Show/hide main menu


5ABLLIB2 Space, Power, Agency

Credits: 15
Pre-requisites: None
Teaching pattern: The module will be taught via seven one-hour lectures and seven one-hour seminars, and three two-hour workshops.

Module description:

This module explores the ways in which space, power, and agency are experienced by all of us in our daily lives. Building on interdisciplinary approaches to studying the social and cultural lives of London in the first-year core module, here you will be introduced to a range of theories around identity, performance, citizenship, and the politics of space, as well as a variety of cases studies drawn from artistic, literary, political, and performative interventions within modern and contemporary culture. We will use urban experience and the city as a lens for our examination of political and performative phenomena. This approach emphasises the capacity for imaginative works to bring unique ways of understanding, articulating, and transforming the world around us.

Core module questions

  • How have concepts of space, power, and agency been explored and theorised by scholars, activists, artists, and writers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and how might we extend and complicate these ideas in an interdisciplinary Liberal Arts context?
  • What is power? Who wields it, and how?
  • How do we shape our context, and how does our context shape us?
  • Who has agency? How might agency be linked to systems of power and control?

How is power and agency represented, embodied, and manipulated in different spaces, e.g. universities, prisons, museums, housing estates, the page, the stage, the streets?

Module aims:

The aim of the module is to enable you to understand the ways in which the connections between space, power, and agency have been interrogated by various disciplines, to relate these ideas to daily life and your own experiences, and to integrate and form connections between theoretical and practical forms of knowledge. 

Learning outcomes:

We will gain experience and expertise in approaching forms of power and resistance from an interdisciplinary perspective, and we will be able to think critically and apply knowledge and approaches from particular cases studied to new subjects of study. We will also create an environment of mutual development and co-learning amongst peers, using the diversity of experiences and disciplinary focuses within the group as a resource.

Core reading:

Suggested introductory readings

The following books contain collections of essays that would provide ideal reading preparation for the module:

Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, revised edn(London and New York: Verso, 2006).

Dahl, Robert, Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City, second edition (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2005).

Gieseking, Jen Jack, and William Mangold (eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader (New York and London: Routledge, 2014).

Harvie, Jen, Fair Play: Art, Performance and Neoliberalism (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Steven Lukes, Power: A Radical View, 2nd edn (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).


Assessment Pattern: One 1,000 word mid-semester essay (20%), and one 3,000 word end of semester essay (80%).

Reassessment Method: Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt. 

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2019 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454