TEACHING

Here are the course outlines and readings for my third-year undergraduate courses:

Cities, space and powerG321 Outline 2014

Theory and practice in human geographyG345-outline-2014

Like most things, these are still in the process of development, so I’d welcome any suggestions.

Cities, space and power is an historical geography of urbanization, but it doesn’t address North America since so many courses in urban geography (here) are focused on this continent.  But I do want to incorporate more material on urbanization in the global South, and to pay more attention to the relations between urbanism, colonialism and imperialism.  I also keep wondering about organising the course thematically — divided cities; cities and war; cities, gender and sexuality; cities and modes of production; cities and networks (for example) — but I’m leery about dispensing with chronology since for me historical context is as important as geographical specificity.  I also try to present the basic theoretical ideas in solution, so to speak, so that students understand the larger intellectual arguments through the substantive (and usually contested) stories I have to tell.

Theory and practice in human geography is a (selective) attempt to combine the history of geography and the philosophy of geography, and it’s deliberately not organised around a parade of –isms that are then projected on to human geography, which I think would be a mistake.  So I’ve tried to focus on the conceptual sites where geographers have done their most characteristic work, in the hope that this makes things more accessible and rather less like learning French irregular verbs (positivism, realism and the rest), all the time noting the presence of co-workers from other fields (who’ve often done even better work) and trying to provide a sort of “history of the concept”: place, region, landscape, space, and so on.  There are other candidates for inclusion – territory is the most obvious omission – and I’m determined to get to that sooner rather than later.  You’ll see that for the most part I don’t single out particular approaches either – Marxism, feminism, etc (though these are all present in the course in various guises) – because for me the real challenge is to work at the intersection of colliding systems of thought: I try not to present this as an intellectual supermarket, still less as a biblical succession in which positivism begat humanism begat Marxism…. (not least because I’m weary of those who think that the more recent their references the stronger their argument).

As I say, let me know what you think.

And here is the outline for my graduate course: GEOGRAPHY 521 outline 2013.

This is a generic course on ‘Philosophy, social theory and human geography’, but I’ve chosen to approach some of the key debates through a focus on later modern war.  As usual, all (constructive!) comments and suggestions welcome.

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