The College of Arts and Science wishes to thank alumna Constance Milstein (WSC ’69) and the CJM Foundation for providing generous funding to create the Collegiate Seminar Program.
In the fall 2007 semester, the College of Arts and Science launched its new Collegiate Seminar Program for entering freshmen. These Collegiate Seminars have several distinctive features. Offered only to freshmen in the College of Arts and Science, they are taught exclusively by distinguished senior Arts and Science faculty whose excellence as scholars and teachers has been recognized by their appointment as Collegiate Professors. These faculty not only teach these courses but also serve as the students’ mentors throughout their entire undergraduate careers at NYU. During the semester in which the seminar is offered and in subsequent semesters, the faculty work with their students to create special enrichment and reunion activities, which might include a visit with a renowned scholar; a museum, theater, concert, or film outing; a dinner discussion on a book or poem; or just a purely social evening.
Like other seminars, these small classes are meant to introduce students to important subjects and to challenge them intellectually through rigorous standards of analysis and oral and written argumentation. To that end, they stress demanding readings 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 confrontations 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.
In applying and registering for one of these seminars, students are expected to commit themselves to doing honors-level academic work and to participating actively in co-curricular and mentoring activities beyond the semester-long course.
Terrorism, Nihilism, and Modernity
(V70.0102; call # 74793)
Instructor: James Gilligan
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The past century has witnessed violence the character and scale of which are so unique and unprecedented that we have had to create a new vocabulary to describe it (genocide, terrorism) and the ideologies that underlie it (totalitarianism, fundamentalism). To understand modern violence, we will examine the origin of the modern mind in the 17th century, when science, based on universal doubt, ended the Age of Faith, and the traditional sources of moral, legal, and political authority lost credibility. Nietzsche called this the “death of God” (and the Devil); it could also be called the death of Good and Evil, leading to another set of new words (nihilism, agnosticism, anomie, anarchy). We will study the origins and implications of these developments by reading Shakespeare and John Donne, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, Beckett and Wittgenstein, Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt, as well as modern mass murderers from Hitler to bin Laden. Finally, we will ask whether the modern human sciences can help us understand how to reverse or at least limit this escalation of violence.
James Gilligan, Collegiate Professor, headed the Institute of Law and Psychiatry and directed mental health programs for the Massachusetts prison system while on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry. He has also served as President of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy, and as Chair of the Committee on Prevention, which was part of President Clinton’s National Campaign Against Youth Violence. His books include Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic and Preventing Violence: An Agenda for the Coming Century. He has been a consultant on violence prevention to the World Health Organization’s Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Law Lords of the House of Lords, and other groups and individuals throughout the world.
Saying and Meaning: Intersections of Poetry and Philosophy
(V70.0103; call # 74794)
Instructor: Tom Gerety
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This seminar will explore the sometimes uncertain boundary between poetry and philosophy. Every poet is saying something to himself or herself—as well as to readers. Rarely do poets content themselves with sounds alone, or even images alone; often they make arguments. Philosophers, on the other hand, have long been thought to engage their readers, their students, solely with arguments. Yet from the earliest days, philosophers have used imagery and myth to make sense of the world and to make “arguments” about it. We will seek to move back and forth, then, between poetry and philosophy, in order to understand both better. We will read, criticize, and, frankly, imitate several of the most poetic philosophers and philosophic poets. These will include poets and philosophers both ancient and modern, writing in English as well as in other languages in translation. Among other themes—such as language itself, imagination, and love—we will pay special attention to poems with ties to Greenwich Village and to New York City.
Tom Gerety, Collegiate Professor, joined the NYU faculty in 2005, having first come to NYU two years earlier to head the Brennan Center for Justice at the Law School. Before then he served as President of Amherst College from 1994 to 2003 and of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1989 to 1994. From 1986 to 1989 he was the 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 First Amendment freedoms, including speech, privacy, and religious freedom. With Judy Woodruff, he wrote and narrated a PBS series, Visions of the Constitution, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the author, most recently, of The Freshman Who Hated Socrates.
