Making History: Culture and Politics in the Caribbean
Instructor: Sibylle Fischer
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
The culture and history of the Spanish Caribbean islands – Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic – will be at the center of this seminar. In addition, we will briefly study the French and English speaking Caribbean and the complicated place of the Caribbean coastal regions in continental Spanish America. The class will be organized around key moments of Caribbean history: slavery and the struggles against it; colonialism and independence movements; U.S. occupations, dictatorships and revolutionary movements; the massive growth of a Caribbean diaspora; and the transformation of the Caribbean islands into so many tourist destinations. We will work with primary sources such as slave testimonies, declarations of independence, and revolutionary discourses, and read literary texts by authors such as Julia Alvarez, Alejo Carpentier, Junot Diaz, Gabriel García Márquez, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, and José Martí. We will also study some of the most influential approaches to the Caribbean in cultural studies, anthropology and history. While the class will be taught in English, reading knowledge of Spanish and French is very welcome. Cross-listed with the Department of History as HIST-UA 760.001 and with the Department of Spanish as SPAN-UA 581.001.
Sibylle Fischer holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Spanish from Columbia University. She has held teaching positions at Duke as well as at Princeton and now teaches in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, with affiliations with History, Comparative Literature, and Africana Studies. Her research focuses on Caribbean history and culture. Her study of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and its impact on Caribbean national cultures, Modernity Disavowed, won book awards from the Modern Language Association, the Latin American Studies Association, The Caribbean Cultural Studies Association, and the Caribbean Philosophical Association.
History and the Novel
Instructor: Susie Linfield
Wednesday, 3:30-6:15 p.m.
What sorts of insights into history can they provide? How much imaginative leeway should the author of a historic novel be allowed – and how closely should she stick to "true" events? In this course we'll read a wide range of novels--looking at them both as literature and as keys to history--on topics that include slavery in the U.S., the Holocaust, post-apartheid South Africa, McCarthyism, the 9/11 terror attacks, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Arab Spring. One of our major aims will be to analyze each mode of inquiry (fiction, history, journalism), and discover the ways in which they synthesize--and, sometimes, conflict--with each other as we attempt to discover the truth of these complex and painful events. Cross-listed with the Department of History as HIST-UA 282.002 and with the Department of Journalism as JOUR-UA 504.001.
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..
Suffering and Comfort: Explorations in Narrative Medicine and Other Sources
Instructor: Michele Shedlin
Wednesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
The effective practice of health care in all its aspects requires narrative competence - that is, the ability to understand and act on the stories and experiences of patients, families and providers. This seminar explores the nature of suffering and comfort in a context where scientific advances have created heretofore unimaginable possibilities, choices, and dilemmas for all of us. How do people cope with the complexities that illness, the need for care and loss bring into our lives? Readings in narrative medicine and other sources, including film, newspaper and magazine articles, novels, poetry and religious texts, guide our discussions about the different ways individuals and cultures treat these important aspects of the human experience. A goal of the course is to familiarize students with the importance of narrative expression in understanding the dimensions of the human experiences of illness, loss, coping and resilience, and the conceptual frameworks that physicians, nurses, social workers, and clergy use as they assist patients and families.
Michele Shedlin, Professor at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, teaches qualitative research and health disparities in the doctoral program. She is a medical anthropologist with extensive experience in reproductive health, immigrant and minority health, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS research in Africa, Latin America and the U.S. She has designed and implemented behavioral studies at the community, university and national levels, to inform and evaluate prevention and care, and is involved in NIH-funded research in these areas.
Assessing Epidemiological Literature
Instructor: Ralph Katz
Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
In this age of ‘non-facts’ sufficing as the basis for populist resistance to scientific ‘facts’, the ‘citizen skills’ needed to be able to read, understand and make reasonable ‘action decisions’—both for personal health as well as community health issues—are ever more important to acquire within a liberal arts education. The overall goal of this course is to provide the student with fundamental ‘citizen skills’ in assessing epidemiologic original research articles. The fundamental concepts which underpin the range of epidemiologic research designs will be presented first, followed by skill-building exercises that culminates in assessing published epidemiologic original research articles. Both lecture and seminar-of-the whole formats will be utilized.
At the end of the course the students should be able to: understand the basic concepts of epidemiologic research design; critically evaluate published epidemiology research article using the Literature Analysis Form-for Epidemiologic Research (LAF-fER); contribute to their future communities as an informed member; and savor and reflect upon the description of epidemiologic outbreaks in literature, esp. in short story and ‘novel-like’ formats.
Ralph 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 a 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.
