The Freshman Honors Seminar program in the College of Arts and Science was established in 1992 at the urging of a committee of distinguished faculty members from several schools in the University. The aim was to offer select freshmen, in their very first semester, the opportunity to be in a small, intellectually stimulating class taught by an expert professor. From the start, the program proved to be highly popular with students and instructors alike. The number of seminars has grown from a mere seven in the fall of 1992 to more than fifty in recent fall semesters. The instructors have been drawn not only from the College’s faculty but also from NYU’s professional schools and from among New York’s professional, cultural, and governmental leaders. Required of freshmen in the College’s Presidential Honors Scholars program, the seminars have been open to other capable students in the College and other NYU schools who wish to do honors-level work. Since spring 2005, the College has extended the principles behind these seminars to advanced-level courses.
The Freshman Honors Seminars have as their goals to put new students into contact with leading thinkers, to introduce them to important subjects, to challenge them intellectually through rigorous standards of analysis and oral and written argumentation, and to prepare them to conduct their own research. To that end, they stress demanding readings and writing assignments that introduce students to an essential research skill—such as a literature review, quantitative reasoning, critical use of primary sources, the identification of a research problem, critical analysis of texts, or confrontations with works or art. In addition to participating actively in class discussions, students are expected to give oral presentations in class. A final paper will typically, though not always, have gone through one or more revisions, perhaps revised with the benefit of in-class comments. In other seminars the focus may be on individual or group projects.
Baseball and American Culture
(V50.0206; call # 73414)
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 # 73415)
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 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, as well as the Great Teacher Award of the NYU Alumni Association.
(V50.0209; call # 73416)
Instructor: David Lehman
Tuesday, 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’Hara. 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. He has edited Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (2003) and a new edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry (2006). 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 # 73417)
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 non-technical texts on quantum and chaos theories.
Friedrich Ulfers is Associate Professor of German. Winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching, the University’s Distinguished Teaching Medal, and its Great Teacher Award, he has taught not only in the German Department but also in the Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s 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 # 73418)
Instructor: John E. Sexton
Tuesday, 6:45–8:45 p.m., and Thursday, October 18 and 25, 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.
Freedom, Classical Liberal Principles, and 21st-Century Problems
(V50.0227; call # 75809)
Instructor: Mario J. Rizzo
Monday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principles of classical liberalism through the discussion of theoretical and empirical issues in economics, law, and ethics. “Classical liberalism” is the political, economic, social, and moral philosophy that is severely skeptical of the power of the state and seeks to reduce its power over the citizen. It advances the view that society, under the rule of law, is largely self-regulating, and so government intervention, whether in economic or social affairs, is either unnecessary or simply makes problems worse. Sometimes classical liberalism is called “19th-century liberalism,” but its development has roots in ancient Roman thought, in the 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment, as well as in many strains of 20th-century philosophy and economics. Its leading thinkers have included Adam Smith, F. A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman. The course considers philosophical principles and empirical issues in the context of contemporary problems, such as free trade, property rights, income distribution, and social-religious toleration.
Mario J. Rizzo is Associate Professor of Economics, as well as co-director of the Austrian Economics Program. His fields of research lie at the interface of a number of academic subjects, including the economic analysis of law; ethics and economics; and the methodology and philosophy of economics. He also has a longstanding interest in political philosophy. He is the author (with Gerald O’Driscoll) of The Economics of Time and Ignorance, many articles in law journals, and philosophically oriented articles on economic theory.
From Moving Articulators to Sound Structure
(V50.0233; call # 73419)
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 speech data collected with electromagnetic articulometry (EMA) and software for visualizing and quantifying speech movements, we study how humans produce sequences of consonants and vowels in different languages. 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. The course emphasizes hands-on laboratory exercises and projects through which students, working individually or in teams, grasp and sharpen conceptually complex notions met across different areas in cognitive science.
Adamantios I. Gafos is Associate 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.
