First-Year Seminars Fall 2017-Spring 2018

Overview: What is a First-Year Seminar?

•    All students must register for a CAS First-Year Seminar in either the fall or spring semester of their first year. The seminar does not need to have any connection with your anticipated field of study or future career.

•    The subject matter of the seminars spans the full range of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The seminars are small, intellectually stimulating classes that are taught by extraordinary faculty, many of whom are leaders in their fields.

•    First-Year Seminars are a component of the College Core Curriculum, and with the rest of the Core it is a crucial part of your liberal arts education in CAS.

•    The seminars are also linked to the College Cohort Program. In fact, the other students in your seminar will also be members of your First-Year Cohort.

•    Seminars are listed below in alphabetical order by title. Fall and spring seminars are not separated from each other in this list.

History and Goals of the First-Year Seminar Program

The First-Year Seminar program in the College of Arts and Science was established in 1992 at the urging of a committee of distinguished faculty members from several schools in the University. The aim was to offer freshmen, in their very first semester, the opportunity to be in a small, intellectually stimulating class taught by an expert professor. From the start, the program proved to be highly popular with students and instructors alike. The number of seminars has grown from a mere seven in the fall of 1992 to ninety in recent years (now offered in both fall and spring). The instructors are drawn not only from the College’s faculty but also from NYU’s professional schools and from among New York’s professional, cultural, and governmental leaders. With the launching of the College Cohort Program in fall 2012, every CAS first-year student is now required to take one of these seminars. Originally called “Freshman Seminars,” they were renamed “First-Year Seminars” for the 2017-2018 academic year and thereafter.

The First-Year Seminars have as their goals to put new students into contact with leading thinkers, to introduce them to important subjects, to challenge them intellectually through rigorous standards of analysis and oral and written argumentation, and to prepare them to conduct their own research. To that end, they stress demanding reading and writing assignments that introduce students to an essential research skill—such as a literature review, quantitative reasoning, critical use of primary sources, the identification of a research problem, critical analysis of texts, or encounters with works of art. In addition to participating actively in class discussions, students are expected to give oral presentations in class. A final paper will typically, though not always, have gone through one or more revisions, perhaps revised with the benefit of in-class comments. In other seminars the focus may be on individual or group projects.

FYSEM-UA 598
After the End: Post-Apocalypse Novels in the 20th Century
Fall 2017
Instructor: David L. Hoover         syllabus
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

Many authors have speculated about what would happen if (most) humans were destroyed. Authors have removed humans by natural disasters like floods, fires, earthquakes, and mysterious poisonous clouds or rays. They have imagined alien invasions, plagues, epidemics, agricultural collapses, and reproductive failure. More recently, humans themselves have become popular as causes of apocalypses because global thermonuclear war, lethal pollution, disastrous over-population, genetic engineering, and climate change have become realistic possible scenarios for the collapse of our species. This seminar will examine a variety of apocalypses from the 20th century with special attention to ones that have implications for the nature of humanity and human society. Most of the novels we will read treat an apocalypse as a kind of thought-experiment: what would happen if . . . ? Some focus more on the collapse of human institutions, culture, morality, and religion, others on the challenges the survivors face, and still others focus on the potential for the re-creation of human society or the creation of an alternative kind of society.

DAVID L. HOOVER is Professor of English at New York University, where he has taught for thirty-five years in the areas of digital humanities, science fiction, Chaucer, history of the English language, and linguistic stylistics. His most recent publications include Digital Literary Studies: Corpus Approaches to Poetry, Prose, and Drama, with Jonathan Culpeper and Kieran O’Halloran; “Modes of Composition in Henry James: Dictation, Style, and What Maisie Knew,” in the Henry James Review; and “Text Analysis,” in Ken Price and Ray Siemens (eds.), Literary Studies in the Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology (the first digital-only publication of the MLA). The breadth of his interests are shown in his earlier books: Stylistics: Prospect & Retrospect (as editor), Language and Style in The Inheritors, and A New Theory of Old English Meter. He is currently writing a book on how modes of composition (handwriting, dictation, typing, word-processing) affect authorial style.

FYSEM-UA 649
America in the World: Benevolent Giant or Just Another Superpower?
Spring 2018
Instructor: James Traub        syllabus
Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

From the moment of its birth, the United States has told a story about itself: that it was not simply a nation among nations but a beacon of democracy and individual freedom. As it became a world power at the end of the 19th century, the US began to deploy its wealth and force abroad to advance its national interests, as other great powers did—but also, or so it said and so its people deeply believed, to shape a more peaceful, democratic, and just world order. The United States continued to pursue that self-assigned mission through two world wars and the Cold War, and now in the face of terrorism. America is unlike any previous world power both in the beliefs on which it was founded and in its geographical situation, surrounded by oceans and far removed from the conflicts in which it intervenes. And yet it is also a hegemon—a dominant power—and shapes the world to its perceived interests, as all hegemons do. Over the last century, critics have never stopped accusing the US of hypocritically pursuing narrow interests in the name of global good. In electing a new president, American voters may finally have put that claim to rest by choosing someone who does not accept the nation's historic mission. This class will examine a series of critical points—war, colonialism, the founding of global institutions, interventions abroad—in order to understand the tension between America's idealistic global mission and the brute fact of its power and dominance.

JAMES TRAUB is a long-time journalist whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. He writes a column for www.foreignpolicy.com and teaches two classes in foreign policy at NYU Abu Dhabi. He has written half a dozen books, most recently a biography of John Quincy Adams. He is now writing a study of the rise and fall of liberalism.

FYSEM-UA 675
Ancient Economies: The Agricultural Foundation
Spring 2018
Instructor: Stephanie Rost
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.

In this seminar we will explore the organization of ancient economies from the perspective of agricultural systems and food production. Agriculture, and in particular the production of agricultural surplus, was the foundation of the economic organization of ancient societies, which constitutes the fundamental difference between ancient and modern economies. The 18th century group of French economists known as the Physiocrats considered agricultural production and labor the “wealth of the nation.” Moreover, the seasonality of agriculture production, as well as the exchange and consumption of agricultural goods, fundamentally shaped the organization of ancient economies. We will explore the different kinds of agricultural systems (crop and animal packages, agricultural practices, labor organization, etc.) ancient societies developed in different parts of the ancient world to sustain their lifestyle and perpetuate it into the future. We will look at how agricultural goods were distributed, exchanged, and consumed, and will compare a variety of cases to assess how different environmental settings, historical circumstances, and cultural notions shaped ancient economies. We will also discuss the contributions to past and current theoretical debates on ancient economies of such thinkers as François Quesnay, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, Karl Marx, Karl Polanyi, Max Weber, and David Graeber.

STEPHANIE ROST is Visiting Assistant Professor at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. She earned her BA at the Free University of Berlin, her MA at Vienna University, and her PhD at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her research focuses on the investigation of early state economies with an emphasis on agricultural systems and political ecology. Her dissertation research was concerned with the technical and social aspects of water management of late third millennium BC southern Mesopotamia as a means to assess the degree of political centralization in early state societies. Her future research agenda is to reconstruct the historical geography of ancient southern Mesopotamia, in order to build a framework in which the rich data sets of economic documents from this period can be explored to their full potential. She was trained primarily as an archaeologist and anthropologist but has a strong background in ancient languages. She adopts the approach of historical archaeology in her research by combining archaeological and textual data.

FYSEM-UA 621
Animated Words: Workshop/Seminar in Contemporary Poetry and Performance
Spring 2018

Instructor: Mara Jebsen            syllabus
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 9:30-10:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.).

We tend to think of poetry and theatre as two very distinct genres;: one built for the page and one for the stage. However, a quick look at the work of Shakespeare, Homer, Brecht, Derek Walcott, Ntozake Shange, Sarah Ruhl, and many others suggest an intimate tie between poet and playwright. What’s more, beginning in the 1950s, poetry readings became an official practice in literary scenes. In this course students will be introduced to many contemporary poets (and some comics) whose live performances seem particularly singular and moving. Drawing on ideas from the fields of linguistics, African-American studies, and performance studies, students will be encouraged to consider 1) the persistence of oral traditions in our rapidly-changing, tech-driven culture, and 2) the politics of poems presented by the body and voice of the writer. They will also learn to close-read powerful oral and written texts, and to craft expressive poem-monologues of their own.

MARA JEBSEN is Senior Language Lecturer at NYU, where she specializes in teaching essay writing to Tisch students. A poet, performer, and essayist, Mara has written for the arts and literatures column of 3quarksdaily, and has poems featured in the American Poetry Review and Transition Magazine, Harvard's Afro-Diasporan journal. Her "Alphabet," a chapbook of poems mythologizing the letters of the English language, was published in Spring 2016. A New York Foundation for the Arts fellow, Mara is also a veteran of New York's performance poetry scene, and sometime member of PUP (Pop Up Poets). She holds an MFA in Poetry from New York University, and a BA in African and African American Studies from Duke University.

FYSEM-UA 688
Art and Science of Approximate Reasoning: Physics, Sustainable Energy, and the Future of Humanity
Spring 2018
Instructor: David Hogg
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

Because physics works over a vast range of scales, and because of simple requirements for the forms of physical laws, it is possible to make progress on important problems with extremely simple physical arguments. We learn and practice the methods of approximation, estimation, and dimensional analysis in the context of questions about energy, the environment, and sustainable solutions to the problems of humans on Earth. Themes include the following: What roles do wind and solar energy have in the future of humanity? What are the fundamental physical limits on the efficiencies of vehicles used for transportation? How can we make buildings and cities run as energy-efficiently as possible? How could we travel from the Earth to other solar systems? The techniques developed in this course are among the most important items in the toolbox of a research physicist, and also apply in most scientific and engineering domains. Understanding these techniques and concepts, however, is within the reach of anyone concerned about the future of our planet, and this seminar has no science or mathematics prerequisites.

DAVID W. HOGG is Professor of Physics at New York University. His main research interests are in observational cosmology, especially approaches that use galaxies (including our own Milky Way) to infer the physical properties of the universe. He also works on models of stellar spectroscopy and exoplanet measurement and discovery. In all areas, he is interested in developing the engineering systems that make these projects possible, for his group and for the astrophysics community as a whole. His research is or has been recently supported by New York University, NASA, the NSF, the Moore Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the Humboldt Foundation, and the Simons Foundation. Professor Hogg is currently working towards several comprehensive projects in observational astrophysics, including the measurement and simultaneous analysis of every galaxy (above some mass) in the observable universe, every star (above some brightness) in our galaxy, or every image (above some quality) taken by any astronomical camera.

FYSEM-UA 677
Art, Politics, and the Crisis of Humanism in the 1960s
Fall 2017
Instructors: Stefanos Geroulanos and Ara H. Merjian
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and RCT Monday, 6:20–8:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics I Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.). 

The 1960s were a momentous decade in European politics, aesthetics, and culture at large. As former empires unraveled, as the Cold War intensified, and as the postwar welfare states established greater equality, stability, and economic growth than could have been imagined among the middle and working classes even a decade prior, social tensions rose rapidly and sharply. Art, philosophy, and political thought both responded and contributed to these seismic shifts. Our seminar will concern itself with this latter notion: how culture serves as a catalyst for change, rather than simply a mirror of ideological shifts or political history. We will focus on this most international of decades as it was experienced in western Europe (France, Italy, Britain, West Germany) in relation to the rest of the world (including the US, former English and French empires, and the other side of the Iron Curtain). Within these parameters, we will examine a range of topics focusing on the intersection of politics, intellectual thought, and aesthetic form: the "new Enlightenment" in philosophy; early anxieties about cybernetics and computerization; the crisis of Marxism and the emergence of the New Left; Antonio Gramsci's notion of a "passive revolution" and Pier Paolo Pasolini's arguments about "anthropological change"; Situationist theory and practice; civil rights, decolonialization, and the struggle for racial equality; the politics of happenings, aesthetic dematerialization, and "no art for war"; the international student movements as they culminated in the events of 1968; and the fraught legacies of humanism and humanist thought. Students will be required to attend one mandatory film screening every week in addition to the 2 1/2–hour class.

STEFANOS GEROULANOS is Associate Professor of History at New York University and has taught intellectual history and history of science at NYU since 2008. He is the author of An Atheism That is not Humanist Emerges in French Thought as well as of the forthcoming books Transparency in Postwar France and The Brittleness of the Body. He is the recipient of two awards from the American Council of Learned Societies.

ARA H. MERJIAN is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at New York University, where he is an affiliate of the Institute of Fine Arts and the Department of Art History, as well as Director of Undergraduate Studies. He is the author of Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City: Nietzsche, Paris, Modernism as well as of the forthcoming volume Against the Avant-garde: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Art and Politics, 1960-75, for which he received a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

FYSEM-UA 666
Battle of the Sexes: Love, Desire, and War on the Stage and Beyond
Spring 2018
Instructor: Olga Taxidou         syllabus
Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

The theme of love is possibly one of the oldest in world literature. This course examines the ways this theme has been manifested on the stage and in poetry, spanning the period from antiquity to today. From the classics onwards what we may today consider as primarily a private expression and activity transpires as deeply embedded in broader historical and political narratives. For example, we examine the constitutive relationships between private desire and public politics. The family unit and all its multiple manifestations acts as a microcosm that mirrors but also challenges dominant power structures. The relationships between the genders, between siblings, and between parents and children all provide a fertile ground that helps to shape our personal subjectivity, but also our civic identity. The seminar looks at the ways great plays and poems have approached the theme of love in both its private and public dimensions, and also examines the formal and aesthetic experiments that resulted from this engagement. Authors covered will include: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Gertrude Stein, Lillian Hellman, Caryl Churchill, and Tony Kushner.

OLGA TAXIDOU is Professor of Drama and Performance Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and since 2015 she has been a Visiting Professor in Hellenic Studies at NYU every spring semester. She works on the relationships between “the ancients and the moderns” and the ways this dialogue has helped shape modernity. She has written extensively on modernist theatre and on theories of tragedy. Her books include The Mask: A Periodical Performance by Edward Gordon CraigTragedy, Modernity and Mourning; and Modernism and Performance: Jarry to Brecht. She has co-edited Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents and Post-War Cinema and Modernity. She is Series Editor of Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernism, Drama and Performance. She also writes adaptations of Greek tragedies, some of which have been performed. She is a founding judge of the James Tait Black Drama award, and has served as Edinburgh University’s Festivals coordinator with the Edinburgh International Festival.

FYSEM-UA 634
#BlackLanguageMatters
Fall 2017
Instructor: Renée Blake          syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.

This course is about language, specifically the myriad of ways that many African Americans express their personal and community identities. The course focuses primarily on the language variety known as African American English, which often serves as a guise for deep-seated racial ideologies about African Americans and Black people more generally. In this course, students learn about the linguistic structure of African American English and theories about its origins.  We explore how language is used to convey social identity, particularly regarding race and ethnicity, and make meaning of one’s life. Issues addressed include language variation, language contact and change, in addition to social and linguistic discrimination. Finally, we consider African American English as the nexus of ideas on race, identity, sexuality, violence and equality in the United States and globally found in Cornel West’s Race Matters (1994) and the more recent #BlackLivesMatter movement. Students develop research projects on African American English regarding language production or perception.

RENÉE A. BLAKE is Associate Professor in the Departments of Linguistics and Social & Cultural Analysis at New York University. Her research examines language contact, race, ethnicity, and class with a focus on African American English, Caribbean Creole English, and New York City English. Her work has been published in journals including Language in Society, Language and Education, Journal of English Linguistics, Language, Variation and Change, and English Today. She has served as a consultant to many programs and organizations including Disney and the Ford Foundation. She developed two web-based linguistic sites: “Word. The Online Journal on African American English” (africanamericanenglish.com) and “Voices of New York” (nyuvoicesofnewyork.com). Professor Blake is a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award and a faculty member in the Presidential Honors Scholars Program.

