These short reports review some of the scholarly literature about each city in relation to course themes. The themes are listed with descriptions and class readings in the syllabus.

  • Ordered Universe Week

    The City as Ordered Universe

    Topic: The grid, the urban master plan, the forms and uses of planned public space. Street grids seem like the perfect embodiment of modern rationality. Are they?

  • Natural Disaster and Disease Week

    Natural Disasters and Disease

    Topic: Fire, flood and earthquake. Disease. As soon as people began to gather themselves in cities they put themselves at risk.

  • War Week

    The City in War

    Topic: War, terror, and aerial bombing. City walls and fortification. How war has affected the history of the city and where its marks are visible.

  • Squatter Cities and Megacities Week

    Squatter Cities and Megacities

    Topic: Two opposing visions of the megacity: the dystopian, which sees it as chaotic, neglected, and inhumane; and the utopian, which sees it as an exciting, self-organizing, human-technological system. How do we assess these visions in particular places?

  • Food

    Provisioning the City

    Topic: Food. It’s remarkable if you think about it that in modern cities several million human beings can live in close proximity to one another, hardly any of them hunting, gathering, or farming any food at all, yet manage to get fed every day.

  • Waste


    Topic: Garbage, nightsoil, and other refuse—how modern cities transformed human products into waste and waste into usable products.

  • Social Body Week

    The City as Social Body

    Topic: Modern cities and the politics of the masses, the public square, and the public sphere. What do cities need public space for?

  • Real Estate Week

    The City as Real Estate

    Topic: A proposed definition of the modern city: a settlement shaped by the needs of the real estate industry.

  • Tourism and Urban Branding

    Tourism and Urban Branding

    Topic: Some scholars have called tourism the largest industry in the world. But what distinguishes tourism from older forms of travel, such as pilgrimage? And what shapes the image of a city in the global markets of travel and investment today?

  • City Narratives Week

    City Narratives

    Topic: The city in the words of its occupants. Methods and issues in interview-based urban research. Marginal occupants and stories of displacement.