Metapatterns in Nature, Mind, and Culture
(V50.0202; call # 74985)
Instructor: Tyler Volk
Monday and Wednesday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Scholars in all fields skillfully dissect, interpret, and synthesize a vast number of forms and patterns, such as cell structure in biology and nuances of metaphor in comparative literature. In this course we look for universals in forms and patterns across the disciplines. To understand why such universals appear we must examine function. The key concept is indeed the relation between form and function. Topics explored with the viewpoint of form and function include biology (from cells to ecosystems), psychology, sociology, linguistics, literature, art, architecture, engineering, mythology, politics, and religion. Students learn a powerful methodology for thinking and problem solving. They are encouraged to pursue individual interests while participating in an environment of sharing.
Tyler Volk, Associate Professor of Biology, specializes in understanding the role of life in Earth's biogeochemical cycles and has conducted research for NASA. With a passion for the interdisciplinary, he also investigates the generation of pattern in the widest sense, at all levels of culture and nature. Spanning the technical to the popular, his numerous articles have appeared in such magazines as Nature, Bioscience, New Scientist, The Sciences, and Natural History. He has published three books: Metapatterns across Space, Time, and Mind; Gaia's Body: Toward a Physiology of Earth; and What Is Death?: A Scientist Looks at the Cycle of Life.
Baseball and American Culture
(V50.0206; call # 72950)
Instructor: Carl E. Prince
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Baseball is neither a metaphor for life nor a perfect explanation for the uniqueness of American culture or American character. But sport and, for some cogent reasons, baseball in particular does provide a way into an examination of major contemporary historical questions in the areas of race, gender, and class. The Brooklyn Dodgers' pioneering role in American racial integration in the years after World War II, for example, and the Yankees' early failure to follow suit provide useful laboratories for a study of race. The strongly macho character of baseball reveals basic gender aspirations and prejudices more subtly evoked in other areas of American life. To the extent that baseball is indeed a working-class game, fan involvement reveals much about the nature of urban class values and tensions in the 20th century. The course involves a good deal of writing, including two major papers; several small reaction papers intended to provoke discussion are required as well.
Carl E. Prince is Professor of History Emeritus and past president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He has published four books and numerous articles on early American political culture and edited the five-volume Papers of William Livingston. A former baseball player and lifelong fan, he is also the author of Brooklyn's Dodgers: The Bums, the Borough, and the Best of Baseball (1996), which opened for him a new academic field.
(V50.0207; call # 72951)
Instructor: Charles S. Peskin
Monday and Wednesday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Prerequisites: AP calculus and physics
Since the starting point for any computer simulation is a mathematical model (i.e., a collection of equations that describe the phenomenon to be simulated), the true prerequisite for this seminar is a love of mathematics, especially calculus. Computer simulation is one way that mathematics gets applied to the real world. In this hands-on course students learn how to program computers to simulate physical and biological processes. Examples include the orbits of planets, moons, comets, and spacecraft; the spread of epidemic and endemic diseases in a population, including the evolution of a population in response to an endemic disease; the production of sound by musical instruments; the flow of traffic on a highway or in a city; and the electrical activity of nerves. The seminar meets alternately in a classroom and in a computer laboratory setting. The techniques needed to perform computer simulations, and to present the results in terms of elementary graphics, animations, and sounds, are taught in class and then applied in the laboratory by students working individually or in teams. Topics for student projects may be drawn from those discussed in class as listed above, but students are also free to do other projects that reflect their own interests.
Charles S. Peskin is Silver Professor of Mathematics and Neural Science. His field of research is mathematical modeling and computer simulation applied to biology and medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a former MacArthur Fellow, and a recipient of the Mayorfs Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, as well as the Great Teacher Award of the NYU Alumni Association.
(V50.0209; call # 72952)
Instructor: David Lehman
Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
The aim of this course is to change your life. We will read a selection of the greatest poems in the English language and consider what makes them great. Students will be encouraged to memorize, recite, and imitate certain works, and we will examine such forms as the sonnet, the sestina, the villanelle, and the prose poem, as well as experimental methods of composition. But the primary focus will be on reading, interpreting, and evaluating the poems themselves. The poets under study will include Shakespeare, Donne, the English Romantics, Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Stevens, Williams, Eliot, Moore, Cummings, Auden, Bishop, and O"HfHara. The course will conclude with some examples of contemporary American poetry.
David Lehman is a poet, critic, and editor. In 1988 he initiated "The Best American Poetry," and he continues as the general editor of this distinguished anthology series. In 1991 he published a critique of deconstruction entitled Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man. His recent books include When a Woman Loves a Man and The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets. His gathering of Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present appeared in 2003. He is now preparing a new edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. He has taught the "Great Poems" seminar since 1997. He has also taught at Columbia University, New School University, and Bennington College.
Language and Reality in 20th-Century Science and Literature
(V50.0210; call # 72953)
Instructor: Friedrich Ulfers
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
The course explores the possibility that there exists a common ground between the so-called two cultures of science and the humanities. It posits the hypothesis of a correlation between postclassical science (e.g., quantum theory) and "postmodern" literature and philosophy. Among the key notions examined are Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle" and the "undecidability" of deconstructive theory. The discussion of these notions and of their implications in literary works revolves around their effect on classical logic, the referential function of language, and the traditional goal of a complete explanation/description of reality. Readings include selections from the works of Borges, Kundera, Pirsig, and Pynchon and from nontechnical texts on quantum and chaos theories.
Friedrich Ulfers is Associate Professor of German and Director of Deutsches Haus. Winner of the College"Hfs Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching, the University"Hfs Distinguished Teaching Medal, and its Great Teacher Award, he has taught not only in the German Department but also in the Draper Interdisciplinary Master"Hfs Program, offering courses on, among others, Nietzsche and Kafka that engage his interdisciplinary interests (literary theory, psychology, philosophy). He has written widely on 20th-century German authors and is at present preparing a study of Nietzsche as a postmodernist.
The Supreme Court and the Religion Clauses: Religion and State in America
(V50.0218; call # 72954)
Instructor: John E. Sexton
Monday, 6:45-8:45 p.m.
Should members of the Native American Church be allowed to smoke peyote at religious ceremonies? Can a public high school invite a rabbi to give a benediction and convocation at graduation? Should a state legislator rely on his or her religious convictions in forming a view about the legality of capital punishment or abortion? The course divides these questions into three subject areas: religious liberty; separation of Church and State; and the role of religion in public and political life. It focuses on how the Supreme Court has dealt with these areas and, more important, invites students to construct anew a vision of the proper relationship between religion, state, and society in a 21st-century liberal constitutional democracy.
John E. Sexton, President of New York University, was the Dean of the NYU Law School from 1988 to 2002. He has taught courses on the Constitution and the courts and has led seminars on the intersection of religion and the law. Before he came to NYU, he served as law clerk for Chief Justice Warren Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he has testified frequently before the U.S. Congress. In addition to his law degree, he holds a doctorate in the history of American religion.
From Moving Articulators to Sound Structure
(V50.0233; call # 75695)
Instructor: Adamantios I. Gafos
Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Prerequisite: interest in human language and mathematics
Meaning in spoken language is communicated via sound. Sound is generated from a set of moving speech articulators and their acoustic consequences. How can this physical system, the human vocal tract, communicate such richness of distinctions in meaning? To what extent is the structure of sound patterns in language influenced by constraints of the physical system? This seminar addresses these questions by seeking to identify ways to better understand the relation between the cognitive aspects of sound structure and their manifestation as physical activity in the vocal tracts of actual speakers. The seminar begins by providing the necessary concepts and tools for exploring language sound structure. Using software for visualizing dynamic articulatory movements, we study how humans produce consonants and vowels of different languages in isolation and in sequences. We then study how language-specific patterns of consonants and vowels can be described as formal systems of rules and how such rules can be modeled using tools from mathematics. In the final part, through a sequence of readings and group projects, students tackle issues in the relation between sound patterns and their realization in terms of activity in the vocal tract.
Adamantios I. Gafos is Assistant Professor of Linguistics. After completing the Ph.D. in cognitive science at Johns Hopkins, and before coming to NYU, he taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MIT, and Yale. His research focuses primarily on phonology, as a subfield of cognitive science, and specifically on the nature of phonological representations. He is the author of the book The Articulatory Basis of Locality in Phonology and of many scholarly articles.