FYSEM-UA 609
Children of Immigrants in Contemporary American Fiction
Spring 2018
Instructor: Jackie Reitzes       syllabus
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

In this seminar we read, discuss, reflect upon, and write about contemporary fictional narratives of first-generation Americans—children coming of age in the U.S. whose parents hail from somewhere else. These characters straddle a cultural divide between the homeland of their ancestors and the country of their youth. Imbued with the older generation’s hopes for a better life, they must also negotiate existing social and economic structures and, frequently, an anti-outsider climate that threatens to unravel the very fabric of the American Dream. We will write in multiple genres—creative, researched, expository argument, and personal response. And through novels, stories, and film adaptations, we’ll examine questions of language and identity—how the protagonists of these stories forge their own sense of self through the families, cultures, experiences, and desires that shape them.  ¬¬

JACKIE REITZES is a lecturer in the Expository Writing Program. Her short fiction has been published in Iron Horse Literary Review and The Madison Review. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in The Huffington Post, ESPN: The Magazine, and The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. She was a 2012 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellow, and she holds an MFA from Cornell University. She is currently at work on a short story collection.

FYSEM-UA 669
Colonial to Postcolonial Archives: Histories of Caribbean Collecting
Fall 2017
Instructor: Wendy Muñiz            syllabus
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Principles of Biology I Lecture (Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.) and Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

General Washington reminds the hero in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton that people have no control over “who tells your story.” This is no news to Caribbean-born Alexander Hamilton, who grew up in a region where archives have had a fleeting history: pirates looted them; colonial administrations shipped the archives’ contents to Europe; corrupt governments erased records entirely. Because of these circumstances, it has been argued that Caribbean nations have no recorded history. Contrary to historical narratives that have denied the existence of the region’s archives, like Miranda’s Hamilton we will reimagine the ways in which from the 19th-century revolutionary period to the digital present Caribbean nations have assembled private and public archives and transformed them into a political tool to produce historical knowledge about their people. Through readings in theory, Caribbean historiography, literature, film, and visual art, we will consider important archival functions such as colonial governance, state coercion and corruption, and the forming of race and gender identities, and will also examine the role of art and technology. While discussing how and why societies build their archives, students will become familiar with current debates on cultural heritage and reflect on how theoretical frameworks function in cross-cultural contexts. Drawing on field trips to museums, libraries, and archives in New York City, students will also curate an archive of Caribbean records online and put together a final digital exhibition.

WENDY V. MUÑIZ is Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at both NYU’s Center for the Humanities and Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her research centers on unorthodox archival media in the Hispanic Caribbean, with a focus on the Dominican Republic. Also a writer and producer for films that explore cultural memory in the Americas, she is currently producing two documentaries that aim to preserve and disseminate endangered queer archives and contemporary curiosity cabinets in the region. Muñiz’s scholarly and filmmaking work has received grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the CUNY DSI Archives and Library, the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University, Programa Ibermedia, and FONPROCINE, among others. She received her PhD from Columbia University, where she was appointed Lead Teaching Fellow from 2015 to 2016 in recognition of her work with students, and is the recipient of the NYU Center for the Humanities Diversity Post-Doctoral Fellowship.

FYSEM-UA 671
Crime and Punishment in Western History
Fall 2017
Instructor: Peter Baldwin         syllabus
Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

After defending against external enemies, punishing misdeeds at home is arguably the state’s primary function. How it did so has changed dramatically over the course of the West’s development. At first, it was the family’s duty to take vengeance on those who harmed its members. Even as feuds were beaten back by a slowly emerging state, individual citizens remained the ones who accused and prosecuted miscreants. Only gradually, with the development of law as the rules by which all citizens must abide, did the idea of crime emerge. And only by the early modern era did it fall to the state to enforce that law. Punishment, in turn, has also evolved. Death, mutilation, exile: those were the tools at the disposal of the early state. The modern prison emerged only when the authorities accumulated the resources to keep the incarcerated immobile and maintained. In our own day, the focus of punishment has shifted from the state’s external application of force to the internal restraints we are raised and educated to impose on ourselves. The dramatic fall in everyday violence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries raises the question of whether punishment is becoming obsolete. Topics to be covered include: feud and its end, the emergence of law, treason as the ultimate crime, murder and its decline, torture, the development of the prison, the death penalty, and thought crimes.

PETER BALDWIN is Global Distinguished Professor at NYU's Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, and received his BA from Yale and his PhD from Harvard. His main research focus has been the development of the modern state in its many aspects. He has published on the comparative history of the welfare state, on social policy more broadly, and on public health. Other interests have included Nazi Germany and historiography. His latest book is a trans-national legal history of copyright from 1710 to the present. He also has projects underway on privacy and honor, and is working on a more general history of the state.

FYSEM-UA 496
Cultural Nature of Language
Fall 2017
Instructor: Bambi Schieffelin          syllabus
Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Recitation (Friday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.) and General Chemistry I Recitations (Friday, 8:00 a.m.-1:45 p.m.).

Whether it’s accents, pronouns, swearing, or spelling, how one uses language is never value-free. In this seminar we examine language-using as a social practice, and analyze how speakers and their language(s) are evaluated and regulated across a range of contexts and cultures. Starting with how children learn to talk, or don’t (e.g., feral children), we examine speech and silence across a range of societies. We look at popular attitudes toward language and the practices by which people regulate its use in the media (e.g., political correctness), in legal and educational institutions (e.g., “English Only”), and in multilingual cities (e.g., Barcelona, Montreal) in order to understand how ideas about language are often recruited to non-linguistic concerns, such as who should be included and who excluded. In thinking about the cultural nature of language in this way, we critically explore issues of identity and authority.

BAMBI SCHIEFFELIN is Collegiate Professor and Professor of Anthropology. A linguistic anthropologist, she is the author of The Give and Take of Everyday Life: Language Socialization of Kaluli Children and co-editor of, among other books, The Acquisition of Literacy: Ethnographic Perspectives; Language Ideologies: Practice and Theory; and Consequences of Contact. She has also published articles in the preeminent journals of her field. She is completing a book on the impact of Christianity on the language and social life of Bosavi people of Papua New Guinea over the past twenty-five years, and continues research on linguistic creativity and change as evidenced in computer-mediated communication such as IM. Professor Schieffelin received the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010.

FYSEM-UA 629
Death in Rome
Fall 2017
Instructor: Michael Peachin           syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.

Death was an ever-present fact of life for an ancient Roman. A list of some of the topics covered by this course will immediately provide a sense of that. Extremely high infant mortality. The exposure (throwing away, quite literally) of newborn babies. Widespread diseases and epidemics. Death at the hands of your doctor—in most cases. Astonishingly violent, and deadly, entertainments. Spartacus, and his roughly 6,000 followers, crucified for miles along the Appian Way. Individuals constantly falling prey to bandits, or pirates—and simply disappearing from the face of the earth. Roads just beyond city gates lined with tombs—where you might read about the departed, or have a banquet with your dead relatives. And much more. Given, then, that a Roman was constantly confronted by numerous forms of death and dying, how did (s)he come to terms with this aspect of his or her life? What did death mean for the typical resident of that long-gone world? To understand the varied ramifications of the end of life is arguably to understand much about what transpires before the end. This course will attempt to grapple with this complex, as it played out in ancient Roman culture and society. Recommended for first-generation college students.

MICHAEL PEACHIN is Professor of Classics and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Classics at New York University. He works on the social, political, and legal history of the ancient Roman world, and has written about all these areas. In doing so, he has become particularly fascinated by the ways in which particular, and often, to modern taste, quite peculiar forms of thinking among the ancient Romans caused them to behave in thoroughly singular ways. He has come increasingly to see the need for (re)connecting Roman mentalities with Roman realities. This conviction informs much of his current teaching and research, which go hand-in-hand.

FYSEM-UA 623
Drawing Borders: Latino-American Literature and Representation
Spring 2018
Instructor: Osvaldo Oyola       syllabus
Thursday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.) and Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

Throughout life we are asked to draw discrete boxes around categories of race, ethnicity and national-belonging—college applications, job applications, the census, and so on. For Latino-Americans it can be difficult to know which of the inflexible checkboxes regarding those categories of identity to tick off. The logistical designations of the US census (which has designated “Hispanics” as the fasting growing US population by birth) cannot account for the complexity of the American racial imaginary and the incongruities of self-identification, and lived experience. In Drawing Borders, we will examine literature and popular culture both about and by American Latinos (of different national heritages) to trace out the complex and varied ways Latino-American identity is understood, performed, written through, and historically situated. In particular, we will be looking at both graphic literature and memoir as sites that establish a matrix for that necessary visibility, and consider the role of notions of masculinity, youth subcultures (like punk and hip hop) and the representation of Latinos in mainstream media influencing those ideas.

OSVALDO OYOLA has been a full-time lecturer in the NYU Expository Writing Program since 2014, the same year he received his PhD from Binghamton University in English, focusing on contemporary transnational American literature and popular culture. He has written about Latina superheroes in Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets comics for the Journal of Comics and Culture, Prince and queering the popular love song for Stone Canoe, and was a regular contributor to the peer-reviewed Sounding Out! blog, writing in-depth on a range of sound-related topics including race, masculinity, hip hop and authenticity.

FYSEM-UA 280
Emerson and Thoreau: The Life Fully Lived
Fall 2017

Instructor: Philip Kunhardt            syllabus
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics I Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

This seminar takes students on a personal exploration of the lives and thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, two of the most inspiring figures in American history and letters. Emerson was intensely engaged with society, ever committed to close friendships and community. Thoreau in contrast was reclusive and austere, so alone in his beloved nature that he seemed to lack human warmth. Still, despite growing contentiousness between them, Thoreau considered Emerson his most important mentor, and the older sage considered Thoreau his closest friend. Emerson was at the center of the most searchingly brilliant, progressive, and creative community in 19th century America. His friends kept diaries, wrote letters to one another, explored alternative lifestyles, and served as public intellectuals. And they strove to live fully engaged lives—“to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours,” as Emerson once exclaimed. Thoreau preferred his life alone in the outdoors and yet he too sought the fully engaged life. In his masterpiece, Walden, he implored his readers to abandon lives of “quiet desperation” and to come alive in new ways—to dare to “suck all the marrow out of life.” This course, held in the bicentennial year of Thoreau’s birth, involves intensive reading, personal and expository writing, and active participation in transformative conversation.

PHILIP KUNHARDT is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Humanities, and teaches history and biography in the College of Arts and Science. He focuses on the lives of transformative figures and has co-authored five books, including Looking for Lincoln, The American President, and P.T. Barnum: America’s Greatest Showman. He was also the writer and co-producer of more than a dozen documentary films for PBS, ABC, HBO, Discovery, and others, including the ten-part PBS series The American President and the sixteen-part Freedom: A History of US. Before coming to NYU in 2010 he was a Bard Center Fellow at Bard College in Annandale, New York.

FYSEM-UA 665
Emotions: The Passions in Early European Literature
Fall 2017
Instructor: Evelyn (Timmie) Vitz         syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:45 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.

This seminar focuses on such emotions as love, joy, anger, fear, sorrow, and awe as major “drivers” of narratives and other texts. We examine how the "passions" (as emotions were called) are represented in major works of medieval literature, including epic poetry, Arthurian legends, the Lais (short narrative poems, often on the topics of chivalry and love) of Marie de France, and others. Were the passions seen as spontaneous, or as culturally constructed? How were they treated differently in various literary genres? Did male and female writers handle them the same or differently? How did the passions vary by class, gender, and age? How did medieval people understand the passions and place them within such larger conceptual frameworks as the vices and virtues or the bodily humors? We will also look at some modern theories of the emotions and see how they apply (and don't) to medieval works.

EVELYN (TIMMIE) BIRGE VITZ is Professor of French and Affiliated Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Religious Studies, and Comparative Literature. She has won two New York University Golden Dozen Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Vitz is currently studying the role and conceptualization of the emotions in the Middle Ages and is writing a book on the topic of awe in medieval French literature. She has published widely on many aspects of medieval literature, and co-directs three performance websites. Details of her work are available at: http://french.as.nyu.edu/object/EvelynBirgeVitz.html.

FYSEM-UA 519
Encountering Martin Luther King, Jr.
Spring 2018
Instructor: Philip Kunhardt        syllabus
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

Few historical figures are more revered or transcendent than Martin Luther King, Jr. But as David Levering Lewis wrote almost forty years ago, America’s canonization of King has draped him in such a cloak of mythology that “in a sense we have sought to remember him by forgetting him.” This course will seek to vividly remember the human being at the center of the most significant popular movement in US history, one that took up the unfinished legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction 80 years after the nation turned its back on social and racial justice. Students will explore King’s thought, oratory, character, and public actions at a depth that will make him unforgettable to them. We will consider his tenaciously held philosophy of nonviolent social change, and his growth from a southern Baptist minister to a leading civil rights activist and then to a visionary leader of global human rights and peace. We will ask: how can we understand him in the context of his times, amidst fellow activists, adversaries, elected leaders, and critics during one of the most volatile, freedom-advancing periods of American history? We will pay close attention to King’s final three years, a period in which he became increasingly marginalized, losing support among white liberals as well as black radicals, but in the face of war and racism still held firmly to his deeply-held non-violent philosophy. Using film and little-known interviews, as well a challenging immersion in some of the most significant King literature, the course—coming in the 50th anniversary year of King’s assassination—will make King and his times newly relevant to our own changed but still violence-prone and haunted world.

PHILIP KUNHARDT is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Humanities, and teaches history and biography in the College of Arts and Science. He focuses on the lives of transformative figures and has co-authored five books, including Looking for Lincoln, The American President, and P.T. Barnum: America’s Greatest Showman. He was also the writer and co-producer of more than a dozen documentary films for PBS, ABC, HBO, Discovery, and others, including the ten-part PBS series The American President and the sixteen-part Freedom: A History of US. Before coming to NYU in 2010 he was a Bard Center Fellow at Bard College in Annandale, New York.

FYSEM-UA 670
Encountering New York: Memoirs of Place
Spring 2018
Instructor: Christopher Wall         syllabus
Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.

In “Washington Square, 1946,” Cynthia Ozick recounts the most embarrassing of freshman mistakes: how she arrived at New York University for classes the day before they started. She walked around, unaware of the rich history of the neighborhood and the artists working nearby, having faith that her education and her experience in the city would eventually “awaken” her. In this class we will immerse ourselves in writings about New York and will come to know the city through the eyes of the people who have come before us. Readings will cover major authors who have written about the city but will also include pieces by lesser-known writers, like the journalist Wong Chin Foo, who can help us glimpse what it was like to be a Chinese journalist in the city in 1885. This will serve as a jumping off point for students to write a series of urban mini-memoirs as a way to explore their writerly voices, their experiences of the city, and the voices and experiences of those who came before them.

CHRISTOPHER WALL, a playwright and non-fiction writer, is Senior Language Lecturer in the Expository Writing Program. He has an MFA in playwriting from NYU and a BA from Dartmouth College, and was a fellow in non-fiction at the Norman Mailer Center. His essays have appeared in Longform, the LA Review of Books, The Missouri Review, Poets & Writers, and other publications. His play Dreams of the Washer King was performed Off Broadway, and his songs, co-written with Howard Fishman, have been performed at Joe’s Pub and SubCulture in New York.

FYSEM-UA 630
Epics 4.1: The Odyssey, the AeneidParadise Lost, Moby Dick
Spring 2018
Instructor: Ernest Gilman            syllabus
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.).

The question of what it means to be human is the fundamental concern of all works of literature. Lyric poetry focuses closely on the interior life of the individual, as a kind of snapshot or psychological x-ray—the poetic example of a selfie. Drama opens up the wider social and familial perspective on individual identity by exploring the relationships among an ensemble of actors in a theater, asking what it means both to act and to “act.” The epic, by contrast, sets the human protagonist on a global stage, in its very amplitude opening a wide expanse of time and place and history. Its fundamental question:  what does it mean to be a human in the world? This seminar will examine the epic, with a careful study of Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Melville’s Moby Dick, supplemented by briefer related readings; as time permits, Paradise Lost will be accompanied by selections from Milton’s other poetry, and Moby Dick by Melville’s Benito Cereno and/or “Bartleby.”

ERNEST B. GILMAN, Professor of English, has taught at Columbia, the University of Virginia, and now–for the last thirty-five years–at NYU. His main field of interest is the English Renaissance. He has published a number of books and articles on such topics as poetry and the visual arts, literature and disease, artistic patronage, Shakespeare and Milton.

FYSEM-UA 648
Exploration: New Worlds
Spring 2018
Instructor: Susanah Shaw Romney        syllabus
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.). 

For millennia, peoples and cultures here on earth lived in a series of separate worlds, isolated by the oceans and landscapes that divided them. Then, in the fifteenth century, that isolation was forever shattered as new maritime empires violently brought everyone into contact with one another. As people explored this new shared world they repeatedly had to decide, “Who is human?” We will examine the maps, letters, journals, pamphlets, and fiction that spread the knowledge of these cultural encounters in order to illuminate how people understood themselves. We also will consider how our own, continuing search for new worlds still raises this question today.

SUSANAH SHAW ROMNEY is Assistant Professor of History at NYU. Her teaching and research interests focus on global contact and colonization between 1400 and 1800. She is particularly interested in the role of race and gender in the building of empires. She is the author of New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America. She received her PhD from Cornell University and her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

FYSEM-UA 539
Facing Fascism: The Spanish Civil War and U.S. Culture
Fall 2017
Instructor: James D. Fernández      syllabus
Monday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

Prerequisite: 4 or 5 in AP Spanish, or a 4 or 5 in any AP history exam, or a 700 or higher in the SAT subject exam in Spanish (international equivalents accepted).  

The Great Depression. Liberal democracy in crisis. On the rise: a spectrum of ideologies ranging from anarchism to fascism, promising solutions to the afflictions of people all over the planet. July 1936: a right-wing military coup attempts to overthrow a democratically elected left-wing coalition government in Spain, and war begins. This course explores the place occupied by Spain and the Spanish Civil War in American culture from the 1930s forward; how journalists, writers, artists, and citizens reacted to the war; and how the legacy of the war has affected U.S. culture over the last seventy years. It also introduces students to research methods in history and culture, as they carry out a major archival research project based on unique sources in NYU's Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), a vast collection of materials that chronicles the lives of the 2,800 Americans who, between 1936 and 1939, volunteered to fight fascism in Spain.

JAMES D. FERNÁNDEZ is Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. His research interests include the literature, history, and culture of modern Spain; autobiography; cultural relations between Spain and Latin America; and visions of Spain in the United States. He served as the Director of NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center from 1995 to 2007 and as Chairperson of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese from 2003 to 2007. He is the Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. He is the author of Apology to Apostrophe: Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Self-Representation in Spain and co-editor of the essay collection Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War.

FYSEM-UA 619
Fact and Fiction since the Famine: The Stories and History of the Irish in America
Fall 2017

Instructor: Linda Dowling Almeida        syllabus
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

This course will examine what the stories of a people can tell us of their past and their influence on the present. We will take an interdisciplinary look at the history of the Irish who settled in American cities in the mid-nineteenth century and explore how this immigrant group established foundation communities that became the model for the immigrant groups who followed them to America. Using their own words through novels, film, memoir, and oral histories to complement the historical record we will investigate who the Irish are and the impact they have had on the urban landscape and American culture.

LINDA DOWLING ALMEIDA, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Irish Studies at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House, teaches classes in the history and literature of Irish America. Her book Irish Immigrants in New York City, 1945-1995 compares the experience of the Irish who arrived in the 1950s with that of their counterparts thirty and forty years later. Professor Almeida has published chapters in The Irish World Wide, Ireland in the 1950s, and Making the Irish American, and has delivered papers on post-war Irish America as well as pedagogical approaches to oral history to the American Conference for Irish Studies, the Oral History Association, and the International Oral History Association. Her projects include the production of podcasts on a variety of themes and issues drawn from GIH's Archives of Irish America housed at NYU.

FYSEM-UA 235
First Amendment Freedom of Expression
Fall 2017
Instructor: Stephen D. Solomon       syllabus
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 4:55-6:10 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.). 

Prerequisites: A score of 4 or 5 in either AP U.S. History OR in AP U.S. Government and Politics (or equivalent international exam); both recommended.


Political dissent and debate fill the public square at every turn. Citizens demonstrate in the streets, public figures launch libel suits, social media carries vitriolic material, and President Trump attacks the media. Although the First Amendment appears on its face to prohibit any governmental restrictions on speech and the press, the Supreme Court in fact balances free expression against other vital interests of society. This seminar engages students in a close study of history as well as law, emphasizing how the American commitment to freedom of expression grew during the nation’s founding period and culminated in ratification of the First Amendment. The course begins with the protests against British authority in colonial times, when the law permitted prosecution of citizens who criticized the government. We examine the conflicting meanings that the founders themselves attached to freedom of expression. In our own day, we look at how the Supreme Court has interpreted freedom of speech by examining a rich variety of contemporary conflicts, including libel of public and private persons, invasions of privacy, symbolic speech, and restrictions on speech during wartime.

STEPHEN D. SOLOMON is Associate Professor in NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. His recent book Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech explores how robust dissent during America’s founding period gave meaning to the First Amendment freedoms of speech and press. An earlier book, Ellery’s Protest: How One Young Man Defied Tradition & Sparked the Battle over School Prayer, tells the story of the controversial Supreme Court case that ruled that state-organized prayer and Bible reading in public schools violated the First Amendment. Professor Solomon is a recipient of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence. He earned a JD at Georgetown University Law Center.

FYSEM-UA 484
Global Citizenship: Theory and Practice
Fall 2017
Instructor: Ulrich Baer            syllabus
Monday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

This seminar explores the notion and practice of global citizenship—the capacity and willingness to think across and beyond actual and imagined boundaries, and to develop skills that can solve problems and explore opportunities in unfamiliar contexts. The course examines globalization as a historical, economic, and cultural phenomenon. Topics include local resistance to global homogeneity; the notion of universal humanism; human rights; the role of language in global contexts; the idea of citizenship; the specificity of culture and arts; the idea of film or photography as universal languages; and an exploration of New York City as an international city that has turned its diversity into strength. The seminar brings in guest speakers who identify as global citizens, and asks students to consider how their own actions—ranging from activism to business leadership—may have an impact on those outside their immediate world.

ULRICH BAER, Vice Provost of Arts, Humanities, and Multicultural Affairs and Professor of Comparative Literature and German, was awarded the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998 and 2004. He is the author of Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan and Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma; editor of the literary anthology 110 Stories: New York Writes after September 11; and editor and translator of The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke. He has also published widely on photography and has co-taught a seminar entitled “Archive, Image, Text” with Professor Shelley Rice from the Tisch School of the Arts.

FYSEM-UA 681
Growing Up French: Cultivating Identity in 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Literature and Film
Spring 2018
Instructor: Aubrey Korneta
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

The Dutch Renaissance humanist Erasmus stated, “Man is not born but fashioned.” According to him, identity is not inherent and fixed but is instead cultivated and transmitted. Since the Third Republic, France has actively sought to transmit a national identity, resulting in investment in a particular developmental period: childhood. Children, after all, become future citizens. However, many recent coming of age narratives question the notion of a singular French identity. Instead, they emphasize diversity, fractures, and contestation. We situate the concept of French republicanism in its socio-historical context through questions such as: What are the foundations of French identity? How has this identity historically been shaped, and is it open to all groups? In contemporary French society, how does one reconcile republicanism with increasing pluralism? As language and its artistic expression are fundamental components of French identity, we will analyze contemporary literary and cinematic representations of youth in France and the broader French-speaking world. These sources interrogate French republicanism and present a less unified image of French identity through their representations of friendship, love, school, rebellion, injustice, and shame. Readings include Azouz Begag’s Shantytown Kid, Annie Ernaux’s Shame, Maryse Condé’s Tales from the Heart, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Julie Maroh’s Blue is the Warmest Color, and Édouard Louis’ The End of Eddy. Films include Ousmane Sembene’s Black Girl, François Truffaut’s Small Change, Nicolas Philibert’s To Be and To Have, Laurent Cantet’s The Class, Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy, and Isabelle Boni-Claverie’s Too Black to be French.

AUBREY KORNETA is a College Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. Her research focuses on 20th and 21st century French and Francophone literature and film, with a particular interest in the representation of education, youth, and identity formation.

FYSEM-UA 573
Guantánamo to GITMO: Camps, the U.S., and Comparative Colonialisms in the 20th Century
Fall 2017
Instructor: Monica Kim        syllabus
Thursday 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 2:00 pm-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

The concentration camp has become a symbol of 20th century conflicts. In this seminar, we examine shifts in the global imperial landscape through a close study of people's experiences of building, living in, and surviving camps. Rather than approaching the "camp" as an exception to the everyday, we ask: How did the concentration camp develop? When did societies perceive the need for one? How has decolonization changed (or not changed) the practices of making a camp? How can the workings of a particular camp shed light on the contemporaneous political landscape? And what role does the "camp" play in different societies historical memories? Emphasizing historical connections between the camps we use as case studies, which may include German camps in 1880s Namibia and British camps in 1950s Kenya, we begin with the reconcentrado policy of Spanish colonialism in Cuba in 1880s and end with reflections on the implications of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba for US imperialism. Readings include both historical scholarship and an array of primary sources (memoirs, oral history interviews, military documents, legal cases and film).

MONICA KIM is Assistant Professor in the Department of History. Her research and teaching focus on three key issues concerning the United States vis-à-vis the world: the relationships between liberalism and racial formations; global militarism and sovereignty; and transnational social movements and international law. Her current book project, Humanity Interrogated, examines mid-20th-century crises around warfare through a history of military interrogation rooms during the Korean War. She has been a Fellow at the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania and also the University of Chicago.

FYSEM-UA 548
History of Disbelief

Spring 2018
Instructor: Mitchell Stephens          syllabus
Thursday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.) and Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

This seminar takes up an extended history of atheism and doubt (in the context of a history of religion). It begins with a consideration of anthropology, the Hebrews, and India before discussing the skeptics and the development of disbelief in ancient Greece and Rome. The course then follows the uneven progress of this idea and its consequences in continental Europe during the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Romantic period, and in 19th-century England and America, where disbelief was allied with radical politics. Finally, we move on to the connections between disbelief and realism, modernism and postmodernism. The main arguments for and against the existence of God are considered. However, the main purpose of this course is to force students to confront and grapple with some of the most sophisticated and profound human expressions of disbelief.

MITCHELL STEPHENS is Professor of Journalism. His book Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World was recently published by Palgrave. He is also the author of, among other books, the rise of the image the fall of the word and A History of News. His articles on media issues, philosophy, anthropology, physics, and other subjects have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. His current book project is on the future of journalism.

FYSEM-UA 656
How Do You Know Anything?
Spring 2018
Instructor: James S. Uleman         syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

What is the nature of knowledge? What kinds of knowledge are there? How is it gained, stored, and retrieved? How accurate is it? This seminar will introduce students to the basics of social cognition (using Fiske and Taylor’s Social Cognition: From Brains to Culture, 2013), with additional readings from epistemology (from Plato to Popper) and the psychological research literature. Topics will include introspection, the accuracy of self-knowledge, automatic and controlled cognition processes, heuristics and biases, memory systems, the Big Lie, implicit attitudes and knowledge, spontaneous inferences, unconscious goals, theory of mind in both adults and children, and cultural differences in cognition and perception.

Professor JAMES S. ULEMAN received the 2013 Ostrom Award for Outstanding Contributions to Social Cognition, particularly for his work on spontaneous social inferences. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and of the American Psychological Association. He has held research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health, and has been teaching psychology at NYU for several decades. He was educated at Caltech, Michigan, and Harvard.

FYSEM-UA 652
How We Read
Fall 2017

Instructor: Lisa Gitelman       syllabus
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 9:30-10:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.).

Reading is said to be “at risk” in the 21st Century, presumably because of the digitally mediated environment in and amid which we read, browse, and multitask. Predictions of doom follow from the decline of reading, although there is very little consensus about what reading is, what its particular virtues are, or how best to find out. Writing leaves a trace, after all, but empirical evidence about reading can be harder to imagine. This course will address the question of how we read in three ways. First, we’ll consider a few episodes in the long history of reading and misreading, using works of fiction and nonfiction. Next, we’ll propose and explore varieties of not reading that might help circumscribe our subject. Finally, we will do some work to understand more explicitly how we read today, onscreen and online, in this era of algorithms, fake news, click bait, and the cloud.

LISA GITELMAN is Professor in two NYU departments, the Department of English and the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. She teaches courses in media history, including the history of books and the social life of paper, as well as the College Core Curriculum’s Texts and Ideas requirement. Her latest book, Paper Knowledge, explores the power of documents from the print shop of the nineteenth century through Xeroxes in the 1960s to today’s PDF file format.

FYSEM-UA 497
How We See
Fall 2017
Instructor: Marisa Carrasco              syllabus
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Thursday, 9:30-12:00 p.m.). 

Do we see the world the way we do because we are the way we are or because the world is the way it is? This course looks at what we know about vision from multiple scientific perspectives: perceptual psychology tells us about the process of seeing and provides important insights into the workings of visual mechanisms; neuropsychology shows us what happens to perception when these mechanisms malfunction; neuroscience tells us about processes at the level of cells and neural systems. At the same time, we discuss modes and techniques of scientific inquiry from these different perspectives. How do vision scientists learn? What kinds of experiments do they conduct? How has the development of new neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, for example) shaped the field?

MARISA CARRASCO is Collegiate Professor and Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, as well as a former Chairperson of the Department of Psychology. Born and raised in Mexico City, she received her licentiate in psychology from the National University of Mexico and her PhD in psychology (cognition and perception) from Princeton University. She conducts research in cognitive neuroscience, exploring the relation between the psychological and neural mechanisms involved in visual perception and attention. Her papers have been published in the leading scientific journals in the field, and she has won numerous prestigious awards and fellowships throughout her career, such as an American Association of University Women Fellowship, a National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, a Cattell Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

FYSEM-UA 610
Human Stories of the War on Terror
Spring 2018
Instructor: Amira Pierce       syllabus
Thursday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30 p.m.-6:45 p.m.) and Physics II (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.).

