Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Understanding Urbanity: Classical and Contemporary Approaches


This course attempts to introduce students to classical and contemporary approaches to urban studies and the complications that lie within them. The objective of the course is to trace the deployment of The City in the understanding of modern life in varied historical contexts. In doing this, the course unfolds in four modules- two dedicated to discussing key classical and contemporary theorists on the city and two to gaining familiarity with urban experiences across the world. One of the latter modules focuses on exploring cities in India in their historical and political contexts. Students are expected to engage with and bring to the discussion diverse positions on urban life. The course is also intended as an exercise in exploring methodological and disciplinary diversity in urban studies, as both the texts and the discussion seek to transcend conventional boundaries of disciplines and techniques.

 Course Objectives 

  • To distinguish between various theoretical considerations of the city and locate the conceptual framework of urbanity
  • To discuss interdisciplinarity in studying urbanity
  • To describe and classify the diversity and resilience of urban forms of life

 Teaching Methodology 

  • Intensive reading
  • Interactive and discussion oriented
  • Utilisation of visual, literary, archival and media sources 



 Course Outline 

Sl. No Topic Hours
1 The City as a Conceptual Category: Classic Texts
·       Max Weber (4)
·       Georg Simmel(4)
·       Karl Marx(4)
·       Friedrich Engels(4)
16 Hours
2 The Contemporary City: Key Theorists in Urban Studies
·       Chicago School (4)
·       Manuel Castells(4)
·       David Harvey(4)
12 hours
3 The Urban around the World: Perspectives from Cities across the Globe
·       Urbanisation and related experiences from the Americas(4), Africa(4), Asia(4) and Europe (4)
16 hours
4 Urbanity in Modern India: History, Politics and the Everyday
·       Early Cities in Modern India- Origin and Growth (4)
·       Colonisation and Urban Centres- Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi and Madras (4)
·       Urbanisation in Post Independence India(4)
·        The Urban Space in Contemporary India (4)
16 hours