First Amendment Freedom of Expression
(V50.0235; call # 72957)
Instructor: Stephen D. Solomon
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Conflicts over freedom of speech erupt into public debate almost every week. Congress passes a law to purge indecency from online communications. A tobacco company sues a major television network for libel. Press disclosures threaten the fair-trial rights of defendants in major criminal trials. Although the First Amendment appears on its face to prohibit any governmental restrictions on speech, the Supreme Court in fact balances free and open expression against other vital interests of society. This course begins by examining the struggle against seditious libel (the crime of criticizing government or its officials) that was not won in this country until the landmark decision in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964. Students examine freedom of speech through the prism of a rich variety of contemporary conflicts, including libel of public and private persons; political dissent that advocates overthrow of the government; prior restraints against publication; obscenity and pornography; flag burning; free press versus fair trial; and inflictions of emotional distress. Students read and analyze important decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Stephen D. Solomon is Associate Professor of Journalism and Director of the Program in Business and Economic Reporting. He teaches courses on First Amendment law in which he focuses on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. He is coauthor of Building 6: The Tragedy of Bridesburg, an investigation of cancer deaths at a chemical company, and is currently working on a book about the First Amendment religion case Abington School District v. Schempp, in which the Supreme Court prohibited prayer and Bible reading in the public schools. The book will be published in 2006..
In Search of Lost Time
(V50.0240; call # 72958)
Instructor: Marcelle Clements
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 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 social history 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. However, 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 50 pages, reading the same gorgeous sentences again and again. But 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 a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. Her articles and essays on the arts, culture, and politics have appeared in many national publications. She is the author of a collection of essays, The Dog Is Us and Other Observations; a novel, Rock Me; and a book of nonfiction, The Improvised Woman: Single Women Reinventing Single Life. Her most recent book is a novel, Midsummer.
New Media Law and Content Creation
(V50.0253; call # 72960)
Instructor: Karl P. Kilb
Monday, 6:20-8:50 p.m.
This course explores the legal and journalistic issues surrounding the creation and distribution of content in the "Electronic Information Age." Content is a commodity that is packaged in many forms, known as "media." We are all consumers of content, which is tailored by each media organization to target specific audiences. Consumers base their content choices on the type of information, as well as on the method of delivery. The traditional print and broadcast media have found a powerful, relatively inexpensive new means of distribution: the Internet. The rapid packaging of content by means of new technology has forced content creators and distributors to develop new interpretations of fundamental intellectual property issues, including copyright law. The seminar will promote active research and discussions with leaders in the media and legal professions, and explore how legislation and industry practices are responding to new technology.
Karl P. Kilb, Esq., is the General Counsel of Bloomberg LP, managing a global Legal/Contracts Department. Before becoming an attorney in 1995, he was a broadcast journalist at FNN, CNBC, 1010 WINS Radio, Bloomberg, and various other networks and stations in New York for twelve years, having graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in broadcast journalism from NYU. He frequently lectures at universities and industry organizations about media and intellectual property law.
School and Society: NYU in the Sixties and Seventies
(V50.0255; call # 72961)
Instructor: Arthur Tannenbaum
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
The decades of the 1960s and 1970s brought profound changes in American society, changes mirrored in the history of the nation, academe, and New York University. It was a time that witnessed the struggle for civil rights, assassinations, war abroad and riots at home, and a youth-led revolution in music, dress, and values. This course aims to develop an appreciation of those years by examining the events and the reactions as they affected campuses and students across America. Students will prepare reports on different aspects of the era. In addition, through shared background reading, class members will work on group projects. In both cases, and in the spirit of the times, the topics will be self-chosen with the approval of the group and the seminar leader.
Arthur Tannenbaum is an Associate Curator in the Bobst Library and has taught in the English Department of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He is currently the librarian for education in the Social Sciences Department. First as a student and then as faculty, he has been at NYU for more than thirty years. In 1992 he received the University Distinguished Teaching Medal in recognition for his work with students.
The Cultural Nature of Language
(V50.0262; call # 75551)
Instructor: Bambi Schieffelin
Monday and Wednesday, 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, 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, and Bosavi people (Papua New Guinea). Her current book project focuses on the impact of evangelical Christianity on the language and social life of Bosavi people over the past 25 years.
Disease and History
(V50.0265; call # 74986)
Instructor: Richard Hull
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
This seminar focuses on the historical dimensions of several major epidemics that profoundly affected human societies in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Students identify each epidemic and explore its causes, origins, means of transmission, efforts at containment, and impacts on societies, particularly on their cultural development. They examine representations of the epidemic in the arts, media, and literature of the period, as well as assess the effects of each disease on demographics, religions, economies, and lifestyles. To what extent did an epidemic, or plague, accelerate or retard fundamental changes in human relationships within societies and between them, and the ways people viewed themselves and their universe?
Richard Hull is Professor of History. A specialist in African and European history, he is the author of numerous books, including African Cities and Towns, Modern Africa, and Munyakare: African Civilizations, as well as coauthor of the two-volume World Civilizations. He has received both the Great Teacher Award and two Golden Dozen Awards for Excellence in Teaching.
Terrorism, Nihilism, and Modernity
(V50.0267; call # 72965)
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 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 is now an Adjunct Professor at NYU, Director of the Center for the Study of Violence, a member of President Clinton's National Commission on Youth Violence, and author of Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic and Preventing Violence: An Agenda for the Coming Century. He has been a consultant to the Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention at the World Health Organization, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and numerous other organizations.
The Art of the Enemy
(V50.0270; call # 72966)
Instructor: Hector Feliciano
Wednesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
The destruction of the art of the enemy, or cultural looting, has almost always been one of the staple by-products of international, civil, or religious strife. From ancient or biblical times to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, art plunder and the willful destruction of cultural patrimony-from palaces, museums, libraries, churches, mosques, and synagogues to paintings, statues, icons, and books-have been used by victors and looters as a supplementary means to conquer, annihilate, and humiliate the enemy. By studying some historical and recent examples of destruction and looting, we will explore the enemies' fascinating political, aesthetic, or religious justifications for these acts. We will also consider why some enemies destroy while others simply take along, sell, or abandon; we will describe the positive and negative role of museums in some of these events, and learn how the "values of collecting" and the creation of museums may have helped to preserve art destined to be destroyed or looted by others. Above all, we will learn about the history of art and constantly be redefining what art is and what it means to us and to our enemies. There will be two field trips, including one to MoMA.
Hector Feliciano is a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. Formerly cultural writer for the Paris bureaus of the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, he is the author of The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works (1997); first published in French, this work has since been published in nine languages. He served on the Panel of Experts of the Presidential Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. He is the organizer of the First International Symposium on Cultural Property and Patrimony (Columbia University, 1999) and currently writes for El Pais in Madrid.
Performing Homer: The Iliad and the Odyssey
(V50.0272; call # 72967)
Instructor: Peter Meineck
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
The Iliad and the Odyssey stand as two of the greatest works of world literature, and yet these hugely influential texts are actually a record of a performance event filled with action and drama and punctuated with the visceral energy of a live presentation. It is in the context of performance that this course examines the works of the Homeric tradition and their subsequent influence on drama, literature, and culture. Using Homer's Iliad and Odyssey as central texts, we explore the following questions: Who was Homer? What is truth and what is fiction in these great stories—did the Trojan War actually happen? Who were the Mycenaeans, and how did the modern world "discover" them? Who were the audience of the Iliad and the Odyssey and what kind of society did they live in? We also discuss the main themes found in Homer—such as war, the code of the warrior, religion, the family, politics, the effects of rage and reconciliation. Finally, this course traces the influence of Homer on the Greek dramatists, the Roman poets, the literature of the Renaissance, Shakespeare, modern drama, and contemporary movies.
Peter Meineck is Artistic Director of the Aquila Theatre Company, which has performed the Iliad at Lincoln Center and regularly produces classical plays in New York and on national tours. He is also Clinical Assistant Professor both in Classics and in Drama at NYU and Artist in Residence at NYU's Center for Ancient Studies. He has published several translations of Greek plays.
