WiSe 17/18: Cinema and Everyday Urban Environments: The City as a State of Mind
Subject: The city, as urban sociologist Robert Parks has pointed out, cannot be grasped by its pure material facts – it rather is a state of mind and evolves from the different ways urban space is ... Lesen Sie weiter
Subject: The city, as urban sociologist Robert Parks has pointed out, cannot be grasped by its pure material facts – it rather is a state of mind and evolves from the different ways urban space is dealt with on an everyday basis as well as in the imagination of the city dwellers. With the potential of film to organize spatial structures in time, cinema has always been closely linked to the city, historically as well as thematically. Change being a generic attribute of any city, we can say with Paul Ricœur that the work of time in space becomes most visible through the city in film. The interest of cinema in the urban spaces as everyday environments is at the same time linked to the role of place as a visually and mentally recognizable pattern, locating an urban identity in the image of the city.
Program: Approaching film as historical artifact and visual archive, we will study how it engages with urban space: how does cinema contribute to a structural understanding of the city and by which means does it mediate an experience of a cityscape? We will study different strategies of relating the various notions of identity to the city in different kinds of cinema, well-known big productions as well as independently produced films. The focus will be on films dealing with a Berlin contemporary to their production, with occasional comparisons to appropriate films from German and European cinema. - Based on introductory readings and discussions on the ways cinema produces meaning, and knowledge about the city, we will read and discuss texts on urban memory and identity relating to the films highlighted in the seminar. Students will learn to interpret cinematic conventions and to critically reflect on how cinema depicts everyday environments and reorganizes their perception, with writing practice as one focus of class work. Each session highlights one topic on the basis of a film to be introduced through student‘s presentations, and relevant comparisons discussed in class or small groups. The films will have to be viewed individually before the sessions, course materials will be available as a digital reader.
Is this course suitable for you? The course is open to students from all academic fields with an interest in the topic and in critical reflection of visual material in general. Students should be prepared to read texts and view the films in preparation of the sessions, to be able to actively participate in the group discussions. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, texts range from film studies to cultural and urban studies and social science. The presentations will be based on individual research and analysis of a given film and the corresponding literature.
Workload and Evaluation: In order to obtain 5 ECTS credits, you will have to
• Attend the course regularly (at least 13 out of 16 sessions);
• Study the course materials (one film and between 15 and 30 pages English texts per week, average) and prepare questions from these materials for class discussion;
• Give a presentation in class (10-15 min, plus handout and report [ca. 500 words] of the discussion);
• Pass the written examination (90 minutes).