Realism and How to Get Rid of It
(V50.0244; call # 75812)
Instructor: Tom Bishop
Tuesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Realism relates both to a permanent concern of literature and art and to a “school” that became the dominant mode of 19th-century artistic expression. In the large sense, realism is accuracy in the portrayal of life or reality; referring to the 19th-century literary movement, realism reflects the ordinary life of the average person. The realistic novel and theater focused on the conflicts and characters familiar to readers and spectators by means of artistic conventions relating to the credibility of plot and characters, the role of narration, the function of the reader/spectator. The 20th-century turned its back on realism through a series of powerful modernist and avant-garde movements that reacted against linear narrative and a literal depiction of reality. Following an examination of 19th-century realism in the novel and theater (Balzac, James, Ibsen), the seminar stresses 20th-century reactions (Borges, Beckett, Robbe-Grillet, Coover, Pirandello, Brecht, Ionesco, Genet, Pinter). These reactions include stream-of-consciousness novel, surrealism, abstract expressionism, Brechtian epic theater, theater of the absurd, first-person singular narrative, postmodern fiction. Attention is concentrated on form and language, on conventions, and on the relationship of the work to the reader or spectator. Film viewings concentrate on non-narrative cinema (Renais, Antonioni). Expressions of realism and anti-realism in the plastic arts will also be discussed.
Tom Bishop is the Florence Gould Professor of French Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Center for French Civilization and Culture. He chaired the Department of French for 33 years. He has written extensively on European and American theater and on contemporary French fiction and civilization. His books include studies of Beckett, Sartre, 20th-century theater, and French cultural and political life. His most recent book, From the Left Bank: Reflections on Contemporary French Theater and Fiction, appeared in 1997. He has received numerous decorations from the French government and was awarded the Grand Prize of the Académie Française.
New Media Law and Content Creation
(V50.0253; call # 73422)
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 # 73423)
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 Art of the Enemy
(V50.0270; call # 73427)
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 # 73428)
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 # 73429)
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 # 73430)
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
(V50.0277; call # 73431)
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: A History of Intellectual Life in New York City, from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time and Intellect and Public Life: Essays on the Social History of Academic Intellectuals in the United States. 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 # 73432)
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 analysesof 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 Autonomy 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.
The Representation of “the Other” in the Israeli-Palestinian Cinema
(V50.0286; call # 75799)
Instructor: Shimon Dotan
Friday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
Representation of the Other is a variation of the search for self-identity. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its political cinema exhibit a clear pattern in which the parties attribute to the Other qualities and traits that reflect their own distress and aspirations. This pattern is examined in a series of contemporary films (1980 to the present). Each class consists of a screening followed by a discussion concentrating on representation in the context of the political conflict, variations in the use of film language to achieve a subjective portrayal, and modalities of representation and self-critique. Screenings include Divine Intervention, by Elia Suleiman; Beyond the Walls, by Uri Barabash; Close, Closed, Closure, by Ram Loevi; Wedding in the Galilee, by Michel Khleifi; and The Smile of the Lamb, by Shimon Dotan.
Shimon Dotan, a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities at NYU, is an award-winning filmmaker with ten feature films to his credit. His films have been the recipients of the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival (The Smile of the Lamb), numerous Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director (Repeat Dive; The Smile of the Lamb), and Best Film at the Newport Beach Film Festival (You Can Thank Me Later). His film Hot House won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2007. Dotan has taught filmmaking at Tel Aviv University in Israel and Concordia University in Montreal.
Communications and Human Values
(V50.0291; call # 73434)
Instructor: Richard D. Heffner
Thursday, 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 # 73435)
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 teaches the history of political discourse in NYU’s General Studies Program. In the College of Arts and Science he has also taught in both the Morse Academic Plan and the upper-level honors seminar program. He writes on a range of topics, from Renaissance political thought to constitutional history and to modern crime.
The Crusades and Their Legacy
(V50.0296; call # 73436)
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: The Impact of Personality on Policy
(V50.0298; call # 73437)
Instructor: Mark Green
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
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), the Democratic nominee for mayor in 2001, and has been the president of Air America Radio since early 2007.
Europe in Africa and Africa in Europe: Interaction and Rupture in History
(V50.0303; call # 75852)
Instructor: David Levering Lewis
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This seminar explores pivotal moments of confrontation and exchange in which the course of economic, cultural, and political development in the European and African experiences are reciprocally and significantly altered. The proposition—that the formation of identity is a reciprocal phenomenon—is to be tested in this seminar through an exploration of five turning-point interactions: (1) Islam’s first European century (viz., the 8th-century Muslim conquest of Iberia); (2) capitalism and slavery, 1400s to 1850; (3) African resistance in the scramble for Africa; (4) bohemian Paris and Renaissance Harlem; (5) literatures and politics of rupture (Wells-Barnett, Du Bois, and Maran to Fanon, Baldwin, et al.; Ghana and the Congo). Five essays keyed to the five topics and based on seminar discussions, required readings, and independent research are to be presented serially.