Language and Power in Colonial and Postcolonial Latin America
Instructor: Amy Huras
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
This seminar takes as its starting point the notion that “language is never neutral.” We will examine how individuals, communities, states, and institutions use language – written and spoken – in ways that both encode or reflect and at times challenge established power structures, dominant narratives, and linguistic and social hierarchies in Latin America from colonial through postcolonial times. We begin by exploring language as a ‘technology’ of conquest, colonization and evangelization, as well as one of the many criteria used to mark difference in Latin America. Our readings and discussions will concentrate on indigenous, African, and multi-ethnic actors who employed a wide range of linguistic practices – alphabetic, pictorial, tactile, and oral – as they moved between and bridged distinct linguistic ‘worlds,’ frequently in ways that were unsettling for colonial officials. Next, we examine how language ideologies shaped projects of nation building, notions of identity, citizenship and belonging, and conceptions of race in fledgling Latin American nations. Key themes include education, print media and technologies of mass communication, indigenous and social movements, and linguistic and human rights. Finally, we explore how global circulations and transnational power relations impact the linguistic practices, choices and possibilities of Latin American communities at home and beyond.
Amy Huras is a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She holds a BA in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Guelph, an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in History from the University of Toronto (2016). Her research draws on the methodologies of history and linguistic anthropology to explore language and colonialism in seventeenth-century Peru. Amy is also co-editor with Gordana Yovanovich of Latin American Identities after 1980 (2010), an interdisciplinary anthology that gathers together works examining processes of identity formation and change over the last three decades.
History of Politics in Eastern Europe
Instructor: Filip Erdeljac
Thursday, 2:00-4:45 p.m.
This course will provide an overview of the history and politics of Eastern Europe from the Enlightenment, when the appellation “Eastern” started to be more commonly applied to describe this part of Europe, until the present. We will critically examine the numerous ways in which different people, both locals and outsiders, throughout history have defined the territorial boundaries of Eastern Europe and the character of the region’s inhabitants. Students will be asked to consider how Eastern Europeans experienced the rule of the Hapsburg, Ottoman and Russian Empires. Did they see imperial rule as a period of foreign oppression while dreaming of national self-determination and independent statehood? Or did Eastern Europeans use imperial institutions to their own advantage and form attachments to these empires that would persist after the empires themselves disappeared? We will trace how nationalism became such a prominent and enduring feature of East European politics, while also paying close attention to the many groups and individuals who found exclusive nationalism unappealing and threatening. The course will encourage students to consider the multiple reasons for which parts of Eastern Europe became the sites of some of the world’s most horrific violence. Did the diverse patchwork of religions and nationalities contribute to extreme cycles of violence? How did the designs of external powers for Eastern Europe affect the region during and after World War II? We will consider how people who left Eastern Europe remembered the region and what they thought of their new homelands. Students will be exposed to different East European perspectives of communism and the Cold War. Moving beyond the reluctance of scholars to treat the period after 1989 as a subject of historical inquiry, the course will analyze Eastern Europe’s turbulent transition from communism to liberal capitalism and conclude with an assessment of the region’s positon in ongoing global developments. Cross-listed with the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies as EURO-UA 983.002.
Filip Erdeljac is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University. After receiving his PhD in history from NYU in 2016, he held a postdoctoral fellowship at Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Erdeljac’s research focuses on ordinary people’s understandings of nationalism and politics during violent periods of crisis; he is currently completing a book manuscript on non-elite experiences of war and genocide in World War II Yugoslavia.
Democracy, Dictatorship, and Civil War in Modern Mediterranean History
Instructor: Joseph Viscomi
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
The modern Mediterranean is marked by a political history of violent struggle. This course explores how political violence has shaped the social landscapes of Southern Europe. In particular, we will chart various paths of the twentieth century, from the collapse of liberalism to the rise, collapse, and eventual re-emergence of fascism in different guises. While examining the cases of Italy, Spain, and Greece in greater depth, we will also explore how categories of “fascism,” “democracy,” and “resistance” have transformed and traveled across the twentieth century. In the final part of the course, we will explore how this history remerges in the discourses and practices of neo-fascist and nationalist groups in Southern Europe. Cross-listed with the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies as EURO-UA 983.001.
Joseph J. Viscomi completed his PhD in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan in 2016. Joseph's primary research interests are in migration and historical consciousness in the Mediterranean since the late-nineteenth century. His first manuscript, tentatively entitled, “Out of Time: History, Presence, and the Departure of the Italians of Egypt, 1933-present,” explores how the Italians of Egypt (gli italiani d’Egitto)--a population that numbered around 55,000 persons on the eve of the Second World War--anticipated, experienced and remembered their departures from Egypt. The manuscript moves through, and demonstrates the connections between, different scales of social, legal, and political histories. His work builds on archival, oral-historical and ethnographic research that has been supported by a CES-Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, the Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies, a Fulbright, and by the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan. Currently, Joseph is working on several publications based on this research. He is also developing a new project that studies the abandonment of villages and towns in Calabria, Italy, since the 1930s. Joseph’s teaching interests cover modern and contemporary Italian, European, and Mediterranean history and anthropology.