The phrase "War on Terror" was first used by then President George W. Bush on September 20, 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, and has since been echoed by the media and the US government as a rallying cry for multiple wars and numerous actions and offensives against enemies abroad and at home. This class seeks to help students see beyond political interests and news stories to gain a nuanced understanding of today's world by reading narratives by survivors of this “war”–including civilian witnesses, veteran soldiers, a prisoner, and people at a distance seeking understanding of what is happening far away. Their stories connect our histories to our future; they elucidate ties between public and private; and we will read them in a variety of forms, including fiction, drama, narrative journalism, essay, government-redacted manuscript, blog, podcast, online think-piece, and graphic novel. Through an interdisciplinary approach, we will use scholarly texts (from philosophical discussions of the representation of violence to the public's changing relationship with modern war) as lenses, to peel back the layers of our preconceptions and ask underlying questions about political, religious, and personal identity, representation of the Other, moral duty, and mental health.

AMIRA PIERCE was born in Beirut, Lebanon and received her MFA in fiction from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her essays and fiction have appeared in print and online and received various honors, including the Colorado Review's Nelligan Prize and Cream City Review's A. David Schwartz Prize for Short Fiction. Amira is a fiction editor for failbetter.com and mentors military veteran writers for the journal As You Were. She is a language lecturer in the Expository Writing Program at New York University-Tandon and is at work on a novel set in Beirut and Virginia.

FYSEM-UA 664
Imagining War
Fall 2017
Instructor: Alys George      syllabus
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

Why is the first book in the Western literary tradition, The Iliad, a book about war? Perhaps because civilization gives rise to both conflict and narrative. Yet the horrors of war push the limits of storytelling and test the boundaries of representation—whether literary or visual. This interdisciplinary seminar investigates the relationship between war and cultural production from the early twentieth century to the present. While representations of armed conflict are attempts to register and work through the traumas of war, they also shape public consciousness and memory after the fact. What philosophical, psychological, ethical, and aesthetic questions are raised when we reimagine military events? How does war provoke writers, directors, and visual artists to innovate in their respective media in order to represent violence, ruin, and death? We will consider fictional and non-fictional texts, feature films and government propaganda documentaries, painting and photography. Our central focus will be World Wars I and II, but the seminar also takes a long view by incorporating more contemporary conflicts, including the American involvement in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

ALYS GEORGE is Assistant Professor of German and an affiliated faculty member of NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies. She holds a PhD in German Studies from Stanford University. Her research focuses on the cultural history and literary and visual cultures of Austria and Germany, and has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research, and others. She has published on literature, silent cinema, dance, photography, and the history of medicine around 1900. Her book, The Naked Truth: Viennese Modernism and the Body, is forthcoming. Professor George has taught nineteenth- through twenty-first-century German-language literature, culture, and film at NYU since 2011. In 2014 she received NYU’s Golden Dozen Teaching Award.

FYSEM-UA 676
Immortality: From Biology to Culture
Fall 2017
Instructor: Justin Blau      syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.

I want to live forever! Since antiquity, humans have confronted mortality and immortality in culture, literature, and the alchemists’ search for an elixir of life. The notion of immortality did not disappear even as science evolved into a discipline that seeks to understand the natural world through experiments. In fact, scientists continue to ask whether we must die. This course examines immortality—and death—principally from the viewpoint of biology, but also from the perspective of psychology and culture. We confront the fundamental human concerns of birth, growth, aging, sickness, and death as we explore immortality and the human desire to live forever.

JUSTIN BLAU is Professor of Biology and Neural Science and the current Chair of the Department of Biology. His research focuses on the molecular and cellular bases of behavior, and particularly on circadian rhythms. He has taught at NYU since 2000 (including extensive teaching experience at NYU Abu Dhabi) and has won the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.

FYSEM-UA 503
In Search of Lost Time
Fall 2017
Instructor: Marcelle Clements          syllabus
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

We read Marcel Proust (350 pages per week, in translation) as he should be read: hedonistically—with respect and admiration but also with delectation. At more than 4,000 pages, In Search of Lost Time is one of modern literature’s most challenging and pleasurable reads, still unparalleled in how it combines finesse and wit with raw emotion, self-examination with social history, and psychological acuity with a portrait of the French beau monde at the outset of modernity. Though Proust (1871–1922) is often cited as France’s greatest novelist, many readers never move past the first fifty pages of his novel, reading the same gorgeous sentences again and again. However, as its architecture cannot be appreciated until it has been read once in its entirety, we move at a brisk pace through all six volumes; when we read the final volume, we can begin to understand the extraordinarily intimate relationship Proust has created with his reader. In-class creative writing exercises are designed to help with the reading and to expand an expressive, personal response.

MARCELLE CLEMENTS is Collegiate Professor and Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. She is the author of a collection of essays, The Dog Is Us and Other Observations, a book of nonfiction, The Improvised Woman, and two novels, Rock Me and, most recently, Midsummer. Her prizewinning articles and essays on the arts, culture, and politics have appeared in many national publications.

FYSEM-UA 611
Influencing Machines: Technology and the Paranoid Imagination
Spring 2018
Instructor: Geoff Shullenberger           syllabus
Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

At the height of the industrial revolution in England, an inmate at Bedlam asylum named James Tilly Matthews told his physicians that he was being persecuted by an “air loom,” a pneumatic machine that emitted magnetic mind-control rays and projected hallucinatory images. Matthews’s case offers the first known instance of what psychoanalyst Victor Tausk later called the “influencing machine,” a fantastical device that soon traveled from medical case studies to literature and art, and ultimately became a persistent motif of 20th century science fiction and cinema. Tracing the psychiatric and cultural history of the influencing machine, this course explores how the paranoid imagination, in its complex transit between the clinic and the novel, has shaped collective ideas about technology. The following questions will guide our inquiry: how has madness influenced cultural responses to technology, and vice versa? What does the literature of influencing machines reveal about the relations between paranoia and technological progress? Why and how has the paranoid imagination registered so acutely–and sometimes even anticipated–key innovations in modern technology? The course will begin with the earliest representations of paranoia and technology, and conclude by interrogating the centrality of paranoid suspicion in the contemporary digitally networked age.

GEOFF SHULLENBERGER is a Language Lecturer in NYU's Expository Writing Program, and currently teaches writing courses at the Tandon School of Engineering. He earned his PhD in Comparative Literature from Brown University, and taught at California State University, Monterey Bay before coming to NYU. His research addresses the literary and cultural history of paranoia, psychoanalytic theory, and Latin American literature; he has also written about a variety of topics at the intersection of technology and culture. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Romance Studies, Chasqui, Dissent, Cyborgology, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications.

FYSEM-UA 682
Infrastructure
Spring 2018
Instructor: Matthew MacLean
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

We examine the multifaceted ways in which humans shape and are shaped by infrastructure, and how infrastructure provides not only the material but also the cultural foundations of everyday life. How does infrastructure both create and reproduce social and economic inequalities? How are various infrastructures shaped both “from below” and from the top down? We treat these themes and questions in a variety of case studies. On the level of geopolitics, the Suez Canal raises issues of global finance, national sovereignty, and decolonization. Likewise, the structures needed to produce different forms of energy give rise to different economic formations: coal mining requires a vast labor force (which thus has political leverage over management) whereas oil does not. A recent analysis of Pokémon Go’s comparative absence from poorer neighborhoods is a starting point for addressing wider issues of inequality and the “digital divide.” Other infrastructures are less spectacular but exert tremendous influence in daily life—these include sewers, street lighting, and street layouts—and have all been objects of political, economic, and social contestation in different times and places. Students complete a fieldwork assignment to “think spatially” in their examination of some part of New York City’s infrastructure.

MATTHEW MACLEAN is a College Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. He earned his PhD in the joint program in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU. His research concerns spatial transformation and the development of national identity in the United Arab Emirates. He has been an Associate Lecturer and Humanities Research Fellow at NYU Abu Dhabi, a Fulbright Student at Zayed University in Dubai, and a Visiting Scholar at the al-Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in Ras al-Khaimah, UAE. Prior to his academic career, he taught social studies for eight years at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn.

FYSEM-UA 686
Interrogating “Propaganda” in US History
Spring 2018
Instructor: Dylan Yeats
Wednesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.).

We trace the longstanding debates over what constitutes “propaganda,” and who, if anyone, can and should decide cultural “truths” in American society. How should the “people” limit or encourage the free expression of controversial or divisive topics? Should the government, media, or the academy do this, and how? What is, or should be, the relationship between the state and institutions of civil society in regard to what is true or good in politics and culture? How are, or can, these institutions be made accountable to the people? We investigate subtle and not so subtle ways in which political parties and others have long battled each other for the hearts, minds, votes, and pocketbooks of the populace. By tracing efforts to silence some forms of speech and encourage others, we analyze the relationship between power and knowledge in US history. Topics include: controversies surrounding the Alien and Sedition Acts following the Revolution; efforts to suppress anti-slavery “propaganda” before the Civil War; campaigns against Mason, Catholic, Mormon, Anarchist, Communist, Nationalist, and Muslim publications; battles over what constitutes “obscenity”; and conflicts over government secrets, “conspiracy theories,” and “fake news.” We develop historical background and skills to attribute and authenticate sources of information, assess the political and intellectual agendas of what we read, and learn strategies for approaching and comparing information in a rapidly changing economy of information.

DYLAN YEATS is a College Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. His work focuses on the relationship between politics and culture in US history. His dissertation traces the influence of evangelical Christian organizing on the development of American political parties and policies in the 19th century. He has also taught and written about the politics of nativism with a particular emphasis on Asian American history and Islamophobia, and recently co-edited Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear (Verso Press).

FYSEM-UA 647
Irony from Antiquity to the Alt Right
Spring 2018
Instructor: Leif Weatherby       syllabus
Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Note: this seminar requires some viewing of violent films.

Irony is dead; long live irony. With the recent wave of nationalist populism across the globe, an old debate—one that goes back to Plato—has been revived. We read in the New York Times that the irony of Stephen Colbert is now obsolete, and elsewhere that irony is a value that all humanity must cling to for the sake of self-knowledge and the dimming hope of civilization. Meanwhile, the flavor of irony that attached to the 21st-century version of the hipster phenomenon and the Gawker media empire has passed—defeated in part by Trump adviser Peter Thiel. And yet irony lives on, weaponized by the so-called “Alt Right” and wielded triumphantly by the new user of the @POTUS Twitter feed. This seminar is a crash course in how politics got so literary. Fundamental readings in rhetoric, the Platonic dialogue, Friedrich Schlegel, Søren Kierkegaard, and Richard Rorty will be complemented by cross-media ironies from Don Quixote to Pepe the Frog. We will read Tristram Shandy and watch Seinfeld; view Pulp Fiction and read Baudelaire, Faust, and Catch-22. If irony is a weapon, this course asks, then how can one wield it?

LEIF WEATHERBY is assistant professor of German at New York University and the author of Transplanting the Metaphysical Organ: German Romanticism between Leibniz and Marx. His interests include the philosophy of technology, German romanticism and idealism, and Marx and Marxism. His writing has appeared in such venues as SubStance, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Goethe Yearbook.

FYSEM-UA 661
Italian Fascism
Fall 2017
Instructor: Ruth Ben-Ghiat         syllabus
Tuesday, 2:00-4:45 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

Fascism is back in the news today, with right-wing movements gaining popularity in Europe and strongmen rulers finding favor. This interdisciplinary course gives us some historical background for our contemporary world by examining Benito Mussolini’s dictatorship that ruled Italy between 1922 and 1943. We address Italian Fascism’s culture of violence; biopolitics and demographic policy; imperialism and war; Fascist ideology and visual culture; gender roles; and anti-Fascism. We read Fascist speeches and anti-Fascist novels, watch newsreels and Fascist war films, and think more broadly about why dictators find support—and why they fail. 

RUTH BEN-GHIAT is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and a cultural critic. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other fellowships. She writes and speaks frequently on fascism, authoritarian rulers, racism, and the politics of images. Her latest book is the award-winning Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema. Professor Ben-Ghiat also writes frequently for the media on these issues as they affect contemporary politics and society.

FYSEM-UA 384
Journalism of War, Revolution, Genocide, and Human Rights
Fall 2017
Instructor: Susie Linfield          syllabus
Wednesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry I Recitations (Friday, 8:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.).

In this seminar we will read some of the key journalistic works on war, revolution, genocide, and human rights that have been written in the past one hundred years. We will attempt to answer such questions as: How, and why, has the nature of war changed in the past century? Why do some revolutions, such as those in Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism, largely succeed, while others, such as those of the Arab Spring, fail so miserably? How do we understand senseless, sadistic violence—what Primo Levi called “useless cruelty”? Why do sufferers of violence and oppression so often become perpetrators of it? What is the difference between war and genocide, and why did the latter emerge in the 20th century? Why has terrorism re-emerged with such vengeance in the past two decades? What are “human rights”—another invention of the 20th century—and how, if at all, have they become a reality?

SUSIE LINFIELD is Associate Professor at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and writes about the intersection of culture and politics for a wide array of publications. Recent essays have addressed Syrian torture photographs (the New York Times), war photography (Aperture and The Nation), the Zionist Left in Israel (the Boston Review), and an anti-Vietnam War classic (Bookforum). Professor Linfield’s book The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. Prior to joining the NYU faculty, Professor Linfield was the editor in chief of American Film, the deputy editor of the Village Voice, and the arts editor of the Washington Post; she also spent six years as a critic for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. She serves on the editorial boards of Dissent and Photography and Culture, and is a member of the New York Institute of the Humanities. Professor Linfield received her BA from Oberlin College, where she studied American history, and her MA in journalism from NYU (minor: documentary film). From its founding in 1995 until 2014, Professor Linfield was instrumental in building NYU’s Cultural Reporting and Criticism Program, first as Associate Director and then as Director.

FYSEM-UA 600
La Vie de Bohème: The Starving Artist in Fiction
Spring 2018

Instructor: Katherine Carlson          syllabus
Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

Not long ago, SoHo was home to hundreds of artists looking for affordable spaces to live and work. Now the streets are lined with high-end shops and bank branches. So it went with Paris’s Latin Quarter, and the fate of Brooklyn looks much the same. The question of how to earn a living in the arts is a perennial one. In this course we will examine how fiction addresses the economic and social instability faced by artists in the post-industrial age. While most narratives romanticize the starving artist, the texts we’ll read this semester challenge that image. Our protagonists (such as Lucien in Balzac’s Lost Illusions and Jasper in Gissing’s New Grub Street) begin with uncompromising devotion to their craft but gradually give way to the strain, selling their work to tawdry outlets or (heaven forbid) teaching at universities. We consider the ways in which creative professions have and haven’t changed since so-called “starving artists” gave up their crusts of bread for bowls of ramen. Would the protagonists in these novels have the same concerns today? What new obstacles must emerging poets or painters contend with? We will examine how changes in economic policy and technology have altered the way artists and writers live and work, and by extension, the art they produce. Finally, with historic Greenwich Village as a backdrop, we’ll discuss what it actually means to “sell out” and consider the future of creative culture in our own fair city.

KATHERINE CARLSON is Senior Lecturer in the Expository Writing Program. She holds an MFA in fiction from NYU's Creative Writing Program and an MA in Humanities and Social thought from NYU's Draper Program. She has been awarded fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. Her writing has appeared in Cleaver, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and the Hairpin. She recently completed her first novel.

FYSEM-UA 210
Language and Reality in Post-Classical Science and Postmodern Literature
Fall 2017
Instructor: Friedrich Ulfers           syllabus
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30 p.m.-6:45 p.m.).

