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City in the City: Research Questions

Research Questions

  1. The relationship between ideals of community and urban morphology;
  2. The relationship between historical models, particularly the Classical, of urbanism and ideals of community;
  3. The relationship between political community and urban form;

The method is to trace the discourses of Classicism, urbanism, and community-building through the late nineteenth century into the early twentieth century. 

Historical objectives

  • to understand better the ways in which discourses of urbanism in the nineteenth century related to the Classical past and how those discourses changed over an extended period.
  • to understand the way in which discourses of community building evolved in reaction to contemporary urbanism and in the reception of the Classical.
  • to examine the political influence of the Classical in reshaping the urban reform movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
  • to explore the mechanism and linkages between intellectual cultures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the development of public policy, in particular within urban development schemes, the development of town-planning movement, the Garden City movement, New Town movement.
  • to understand the processes and modes of representation of the city through popular media and exhibitions and to consider how those representations of the city affected public discourses of urbanism.

Cultural Geography and Urban Theory

  • to examine the way discourses of urban development came to be imbued with ideas of the Classical city and Classical community
  • to consider how those approaches to the city influenced the intellectual development of Ancient Historical studies (through figures such as Warde-Fowler, Haverfield, Finley).
  • to examine how ideas of the Classical influenced Urban Geography (through figures such as Reclus, Geddes, Mumford, Jacobs).
  • to trace the influence of Classical urbanism on political theorisation, especially after 1945 (through figures such as Arendt, Strauss, Bell, and Rawls)
  • to understand how the Classical city has become ‘decentred’ from urban discourses (notable absence from post-colonial urban discourses) and to consider how, why and when the Classical city returns in radical political discourse (notably Foucault, Rancière).
  • to consider how contemporary urban and political discourses (notably post-colonialism,  new communitarianism (“The Big Society”), the networked city, urban renewal project) might relate to Classical urbanism and the theories thereof. 


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