Gender, Sexuality and the City



Period 2, 2004-2005                               meetings:     Wed. 9.45 – 11.30 a.m.

Code: ACB20705                                   Frid. 9.45 – 11.30 a.m.

Level: B2                                                 room:          TvA 1.0.02

Credits: 5 ECTS



dr Liedeke Plate                                     dr Anna Notaro

Room: Erasmus 12.20                            Erasmus 12.21



What role does gender play in the theoretical understanding and concrete experience of the modern city and its urban cultures? This course investigates the significance of gender in the production, use, and representation of urban spaces, focusing on the ways in which the city shapes gender, and gender shapes the city. The approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on research in the fields of art, architecture, cultural studies, literary theory and urban studies. The focus is on Paris, “capital of the nineteenth century” (Benjamin) and “capital of modernity” (Harvey), and New York. Topics range chronologically from walking as a cultural and aesthetic practice (from the 19th-century flâneur to the Situationist theory of “la dérive”) to the contemporary experience of single women in New York, as portrayed in the popular TV series ‘Sex and the City’.


The course is structured as follows: following an introductory survey of theories about gender and sexuality, we will zoom-in on specific cases. Students are requested to prepare weekly assignments. A final research paper provides the opportunity to explore a topic in depth.


Course objectives: at the end of the course, you will be familiar with a variety of ways of thinking about gender in the city. You will be able to demonstrate the ways in which gender and sexuality are constitutive of, and are constituted by, urban form and urban life and their representation through a range of different media. 



-          André Breton, Nadja (Penguin)

-          Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin)

-          Readings followed by (*) are available for consultation from the ACW department office.




* Readings: Students are expected to read the texts prior to class meetings and to participate actively in the discussions.

* Assignments: students are to do the assigned exercises as listed below. These assignments count for 30% of the grade.



* Research Project (2500 words essay): The research project gives you the opportunity to explore a topic of your choice in depth among the ones addressed in the sessions below. The project involves submitting a one-paragraph description of your topic with a preliminary bibliography (2 copies due by …..Monday, January 24, 2005), and a final paper (2 copies due by Monday, January 24, 2005 noon in the instructors’ mailboxes). This paper should be well written and coherently organized. Make sure to give sufficient support for your argument in the form of quotations or examples, do not “drop” quotes or images, and cite your references. The paper may be written in Dutch or in English. It counts for 70% of your final grade.

This course uses Blackboard as a digital learning environment. All the information supplied on this handout is to be found in it, as well as direct links to assigned readings on the Internet. Please log yourself into this ELO by going to and consult it regularly for new announcements.






I. The City: A visual Introduction [W Nov. 10, 2004; AN]

Introduction to the course





* ‘Defining the Street’ in P. Hamilton, The Street and Everyday Life, pp.96-101 at



II. [F Nov. 12, 2004]: No class.


You may want to take the opportunity to visit the exhibition “Schilders van Parijs, Van Renoir tot Picasso: meesterstukken uit de verzameling Oscar Ghez” in the Rotterdam Kunsthal as we will take it as our basis for our discussion of the Spaces of femininity on Nov. 26, 2004.


Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341, 3015 AA Rotterdam.




III. Sex, Gender, Sexuality & Space [W Nov. 17, 2004; LP]

Lecture & class discussion




* Judith Butler, "Bodily Inscription, Performative Subversion" in Gender Trouble: The Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 139-41. (*)


* Jane Rendell, “Introduction: ‘Gender, Space’” in Jane Rendell, Barbara Penner and Iain Borden, Gender, Space Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (London: Routledge, 2000), 101-111. (*)




a)     Read the assigned texts and identify key terms. Write these down and bring them to class so that we can compile a mini gender-lexicon.

b)     How do the readings challenge your understanding of the term ‘gender’? Formulate your new understanding (or disorientation) so that it can serve as point of departure for class discussion. Post it on Blackboard no later than Tuesday, Nov. 16th, 8 p.m.



IV. Machine Woman [F Nov. 19, 2004; AN]

Class discussion


Screening: Fritz Lang, Metropolis (1926)



* Andreas Huyssen, “The Vamp and the Machine: Fritz Lang's Metropolis,” in After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism, Bloomington: Indiana UP:1986, pp. 65-81. (*)



1) Find out more about Metropolis by visiting:

Should you wish to write about this topic for your research project consult the various links under the heading ‘Metropolis’ at


2) Formulate one question with reference to Huyssen’s piece and post it on the Blackboard Bulletin Board. This question should address a central issue in the reading and should be phrased in such a way as to encourage class discussion.



