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.
The Cultural Nature of Language
(COSEM-UA 101; class # 10416)
Instructor: Bambi Schieffelin
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
From accents, pronouns, swearing, and 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, Collegiate Professor and Professor of Anthropology, is a linguistic anthropologist who has studied speech practices among Haitians (Queens, N.Y.), lawyers and litigants in lower Manhattan’s Small Claims Court, college students and their use of IM, and Bosavi people (Papua New Guinea). She is the author of The Give and Take of Everyday Life: Language Socialization of Kaluli Children. She is coeditor 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 preeminent journals of her field, including Current Anthropology and Annual Review of Anthropology. She is completing a book on the impact of Christianity on the language and social life of Bosavi people over the past 25 years, and continues research on linguistic creativity and change as evidenced in computer-mediated communication. Professor Schieffelin also received the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010.
Terrorism, Nihilism, and Modernity
(COSEM-UA 102; class # 10417)
Instructor: James Gilligan
Thursday, 3:30–6:00 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 is a Collegiate Professor in the College of Arts and Science, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Law. He 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 in 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 World Court’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations and officials.
In Search of Lost Time
(COSEM-UA 104; class # 10419)
Instructor: Marcelle Clements
Thursday, 2:15–4:45 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 of more than 4,000 pages, In Search of Lost Time is one of modern literature’s most challenging and deeply pleasurable reads. The richest of the themes it explores is desire—its remembrance, transformation, perversion, defeat, and final resurgence in the form of art. Often said to be the first modern fiction, In Search of Lost Time is still unparalleled in how it combines finesse and wit with raw emotion, self-examination with social history, profound psychological acuity with a dazzling portrait of the French beau monde at the outset of modernity, how it merges an audacious explosion of literary form with explorations of memory, attachment, deception, lust, jealousy, ambition, and disappointment. Although Marcel Proust (1871–1922) is often cited as France’s greatest novelist (and the novelist’s 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. But while In Search of Lost Time’s prose style may have been its most radical contribution to the art of fiction, its vast, thrilling architecture cannot be understood until it has been read once in its entirety. In this intensive class, we will move 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, when we begin to understand the extraordinarily intimate relationship Proust creates with his reader. In-class creative writing exercises are designed to help with the reading and to expand an expressive, personal response. Reading assignments average 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 prizewinning articles and essays on the arts, culture, and politics have appeared in many national publications.
American Wars, Past and Present: Vietnam, Iraq (I and II),
(COSEM-UA 106; class # 10420)
Instructor: Marilyn B. Young
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The course will consider the last two major wars of the 20th century and the first two wars of the 21st century. It will begin with the history, memory, and subsequent political uses of the Vietnam War. We will then move on to examine the Gulf War I (Operation Desert Storm), which was shaped by the way the administration of President George H.W. Bush understood the Vietnam War. The subsequent war in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) can be understood in part in terms of what some policymakers believed to be the unfinished business of Gulf War I. Yet it too was fought in the shadow of Vietnam analogies. Finally, the war in Afghanistan, launched in response to 9/11, in terms of tactics and goals, has been shaped by all three of the preceding wars. We shall examine these wars through primary documents and secondary sources as well as the abundance of documentary and fiction film in which they have all been represented. 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. She is currently president-elect of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations.
Zooësis: Animal Acts for Changing Times
(COSEM-UA 107; class # 10421)
Instructor: Una Chaudhuri
Tuesday, 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 CHANDHURI, 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.
Matter, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy
(COSEM-UA 108; class # 10422)
Instructor: Glennys Farrar
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00–3:15 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 (PHYS-UA 91), 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
(COSEM-UA 109; class # 10423)
Instructor: Marisa Carrasco
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–12:15 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? 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. We will also 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.
Great Science, Fabulous Science, and Voodoo Science
(COSEM-UA 111; class # 10424)
Instructor: Allen Mincer
Monday and Wednesday, 2:00–3:15 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.
Finding New York City
(COSEM-UA 114; class # 10427)
Instructor: William Serrin
Thursday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Note: Please reserve the first two Sundays of the semester for walking tours of New York City.
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. It 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. Students will write two major pieces, one in the first half of the semester and one in the second: A research project on a NYC subject approved by the professor, and a personal essay on New York City and what the student has seen and heard and learned in his or her travels about the city. Also, one reading assignment will be on fiction of New York City.
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; The Company; and The Union: The “Civilized Relationship” of the General Motors Corporation and the United Automobile Workers. He is the editor of The Business of Journalism: 10 Leading Reporters and Editors on the Perils and Pitfalls of the Pressand co-editor, with Judith Bruhn Serrin, of Muckraking!: The Journalism That Changed America. 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 served its citizens and country so well are often left to collapse and die.
Russia’s Multicultural Empire
(COSEM-UA 116; class # 15836)
Instructor: Jane Burbank
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
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 Muscovy, 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. Her latest book, written with Frederick Cooper, is Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference. This study examines the different ways that empires have shaped political possibilities, from ancient times (Rome and China) until the present.
