Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook

Urban Studies (URBS)

URBS 1320  (c, DPI)   Racial and Ethnic Conflict in U.S. Cities  

Brian Purnell.
Every Other Year. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 50.

American cities have been historic cauldrons of racial and ethnic conflict. Concentrates on urban violence in American cities since 1898. Students study moments of conflict during the early republic and the nineteenth century. Topics examined include the post-Reconstruction pogroms that overturned interracial democracy; the Red Summer and its historical memory; the ways race and ethnicity shaped urban residential space; the effects of immigration on urban political economy and society, and the conflicts over space, labor, and social relations that arose; and the waves of urban violence that spread across the country in the mid-1960s. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States. (Same as: AFRS 1320, HIST 1320)

URBS 1321  (c)   Gotham: The History of a Modern City  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 50.  

Introduces students to college-level historical thinking, writing, and analysis. Covers the history of New York City from the geological formation of what became Manhattan Island through the present; however, most of the history covered spans the 1600s through the end of the twentieth century. In part, narrates a history of the United States from the colonial era to the present through the story of New Amsterdam and New York City. Another focus is the history of modern, capitalist cities and the cultures, people, economies, and governments they produce. Students work mostly with primary sources and learn how New York City became one of the preeminent modern cities in the world. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States (Same as: HIST 1321)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020.

URBS 2004  (a, MCSR)   GIS and Remote Sensing: Understanding Place  

Eileen Sylvan Johnson.
Every Year. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 20.

Geographical information systems (GIS) organize and store spatial information for geographical presentation and analysis. They allow rapid development of high-quality maps and enable powerful and sophisticated investigation of spatial patterns and interrelationships. Introduces concepts of cartography, database management, remote sensing, and spatial analysis. Examines GIS and remote sensing applications for natural resource management, environmental health, and monitoring and preparing for the impacts of climate change from the Arctic to local-level systems. Emphasizes both natural and social science applications through a variety of applied exercises and problems culminating in a semester project that addresses a specific environmental application. Students have the option of completing a community-based project. (Same as: ENVS 2004, DCS 2335)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021, Spring 2020, Spring 2019, Spring 2018.

URBS 2039  (b)   Urban Politics  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Examines politics in American cities. Whereas public attention tends to focus on national and international levels of politics, highlights the importance of local and urban institutions and behavior. Considers competition between cities and suburbs, the internal environment of suburban politics, state-city and federal-city relations, racial conflict and urban governance, and the impact of private power on local decision-making. Focuses on the various individuals and institutions that shape the foundation of urban government including politicians, municipal bureaucracies, parties, political machines, interest groups, and the public. (Same as: GOV 2039)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2020, Spring 2018.

URBS 2202  (b, DPI)   Cities and Society  

Theo Greene.
Non-Standard Rotation. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 35.

Investigates the political, economic, and sociocultural development of cities and metropolitan areas with a focus on American cities and a spotlight on neighborhoods and local communities. Traces major theories of urbanization and considers how cities also represent contested sites where diverse citizens use urban space to challenge, enact, and resist social change on the local, state, and national levels. Topics include economic and racial/ethnic stratification; the rise and fall of suburban and rural areas; the production and maintenance of real and imagined communities; the production and consumption of culture; crime; immigration; sexuality and gender; and urban citizenship in the global city. This course satisfies the "Introductory Survey" requirement for the Urban Studies minor. (Same as: SOC 2202)

Prerequisites: SOC 1101.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2019, Fall 2017.

URBS 2215  (b, MCSR)   Mapping the Social World: Geographic Information Systems in Social Science Research  

Lauren Kohut.
Non-Standard Rotation. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 20.

Examines the use of geographical information systems (GIS) to organize, analyze, and visualize spatial data within social science and humanities research. Introduces foundational concepts of cartography, database design, spatial data representation, and data visualization. Provides hands-on experience in spatial data collection, three-dimensional modeling, spatial analysis, spatial network analysis, and spatial statistics. The application of GIS to areas of social scientific and humanistic inquiry are explored through examination of case studies, weekly laboratory exercises, and an individual semester project that culminates in a conference-style research poster. Case studies and data sets are drawn from anthropology, archaeology, and related fields, such as sociology, history, and cultural geography. (Same as: ANTH 2215)

Prerequisites: ANTH 1101 - 1103 or SOC 1101.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2020, Spring 2019.

