Urban Topography: Image and Reality, 1540-1840

Module code: HS7202

Module co-ordinator: Roey Sweet

Module Outline

This course spans a period of three hundred years, but the primary emphasis is on the 'long eighteenth-century' – a period during which there was unprecedented urban growth and a vigorous outpouring of literary, artistic and cartographic representations of the town. During this course we will survey the changing ways in which towns have been depicted and represented through a variety of media. Maps, engravings, travel literature all have a great deal to tell us about how towns expressed their cultural identities and about how outsiders and visitors perceived towns and urban society. We begin by examining the early town maps of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and their evolution into the more familiar maps of the eighteenth and nineteenth century; subsequent seminars cover topographical writing and descriptive literature; the changes to the built environment and the use of public and private space; the development of urban topographical art, and the proliferation of urban histories in the eighteenth century.


Seminar discussion of reading and presentations, including feedback from peers and tutors; field trips to sites of relevance to the course.


One 5,000 word essay.