The course explores the possibility that there exists a common ground between the so-called two cultures of science and the humanities. It posits the hypothesis of a correlation between postclassical science (e.g., quantum theory) and “postmodern” literature and philosophy. Among the key notions examined are Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle,” Niels Bohr’s “principle of complementarity,” and Jacques Derrida’s notion of “undecidability” in deconstructive theory. The discussion of these notions and of their implications in literary works revolves around their effects on classical logic, the referential function of language, and the traditional goal of a complete explanation/description of reality. Readings include selections from the works of Borges, Kundera, Pirsig, and Pynchon, among others, and from texts on modern scientific theories.

FRIEDRICH ULFERS is Associate Professor of German. Winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence, the University’s Distinguished Teaching Medal, and the NYU Alumni Association Great Teacher Award, he has taught not only in the German Department but also in the Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program, offering courses on Nietzsche, Kafka, and other figures. He has written widely on 20th-century German authors and is at present preparing a study of Nietzsche as a postmodernist.

FYSEM-UA 306
Latin America at the Start of the 21st Century: Coming of Age or Continuing Chaos?
Fall 2017
Instructor: Jorge G. Castañeda           syllabus
Monday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 4:55-6:10 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Principles of Biology I Lecture (Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.) and Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

This seminar focuses on Latin America’s longstanding problems and possible solutions to them. It takes up such topics as the absence of orderly, peaceful, and steady democratic governance following independence from colonial rule, and the consolidation of representative democracy today; the slowdown of economic growth in the last 20 years and prospects for a new economic takeoff; the phenomenon of widespread violence, and growing respect for human rights; and how the traditional weakness of civil society is being overcome. For each topic, there are readings dealing with its political, economic, and cultural dimensions in both past and present.

JORGE D. CASTAÑEDA is Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico since 1979, he has also been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton, and Dartmouth. A principal strategist in the election campaign of President Vicente Fox in 2000, he served as Mexico’s Foreign Minister from late 2000 until early 2003. He is the author of, among many other books, Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left after the Cold War; Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara; Perpetuating Power; Ex-Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants; and Leftovers: Tales of the Latin American Left (with Marco Morales) He has also written articles for many newspapers and magazines in Mexico, the United States, and other countries.

FYSEM-UA 687
Latin America in/and the World: Cosmopolitanism, Internationalism, Globalization
Spring 2018
Instructor: Germán Garrido
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

The tension between cosmopolitanism and localism/nationalism shaped the emergent modern cultures of Latin America beginning in the second half of the 19th century, as new nations imagined their place in an increasingly globalized capitalist modernity. Throughout the 20th century, some of the most heated debates continued to revolve around that same tension and around the role that Latin America should play in global networks of cultural exchange. We explore the concepts of cosmopolitanism, internationalism, and globalization as productive frameworks for understanding the relationship between Latin American culture and European legacies, US hegemony, Soviet influence, and other cultures of the developing world. From a transdisciplinary perspective, we critically engage with the cosmopolitan impulses promoting the notion of “world citizenship,” the spread of Marxist internationalist projects in the region, and the more recent landscape of interconnectedness, fluidity, and social exclusion that is characteristic of globalization. How did writers and intellectuals, artists, and filmmakers imagine and represent the world in which they seek to inscribe their work and intervene? How did they deal with the tensions between the national and the cosmopolitan, the local and the global? Which of them foreground national, local, and/or regional allegiances and which of them think in planetary terms? What are the differences between cosmopolitanism and internationalism? How did new technologies transform the way Latin America interacts with the rest of the world? Do they facilitate South to South cultural exchanges or do they reproduce imperialist, neocolonial, and/or Eurocentric dynamics? These are some of the questions that guide our discussions around literary materials, films, the visual arts, and performances from the late 19th century to the present.

GERMÁN GARRIDO is a College Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. He completed his PhD in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at NYU and his research interests include Latin American studies, global studies, and queer theory.

FYSEM-UA 658
Lennie, New York, and the World of Music
Fall 2017
Instructor: Michael Beckerman
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.

Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, composer of West Side Story, compelling educator, performer, social activist, and philanthropist, Leonard Bernstein was one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. This course celebrates the centenary of Bernstein’s birth by exploring his legacy against the backdrop of today’s musical world. We will attend concerts of the New York Philharmonic and other groups, meet with leading musicians, look at Bernstein materials in the archive of the New York Philharmonic, and ask questions about future developments in music and how music is presented to a broader public.

MICHAEL BECKERMAN is Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music and Collegiate Professor at New York University. He lectures both nationally and internationally, has appeared frequently as a commentator on PBS, and has written many articles for the New York Times. His research areas include Czech music, nationalism, “Gypsy” music, musical form, and music composed in dangerous places and trying times. He is currently Leonard Bernstein Scholar in Residence at The New York Philharmonic.

FYSEM-UA 655
Living the Good Life: Greek and Jewish Perspectives
Fall 2017
Instructor: Michah Gottlieb         syllabus
Monday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 4:55-6:10 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Principles of Biology I Lecture (Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.) and Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.). 

The course will examine Greek and Jewish perspectives on the question: What makes a life well-lived? Central problems to be explored will include: Does living well require acquiring knowledge and wisdom? What is the place of moral responsibility in the good life? Is the good life a happy life, or does it require sacrificing happiness? Does religion lead to living well or does it hinder it? What is friendship and how does it contribute to the good life? The course will focus on close readings of primary texts by the following thinkers: Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Avot, Maimonides, Spinoza, and Hermann Cohen.

MICHAH GOTTLIEB is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU. An expert on German Jewish thought, he has authored or edited four books including Faith and Freedom: Moses Mendelssohn’s Theological-Political Thought. His new book on German-Jewish Bible translation will be published by Oxford University Press.

FYSEM-UA 660
Love: The Sociology of Intimacy
Fall 2017
Instructor: Deirdre Royster         syllabus
Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.

Note: this seminar uses sexually explicit reading and visual material.

If a toddler does not receive physical affection and companionship from a caregiver, it will die—but even the mere sight of a caregiver, on a daily basis, can avert the tragedy of death from lack of social and physical intimacy. Love is a powerful social force; this course provides an opportunity for students to read, learn, think, write, and talk about research into, theories of, and essays about love—mostly from a sociological perspective—with a special focus on romantic relationships and pairings. Much has been written about love from every conceivable point of view, but sociology asks very specific questions about how social contexts influence how people love across different eras, societies, groups, and so forth. American society has undergone many changes that profoundly affect how we love, including what forms we expect our relationships to take; when we expect to form enduring relationships with romantic partners; and what it may take to move from exploration to commitment. Sociology de-bunks many “love” myths that we’ve told ourselves as a society and instead highlights realities we’ve lived but not understood well—providing clarity on the distance between “idealized” and “realized” love. This course is for the skeptic and romantic alike and asks students to develop their own sociological theory about what love will look like as their generation shapes it anew.

DEIRDRE ROYSTER is Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at NYU. Her areas of specialization are the political economy of labor markets, public policy, and racial inequality, but she came to the study of love and intimacy by way of her longstanding interest in work and masculinity. Men’s changing relationships to work alongside wider cultural changes have profoundly changed men’s patterns of sociality and their romantic proclivities and ideas about marriage—all while women enter higher education and the workplace in unprecedented numbers. Professor Royster will share her interest in this field—and the fascinating research that is emerging—with her students.

FYSEM-UA 651
Lyric, Song, Poem: Music and Poetry from the Greeks to Hip Hop
Fall 2017
Instructor: John Waters
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.).

Music and poetry have deep and mutual cultural and evolutionary roots. This seminar will examine how poets, singers, and writers of songs have borrowed from each other across different cultures and periods. After surveying several ancient and early modern examples of cross-influence (including Greek lyrics, Elizabethan song and poem cycles, minstrelsy, and German Lieder), we will concentrate on how lyric poetry has been interpreted by musicians and how musicians have written poetry. Modern authors and song-writers will include William Blake, W. B. Yeats, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Ani DiFranco, Paul Muldoon, Kendrick Lamar, and others. We will also consider the performance context of poetry, from poetry readings to poetry slams, competitive rapping, and other forms of improvisational verbal performance.

JOHN WATERS, Professor of Irish Studies, bases his knowledge of Irish literature on research done at Johns Hopkins (BA), Trinity College Dublin (MPhil), and Duke University (MA and PhD), with thesis topics ranging from Anglo-Irish literature and the early poetry of Paul Muldoon to the travel poetry of Wordsworth and Keats. He joined the faculty of New York University in 2000, after teaching at Wake Forest University, Notre Dame, and Louisiana State University. With a strong background in British romantic literature, Professor Waters has continued to focus on the transatlantic traditions of American, British, and Irish literature to establish a place for himself in the academic community. While at Duke, Professor Waters edited a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly on “Ireland and Irish Cultural Studies,” with essays written by Declan Kiberd, Luke Gibbons, Dillon Johnson, Clair Wells, Guinn Batten, and Joe Cleary. More recently he has edited two volumes which are currently in preparation: The African Traveller: A Radical’s Tale of Ireland in the Year of the Great Irish Rebellion and Gertrude of Wyoming (1809): A Hypertext Edition.

FYSEM-UA 312
Memoirs and Diaries in Modern European Jewish History
Fall 2017
Instructor: Marion Kaplan       syllabus
Monday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 4:55-6:10 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Principles of Biology I Lecture (Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.) and Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

This course analyzes modern Jewish history through the use of memoirs, diaries, and letters, sometimes called ego-documents. These can offer an abundance of detail about the public, political, economic, social, and religious worlds of individual Jews and provide valuable, often rare, glimpses into the motivations and expectations of Jews regarding the non-Jewish world. Moreover, these ego-documents reveal crucial concealed thoughts and emotions. They offer us a picture of the full human being as well as her or his attitudes and behaviors within the family, friendship networks, and the Jewish community. These documents also allow students to delve into relations between parents and children, spouses, generations, neighbors, and friends. Finally, memoirs, diaries, and also letters give us clues as to the ways people thought they should write about their lives and the ways they fashioned their own images in relation (or opposition) to their societies. The course begins with the very first memoir that we have written by a Jewish woman, Glickl of Hameln, in the late 17th century, and continues up to the Holocaust and postwar generation. Students will study a variety of memoirs and diaries from the period of the Holocaust and view survivor testimonies, and will also consider how these memories have been passed down to another generation.

MARION KAPLAN is Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History at New York University. She is a three-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award for her books The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family and Identity in Imperial Germany; Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany; and Gender and Jewish History, co-edited with Deborah Dash Moore. Her other books include: The Jewish Feminist Movement in Germany: The Campaigns of the Jüdischer Frauenbund, 1904-1938; When Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany, co-edited with Renate Bridenthal and Atina Grossmann; The Marriage Bargain: Women and Dowries in European History, ed.; Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945, ed.; Jüdische Welten: Juden in Deutschland vom 18. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart, co-edited with Beate Meyer; and Dominican Haven: The Jewish Refugee Settlement in Sosúa, 1940-1945, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. All of her monographs have been translated into German. She has taught European history, German history, women’s history, and modern Jewish history at Queens College, the City University of New York, and New York University.

FYSEM-UA 564
Modern Poetry: Craft and Revolution
Fall 2017
Instructor: Matthew Rohrer         syllabus
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:45 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday 12:30-1:45 p.m.

This course thrusts students headlong into the dark cobwebby interiors of the modern poem. We’ll look closely at how modern poems became modern, examining several revolutions as we think about what poems are—beginning in England in 1798, coming to Walt Whitman’s and Emily Dickinson’s America in the 1850s, stopping in Harlem in the 1920s, and ending up online. We’ll consider how modern poems are actually put together, considering such elemental concerns as image, voice, structure, etc. And we’ll also write our own poems, sometimes with these examples as our models. Students will leave this course with a deeper understanding of the lineage of the modern poem and what makes the modern poem go. And combined with the generous and critical attentions of the workshop, students will come to the same understanding of their own work.

MATTHEW ROHRER is Clinical Professor in the Creative Writing Program at NYU, where he teaches undergraduates and graduate students. He is the author of nine books of poetry, was a founder of Fence Magazine and Fence Books, and has participated in residencies and performances at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) and the Henry Museum (Seattle). His poems have been widely anthologized, and he has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Next Big Thing.

FYSEM-UA 662
Molecular Modeling and Simulation: From Theory to Applications
Fall 2017
Instructor: Tamar Schlick       syllabus
Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).
  
Prerequisites: a reported 4 or 5 in one of the following AP exams: Biology, Chemistry, or Calculus (international equivalents accepted), and high SAT Subject Exam scores or rigorous high school courses in the other two subjects. Recommended: AP or a high school course in physics, and/or knowledge of computer programming.


This seminar introduces students to the science and art of modeling molecular systems and simulating their structures and dynamic pathways on modern computers. We trace the historical trajectory of the field, from the early systematic force-field development and computations of small molecules to simulations of huge molecular machines like viruses and ribosomes—even approaching single cells. The basic structural elements of life's biological molecules (proteins and nucleic acids) and the universe of protein folds and RNA motifs will be presented. Practical ingredients of biomolecular modeling will be introduced: the governing force fields, computations of the nonbonded molecular interactions, energy minimization algorithms, sampling algorithms for describing molecular configurations, and Monte Carlo sampling and molecular dynamics simulations and their analyses. Finally, selected applications to molecular design and medicine will be discussed, to illuminate the practical utility and immense success of the field.

TAMAR SCHLICK is Professor of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Computer Science at NYU’s Department of Chemistry and Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Her field of research is the multiscale modeling and simulation of biological macromolecules, especially regulatory DNA/protein complexes related to chromatin folding, DNA replication and repair, and RNA structure and function. Her graduate textbook entitled Molecular Modeling: An Interdisciplinary Guide is widely used. She is a fellow of AAAS, APS, SIAM, and the Biophysical Society, and has received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigatorship, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, NYU Distinguished Recent Alumni Award, NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, and Searle and Whitaker Scholarships. She currently heads (as associate editor) the newly formed section on nucleic acids and genome biophysics in the Biophysical Journal. She is also editor of PLOS One, J. Comp. Phys., and Springer Lecture Notes in Computational Science and Engineering.

FYSEM-UA 500
New Worlds of Work and Care
Spring 2018
Instructor: Kathleen Gerson      syllabus
Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.). 

We live in a period of immense social change in the public world of work and the private world of family life. New technologies have blurred the boundary between home and work. New economic opportunities and pressures have sent women into the workplace. The rise of the “new economy” has created jobs with more short-term flexibility, but less long-term security. And new options in intimate relationships have created more diverse and voluntary, but less predictable family ties. These intertwined shifts signal a social transformation that is reshaping the daily lives and life pathways of 21st century women and men. To explore the twin revolutions in work and care, the class will address several questions: What does an overview of changes in work, family, and gender patterns tell us about where we are now and where we are going? What are the major dilemmas and dislocations created by these changes, and how are people coping with these conflicts? What are the implications for the future? And what can we do to enhance the opportunities and limit the insecurities and inequalities of these new arrangements for women, men, and children?

KATHLEEN GERSON is Collegiate Professor of Sociology at New York University, where she studies work-family connections and their links to the structuring of gender inequality. The author of numerous books and articles, her most recent book, The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family, is an award-winning study of how new generations have experienced and responded to the rapidly unfolding gender revolution of the last several decades. Now at work on a study of "work and care in the new economy," her other books include Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career, and Motherhood; No Man’s Land: Men’s Changing Commitments to Family and Work; The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality (with Jerry A. Jacobs); and a forthcoming book, The Art and Science of Interviewing: How to Learn About Society by Talking with People. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Sociological Association’s Jessie Bernard Award for distinguished contributions to the study of women and gender, the Rosabeth Kanter Award for excellence in work-family research, and the Eastern Sociological Society's Distinguished Merit Award for lifetime contributions. In addition to her many years at NYU, she has held visiting positions at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City, and the Center for Status Passages in the Life Course at Bremen University in Germany.

FYSEM-UA 612
Nobody and Everyone: Queer American Poetics
Spring 2018
Instructor: Jameson Fitzpatrick              syllabus
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

The history of modern American poetry is a queer one. In this poetry craft class, we will look to the enduring presence of queer poets throughout different periods, movements and aesthetics in American poetry to understand how queerness has functioned as a constitutive force within our canon. Our title refers to works by Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, whose contrasting expressions of queer selfhood will serve as our point of departure; from there, we will read our way up to the contemporary poetic moment, writing our own poems along the way. Throughout, we will interrogate notions of queerness, Americanness, and history with the help of critical texts from multiple disciplines, presupposing that we cannot consider questions of sexuality or gender without considering questions of race, ethnicity, and class.

JAMESON FITZPATRICK is a poet, occasional critic, and lecturer in the Expository Writing Program. He holds an MFA in poetry from NYU, where he has also taught creative writing, and his poems have appeared in publications such as The Awl, The Offing, Poetry, and Prelude. A poetry editor for Lambda Literary Review, he is also the author of the chapbook Mark Morrisroe: Erasures, which comprises 24 versions of a single text by the late artist.

FYSEM-UA 593
Orientalism, Cultural Representation, and the Middle East
Spring 2018
Instructor: Asli Iğsız              syllabus
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30 p.m.-6:45 p.m.).

Scholars have argued that since the “fall” of Byzantine Constantinople to the Ottomans in the fifteenth century, Western European intellectuals have framed cultural difference in terms of the “East” and the “West.” Renaissance humanists, for example, resorted to ancient and medieval texts to create a religiously and culturally defined “other”—the “Ottoman Turks.” Their writings then spread across Europe and generated problematic conceptualizations of what the West ought to be, as different from the East. This is by no means an isolated case: in the nineteenth century, for example, we begin encountering systematic categorizations of peoples imbued with discourses of civilizations. Critic Edward Said identifies such problematic representations of the so-called East as “Orientalism” and offers a productive category to analyze how such representations have informed power relations and policies. This seminar will examine a wide variety of cultural representations pertaining to the modern Middle East that have contributed to the "East/West" divide conceptualized as Orientalism. We will explore politics of cultural representation in such fields as cinema, literature, visual culture, political economy, and humanitarianism. Some questions we will address: What are the politics of cultural representation over (at least) the last two centuries that have marked modern day politics? How do such representations lend themselves to problematic interpretations of East and West in general, and the Middle East in particular? What are the racial, historical, and cultural implications of these representations and the policies that they inform?

ASLI IGSIZ is Assistant Professor of Culture and Representation in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. Her teaching and research interests include cultural representation and cultural history, narratives of war and displacement, and dynamics of alterity in the late Ottoman and contemporary Turkish contexts. Her publications span a variety of issues that include the politics of memory, nation branding, alliances of civilizations, law, neoliberalism, and the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey. Her current book project, Humanism in Ruins: Liberal Multiculturalism, Memory, and the 1923 Greek-Turkish Population Exchange in Contemporary Turkey, examines the implications of “liberal multiculturalism” and cultural memory as a mode of humanism in Turkey after the Cold War and the 1980 military coup.

FYSEM-UA 673
Penning the Self(ie): Writing the Human Condition
Fall 2017
Instructor: Melanie Hackney       syllabus
Thursday, 6:20-8:50 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

We walk around, phone in hand, with looming questions in our head: is digital technology destroying memory, communication, and interpersonal relationships? Will our kids read and write cursive? Is print media disappearing? The notion of writing as a technology seems far removed from today’s fast-paced world of computers, social media, and AI; but it was not so long ago in human history that writing constituted a technological advance that permeated Western societies. This course examines key moments in writing’s history, with a focus on medieval texts in particular, in order to understand its role in shaping the literary subject. We will begin by tracing the shift from oral to written traditions in romance and courtly literature, followed by the invention of the printing press, notions of copyright and intellectual property, and an examination of how our relationship to writing in the past can inform our current relationship to changing technologies. Over the course of the semester, students will engage in an experiential group learning project through the creation of a literary hero/heroine whose story evolves from oral tradition, to written romance, to social media subject.

MELANIE HACKNEY is Language Lecturer and the Intermediate Language Coordinator in the Department of French. As a medievalist, her work focuses on writing as technology in twelfth-century vernacular literature, but she also works and has published on Occitan lyric poetry. Her focus on technologies and innovative teaching methods created a natural bridge to the digital humanities, and she is particularly interested in experiential learning: she is the co-founder of a Francophone Louisiana immersion program and oral histories website both hosted by NYU, and is currently working on the development of an educational mobile app on French New Wave Cinema for study in Paris.

FYSEM-UA 599
Poetics of the Unsayable
Spring 2018
Instructor: Leah Souffrant            syllabus
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II (Thursday, 12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.).

Silence, blank space, gaps, and fractures: attending to these formal elements in works of literature and art can pique understanding about some of the most difficult matters in human experience. Poet Rainer Maria Rilke claimed, in 1903, that “most experiences are unsayable,” and in this course we will study the ways writers and artists, through expressions of silence itself, attempt to communicate those very experiences. How might we better understand the human through attention to those most hard-to-express experiences? With a special emphasis on works that blend the creative and the critical, this course will examine how scholars and creative thinkers over the past century have addressed problems of power, gender, oppression, and trauma, exploring means of expressing those urgent concerns that often feel unsayable. Through active exploration, students in this seminar will practice creative and critical approaches to investigate and convey difficult subjects that are often invisible or silenced. Exploring interdisciplinary fiction and non-fiction readings (as well as works of art), we ask: What are we finding difficult to say? What are we seeing or hearing or reading that helps us make sense of the difficulties in our world? And when and how might we powerfully, after all, break our silences?

LEAH SOUFFRANT is a Language Lecturer in the Expository Writing Program, where she has been recognized with Awards in Teaching Excellence, and she serves as a mentor in the Writing Tutors Program. Her research interests include poetics, translation, feminist theory, ethics, and aesthetics. She is author of the book Plain Burned Things: a poetics of the unsayable. She holds a PhD from the Graduate Center, CUNY; an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars; and a BA in Russian from Vassar College. Souffrant’s recent critical and creative writing can be found published and forthcoming in Jacket2, Poet Lore, Bone Bouquet, and Feministas Unidas.

FYSEM-UA 657
Political Gesture: From Art to Activism
Fall 2017

Instructor: Jill Lane        syllabus
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

On February 1, 1960, four African American college students sat down at a lunch counter at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina; when refused service, they remained in their seats, thus initiating the dramatic Greensboro Sit-in. In Argentina in 1977, a group of mothers whose children had been "disappeared" by the military dictatorship began to march in front of the presidential palace, holding large pictures of their missing children; those marches continue to this day. In 2003, the Guatemalan artist Regina Galindo created a piece meant to remind the public of the genocidal killings in Guatemala’s internal civil war; in Who Can Erase the Traces? (Quién puede borrar las huellas?) she walked barefoot through the streets of Guatemala City carrying a basin filled with human blood into which she periodically dipped her feet, leaving a trail of bloody footprints. What do sitting, holding a picture, and walking in these examples have in common? Each functions as a political gesture—a codified way of using the body to interrupt everyday life and pose a public challenge, demand, or critique in relation to abuses of power. We consider: How do political gestures establish relationships with the public (at times an unwitting or unwilling public), and how do such gestures directly impact the social and physical context? We read the work of artists, activists, and philosophers, and consider cases drawn primarily from North and South America from the 1960s to the present, allowing a broad comparative approach. Where possible we leave the classroom to visit relevant museums and archives.

JILL LANE is Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. She is author of Blackface Cuba, 1840-1898, co-editor with Peggy Phelan of The Ends of Performance, and author of numerous articles on performance and politics in the Americas.

FYSEM-UA 672
Politics of Affect: Lyric Poetry
Spring 2018
Instructor: Perla Masi
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

This course explores the ways in which lyric poetry intersects with social and political power. What is the peculiar relationship between poïesis, political action, and affects? The 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza defines affects as the ability to affect and be affected, which can diminish or increase the body’s capacity to act. How can the work of poets (and also of visual artists, photographers, and filmmakers) be read as an affirmation of joy and a form of resistance to state order? What makes their creations a work of love, a work that questions the logic of liberal and neo-liberal political economies and becomes a tool for social, political, and cultural change? Using case studies drawn from literature, art, film, and photography, the course will focus on key historical moments in Europe and the Americas: the Mexican Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, and the cultural revolution of the 60’s in Italy.

PERLA MASI is Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her current research project deals with the relationship between modern and contemporary poetry and philosophy in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America, particularly focusing on the idea of community and the intersection of the political, the religious, and the cultural. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled The Place of Poetry: Poïesis and Political Theology in the Twentieth-Century Iberian-Atlantic. Her other research interests include Arab migration in Latin America and Spain, and cosmopolitanism and political solidarity among Latin American and Southern European poets in the post-war period.

FYSEM-UA 646
Problem of Babel
Fall 2017
Instructor: Alec Marantz        syllabus
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Intro Experimental Physics I Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

Our guiding question emerges from the story of the Tower of Babel: why are there many languages? Should we view linguistic diversity on par with superficial cultural differences, as reflecting essential differences in modes of thinking, or as products of incommensurate world views? This question will be explored across disciplines, from the philosophical discussion of the (im)possibility of translation, through the literary theoretic debate about the connection between speech and writing, to recent discussions in psychology and anthropology about linguistic determinism (language determining thought or culture determining language). These debates across intellectual traditions center around the key question of the source of linguistic universals: do commonalities among languages reflect an innate brain "organ," or do they reflect commonalities in human culture and in general human cognitive capabilities? The linguist’s argument for an innate universal grammar invites us to view language history in biblical terms, as the cultural fall from a single original language that was fixed by biology, but such biological determinism is also consistent with the idea that the multi-lingual cosmopolitan human has always been our natural state.

ALEC MARANTZ is Silver Professor of Linguistics and Psychology and is an affiliated faculty member at NYU Abu Dhabi, where he is co-principal investigator of the Neuroscience of Language Lab. His research investigates the structure of words (morphology), the features that all languages share (linguistic universals), and the biological basis of language knowledge and processing (neurolinguistics). Learn more about his work in NYU’s Morphology Lab at http://psych.nyu.edu/morphlab/index.html.

FYSEM-UA 597
Problem Solving
Fall 2017
Instructor: Dennis E. Shasha          syllabus
Monday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday. 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

Prerequisite: Some programming experience in Python, Java, Javascript, R, or C.


Many problems in science, business, and politics require heuristics—problem-solving techniques that often work well but give imperfect guarantees. This course teaches heuristics as they apply to the design of scientific experiments, the resolution of economic or political negotiations, and the construction of engineering devices in hostile environments. Students will work in small teams that will solve puzzles, conduct experiments, and build strategies for a competitive auction game. Students will use and learn computational tools, such as Python. The intent is to make you better able to face complex problems in any field of study you choose.

DENNIS SHASHA is a Professor of Computer Science at the Courant Institute of New York University and an Associate Director of NYU Wireless. He works with biologists on pattern discovery for network inference; with computational chemists on algorithms for protein design; with physicists and financial people on algorithms for time series; on clocked computation for DNA computing; and on computational reproducibility. Other areas of interest include database
tuning as well as tree and graph matching. Because he likes to type, he has written six books of puzzles about a mathematical detective named Dr. Ecco, a biography about great computer scientists, and a book about the future of computing. He has also written five technical books about database tuning, biological pattern recognition, time series, DNA computing, resampling statistics, and causal inference in molecular networks. He has co-authored over seventy journal papers, seventy conference papers, and twenty patents. He has written the puzzle column for various publications including Scientific American, Dr. Dobb's Journal, and the Communications of the ACM. He is a fellow of the ACM and an INRIA International Chair.

FYSEM-UA 536
Race and Culture in Brazil
Spring 2018
Instructor: Dylon Robbins
Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Brazil is often invoked in conversations about race and culture, held up as an example for its presumably more egalitarian race relations, considered the embodiment of an exceptional fusion of African, Indigenous, and European elements and a model for understanding heterogeneity and difference. And yet it is also a nation frequently cited for its incidence of violence and extreme economic inequality. This seminar explores some of the unique contradictions shaping Brazilian reality. We trace the history of race relations in the ongoing transformation of Brazilian culture, looking at key social, political, and economic factors such as slavery and the plantation economy, popular music, Carnival, populism, racial democracy, affirmative action, and urban and rural violence. How do race and culture coincide and diverge in Brazil? And what may we gather about these convergences and divergences from textual, musical, and cinematic examples?

DYLON ROBBINS is Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He teaches courses on Brazil and the Caribbean, with particular emphasis on the cultural and theoretical production of these regions and their place in the African Diaspora. With support from a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, he undertook research in Brazil at the Cinemateca Brasileira and the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros and, in Cuba, at the ICAIC, the Biblioteca Nacional, and the Casa de las Américas. Professor Robbins is currently completing his book manuscript on popular music and political subjectivity in Brazil.

FYSEM-UA 215
Reclaiming the Narrative: Contemporary West African Writers Unleash Their Africa upon the World
Spring 2018
Instructor: Frankie Edozien       syllabus
Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

Comprehensive news coverage of Africa is scant. The sparse coverage is often a variation of an incomplete portrait that has dominated the Western media for the last fifty years: tales of starvation, political instability, and disease are mainstays. There is often little or no historical or political context in most of this coverage. In recent years, a cadre of West African writers has begun to change that narrative. These writers, often educated in the West and equally comfortable on the streets of Lagos, Accra, Rome, or New York, have churned out works of fiction and non-fiction essays about their homelands. Their writing offers a nuanced, balanced portrait of contemporary African life, giving a detailed understanding of issues and events and succeeding where their counterparts in mainstream journalism are not.

FRANKIE EDOZIEN has directed the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute’s “Reporting Africa” program at NYU since 2008. He is a journalist who honed his skills writing about government, health, and cultural issues for a variety of publications. His work has appeared in the Times (UK), Vibe, Time, Out Traveler, Blackaids.org, The Advocate, Quartz, the New York Times, and elsewhere. For fifteen years he was an award-winning New York Post reporter, serving as city hall reporter and also covering crime, courts, labor issues and human services, public health, and politics from around the country and abroad. In 2001, he co-founded the AFRican magazine and served as its editor-in-chief. He has traveled around the world reporting on the impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa, and was a 2008 Kaiser Foundation fellow for global health reporting. He is a contributor to the Arise News Network, where he reports weekly on issues in sub-Saharan Africa, and has contributed commentary on MSNBC on sub-Saharan African issues. A selection of his work is available on www.edozien.net.

FYSEM-UA 668
Russia, 1917: Politics, Class, and Culture in the Russian Revolutions
Fall 2017
Instructor: Anne O’Donnell
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

“Who are we? Where are we? When are we?” So wrote Zinaida Gippius, modernist poet and eyewitness to the hungry, confusing, effervescent months of revolution in Petrograd, capital of the recently-collapsed Russian Empire. By the end of 1917, the year of Russia’s great revolutions, Gippius recognized neither the city around her nor the time in which she lived, nor her very essence, her own self. This course will examine the startling transformations wrought by the revolutions of 1917, which succeeded in establishing the world’s first socialist state, against the expectations even of its leaders. Together we will study the political, social, cultural, and intellectual roots of the Russian Revolutions; the experience of everyday life in a time of upheaval; and the dizzying rise to power of a numerically tiny band of revolutionaries, the Bolsheviks. Was the Russian Revolution a socialist revolution? A communist revolution? How did it start, why did it succeed, and when did it end? To answer these and many other questions, we will examine works of history, literature, visual art, and memoir. No prior knowledge of the Russian language or Russian history is necessary for enrollment. In addition to shorter writing assignments and an in-class presentation, students will work toward the composition of a final research essay on a topic of their choosing.