URBS 2272  (c)   Urban Education and Community Organizing  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Approaches urban schools and communities as sites of promise and innovation as well as social and political struggle. Examines the significance of community organizing as a form of education and the role of community organizing to improve, defend, and transform urban schools. Engages in major debates around urban education through readings and films. Features the perspectives of leading education researchers, policymakers, community organizers, and teacher scholars. Includes discussions of popular education, parent trigger laws, privatization, social movement unionism, and culturally-sustaining educational programming. (Same as: EDUC 2272)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020, Spring 2018.

URBS 2301  (b, MCSR)   Building Resilient Communities  

Every Year. Enrollment limit: 20.  

Explores approaches by communities and regions to build resilience in the face of changing environmental and social conditions. Examines the ways communities establish policies and collaborate with state, federal, private and nonprofit sectors towards strengthening local economies, safeguarding environmental values, protecting public health, addressing issues of economic and social justice, and implementing mitigation and adaptation strategies. Provides students with firsthand understanding of how digital and computational technologies including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are playing an increasingly important role in understanding and informing effective approaches for expanding resilience at a community level to inform policy decision. Students gain proficiency with GIS as part of the course. (Same as: ENVS 2301, DCS 2340)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020.

URBS 2402  (c, IP)   Augustan Rome  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Upon his ascent to power after a century of war, Rome’s first princeps, Augustus, launched a program of cultural reformation and restoration that was to have a profound and enduring effect upon every aspect of life in the empire, from fashions in entertainment, decoration, and art, to religious and political habits and customs. Using the city of Rome as its primary text, this course investigates how the Augustan “renovation” of Rome is manifested first and foremost in the monuments associated with the ruler: the Mausoleum of Augustus, theater of Marcellus, temple of Apollo on the Palatine, Altar of Augustan Peace, and Forum of Augustus as well as many others. Understanding of the material remains themselves is supplemented by historical and literary texts dating to Augustus’s reign, as well as by a consideration of contemporary research and controversies in the field. (Same as: CLAS 2202, ARCH 2202)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2020, Spring 2018.

URBS 2424  (c, IP)   City and Country in Roman Culture  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

We are all now quite familiar with the way in which the American political landscape has been painted (by the pundits at least) in two contrasting colors: Blue and Red. These “states of mind” have become strongly associated with particular spatial differences as well: Urban and Rural, respectively. Examines the various ways in which Roman culture dealt with a similar divide at different times in its history. Explores the manner in which “urban” and “rural” are represented in Roman literature and visual arts, and how and why these representations changed over time, as well as the realities and disparities of urban and rural material culture. Studies the city and the country in sources as varied as Roman painting, sculpture, architecture, and archaeology, and in Roman authors such as Varro, Vergil, Horace, Pliny and Juvenal. Modern authors will also be utilized as points of comparison. Analyzes how attitudes towards class, status, gender and ethnicity have historically manifested themselves in location, movement, consumption and production. One of the main goals of the course is to challenge our modern urban vs. rural polarity by looking at a similar phenomenon within the context of Roman history. (Same as: CLAS 2224)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2018.

URBS 2431  (c, VPA)   Modern Architecture: 1750 to 2000  

Jill Pearlman.
Non-Standard Rotation. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 35.

Examines major buildings, architects, architectural theories, and debates during the modern period, with a strong emphasis on Europe through 1900, and both the United States and Europe in the twentieth century. Central issues of concern include architecture as an important carrier of historical, social, and political meaning; changing ideas of history and progress in built form; and the varied architectural responses to industrialization. Attempts to develop students’ visual acuity and ability to interpret architectural form while exploring these and other issues. (Same as: ENVS 2431, ARTH 2430)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2018.

URBS 2444  (c)   City, Anti-City, and Utopia: Building Urban America  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

Explores the evolution of the American city from the beginning of industrialization to the present age of mass communications. Focuses on the underlying explanations for the American city’s physical form by examining cultural values, technological advancement, aesthetic theories, and social structure. Major figures, places, and schemes in the areas of urban design and architecture, social criticism, and reform are considered. Semester-long research paper required. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States. (Same as: ENVS 2444, HIST 2006)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021, Spring 2019, Fall 2017.

URBS 2445  (c, VPA)   The Nature and Urbanism of Frank Lloyd Wright  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 35.  

