Cancelled Comparative Literature: Bodies in the Street: Introduction to Urban Cultural Analysis

Course content

Life in the city remains an embodied experience, however much it is mediated by smartphones and other media, such as bicycles and escalators. Far too often, however, this embodiment is ignored; it goes unmentioned, although it may be a secret allowing for a strengthened lifeworld to be developed, as well as for a more dynamic conception of space and urban design to thrive.

To be sure, the articulation of bodily presence and urban experience is not obvious either, and the idea of representing everyday life may be contradicted by a certain evasiveness of the everyday itself. This is where the special approach of humanistic urban studies comes in; in fact, the present course  will develop an understanding of bodily experience in the city – an understanding which also recognizes that, in many cases, this experience cannot be measured or counted. Instead, the analysis of bodies in the streets requires differents methods, other media and, maybe, now sorts of meaning production.

After all, the humanities often have important things – themes, methods, interpretations, presentations – to add to a field dominated by the traditional discourses of urban planning, city design, and urban sociology. In reality, an entire job field for graduates from the humanities has been developing in recent years, and there are many opportunities to explore in the future as well.

The present course is an introduction to urban cultural analysis. This is a kind of cultural analysis that takes urban experience as its object, as well as it approaches the topic in a genuinely urban way. Just as urban life is embodied, the study of it must be an embodied practice, too – partially at least.

The course certainly implies readings, lectures, group discussions and academic writing in cultural analysis; in fact, the exam consists in a 16-20 page paper per person which remains the goal and focus of the course.

On the other hand, the course will also bring us outside the classroom and beyond campus, in order to make concepts and academic papers come alive in a contact with urban spaces, modern bodies, and composite cultures.

In sum, it is the intention to generate and to test new methods in cultural analysis – methods that dialog with readings on site, and may provide new modes of representating bodily life, too.

The final bibliography of the course will involve a whole range of cultural analysts from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Yet we will have one book as our central souce of inspiration in readings, discussions, tests and elaborations. This book is titled
Bodies in the Streets: The Somaesthetics of City Life.

It holds thirteen chapters plus an introduction, and it spans topics from various disciplines, as well as writers from the entire world.

Hopefully, this book will allow us to construct a Copenhagen-based approach to BODIES IN THE STREETS – our streets, and our bodies, plus those of many others, here and elsewhere.

The course will be taught by Henrik Reeh, Associate Professor of Humanistic Urban Studies and Modern Culture together with Associate Professor in Modern Culture Kristin Veel.

I would propose that young graduates from the 4Cities Euromaster in Urban Studies get a chance, as their knowledge of humanistic urban studies and their cosmopolitan life experience comply well with this course.


Comparative Litterature & Modern Culture

Lectures, seminars, excursions, group discussions, student presentations. And various experimental formats which may articulate experiences off-campus, out in the city, here and around Copenhagen.

This course aims at developing and testing approaches – concepts, methods – to urban cultural analysis. At the same time the course is focused, from day one, on the students’ generation of materials to be treated in their 16-20 page individual paper to be submitted at the end of the semester. This is why the discussion and development of ideas for individual papers is an important and dynamic component of the course.

Since this course takes place during the second semester of the two-year Master’s program of Modern Culture, it also provides a preparation of those students who want to sign up for the elective in Urban Culture modules of the third semester (fall of the same calendar year).
In fact, every fall semester, two courses are on the agenda:
”Urban Culture & Cultural Theory” (taught by Henrik Reeh) and
”Urban Cultural History” (taught by Martin Zerlang),
Both of these courses are part of the curriculum for the international 4Cities MA program (Erasmus Mundus Master Course), which involves the participation of a group of 25+ international students who come to Copehagen, also with the hope of exchanging knowledge and life patterns with Copenhagen students.

Bodies in the Streets: The Somaesthhetics of City Life. Ed. Richard Shusterman (Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2019). The Royal Library may be able to acquire an on-line access to this book for all participants in the course.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Type of assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 280
  • Exam
  • 84
  • English
  • 420