Each year the H+U+D initiative will sponsor two undergraduate City Seminars, one devoted to a North American city and the other to a city overseas. The seminars will examine a single city in a detailed, multidisciplinary way that includes humanities and design. In addition, H+U+D will sponsor a graduate seminar that will be team taught with faculty from design and humanities disciplines. Topics for this seminar will be an outgrowth of the H+U+D Colloquium and change from year to year.

ENG 211 Paris Modern: Spiral City



The course focuses on Paris and the idea of “the future in the past.” By this we are interested in the recursive temporality of design, and its hidden laws. In this sense, Paris is the quintessentially  modernist city precisely because of the constant abutment or overlapping of the past with the present—Le Louvre’s Pyramid, the Villes Nouvelle of planned suburbs such as Les Espaces d’Abraxas with its merger of science fiction with neoclassicist traits.  Walter Benjamin wrote his in his Arcades Project book that “Each generation experiences the fashions of the one immediately preceding it as the most radical anti- aphrodisiac imaginable.”  However, a present generation may end up embracing the styles of grandparent’s or earlier forebears.  The course looks at Paris in terms of the dialectic between future and present, in that order.


Jean-Michel Rabate,English
Ken Lum, Fine Art


Wednesday, 9:00 am- 12:00 pm



URBS/HIST 210- The City: Baltimore and The Wire


The HBO series The Wire has been called a “visual novel” by David Simon, its co-producer, and according to Slate, it is “the best TV show ever broadcast in America.” This semester Urbs/Hist 210 will focus on Baltimore and use The Wire as one of its core “texts.” The course will explore the history and development of the city and its institutions, with a topical focus on issues such as industrialization and deindustrialization; urban renewal and the role of universities; public education; policing and the criminal justice system; drugs and underground markets; institutions; public housing; and Baltimore’s so-called renaissance amidst persistent poverty. The seminar will include field trips both in Philadelphia and a concluding all-day trip to Baltimore. The Wire contains scenes of graphic violence, sexual behavior, and profanity, so be forewarned.

HSPV 638 / MUS 621- Cities and Sound: The Spatial Politics and Practices of Sound in Modern Urban Life


This seminar will examine the role of sound in shaping modern urban spaces and life. While music plays a large part in the sounds of the city, we will focus on soundscapes more broadly. From the late 19th century through the present, and in geographies spanning from Paris to Philadelphia, we will explore the making, meaning, and experience of sound for varied populations; the politics of sound as an instrument of power; and the policies of noise regulation. As an interdisciplinary seminar supported by the Mellon Humanities+Urbanism+Design Initiative, the course will bring together students and faculty from diverse fields to probe the subject of urban sound through the lenses of both theory and practice. We will read across a wide variety of disciplines, including urban and environmental history, sound studies, urban geography, the history of sensation, musicology, anthropology, and critical theory. We will engage with sound archives, installations, films, and photographs, and also have an opportunity to make field recordings of our own. The format of the final project is flexible and could include a research paper, theoretical essay, visualizations, GIS mapping, sonic compositions, short film, or other types of media. 

This course will be co-taught by Professor Naomi Waltham-Smith, Music and Professor Francesca Ammon, City and Regional Planning/Historic Preservation