Thematic Seminar Sense & the city. Urban Space and Experience (19th and early 20th Century).
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-GESB3210
Credits (ECTS)10
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; History;
dr. A.M.G. Arnout
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A.M.G. Arnout
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. A.M.G. Arnout
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A.M.G. Arnout
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2021
PER 1-PER 2  (30/08/2021 to 30/01/2022)
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksAccessible to exchange students
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After succesfully completing this course you will 
  • have gained 
    • knowledge of the recent research in urban history 
    • knowledge of urban developments during the 19th and early 20th century
    • a working knowledge of historical concepts regarding individual experience, the historicity of those experiences as well as their historical workings
    • a working knowledge of spatial theory 
  • be able to 
    • independently find and select secondary sources that are relevant to the theme of this course
    • apply the knowledge and insights gained in this course in an individual research project
    • formulate a clearly defined and relevant research question that fits with the theme of the course
    • find, select, contextualize and interpret primary sources in a methodologically sound way 
    • answer your research question in a well-written and clearly structured scholarly essay, complete with adequate annotation
    • report on your findings in a convincing presentation 
    • give constructive and useful feedback on the work of your fellow students 
    • use (peer)feedback to improve your own work
During this course, students go through the entire process of doing research: understanding and summarizing the scholarly debate with regard to a specific theme, formulating a research question, analysing primary and secondary sources and interpreting them in a methodologically sound way, answering the research question and presenting the results both verbally and in a well-written and clearly structured written essay. Themes are chosen by the lecturers based on their own research expertise. The essay is part of the writing dossier.    
For a large part of the world, the nineteenth and early twentieth century was a period of most intense urban growth. It is a well-known trope in historiography that this growth came with fundamental changes to the demographic profile, the socio-economic structure and the physical lay-out of a whole range of cities. Scholars have long assumed that these processes had far-reaching consequences for the men, women and children that lived and worked in those cities, but research focusing on their actual experience has been relatively scarce. 

This course sets about exploring precisely those experiences. It seeks to uncover how urban dwellers experienced their changes urban environments. Rather than trying to add color to the past, we are looking to gain a deeper understanding of what it meant to live in a city around 1900. What social and cultural fault lines determined the experience of the city in this period. What role did gender, class, race and age play? How did individual experiences shape urban space and culture?

Through the study of the existing scholarship and through our own original empirical research, we will try to find an answer to these questions. We will find inspiration within the scholarly fields of urban, sensory and emotions history. In recent years historians of the senses and the emotions have demonstrated that the way we feel is by no means universal or a-historical. Sensory and emotional experiences and practices shape and are shaped by the historical context in which they appear. Throughout the course of history people from different backgrounds, places and times have had profoundly different experiences of smell and sound. Concepts such as stench and noise have been associated with different smells and the irritation over them has presented a different experience depending on time, place, culture and social group. 

In this course, we will inventory and study the existing scholarship on this theme and we will conduct our own individual research projects to contribute to this field. The challenge of this specific theme course consists of tracing and explaining historical developments in sensations that first appear to be universal and ‘culture-less’. 

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information


Assumed previous knowledge
Admission to themed lectures in B2 and B3 is contingent on successfully completing the courses, which are part of the writing and research skills track: RADAr: Academic Language Proficiency (NB:before 2020-2021 the Language Proficiency was part of History of Globalization ór Tutorage), Tutorage and Study Skills, Writing History.
See the Education and Examination Regulations (EER) 2021-2022.

Exchange students: Only admitted if you are in a BA-degree program in History (USA: majoring in History).

Required materials
Publisher:Via Brightspace
Title:Writing History! A companion for historians
Author:J. Kamp et. al.
Publisher:Amsterdam University Press, 2018

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Test weight30
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 2, Block PER 2

Minimum grade

Test weight70
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 2, Block PER 3

Minimum grade