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Melancholy and the Metropolis

abstract drawing of a person grabbing the sides of their face while screaming

Edvard Munch, The Scream of Nature (1883).

  • Instructor: Werner Goehner
  • Time: T 10:10 a.m.–12:05 p.m.
  • Location: 142 East Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3

Melancholy, as Freud described it, is the inability to come to terms with loss. The goal here is to address the loss, which has been experienced during this traumatic period on the way to modernity, the transformation of the city into the metropolis. It is the intent of the seminar to investigate the effects of these transitions on the city's inhabitants, not as a pathological condition but use melancholy as a refined, reflective emotion with its own qualities. The seminar intends to look at how melancholy with its reflective trait found its way into cultural representations in literature, social studies, art, film, and urbanism, where melancholy emotions serve as an explanatory model providing additional insight. Through the lens of the concept of melancholy as the inability to come to terms with loss, the seminar wants to engage the student in a critical assessment of the consequences of the birth of modernity and the metropolis. Key urban phenomena accompanying the birth of the metropolis and their impact on the city and their inhabitants will be investigated.

Instructor permission required:

Students must attend the first class.

View a PDF of this class description.