In Search of Lost Time
(V70.0104; call # 74795)
Instructor: Marcelle Clements
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
We will read Proust (in translation) as he should be read: hedonistically—with respect and admiration but also with delectation. A prodigious novel, 4,500 pages long, In Search of Lost Time addresses literature’s richest theme: desire—its remembrance, transformation, perversion, defeat, and final resurgence in the form of art. More than 100 years old, often said to be the first modern novel, it remains a dazzling portrait of the French beau monde and, even more, of the power and elegance of its author’s sensibility. It is still unparalleled in how it combines self-examination with social history, extraordinary psychological acuity with the study of glamour and decadence, how it merges an audacious explosion of form with explorations of memory, attachment, deception, lust, jealousy, ambition, disappointment, and ennui. It is also one of the most pleasurable and elating reads. Although Marcel Proust (1871–1922) is usually assumed to be France’s greatest novelist, his prose is so layered and brilliant that, unfortunately, many readers begin at the beginning and never move past the first fifty pages, reading the same gorgeous sentences again and again. While In Search of Lost Time’s prose style (playing on association, evocation, magnification, punning, rhythm) may have been its most radical contribution to the art of the novel, it cannot be understood until it has been read once in its entirety. In this seminar, we will keep moving at a brisk pace through the work, merely glancing at its riches on our way, until we arrive at the uniquely euphoric experience of reading the final volume, Time Regained. Required reading: an average of 350 pages per week.
Marcelle Clements is Collegiate Professor and a 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 of two novels, Rock Me and, most recently, Midsummer. Her numerous articles and essays on the arts, culture, and politics have appeared in leading national publications.
American Wars, Past and Present: Vietnam and Iraq
(V70.0106; call # 74797)
Instructor: Marilyn B. Young
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
The course will consider the last major war of the 20th century and the first major war of the 21st century. The history, memory, and political uses of the Vietnam War will be the subject of the first part of the course. The ongoing influence of that war on contemporary politics will occupy the second part of the course. The way Gulf War I (Operation Desert Storm) was fought and reported upon was shaped by the specific understanding the administration of George H. W. Bush had of the Vietnam War. The current war in the Gulf (Operation Iraqi Freedom) was, of course, shaped by the outcome of the first Gulf War. But it has also been fought in the shadow of Vietnam analogies that are used by those who support the war as well as by those who oppose it. The course will examine these analogies with some care. The overarching concern of the seminar is the ongoing haunting of American politics—military and civilian—by a war fought over three decades ago. There are two connected questions: Can history teach? What does it teach?
Marilyn B. Young, Collegiate Professor and Professor of History, is a former Chair of the History Department. Her teaching and her writing focus on U.S. foreign policy. Her books include The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990, The Rhetoric of Empire: American China Policy, 1895–1901, Transforming Russia and China: Revolutionary Struggle in the 20th Century, with William Rosenberg, and Human Rights and Revolutions, with Lynn Hunt and Jeffrey Wasserstrom. She has also edited several collections of essays on the recent wars in Iraq and, most recently, Bombing Civilians: A 20th-Century History. She was Director of the Project on the Cold War as a Global Conflict at NYU’s International Center for Advanced Study in 2001–2004. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and of an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. Twice she has won the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence, and she is currently co-director of the Tamiment Center on the Cold War.
Zooësis: Animal Acts for Changing Times
(V70.0107; call # 75364)
Instructor: Una Chaudhuri
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The emerging field of animal studies has already generated neologisms in various disciplines: “anthrozoology” (culture studies), “zoopolis” (urban social theory), and “zoontology” (philosophy). To these the fields of literature and performance studies propose an addition—“zooësis,” to refer to the history of animal representation that stretches, in the Western literary tradition, from Aesop’s Fables to Will Self’s Great Apes; in the Western dramatic tradition, from Aristophanes’ The Frogs to Albee’s The Goat; in film, from Muybridge’s "zoogyroscope" to Herzog’s Grizzly Man; in popular culture, from Mickey Mouse to Animal Planet; and in popular performance, from gladiatorial contests to Siegfried and Roy. To speak of zooësis is also to acknowledge the manifold performances engendered by cultural animal practices such as pet-keeping, dog shows, equitation, rodeo, bull-fighting, animal sacrifice, scientific experimentation, taxidermy, hunting, fur-wearing, meat-eating—each with its own archive and repertory, its own performers and spectators. In this course we will study recent films, novels, plays, and cultural events that reveal how our interaction with animals shapes our understanding of the human, our approach to the “Other” (including the racial and ethnic Other), and our attitude toward the world.
Una Chaudhuri, Collegiate Professor and Professor of English and of Drama, 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.
Matter, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy
(V70.0108; call # 75365)
Instructor: Glennys Farrar
Monday and Wednesday, 3:30–4:45 p.m.
The past several decades have seen tremendous advances in observational cosmology. As a result we understand in remarkable detail many aspects of the evolution and the contents of the universe. This course will focus on three of the most puzzling facts about the universe: Why was there a slight excess of matter over antimatter after the Big Bang? (Otherwise, after matter–antimatter annihilation was complete, no matter would have been left.) What is dark matter? (Although on average in the universe it is five times more abundant than normal matter, we know that it is something not found on Earth or, so far, observed in our laboratories.) What is the so-called dark energy? (The expansion rate of the universe is actually accelerating, rather than slowing down as was expected, a finding that is attributed to some new component of the universe known as dark energy.) Students enrolling in the seminar should either have had AP Physics, be enrolled in Physics I (V85.0091), or have permission of the instructor.
Glennys Farrar, Collegiate Professor and Professor of Physics, founded NYU’s Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics. Before coming to NYU in 1998 as Chair of the Physics Department, she was on the faculties of the California Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Her current work focuses mainly on problems at the intersection of astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics, including ultra-high energy cosmic rays, the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the origin of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter. Her research is supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA and includes both fundamental theoretical research and observations using the Chandra X-ray telescope and the Pierre Auger Observatory. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a recipient of Alfred P. Sloan and Guggenheim Fellowships, among other honors.
How We See
(V70.0109; call # 74798)
Instructor: Marisa Carrasco
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
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? The ease with which we comprehend the visual world, and recognize objects and events, makes it tempting to think that the world is just the way we see it and to take our perceptual capabilities for granted. But when we comprehend that we cannot process all the information available in the environment, when we try to build machines that can see, or when we encounter people who have lost some specific visual capability—for example, persons who can no longer recognize faces—we realize how extraordinary and intricate are the machinery and mechanisms of sight. 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 will 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 Chair of the Psychology Department. Born and raised in Mexico City, she received her licentiate in psychology from the National University of Mexico and her Ph.D. 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. She has published many papers in the most prominent scientific journals in perception, in particular, and in science, in general. Her accomplishments have been recognized by 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.
Life’s Ends, in Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Darwinism
(V70.0110; call # 74799)
Instructor: John Richardson
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
We share a very strong impression that nature—especially organisms or life—has some kind of purposiveness or design, is somehow aimed at ends. But we generally take science, and Darwinian biology in particular, to oppose this first impression and to push ends or purposes quite out of nature. This course will examine that strong sense of the teleology (end-directedness) of life or nature, and consider how it really stands up to a scientific or naturalistic view. Part of our attention will be historical: we will focus on two very different philosophers, Aristotle and Nietzsche, who are alike in their very strong allegiance to science, yet also in their insistence on explaining life by its ends or goals. Why do they so insist—and Nietzsche even after Darwin? Another part of our attention will be more contemporary: we will consider what evolutionary theory really does entail as to whether organisms have ends. We will see how even the most current science may still leave room for teleology. Readings will be from Aristotle, Nietzsche, contemporary philosophy of biology, as well as from a few literary sources treating life’s ends in fiction and poetry.
