaking the final exam, replacing the previous final exam grade. No resit for the tutorial grade and/or midterm exam is possible.

Faculty regulations concerning participation in resits are listed in article 4.1 of the Faculty Course and Examination Regulations.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

  • Frans-Willem Korsten & Anthony Albright,* Imaginations/Cancellations: A Humanities Approach to Urbanism in Tropes, Media and Genres.


General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration Exchange

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Student Affairs Office for BA Urban Studies


A limited amount of external students can follow this course as an elective course. To enroll, send an email to the Education Administration Office: