Looking for readings to impart a sense of current academic urban studies
February 10, 2013 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Long-term, I'm thinking of going back to grad school but I'm unsure what subject I'd want to do it in. In parallel, I simply have an itch to know more about urban studies that I'd like to scratch. Given this is a long-term goal, I thought it would be nice to get to the point where I am at least quasi-fluent in modern urban studies. I'm looking for any suggestions towards this end, though I was thinking about just compiling a list of influential works and papers, read those, then follow any particularly intriguing citations and so on. My goal is to at least have a critical (ideally not shallow but not super deep) understand at the level of a masters student, let's say. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
posted by wooh to Education (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The obvious classic is Jane Jacobs for a North American perspective.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:14 PM on February 10, 2013

Response by poster: Jane Jacobs is very good and is definitely already on my list. I guess I'm curious what work has been done in the field post-Jacobs?
posted by wooh at 10:17 PM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: Hm, off the top of my head, as a second year urban planning PhD student, these are the thinkers that have pushed the field in interesting directions

Leonie Sandercock
John Friedmann
Susan Fainstein (The Just City)
David Harvey (Spaces of Capital, Spaces of Hope, Rebel Cities)
Sharon Zukin (as a kind of next gen Jane Jacobs for a post-urban renewal, gentrifying NYC)

My current area of interest is public space, so if you want to explore that topic, try:
Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space
Setha Low's work on gated communities
Don Mitchell's The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

Another book I've read recently that I recommend
Regaining the Dream: How to Renew the Promise of Homeownership for America's Working Families (for a concise, convincing account of the housing market collapse)
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:12 PM on February 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

You may want to grind through all the "urban-flavoured" entries in bldgblog to get a sense of what is popularly discussed.

Long-term, I'm thinking of going back to grad school but I'm unsure what subject I'd want to do it in.

Architecture, if you can summon up some passion? Start by taking a lifedrawing course and a cabinetmaking course or sculpture course at a community college.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:44 AM on February 11, 2013

Best answer: The Geography of Nowhere - how we ended up with unhealthy urban cities.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:30 AM on February 11, 2013

Best answer: The City Reader would be a good anthology to check out, especially since you are looking to familiarize yourself with the field in general.

Planetizen's Contemporary Debates is also a good quick overview of current approaches to urban planning. It's a great website too.
posted by susanvance at 6:50 AM on February 11, 2013

Response by poster: Some great answers, thank you guys very much.

sebastienbailard: Is it cool if I memail you for some more specific discussion about this stuff

Keep 'em coming, folks :)
posted by wooh at 7:34 AM on February 11, 2013

Response by poster: Ack, I also meant spamandkimchi as well as sebastienbailard. I'm just going to memail you both regardless :)
posted by wooh at 7:53 AM on February 11, 2013

I teach graduate school in architecture, and I'm impressed by the good suggestions you are getting here.
Easy to read on the shoulders of Jacobs is Jan Gehl, Life Between Buildings, and everyone needs to read Rem Koolhaas, Delerious New York. At this day and age maybe less for the content and more for the methodology.
posted by mumimor at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2013

Response by poster: I would also be curious to know what Urban Studies/Planning masters and PhD programs are well respected (ideally programs with a more theoretical bent).
posted by wooh at 11:11 AM on February 11, 2013

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