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MA History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Landscapes of Modernity: Cities & Urban Culture in Historical Perspective

Unit code HIST65192
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This module is organised thematically and conceptually. Each week will approach an aspect of the 'urban' via key theorists and case studies.

Block I: Space, Place and the City

1. What is Urban History

2. Space and Place in the Modern City

3. The Materiality of the City

4. Place, Matter and Meaning

Block II: Cities, Capital and the Urban

5. Capital and Class

6. Cities as Second Nature

7. Cities as Spectacle

Block III: Cities, Power and Politics

8. The Liberal City: Power in the 19th Century

9. The Colonial City: Power, Race and the Urban

10: The Neoliberal City: Urban Politics in the 21st Century

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.

Aims

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.

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.

Links to further web content available via Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

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.
     

Intellectual skills

Intellectual skills:
 

  • 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.
     

Practical skills

Practical skills:
 

  • Synthesise 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

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

Assessment methods

Critical Literature Review, 1000 words (20%)

Essay, 3000 words (80%)

Feedback methods

Students can expect written feedback on book review and essay.

Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Recommended reading

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

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 16.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alexia Yates Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Information
 

The past 150 years has witnessed the irrepressible rise of the modern city. This course considers the ways in which modern cities such as Paris, New York, Rio de Janeiro, 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.


Pre-requisite units: None

Co-requistite units: None

Available as a free choice unit: Yes

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