This course offers an in-depth investigation of the architecture and urbanism of North America’s most celebrated architect, with emphasis on the major themes of his work—particularly the complex relationship between Wright’s buildings, urban schemes, and nature. We will examine key projects for a diverse range of environments and regions while also placing Wright and his works into larger historical and architectural contexts. Throughout the course we will engage in a critical analysis of the rich historical literature that Wright has evoked in recent years. (Same as: ENVS 2445)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020.

URBS 2470  (c, VPA)   The Bauhaus and its Legacy: Designing the Modern World  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 20.  

The centennial of the Bauhaus—the school of modern design opened in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, and closed by the Nazis in 1933—is being celebrated around the world. More than just a school, the Bauhaus gave modernity a distinct physical form by connecting art to nature and industry in new ways. The Bauhaus also advanced the radical notion that modern design had a key social role to play: to improve the lives of all people. The course investigates the social mission, arts, vibrant way of life, and prominent figures at the Bauhaus, many leaders in fields of modern architecture, urbanism, and the arts of design. The course also explores the Bauhaus legacy that flourished throughout the twentieth century, focusing on US and Europe. The Bauhaus changed the world and even today we feel its impact, in the smallest of objects, our built environments, and the cities in which we live. Students will work closely with the Bauhaus exhibition that opens March 1, 2019, at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and will carry out their own research projects. (Same as: ENVS 2470, ARTH 2470)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2019.

URBS 2587  (c, IP)   Cities of the Global South  

Rachel Sturman.
Every Other Year. Fall 2021. Enrollment limit: 35.

Examines the history, cultures, and politics of major cities shaped by histories of colonialism, the Cold War, and contemporary neoliberalism. We will consider the changing roles that these cities have played in colonial, national, and global economies, as well as the ideologies, aesthetic theories, and pragmatic contexts that have shaped their built environments. Key themes include: colonial and postcolonial urban planning and its limits; spatial inequalities; impacts of war and mass violence; urban economies; and the everyday sensory life of the city. Examples of possible cities include: Mumbai, New Delhi, Saigon, Manila, Cairo, Nairobi, and Lagos. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: South Asia and Colonial Worlds. It fulfills the non-Euro/US requirement for history majors and minors. This course satisfies the Introductory Survey and the non-US requirement requirement for the Urban Studies minor. (Same as: HIST 2346, ASNS 2587)

URBS 2620  (b)   “The Wire”: Race, Class, Gender, and the Urban Crisis  

Every Other Spring. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Postwar US cities were considered social, economic, political, and cultural zones of crisis. African Americans -- their families; gender relations; their relationship to urban political economy, politics, and culture -- were at the center of this discourse. Uses David Simon’s epic series “The Wire” as a critical source on postindustrial urban life, politics, conflict, and economics to cover the origins of the urban crisis, the rise of an underclass theory of urban class relations, the evolution of the urban underground economy, and the ways the urban crisis shaped depictions of African Americans in American popular culture. (Same as: AFRS 2220)

Prerequisites: AFRS 1101 or EDUC 1101 or GSWS 1101 or SOC 1101.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2018.

URBS 2626  (c)   African Americans in New York City Since 1627  

Every Other Spring. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Intermediate seminar. Covers the history of people of African descent in what becomes New York City from the Dutch colonial period through the present. Students read key books on all major historical themes and periods, such as the early history of slavery and the slave trade; black life and religion during the early republic and gradual emancipation; the Civil War and draft riots; black communal life during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the Harlem Renaissance; the Great Depression; the civil rights era; the age of urban crisis; the 1980s and the rise of hip-hop; and blacklife since 9-11. Students gain wide exposure to working with primary sources. (Same as: AFRS 2626)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2018.

URBS 2660  (c)   The City as American History  

Every Other Year. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Seminar. America is an urban nation today, yet Americans have had deeply ambivalent feelings toward the city over time. Explores the historical origins of that ambivalence by tracing several overarching themes in American urban history from the seventeenth century to the present. Topics include race and class relations, labor, design and planning, gender and sexual identity, immigration, politics and policy, scientific and technological systems, violence and crime, religion and sectarian disputes, and environmental protection. Discussions revolve around these broad themes, as well as regional distinctions between American cities. Students are required to write several short papers and one longer paper based upon primary and secondary sources. Note:This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States. (Same as: HIST 2660, GSWS 2266)

Previous terms offered: Spring 2019.

