Joint-honours information for 2016 entry

The Cinematic City

Module P4108

Module details for 2016/17.

30 credits

FHEQ Level 6

Module Outline

This module examines the multifaceted relationships between cinema and the city as they have developed over the 20th century and beyond. Since the emergence of cinema in the 1890s, the city has been a persistent onscreen presence as setting and backdrop, subject and theme. Cities have also continuously played a central role in the production, circulation and exhibition of films. Urban centres such as Paris and Berlin, New York and Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Mumbai have operated as bases for film studios and location shoots, as sites of spectatorship and consumption, and as key nodes of film culture. Moreover, the dynamic interplay between city and film has also been the subject of theoretical enquiry as far back as the 1920s, when the correlations between the modern metropolis and cinematic spectator were first analysed in depth.

On this module, students will examine these interrelated issues across a range of cinematic and theoretical texts. Paying attention to style, narrative and ideology, we will investigate how films have represented cities as both real and imaginary spaces of excitement, pleasure, creativity and revolution, as well as poverty, crime, alienation and control. With reference to specific historical and geographical contexts, we will consider how films have engaged with and participated in processes of urban growth, decline and redevelopment, and examine issues of space, politics and identity with reference to race, gender and sexuality. Throughout, students will engage with an interdisciplinary body of critical literature on cinema and the city in film studies, urban geography, architecture and visual culture and place films within analytical frameworks such as `modernity' and `postmodernity'.


AlSayyad, Nezar (2006). Cinematic Urbanism: A History of the Modern from Reel to Real. New York: Routledge.
Benjamin, Walter (1999). Illuminations. London: Pimlico.
Braester, Yomi (2010). Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract. Durham NC: Duke University Press.
Brunsdon, Charlotte (2007). London in Cinema: The Cinematic City Since 1945. London: BFI.
Brunsdon, Charlotte (2012). ¿The Attractions of the Cinematic City¿. Screen 53:3, 209-227.
Charney, Leo and Vanessa Schwartz (1995). Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Clarke, David B. (ed.) (1997). The Cinematic City. London: Routledge.
Corkin, Stanley (2011). Starring New York: Filming the Grime and the Glamour of the Long 1970s. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dimendberg, Edward (2004). Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Donald, James (1999). Imagining the Modern City. London: Athlone Press.
Friedberg, Anne (1993). Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Harvey, David (1990). The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Jameson, Fredric (1995). The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System. London: BFI.
Massood, Paula (2003). Black City Cinema: African-American Urban Experiences in Film. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Sanders, James. Celluloid Skyline (2003): New York and the Movies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Shiel, Mark and Tony Fitzmaurice (eds.) (2001). Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context. Oxford: Blackwell.
Tweedie, James (2013). The Age of New Waves: Art Cinema and the Staging of Globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Webb, Lawrence (2014). The Cinema of Urban Crisis: Seventies Cinema and the Reinvention of the City. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Wilson, Emma and Andrew Webber (eds.) (2008) Cities in Transition: The Moving Image and the Metropolis. London: Wallflower.
Wojcik, Pamela Robertson (2010). The Apartment Plot: Urban Living in American Film and Popular Culture, 1945-1975. Durham NC: Duke University Press.
Zukin, Sharon (1995). The Cultures of Cities. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Module learning outcomes

Demonstrate an understanding of critical and theoretical approaches to cinema, space and society.

Analyse films and/or audiovisual media in relation to specific historical and geographical contexts.

Demonstrate appropriate capacity for individual research and skills in written communication.

Apply the critical approaches encountered on the module to an extended case study.

Deploy relevant critical methods.

Coursework components. Weighted as shown below.
EssayA2 Week 1 70.00%
PortfolioT2 Week 8 30.00%

Submission deadlines may vary for different types of assignment/groups of students.


Coursework components (if listed) total 100% of the overall coursework weighting value.

TermMethodDurationWeek pattern
Spring SemesterSeminar2 hours111111111111
Spring SemesterFilm3 hours111111111111

How to read the week pattern

The numbers indicate the weeks of the term and how many events take place each week.

Dr Frank Krutnik

Assess convenor

Dr Lawrence Webb

Assess convenor, Convenor

Please note that the University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver courses and modules in accordance with the descriptions set out here. However, the University keeps its courses and modules under review with the aim of enhancing quality. Some changes may therefore be made to the form or content of courses or modules shown as part of the normal process of curriculum management.

The University reserves the right to make changes to the contents or methods of delivery of, or to discontinue, merge or combine modules, if such action is reasonably considered necessary by the University. If there are not sufficient student numbers to make a module viable, the University reserves the right to cancel such a module. If the University withdraws or discontinues a module, it will use its reasonable endeavours to provide a suitable alternative module.