John Richardson is Collegiate Professor and Professor of Philosophy. He specializes in 19th- and 20th-century continental philosophy. In addition to numerous articles on these topics, he has written books about Nietzsche (Nietzsche’s System and Nietzsche’s New Darwinism) and Heidegger (Existential Epistemology: A Heideggerian Critique of the Cartesian Project). He is also co-editor of Nietzsche, a volume in the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series. He has been a winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
Great Science, Fabulous Science, and Voodoo Science
(V70.0111; call # 74800)
Instructor: Allen Mincer
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Prerequisites: high school chemistry, physics, and calculus.
Science is often portrayed as following a very clearly defined set of procedures: start with a hypothesis, do an experiment, and, based on the results, reject the hypothesis or adopt it as a working assumption. The actual process, however, is rarely so straightforward. In addition, the stories as usually told or recorded may differ from what really happened. We will study some famous and infamous experiments, mainly in the physical sciences, selected to illustrate intellectual tours de force, cases of error, cases of fraud, and the murky boundaries between them. Along the way, issues such as the discarding of “faulty data,” theoretical bias, and probabilistic tools for hypothesis acceptance and rejection will be discussed.
Allen Mincer, Collegiate Professor and Professor of Physics at NYU, specializes in experimental particle physics and particle astrophysics. He is currently also a member of the ATLAS collaboration, which is studying the nature of the elementary building blocks of matter at the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. His research at NYU has a long, continuous history of generous support by grants from the National Science Foundation. He is co-author of approximately 200 scientific publications, including the discovery of the top quark with the D-Zero collaboration. His interests include education, and in addition to teaching in the Physics Department, he has taught in the Steinhardt School’s Department of Teaching and Learning, been involved in research in physics education, and has twice been awarded the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
Daily Life in China, 1750–1950
(V70.0112; call # 74801)
Instructor: Joanna Waley-Cohen
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Historians of the West often draw a link between the development of a consumer society and the onset of modernity, examining patterns of daily life in such centers as London and Paris from no later than the 18th century or even earlier. This seminar examines such patterns in the context of China from the high imperial era through the first half of the 20th century; the goal is to give students a range of knowledge sufficient to use as a basis for comparison, and an understanding of the analytical issues involved. Using a combination of primary documents, fiction, and secondary sources, we will explore such questions as: What was distinctive about the experience of urban Chinese in late imperial and early modern times? What was the shape of an ordinary day? How did architecture reflect gender norms? Who belonged to a typical household (family members, concubines, servants, etc.), and how did children learn? What forms did social life take? How was the revering of ancestors incorporated into family life? What were people’s different work experiences? How did people acquire necessities such as food and clothing, or luxuries such as antiques? Other questions that may emerge in the course of the semester will be taken up as well.
Joanna Waley-Cohen, Collegiate Professor and Professor of History, has taught the history of China at NYU since 1992. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Chinese studies from Cambridge University and her Ph.D. degree in history from Yale University. Her books include The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History and The Culture of War: Empire and the Military under the Qing Dynasty. Currently she is working on two related projects. The first is a social and cultural history of cooks and cooking in early modern China. The second uses an account of an upper-class Chinese household of the 18th century, including family members, domestic servants, religious advisers, and in-house entertainers, to illuminate the functioning of social class and gender distinctions in Chinese daily life in an era of prosperity. In 2007, she was awarded a Culinary Trust Harry Bell Grant for research in China.