What Makes a Great Leader?: Perspectives from Government, Law, and Business
(V50.0275; call # 72968)
Instructor: Diane C. Yu
Monday, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Machiavelli wrote in 1532, "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." This seminar explores some of the ways in which leaders, particularly over the past two centuries, have arisen in a number of settings. How do we define greatness in leadership? Have the standards remained static, or have they changed over time? How have leaders overcome the obstacles in their paths? What, if any, traits do they have in common? Do leaders make the times in which they serve, or do the times dictate the leaders who emerge? Are leadership skills innate, or can they be learned and developed? The seminar will stimulate thinking through readings and discussion about notable figures from politics and government, such as the Founding Fathers, Lincoln, Mandela, Gandhi, and Churchill, while looking at contemporary examples drawn from the business and legal world as well. Readings include selections from biography, analysis and commentary, history, and autobiography. The seminar also features sessions with prominent figures from the business, media, and political worlds who will discuss their views and firsthand observations about leadership.
Diane C. Yu, Esq., is Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President of NYU. She has been a high-ranking executive at a Fortune 250 company, California judicial officer, general counsel for a California public corporation, and appointed by the President as a White House Fellow. Her B.A. is from Oberlin and her J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. A national bar leader, she serves on numerous boards, has won awards for her service to the legal profession, and was the first woman of color to chair the American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which accredits American law schools. She currently chairs the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession.
The Biology of Infectious Diseases
(V50.0276; call # 72969)
Instructors: Martin Blaser and Joel Ernst
Wednesday, 4:55-7:25 p.m.
Infectious diseases have shaped human biology, genes, culture, and imagination. After the advent of antibiotics, we thought that we could win the "war" on infectious diseases. Antibiotic resistance and AIDS, among other events, have taught us that the war is not winnable. Rather, we must understand our place in the microbial world and learn to adapt strategies that minimize infectious disease impact, and maximize our symbiosis with indigenous organisms. After introductory discussions, the course is conducted as a series of seminars by students on topics that provide greater understanding of the underlying biological issues. Topics that may be discussed include genetic susceptibility to diseases such as malaria, problems involved in antibiotic resistance, the evolution of HIV, good microbes vs. bad, and infectious diseases in the postmodern world.
Martin Blaser is the Frederick H. King Professor of Internal Medicine and Chair of the Department of Medicine, and Professor of Microbiology at the NYU School of Medicine. A practicing physician and specialist in Infectious Diseases, he has progressively become a biologist. His research interests span clinical medicine, epidemiology, molecular biology and genetics, evolutionary biology, mathematics, and history. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, he currently serves as President of the Infectious Disease Society of America.
Joel Ernst is the Jeffrey Bergstein Professor of Medicine, Director of Infectious Diseases, and Professor of Microbiology at the NYU School of Medicine. A clinician and specialist in infectious diseases, he directs his immunology research at discovery of mechanisms used by microbial pathogens to evade the immune system. He is a frequently sought speaker at international meetings on infectious diseases and immunology.
The Politics of Knowledge in the United States
(V50.0277; call # 75627)
Instructor: Thomas Bender
Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
What is the difference between "knowledge" and "opinion"? How do the interests or the social positions of different groups or individuals shape their understanding, their appraisal of knowledge claims? Do their class positions, personal qualities, institutional affiliations, or ideological commitments significantly confer social authority on their knowledge claims? What is the role of disciplines in establishing knowledge? What distinguishes disciplinary knowledge from opinion? What is academic freedom and how important is it? Are there different kinds of knowledge? Do artists, humanists, and scientists understand knowledge and knowledge claims differently? Do the knowledge claims of these different modes of exploring the human condition enter society and influence it differently? What about different forms of knowledge—numerical, visual, narrative, or analytical? Is knowledge power? If so, what is the political role of knowledge in the United States? Is there a politics of knowledge? The seminar explores these questions on the basis of reading and discussion; in addition, it is also writing intensive, in respect to both informal writing (on Blackboard) and formal in weekly short papers.
Thomas Bender is University Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History. On the faculty of NYU since 1974, he has served as chair of the History Department and as Dean for the Humanities. His teaching and research interests cover the history of cities, intellectuals, and intellectual and cultural history more generally. His many published books include two directly related to this course, New York Intellect and Intellect and Public Life. Among his most recent books are Rethinking American History in a Global Age and The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea. He also frequently contributes to newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
From the Rise of Christianity to Bowling Alone: A Sociological Perspective on Two Millennia
(V50.0282; call # 72972)
Instructor: Edward W. Lehman
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
The new millennium has dawned with growing disenchantment with traditional left-right cleavages and with the claim that the United States is increasingly a nation of isolated individualists whose disregard for collective responsibilities is eroding civic virtues and its democratic institutions. Our aim is to assess the trajectory of our culture using the dimensions of autonomy versus order and freedom versus determinism. This seminar begins by probing these diagnoses in the broader context of moral and social transformations in the West over the last two thousand years. We examine social-science analyses of pivotal changes that have occurred in that period. We consider the sociologist Rodney Stark's highly acclaimed The Rise of Christianity, which focuses on developments during the first four centuries of the first millennium of the common era. Our final reading is the political scientist Robert Putnam's controversial Bowling Alone, which is currently the most publicized critique of contemporary American civic life.
Edward W. Lehman is a Professor of Sociology. His research interests include political sociology, cultural sociology, and sociological theory. He is the author of Coordinating Health Care: Explorations in Interorganizational Relations, Political Society: A Macrosociology of Politics, and The Viable Polity. He is coeditor of A Sociological Reader in Complex Organizations. He has edited and published Autonmy and Order: A Communitarian Anthology, a collection of original essays by 15 authors that explores how the fraying of shared moral understandings and the erosion of communal bonds affect our capacity to balance individual rights and collective responsibilities.
Communications and Human Values
(V50.0291; call # 72975)
Instructor: Richard D. Heffner
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
This seminar is not a practicum, a how-to course about film and television. Rather, its purpose is to analyze how much our sense of what it means to be an American at the dawn of the 21st century has been molded by the media, with particular reference to their socializing and value-legitimating content. To deal appropriately and reasonably with such media power, students are asked first to identify their own respective approaches to the power of the state and its proper relationship to the individual through discussion both of such readings as Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion, Robert Merton's Mass Persuasion, J. S. Mill's On Liberty, Herman Melville's Billy Budd, and Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, and of such films as Birth of a Nation, 12 Angry Men, Hearts and Minds, and JFK. Finally, class emphasis is on such contemporary media issues as a Fairness Doctrine (the real or imagined "chilling effect" of a requirement for media fairness and balance); cameras in the courts (do televised trials enhance justice, or instead create a "mobocracy" with trial by a new jury of public opinion?); media self-regulation (can there in fact be meaningful voluntary self-discipline in a free market, free speech, mass media-driven society?).
Richard D. Heffner is Producer/Moderator of the weekly public television series The Open Mind, which he began nearly a half century ago. Earlier a broadcaster and executive at ABC, NBC, and CBS, in 1962 he became the Founding General Manager of New York's pioneering Channel 13. Trained as an American historian, he is the author of A Documentary History of the United States (1952) and the editor of Tocqueville's Democracy in America (1956). His newest books are a collaboration entitled Conversations with Elie Wiesel (2001) and his paperback edition of As They Saw It . . . A Half Century of Conversations from The Open Mind. From 1974 to 1994 Mr. Heffner served as Chairman of the film industry's voluntary classification and rating system in Hollywood, commuting from Rutgers, where he has been University Professor of Communications and Public Policy since 1964.
Galileo and Hobbes
(V50.0295; call # 75694)
Instructor: William Klein
Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
In 1636, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes visited the aged and blind Galileo at his house in Florence, but there is no record of what was said. That leaves us free to speculate as we enter into the works of these two great innovators and critics of the Aristotelian worldview. Using selections from both philosophers (and in those days there was often no difference between philosophers and scientists, except in terms of quality—Hobbes was a very good philosopher but not such a good scientist), we will try to decide whether Galileo would have approved of Hobbes's radical development of his physics and cosmology into a comprehensive philosophy of nature, human nature, and the state.
William Klein is Master Teacher in NYU's General Studies Program. In the College of Arts and Science he has taught in both the Morse Academic Plan and the Freshman Honors Seminar program. Before coming to NYU, he was at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he taught the history of Western social thought. He specializes in early modern European legal and political thought and has been on the editorial review board of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. He has also published, under a pen name, several mysteries for young adults.
