Advanced Honors Seminars: Fall 2017

The College is one of the most diverse communities in one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Our mission is to prepare students to be thought leaders and successful global citizens. We do this by creating unique academic opportunities for student and faculty engagement that emphasize research and scholarly communication. In spring 2005, the College of Arts and Science launched the Advanced Honors Seminars (open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors) to place students in small classes with distinguished faculty to study topics that have the potential to change how we think and how we work. As such, they are ideal gateways for the intellectually stimulating discussions we aim to foster. They challenge students and faculty to engage intensively within and beyond their fields of study, and they inspire intellectual responsibility towards the scholarly community and the wider world.

Advanced Honors Seminars have three central goals: to create close mentoring relationships between exceptional faculty and students; to challenge students intellectually through honors-level work in critical thinking, conversing and writing; and to strengthen students’ interest in and aptitude for conducting independent research (e.g. a DURF grant or a Senior Honors Thesis). In many instances, the seminars are cross-listed with departments and students may count these classes toward their majors or minors; in some cases, these classes will count only as electives. They are designed to foster scholarly insight and debate and to nurture the intellectual passions of students and faculty alike. We encourage you to try one this year!



G. Gabrielle Starr

Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and Science


Wendy Suzuki

Director of College Honors Programs

Disability Studies and Latin@ American Literature
AHSEM-UA 228 (class # 18809)
Instructor: T. Urayoán Noel
Monday 4:55-7:25 p.m.

This seminar explores Latin@ American literature through the framework of disability studies, an interdisciplinary field that interrogates disability as it is socially constructed while seeking out alternative/non-ableist politics and aesthetics. With an emphasis on 20th- and 21st-century Latin American fiction, but also considering poetry and intermedial work as well as works by U.S. Latin@ authors, we will pay particular attention to how bodies are represented in literature, and to how literature can model new social bodies. Cross-listed with the Department of English as ENGL-UA 252.004 and with the Department of Spanish as SPAN-UA 952.001.

Primary readings may include literary texts by authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Mario Bellatin, Lina Meruane, Matías Celedón, Gloria Anzaldúa, Carmen Lyra, Aurora Levins Morales, Pedro Pietri, and Rita Indiana Hernández. Critical readings may include essays from Susan Antebi's recently published edited volume Latin American Literature and Film through Disability Studies, as well as works by scholars such as Tobin Siebers, David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, Robert McRuer, Lennard J. Davis, Ato Quayson, Christopher Bell, Alison Kafer, and Suzanne Bost. Assignments may include a short midterm paper, regular contributions to a course blog, and a final creative-critical project. There will also be screenings and special visitors.

T. Urayoán Noel is Associate Professor of English and Spanish. He is the author of In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press, 2014) and seven books of poetry, most recently Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico (University of Arizona Press), a Library Journal Top Indie Poetry selection for Fall 2015. Also a performer and translator, his awards include the LASA Latino Studies Section Book Prize and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Howard Foundation, and CantoMundo. Noel lives in the Bronx, where he collaborates with artists and activists, and maintains the improvisational vlog WOKITOKITEKI (

Knights, Ladies, and Chivalry
AHSEM-UA 236 (class # 22334)
Instructor: Matthew Tanico
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.

This course examines the concept of chivalry as a social and literary phenomenon from its inception through the medieval and early modern period and into its more modern manifestations. We will explore the changes in what constitutes a knight as the militaristic facets of the title are separated from the social and political distinction the name implies. We will also discuss the role of the lady, in relation to the knight and as an independent figure, including female warriors. Finally, we will look at the decline of knighthood as feudalism gives way to a moneyed, commercial society. Looking toward our modern times, we will ask the inevitable question: is chivalry dead? Readings from the Iberian Peninsula such as El Cantar de mio Cid, Ramon Llull’s Book of the Order of Chivalry, Joanot Martorell’s Tirant lo Blanch, and Cervantes’s Don Quixote will be considered alongside works by the likes of Geoffroi de Charny, Christine de Pizan, Torquato Tasso, and more contemporary authors including Mark Twain and Michael Chabon. The course also will include a visit to the Arms and Armor Department of The Met. Cross-listed with the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Studies as MEDI-UA 984.001 and with the Department of Spanish as SPAN-UA 951.001.

Matthew Tanico completed his undergraduate education from NYU in 2011 and is joining the Department of Spanish and Portuguese as a Visiting Assistant Professor this fall. He received his PhD from Yale University in Renaissance Studies and Spanish. His area of specialization is the Spanish Golden Age.

Game Theory and the Humanities
AHSEM-UA 237 (class # 18810)
Instructor: Steven J. Brams
Wednesday, 4:55-7:25 p.m.

Prerequisite: No mathematical background beyond high school mathematics is assumed, but a willingness to learn and apply sophisticated reasoning to analyze the interactions of players in games is essential.

