Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Once completed the course, the student knows the theoretical references and the methods to identify and relate the tangible and intangible aspects characterizing the heritage of urban contexts, in the cultural, relational and aesthetic-perceptive aspects.

Course contents

The course focuses on the conceptual frameworks to define urban and landscape aesthetics starting from some exemplary theoretical and descriptive constructs of individual cities, metropolises or megacities and, in the same perspective, deepens a series of elements and categories for the experience and analysis of the city, its forms and cultures. During the course, there are intermediate exercises, if possible in the field, and a final exercise, which will use different media, such as writing, video, photos, drawing, depending on the opportunity. The lessons and exercises are divided into thematic blocks, which are indicated below with the bibliography which follows:

1. Introduction to the course.
What is aesthetics? How can aesthetics be defined for the city?
What do "dwelling" and "building" mean? The perspectives of Richard Sennett and Giorgio Agamben.

2. Guidelines for the aesthetics of the city:
a. Georg Simmel, Metropolis and the Life of the Spirit
b. Walter Benjamin, Paris, the capital of the 19th century
c. Siegfried Kracauer, From the window

3.Mental landscape (scapes, augmented reality, imaginary) and Exercises in estrangement/change of point of view in urban space (returning to the gaze of the child who sees a thing/place for the first time; the gaze of the infra-ordinary, attention to what is happening in the background, i.e. when nothing is "happening"; drifting, going without knowing where, letting oneself be carried away by chance; parenthesis: epoché).

Images of the city: M. Smargiassi, Degradation and decorum in urban photography.

4. Elements of the city: the square (the Bologna case) and the hyper-place (the Times Square case).

Field exercise.

5. Elements of the city: the arcades. Uniqueness of Bologna? Heterotopia and spatial and power relations.
Images of the city: Vision, analysis and commentary on Renzo Renzi, Guide for walking in the shade.

6. Living and dwelling after the pandemic.

Final exercise.


1. R. Sennett, Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City, New York, Farrar and Strauss, 2018; G. Agamben, Abitare e costruire [Dwelling and Building] in: https://www.quodlibet.it/giorgio-agamben-abitare-e-costruire.

2. G. Simmel, The Metropolis and mental life (1903), https://www.intzent.hu-berlin.de/en/gsz/zentrum-en/georg-simmel/georg_simmel-the_metropolis_and_mental_life-1.pdf; W. Benjamin, Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century(1935), in Id., https://mronline.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/benjamin-_walter_-_the_arcades_project.pdf pp. 3-13; S. Kracauer, From the window, in Id., Streets in Berlin & Elsewhere, London, Polity Press, 2006.

3. A. Appadurai, Modernity at large, Univ. of Minnesota Press ; 2008; W. Benjamin,Berlin Childhood Around 1900 [https://it.scribd.com/document/474839143/Benjamin-Walter-Berlin-Childhood-Around-1900-Harvard-2006-pdf]; G. Perec, Species of spaces  (1974), London, Penguin, 2008.

M. Smargiassi, Between Decay and Decorum: Photographers' Awareness of the Urban Scene, https://cpcl.unibo.it/article/view/11884.

4. M. Romano, La piazza europea [The European Square], Padova, Marsilio, 2015; M. Lassault, Hyper-lieux. Les nouvelles géographies politiques de la mondialisation [Hyper-places. The new political geographies of globalisation], Paris, Seuil, 2017, pp. 41-61.

5. M. Foucault, Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias [https://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/foucault1.pdf]; V. Trione, Effetto città. Arte, cinema, modernità [The City Effect. Art, cinema, modernity], Milano, Bompiani, 2014; M. Jakob, What is landscape?, Trento, List Lab., 2018.

R. Renzi, Guida per camminare all'ombra (1954): https://patrimonio.archivioluce.com/luce-web/detail/IL3000050484/1/guida-camminare-all-ombra.html?startPage=480

6. R. Sennett, The Fight for the City, [https://www.eurozine.com/the-fight-for-the-city/]; How should we live? Density in post-pandemic cities, Domus 1046, 2020 e Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban life, The Guardian, 26 Mar 2020.

Teaching methods

The course is designed to provide tools for deepening the discipline. The course will be conducted as part of the integrated course through lectures, seminars, exercises and study visits.

Assessment methods

The examination is oral as part of the final examination of the integrated course. The exam will focus on the topics covered in the classroom lessons and on the texts in the programme, but it may also be based on any in-depth studies that the student has presented either orally during the lessons or in written form after the end of the course.
In detail:
- the verification of the formative objective of acquiring the main philosophical-social elaborations on the contemporary city and on the images, cultures and forms of urban life and landscape and the contribution that the different forms of expression have provided to the shaping of the experience of places and to the understanding of urban phenomena will be carried out through the presentations of individual texts or audiovisual materials agreed with the lecturer within the course;
- the verification of the formative objective of acquiring the tools to read and critically analyse the urban landscape and complex places within it will be implemented through the elaboration of field surveys using texts, films and creative products;
- both tests will be completed by the individual oral examination at the end of the integrated course, which will include questions on the texts in the bibliography and on the various final papers provided.

The final assessment will be determined on the basis of the following indicators:
1 - Knowledge of the subject matter covered in the course of the lectures (0 to 6)
2 - Knowledge of the insights provided in the bibliography (from 0 to 6)
3 - Quality of presentation (0 to 6)
4 - Personal elaboration of the contents (from 0 to 6)
5 - Intermediate tests, exhibitions or papers (0 to 6)

Teaching tools

The specific bibliographies for the different parts of the course will be analysed and acquired during the various lessons, starting from the tools available in the texts indicated in the programme. The didactic material presented in the course of the lectures will be made available to the student in paper format or electronically via the Internet, depending on the access restrictions, as will be indicated at the beginning of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Andrea Borsari