HC 434h: The City: Winter Term 2018

(An ancient street map of the city of Rome, preserved on marble)

The City: Classical Athens, Renaissance Florence and 2oth Cent. Berlin

The Course: Cities have traditionally been the catalyst to political, cultural, scientific and economic development. In this course, we will look at the experiences of three cities. Ancient Athens formed the model for the "golden age" that has become the standard against which we measure the achievement of western cities; Renaissance Florence is our second model of a city that enjoyed a golden age, and one that built indirectly on Athens and Rome; Berlin in the 20th century had a urban experience that was both distinctive in its own right and yet also characteristic of what many other European cities experienced. We will devote about a third of the course to each of these cities.

The readings look at th e achievements of each city in terms of its politics and philosophy; its art, literature, theater, architecture and urban planning.

Instructor John Nicols
Office Hours Tu, 12:00 to 13:30, and by appointment.
Office 366 McKenzie Hall
Telephone 541.346.4817
E-mail nic@uoregon.edu
Class meetings Tu & Th, 14:00 until 15:40 in 199 ESL [15th & University Streets]
Course home page http://klio.uoregon.edu/city
ClassroomAsst Anna Kulawiec, office hours TBA

Grading: Participation (30%), short papers (30%); final paper (40%).

Course books and readings:

There is a great deal of overlap between the books in terms of their basic themes. Nonetheless, they follow somewhat different patterns, and you may find the differences Ture interesting than the similarities. Thornton attempts to relate the Greek/Athenian experience directly to contemporary US. You probably will not agree with everything he writes, but he does raise interesting issues. Brucker's book on Florence is Ture conventional, but he does address all the issues of contemporary urban life, the reasons for success and failure. Friedrich, who wrote his book at the height of the Cold War and when the city was the symbol of the East-West conflict, focuses cultural achievement in the context of political uncertainty.

Expectations: This course is designed as a "seminar" . I do expect students to come prepared and ready to discuss the material; lectures are short and are designed to give some structure for that discussion. There will be two short papers, one on each of the three two books, and a more substantial paper on Berlin. The short papers may be up to 600 words; the major paper may be up to 1,200 words. Details on the assignments will be posted when the term begins.


The papers should be submitted electronically by email with an attached as an .rtf (rich text format) file. If you don't know what the .rft format is, then please ask me.

The papers should be submitted to nic.coursework@gmail.com ... FIRST PAPER.

Second assignment: Group work on this subject: Why was this society [Renaissance Florence] so creative, so receptive to change and innovation? What Factors are significcant?


Each student serve as a specialist and able to report on one of the subjects linked here:


Schedule and Assignments:
This is the schedule for Winter Term, 2018

Day/Date Assignment
Tu. 9 Jan.

Opening Day.

  • The themes of the course. Qualities of urban life; geographical and environmental factors that contribute to the selection of sites for cities; what factors contribute to growth and decline of cities. What qualities are necessary for life? and what qualities for leading 'the good life'? How to account for a "golden age"?
  • And here is what a "talking head" suggests a perfect city should have.
Th. 11 Jan.
  • Athens: slide lecture on the city and its organization [30min]; break [5min] ;
  • Preliminary notes on reading Thornton[30min]. Additional notes on pp 1-14.
Tu. 16 Jan.

Athens: Thornton,Ch. 1-2. Notes on Reading these chapters.

Th. 18 Jan. Athens: Thornton, Read Thornton Chp 3 and 4. Notes on Reading.
Tu. 23 Jan

FIRST PAPER assigned /Due Sun, 29 January. Read: Thornton, chs. 5 and 6. Notes on reading these chapters.
Discussion of Paper.

Th. 25 Jan. Final thoughts. Thornton, Ch 7. Notes on Reading this chapter. Synthesis. On to
Tu. 30 Jan.

Florence: Florence: slide lecture. Brucker, Notes on Cp.1. Short paper on Athens due on Sunday, 29 Jan
PAPER ASSIGNMENT ...see notes / link above

Th. 1 Feb. Florence: Brucker, "economy", chp 2-reading-notes.
Tu. 6 Feb. Florence: Brucker, "politics", chp 4-reading-notes, // nic-notes.
Th. 8 Feb. Florence: Brucker, "culture", chp 6-reading-notes. // nic-notes.
Tu. 13 Feb Berlin; images of the city 1890-1918.
Th. 15 Feb Berlin: Friedrich, chps 1-2. . This is the same file as for class on Tu., images and notes. Tu re extensive notes as Th may be short on time.
Tu. 20 Feb

Berlin: Friedrich, reading notes for chps 3-5; images of the city 1919-1921;

Th. 22 Feb Berlin: Friedrich, reading notes for chps 6-7; images 1922-1923;
Tu. 27 Feb Berlin: Friedrich, extended notes for chps 8-10,and discussion points;. images 1924-1926.
Th. 1 Mar Berlin: Friedrich, chps 11-12; images, 1927-1928; Paper Assignment-Berlin.
Tu. 6 Mar Berlin: Friedrich, chps 13-15. Images, 1927-1929..
Th. 8 Mar Berlin: Friedrich, chps 16-17 ; Images2015. Paper on Berlin due at time of final examination.
Tu. 13 Mar Berlin:Images16&17; Summary and Conclusions for the Course.
Th. 15 Near Film: "All Quiet on the Western Front"