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Remapping the City in Modern Literature and Visual Cultures


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree. If in doubt, please consult the Coordinator of Studies: Jurjen Donkers.
Students from all tracks of Literary Studies, including the ResMA, or other relevant MA’s are welcome to enroll.


This course focuses on the modern city as a physical, spatial phenomenon but also as a cultural, mental artifact, shaped by imagination. Ever since the 19th century, when European cities began to grow, artistic representation has helped shape the images of cities we hold in our minds. The course follows the evolution of the metropolis from the 19th and early 20th century centralized capitals of increasing high density, complex social make-up, congestion and pulsating cultural hubs – London, Paris or Berlin – towards the contemporary megalopolis: huge, sprawling cities developing mainly in the global South. Mobility will be a keyword in this course: how do we – as city users and strollers – bodily experience and map urban space? How do we move and invent our daily urban life within it? Can we see contemporary cities as mobile spaces, constantly growing, shifting and expanding through migration?
These and other issues will be at the heart of this course, in which we will study a variety of literary texts, films and street art taken from European – mainly French – culture on the one hand and from Latin American culture on the other, as we explore the city as a site of cultural production, contestation and regeneration in intercultural, transatlantic, perspective. Thus, for example, reflections on the urban self might take us from Baudelaire’s flaneur and Poe’s ‘man of the crowd’ to contemporary figurations of this urban wanderer in Brazilian cinema, or renditions of the kaleidoscopic megalopolis in South American cinema and 21st century French novel.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge and insight into keyworks of modern and contemporary urban literature and –cinema in their historical and cultural context;

  • Knowledge of current theoretical texts and debates about the metropolis and of some important critical texts about urban literature and cinema;

  • Ability to analyze a relevant subject of one’s choice and to present one’s findings in an oral presentation and written assignments

  • Ability to share analytical and theoretical arguments during class discussion.


The timetable is available on the Literary Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

10 EC = 280 hours:

  • weekly two-hour seminar (2×13 hours): 26 hours

  • weekly reading assignments (8×13 hours) and oral presentation: 104 hours

  • mid-term assignment and preparation: 50 hours

  • final paper: 100 hours.

Assessment method

  • midterm assignment (approx. 2000 words): 30% of final mark

  • oral presentation: 20 %

  • final paper (approx. 5000 words): 50%

The average of the three components should be sufficient.
Resit: only for the final paper.


Blackboard will be used for practical information, assessment purposes and the providing of documents.

Reading list

  • Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (University of Minnesota Press, 1998)

  • Tim Cresswell, Place: a Short Introduction (Wiley, 2014)

  • GUST N.V., The Urban Condition: Space, Community and the Self in the Contemporary Metropolis (Rotterdam, Uitgeverij 010, 1999, freely available through the internet)

  • Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (Penguin Classics, 2008)

  • Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Running Away (Champaign, Dalkey Archive Press, 2009)

  • Azouz Begag, Shanty-town kid (University of Nebraska Press, 2007) or French version: Le gone du Chaaba (Points Seuil)

Further bibliography will be provided to enrolled students at the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis for classes, exams and final paper for classes, exams and final papers is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the coordinator: dr. A. Schulte Nordholt

Literary Studies departmental office

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA


Not applicable