V. Flâneur/Flâneuse [W Nov. 24, 2004; LP]

Student presentations



* D. Parsons, “Mythologies of Modernity” in Streetwalking the Metropolis: Women, the City and Modernity, OUP, 2000, pp. 17-42 (*)


* Baudelaire, selected poems (*)



a) select one of the Baudelaire poems

b) be prepared to present the poem to your fellow students, highlighting its relation to the idea of the flâneur.



VI. The Spaces of Femininity [F Nov. 26, 2004; LP]

Student presentations



* Griselda Pollock, "Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity" in Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism, and Histories of Art (London: Routledge, 1988), 50-90. (*)



In groups of 3-4 students

a)     select (visual) material from the “Schilders van Parijs” exhibit in the Rotterdam Kunsthal to test & illustrate Pollock’s argument;

b)     present this material to the class, explaining how it illustrates Pollock’s article (her argument, the points she makes). Use Powerpoint.



VII. Female Flânerie [W 1 dec. 2004; AN]


Screening: Berlin: Symphony of a great City (1927)



* Anke Gleber, “Female Flanerie and the Symphony of the City” in Von Ankum, ed., Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture. Berkeley: U of California P, 1997, pp. 67-88. (*)

* ‘The Street and Modern Life’ in  P. Hamilton, The Street and Everyday Life pp. 101-104 at



1) Do the assignment indicated on p. 104 of P. Hamilton ‘The Street and Modern Life’ at


2) Formulate one question with reference to Gleber’s piece and post it on the Blackboard Bulletin Board by Tuesday, Nov. 30th, 8 p.m. This question should address a central issue in the reading and should be phrased in such a way as to encourage class discussion.



VIII. Walking as an Aesthetic Practice [F 3 Dec. 2004; LP]

Student presentations



* Breton, Nadja



Select either A or B:

A. Walking & Surrealism

a)     research Surrealism as a movement, paying particular attention to the place of women and of walking in the Surrealist aesthetic;

b)     present your fellow students with a context in which to understand Nadja as a work that has much to say about women & cities (or at least, Paris)


B. Surrealist Walk

a)     Design a surrealist walk through Paris based on Breton’s account in Nadja.

b)     Present this walk to the class in a powerpoint presentation.




IX. Lonely in the City: The Hotel [W 8 Dec. 2004; LP]

Class discussion



* Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight



Formulate one question with reference to Rhys’s novel and post it on the Blackboard Bulletin Board by Tuesday, Dec. 7th, 8 p.m. This question should address a central issue in the reading and should be phrased in such a way as to encourage class discussion.



X. New York [F 10 Dec. 2004; AN]


Screening: Video NY 1920s 50min.



1) Explore New York by visiting the following Web Sites and create your own diary of activities for a week


2) Visit the Museum of the City of New York at:

follow all the links (to have a general overview of the whole site click on ‘Site Map’ for a start)  and evaluate the web site: was it user friendly? What do you think was the most important thing you learnt from your visit. Compare and contrast the benefits of a ‘virtual visit’ to those of a ‘real’ one.


3) Explore the views of prominent artists, writers etc who have been influenced by New York, click on ‘Interview Gallery and select at least 3 names:



XI Frank O’Hara: New York’s City Poet [W Dec 14, 2004; RvdO]


The American gay poet Frank O’Hara (born in 1926) lived in New York City from 1950 until his death in 1966. Many of his poems chronicle his everyday activities in the city, from lunches to gallery openings, from buying a newspaper to ballet performances. O’Hara called these poems his “I do this, I do that” poems. We shall look at two prime examples, “The Day Lady Died” (1959) and “Steps” (1961) – you can find these on

          In preparation for our discussion, please read and reread the two poems carefully, looking up words and expressions you do not understand in the dictionary. Also, search for information about the places and people mentioned in the two poems and bring this information to class.

          In particular:

1.       for “The Day Lady Died,” find out who the lady mentioned in the title was, and indicate how you can derive her identity from the poem;

2.       and for “Steps,” try to indicate whom and what the “you” in the poem might represent.