The Crusades and Their Legacy
(V50.0296; call # 72977)
Instructor: Jill N. Claster
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
In the history of the interactions among Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, the Crusades, which began at the end of the 11th century, form one of the most important chapters, if not the most important chapter. The Crusades began as religious wars to recover the holy places venerated by Christians in the city of Jerusalem. For two hundred years the Crusaders managed to hold on to their possessions, losing more of them with every passing decade, until at last the Muslims triumphed and the kingdom in the East was lost to Western Christendom. This seminar covers the Crusades themselves, but focuses on the relations among the three great religions and how it came about that they all claim Jerusalem for their own. We study the differences among the religions as well as their many similarities. Most of all, we address some of the problems that are crucial to an understanding of the world we live in: the nature of a holy war; the issue of whether the Crusades were the first manifestation of European imperialism in the Middle East; and the legacy of the crusading era. Readings include Muslim, Jewish, and Christian writings of the era, in translation, as well as secondary works.
Jill N. Claster is Professor of History Emerita with a specialty in the Middle Ages; she has taught and studied the Crusader era extensively. She served as Dean of the College of Arts and Science and as Director of the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright grant and was honored with the Great Teacher Award by the Alumni Association of NYU.
Behind Government: How Politics, Media, and Money Shape Policies
(V50.0298; call # 72978)
Instructor: Mark Green
Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
To read Congressional Records and State of the Union addresses, one might think that all policy emanated from facts, logic, and merit. And when Karl Rove, President Bush's top strategic adviser, said that the President doesn't consider politics when determining policy, it was a pleasant fiction no one was expected to believe. This seminar looks at the hidden aspects that drive government by focusing on five recent public leaders—President Bush (43), President Clinton, Mayor Giuliani, Ralph Nader, and former Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. How did their varying styles, values, intellects, and personalities affect their offices or campaigns? Are there particular approaches that can best accomplish great goals? How do media and money affect the success of these powerful people? How much does the public actually know about those who govern them?
Mark Green was the Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at NYU Law School in 2002. The author/editor of 21 books (including Who Runs Congress?), he was the Consumer Affairs Commissioner of New York City (1990-93), the elected Public Advocate of New York City (1994-2001), and the Democratic nominee for Mayor (2001).
Latin America at the Start of the 21st Century: Coming of Age or Continuing Chaos?
(V50.0306; call # 72980)
Instructor: Jorge G. Castañeda
Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
This seminar focuses on several aspects of Latin America's problems in the past and their possible solutions today. It takes up such topics as the absence of orderly, peaceful, and steady democratic rule during the first 160 or 170 years of independence from colonial rule and the consolidation of representative democracy today; the absence of economic growth during the last 20 years and the possibility of a new economic takeoff today; the widespread persistence of violence in Latin America and the growing respect for human rights today; and the weakness of civil society in Latin America in the past and the growing strength and vigor of civil society today. For each topic, there are readings dealing with its political, economic, and cultural dimensions in both past and present.
Jorge G. Castaneda returned to NYU in fall 2003 as Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico since 1979, he has also been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton, and Dartmouth. A principal strategist in the election campaign of President Vicente Fox in 2000, he served as Mexico's Foreign Minister from late 2000 until early 2003. He is the author of eight books, including, in English, Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left after the Cold War, Companero: The Life and Death of Che Guerva, and Perpetuating Power. He has also written articles for many newspapers and magazines in Mexico, the United States, and other countries.
German Romantic Music, 1815-1850
(V50.0313; call # 72984)
Instructor: Robert Bailey
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Many artists of this period revolted against prevailing artistic, and even social and political, institutions. They reacted against both the current cult of the virtuoso and the increasingly commercial climate dominated by music publishers. They withdrew into a private artistic world, and the Artist became the typical Romantic hero. The Wanderer in turn became the ideal symbolic projection of an artist alienated from a society uninterested in his work and in his welfare. This withdrawal led artists to participate in a private symbolic system accessible to themselves, but only partly accessible to middle-class audiences. German artists often restructured traditional relationships and affinities among the musical, poetic, and visual arts. Unable to find fulfillment in the troublesome present, they frequently sought vindication for their artistic ideals in the past. Hence, their interest in folksong, which inspired a large body of new poetry appropriate for musical setting. Such poetry provided the foundation for a flowering of song publications, which flourished alongside popular publications of actual folksongs. Opera, the song cycle, and the multi-movement piano cycle are the genres that most fully project the intricate system of interlocking and closely aligned musical, poetic, and visual imagery. The works in these genres by Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Schumann, and Wagner are of central concern to the seminar. Students should have the ability to read music and a basic knowledge of major and minor keys, scales, and chords.
Robert Bailey is the Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music in the Faculty of Arts and Science. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth, he majored in music and German. He then studied piano at the Academy of Music in Munich. He did his graduate work in musicology at Princeton, where his principal mentors were Oliver Strunk and Milton Babbitt. He also continued piano study with Edward Steuermann, who was on the faculty of the Juilliard School. Before joining the faculty of NYU in 1986, he taught at Yale and at the Eastman School of Music.
Before Cleopatra: Royal Women of Ancient Egypt
(V50.0323; call # 72791)
Instructor: Ann Macy Roth
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Long before Cleopatra, the royal women of ancient Egypt often had a great deal of influence on world events. Some even became pharaohs in their own right, and were depicted with a beard and a male body or wearing the ceremonial dress of a king over the modest traditional dress of a woman. Others exercised religious authority in priestly offices or as the ceremonial wife of a god. This course examines the lives and roles of these women, as reflected in the art, archaeology, and texts of their own times, and often in their own words. Questions examined include the assumptions about gender and sex underlying Egyptian culture, the practical and symbolic roles of queens, the character of women's monuments, the destruction of some monuments of powerful women by later generations, and changes in the roles of elite women over almost three millennia of Egyptian history. Through their culturally anomalous position, we come to understand some important principles of gender and power in Egypt, and perhaps elsewhere as well. In addition, we examine the views of these women taken by Western scholars and popular media, and how such understandings of their roles reflect the evolution of our own cultural attitudes.
Ann Macy Roth is Clinical Associate Professor in the Departments of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Fine Arts. Her research focuses mainly on the earlier periods of ancient Egyptian culture, particularly mortuary traditions and the roles of gender and sexuality in Egyptian society. She is director of the Giza Cemetery Project, and since 1987 has conducted archaeological research in the officials' tombs to the west of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Her publications include Egyptian Phyles of the Old Kingdom: The Evolution of a System of Social Organization, A Cemetery of Palace Attendants at Giza, and numerous articles. She has been invited to write three essays for Daughter of Re: Hatshepsut, King of Egypt, the catalogue of an exhibition opening in spring 2006 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Making Choices in Contemporary America: Dedication, Deal, and Deception
(V50.0324; call # 72988)
Instructor: Frederick G. More
Tuesday, 4:55-7:25 p.m.
Have you ever done what you thought was the right thing only do find yourself feeling that your right choice left you at a disadvantage? Do you ever wonder why others do the things they do and what drives them to do it? This course takes a case-study approach to reflect on issues in bioethics and contemporary life. It employs multimedia as a vehicle to explore cases such as that of Erin Brockovich, whose work in a law office led to the discovery of injustices suffered by citizens in a California city; a family that wanted to remove its daughter from life support, after years in a persistent vegetative state, only to become the focus of a legal controversy that reached the Supreme Court; the research project where for 40 years U.S. Public Health Service researchers deprived 600 Black men with syphilis of their right to health care; the Reagan administration's denial of the HIV epidemic in the U.S.; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations about nutrition that resulted from an intensely partisan process and deal-making. The course uses movies, books, articles, and self-study as vehicles for reflection about the personal values that one can employ for decision-making and for exploration of ethical dilemmas posed in our daily lives.
Frederick G. More is Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion and the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in the NYU College of Dentistry. He was formerly associate dean for academic affairs in the College, where he developed and implemented the present dental curriculum. He now teaches courses in ethics in each year of the dentistry curriculum, bioethics courses for graduate students in clinical research, and bioethical issues in children's health for residents in pediatric dentistry. Dr. More serves on the NYU School of Medicine Institutional Board of Research Associates.