URBS 2802  (c, IP)   Global Cities, Global Slums of India  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Seminar. How have cities in the so-called "developing world" come to take their contemporary forms? How is life in these cities and slums lived? Explores these and other questions through a focus on modern India. Drawing on film, fiction, memoirs, urban planning, and other materials, examines the processes through which cities and slums have taken shape, ongoing efforts to transform them, as well as some of the diverse ways of representing and inhabiting modern urban life. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Colonial Worlds and South Asia. It fulfills the non Euro/US requirement for history majors and minors. (Same as: HIST 2802, ASNS 2585)

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020, Spring 2019.

URBS 3012  (c)   Cosmopolitanism and Creaturely Life  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 15.  

Advanced seminar. An exploration of the ways contemporary planetary consciousness has influenced conceptions of the human and the animal, as well as their supposed difference. Examines, in light of modern and current world literature, new models for both the exemplary world citizen and human species identity. Investigates to what extent, and by what creative means, reconsiderations of humans’ impact on the planet and place in the world are recorded in narratives of other creatures and the perceptual possibilities of their worlds. Texts may include fiction by Kafka, Rilke, Borges, Woolf, Murakami, and Sinha, as well as the philosophies of Uexkull, Heidegger, Derrida, Latour, and Agamben. (Same as: ENGL 3012)

Prerequisites: ENGL 1000 - 1049 or ENGL 1100 - 2969 or ENGL 3000 (same as GSWS 3000) or higher.

Previous terms offered: Fall 2020, Fall 2018.

URBS 3410  (c, IP)   Imagining Rome  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 16.  

The mythical fate-driven foundation of Rome and the city’s subsequent self-fashioning as caput mundi (capital of the world) have made the city an idea that transcends history, and that has for millennia drawn historians, poets, artists, and, most recently, filmmakers to attempt to capture Rome’s essence. As a result, the city defined by its ruins is continually created anew; this synergy between the ruins of Rome -- together with the mutability of empire that they represent -- and the city’s incessant rebirth through the lives of those who visit and inhabit it offers a model for understanding the changing reception of the classical past. This research seminar explores the cycle of ancient Rome’s life and afterlife in the works of writers and filmmakers such as Livy, Virgil, Tacitus, Juvenal, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Keats, Goethe, Gibbon, Hawthorne, Freud, Moravia, Rossellini, Fellini, Bertolucci, and Moretti. All readings in English. (Same as: CLAS 3310)

Prerequisites: ARCH 1102 (same as ARTH 2100) or ARCH 2201 or higher or CLAS 1000 or higher or GRK 1000 or higher or LATN 1000 or higher.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021, Fall 2019.

URBS 3560  (b)   Urban Economics  

Non-Standard Rotation. Enrollment limit: 18.  

Seminar. Studies the relationship between economics and urban geography, specifically focusing on how individuals, firms, and other organizations make economic choices across urban areas. Provides theoretical and empirical analyses of cities from both historical and contemporary vantage points. Topics include the development of urban areas, patterns of land use within cities, and the causes and consequences of urban poverty, segregation, congestion, and crime. Also examines the merits of policy responses to these urban problems. (Same as: ECON 3560)

Prerequisites: Two of: ECON 2555 and ECON 2557 or MATH 2606.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021.

URBS 3998  (c)   The City since 1960  

Every Other Fall. Enrollment limit: 16.  

Seminar. Focuses on important issues in the history of the American city during the past half century with some comparative excursions to cities beyond. Issues include urban renewal and responses to it, historic preservation, gentrification, high-rise syndrome, the loss and creation of public places, and the making of a humane and successful city today. Considers both the city’s appearance and form and the social and cultural issues that help shape that form. Examines these issues in depth through primary and secondary source readings. Throughout the semester students pursue a research project of their own, culminating in a presentation to the class and a substantial (twenty-five page) paper. (Same as: ENVS 3998)

Prerequisites: ENVS 2004 (same as DCS 2335) or ENVS 2301 (same as DCS 2340) or ENVS 2403 (same as HIST 2182) or ENVS 2431 (same as ARTH 2430) or ENVS 2444 (same as HIST 2006) or ENVS 2445 or ENVS 2470 (same as ARTH 2470) or AFRS 2220 (same as GWS 2222 and SOC 2220) or AFRS 2626 or AFRS 3230 (same as HIST 3230) or GOV 2309 or HIST 1321 or HIST 2660 (same as GSWS 2266) or HIST 2802 (same as ASNS 2585) or SOC 2202.

Previous terms offered: Spring 2021, Spring 2018.