HMKA03201U Modern culture: Theoretical topic: 4-Cities: Urban Culture and Cultural Theory

Volume 2013/2014

"This course aims at establishing principles for a culture-theoretical approach to the city. The course delves into seminal texts from the tradition of 20th-century cultural theory in order to outline key concepts that allow us to understand the city as urbanity, i.e. as a complex cultural phenomenon.


A variety of discourses may contribute to this project: architectural and literary as well sociological and philosophical issues will be discussed via readings of major theoretical texts.


Examples from the history of the European metropolis from 1850 to the present shall enable us to reflect upon the analytic perspectives of cultural theory. In this way, the conditions for the interdisciplinary study of modern urbanity will be outlined."

1. ”Semiology and the Urban” (1967) and ”The Eiffel Tower” (1964, text abbreviated), by Roland Barthes. English translations in Rethinking Architecture. A reader in cultural theory, Neil Leach (ed.) (London: Routledge, 1997). Full French originals in Roland Barthes, L’aventure sémiologique (Paris: Seuil, 1985) and Œuvres complètes (Paris: Seuil, 1993).


2. Experiencing Architecture, by Steen Eiler Rasmussen (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1962 [1959]). Danish original: Om at opleve arkitektur (G. E. C. Gads Forlag, 1957).


3. Life Between Buildings, by Jan Gehl (Copenhagen: Arkitektens Forlag/The Architectural Press, 2001). Danish original: Livet mellem husene (Copenhagen: Arkitektens Forlag, 2003 [1971]).


4. When Men Meet, by Henning Bech (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997). Danish original: Når mænd mødes (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1987).


5. The Urban Lifeworld: Formation, Perception, Representation, Peter Madsen & Richard Plunz (ed.) (London: Routledge, 2002).


6. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, by Georges Perec (London: Penguin, 1997). French original: Espèces d’espaces (Paris: Galilée, 1974).


7. The Practice of Everyday Life, by Michel de Certeau (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984). French original: L’invention du quotidien: 1. arts de faire (Paris: Gallimard, 1990 [1980]).


8. Speed and Politics, by Paul Virilio (New York: Semiotext(e), 1986). French original: Vitesse et politique (Paris: Galilée, 1977).


9. Ornaments of the Metropolis: Siegfried Kracauer and Modern Urban Culture, by Henrik Reeh (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2004/paperback 2006). Danish original: Storbyens Ornamenter – Siegfried Kracauer og den moderne bykultur (Odense: Odense University Press [now: University Press of Southern Denmark], 1991).


10. Berlin Childhood around 1900, by Walter Benjamin (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2006). German original: Berliner Kindheit um neunzehnhundert, Fassung letzter Hand, 1938 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2006 [1989]) or in Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. VII (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1989). Danish translation: Barndom i Berlin omkring år 1900 (København: Forlaget Politisk Revy, 1992).
The course consists of 2 weekly lectures and a seminar both in English.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 84
  • Guidance
  • 3
  • Lectures
  • 66
  • Preparation
  • 267
  • Total
  • 420
Type of assessment
All aids allowed