Cities in the Classroom: Courses

Back to Cities home

Below is a list of cities-focused courses that will be offered during our two-year exploration. Some are available for auditing for students, staff, and the greater Fairfield community. To find out more about auditing a course, visit Part Time Studies.


Regional Economic Development
Dr. Mark LeClair
This course includes two key components: a theoretical examination of the basic theories of regional economic development such as growth poles, spillovers, infrastructure requirements, and center-periphery analysis; and an application of these theories to a specific economic issue. Students participate in a comprehensive study of a significant economic issue facing a Connecticut community, in cooperation with a regional agency, resulting in detailed analysis of the issues and potential solutions.


Explorations in Education: Introduction to Teaching, Learning and Schooling
Drs. Patricia Calderwood, Jen Goldberg, & Stephanie Storms
In this course, students discover how education is accomplished in schools through the social construction of teaching and learning. Through participant observation, service learning, reflections, assigned readings, class discussions and collaboration, students contribute positively to student learning in local schools and communities with diverse (socioeconomic, linguistic, race/ethnicity) populations, understand the complexities of schooling from multiple insider perspectives, and engage in the process of discerning whether to pursue a career in education. Successful completion of this course is one of the prerequisites for admission to the teacher education program. The course is open to all interested students.


Web Development
Dr. Amalia Rusu
This course introduces the student to developing applications for use on the World Wide Web. Students learn basic n-tier concepts for designing distributed applications and gain hands on experience through the construction of Web-based applications. The course covers concepts that allow communication over the Web. This includes designing and authoring Web pages, markup languages, the client-side document object model, usability, search engine optimization, and client-side dynamic Web pages.


Cities in Literature
Dr. Johanna Garvey
This course offers a comparative, cross-cultural approach to literature about the city, focusing primarily on fiction from the nineteenth century to the present. Beginning with a novel by Balzac, stories by Gogol' and Dostoevsky, and poetry by Baudelaire and Whitman, we discuss topics including detective narratives, the figure of the flâneur, the country/city dichotomy, the crowd, the metropolis and mental life, and the rise of an urban middle class. In texts by authors such as James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Naguib Mahfouz, Monica Ali, Edward P. Jones, and Paulette Poujol-Oriol, issues surrounding gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and citizenship emerge as central topics.

Literacy and Language
Dr. Betsy Bowen
This course examines the concept of literacy in the United States. Students explore four questions: How did they themselves become literate? How has literacy been defined in U.S. history? How do children learn to write? Why do 30 million American adults have severely limited literacy? Students have the opportunity to put theory into practice by working with young children on literacy and school readiness, through the service-learning component of the course.

Urban Texts & Contexts
Dr. Johanna Garvey
This course explores literary and visual evocations of the city from an interdisciplinary and theoretical perspective. In many ways, a city is as much a mental construct as a physical one, referred to as image, idea, myth, metaphor, vision, catalyst, and more. The course considers how such terms apply to representations of a metropolis, as well as how the city can be viewed as artifact or fiction. Drawing upon theories from geography, architecture, sociology, and urban studies, we examine the traditional dichotomy between city and country, the relationship between gender and sexuality and urban representation, and the ways that community is defined and envisioned in contemporary urban contexts.

Modernism in World Literature: Cities of Modernism
Dr. Nels Pearson
A survey of the international literary movement known as "Modernism" (roughly 1890-1930, though earlier and later figures are often included). The radical aesthetics of literary Modernism respond to the rapid social and political transformations of the 20th century and to innovative styles in the visual arts, film, music, and architecture. They are also controversial: Are these new styles subversive or reactionary? The art of Europe's elite or the art of a global revolution? Students learn to debate these issues in an informed way, and produce core-integrative projects that explore the connections between modernist literature and other fields of study.

James Joyce (Dublin)
Dr. Nels Pearson
An intensive study of James Joyce's comic novel Ulysses, emphasizing thorough close reading of the text, understanding the work relative to Joyce's other fictional masterpieces, and extensive reading of related criticism and scholarship. Highly recommended: students should have read at least one complete work by James Joyce before taking the course.