David Levering Lewis is Silver Professor, University Professor, and Professor of History. President in 2002–03 of the Society of American Historians, he has held a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. His books include King: A Biography, When Harlem Was in Vogue, and The Race to Fashoda: European Colonialism and African Resistance in the Scramble for Africa. His W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868–1919 (1993) and W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919–1963 (2000) each won a Pulitzer Prize in biography, among many other awards. God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570–1215 will be published in November 2007.
Latin America at the Start of the 21st Century: Coming of Age or Continuing Chaos?
(V50.0306; call # 73439)
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. Castañeda 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, Compañero: 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 # 73441)
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.
The Many Faces of Shahrazad: Arab Women in Culture, Literature, and 20th-Century Film
(V50.0318; call # 76267)
Instructor: Mona N. Mikhail
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
This seminar introduces students to the role and status of women in Arab societies today. Through the examination of selected texts from a variety of sources, be they sacred or profane, students investigate the role of the religious, social, and cultural as well as the political in the formation of the lives and roles of contemporary Arab women. Whether in Qur’anic suras or tales from the Thousand and One Nights, contemporary Arab poets and novelists, the course assesses the traditional gender roles versus the rapidly changing status of women. Close readings of selected essays, poems, novels, and short fiction, written by both women and men, as well as the viewing of selected films and documentaries, seek to address some of these timely topics.
Mona N. Mikhail, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, is the author of numerous books and articles, notably Images of Arab Women: Fact and Fiction, Studies in the Short Fiction of Naguib Mahfouz, and Yusuf Idris, and has written extensively on the cultural, social, and political context of modern Arabic literature, while also translating several important Arabic works into English. She is currently working on the growing body of women’s literature in the Arab world and exploring women’s role in popular culture/literature in oral genres such as proverbs, drama, song, and humor. She has also directed and produced a documentary, Live on Stage, about the history of the theater in Egypt. Her study Seen and Heard: A Century of Arab Women in Literature and Culture was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice in 2005.
Recycling Music: From Classical to Broadway, Film, and Pop
(V50.0319; call # 75810)
Instructor: Rena Charnin Mueller
Monday and Wednesday, 3:30–4:45 p.m.
In 1953, the Russian symphonist Alexander Borodin, who had been dead for 66 years, was named co-recipient of a Broadway Tony Award for the use of his compositions in the musical Kismet. Two well-known musical-comedy writers had reworked several movements from Borodin’s oeuvre to construct the score. This is one of many instances in which musicians and composers of the 20th-century have reached back into the past for inspiration, whether of direct musical content, instrumental forces, or literary material, not only for the Broadway stage or the movie screen but also for dance and the popular idiom. This class examines representative examples of these borrowings in several media: the Broadway stage (Kismet, Rent, Aida), film (Fantasia, Brief Encounter, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon; cartoons), and popular music (Eric Carmen, Alicia Keys, Procol Harum). After a brief introduction to the concepts of musical transference and parody in music, classes compare original “classical” compositions with their subsequent reinterpretations on Broadway or in popular music, and examine the kinds of changes that went into the transference from the original medium to the later incarnation. There is also discussion of the cross-over between classical composers/conductors/performers and the popular music scene.
Rena Charnin Mueller, Clinical Associate Professor of Music, specializes in 19th-century music, in particular, the compositional aesthetic of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. Her most recent publications include an essay on Liszt’s interactions with his biographer for the volume Liszt and His World, in conjunction with the 2006 Bard Festival, and an article on performances of Liszt and Wagner in New York between 1840 and 1890. Her work on the Liszt Lieder appears in the Cambridge Companion to the Lied (2004). She has published new editions of Les Préludes (1997), the Trois Etudes de Concert (1996), and the two Ballades (1996). With Maria Eckhardt, she is the author of the Franz Liszt “List of Works” for The New Grove 2000, and they are also co-authoring the forthcoming Franz Liszt Thematic Catalogue. In 2003, she was a recipient of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Before Cleopatra: Royal Women of Ancient Egypt
(V50.0323; call # 73442)
Instructor: Ann Macy Roth
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30–1:45 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 Art History. 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 wrote three of the essays in the catalogue for Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh, the spring 2006 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Making Choices in Contemporary America: Dedication, Deal, and Deception
(V50.0324; call # 73443)
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 deals-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 # 75800)
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.
