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Prof Richard Dennis
Room 110
26 Bedford Way
Prof Richard Dennis profile picture
  • Emeritus Professor
  • Dept of Geography
  • Faculty of S&HS

Richard Dennis read Geography as an undergraduate and postgraduate at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. His PhD thesis, 'Community and social interaction in a Victorian city: Huddersfield, 1850-1880', prepared the way for a book on English Industrial Cities of the Nineteenth Century: A Social Geography (Cambridge University Press, 1984). After a year as Junior Research Fellow in Geography at the University of Sheffield, he was appointed Lecturer at UCL in 1974, and promoted to Reader in 1991 and Professor in 2009. He spent periods as a Leverhulme Research Fellow and Research Associate at the University of Toronto (1986-87), as Visiting Lecturer in Geography at UCLA (1982), and as Visiting Professor at Macalaster College and the University of Minnesota (1991). He is the author of Cities in Modernity: Representations and Productions of Metropolitan Space, 1840-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and co-editor of Architectures of Hurry - Mobilities, Cities and Modernity (Routledge, 2018) and The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History (Routledge, 2020). He is a Trustee and former Editorial Committee member of The London Journal, and was also previously co-editor of Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography and assistant editor of The Journal of Urban History. He is on the Editorial Board of The Gissing Journal. He is an Associate Fellow of the Institute of the Americas. 

Research Themes
Research Summary
My research focuses on the modernity of cities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, paying particular attention to the relationship between questions of modern identity and experience of urban life and modernization in the spatial structure and built form of major British and North American cities. This framework is best expressed in my book, Cities in Modernity: Representations and Productions of Metropolitan Space, 1840-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2008). Currently there are three principal strands to my research:
  • on experience of the city as expressed in literature, especially in the writings of the late Victorian novelist, George Gissing, focused on London, and on his contemporaries and equivalents in New York and Toronto.
  • on new forms of urban residence, including model dwellings for the poor and mansion flats/ apartments for the better-off, and on planning and cultural conflicts associated with these developments - debates about zoning, family life, mobility and transiency, and the place of independent women in late 19th and early 20th century cities
  • on public transport and the city, especially controversies, environmental and planning problems, and public anxiety and excitement surrounding the introduction of underground and elevated railways.
Teaching Summary
Prior to retirement I taught the following courses:
  • GEOG 1001:

    London:A Geographical Introduction I was the convener of this major first-year course, and taught modules on 'The Historical Geography of London' and 'Housing Problems'.

  • GEOG 2003:

    Methods in Human Geography I taught a module on historical methods.

  • GEOG 3025:

    Cities and Modernity A specialist third-year course closely related to my research interests in British and North American cities, 1850-1939.

  • GEOGG037
Modern Cities: Representing Modernity, 1850-1920 An MSc level course, focused on questions of the production of ‘modern’ urban spaces and their representation in social surveys, cartography, art and literature.
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