Harlem Renaissance
Dr. Johanna Garvey
This course examines African American literature and culture from Washington's Up from Slavery and Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, through the 1920s and the Great Depression, to the eve of U.S. participation in World War II. Grounded in U.S history, the course explores fiction, poetry, and other forms of cultural production such as painting, sculpture, film, and music. It examines the aftermath of Reconstruction, the effects of the Great Migration, and the responses to Du Bois's call for a "Talented Tenth." The Harlem Renaissance provides the major focus, as do the debates about whether there was such a movement at all. The course looks towards the development of a contemporary Black tradition in literature and culture.

Writing New York City
Dr. Johanna Garvey

Special Topics: Early American Literature
Fall 2012

Writing Communities and Global Cities
Dr. Gale Bellas
Fall 2012
This course engages students in the academic life by introducing them to the many kinds of reading and writing they will do across the curriculum and beyond. Students learn to draft, revise, and edit their own texts and respond effectively to the texts of their peers.

Memoirs of the Inner City
Dr. Gale Bellas
Spring 2013
This course builds on the reading, writing, and critical inquiry work of English 11, focusing on the development of increasingly sophisticated reading, writing, researching, and inquiry skills through the exploration of literary texts and their contexts.

Texts & Contexts: Public Discourse, Writing and “Civitas”
Dr. Cinthia Ganett
Fall 2012
This course engages students in the academic life by introducing them to the many kinds of reading and writing they will do across the curriculum and beyond. Students learn to draft, revise, and edit their own texts and respond effectively to the texts of their peers.

Empire City: Reading and Writing New York City
Dr. Mary Murphy
Spring 2013
This course builds on the reading, writing, and critical inquiry work of English 11, focusing on the development of increasingly sophisticated reading, writing, researching, and inquiry skills through the exploration of literary texts and their contexts.


Sex, Death and the Victorian City
Dr. Emily Orlando
This course focuses on transatlantic literature and culture of the "fin de siècle" and the 19th-century work that set the stage for it. We'll examine texts from the United States, France, Scotland, Ireland, and England, considering each artist's relationship to the end of the century, to each other, and to the culture they helped produce. We also will consider the ways in which fin-de-siècle anxieties remain with us as we advance into the new millennium. Following this trajectory will take us through the period's formal artistic developments (or re-developments)-romanticism, the gothic, realism, naturalism, and aestheticism. Our readings will embrace such turn-of-the-century concerns as the New Woman, decadence, degeneration, Darwinism, art for art's sake, imperialism, naturalism, psychoanalysis, sexology, eugenics, and socialism. As we move through our readings, we will try to connect the literature to the culture and history that produced it. In keeping with the university-wide theme of "cities," we will consider the relationship between texts and their urban contexts. From "yellow books" and "yellow journalism" to "yellow wallpaper," ours will be a discussion-driven seminar that seeks to help students strengthen their critical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills


Math in the City
Janet Striuli
Spring 2013

Modern Languages and Literatures

Rome in the Cultural Imagination
Dr. Mary Ann Carolan
The city of Rome has been a source of wonder and amazement throughout recorded history. This course examines the foundation myths of the Eternal City in contrast with the historical accounts, discusses early accounts of the life of the city, evaluates the reasons for its decline and fall, considers the riches of Renaissance and Baroque periods, reads poetry by the Roman people, and examines Rome's centrality for the world of art. This course also focuses on the political importance of the city from its inception through the Risorgimento (Italian Unification), to Fascism and World War II, to present day.

The City and Modern China
Dr. Jiwei Xiao
The course studies the literary and visual representations of the city in modern China through a sampling of stories, novels, photos, films, and critical essays. Students discuss how literature and visual art bear witnesses to the changing faces of the metropolis and urban life during the time of Chinese modernization and globalization and how the city expresses modern ethos, desires and paradoxes in literary works and films. All texts are in English. Films have subtitles.

Composition and Conversation: Paris
Dr. Joel Goldfield

Peace and Justice Studies

Capstone Research Seminar in Peace & Justice Studies: New Orleans
Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka
This course creates a context for integrating and reflecting on experiences and knowledge acquired in the program by providing the students the opportunity to examine how the major connects to the values and practices of peace and justice. Students undertake a major research project focused on applying their practical engagement with peace and justice issues to broader theoretical frameworks with attention to contemplating a vision for change in the future. The course is built around student-led discussion and an in-depth research project that analyzes an issue from the student's major area of study through the lens of peace and justice.