New York’s Writing Women: Reading and Writing Communities in Early 20th-Century New York City
(V50.0334; call # 73447)
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 Library 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 # 73448)
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 # 73450)
Instructor: Robert Shrum
Monday, 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.
Time and Meaning
(V50.0350; call #73456)
Instructor: Michael Strevens
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The class will explore the nature of time and its meaning for human beings. Eternity, change and decay, recurrence, and time travel are our organizing topics; within each, we will use physics, philosophy, history, and literature to better understand how time works and how it molds our understanding of ourselves and of the significance of our lives. No prior understanding of physics or philosophy is assumed. Some specific topics: temporally scrambled narrative in modern fiction, the nature of entropy, conceptions of historical time, the end of the universe, the physics and science fiction of time travel. Our very first reading will be Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, a play that flirts rather seriously with almost every one of our class’s themes, most often by way of the history of landscape gardening.
Michael Strevens was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. His university career started out in the sciences, in particular in mathematics, computer science, and physics, but ended in abstraction or, more precisely, philosophy. Graduating with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers University, he went on to teach at Iowa State, Stanford, and, most recently, NYU. He has written books on complex systems and the nature of scientific explanation, as well as papers on causality, concepts, and the social structure of science, among other things.
(V50.0351; call # 73457)
Instructor: Carol Martin
Monday and Wednesday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
This class is devoted to an examination of the subject matter of contemporary documentary theater and the historical and theoretical discourses surrounding it. We will read documentary texts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, terrorism, racial clashes, the deposition of Cardinal Law, Oscar Wilde, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and Lebanese suicide bombers. In addition, we will read theoretical essays about the nature of documentary, the real and the represented, view selections of some documentary theater on DVD and examine the transformation of history into theater. The questions we will consider include: What has promoted the blurring of art and life that typifies documentary theater? Is documentary theater capable of objectively presenting facts? Are fiction and nonfiction adequate conceptual ideas when one considers the idea of truth in documentary theater? How might we consider documentary theater from the vantage point of performer process in addition to textual material?
Carol Martin is Associate Professor of Drama at 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 # 73458)
Instructor: Jeff Goodwin
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Joe Hill, the labor activist and songwriter, once 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 in the United States. What role has music played in encouraging and sustaining political protest? Conversely, how have political dissent and mass movements influenced music? Why has “protest music” sometimes flourished even in the absence of protest movements? Does effective protest music share similar qualities? To answer these questions, this course will examine several protest movements and the music that helped inspire them, including the labor movement, the civil rights and Black Power movements, and the anti–Vietnam War movement. Along the way, we will listen to the music of Joe Hill, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Curtis Mayfield, John Lennon, and many others. We will also listen to politically inspired punk, hip-hop, and other contemporary protest music that has not been connected to mass movements.
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, Rethinking Social Movements, and The Social Movements Reader. He has taught courses on social movements and revolutions at NYU since 1991.
Literary Theory and Its Applications
(V50.0355; call # 73461)
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 20th 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 and a former Chair of the department. 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.
From Mind to Brain and Back Again
(V50.0357; call # 73463)
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.
Country and City in Modern Chinese Literature and Film
(V50.0362; call # 73468)
Instructor: Jing Wang
Thursday, 4:55–7:25 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 # 73469)
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.
Investigating Greek Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
(V50. 0365; call # 75808)
Instructor: Guenter Kopcke
Monday, 12:30–3:15 p.m.
“[A] very different, bigger and shaggier, beast from art in our own time . . . .” The opening of the new Greek and Roman wing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art completes the program of display for the foreseeable future. Vases, statues, sarcophagi, terracottas, and bronzes offer a cross-section through Greek and Roman productivity and need for art that is not easily paralleled elsewhere in the world. In this seminar students are assigned categories of monuments to explore, following the methodological advice of an eminent colleague in the field, author of The Use of Images: Visual History and Ancient History, from whose writing the above quotation is taken. All readings are in English. The class will meet twice at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which students will be expected to visit outside of class time as well.