XII Women at work  [F Dec. 17, 2004; AN]



1) The Triangle Factory fire

2) The Tenement Museum, New York, Virtual Tour

And visit the ‘The Living City, NY City’  web site at

click on The Tenement House Problem link, run the slide show, check out the following ‘Decades’, (in the  top left side of the screen) click on 1990s (click on the J.Riis link on the left hand side), 1910s and 1920s

3) Consider How the Other Half Lives, (1890) by J.A. Riis, Hypertext edition at Find out more about Riis by visiting the following electronic book at (click on ‘Lower East Side’ to read the Riis essay online)

Some suggestions for topics to develop in your presentations:

Describe the culture of working women in New York City. What sorts of activities did they engage in, both at work and outside of it? What were their reasons for these activities? What did they gain by engaging in them?


If you were called upon to teach a group of secondary students about the Triangle Shirtwaist Strike and Fire, what two points would you want them to understand about the historical events and their meanings, and what would you do to teach them those two points? In order to answer this question, you will need to determine which documents from The Triangle fire ‘Documents’ page at

collection would be most important for students to utilize in order to understand the points you want to make.

The camera for Riis became an instrument for social change.  Now, more than a hundred years later can you do the same? Document some situation or condition in your home town and, like Riis, provide the text to accompany it. Alternatively, you might write an imaginary letter to your local newspaper commenting upon homelessness in your town


XIII Single Girls in NY City: Sister Carrie meets Carrie Bradshaw

Screening: Extracts from the TV series Sex and the City [W Dec. 22, 2004; AN]



* A.Nelson, ‘Sister Carrie meets Carrie Bradshaw: exploring progress, politics and the single woman in Sex and the City and beyond’, in Reading Sex and the City, pp.83-95

* S.Zieger, ‘Sex and the Citizen in Sex and the City's New York’, in Idem, pp.96-111

* Location Guide, ‘Flânerie, Sex and the City and Touring around Manhattan’, in Idem, pp.119-227,

* J.McCabe, ‘Carried Away in Manhattan’, in Idem, pp.234-236



1) Find out more about Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie at:

and present your findings to the class.

2) Consider the Nelson and Zieger extracts from Reading Sex and the City and formulate a question for each of them. This question should address a central issue in the reading and should be phrased in such a way as to encourage class discussion. Having done that, contrast and compare the essays: what, if anything, do they have in common? Consider form and content, style and main arguments.


[XIV. F Dec. 24, 2004: No class]


Tips on how to tackle difficult texts:

After reading the article once, take note of the concepts and / or foreign terms that you don’t  understand. Read a second time following the advice below:


- Look up for words you don’t know in  dictionaries and/or enciclopedias

- Summarise the text’s main argument in one sentence

- Make a list of what, in your opinion, are the main characteristics of the text and explain why

- Try and discover the intertextual references present in the text

- Identify issues in the text with which you don’t agree and explain why

- Choose one aspect you are particularly interested in within the field of Gender & the City and prepare a list of questions relating to this aspect

- Think whether you can come up with any material (from any media, visual or textual) that has any relation at all with what you are reading, which are the similarities?

- Consider carefully the style, tone and rythm of some sentences that attract your attention take note of them and explain why they stand out from the rest of the text


Above all be proactive, creative, critical and open minded: try and establish connections among the diverse issues you come across and make explicit the reasons on which your evaluations are based. In matters of culture there are no easy answers, but that is no reason to stop asking questions!



More on Cities (general)

Walter Benjamin, “Fourier, of the Arcades,” “Granville, or the World Exhibitions,” and “Baudelaire, or the Streets of Paris,” in Reflections, Random House, 1986


Gunther Barth, “Department Store,” in G. Barth, City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. New York, Oxford UP, 1982

Also at


Berman, Marshall, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, London, Verso, 1983


Chudacoff & Smith, The Evolution of American Urban Society, Prentice Hall, 1975 


David B. Clarke The Cinematic City (London: Routledge, 1997)


Donald, James, Imagining the Modern City, Athlone Press, London,1999


Giedion, Siegfried. Space, Time and Architecture, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962.


Hall, Sir Peter Cities in Civilization,  New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.


Hayden, Dolores, The Power of Place, The MIT Press, 1996


Jacobs, Jane The Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York: Random House, 1961.


