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Remapping the City in Modern Literature and Visual Cultures


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Literary Studies, research master Literary Studies and research master Arts, Literature and Media. Students of the MA Latin American Studies and MA International Relations are also welcome to join.


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? What happens to cities at night?
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 Europe, Africa and the Americas, with a special focus on Latin America. 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, night trespassings, or renditions of the kaleidoscopic megalopolis in South American cinema.

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 presentations and written assignments

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

  • Research MA students should reveal in their coursework a more nuanced understanding of the complex relationship between social formations and cultural productions by means of a more detailed and thorough theoretical/methodological framework.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Presentation or audio-visual film clip of approx. 10/15 min duration

  • 1 final essay or podcast (podcast of approx. 25-30mins) – approx. 4500-5000 words. Either way students should submit the written script.


  • Presentation or audio-visual film clip of approx. 10/15 min duration (30% of mark)

  • 1 final essay or podcast (podcast of approx. 25-30mins) – approx. 4500-5000 words. Either way students should submit the written script. (70% of mark)
    ResMA students should give more substantial attention to the theoretical underpinning of their essay.


Resit: only for final assignment.

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 organized.
To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average

Reading list

Initial key theoretical texts students can consult:

  • 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)
    NB: Full bibliography will be available via Brightspace at the start of the course.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


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

For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal

Coordinator of studies:

NB: students of MA/ResMA Latin American Studies can contact stucolas