Year of entry: 2024
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Course unit details:
Landscapes of Modernity: Cities & Urban Culture in Historical Perspective
|FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
|Available as a free choice unit?
The past 150 years has witnessed the irrepressible rise of the modern city. This course considers the ways in which modern cities such as London, Paris, New York, , and Calcutta have been conceived and understood as sites of horror and fascination; in terms of problems and possibilities; and as sites of freedom and sites of fear. We will address the relationship between space and identity, looking at how cities shaped the performance and experience of class, race, gender and sexuality. Particular attention will be paid to the dynamics and thresholds of centre and periphery in the urban setting, particularly the spatialized relations between privileged and underprivileged classes, natural and constructed environments, metropolitan and colonial spaces, and local and global economies. Importantly, we also tackle methodological approaches to space as a category of analysis and distinct element of capitalist reproduction. By focussing on key theoretical texts as well as empirical case studies, the module uses the rise of the modern city to interrogate key concepts that lie at the heart of recent historical scholarship, especially the concept of modernity.
This module is organised thematically and conceptually. Each week will approach an aspect of the 'urban' via key theorists and case studies. This module is team taught and the precise content of seminar topics may vary in any given academic year according to the availability of specific teaching staff
To offer students an informed knowledge of the key intellectual and theoretical issues related to the history of modern cities. Students are encouraged to think critically and imaginatively and to employ interdisciplinary methodological approaches to the study of the modern city. The module aims to develop student’s understanding of key theoretical frameworks which are applied to specific detailed case studies.
The learning outcomes of this module include:
• A grasp of the history of the development of the industrial and post-industrial city;
• A critical understanding of the nature and process of urbanization and its role in the construction and maintenance of economic regimes, particularly global capitalism;
• Ability to analyze and debate visions and expectations of the urban, its role in political, economic, and environmental life.
This module is organised thematically and conceptually. Each week will approach an aspect of the ‘urban’ via key theorists and / or case studies. The following topics are a guide and may vary depending on the expertise of the teaching team.
Block I: Space, Place and the City
2. Space and place as categories of analysis
3. Defining cities and the modern
4. Nature and the city
Block II: City taxonomies
5. The Liberal City
6. The Colonial City
7. The City and Nature e
Block III: Case studies on the politics of space
8. Ports and the Sea
9. Deviant Spaces
10: Spatial Histories
This module is team taught and the precise content of seminar topics may vary in any given academic year according to the availability of specific teaching staff.
Teaching and learning methods
Weekly 1.5-hour student-centred workshop/seminar
The course will be supported by Blackboard. This will be used to provide relevant course materials. Assignments will be submitted online via Turnitin on BB.
Knowledge and understanding
- Demonstrate a strong understanding of key theoretical and historical texts on the history of the modern city
- Command a variety of approaches and understandings towards important themes relating to urban history, such as power, experience, images and representations, identities, marginalization and resistance.
• evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in urban history
• engage with relevant theoretical frameworks and influential theoretical texts in the field of urban studies.
• Formulate a research question based on scholarly literature at the forefront of the disciplines studied and adopt an appropriate method for addressing and answering that question
• To develop analytical skills which can be applied to primary or secondary material
• To synthesize in a meaningful and incisive manner a wealth of information gathered and analysed through independent research
• To identify and assess the significance of historical context for contemporary debates and issues.
• synthesize large amounts of material, make sound intellectual judgments in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
• produce well-written, concise and analytically precise reports and reviews.
• Compile systematic bibliographies and to present them according to scholarly conventions
• Formulate and design a range of proposals; identify appropriate intellectual, methodological and resource toolkit for successful completion of proposal
• Manage a sustained program of regular weekly work.
• Gain experience in problem solving, leadership and teamwork.
Transferable skills and personal qualities
• demonstrate originality and independence in approaching problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a high level.
• deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, synthesise large amounts of material, make sound intellectual judgments in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly in a range of formats.
• Organise own learning through self-management and work to deadlines.
• Using ICT for research and presentation purposes
|Written assignment (inc essay)
Formative or Summative
Written feedback on essay provided via Turnitin.
Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)
David Harvey, Paris, Capital of Modernity (London, 2003).
Patrick Joyce, The Rule of Freedom: Liberalism and the Modern City, (Verso: London, 2003)
Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford, 1991)
Doreen Massey, Space, Place, and Gender (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1994)
Gyan Prakash and Kevin M. Kruse eds., The Spaces of the Modern City: Imaginaries, Politics, and Everyday Life (2008)
Ananya Roy, ‘What is Urban about Critical Urban Theory?’, Urban Geography 37 (2016): 810-823
|Scheduled activity hours
|Independent study hours