Kasinitz, P. ed. Metropolis Center and Symbol of Our Times, NY University Press, 1995


Leach, Neil., ed., The Anaesthetics of Architecture, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1999.


Leach, Neil, ed., The Hieroglyphics of Space, New York: Routledge, 2002.


Leach, Neil, ed. Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory, New York: Routledge, 1997


Lefebre Henri, The Production of Space, Blackwell, 1991


Lefebre Henri, Writings on Cities, Blackwell, 1996


Richard T LeGates and Frederic Stout (Eds) (1996) The City Reader, London, Routledge


McCarthy, Anna  Ambient Television: Visual Culture and Public Space, Durham: Duke University Press, 2001


Mark Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps, (University of Chicago Press, 1996)


Rice, Shelley, Parisian Views, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1997


Sennett, Richard Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities, New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969.


Simmel G. The Metropolis and Mental Life


Westwood S., Williams J.eds. Imagining Cities, Routledge, 1997


Williams Raymond, The Country and the City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975 [1973])


Zukin, Sharon The Cultures of Cities, Blackwell, 1995


Cultures of Cities: a new data bank

More on New York

Bender, Thomas. New York Intellect: A History of Intellectual Life in New York from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time, New York, 1987.

Bloom, Alexander. Prodigal Sons: The New York Intellectuals & Their World, New York, 1986.

Brooker, Peter. New York Fictions: Modernity, postmodernism, The New Modern. Addison Wesley, Longman Higher Education, 1995.

Anne-Marie Cantwell and Diana Di Zerega Wall  Unearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001)

City of Ambition: Artists and New York 1900-1960. Whitney/Flammarion, 1996.

Cohen, Barbara, Chwast, Seymour, Heller, Steven. eds. New York Observed: Artists and Writers Look at The City, 1650 to the Present, New York, 1987.

Conrad, Peter. The Art of the City: Views and Versions of New York, New York, 1984

Douglas, Ann Terribly Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s, Macmillan, 1997

Hammack David C. Power and Society: Greater New York at the Turn of the Century. Columbia UP, 1987.

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York, New York: The Monacelli Press, 1978.

Lankevitch, George J., Furer, Howard B. A Brief History of New York City, New York, 1984.

Lankevitch, George J. American Metropolis: A History of New York City. New York University Press, 1998.

Longstreet, S. City on Two Rivers, 1975.

G. Moorhouse, New York 1900: Metropolitan Architecture and Urbanism 1890-1915 (New York, 1983)

G. Moorhouse, Imperial City: the rise and rise of New York of New York. Hodder & Stoughton General, 1989.

Notaro A., ‘Constructing the Futurist City: the Skyscraper’ in A. Notaro, Balshaw M. Kennedy, L. Tallack D. eds.  City Sites: Chicago and New York, 1870s to 1930s, Electronic Book, Birmingham University Press 2020; at


Notaro, Anna ‘European Visions of the Future in the American Modern(ist) Metropolis’, in H. Krabbendam, M. Roholl, T. de Vries eds. The American Metropolis, VU University Press, Amsterdam, 2001

Pye, Michael. Maximum City: The Biography of New York, Picador.

Sharpe, William, Wallock, Leonard, eds. Visions of the Modern City: Essays in History, Art and Literature, Baltimore, 1987.

Still, Bayrd. Mirror for Gotham: New York as Seen by Contemporaries from Dutch Days to the Present. Fordham University Press, 1994.

Sutcliffe, Anthony, ed. Metropolis, 1890-1940, Chicago, 1984.



More on Gender
Brod, H. ‘Masculinity as Masquerade’ in A. Perchuch, H. Posner eds., The Masculine Masquerade: Masculinity and Representation, MIT Press, 1995

Butler, J. Gender Trouble, London, Routledge, 1990

Butler, J. Bodies that Matter, London, Routledge, 1993

De Lauretis T. Technologies of Gender, Indiana UP, 1987

Doane, M. A. The Desire to Desire, Indiana UP, 1987

Epstein, J. ‘Either/Or- Neither/Both: Sexual Ambiguity and the Ideology of Gender’ Genders, 7, Spring 1990, 99-143