Lives in Contexts
(V50.0331; call # 72991)
Instructor: Caroline Hodges Persell
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
What are social contexts? How do social contexts influence who we are? How do we develop ways of analyzing those contexts so we can become more aware of them and their influences on us and become less likely to be determined by them? Some of the social contexts we will explore in this seminar are families, peers, race/ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, markets, organizations, cooperation and competition, opportunity structures, prevailing rules, historical epochs, nations, and demography. Students will become familiar with these social science concepts and processes by analyzing their own lives in their respective social contexts, as well as reflecting about the types of contexts where they might like to live and work in the future. They will also be introduced to the concept of framing, i.e., the way social situations are set up for analysis and discussion.
Caroline Hodges Persell, Professor of Sociology, is currently Vice President of the American Sociological Association. She has published scores of articles in scholarly journals; nine books, including Preparing for Power: America's Elite Boarding Schools (with Peter Cookson), Education and Inequality, and How Sampling Works (with Richard Maisel); and several leading textbooks, including Understanding Society: An Introduction to Sociology. Her current areas of research include the relationship between race/ethnicity and educational achievement, how collaborative learning groups may increase quantitative reasoning skills, and how films may enhance the learning of sociological concepts and processes. At NYU she has served at various times as Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Graduate Studies, and Chair of the Department of Sociology, and has won the College's Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Engineering Design of Major Architecture
(V50.0332; call # 72992)
Instructor: Richard L. Tomasetti
Wednesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
One of the major areas where engineering has made a significant contribution to the built environment is architecture. The nature and process of this contribution has changed over time, as is manifested by the evolution of the master builder into a collaborative team of specialists. The study of the structural engineering design of major buildings, as well as the role of mechanical, electrical, geotechnical, and construction engineering, provides an important understanding of contemporary engineering—an understanding much needed in a society that is demanding higher levels of technological literacy. This course includes lectures on history, engineering design, and materials technology and its interface with architecture. Examples include New York City skyscrapers, the tallest buildings in the world (in Asia), and major sports facilities. Studies are enhanced by visits to a construction site, an engineering office, the Center for Architecture, and the Skyscraper Museum, with relevant discussions with guest curators. Student teams develop case studies on the engineering of major buildings and make oral and written presentations. Assignments include introductory engineering problems.
Richard L. Tomasetti, P.E., Hon. A.I.A., is Chairman of the Thornton-Tomasetti Group, a major international engineering firm, which provided structural engineering for the two tallest buildings in the world—Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Taipei 101 in Taiwan. He received his B.C.E. degree and an honorary doctorate from Manhattan College, and his M.S.C.E. degree from NYU. Mr. Tomasetti has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, is an active author, lecturer, and recognized investigator of structures in distress, and has co-authored the book Exposed Structures in Building Design. He has been Chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Committee on Tall Buildings and a member of New York City's Seismic Code Advisory Board. He and his firm were commissioned by New York City to lead the engineering efforts required for the search, rescue, and cleanup at the World Trade Center disaster site.
New York's Writing Women:Reading and Writing Communities in Early 20th-Century New York City
(V50.0334; call # 72994)
Instructor: Deborah Lindsay Williams
Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
This course examines the women writers who helped to shape the overlapping cultural phenomena of the Harlem Renaissance and Greenwich Village's Bohemia. We will discuss both fiction and nonfiction from this period, and we will explore these neighborhoods ourselves, on walking tours and on archival expeditions to the New York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, and the special collections in the Fales Library and the Tamiment Center at NYU. Through our reading and exploration, we will consider such issues as the struggle for female suffrage; the often interlocked influences of race and gender; the culture wars of the early 20th century; and the linking together of politics and art. We will be reading such authors as Willa Cather, Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, Fannie Hurst, and Nella Larsen.
Note: Priority for enrollment in this seminar will go to students in the Explorations community "Arts and Activism in Early 20th-Century New York City."
Deborah Lindsay Williams is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the English Department and a Faculty Fellow in Residence at University Hall. She is also Director of the Honors Program at Iona College and Associate Professor of English. Her scholarly interests include the writing and political activism of the early 20th century, women's studies, and postcolonial literature. She has published books and articles on a number of women writers, including Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Virginia Woolf.
Randomness and Chaos in Science and Daily Life
(V50.0335; call # 72995)
Instructor: Mark Nelkin
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
In daily life we are bombarded with statistics about test scores, financial markets, diseases, and voting patterns. In science the only reasonable description is often statistical, ranging from the random distribution of molecular velocities, to the inherently statistical description of quantum mechanics, to the incompletely understood fluctuations of velocity in a turbulent fluid flow. The mathematics needed to describe these phenomena is contained in probability theory. This seminar presents this mathematics in a way that emphasizes the underlying statistical concepts. In most cases we will use only algebra and simple computation, but some calculus-based extensions will be presented and explained. Our goal is to understand qualitatively how statistical behavior arises. We will discuss the ubiquitous "bell-shaped curve," and explain where it comes from. We will also discuss probability distributions where rare events are much more probable than predicted by the "bell shaped curve." These include the distribution of words in English text, the distribution of city sizes, and the distribution of income and wealth. Finally we will discuss chaos theory where statistical behavior arises from purely deterministic equations. The essential point here is that a very small uncertainty in our knowledge at one time grows exponentially as time increases. The excellent paperback book Randomess, by Deborah Bennett, will get us started. After that we will rely mostly on the Internet, particularly on publicly available Java applets, and on class notes in Adobe Acrobat format, which will be distributed regularly.
Mark Nelkin is Professor Emeritus of Applied Physics at Cornell University, where he taught for 30 years. He is currently a visiting scholar in the Department of Physics at NYU. Since receiving his Ph.D. in physics, he has worked on a variety of problems in statistical physics, including neutron transport, the statistical mechanics of liquids, noise and fluctuations in solids, and the theory of turbulent fluid flow. In this seminar, he hopes to unify the underlying statistical concepts in a way that is accessible to bright and curious students with an enthusiasm for mathematics and science.
Do Words Have Power? Debates and Speeches in American Politics, 1960-2004
(V50.0337; call # 72997)
Instructor: Robert Shrum
Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
The year 1960 saw the first general election presidential debates in American history. But for the next three elections, as incumbents or front-runners saw all risk and no advantage in debating, there were no such exchanges. As the country grew increasingly divided, speeches actually became defining moments in ways few commentators had predicted: from Barry Goldwater's "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice"; to Richard Nixon's retooling of his image with his 1968 acceptance speech; to George McGovern's call to "come home, America" in 1972. But four years later, running far behind, the incumbent Gerald Ford challenged Jimmy Carter to debate, and debates have been a staple of presidential campaigns ever since. Drawing on primary as well as secondary materials, this course examines the impact of the debates and the continuing relevance of rhetoric and speeches in the race for the White House. How can debates establish a less experienced candidate's credentials? Can mistakes or moments in a debate decide an election? How do candidates plan and prepare for such "moments"? How is it possible to "win" the debates and lose the election? Is the importance of debates overstated and that of speeches and rhetoric understated? Have speeches survived the sound-bite culture, and how has it changed them? When do debates really matter in presidential primaries where multiple candidates may be onstage? Finally, how have debates influenced some of the most critical nonpresidential races?
Robert Shrum is a Senior Fellow at the Wagner School of Public Service. He was senior strategist in the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns. As a political consultant, he has been responsible for strategy and advertising in 26 winning Senate campaigns, in numerous statewide and national campaigns, and in campaigns overseas, ranging from that of the British Labour Party to that of Ehud Barak in Israel. For 35 years, Mr. Shrum has written speeches for leading Democrats like Edward Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore and prepared candidates for presidential and nonpresidential debates.
The Internet, the Media, Politics, and the Modern American Corporation
(V50.0342; call # 73002)
Instructor: Kenneth Lerer
Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
This course examines the evolution of the Internet and its effect upon and relationship with "traditional" media, journalism, politics, government, and business. It provides an overview of the history of the Internet and how it grew into what it is today. It also surveys the issues that face the media, politics, and business leaders who must manage in a media world that now treats these industries as it does sports and entertainment. The course looks at how the new media landscape has changed the way business and politics are managed. Through readings, case studies, current events, and discussions, the course explores the implications of these changes for U.S. society. It begins with a panoramic history of the development of American media, from the rise of the mass press, telecommunications, and broadcasting to the present. The class then examines how the new media have become a center of power in their own right, redefining the role of the press in a democracy, and significantly altering the worlds of politics and business along the way. The course tracks the 2006 elections and significant stories throughout the fall semester.
