History | World Cities
W300 | 27306 | Dodson

A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only

The experience of the city is the defining experience of the modern
age.  Indeed, the twentieth century is a time of astonishing
urbanization, with a ten-fold increase in the world’s urban
population.  More than 3.3 billion people, or more than half the
population of the globe, now live in cities.

This course is devoted to exploring the evolution of urban space in
a range of different contexts around the world, from New York, Los
Angeles, and Mexico City, to Tokyo, New Delhi, and Lagos.  We will
inquire into the conditions which have driven the growth of cities,
the problems cities often face, and the attempts over the past two
centuries, especially, to regulate and plan the structure of
cities.  In addition, this course will examine the ways people have
experienced and conceptualized the city – how they have lived,
worked, and died in them.  The city has been understood by many as a
centre of vice, crime, and immorality, for example, and by others as
the pinnacle of a civilized modern life – the place where a
society’s culture, in other words, is produced and consumed.
Lastly, we will pay special attention to the way in which cities are
destroyed, whether in the literary or filmic imagination, or by all-
too-real natural and man-made phenomena.  We will thus draw on a
range of source to illuminate the history of the modern city and the
urban experience, including literature and film, ranging from the
work of Charles Dickens, George Orwell, and Suketu Mehta,
to ‘Metropolis’, ‘Blade Runner’, and ‘Salaam Bombay‘.

Students will be evaluated on the basis of written assignments and