Global Urban Humanities Initiative

New Course for Fall 2015

The Modern and Contemporary City

City Planning 290B/Comparative Literature 240

Tuesdays 2-5PM
Wurster Hall 314B

Instructors: Mia Fuller (Italian Studies) and Harsha Ram (Slavic Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature)

This seminar will focus on the paradoxical nature of the modern city, at once the site of alienation and of emancipation, of political power as well as cultural experimentation and resistance. The seminar seeks to complicate and enrich the trajectory of received urban theory by looking to the diverse modernities of cities such as Paris, Moscow, Addis Ababa, Tbilisi, Detroit, Mumbai and Mexico City.  

Cultural production to be read or discussed will include poetry, selected fiction, art and urban spaces from monuments to restaurants, cafés, squares and streets. 

The course is one of four new interdisciplinary, team-taught courses offered each year by the Global Urban Humanities Initiative. To learn more about this course, click here.

Linguistic Landscape 7

The 7th International Linguistic Landscape Workshop

Thursday-Saturday, May 7-9, 2015
Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley

Questioning Boundaries, Opening Space: Advancing New Topics, Methods, and Applications, the 7th International Linguistic Landscape Workshop and first in the series to take place in the U.S., will be at Berkeley Thursday-Saturday, May 7-9.

Registration cost: $170
Registration deadline: April 30

Co-sponsored by the Global Urban Humanities Initiative

For more information and a detailed schedule, visit



On the afternoon of April 9th, Maya Krishna Rao lead a one-and-a-half-hour workshop on the principles of Kathakali, including an introduction to working with breath, rhythm, gesture and facial expressions, and an emphasis on how these tools may inspire the imagination of the contemporary performer, storyteller or activist. This was followed by light refreshments and a Q&A session in which Rao also offered clips of her past work in New Delhi.

The event was free and open to the public.

Rao’s visit drew audiences from diverse student bodies across campus. Her visit fostered interdisciplinary conversations on the ways in which performance, new and trans-media art practice, and gesture (drawn from Kathakali) may offer a space for critical reflection on the ‘intimate and the immense,’ or, the body and its engagement with larger social and political forces in urban spaces.

Maya Krishna Rao (b. New Delhi 1953) has been producing work as a dance and theater artist, director, writer, educator and activist in India for the past 30 years. She combines many years of intensive Kathakali (17th century masked dance drama) practice with burlesque, political cabaret, street theater and new media tactics to create compelling solo pieces that critically engage current socio-political issues in urban India: in recent years, her performances have thematically addressed the questions of rural-urban migration, contemporary consumerist culture in New Delhi, gender-based violence in the city, and urban protest culture. For her extensive body of innovative work, she received the Government of India’s highest honor for a practicing artist in 2010, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

This event was co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance + Performance Studies, Global Urban Humanities Initiative, Institute for South Asia Studies, and the Contemporary Drama Working Group.

Sensing Cityscapes in the News!

Check out Rebecca Parr's article in the Contra Costa Times about the Sensing Cityscapes students' final projects--three interactive light installations in the City of San Leandro.

The Global Urban Humanities Initiative brings together the humanities and environmental design to investigate cities and the urban human experience. Thanks to a generous 3.5-year grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Initiative is creating innovative cross-disciplinary courses and sponsoring symposia to energize scholarship that challenges traditional boundaries. To keep up to date with us, join our email list.