Guenter Kopcke is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. Before coming to this country, he served as Assistant Curator in Munich, taught at the University of Zurich, and participated in many excavations in Greece and Israel. In outlook more historian than archaeologist or art historian, he is interested chiefly in understanding the critical role of (visual) art in the image of man in the Western tradition. His fields of concentration are the first thousand years of this tradition, from the middle of the second millennium b.c. to the middle of the first millennium b.c.
The Art and Architecture of Papal Rome, a.d. 300–1925
(V50.0366; call # 75797)
Instructor: Guy Walton
Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30–1:45 p.m.
The course considers the history of the city of Rome after a.d. 330 and some famous buildings, their settings, and works of art made for them. It examines churches, palaces, villas, gardens, and urban ornaments such as fountains. Certain periods are stressed: early Christian Rome, Rome of the Renaissance and the Counter Reformation, and Rome of the 17th and 18th centuries. The course concludes with a brief discussion of the age of the Grand Tour and of the old city in the metropolis of today. It introduces students to the disciplines of art and architectural history while also examining the unique society, mostly male, of the papal court, the nobility and the population largely dependent on it, including several individuals who commissioned some of the greatest monuments of Western art. The contributions to Rome of such figures as the emperor Constantine, popes such as Julius II, Sixtus V, and Urban VIII, and artists such as Raphael, Michaelangelo, Caravaggio, Bernini, and Piranesi are examined.
Guy Walton is Professor Emeritus of Art History at the College of Arts and Science. His degrees are from Wesleyan University and NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts (M.A., Ph.D.). His areas of research and publications have centered on European courts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and he has served as organizer and adviser for important international exhibitions in Paris, London, Washington, and elsewhere. He has published scholarly articles and exhibition catalogs, and is the author of Louis XIV’s Versailles.
The Writer in New York
(V50.0367; call # 75801)
Instructor: Vince Passaro
Tuesday and Thursday, 4:55-6:10 p.m.
This seminar will examine both the romantic idea and the real history of writers who have lived in and written about New York City. We will also study the city itself, learning to see it as these writers have seen it, less as a home than as a super-literary event, a means of enlarging our imaginations and tuning our powers of observation. Through discussion of the readings—from Poe to Fitzgerald, from the Beats to recent web postings—we will try to understand the New York writer’s particular forms of misery and joy. We will make unique use of the University’s rich resources, such as the Fales Library’s renowned collection of materials on the Downtown New York writers of the 1970s and 1980s, and we also will entertain special visiting writers to share their experiences working in New York over the last two decades.
Vince Passaro is the author of the New York novel Violence, Nudity, Adult Content (2002). His widely anthologized short fiction, essays, criticism and reviews have appeared in GQ, Esquire, Harper’s Magazine, the Nation, the New York Times Magazine, andthe London Sunday Times Magazine, among other venues, and he has written online for Salon.com and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, a site dedicated to stories from New York.
Embracing Race . . . or Erasing Race: A Consideration of Black and White Issues
(V50.0368; call # 75802)
Instructor: Ralph Katz
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
America is surely a country of people, just as surely as it is a country of immigrants. One immigrant group, however, came to this country not voluntarily but enslaved, and it has been different for blacks in the United States ever since. This course will offer an opportunity, via readings, discussion, film viewing, and writing, to reflect upon the past half century of relations between blacks and whites in the United States. The course evolved out of a series of research studies that has spanned 13 years in investigating the “legacy” of the U.S. Public Health Service’s infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study—i.e., that blacks are more reluctant to participate in biomedical research studies as a result of this infamous example of research abuse in the United States. Today’s headlines juxtapose commercial announcements of the pharmaceutical industry’s development of “race-specific medications” with scientific pronouncements that “race does not exist.” This course aims to provide students with an opportunity to read and reflect on what got us here, what is going on today, and where are we going. In other words, are we “embracing race . . . or erasing race”?