Kenneth Lerer is Chairman of Kenneth Lerer Associates and Chairman of the Board of the Public Theater in New York City. He is a member of Pilot Group LLC, a private investment firm. Mr. Lerer served as Executive Vice President, Office of the Chief Executive Officer at AOL Time Warner, and as Senior Vice President at America Online, Inc. He was a founding Partner and President of Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery, a leading crisis and corporate communications consulting firm. His background also includes extensive experience in political consulting and journalism. He serves on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations, including the Bank Street College of Education, The Trinity School, Doctors of the World, and Eyebeam. He has taught a similar course at the University of Pennsylvania.
Versailles, Palace of the Sun King
(V50.0344; call # 73004)
Instructor: Guy Walton
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
The château of Versailles, near Paris, is an icon of upscale royal lifestyle and one of Europe's most visited historical monuments, toured by more than eight million people each year. The course examines the reasons for Versailles' popularity and its importance for the history of France, Europe, and the United States. Some of the historical events associated with Versailles, including the French Revolution, are studied. The course begins with discussions of Versailles seen through the eyes of various visitors, both those of contemporaries and those of later generations. It then focuses on the biography of Louis XIV, the Sun King, particularly his politics and his wars, as a path to understanding the message and art of Versailles as it was intended to impact the king's contemporaries. Students later work in groups preparing oral reports and papers on topics such as the life of the court and the influence of the political, religious, scientific, and cultural life of 17th- and 18th-century France on the character of this royal residence. Emphasis is paid on the art and music of Louis XIV's court. Selections from the memoirs of contemporaries such as the Duc de Saint-Simon and Mme de S»vign» and from historical and art historical publications are assigned.
Guy Walton is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the College of Arts and Science. He received his Ph.D. from NYU's Institute of Fine Arts and is well known for his publications on the royal courts of Europe, particularly those of France, Sweden, and Russia. He is the author of Louis XIV's Versailles. In 1985 he was organizer and co-chair of the Colloque de Versailles at the palace.
Scientific Thinking and Speculation: Atoms, Populations, Planets, and Horizons
(V50.0346; call # 75727)
Instructor: Steven Soter
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
This course explores a range of topics chosen to illustrate the nature of scientific thinking and speculation. What determines the sizes of atoms, people, and stars? How many cells in your body and planets in the universe? Is human activity changing the climate? What lies beyond our cosmic horizon? The intellectual tool kit of science allows us to answer or at least think intelligently about such questions. A few basic concepts explain unrelated phenomena spanning an enormous range of size and time scales. For example, the ratio of surface area to volume is key to understanding nuclear chain reactions, the height of mountains, and why we stir hot soup to cool it. Scientific thinking allows us to distinguish plausible from wrong hypotheses, often using only simple order-of-magnitude estimates. Science is a self-correcting enterprise of collective intelligence, which owes its success to a powerful combination of openness to imaginative new ideas and subjection of those ideas to the most critical scrutiny. The history of science suggests that much of what we think today will turn out to be wrong or need revision. So we keep an open mind and ask skeptical questions.
Steven Soter is a Scientist-in-Residence at NYU's Center for Ancient Studies and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He codirects an interdisciplinary scientific team excavating the Early Bronze Age and Hellenistic settlements at Helike, a coastal site on the gulf of Corinth in Greece. He was coauthor with Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan of the Cosmos television series and coauthor of the first two space shows at the new Hayden Planetarium.
What Is a God?
(V50.0348; call # 75552)
Instructor: Mark S. Smith
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Notions of divinity and the religious practices that mediate them represent critical elements in the functioning of cultures, in both the modern world and the ancient. In ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, the world was thought to be populated by a wide range of beneficial deities and destructive divinities, angels and demons, and a vast assortment of other figures considered to be divine. Religious practices served to address and mediate the powers attributed to divinities. This course explores how ancient peoples variously understood and religiously addressed specific deities and divinity in general in their myths, prayers, incantations, and public liturgies. A number of major questions will arise in our examination of divinity: how deities were understood as similar to yet different from human beings (anthropomorphism); how the ancients correlated their deities with social and political concerns; how deities were equated (or not) across different cultures within the ancient Near East; and, how the phenomenon of the worship of and belief in a single deity to the exclusion of all others came about within the larger context of Israel's polytheistic environment. We will read texts from various genres. The relevant textual evidence will include Mesopotamian and Syrian works and the Hebrew Bible, as well as other writings from ancient Israel and writings produced by Israel's immediate neighbors. In addition, we will examine pictorial evidence for the representation of deities and a range of other archaeological artifacts.
Mark S. Smith is Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. He holds degrees from Johns Hopkins, Catholic University of America, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale University and has taught at Yale, the &cole Biblique et Archaeologique FranÁaise in Jerusalem, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He has won several awards for teaching and research. His work covers ancient Near Eastern mythology and literature, Israelite religion, the Bible, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among his twelve books and over sixty articles is his published edition of four minor works of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which he produced as a member of the international team responsible for their publication. His best-known books are The Early History of God, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism, and The Memoirs of God.
Girls in the Sixties: Getting Coffee and Getting Political
(V50.0349; call # 75693)
Instructor: Marylouise Oates
Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Women's participation in the struggles of the sixties is largely undocumented. Despite the relative dearth of women-specific literature, primary and secondary sources will allow us to explore the crucial but neglected role women played in achieving social change while their efforts simultaneously helped to liberate themselves as well. Students will be expected to complete the following assignments: (1) Teams will research a social justice movement and present the findings of their investigation to the seminar. (2) Each student will select one living woman involved in the social justice movements, research and interview her, and share her story with the class. In addition to the oral presentation, the woman will be the subject of a five-page midterm paper. (3) All students will complete a ten-page final paper with their own analysis of the broader themes of the course.
Marylouise Oates holds an M.Div. from Yale. In 1964, as the youngest national reporter for UPI, she covered the 1964 Democratic National Convention, the Philadelphia riots, and New Jersey politics, before moving to the National Desk in New York City. She served as Deputy National Press Secretary in McCarthy's presidential campaign. In 1968-69 she was journalist-in-residence at UC-Berkeley's Daily Californian, then returned to Washington, D.C., where she was the press secretary for the National Vietnam Moratorium and later for the National Welfare Rights Organization. Active in the gay and lesbian civil rights movement in California in the 1970s, she went on to become a reporter and the society columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where she refocused coverage to include minority communities, the power of political money, and the emerging AIDS crisis. She is the author of three novels; one of them, Making Peace, which describes the turmoil and intrigues of the antiwar movement, was praised in the New York Times for capturing the spirit of those times.
(V50.0351; call # 75554)
Instructor: Carol Martin
Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Documentary theater--theater created from interviews and documents--includes some of the most provocative work of the 20th and 21st centuries. Yet only now is there emerging a critical literature that interrogates the genre for its strengths and weaknesses. The project of this honors seminar is to foster a historical and theoretical discourse about documentary theater. We will do this by reading documentary plays, critical essays, and interviews with documentary theater artists who have created work on subjects such as the murders of Stephen Lawrence and Matthew Sheppard, the abuses at Guant·namo, Lebanese car bombings, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church.Carol Martin is Associate Professor of Drama at the NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She writes on contemporary American and Japanese performance, as well as on performance and globalization. Her essays and interviews have appeared in academic journals in the U.S. and abroad and in the New York Times and have been translated into French, Polish, Chinese, and Japanese. The author of Dance Marathons: Performing American Culture of the 1920s and 1930s and editor of Brecht Sourcebook and A Sourcebook of Feminist Theatre: On and Beyond the Stage, she has appeared as an academic specialist on the American History channel and the BBC and was the historical consultant for the Broadway production of Steel Peer. Her current work focuses on documentary theater.
The Music of Protest and the Politics of Music
(V50.0352; call 75717)
Instructor: Jeff Goodwin
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Joe Hill, the labor activist and musician, wrote, "A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over." Musical artists have often protested social and political conditions, sometimes covertly, sometimes implicitly. How does political dissent and protest influence music? What role, conversely, does music play in generating and sustaining political dissent and protest? What are the qualities of good or effective "protest music"? The corporate music industry, for its part, has sometimes encouraged certain types of protest music, although it has also frequently discouraged political music. How does the nature of the music industry shape the type of music that is produced and broadly disseminated? To answer these questions, this course will examine a number of case studies of politically influenced musicians, including Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and various hip-hop artists. Along the way, we will listen to politically charged folk music, blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, disco, and hip-hop.
Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology, is the author of No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945-1991 and coeditor of Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements and The Social Movements Reader. He has taught courses on social movements and revolutions at NYU since 1991. His interests also include social theory and the African-American tradition in sociology, including the works of Du Bois, Charles S. Johnson, E. Franklin Frazier, St. Claire Drake, and Oliver Cromwell Cox.
Jewish Life in Weimar and Nazi Germany
(V50.0353; call # 75696)
Instructor: Marion Kaplan
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
This course will explore the interactions of Jews and other Germans during the tumultuous Weimar Republic, noting the successes of the Jews as well as the increase in antisemitism between 1918 and 1933. It will then focus on the rise of Nazism, popular support of and opposition to the regime, the persecution of the Jews, the role of the perpetrators and bystanders, and the ways in which the Jewish victims reacted inside Germany. We will look at historical debates about these issues as well as personal perspectives offered in memoirs, diaries, and letters.
Marion Kaplan is Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History. She has also taught at Queens College, CUNY. She is the author of The Jewish Feminist Movement in Germany: The Campaigns of the Jüdischer Frauenbund, l904-l938 (1979), The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity in Imperial Germany (1991), and Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (1998). The last two won the National Jewish Book Award in their respective years. She has edited books on European women's history--When Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany and The Marriage Bargain: Dowries in European History,. Her most recent books are Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945 and Jüdische Welten: Juden in Deutschland vom 18. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart (a coedited volume).
Governing Gotham: Politics, Policy, and Urban Planning in New York City
(V50.0354; call # 75715)
Instructor: Gifford Miller
Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Even though the perception of New York as an ungovernable city has changed somewhat in recent years, getting big things done in the Big Apple still requires overcoming formidable obstacles. Throughout its history, New York City has tackled major crises and large-scale planning projects that have changed the face of the city and its individual neighborhoods. This seminar explores how the interplay of politics, the media, interest groups, and urban planning shapes the lives of New Yorkers. It looks backward at some of New York's successes and failures at meeting those challenges and looks forward at crises looming on the horizon. What shapes New York City's response to its governing challenges? Can citizens influence these policies and, if so, how? The seminar also features discussions with prominent New Yorkers who will address their views on governance and effecting change in New York City.
Gifford Miller is a Public Figure in Residence at NYU. In 1996 he won his first race for the New York City Council, at the age of 26. He served during the past four years as City Council Speaker, the second-highest-ranking public official in New York's municipal government, until January of 2006. He is the principal at Miller Strategies, a strategic consulting firm serving businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Literary Theory and Its Applications
(V50.0355; call # 75716)
Instructor: John Maynard
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
Students in this seminar will read a selection of essays from major thinkers about literature, mainly from the latter half of the twentieth century. They will learn to consider different approaches to literature. They will complete the course by preparing a discussion of a work of literature using one or more of the conceptual approaches they have studied. Emphasis will be placed on learning how to analyze theoretical problems and how to improvise in applying them to new situations. The seminar is recommended for students interested in any area of the humanities.
John Maynard is Professor of English. His interests include literary interpretation, readers and reading, literary theory, biography, and Victorian and modern literature. He has published books on a variety of subjects in Victorian literature and is editor of Victorian Literature and Culture. He is currently working on a project on reading theory. From 1983 to 1989, he served as chair of the Department of English. He likes New York, New York theater, and bicycling.
Religion, Politics, and Society in the Middle East
(V50.0356; call # 75737)
Instructor: Zachary Lockman
Thursday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
In the modern period, despite the predictions of many social scientists and others, religion has continued to play an important part in the political, cultural, and social life of many of the countries of the Middle East—as indeed it has in the United States and elsewhere. The primary focus of this seminar is to explore some of the changing meanings and roles of Islam in specific Middle Eastern historical contexts from the 18th century to the present, with particular attention to the writings of, and debates among, Muslim thinkers, activists, religious leaders, and others. Along the way we will also examine critically some of the models of society and of social change often applied to the Middle East, their premises, and their conceptions of the role of religion in society. Before getting to predominantly Muslim societies, however, we will look at another religion, Judaism, which is much more familiar than Islam to most North Americans and whose adherents have confronted similar issues, in Israel (where religion, state, and Zionism have been entangled in complex ways) but also elsewhere. We will then look at some of the different ways in which Middle Eastern and foreign scholars, ruling groups, clerics, activists, and various segments of the population have understood the place and meaning of Islam in politics and society.
Zachary Lockman has been teaching the modern history of the Middle East at NYU since 1995 and is currently chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. His research focuses on the social, cultural, and political history of modern Egypt and on the history of Palestine, Israel, and Zionism, but he also does research, writing, and speaking about other topics, including U.S. policy in the Middle East. His books include, most recently, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism and Comrades and Enemies: Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906-1948.
From Mind to Brain and Back Again
(V50.0357; call # 75728)
Instructor: Joseph LeDoux
Monday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
What is mind? Is it a system of impulses or something changeable? This paraphrase of a Bart Simpson remark captures one of the great debates in history: to what extent are we hard-wired as opposed to shaped by experience? Several hundred years ago, fundamental questions such as these were addressed by philosophers. The birth of psychology in the late 19th century gave us ways of studying the mind scientifically rather than simply speculating about it. Modern neuroscience gives us a new approach, one in which we use discoveries about the brain to understand who we are and why we are that way. What have we learned? And does this approach enhance (or diminish) our sense of who we are? In this course we will address these questions, looking at the issues both historically and in terms of modern discoveries. We will use the topic of emotions, and their relation to the brain, as a window on the broader problem of mind and brain.
Joseph LeDoux is a University Professor and Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science, and a member of the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology at NYU. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1977. He was a postdoctoral fellow and then an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Cornell University Medical College. In 1989 he joined NYU. His work is focused on the brain mechanisms of emotion and memory. In addition to articles in scholarly journals, he is author of The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life and Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are. He is the recipient of the 2005 Fyssen International Prize in Cognitive Science.
Love and Law in Shakespeare's Plays
(V50.0358; call # 75729)
Instructors: Carol Gilligan and Kenji Yoshino
Monday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
This seminar will explore the themes of love and law in a selected number of Shakespeare's plays, including Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Othello, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night. Co-taught by a professor of psychology and a professor of law, the course will look at the interplay of inner and outer worlds. Both love and law will be approached broadly. We will consider the implicit love laws (who should be loved, and how, and how much), the laws of genre that govern these plays, and the laws of white supremacy, patriarchy, or compulsory heterosexuality that structure the societies they depict. Through reading the plays and secondary materials, the seminar will seek to understand how individuals formulate, internalize, resist, and break such laws, and the psychological and political consequences of their doing so.
Carol Gilligan, one of this country's most distinguished writers and teachers in the field of psychology, has been a University Professor at NYU since 2002. Born and raised in New York City, she earned her Ph.D. from Harvard, where she was a member of the faculty for 34 years. She initiated the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology and Girls' Development and coauthored or edited five books with her students, including Meeting at the Crossroads. Her award-winning research led, in 1997, to the creation of Harvard's first professorship in gender studies. Her 1982 book, In a Different Voice, has been translated into 17 languages. Her most recent book is The Birth of Pleasure. Her adaptation of The Scarlet Letter was part of the Women Center Stage festival in summer 2005 and will be produced by the Culture Project in New York in fall 2006.
Kenji Yoshino is Professor of Law and former Deputy Dean of Intellectual Life at Yale Law School. A graduate of Harvard (1991), Oxford (1993), and Yale Law School (1996), he specializes in constitutional law, antidiscrimination law, and law and literature. His book Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights was published by Random House in 2006.
(V50.0359; call # 75784)
Instructor: Tom Gerety
Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
This seminar takes up the centuries-old question of the identity of Socrates as a philosopher and a citizen. We will read Plato, Xenophon, and other ancient accounts of Socrates as well as modern and ancient critiques of his stance as "a gadfly" opposed to Athenian tyrannies and corruptions and to what we might call the tyranny of the ordinary in the moral lives of his compatriots. We will compare Socrates with other intellectuals and philosophers in political life, including the American and English abolitionists, Gandhi, Camus, and King. The central questions in this seminar will be the ones Socrates posed again and again in Athens: What really matters? And how should we live our lives? Students will be required to write a research paper on a Socratic figure of interest to them.