Philosophy and the City
Dr. Ryan Drake
In this course taught by 11 professors, the paradoxical nature of the city will reveal itself in diverse forms as we investigate the power that urban life, and its correlates, exercises on our thinking, our perception, our social relations, and on our collective imagination. Over the course of the semester, our primary objective will be to study philosophically the different ways in which the urban landscape â€" and all that it implies â€" shapes our sense of what it means to be human. But we will as well be concerned with how the city both presents problems that threaten human well-being and how it can make us aware of hidden potentialities for what human flourishing could look like.

Religious Studies

Jews and Judaism in America (and U.S. cities)
Dr. Ellen Umansky
Fall 2012
What has it meant and what does it mean today to be a Jew in America? Viewing Judaism and Jewishness as inseparable from one another, Jews remain a distinct though by no means homogenous religious and ethnic group in American society. This course explores the religious, cultural, social, economic, and political diversity among American Jews as well as distinctive beliefs, concerns, and experiences that continue to united them.


Urban Sociology: New York City
Dr. Kurt Schlichting
This course explores the nature of the city and growth of metropolitan regions in the contemporary world; the ecological approach and the use of demographic data in the analysis of modern urban communities; social organization of metropolitan regions and the emergence of urban-suburban conflict; big-city politics, community control, and regional government as dimensions of organization and disorganization in city life; and city planning and urban development at local and national levels as efforts to solve the urban crisis.

Visual and Performing Arts

Arts of Spain and Colonial America
Dr. Victor Deupi
This course surveys the art and architecture produced in the complex cultural landscape of early modern Spain. Students examine art traditionally termed Renaissance and baroque in the context of Spain's multicultural past and its ever-expanding role in the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds. Topics include the role of art collections in introducing foreign tastes to Spain, Philip II as a patron of the arts, the building and decoration of El Escorial and the Alcázar in Madrid, Diego Velázquez and the notion of a courtier-artist, the architecture of the Churriguera family, and the colonial art and architecture of the viceroyalties of Mexico and Peru.

Origins and Transformations of Western Art (Ur, Athens, Rome, and Paris)
Dr. Marice Rose
From the mysterious depths of Paleolithic cave painting to the soaring heights of Gothic cathedral vaulting, this course surveys the early history of Western art. The course begins with the origins of art-making in prehistoric, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures before viewing the transformations of these ancient arts traditions in early Christian and medieval societies. The course offers students a working vocabulary with which to compose visual analyses of works of art and evaluate them in a social and historical context.

Visual Culture since 1400 (focus on Paris, Florence, Rome, and New York)
Dr. Marice Rose
This course explores the ways in which people use images to record their world. From the development of linear perspective in the early Renaissance to the assimilation of advances in optical sciences in the baroque period and the incorporation of photography in the 19th century, art has responded to technological advances and created distinct and expressive visual cultures. By exploring painting, sculpture, the graphic arts, and architecture, students learn to analyze how the contemporary world is designed and defined by a visual heritage that incorporates historical images into film, television, and advertising.

History of Architecture
Dr. Victor Deupi
This introductory course surveys the major periods and key monuments in the history of architecture – largely in the West - from antiquity to the present. Topics include Greek and Roman temples and civic architecture; Medieval mosques and cathedrals; Renaissance and Baroque cities and their monuments; Early Modern factories and gardens; Machine Age museums and houses; and contemporary architectural developments of all sorts. Students will work with actual buildings in writing assignments, and learn the skills necessary to critique and interpret the built environment of the past and present in the United States and beyond

The Archaeology of Athens
Dr. Katherine Schwab
This course comprises a chronological survey of the physical remains of the ancient city of Athens and the Attic peninsula from the Prehistoric age through the Late Roman period (30,000 B.C.–6th century A.D.). Recent systematic excavations within the modern city have revealed a substantial amount of new information about ancient Athens, particularly during the Roman period. Students study the growing archaeological record including the results of recent excavations to gain an understanding of the ancient city through material finds. One class on location is scheduled at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On campus, students study the Metropolitan Museum of Art Cast Collection with particular emphasis on important examples from Athens and Attica during the Greek Archaic and Classical periods, and from the Roman period.

Green Architecture
Dr. Marice Rose
There has been a recent awareness of the need for an architecture that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. This course will focus on the latest sustainable design principles by studying a wide range of commercial, industrial, and residential "green architecture." It will examine the Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design (LEED) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council and look at the new aesthetic of Green Architecture. Students will survey work bringing these standards to college campuses across the country and submit a report summarizing their findings that will include recommendations to help make Fairfield University a greener campus.