Course Title:  01:082:275  Cinema and the City

Academic Credits:  3 credits

Mode of Instruction:  Lecture

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites:  None

Core Curriculum:  AHp

Course Description:

Urbanism and architecture as read through film, urban planning, and social history associated with 20th century cities.

This class will present a visual and historical analysis of urban space as seen through the medium of cinema. This is primarily an urbanism, social history, and architectural history class. The subject goes beyond individual buildings -- the subject here is the city, its life, and its representation. Movies illustrate theories of urban planning; on-location shooting can reveal aspects of urban life, and fanciful set designs can expose the unrealistic goals of some architects. Themes to be explored include early American immigration, the contrast between the city and the suburb, the city as a disciplinary space of social control, film noir, utopian and dystopian cities, gentrification, and the hyper-real world of New Urbanism. The course is interdisciplinary in nature: our investigation into the cinematic city will include methods and theory from anthropology, art history, environmental studies, ethnomusicology, geography, history, and literary studies. We will use both primary and secondary sources to gain an understanding of the city as depicted through film -- the course readings will be coupled with music, poetry, and narratives. Students should be willing to complete the reading, view the films, think deeply about the themes covered, and come prepared to participate in class.

Learning Goals:

  • Develop a foundation for visual literacy through the introduction and practice of various methods of analysis •
  • Demonstrate an ability to discuss urban development and social conditions of the city •
  • Draw clear connections between the built environment and ways cities function •
  • Critique various representations of urban life
  • Synthesize information from multiple sources in order to generate new insights

Required and Recommended Course Materials:

Our readings will be available through our course Canvas site: From Canvas, you will be able to review the syllabus, download articles and lectures, submit assignments, and check your grades.

Quizzes and Essay Assignments:

The quiz material will be covered both in class lectures and assigned readings. It will be necessary to attend all lectures and read all assigned material in order to be prepared for these exercises. Please follow the Chicago Style for essay citations. Full credit will not be given to papers that do not meet minimum length requirements. There will be no makeup given for a missed quiz or extension granted on the essay due date, except for a legitimately documented excused absence. You will receive a 1/3 reduction in your grade for each day that exceeds the stated submission deadline, meaning, a high A will become a mid-A after one day, a low-A after two days, a B+ after three days, etc.


Your success in this course depends entirely on your attendance, participation, reading, and completion of course assignments. This course meets twice a week and attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to attend all classes. Special circumstances such as excused absences are the exception. These include illness, religious holiday, or a personal/family crisis that is documented by an academic administrator. If you expect to miss class, please use the University absence reporting website to indicate the date and reason for your absence. An email is automatically sent to me. You are allowed three unexcused absences; absences after that are detrimental to your class grade. Each unexcused absence will result in a 2% lowering of the final grade in this course. Timeliness is paramount, class meetings are 80m, and tardiness can cause you to miss important class announcements and information in lecture.


  • Participation (10%)
  • Exams (2) (30%)
  • Argumentative Analysis Paper (4-6 pp) (30%)
  • Film Analysis Paper (4-6 pp) (30%)


Professor Amber Wiley  Spring. 2021  SYLLABUS

Disclaimer:  These course descriptions/synopses pages have been provided as samples and the information should not be considered accurate or current.  For actual course information, refer to the course site hosted by a Rutgers Learning Management System (Sakai, Canvas, etc.) as of first day of class.