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HIST2227 Science on the Street: Science, Technology, Medicine, and the Urban Environment in Modern European Cities

Module Overview

The focus of this module is on urban and scientific development in modern European cities from the end of the 18th century to World War I: you will study how modern cities and modern science emerged together. Focusing on cities such as London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Vienna and Moscow we will explore how modern science, technology and medicine have been used to shape and understand of the city. We will look at the role of sites such as the natural history museum, the zoological and botanical garden, the university, the hospital, the scientific laboratory and observatory, in the development of urban space, and the role they played in the emergence of metropolitan society. Through engagement with spaces and places of scientific knowledge production in the long 19th century you will have the opportunity to rethink the ways science, technology and medicine shaped not only urban life, but modern history as well. The module approaches the city not only as a site, but also as an agent of scientific discovery, addressing not only the local, but also the universal, cosmopolitan nature of the world of science and the city. Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on the agency of city spaces and institutions of science popularisation as well as on the role of the urban audience in the reception and appropriation of science in the urban context. Readings, primary source material and discussions will consider the role of scientific institutions as well as public spaces in reconfiguring the role of science in the life of the city and its inhabitants. Themes to be explored include various aspects of science, technology and medicine, such the controversies around evolutionary theory, race and eugenics, transportation, hygiene, public health and medical conditions associated with modernity and urban life.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To examine the relationship between the development of science since the Enlightenment and the growth of the modern city. To consider the city as a site of knowledge development and exchange in relation to science. To focus on a number of case studies of individual cities through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To explore a range of primary sources on the scientific institutions in major European cities.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • explore how modern science, technology and medicine have been used to shape and understand of the city.
  • to consider the city not only as a site, but also as an agent of scientific discovery.
  • to explore not only the local, but also the universal, cosmopolitan nature of the world of science and the city.
  • to reflect on the agency of city spaces and institutions of science popularisation as well as on the role of the urban audience in the reception and appropriation of science in the urban context.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • to critically analyse a range of primary source material (in translation where necessary).
  • to assess a range of interpretations from urban historians and historians of science.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • to develop a comparative approach to considering the growth of the modern city across Europe.
  • to understand the development of scientific knowledge across the nineteenth century.

Syllabus

Indicative topics include: The rise of modern science and the emergence of the modern city Scientific institutions: putting science in its place Collecting and exhibiting science: the natural history museum Science and zoos in the 19th century Useful and applied science: engineering the city Urban hygiene and public health Electricity and explosions: science as urban spectacle and controversy Green cities: urban environments and commons Discovering science in the city: potential optional field trip to London (Exhibition Road)

Special Features

There will be an optional field trip to London in addition to the main teaching hours (numbers permitting). You will be expected to cover the costs of this trip yourself if you wish to attend.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures Seminars Individual Essay Consultations Optional Field Trip to London

TypeHours
Lecture12
Seminar12
Preparation for scheduled sessions36
Revision20
Independent Study20
Completion of assessment task50
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Pascal Blanchard et al. (eds.), Human Zoos: Science and spectacle in the age of colonial empires (2008). 

Oliver Hochadel and Agusti Nieto-Galan (eds.), Urban Histories of Science (2018). 

Aileen Fyfe and Bernard Lightman (eds.), Science in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century Sites and Experiences (2007). 

David Livingstone and Charles W. J. Withers (eds.), Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Science (2011).. 

Crosbie Smith and Jon Agar (eds.), Making Space for Science: Territorial Themes in the Shaping of Knowledge (1998). 

Sven Dierig, Jens Lachmund and J. Andrew Mendelsohn (eds.), Science and the City, Osiris 18 (2003). 

Liv Emma Thorsen et al. (eds.), Animals on Display: The Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History (2013). 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Exam  (2 hours) 50%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Exam  (2 hours) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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