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Gender, Modernity and the City


Module description

The concept of modernity has been a central component of most recent accounts of the visual arts in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Drawing on a range of theoretical writing produced within this period, modernity is understood to be an urban phenomenon, created in part by the space and pace of the modern city and those who live in it. Gender, modernity and the city are thus closely interconnected ideas and are integral to the visual culture of the west in this period. 

The course will engage with this set of ideas, introducing students to the key texts by writers such as Baudelaire and Benjamin. It will also consider more recent revisions of the gendering of modern urban space and will work with texts by feminist scholars that challenge some of the founding assumptions of the classic literature on the city. Seminars will examine the history of debates on modernity and the city, including critiques of the figure of the flâneur and more recent revisions of the gendering of space in the nineteenth-century city. Sessions will also relate this critical writing to the visual culture of the period, focussing on painting produced in France and England in the nineteenth century. 

You will be expected to engage with theoretical texts on gender and the city and to make connections between these debates and the visual arts produced in Paris and London in the second half of the nineteenth century.