Fiske, J. Media Matters: Race and Gender in US Politics, Minnesota UP, 1996

Foucault, M. A History of Sexuality, vol.1, Vintage, 1980

Fuss, D. Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, Routledge, 1991

Gever, Martha , John Greyson & Pratibha Parmar (eds), Queer Looks. 
Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video
. London: Routledge, 1993

Haraway, D. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, Routledge, 1991

bell hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics, South End Press, 1990

bell hooks, Reel to Real: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies, Routledge, 1996

Horne, P. Lewis R. Outlooks: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities and Visual Cultures, Routledge, 1996

McClintock, A. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context, Routledge, 1995

McLuhan, M. ‘Woman in the Mirror’ from The Mechanical Bride, Beacon, 1951

Mulvey, L. Visual and Other Pleasures, Indiana UP, 1989

Rose, J. Sexuality in the Field of Vision, Verso, 1986

Smelik, Anneke, ‘Feminist Film Theory’ in Pam Cook & Mieke Bernink (eds), The Cinema Book. 2nd Edition. British Film Institute, 1999: 353-362

Trinh T. Min-ha, Woman, Native, Other, Indiana UP, 1989



More on Gender, Place, Space


Katherina von Ankum, ed. Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997)


Agrest, Diana, Patricia Conway, and Leslie Kanes Weisman, eds. 1996. The Sex of Architecture,  New York: Harry N. Abrams.


Rosa Ainley (Ed) (1998) New Frontiers of Space, Bodies and Gender, London, Routledge


David Bell and Gill Valentine eds. (1995) Mapping Desire, London, Routledge


Israel Betsy, Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century, New York, William Morrow, 2002


Aaron Betsky, Queer Space: Architecture and Same-Sex Desire (New York: William Morrow & Co, 1997)


Gordon Brent Ingram et al (Eds) (1997) Queers in Space: Communities, Public Places, Sites of Resistance,  Seattle, Bay Press


Manuel Castells The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983)


George Chauncey's, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and The Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (New York: Basic Books, 1994). 


Patricia Cline Cohen, The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth- Century New York, Vintage Books, 1999


Beatriz Colomina, ed. Sexuality in Space, Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992


Sarah Deutsch, Women and the City: Gender, Power and Space in Boston 1870-1940, Oxford UP, 2000


Mona Domosh & Joni Seager. Putting Women in Place: Feminist Geographers Make Sense of the World ,  Guilford Press, 2001


Nancy Duncan (Ed) (1996) Body Space, London, Routledge


Timothy J. Gilfoyle, City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920 (New York: Norton, 1992)


S. Hanson and G. Pratt, Gender, Work and Space, 1995. Routledge


Alma H. Young and Kristine Miranne Gendering the City, (Lanham, Md. ; Oxford : Rowman & Littlefield)


Michael Keith and Steve Pile eds. Space and the Politics of Identity, (Routledge, 1993).


Lupton, Ellen. Mechanical Brides: Women and Machines from Home to Office,  New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1983.


D. Massey, Gender, Place and Space, 1994. Minnesota Press


Linda McDowell (1999) Gender, Identity and Place: Understanding Feminist Geographies,  London, Polity Press


Frank Mort and Lynda Nead, eds. Sexual Geographies, (New York: NYU Press, 2000)


Kevin Mumford, Interzones: Black and White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century New York, Columbia UP, 1997


Heidi Nast and Steve Pile, eds. Places Through the Body, (New York & London: Routledge, 1998) 


Kathy Peiss Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York, (Philadephia, Temple University Press, 1986)


Ellen Perry ed. Architecture: A Place for Women, Berkeley (Smithsonian, 1989)


Jane Rendell et al (Eds) (2000) Gender, Space, Architecture, London, Routledge,


Marion Roberts Living in a Man-Made World: Gender Assumptions in Modern Housing Design (London: Routledge, 1991)


Gillian Rose   1993,  Feminism and Geography, Minnesota Press


Daphne Spain, Gendered Spaces (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992


Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York,1789-1860

University of Illinois Press, 1987


Leslie Kanes Weisman Discrimination by Design: A Feminist Critique of the Man-made Environment (U of Illinois  Press, 1992)


Elizabeth Wilson, The Sphinx in the City: Urban Life, The Control of Disorder and Women, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
Janet Wolff  Feminine Sentences: Essays on Women and Culture (Berkeley, 1990) 
See Journal Gender Place and Culture WWW page at