Narrating Poverty in Brazilian Literature and Film
AHSEM-UA 186 (class # 20693)
Instructor: Marta Peixoto
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
This course, CONDUCTED IN ENGLISH, offers an introduction to Brazilian literature and film by focusing on a topic that has attracted a number of excellent Brazilian writers and filmmakers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Taking as a point of departure familiar clichés about poverty in developing nations, the course will show how this problem has been considered from inside the country in question. Although some of the secondary reading is drawn from other contexts and disciplines (anthropology and political science), the course focuses primarily on modes of imagining and documenting the experience of poverty in Brazilian literature and film, and about the uses and implications of these narratives. We will discuss texts by Graciliano Ramos, Carolina Maria de Jesus, Clarice Lispector, Rubem Fonseca, and Patricia Melo and view films (Barren Lives, The Scavengers, The Hour of the Star, Pixote, Bus 174, City of God, Babilônia 2000 and Black Orpheus), among others, in light of these questions. For each text or film we will ask: what is at stake in representing poverty in just this way? How do these narratives circulate, where and to what end? Who profits and who doesn't? In what historical moment and cultural setting did they arise? How do they present the connections of poverty with violence, stigmatization, and citizenship rights? How do they frame the ethical responsibilities of the writer or filmmaker, as well as of readers and viewers? As these questions can be asked in a broader context, this course also aims to sharpen students' critical thinking about widely prevalent modes of representing poverty. Cross-listed with the Department of English as ENGL-UA 252.009 and with the Department of Portuguese as PORT-UA 851.001.
Marta Peixoto is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese. Her studies focus on Brazilian literature and culture, and she has written books and essays on the major 20th-century writers Machado de Assis, João Cabral de Melo Neto and Clarice Lispector, as well as on other novelists and poets. Her work draws on gender theory and more recently on theories of affect. She has also published essays on Brazilian cinema, focusing on representations of urban crises, and is now working on a book of essays on gender and poetry.
Game Theory and the Humanities
AHSEM-UA 237 (class # 10347)
Instructor: Steven Brams
Wednesday, 4:55-7:25 p.m.
Prerequisite: Calculus I or advanced placement in mathematics, along with a willingness to learn and apply sophisticated reasoning to analyze the interactions of players in games.
Game theory is a mathematical theory of strategy that has been applied to the analysis of conflict and cooperation in such fields as economics, political science, and biology. In this seminar, we discuss more unusual applications—to history, literature, philosophy, the Bible, theology, and law. We discuss Abraham’s decision to offer his son Isaac for sacrifice; the choices made by accused witches and their persecutors in medieval witch trials; Lady Macbeth's incitement of her husband to murder King Duncan in Shakespeare’s play; several strategic games played by presidents and their rivals in domestic crises (e.g., the Civil War) and international crises (e.g., the Cuban missile crisis), and coping mechanisms used by characters in catch-22 games (including those in Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22). Cross-listed with the Department of Politics as POL-UA 895.001.
Steven J. Brams is Professor of Politics at NYU. He is the author of several books—most recently, Mathematics and Democracy and Game Theory and the Humanities—that apply game theory and social choice theory to voting and elections, bargaining and fairness, international relations, and the Bible, theology, and literature. He holds two patents for fair-division algorithms and is Chairman of the Advisory Board of Fair Outcomes, Inc., and a former president of the Peace Science Society and of the Public Choice Society. He is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.
Latin American Cinema: Gender in Film
AHSEM-UA 254 (class # 21793)
Instructor: Licia Fiol-Matta
Monday and Wednesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
The course considers Latin American Cinema via the lens of gender analysis. We will examine a variety of instances where gender, principally as regards women, is represented whether as status quo, working through, survival, dissent, or insurgency in Latin American films. Topics include “womanliness as masquerade” (Rivière), phallic and other mothers, melodrama, racial tales, loose women, nonfiction women, migrations of femininity and masculinity, singer-stars, and comedy. The students will learn how to analyze film critically, with the proper vocabulary and concepts for film analysis, while simultaneously learning how to discuss gender conceptually and learn about how central gender representations are to narrative cinema. Students will write a research paper expanding on one of the areas covered on the syllabus, perhaps a single filmmaker's work, or a corpus of representations reflecting an era of this cinema or a particular knot of concern, such as precarity or sexuality. Cross-listed with the Department of Spanish as SPAN-UA 952.001.
Licia Fiol-Matta is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. She received an AB from Princeton University and a PhD from Yale University, both in Comparative Literature. She is the author of A Queer Mother for the Nation: The State and Gabriela Mistral (Minnesota) and The Great Woman Singer: Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican Music (Duke). Fiol-Matta is the recipient of grants from the Ford Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is co-editor of the series New Directions in Latino American Cultures (Palgrave) and The Puerto Rico Reader: History, Culture, Politics (under contract, Duke). Fiol-Matta writes on Latin American cultural studies, women's and gender studies, and music.
Anthropoc[S]cenes: Performing Climate Chaos
AHSEM-UA 255 (class # 20972)
Instructor: Una Chaudhuri
Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
This course will examine the range of artistic responses to the rapidly emerging and deeply confounding phenomena of climate change. Though largely human caused—so much so that scientists have proposed a new name for the current age: the Anthropocene, “Age of Man”—these phenomena are nevertheless increasingly beyond the reach of human technological solutions or predictive models; as such, they challenge us to revise our understanding of how our species relates to the non-human world around us. We will explore the ways in which contemporary theatre artists, film-makers and visual artists are engaging with these emerging realities, and ask what arts practice can learn from the approaches emerging from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, philosophy of science, politics, and philosophy. Finally, we will engage in experiments to seek our own answers to the question of art’s role in the age of climate chaos. Cross-listed with the Department of Drama in the Tisch School of the Arts as THEA-UT 650.001 and with the Department of Dramatic Literature as DRLIT-UA 175.001.
Una Chaudhuri is Collegiate Professor and Professor of English, Drama, and Environmental Studies at New York University. She is a pioneer in the fields of “eco-theatre” and Animal Studies, and recently published books in both these fields: Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (co-edited with Holly Hughes), The Ecocide Project: Research Theatre and Climate Change (co-authored with Shonni Enelow) and The Stage Lives of Animals: Zooësis and Performance. Chaudhuri participates in collaborative creative projects, including the multi-platform intervention entitled Dear Climate, and is a founding member of CLIMATE LENS.
AHSEM-UA 256 (class # 21252)
Instructor: Nicola Cipani
Tuesday, 12:30-3:15 p.m.
This course examines objects with a dual nature: literary artifacts that are also visual compositions — texts that function simultaneously as pictures. While a primary focus will be on Italian 20th century experimental literary forms (parole in libertà, poesia visiva, concrete poetry), students will also explore a wider historical range of such textual-visual hybrids, from the classical world through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque period. In order to trace the transnational circulation of visual models, comparative examples and references from English and other languages will be offered. Specific readings and discussions will address theoretical issues raised by iconic texts — how do we read visual poetry? What does it mean to be a reader and a viewer at the same time? Cross-listed with the Department of English as ENGL-UA 252.008.
Nicola Cipani is Associate Clinical Professor at the Department of Italian Studies and has been working at NYU for fourteen years. His interests include reception of antiquity in medieval and early modern culture, renaissance philosophy, intersection of verbal/visual media (art of memory, emblem books, representations of dreams, visual poetry), and 20th century experimental literature. At the Italian Department he has served in the capacity of Director of Language Programs, Director of Summer Programs, and Director of Undergraduate Studies.