ANNE O’DONNELL is Assistant Professor of History and Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University. She earned her doctorate in Russian history from Princeton University and spent two years as a Prize Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for History and Economics. She studies the cultural history of the Soviet state and economy. Her first book manuscript examines the transformation of state institutions during the revolutionary era through the prism of important material objects—apartment buildings, office space, salaries, furniture, and "valuables"—and critical conceptual categories including value, corruption, and economic crime. Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, and the US Department of Education.

FYSEM-UA 255
School and Society: NYU in the Sixties and Seventies
Fall 2017
Instructor: Arthur Tannenbaum           syllabus
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.

The 1960s and 1970s brought profound changes in American society, changes mirrored in the history of the nation, academe, and New York University. It was a time that witnessed the struggle for civil rights, assassinations, war abroad and riots at home, and a youth-led revolution in music, dress, and values. This course aims to develop an appreciation of those years by examining the events and the reactions as they affected campuses and students across America. Students prepare reports on different aspects of the era and work on group projects. In both cases, and in the spirit of the times, the topics are self-chosen with the approval of the group and the seminar leader.

ARTHUR TANNENBAUM is Associate Curator and Social Work Librarian in the Bobst Library, and has also taught in the English Department. First as a student and then as a faculty member, he has been at NYU for more than thirty years. In 1992 he received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Medal in recognition for his work with students.

FYSEM-UA 432
Science and Policy of Climate Change
Fall 2017
Instructor: Edwin Gerber            syllabus
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

2014, 2015, and 2016 share something in common. Each was—at the time—the warmest year in recorded history. In fact, this is likely the hottest our planet has ever been since the last interglacial period, c. 125,000 years ago. All 16 years of the new millennium are in the top 17 warmest years, and those of you who were around for the El Niño of 1998 have seen all of the top 17. The first predictions of human induced global warming were made over a century ago, but the topic remains controversial despite the fact that the world has warmed almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the intervening years. In this seminar, we investigate observational evidence as well as the physical and mathematical foundations upon which forecasts of future climate are based. What are the key uncertainties in the predictions, and what steps are required to reduce them? What are the costs of taking action today, or responding to potential consequences tomorrow? Could we intervene in the climate system itself to offset the impact of our greenhouse gas emissions? And why can we rather accurately guess someone’s views on climate change based upon his or her feelings about a free internet or health insurance policy? Armed with this scientific background, students conduct a research project on the psychology and/or policy of global warming, giving them a chance to enter the debate and perhaps even contribute to the solution.

EDWIN GERBER is an Associate Professor of Atmosphere-Ocean Science and Mathematics at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. His research focuses on the natural variability of the Earth's atmosphere (for example, why are some winters so cold and snowy compared to others?) and the role it plays in the response of the climate system to anthropogenic (human) forcing. More recently, he has investigated how the formation of the ozone hole changed circulation patterns in the Southern Hemisphere, with possible implications for the melting of the Antarctic ice sheets and global sea level rise. With two small children at home, he has more than just an academic interest in the future of our planet.

FYSEM-UA 654
Searching for a Musical Ethics in the Twentieth Century
Spring 2018
Instructor: David Samuels        syllabus
Tuesday, 6:20-8:50 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry I Recitations (Friday, 8:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.).

The twentieth century witnessed an ethical discourse about the scope of the human. Shaken by two world wars, a great depression, and a global expansion of industrial power, people in the United States searched for ways to maintain their integrity as human beings in the face of these upheavals. An important part of this search took inspiration from imagining how people should sound when they made music together. Movements growing out of that inspiration—in folk music, medieval and Renaissance music, and world music—will be the focus of this class. We will explore these overlapping attempts to reclaim ethical human communities within the perceived dehumanizing processes of modernity. Ultimately, our goal will be to attempt to understand why the tones and timbres of certain kinds of musical activities mattered to people as an expression of their ethical and political positions within modern urban industrial capital.

DAVID SAMUELS, Professor and Chair of NYU’s Department of Music, is a linguistic anthropologist, folklorist, and ethnomusicologist. His book, Putting a Song on Top of It: Music and Identity on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, was the first book-length monograph exploring popular music’s place in the formation of contemporary Indigenous identities. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. His essays have appeared in leading anthropology and music journals, including American Ethnologist, Annual Review of Anthropology, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, and Semiotica.

FYSEM-UA 683
Skin in Latin America: An Interdisciplinary History of Skin as a Political and Cultural Formation
Spring 2018
Instructor: Rocío Pichon-Rivière
Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

The skin has the paradoxical function of connecting us with and separating us from the outside, which is why it is a productive metaphor for social relations. Skin is the space of human proximity, love, sex, and affection—the site for social interaction, a vague frontier between the self and the other. It is, for the same reason, also the site for racialization and otherization, and thus can translate into social dynamics of space segregation and oppression. We uncover the complexities of skin as a social space of subject formation by exploring landmarks of the history of the concept of skin as it was conceived by different traditions of cultural and social texts in Latin America, in legal documents, and in phenomenology and psychoanalysis, postcolonial studies, film, and fiction. We read racial legislation from early modern Spain to trace racialization to the notion of purity of blood. The early modern criminalization of sex (miscegenation and sodomy) initiated a social understanding of skin as an interlocking system where gender, race, and the rule of the state over bodies merged, producing different subjects. The revolutions of independence (that coincided in most Latin American countries with the abolition of slavery) altered the social space that the caste system had secured, and new discourses of modern equality disguised latent forms of racialization. Latin American nation-states were often constructed through national myths of colorblindness or narratives of “mestisaje” that claimed that racial differences had been overcome by the mixing of all races. We read Latin American literary texts (including Clarice Lispector, Carlos Monsiváis, Victoria Santa Cruz, Miriam Alves, Lohana Berkins, and Julieta Paredes) as well as visual texts, from casta paintings and colonial “comics” (Guaman Poma de Ayala’s graphic chronicles) to contemporary films and art. We read these cultural texts along with influential transnational academic accounts of skin by Hegel, Frantz Fanon, Gilles Deleuze, Gloria Anzaldúa, Achille Mbembe, Michelle Ann Stephens, Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, and Sara Ahmed.

ROCÍO PICHON-RIVIÈRE is a College Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. Her research interests include modern and contemporary intellectual history and hemispheric feminisms. Besides being a full-time scholar, she is also a part-time artist.

FYSEM-UA 678
Stuff of Inequality
Spring 2018
Instructor: Andrew Dufton         syllabus
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

We are the 99%! Black Lives Matter! These rallying cries bring inequality to the front-and-center of western political and media discourses. Yet a social system dividing the haves and have-nots is hardly a modern phenomenon. As a discipline dedicated both to the study of “stuff” and to the understanding of long-term cultural change, archaeology can make a unique contribution to these debates. This seminar considers injustice diachronically (i.e. over time) and on a global scale, examining ways in which the material world is created by—and creates—social divisions. Regular written assignments rely on the “stuff” left behind to understand current protests, explore the physical dimensions of social unrest, point out examples of inequality on campus and across New York, and create alternate narratives of the groups often forgotten in historical accounts.

ANDREW DUFTON is Visiting Assistant Professor at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. He received his PhD in Archaeology from Brown University, his MSc from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, and his BA from McGill University’s Department of Anthropology. His research interrogates the long-term dynamics of urban change in North Africa, from the Iron Age into late antiquity. This work highlights the diversity, haphazardness, and improvisation that best characterize urban life in both ancient and modern contexts. Professor Dufton has excavated and surveyed at sites in the US, the UK, and across the Mediterranean world, including at the imperial villa and medieval monastery at Villa Magna (2006–2010); at the Tunisian site of Utica (2010–present); and with Brown University at Petra, Jordan (2012–14). His recent publications include an examination of digital tools for collecting and communicating archaeological knowledge, an overview of North African urbanism in the Roman period, and an exploration of the suburban zone at Petra.

FYSEM-UA 667
Tales Out of School: Fiction and Film about Teachers, Students, and Schooling
Spring 2018
Instructor: Brian Schwartz            syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

By investigating a variety of recent films, short stories, and novels about schools and schooling, participants in this seminar will seek to add complexity to their own and each other’s understanding of education and its purposes. Our central questions will include the following: What images of students, teachers, and schools are presented in contemporary literature and cinema? What do these images suggest about the place of schooling in American life? In our discussions of a body of texts ranging from literary fiction by Sherman Alexie and Don DeLillo to blockbuster tales depicting fantastical academies of magic, we will also investigate the seams between our identities as people and our personae as students and teachers. Over the course of the term, students will write a handful of short response papers, a concise analytical essay, and a final project that can be fiction, non-fiction, or a hybrid of both.
 
BRIAN SCHWARTZ is Senior Language Lecturer in the Expository Writing Program. His short stories and essays have appeared in Harvard Review, Blackbird, Rhetoric Review and other publications, including the anthology Inheriting the War. He has taught writing and literature at UC Irvine, San Francisco State, and Bard College, where he is a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Writing and Thinking.

FYSEM-UA 680
Telling Stories: Journalists and Ethnographers
Spring 2018
Instructor: Juan Carlos Aguirre
Monday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.) and General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

How do we tell the truth? We tend to take nonfiction for granted as a kind of narrative that simply transmits the "facts." But what else is there to this picture? What ideas and preconceptions mediate the ways we read a work of history, or watch a documentary film? We examine a broad range of nonfiction and documentary genres, including but not limited to historiography, memoir, testimony, ethnography, and reportage. Major assignments and class discussions focus on identifying and analyzing the varying conceptions of truth and verifiability at the foundation of these different genres. Our coursework also interrogates the ethics of narration, as well as the methods through which nonfiction writers combine the project of truth-telling with an aesthetic or poetic vision. Readings are drawn from works of: C.L.R. James, Herodotus, Ibn Khaldun, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Frederick Douglass, Bartolomé de las Casas, Joan Didion, Elena Poniatowska, Truman Capote, James Agee, Joe Sacco, and Alison Bechdel. Writing assignments ask students to analyze and experiment with the nonfiction styles encountered in our readings.

JUAN CARLOS AGUIRRE is a College Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. His research focuses on Latin American testimonial and nonfiction literature in the 20th and 21st centuries, through which he examines intersections between popular culture, migration, illicit economies, and globalization.

FYSEM-UA 663
Telling Stories: Journalists and Ethnographers
Fall 2017
Instructor: Robert S. Boynton
Wednesday, Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

This course will introduce students to the various methods journalists and ethnographers use to explore the human condition. Using the written word, still photography, audio, and some combination of the three (slideshow, etc.), students will create portraits of communities and individuals. We will read such classic ethnographies as Mitchell Duneier's Sidewalk, as well as oral histories by Studs Terkel and narrative journalism (like Adrian LeBlanc's Random Family). We will listen to audio pieces produced by StoryCorps and Radio Diaries, and look at photographs by Diane Arbus, Gary Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander.

ROBERT S. BOYNTON is Associate Professor at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, where he runs the Literary Reportage program. He is the author of The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project and The New New Journalism, and his articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, and elsewhere.

FYSEM-UA 650
Terrorism: What Is It, Does It Work, and Is It Ever Justified?
Fall 2017
Instructor: Jeff Goodwin      syllabus
Wednesday, 3:30-6:10 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry I Recitations (Friday, 8:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.).

Following the 9/11 attacks, there has been much discussion of “terrorism” by politicians, journalists, and scholars. But what exactly is “terrorism,” and how does it differ from other types of violence? This course addresses the following questions: How and for what purposes has the idea of “terrorism” been conceptualized, used, and explained? Why and under what conditions does terrorism seem to arise? And is terrorism ever justified? To answer these questions, we will examine a wide range of historical cases of terrorism in the modern world, including lynching and other forms of racial terrorism in the US; the US bombing of Japanese civilians during World War II; US economic sanctions on Iraq; recent suicide bombing campaigns by various insurgent political groups; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and terrorism by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. We aim to challenge a number of popular myths about “terrorism,” including the idea that terrorism is the exclusive work of zealous “extremists” or “radicals.” In fact, terrorism is very often an eminently reasonable and effective strategy of warfare or social domination. It has been employed quite frequently by a wide range of political groups and governments, including mainstream US, British, and Israeli politicians, in order to achieve their political aims and/or to maintain their social domination over others. On the other hand, terror tactics are generally eschewed by governments and political groups when they offer few if any tangible benefits or advantages.

JEFF GOODWIN is Professor of Sociology. He has written extensively about social movements, revolutions, and terrorism. His books include The Social Movements Reader; Contention in Context; Passionate Politics; and No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945–1991. He is currently writing a book about why states and rebels sometimes employ terrorism as a strategy. He is a winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.

FYSEM-UA 679
Time
Fall 2017
Instructor: Ralph Katz          syllabus
Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics I Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

“Time”: a single word, a simple word, and—beyond reading the face of a watch—a term few understand (although one we all “worry about”). We sometimes “reflect upon it,” but usually—for most—just for a few brief seconds (as we “don’t have the time for this”). In this course, we will take the time to consider “time” and to build a personal philosophy reflecting what we choose to do with our “time,” often combatting what our culture tries to impose upon us. Students will further develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills while examining how ideas about “time” are constructed and interrelated and how they can inform, limit, or inspire the way we see ourselves in our social worlds. Our weekly work will consist of reading a range of texts, viewing film clips, writing in a variety of modes, and collaborating closely with one another. Class time will be devoted primarily to discussion of readings. While there are no in-class examinations, there are six papers as well as a final project—the creation and presentation of each student’s own original cartography timeline.

RALPH V. KATZ, BS, DMD, MPH, PhD, FACE (Professor, and former and founding Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, NYU College of Dentistry) is an epidemiologist who focuses on the study of oral diseases and health disparities. He has been a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology (FACE) since 1982. He has taught “The Ethics and Politics of Public Health,” as well as the course on “Time,” to international baccalaureate college students at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus in the UAE, and in New York he has taught in the College of Arts and Science’s First-Year Seminar program since 2002. He served as the Director of the NIH-funded NYU Oral Epidemiology Postdoctoral T32 Training Program for 20 years and also served as the Director of two NIH-funded oral health research centers focused on health disparities and minority health for the better part of two decades (between 1992-2009). He has led the Tuskegee Legacy Project research study team for the past 20 years, ever since its inception in 1997. Having served on the National Legacy Committee which initiated the formal request for a Presidential apology, he was invited to the White House by President Clinton for the May 1997 Presidential Apology for the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. He currently is a Visiting Scholar and a member of the External Board of Advisors at the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Healthcare at Tuskegee University, which was formed by order of President Clinton in his Presidential Apology.

FYSEM-UA 546
Travel and Communication in the Ancient World
Fall 2017
Instructor: Raffaella Cribiore         syllabus
Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).       

This course explores traveling, communicating, and spreading news in antiquity. Unlike moderns, the ancients did not travel for leisure, and the notion of travel as “routine” would have been foreign to them; their journeys had mythic and epic significance and took place under precarious conditions. Likewise, whereas today we are able to communicate with each other in multiple convenient ways, sending letters and messages in the Greek and Roman worlds was cumbersome and time-intensive. Nonetheless, people did get in touch with each other and exchange news. Indeed, one of the goals of the course is to question what might be called a “progressive model” of understanding communication(s) that automatically assumes the superiority of modern technology.