(COSEM-UA 118; class # 10428)
Instructor: Jonathan Safran Foer
Monday, 4:00–6:30 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. In 2009 he published Eating Animals, a non-fiction exploration of the meat industry, and in 2010, Tree of Codes, a book made by die-cutting Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles. He is the editor of A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell (2004) and co-editor of The Future Dictionary of America (2006). 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
(COSEM-UA 119; class # 10429)
Instructor: James D. Fernández
Tuesday, 2:00–4:45 p.m.
The Great Depression. Liberal democracy in crisis. On the rise: a spectrum of ideologies ranging from anarchism to fascism, 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.
Utopia and Apocalypse
(COSEM-UA 120; class # 10430)
Instructor: Eliot Borenstein
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
The utopian impulse is the drive to create the perfect world; the apocalypse is the global cataclysm that is often considered utopia’s prerequisite. In this seminar, we will examine the development of the utopian tradition, as both literary genre and philosophical thought experiment. Among the questions to be considered: What is the relationship between utopia and the novel? How do we get from “here” (the imperfect world) to “there” (the perfect one), and how is this journey enacted in fiction? Why are the family, gender, and sexuality so central to the utopian tradition? What is the utopian conception of pleasure? Utopia is often seen as the
culmination of historical progress, the goal toward which humanity has been striving. Later utopian (and anti-utopian) fictions often place their “perfect” societies in a post-apocalyptic framework, adding particular moral and temporal dimensions to utopia: not only does utopia become the endpoint of history, but the perfection of the coming world can be invoked to justify the cataclysm that precedes it. Course materials will consist of fiction, scripture, philosophy, film, and graphic novels, including the works of Bacon, Campanella, Dostoevsky, LeGuin, Marx and Engels, More, Moore and Gibbons, and Plato.
ELIOT BORENSTEIN, Collegiate Professor and Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, has served as Chair of Russian and Slavic Studies and as Director of the Morse Academic Plan. Before coming to NYU in 1995, he directed the Fulbright Program in the Russian Federation and taught at the University of Virginia. His first book, Men without Women: Masculinity and Revolution in Russian Fiction, 1917–1919, won the AATSEEL award for best work in literary scholarship in 2000. In 2007, he published Overkill: Sex and Violence in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture, which received the AWSS award for best book in Slavic Gender Studies in 2008. Recently, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to finish the companion volume, Catastrophe of the Week: Apocalyptic Entertainment in Post-Soviet Russia. He is a two-time recipient of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
Exploring the Mysteries of Behavior
(COSEM-UA 122; class # 10432)
Instructor: Lynne Kiorpes
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Did you ever wonder how whales navigate flawlessly over thousands of miles? Why songbirds sing? This course provides an in-depth look at a variety of organisms that have evolved particular, special behavioral adaptations as solutions to environmental challenges. Each neural system to be studied highlights a unique combination of behavioral skill and environmental problem to be solved. For example, echolocation in bats is a navigation device and an adaptive hunting system that allows them to
successfully hunt on the wing; infrared sensing in snakes is an effective prey localization and defense mechanism, enhancing their survival in the absence of limbs. Students will learn basic principles of sensory, motor, and cognitive neuroscience and will study the mechanisms underlying the natural behavior of organisms. Students will independently identify unique, species-specific behavioral adaptations and explore the neural mechanisms related to those adaptations. The resulting investigation will form the basis for a term paper and an oral presentation to the class. A high degree of student participation is expected. A textbook as well as primary research articles will comprise the readings. Students should have a strong background in biology, animal behavior or psychology.
LYNNE KIORPES, Collegiate Professor and Professor of Neural Science and Psychology, completed her Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology at the University of Washington and has been on the NYU faculty since 1985. Her research is focused on the development of vision and cognition and has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Her numerous scientific articles have appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Visual Neuroscience, Vision Research, and Science, among other publications, and as book chapters. She currently directs the College’s Women in Science program. She has served both as Director of Undergraduate Studies and as Director of Graduate Studies in NYU’s distinguished Center for Neural Science. She is one of only a very few faculty who have received both the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching and the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
The Mysteries of Paris: Detective Fiction in France
(COSEM-UA 125; class # 16885)
Instructor: Judith G. Miller
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
While critics debate the origins of detective fiction, no one questions the central place this literary genre holds in contemporary arts production—not only in novels but also in television, computer games and film. In France, alone, detective (or mystery) fiction accounts for 20% of all novels purchased during the year. The French have in fact inflected the genre in very particular ways: For example, thanks to the fascination of the great nineteenth-century writers Balzac and Hugo with the
real-life police detective Vidocq, the “ambiguous and obsessed” fictional investigator has become a staple of both French and American detective fiction. The Franco-American connection also inspired author Edgar Allen Poe to situate his mysteries on Paris’s rue Morgue. In turn, his stories prompted a major output of detective fiction during France’s Second Empire, many located in “the City of Lights.” From Gaston Leroux’s and Eugène Sue’s urban thrillers of the late 19th century to Daniel Pennac’s hilarious multi-cultural adventures in Belleville, the hippest neighborhood of the 21st century, Paris has thus become a site to be decoded and observed, the crucible for
questions basic to detective fiction the world over: Why do people commit crimes? What are the consequences for the individual and for society? What is the nature of evil? And what kind of human being dedicates him- or herself to finding out the answers? In this seminar, we will analyze what constitutes a detective or mystery novel (and discuss the potential differences between “detective” and “mystery”), trace the development of the genre in France, and examine why it is that reading such works is so compelling. We will focus primarily on novels in which Paris plays a major role, studying how the city has been used to give shape to the underlying questions of the novel. We will see, perhaps unsurprisingly, that French-language detective fiction has been as involved in imagining a mysterious Paris as in solving Paris’s mysteries.