Tom Gerety joined the NYU faculty as a Collegiate Professor 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.
Why Do We Think That Way?: Women and the Media
(V50.0360; call # 75842)
Instructor: Carol Sternhell
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
When we look at ourselves in the mirror, why do we think that way? When the next babysitter dies in the horror movie, why do we think that way? When one woman's rape makes the front page of the New York Times and another woman's rape isn't news, why do we think that way? In this collaborative seminar students examine the complex relationship—or different, contradictory relationships—between those humans we call "women" and those forms of discourse we call "media." We consider women both as subjects and objects, as artists and models, as creators of media in its many forms, and as media's creations. What does our culture's media tell us about its ideas of gender? What, if anything, does our gender tell us about our readings of media? The course seeks to develop our critical and self-critical faculties as journalists, media critics, consumers of media, and women or men—to think clearly, challenge our pet assumptions, and have fun. Students conduct a research project of their own choosing and present their findings to the class. Final presentations can be in a variety of formats; multimedia approaches are welcomed.
Carol Sternhell, the Department of Journalism's former Associate Chair, is Associate Professor of Journalism. As the department's Director of Global Initiatives, she created and directs study-abroad programs in London, Prague, and Accra. She was the founding Director of the College's women's studies major and has written about feminism, motherhood, and literature for a variety of publications, including the Village Voice, the Nation, the New York Times Book Review, Ms., and the Women's Review of Books. Before coming to NYU, she worked as an editor at Newsday, a general assignment reporter for the New York Post, and a freelance magazine writer. She received a Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005.
Facing Nature's Wrath: The History and Science of Hurricanes
(V50.0361; call # 75843)
Instructor: Olivier Pauluis
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
Hurricanes are one of nature's most destructive phenomena. Through the course of history, they have repeatedly brought devastation and caused immense suffering around the globe. Scientific progress over the past decades has made it possible to forecast these storms, dramatically reducing their human cost. Yet, modern societies are faced with a new and unprecedented challenge as Earth's climate evolves and possibly modifies the behavior of changing hurricanes. This course discusses our current understanding of hurricanes. What are they? How and where do they occur? What are the physical processes that produce them? How do meteorologists predict them? Are hurricanes becoming more intense or frequent? These questions will guide our exploration of modern meteorology, which combines a global network of weather stations and satellites, complex numerical models, and scientific inquiry to forecast hurricanes and other storms. This will lead us to consider the issue of climate change and its potential impact on hurricanes. The seminar is partially based on the book Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes, by K. A. Emanuel, and does not assume any prior knowledge in atmospheric sciences.
Olivier Pauluis is Professor of Atmosphere-Ocean Sciences at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Before joining NYU in 2004, he was a researcher at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, where he participated to the development of climate and weather forecasting models. His scientific research deals with fundamental issues in atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics, and in particular with the role of water vapor and clouds in Earth's climate.
Country and City in Modern Chinese Literature and Film
(V50.0362; call # 76016)
Instructor: Jing Wang
Monday and Wednesday, 4:55-6:10 p.m.
The story of modern China is, in a sense, the story of the transformation of a rural society into an urban, industrial one. This change has altered people's experience and consciousness and, in turn, their cultural visions and artistic expressions. This course focuses on the tension and mutual dependency between country and city in modern China as viewed through the prism of Chinese fiction and film. The compressed temporality in China's rapid metamorphosis from a sleepy rural giant to the "workshop of the world" means not only the mushrooming or ballooning of Chinese cities but also an intense drama of social change, moral conflict, cultural diversity, and emotional strain. All of these have found their representation in literature and film, and the angle of the rural-urban relationship offers us an excellent opportunity to examine and rethink the epic experience of modern China as but one specimen of the human experience of modernity. The class discusses such works as Lu Xun's "Hometown" and "New Year's Sacrifice," Mao Dun's "Spring Silkworm," Shen Congwen's "Vegetable Garden," Ailing Chang's "Sealed Off," and Shi Zhecun's "One Evening in the Rainy Season" and such films as Crows and Sparrows and The World.
Jing Wang is Assistant Research Scholar in the College of Arts and Science and the Department of East Asian Studies, where, from 1999 to 2006, she was Lecturer in Chinese. She is the editor and translator of Anthology of Short Stories by American Women Writers in the 1990's (2002). In 2000, she was the featured columnist/translator on foreign literature for the literary magazine Shanghai Literature. Her teaching and research interests include women writers in China and the West; literary translation; modern Chinese social thought; and comparative studies of cities and urban culture. In addition to literary translations, she also publishes personal essays.
The Security Council and Peacekeeping Operations in the 21st Century
(V50.0363; call # 76015)
Instructor: Elisabeth Lindenmayer
Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
This course will focus on the role of the Security Council of the United Nations as a decision-making body in the maintenance of international peace and security. It will examine the evolution of the Security Council since the end of the Cold War and review how its decisions have deeply affected international relations. It will also examine the evolution of peacekeeping operations through a selective review of the literature and case studies, some of which will be based on the instructor's experience. The course will explore some of the major successes and setbacks of the Security Council and some of the many lessons learned. It will focus on the varying responses of the international community to humanitarian crises. We will ask the question "Whose responsibility is it to protect?" Finally, the course will demonstrate the need for reforms to address the unprecedented challenges of the 21st century, including the reform of the Security Council.
Elisabeth Lindenmayer has had a long career with the United Nations, where she served as the Deputy Chef de Cabinet and as Executive Assistant to the current Secretary General, Kofi Annan. In addition, she carried substantive responsibilities relating to peacekeeping operations dealing with the crises in Iraq-Kuwait, Somalia, Rwanda, and the Great Lakes region. She has taught at Columbia University as well as at NYU.
Rich and Poor in America Today
(V50.0364; call # 76123)
Instructor: Jeff Manza
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
This course explores the dimensions of inequality in contemporary American society. Among the questions to be asked are these: Who is rich and who is poor, and why? What factors (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, education, family background, occupation) determine who gets what, as well as the amount and distribution of wealth and poverty in the United States? How does inequality influence social, economic, and political life? In addition to the several books and scholarly articles, the class will also read and discuss articles from the New York Times and view some films and documentaries that provide windows into various aspects of contemporary inequality.
Jeff Manza is coming to NYU this fall as Professor of Sociology. Before joining the NYU faculty, he taught for eight years at Northwestern University. His research is in the area of social inequality, political sociology, and public policy. His books include Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy (2006) and Why Welfare States Persist (forthcoming in 2007).
Illusion and Reality in Early-Modern Spain (in Spanish)
(V95.0250; call # 74352)
Instructor: Kenneth Krabbenhoft
Tuesday, 2:00-4:40 p.m.
Prerequisite: ability to understand spoken and written Spanish
The literature of the Spanish Golden Age (ca. 1550-1680) is full of references to the illusory quality of reality and the problem of how to ascertain the truth that lies beneath the appearances of everyday life. The question acquired special urgency when the translation and publication of classical skeptics like Sextus Empiricus in the late 1500s gave rise to a new (or neo-) skepticism, which challenged prevailing criteria of truth. A number of important neo-skeptics were Spanish, and nowhere in Europe did popular literature reflect the impact of this movement more than in Spain, where the greatest poets, novelists, and playwrights all had something to say about it. Starting with background texts by the neo-skeptics Francisco S·nchez and Pedro de Valencia, we will look at how Cervantes uses the reality-illusion question to make fun of contemporary social pretensions, in his intermezzo "El retablo de las maravillas," and how, in Don Quijote, the interplay of illusion and reality becomes the cornerstone of the modern novel. The greatest playwrights of the 17th century dramatized the issue in numerous works. A few poems by Francisco de Quevedo and Luis de Góngora complete the reading list. Readings are in Spanish; class discussion, oral presentations, and written work are in Spanish or English.
Kenneth Krabbenhoft, is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures. His major interests include early-modern Spanish rhetoric and poetics; the Western mystical tradition, especially the Spanish 16th century and the kabbalah of the Spanish diaspora; Portuguese and Brazilian literature; and science fiction. The author of many books and scholarly articles, he has also translated works by Pablo Neruda, Saint John of the Cross, Jorge Luis Borges, and Eugenio TrÍas.
Updated on 05/28/2008