RAFFAELLA CRIBIORE is Professor of Classics and an expert on education in antiquity. Her publications include Writing, Teachers and Students in Greco-Roman Egypt; Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, which won the Goodwin Prize in 2003; and Women’s Letters from Ancient Egypt, 300 BC-AD 800 (with Roger Bagnall). Her most recent book, The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch, is a study of an elite school of rhetoric in Syria.

FYSEM-UA 653
Tree of Life
Fall 2017
Instructor: Rob Desalle
Thursday, 4:55-7:25 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

Over the past several decades, researchers have attempted to reconstruct the relationships of all of the named species on the planet in an effort called the tree of life. This seminar will look at the reasoning behind constructing a tree of life and why it is so important to modern science. The seminar will then delve into how a tree of life is constructed and the problems that have arisen as a result of the overall endeavor. The seminar will also address issues that arise in specific groups of organisms and the production of a tree of life in those groups. For instance, bacteria have been assumed by many to not be amenable to tree of life methods because the lineages in this group exchange genetic information rampantly. This transfer of information would indeed disrupt uncovering a tree of life for bacteria. The seminar will look at such problems across the organismal world.  

ROB DESALLE is a Curator at the American Museum of Natural History. He works at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, where he leads a group of researchers working on molecular systematics, molecular evolution, population and conservation genetics, and evolutionary genomics of a wide array of life forms ranging from viruses, bacteria, corals, and plants to all kinds of insects, reptiles, and mammals. Rob is also Adjunct Professor at Columbia University (Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology), Distinguished Professor in Residence at New York University (Department of Biology), Adjunct Professor at City University of New York (Subprogram in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior), Resource Faculty at the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, and Professor at the AMNH Richard Gilder Graduate School.

FYSEM-UA 205
Understanding Terrorism
Spring 2018
Instructor: Tom Gerety      syllabus
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry I Recitations (Friday, 8:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.).

This seminar examines terrorist attacks and movements from an interdisciplinary perspective, seeking to reach a better understanding of the attackers themselves, their motivations and backgrounds, and their plots and ideologies—whether secular or religious. We also consider the challenges of countering terrorism in societies with many “soft” targets and extensive global entanglements. We will read case studies of terrorism and counter-terrorism, including moral and legal arguments about torture, detention, and targeted killings. We will also try to understand how and why young men and women can be so powerfully drawn to violence, particularly violence against non-combatant (and often randomly targeted) civilians. We will visit various sites in New York City and meet with people with direct experience of terrorism and radicalization, including representatives of both the police and the immigrant communities who have suffered profiling, prejudice, and mistrust. Looking towards the future, we will examine local, national, and international strategies to prevent such attacks and to halt the radicalization that brings fresh recruits to terrorist movements.

TOM GERETY, Collegiate Professor, first came to NYU to head up the Brennan Center for Justice at the School of Law; he then joined the NYU faculty in 2005 to teach courses in law and the humanities. He served as President of Amherst College from 1994 to 2003 and of Trinity College from 1989 to 1994. From 1986 to 1989 he was Dean and Nippert Professor at the College of Law of the University of Cincinnati. As a law professor he taught and wrote on constitutional law and political philosophy, with a special emphasis on such First Amendment freedoms as speech, privacy, and religious freedom. He wrote and narrated a PBS series, Visions of the Constitution, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the author of a book of essays on the liberal arts, The Freshman Who Hated Socrates. He holds degrees in law and philosophy from Yale.

FYSEM-UA 674
Unsolved Mysteries: Reimagining the Detective Novel
Spring 2018
Instructor: Austin Kelley         syllabus
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics II Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

In this class, we will study literary stories and novels that borrow from the mystery genre to pose larger questions. We’ll consider political questions about race, class, gender, and power as well as metaphysical questions about human desire, moral courage, and our place in the universe. After reading a genre classic by Raymond Chandler, we will study diverse literary works that may not fit neatly into the crime genre but that play with the desire to uncover truth. Students will be required to read and analyze the texts in a series of response papers and longer essays, and will embark on a creative “detective” project involving multiple modes of research.

AUSTIN KELLEY is Senior Lecturer in the Expository Writing Program at NYU. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, and the New Yorker, where he spent four years in the editorial department. He is the founding editor of the Modern Spectator, and is at work in a somewhat mysterious novel about a fact checker. He earned his PhD in English from Duke University and has been teaching at NYU since 2010.

FYSEM-UA 645
Vacationland: The Discovery of Italy as a Beautiful Country
Spring 2018
Instructor: Elena Ducci          syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

This seminar examines the origins and development of a crucial notion in Western culture: the identification of certain lands and countries as beautiful and idealized sites for tourism and travel. The territory with its real people and problems becomes an ideal land endowed with a promise of enjoyment and cultural improvement, and travel itself is defined as a culturally prestigious and rewarding experience. We will discuss the particular case of Italy, an area that at the outset of the early modern period was already a privileged destination for travelers and visitors from abroad. Topics include: the rediscovery of Rome as a prestigious ruin and as an imperial city in the late middle ages; how Michelangelo’s generation dug up long-buried, ancient Roman sculpture; the recuperation of non-Roman and pre-Roman civilization, such as the long-forgotten Etruscan culture; the growing search for traces of a Greek classical past (the ruins of ancient Greek colonies from Naples south to Sicily); the impact of the sudden discovery of Pompeii on the modern imagination; and, in the nineteenth century, the consecration of Venice and of Tuscany as respectively the ideal city and the ideal country landscape. All the texts and documents discussed (including voices and viewpoints of foreign visitors and of Italians experiencing foreign contact and interaction) will be in English; they will be accompanied by such visual material as art, paintings and drawings, photographs, and film.

ELENA DUCCI is Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Italian at NYU. She received an MA from the University of Siena and a PhD from the University of Verona. Her areas of research include Italian literature and classics—particularly the appropriation of Greek mythology in Roman culture, its transformation in a different semiotic system, and how Italian culture continually re-adapts this intercultural tradition.

FYSEM-UA 371
Welcome to College: The Novel
Fall 2017
Instructor: Carol Sternhell             syllabus
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry I Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.).

Starting college can be exhilarating—and terrifying. A chance for intellectual enlightenment—or intense loneliness. An escape from a stultifying small town of narrow-minded people—or a riot of alcohol, sex, and drugs. In this class we read a selection of college novels from different historical periods, ranging from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise to Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons. We discuss these novels from a variety of perspectives: literary, historical, and journalistic. In addition to presenting biographical and historical and cultural reports on at least two of the authors and their novels, students write about their own experiences as first-year students at NYU in several genres, including fiction and nonfiction. Together we explore this important life passage, examining life as we live it.

CAROL STERNHELL is Associate Professor of Journalism and a Director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute’s Studio 20 graduate program. She created the department’s study-away programs in London, Prague, and Accra and was also a founder of the Women’s Studies major (now Gender and Sexuality Studies). She has written extensively about feminism, motherhood, and literature for a variety of publications. Before coming to NYU, she worked as an editor at Newsday, a general assignment reporter for the New York Post, and a freelance magazine writer. She received the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence in 2005.

FYSEM-UA 474
What is College For?
Fall 2017

Instructor: Trace Jordan            syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.

Why did you decide to attend college? To broaden your intellectual horizons and become a more open-minded person? To gain specialized knowledge? To achieve a more successful and financially rewarding career? To make new friends? To become an engaged participant in a democratic society? To satisfy your parents’ plans for your future? Or perhaps some combination of these reasons that you are still figuring out? This seminar examines historical and contemporary discussions about the personal and social goals of higher education and studies issues that have the potential to profoundly transform the college experience in coming years. It also prompts students to be more reflective and purposeful about their own academic choices at NYU. We ask: What is the optimal balance between a “liberal arts” education, usually provided by a core curriculum, and the pursuit of specialized study within a major? How can professors and students cultivate deep learning instead of rote memorization? How is technology impacting education, and what further changes may occur in the future? Recommended for first-generation college students.

TRACE JORDAN is Clinical Professor and Associate Director of the College Core Curriculum. His research interests and publications include the role of science education in a liberal arts curriculum, the use of computer simulations for teaching and learning chemistry, and the impact of interest and motivation on educational engagement and achievement. Professor Jordan is a two-time winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.

FYSEM-UA 507
What is Memory?
Spring 2018

Instructors: Suzanne England and Martha Rust
Monday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Wednesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Intro Experimental Physics II Lecture (Monday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.).

Thanks to the written records that serve as our cultural memory, we know that memory has been a topic of inquiry at least since those records began. Today’s philosophers, psychologists, and literary scholars are continuing to hone the concept of the self as it was understood by John Locke, David Hume, and Sigmund Freud among others—namely, as a dynamic tension between memory and consciousness. These investigators pursue such questions as: How is memory embodied? What is the connection between memory and: the self, language and story-telling, moral and ethical reasoning? What events are best forgotten and how do we go about forgetting them? This course is structured as five units: Autobiographical Memory, Ideas and Metaphors of Memory, The Science of Memory, The Art of Memory, and Collective Memory. Readings represent the full spectrum of western thinking about memory, from Plato’s Theaetetus to works by contemporary neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux. It is our hope that this seminar will give students new insights into the workings of their own memories and help them develop a personal practice of memory that will serve their growth as individuals long after their memories of the course itself have dimmed.

Together SUZANNE ENGLAND and MARTHA RUST represent the interdisciplinarity of Memory Studies in miniature: England is a critical gerontologist with a particular interest in Alzheimer’s Disease, and Rust is a medievalist specializing in late medieval English manuscript culture. England is Professor of Social Work in New York University’s Silver School of Social Work, where she also served as dean from 2001-2009. Her current scholarly interests include the use of new media in professional education, memory studies, discursive therapeutic practices, narrative inquiry, critical gerontology, and the medical humanities. Rust is Associate Professor of English in NYU’s Department of English and has recently finished a six-year stint as director of NYU’s Medieval and Renaissance Center. Her current book project, Item: Lists and the Poetics of Reckoning in Late Medieval England, seeks to develop a theory of the written list as a device that functions within three signifying domains: the domains of words, of pictures, and of things.

FYSEM-UA 543
The Wild Child

Spring 2018
Instructor: Patricia Crain        syllabus
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Monday, 3:30-4:45
Note: conflicts with Opportunity Programs Freshman Colloquium (Monday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.).

The “wild child” captures paradoxes of the way childhood itself has been imagined since the eighteenth century in the West: sequestered, protected, and schooled, and yet free, creative, and imaginative. As this child of modernity was being invented, its mirror image came into focus as well: the so-called  “feral” child, without parents or language, emerging on the margins of society, an object of fear and fascination, of scientific investigation and artistic imaginings, raising questions about what constitutes the human. We begin with notable historical feral child cases of the nineteenth century—Victor of Aveyron and Kaspar Hauser—and the contemporary documents that introduced them, as well as the fiction, poetry, graphic book art, and film that has re-imagined them. Among the questions we consider: what cultural work did the idea of the wild child do when it first arose, and what does the wild child allow art to explore and reflect upon? What does the wild child have to say about constructions of modern childhood, of language, and of gender, race, disability, and sexuality? Students will work collaboratively, sharing responsibilities for leading discussions and reporting on research. Frequent writing assignments will include one personal essay (scenes or perceptions of “wildness” in oneself and/or others), on-line forum posts, a final essay, and opportunities for work in creative genres.

PATRICIA CRAIN is Associate Professor of English. She is the award-winning author of The Story of A: The Alphabetization of America from The New England Primer to The Scarlet Letter, as well as of articles on the history of childhood and the history of literacy in America. Her current project is a study of the child reader in the 19th-century US. She has also taught at Princeton University and at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

FYSEM-UA 685
Word vs. Image: The Cultural Conversation Comparing Literature and Art from Antiquity to Today
Spring 2018

Instructor: Melissa Swain
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Friday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with General Chemistry II Recitations (Friday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

In Renaissance Italy, poets and artists battled over which medium—words or images—could most faithfully capture the human experience. We investigate this lively and polarizing debate with a focus on particular texts and art works situated within an historical overview as well as within specific cultural contexts. Our interdisciplinary exploration of the relationship between word and image stretches from classical antiquity to the current day. With particular emphasis on the Italian Renaissance, we will explore the ancient roots of this cultural conversation in the Biblical texts as well as in Greek and Roman meditations by Aristotle, Horace, and Plutarch. From the medieval and Renaissance literary traditions, we encounter works by Augustine, Christine de Pizan, Dante, Petrarch, and Vittoria Colonna, as well as related visual works by artists Simone Martini and Michelangelo. Our examination also includes more recent additions to this discussion, including the graphic novel, through which we interrogate the modern interplay of text and image.

MELISSA SWAIN is a College Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. She earned her PhD in Italian Studies from New York University. She also holds a BA in Italian Studies and Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Art and Archeological Conservation from Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy.

FYSEM-UA 605
Writing the Body
Spring 2018
Instructor: Lorelei Ormrod            syllabus
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Required cohort meeting: Tuesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Advanced General Chemistry II Lab (Thursday, 2:30-6:45 p.m.)

We can’t escape our bodies, even though there are times when we might want to.
Fundamental to our experience, identity, and expression, bodies can also be a source of contention and oppression:  we can be defined and controlled by them. This course explores representations of the body through captivating novels, poems, and a few essays, as well as films and photography. We’ll watch one protagonist switch gender and adventure through four centuries, another struggle with a facial disfigurement that will devastatingly circumscribe her life. We’ll become more alert to the way in which bodies are gazed upon, surveilled, and policed. We’ll investigate our relationship with our own bodies and the bodies of others, assessing whether empathy is a redemptive relationship of attunement or perhaps an act of trespass. We’ll wonder over the binaries and boundaries, politics and pain, the erotics, the robotics, and even the boundlessness of our bodies.

LORELEI ORMROD is a Senior Lecturer in the Expository Writing Program. A Rhodes Scholar, she did her graduate work on Virginia Woolf and taught courses on British Modernism and contemporary post-colonial fiction at Oxford before coming to NYU in 2007. A devoted educator who also heads up the social justice programming for the Residential College of Goddard and Broome, she has been recognized for Distinction in Teaching by her department every year since her arrival. She’s at work on a book about trauma and the body, healing and community.

FYSEM-UA 514
Xenophon of Athens—Cavalry Commander and Socratic Philosopher
Fall 2017

Instructor: Vincent Renzi           syllabus
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:45 p.m.     
Required cohort meeting: Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Note: conflicts with Physics I Lecture (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.).

The greatest ancient you’ve never heard of, Xenophon of Athens (c. 425–355 B.C.E.) was a brilliant general, student of Socrates, and renowned author. His heroism leading the army of the Ten Thousand inspired the conquests of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. His political philosophy informed the thought of Cicero, Machiavelli, Franklin, and Jefferson. When knowledge of Greek was still required for admission to college, his fame was ubiquitous, as his writings formed the basis of the pre-college curriculum. Readings, in English translation: Apology of Socrates, Symposium, Memorabilia, Cyropaedia, Cavalry Commander, Anabasis, and the film based on the latter, The Warriors (1979).

VINCENT RENZI is Clinical Professor in the Foundations of Contemporary Culture (FCC) and of Classics, and is also Director of the FCC in the College Core Curriculum. A scholar of ancient Greek philosophy, he also has interests in arts and aesthetics and in 19th and 20th century philosophy. He is a recipient of the College's Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.