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Unit information: Modern Places (Level H Reflective History) in 2015/16

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Unit name Modern Places (Level H Reflective History)
Unit code HIST38019
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Furst
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

We tend to think of history as evolving around human personalities, who are located in a certain time and place. This unit wants to turn our thinking around and start with the places of action rather than its protagonists. Social science has long recognized the importance of space in creating and changing societal processes. History has still some way to catch up. We will look at four quintessentially modern spaces which all were both products and constructors of modernity: the street, the apartment, the train and the camp. All four have been instrumental in shaping modern life as places of interaction, control and resistance. We will investigate how these places became modern, how and why they were constructed in the way they were, how they affected people's actions and mentalities and how, in turn, people's usage of them shaped and changed their official and unofficial meanings.


  • Reflective history is identified in the Subject Benchmarking Statement as an important skill. Whilst students reflect on their work in all of their units the aim of this Reflective History unit will be to focus students more closely on that reflective practice.
  • In the process, students will also gain specific historical knowledge and understanding of:
  • how spaces are historical constructs which are both result and producers of peoples actions and mentalities
  • how modern spaces are different and how they contribute to the meaning of modernity
  • how one can read spaces and make comparison across time and space

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students will have:

  • A heightened understanding of the particular and unique skills that historians acquire and of the way in which they apply those skills to a specific task
  • Be able to convey that understanding to others both in writing and through a shared group exploration
  • Have a deeper understanding of their own individual acquisition and application of those skills.
  • Be aware of their own particular combination of skills and they will have a clearer understanding of the areas where skills need to be improved.
  • Have a stronger awareness of how their skills might be applied more generally to other contexts
  • Gained a deeper knowledge of the history and theory of spatial politics and culture.

Teaching Information

  • Weekly 2-hour seminar
  • Guided independent reading directed towards presentation of material to their group
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

1 x 24 hour seen exam

Reading and References

  • Henri LeFebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford 1991)
  • Peter Conrad, Modern Times, Modern Places (New York, 1999)
  • Richard Dennis, Cities in Modernity (Cambridge, 2008)
  • Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: The Industrialisation of Time and Space in the 19th century (Berkeley, 1986)
  • Karl Schlogel, Moscow (London, 1995)
  • Anne Applebaum, GULAG: A History (London, 2004)