Making Sense of Monsters and Masks
(V70.0113; call # 74802)
Instructor: Judith G. Miller
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Among the more significant activities of human beings is that of giving shape to fears and desires through art. All cultures participate in this form of emotional exteriorization, including creating through myth and literature “monsters” and sculpting in textures and words various types of “masks.” In this seminar, we will concentrate on monsters and masks in several cultures for whom the French language is a major expressive form. We will thus chart the meaning and impact of the archetypal masked figures of the commedia dell’arte in French theater, the obsessive concern with grotesque person (the monstrous mask) in French romanticism, zombification and carnival figures in Caribbean cultural forms, and raptor masks and transformative guérisseurs or healers in Francophone West African works. We will build a repertory of approaches to interpreting and uncovering the many layers of masking and monstrousness by reading in anthropology, psychoanalysis, aesthetics, and literary theory: For as interesting as the masks and monsters “peopling” the world are the ways in which humans at various points in time have attempted to understand what making masks and monsters means. (All readings will be in English.)
Judith G. Miller, Collegiate Professor and Professor of French, is a former Chair of NYU’s French Department. Before coming to New York in 2003, she ran NYU’s center in Paris. She was also for many years on the faculty of the Department of French and Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was awarded the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Her books include Theater and Revolution in France Since 1968, Françoise Sagan, Plays by French and Francophone Women Writers: A Critical Anthology, and Ariane Mnouchkine. She was also responsible for bringing out the French edition of a collection of works by African women: Des femmes écrivent l’Afrique: L’Afrique de l’Ouest et le Sahel. She has translated over a dozen plays and for her work on promoting French theater in the United States has received awards from the French Ministry of Culture. In 2004, she was named a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques.
Finding New York City
(V70.0114; call # 74803)
Instructor: William Serrin
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
In this seminar students explore, read and write about, and develop a deep understanding of New York City, from diverse perspectives and by means of various media. They will venture into different neighborhoods, ethnic areas, all five boroughs, out on the Hudson and East River, restaurants, parks, and the like. They will examine New York history, and how the city has changed over the decades, writing several pieces on what they see, what they read, and what people tell them. In the end all should have an understanding of how New York City began, how it has changed over time, what remains from the old days, what new things are happening, and what the future might be. It is, in short, a course in urban America that takes New York City as its laboratory. The seminar will turn to reading the splendid books or sections from the splendid books that deal with important aspects of the history and life of New York City, among them The Island at the Center of the World; Divided Loyalties; Forgotten Patriots; The Devil’s Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America; Five Points; Positively 4th Street; and A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. (We will read from these books, not read all of them, so please do not buy books until after the first class). The course will also consider how the image of New York City in the movies has changed over the decades, drawing, in part, on the book Celluloid Skyline. In addition, it will use parts of the Ken Burns PBS documentary series New York City. The year 2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of Manhattan by the Dutch. Many events are planned, and we will participate in a number of them.
William Serrin is Collegiate Professor and Associate Professor of Journalism. Before joining NYU, he was for eight years the labor and workplace correspondent for the New York Times. He has written for numerous magazines, including Newsweek, Atlantic Monthly, American Heritage, and the Nation, as well as the Columbia Journalism Review and the Village Voice. He is the author of Homestead: The Glory and Tragedy of an American Steel Town (1993); The Company; and The Union: The “Civilized Relationship” of the General Motors Corporation and the United Automobile Workers (1974). He is the editor of The Business of Journalism: 10 Leading Reporters and Editors on the Perils and Pitfalls of the Press (2000) and co-editor, with Judith Bruhn Serrin, of Muckraking!: The Journalism That Changed America (2002). He was a recipient of the Alicia Patterson Award, for study of American farm and food policies. He also won the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for outstanding labor coverage, and he was a member the Detroit Free Press team of reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1967 Detroit riots. In addition, he was a recipient of the George Polk Award for reporting on the Kent State killings in 1970. He is currently working on two new books: one a memoir of growing up in his hometown, an industrial town (Saginaw, Michigan), the other an examination of how, as industries emerge and grow in America, communities grow up and expand around them, then when the industries move or collapse, the communities that have have served its citizens and country so well are often left to collapse and die.
