Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSOL2EN3374

Semester and Year Offered: Semesters II and IV, Winter Semester 2020

Course Coordinator: SayandebChowdhury

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: The student must have ideally enrolled for Metropolis and Modernity 1 to be able to enrol for this course. Only in exceptional circumstances will they be allowed to opt for this course without having done the previous course.

Course Objectives and outcome

Like the previous course, this is an intellectual history course too but will involve more theoretical readings and unlike part I will follow an interactive, participatory model and will be conducted through a mix of lectures and student seminars. Classroom participation is of utmost importance in this course and will be hence evaluated and assessed throughout. This is an advanced course and students will develop a deep understanding of the key questions of modernity.

Course Description:

The emergence of the modern metropolis as the socio-cultural habitus for both modernity and Modernism has been widely discussed in Metropolis and Modernity I. However, the idea remains incomplete unless it is followed to the more conflicted and interdependent forms of fiction and cinema. Though the Modernist novel can be traced at least to the second half of the 19th century, it was only after the debut of motion pictures that both these artistic territories increasingly found themselves as the favourite playground of the Modernist avant-garde. Unlike literary forms, cinema was ‘without history’ and its import into the forefront of Modernism was often in apparent conflict with existing forms. The dualist nature of the avant-garde is further complicated by the widespread participation of photography and visual art in redefining the city as a space of political, cultural and aesthetic meaning-making. It is hence instructive to see all four art forms in conversation, both theoretically and in practice, each trying to understand their own ontological and artistic status vis-à-vis the rapidly and radically shifting regime of culture, text andvisuality in early 20th century. Through close readings of a series of textual and visual texts, the course hopes to understand the nature and scope of this ambiguous and restive engagement.

Course Structure :

Module 1 (week 1-4): Pleasure

  • From Sigmund Freud, The Pleasure Principle
  • Arthur Schnitzler, Dream Story &Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut
  • Salvador Dali and Surrealism
  • The photographs of JulienMandel
  • Georges Bataille, Eroticism: Death and Sensuality

Module 2 (week 5-8): Technology

  • George Orwell, 1984
  • Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times
  • Fritz Lang, Metropolis
  • Art and German Expressionism
  • Photography of Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy

Module 3 (week 9-12) : Narrative

  • From Andrei Bely, Petersburg
  • From James Joyce Ulysses
  • From Alfred Doblin Berlin Alexanderplatz
  • Cubism, Picasso, Braque, Georgia O’Keefe
  • DzigaVertov, Man with a Movie Camera

Module 4 (week 13-16): Spaces

  • From Virginia Woolf Mrs Dalloway
  • From Fernando Pessoa, Book of Disquiet
  • Abstractionism of Piet Mondrian, Wasimir Malevich, Paul Klee
  • Vittorio De Sica, Bicycle Thieves/ Jules Dassin The Naked City/ Carol Read The Third Man
  • Photographs of Paul Strand, Diane Arbus and Dorothea Lange


  • Henry LefevreIntroduction to Modernity
  • Richard Daniel Lehan, The City in Literature: An Intellectual and Cultural History
  • Edward Timms& David Kelley Unreal City: Urban Experience in Modern European in Literature & Art.
  • Edward Timms, Visions and Blueprints: Avant-garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early Twentieth Century Europe
  • B Buchloh, S Guilbant& D Solved (ed) Modernism and Modernity
  • P Brooker and others (ed) Oxford Handbook of Modernisms
  • EleonoreKofman and Elizabeth Lebas (ed) Henri Lefebvre, Writings on Cities
  • GiulianaBrunaAtlas of Emotion
  • David Clarke (ed) The Cinematic City
  • Mary Ann DoaneThe Emergence of Cinematic Time
  • F Penzand M Thomas (ed) Cinema and Architecture
  • Neumann Dietrich Film Architecture
  • Thomas ElsaesserEarly Cinema: Spaces, Frame, Narrative

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage:

S.NoAssessmentDate/period in which Assessment will take placeWeightage
1In-class testEarly February20%
2Seminar Through the course40%
3Term Paper Last week of April40%