Game theory is a mathematical theory of strategy that has been applied to the analysis of conflict and cooperation in such fields as economics, political science, and biology. In this seminar, we discuss more unusual applications—to history, literature, philosophy, the Bible, theology, and law. We discuss Abraham’s decision to offer his son Isaac for sacrifice; the choices made by accused witches and their persecutors in medieval witch trials; Lady Macbeth's incitement of her husband to murder King Duncan in Shakespeare’s play; several strategic games played by presidents and their antagonists in domestic crises (e.g., the Civil War) and international crises (e.g., the Cuban missile crisis), and coping mechanisms used by characters in catch-22 games (including those in  Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22). Cross-listed with the Department of Politics as POL-UA 895.001.

Steven J. Brams is Professor of Politics at NYU. He is the author of several books—most recently, Mathematics and Democracy and Game Theory and the Humanities—that apply game theory and social choice theory to voting and elections, bargaining and fairness, international relations, and the Bible, theology and literature. He holds two patents for fair-division algorithms and is Chairman of the Advisory Board of Fair Outcomes, Inc., and a former president of the Peace Science Society and of the Public Choice Society. He is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and was a Guggenheim Fellow and Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.

Global Diaspora: The Irish Case
AHSEM-UA 246 (class # 24375)
Instructor: Barry McCarron
Tuesday and Thursday, 4:55-6:10 p.m.

The Irish have exemplified global patterns of migration over centuries. This course aims at a systematic exploration of the dispersal of Irish people around the world, focusing on their interaction with the various host cultures they have encountered both as settlers and in other roles. Particular attention will be paid to the movements of Irish on the European continent and in Britain, the United States and Canada, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, East Asia, and South America. Students will study the consequences of emigration for Ireland and for the receiving nations, as well as Ireland’s transformation in the late twentieth century from emigrant nursery to an emigrant destination. Starting with a chronological focus, the class then moves to a more geographic concentration on some of the most prominent Irish diasporic communities. Besides drawing on the literature extant in the field, we will make use of oral histories, film, and audio sources to explore the relevant themes and topics. Cross-listed with the Department of History as HIST-UA 181.001 and with the Department of Irish Studies as IRISH-UA 170.001.

Barry McCarron earned his PhD in history from Georgetown University in 2016 and before coming to New York University taught world history at CUNY-Hunter College and American history at McDaniel College. He holds a BA in history and politics and an MA in history from University College Dublin. His research and teaching interests include Sino-Irish relations, the Irish and Chinese diasporas, American immigration and ethnic history, U.S. history in a global context, and the histories of migration, race, and empire in the Pacific world. McCarron’s current book project, based on his doctoral dissertation “The Global Irish and Chinese: Migration, Exclusion, and Foreign Relations Among Empires, 1784-1904,” is the first study to examine relations between the Irish and Chinese in the United States and the British Empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Performing Beyond the Human: Animals, Ecology, Theatre
AHSEM-UA 248 (class # 24376)
Instructor: Una Chaudhuri
Thursday, 2:00-4:45 p.m.

Does the deeply human activity of art-making have anything to do with the non-human world? Can that world—the world of animals, plants, landscapes, objects, ecology—teach us—theatre makers and students—anything about what we do, how we do it, and how we might do it differently? Conversely, do we, as “culture-workers,” special resources to offer to the increasingly threatened non-human world?

This seminar engages a conversation between the fields of theatre/performance studies and environmental/animal studies. We will ask how theater has reflected, affirmed, contested, or flagrantly ignored the growing cultural awareness of threats to the environment and of the desperate plight of other species. We will ask how “animal acts”—in plays and elsewhere—work to create meaning about human beings; and how the “staging” of animals—in zoos, circuses, theme parks—illuminates our stagings and dramatizations of the human. We will ask how symbolic “natural” spaces like wilderness, forests, and gardens have shaped our ideas about “cultural” settings like cities, suburbs, and theatres. And we will ask how performance can intervene emotionally and politically on behalf of the non-human world that is so deeply threatened today. Cross-listed with the Department of Dramatic Literature as DRLIT-UA 301.007 and with the Department of Drama in the Tisch School of the Arts as THEA-UT 801.002.

Una Chaudhuri, Collegiate Professor and Professor of English, of Drama, and of Environmental Studies, has served as Chair of both the Department of English in the Faculty of Arts and Science and of the Department of Drama at the Tisch School of the Arts. She is the author of No Man’s Stage: A Semiotic Study of Jean Genet’s Plays and Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama; editor of Rachel’s Brain and Other Storms: The Performance Scripts of Rachel Rosenthal; and co-editor, with Elinor Fuchs, of the critical anthology Land/Scape/Theater. Her current work explores the intersections of performance studies and the emerging field of animal studies, on which she just guest-edited a special issue of TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies. She has won both the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence and the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award.