Russia’s Multicultural Empire
(V70.0116; call # 74805)
Instructor: Jane Burbank
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
From the 16th century to the present, “Russia” has been an empire—a state that spread its power over different peoples, with different religious commitments, different laws and customs, different histories. This seminar will explore the qualities of Russia’s kind of empire. What held the vast territories and populations ruled by tsars and later by communists together? Why has Russia not disintegrated or been torn apart by multiple wars among its many ethnic groups since 1991? (Chechnya is an exception to the quite peaceful breakup of the USSR into fifteen states, all of them multiethnic.) We will take a historical look at these questions, examining both how Russian leaders ruled their many populations and how people living on the terrain of a succession of Russian empires—the Grand Princedom of Moscovy, Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation—have imagined their relations with each other and with these states. Our sources will include historians’ studies, literature, and documents of many types: games, maps, laws, and films. Each student will have the chance to investigate a particular imperial situation, and we will work together to understand the origins, habits, and effects of Russia’s empires of difference.
Jane Burbank, Collegiate Professor and Professor of History and Russian and Slavic Studies, is a historian of Russia, of empire, and of law. Her early work focused on Russian intellectuals’ interpretations of the revolution of 1917; this was the topic of her monograph entitled Intelligentsia and Revolution: Russian Views of Bolshevism, 1917–1922. Later she turned to Russian law and to how ordinary people used it. Her book Russian Peasants Go to Court: Legal Culture in the Countryside, 1905–1917 reveals that rural people, contrary to received opinion, were avid litigators. For a glimpse at this study, see her NYU website: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/burbank/. She is the co-editor of Russian Empire: Space, People, Power, 1730–1930, a collective and international study of Russian empire. With Frederick Cooper, she is the author of Empires and the Politics of Difference in World History, scheduled for publication in 2010.
(V70.0118; call # 76939)
Instructor: Jonathan Safran Foer
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
As with any art, literature’s form determines what is possible. In this class, we will challenge the boundaries of the form through a series of “impossible” exercises—that is, pieces of writing that are asked to do what writing cannot do. For example, one assignment challenges literature’s unique portability by generating “site-specific” stories around campus. Another assignment focuses on the lack of explicit tonality and atmosphere in writing by generating oral stories. In our discussions about the work produced, we will explore the ways that these radical techniques can be brought into more traditional writing. This class will focus on the production of work, and students will be expected to produce a piece of writing every week, usually between two paragraphs and four pages.
Jonathan Safran Foer is a Collegiate Professor who joined NYU in 2008. He received the B.A. degree from Princeton University, where the adviser for his creative writing thesis was Joyce Carol Oates. His first novel, Everything Is Illuminated (2002), won many awards, including the Guardian First Book Award and the National Jewish Book Award; it was translated into 35 languages, and served as the basis of a film directed by Liev Schreiber. His second novel, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, appeared in 2005 and won the Literature for Life Award, the Victoria and Albert Museum Award, and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Award. He is the editor of A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell (2006) and co-editor of The Future Dictionary of America (2004). His short stories have appeared in the Paris Review, the New Yorker, and other publications. He also teaches in the Creative Writing Program at NYU, having previously taught at Yale.
Facing Fascism: The Spanish Civil War and U.S. Culture
(V70.0119; call # 76940)
Instructor: James D. Fernández
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The Great Depression. Liberal democracy in crisis. On the rise: a spectrum of ideologies ranging from anarchism to fascism on the rise, offering 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. All eyes turn toward Spain. This seminar will be centered on NYU’s Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), a vast collection of materials that chronicle the lives of the 2,800 Americans who, between 1936 and 1939, volunteered to fight fascism in Spain. We will explore 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 in Spain, and how the legacy of the war has affected U.S. culture over the last seventy years. Each student will complete a major research project based on the holdings of ALBA.
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 inaugural director of NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center from 1995 to 2007, and as Chair of his department from 2003 to 2007. He is the Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and co-editor of the collection of essays Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War. He is the author of Apology to Apostrophe: Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Self-Representation in Spain.
Updated on 05/24/2010