nl en

The City and the Space of Modernity


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy.


Since it emerged on the agora, philosophy is intimately related to the city as an environment that relates different people with different backgrounds in a dynamically changing space. The confrontation with heterogeneity is thus central to philosophical thinking but also to the locus of philosophy in the modern culture. Hence, the city is the place where philosophy was born and the place that philosophical thinking always has to reinvent anew. The seminar discusses a series of philosophical texts on this relation between modernity and the city.

The course material consists of fragments from the following authors that are structures around three subthemes: a) politics and the polis (Jean-Pierre Vernant, Hannah Arendt, Richard Sennett); b) the experience of the city in modernity (Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Rem Koolhaas, Paul Virilio; and c) understanding society through space (Henri Lefebvre; Michel de Certeau; Michel Foucault; Gilles Deleuze; Bart Verschaffel). The texts will be read before and discussed in depth during the lessons.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the philosophical and anthropological study of the city in modernity;

  • some fundamental critical views on modernity and its challenges.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • present to a group the argumentative structure of a philosophical text;

  • formulate mature critical questions regarding fundamental problems pertaining to the philosophy of culture;

  • critically examine these questions in the form of a paper.


See Timetables Philosophy 2014-2015 , Timetables MA Philosophy 60 EC/120 EC.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course (10 ECTS credits x 28 hours): 280 hours

  • Attending seminars: 42 hours

  • Time for studying the mandatory literature: 90 hours

  • Time for completing weekly assignments: 90 hours

  • Research plan: 10 hours

  • Writing midterm paper: 15 hours

  • Comments: 8 hours

  • Writing final paper: 25 hours

Assessment method

The final mark consists of 50% for the paper and 50% for the activity during the seminar (presentation and discussion)

  • Assignment: a short 20-25” oral presentation of one text (25% of the final grade);

  • Detailed research plan: to be discussed with the lecturer (prerequisite for participation in examination);

  • Discussion in group of the text (25% of the final grade);

  • Expanded final paper (50% of the final grade).

One resit will be offered, consisting of the final paper. Any student who did not take the first examination cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used for posting of course readings and for discussions.

Reading list

The texts will be maid available on Blackboard before the beginning of the course.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Registration for courses and examinations

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable for courses in the column under the heading “Act.nbr”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. V. Ionescu