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.
Music in the Bloodlands
(COSEM-UA 126; class# 16886)
Instructor: Michael Beckerman
Thursday, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
In 2010, Timothy Snyder, a professor in the History Department at Yale University, published Bloodlands, a study that looks at Europe from the Baltics to Western Russia, including Poland and Ukraine, during the period from 1932–1947. Instead of taking a “Holocaust” centered approach, Snyder focuses on the 14 million deaths resulting from the policies of Stalin, Hitler, and their minions, and presents a powerful and terrifying view of the various pressures brought to bear on traumatized populations. While scholars and historians are familiar with much of this material, it has never before been put together in such a compelling manner. For this year’s Collegiate Seminar we will explore the role of music in this region during the period in question. From the “Leningrad” Symphony of Shostakovich to the songs of Buchenwald, and from the chamber music in Theresienstadt to partisan songs in the forests of Belarus, this course engages and tests the implications of Snyder’s model for an understanding of the relationship between history and music. As part of our mandate, we shall also try to re-imagine the lost music of the era. Course lectures will offer a broad overview of the questions involved, and invtited guests from New York City, the Holocaust Memorial and elsewhere will provide specialist contexts and raise topics for discussion. Each student will prepare a project, either a performance, an artwork, or a lecture, and the course will culminate with a conference and concert to take place on Friday, December 9, 2011. Prof. Snyder will deliver the keynote address, students will make their presentations, and
Timothy Snyder, his wife Prof. Marci Shore, and other faculty will provide responses to the presentations. In lieu of a final examination students will create an online publication which will feature their revised projects.
MICHAEL BECKERMAN is the Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music and Collegiate Professor and Professor of Music as well as Chair of the Department of Music. He has published articles and books on Czech and eastern European music, nationalism, Gypsies, Mozart, Brahms, Gilbert and Sullivan, Schubert, film music, and music in the concentrations camps. His books include Janáček as Theorist and New Worlds of Dvořák: Searching in America for the Composer’s Inner Life. He is the editor of Dvořák and His World and Janáček and His World. He has received grants from the International Research and Exchanges Board, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He has been awarded the Janáček Medal from the Czech Republic and in 2000 was the Laureate of the Czech Music Council. He lectures widely, writes often for the New York Times, and has been a regular guest on the PBS series Live from Lincoln Center. He is currently writing a book on the last composition written in the Terezin/Thresienstadt concentration camp, and thinking about middles of musical compositions.
Consuming China, Past and Present
COSEM-UA 127; class # 16893)
Instructor: Joanna Waley-Cohen
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Material culture and consumption in China from imperial times to the present. This course explores some of the ways in which commerce and consumerism have flourished in China despite various potentially countervailing factors, including Confucians’ presumed aversion to trade, Buddhist and Daoist renunciations of material things, wartime deprivations under the Republic, rising egalitarianism, and Communist Party denunciations of bourgeois ideals of consumption. We will investigate such aspects as clothing and cosmetics; houses and gardens; art collecting and connoisseurship; books and publishing; food and narcotics; opera and theater. While illuminating Chinese social and cultural life, including aspects of continuity or change over several centuries, the course also introduces students to theoretical concepts about modernity’s relationship to the world of goods and consumption, and considers whether and to what extent those concepts, formulated in a largely western context, may or may not be applicable to China.
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 history of food and consumption in early modern China; the second is a study of daily life in China around 1800.
(COSEM-UA 128; class # 17027)
Instructor: Tom Gerety
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This seminar will examine the 9/11 attacks from an interdisciplinary perspective, seeking to reach a better understanding of the attack itself, the motivations and backgrounds of the attackers, the failures in the United States intelligence community’s defenses--and, above all, the nature and scope of America’s response, at home and abroad. We will read studies of terrorism and counter-terrorism, including moral and legal arguments about torture, detention and targeted killings. We will visit various sites in New York City and meet with people with direct experience of the attack and its aftermath, including representatives of both the police and the immigrant communities who have suffered profiling and mistrust from the suspicions aroused by the attack. 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, 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.