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The Invisible City - MST00066M

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  • Department: Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Sarah Rees Jones
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

Cities are places born out of creating and exchanging, of moving in and moving on, of remembering and forgetting. Rather than study cities through their structures and institutions this module will instead focus on the experience of city living as it emerged out of networks of interactions and imaginations.

Our chronological range will be long (c. 900-1500) but our geographical range will be narrow: the medieval city of York and its situation within wider networks spanning the North Sea world.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

The module aims to explore both the use of networks in the study of the medieval city and medieval ideas about the ways in which networks of knowledge were created and passed on both spatially and temporally.

It aims to introduce approaches, methodologies and sources associated with the disciplines of Archaeology, Art History, Literature and History. It will introduce students to the methodologies and approaches of interdisciplinary scholarship and will ask how consideration of modern network theory challenges the ways in which we think about discipline boundaries or might bring new light to bear on the ways in which the sources we use were created and developed meaning.

Module learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding of:

  1. Methodologies of the disciplines of Archaeology, Art History, Literature and History.
  2. Interdisciplinarity as a way of understanding the past.
  3. Aspects of the development of medieval cities in the North Sea World over the period c.900-1500.



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback report within 6 weeks of essay submission.

Indicative reading

  • Bartholomew Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum, Book 15 De regionibus et provinciis [On regions and places]
  • Giles of Rome, The Governance of Kings and Princes: John Trevisa’s Middle English Translation of the De VikingRegimine Principium of Aegidius Romanus, ed David C. Fowler, Charles F. Briggs and Paul G. Remley (New York, 1997), 164-168.
  • Ignacio Farias, ‘Decentring the object of urban studies’, Urban Assemblages: How Actor Network Theory Changes Urban Studies (Routledge, 2010), pp. 1-24 (esp. pp. 1-16)
  • Bruno Latour, Paris: Invisible City (2006) - section 1
  • Alber-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked: The New Science of Networks (2003)  Chapter 5
  • David Wallace, ‘Chaucer and the Absent City’ Chaucerian Polity
  • Sarah Rees Jones, ‘City and Country, Wealth and Labour’ in Peter Brown (ed.), A Companion to Medieval English Literature and Culture c. 1350-1500 (2007), pp. 56-73
  • Sarah Rees Jones, York, The Making of a City, c. 1068-1350 (Oxford, 2013), Chapter 7, ‘Town, Country, Trade, Fairs, Markets and Festivals’, pp. 235-269
  • Sindbaek, S.M. 2007. Networks and nodal points: the emergence of towns in early Viking Age Scandinavia Antiquity 81: 119–32.
  • Sindbæk, S. 2012. Viking Disruptions or Growing Integration? Contextualising Communication Networks in the 10th century North Sea, in S. Kleingärtner & G. Zeilinger (ed.) Raumbildung durch netzwerke ? der Ostseeraum zwischen wikingepzeitund spätmittelalter aus archäologischerund geschichtswissenschaftlicher perspektiveBonn: dr. Rudolf Habelt gmbh, pp.19-38.
  • Croix, S. 2014. Permanency in Early Medieval Emporia: Reassessing Ribe European Journal of Archaeology
  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  • Domesday Book
  • Fenwick (ed.) The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381
  • England’s Immigrants Database online

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.