Ralph V. Katz is Professor of Epidemiology and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion in the NYU College of Dentistry. He is Director of the NYU Oral Cancer RAAHP (Research on Adolescent and Adult Health Promotion) Center and leads a current study investigating whether minorities are less willing to participate in biomedical studies as research subjects and, if so, why. Having served on the National Tuskegee Legacy Committee, he was a Presidential Invitee to the White House for President Clinton’s 1997 apology to the African-American community. His epidemiologic research has ranged from oral disease studies to the development of epidemiologic research methods. In addition to his dental degree, he holds a master’s degree in public health and a Ph.D. in epidemiology.
History of Jewish Women in Europe
(V50.0369; call # 75804)
Instructor: Marion Kaplan
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
This course approaches Jewish women’s history from the perspective of social history. After an introduction to the normative role of women in Judaism, we survey the roles of Jewish women in the Middle Ages and early modern Europe. The body of the course focuses on Jewish women in modern Europe, analyzing their history in a variety of countries from the French Revolution, through Emancipation, the bourgeois 19th century, World War I, the interwar era, the Nazi era, and postwar Europe. Students read secondary sources, but pay particular attention to memoirs, diaries, and letters. They learn about the prescriptive roles of Jewish women in the home, family, religion, and worlds of work and social life. The focus, however, is on the actual activities of Jewish women, what they did, rather than what they were supposed to do. Students investigate the rich variety of responsibilities and tasks that women performed in the private and public spheres of life, how they both preserved religion in the modern era and mediated non-Jewish culture for their families. Women kept the Jewish family and community together and also reached out to non-Jews, joining in secular women’s organizations, local community projects, and the field of social work. Students will discover that women’s roles were often contested and always crucial to the Jewish community.
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).
Life in the Universe
(V50.0370; call # 75807)
Instructor: Steven Soter
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This seminar explores the open question of extraterrestrial life as a multifaceted “thought experiment” informed by contemporary astronomy and biology. Topics include the history of scientific ideas on the subject; the origin, evolution, and environmental range of life as we know it; possible habitats for life in the solar system; discovery of other planetary systems; habitable zones around other stars; remote sensing of evidence for biology in the spectra of other planets; possible transfer of microbial life between worlds via meteorites; the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by means of radio telescopes; problems of interstellar travel and colonization; critical scrutiny of UFO claims; and philosophical implications of the cosmic perspective.
Steven Soter is a Scientist-in-Residence in NYU’s Program in Environmental Studies and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He was co-author with Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan of the Cosmos television series and coauthor of the first two space shows at the new Hayden Planetarium.
Welcome to College: The Novel
(V50.0371; call # 75853)
Instructor: Carol Sternhell
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Starting college can be exhilarating—and terrifying. A chance for intellectual enlightenment—or intense loneliness. An escape from a stultifying small town of narrow-minded people—or a riot of alcohol, sex, and drugs. In this class we will read a selection of college novels from different historical periods, ranging from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Fanshawe (about life at Bowdoin in 1828) to Tom Wolfe’s recent bestseller I Am Charlotte Simmons (about the corruption of a brilliant and innocent country girl at a contemporary Ivy university). We will discuss these novels from a variety of perspectives, literary, historical, and journalistic. In addition to presenting biographical and historical/cultural reports on at least two of the authors and their novels, students will write about their own experiences as first-year students at NYU in several genres, including fiction and nonfiction. Together we will explore this important life passage, examining life as we live it.
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.
Women and War: From Vietnam to Iraq
(V50.0372; call # 75811)
Instructor: Jurate Kazickas
Tuesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
The world today is beset by war. The faces of women are everywhere: fighting and dying in Iraq, fleeing for safety from rape and pillage in Darfur, standing in silent vigil in Palestine pleading for peace. This seminar will study perspectives on women and war, militarism and peace activism. We will focus on the various roles that women as groups and individuals have played in the late 20th century: warrior, observer, leader, victim, peacemaker. Topics include the ongoing debate about women in combat, sexism in the U.S. military, men and violence, rape as a weapon of war, the impact of war on gender and gender on war, peace as a feminist issue. We will look at the portrayal of the woman warrior in movies and on television, women war correspondents, media coverage of female combatants in Iraq. Students will be challenged to explore their own views on such subjects as why wars have been fought primarily by men; whether women are by nature nurturers and peacemakers; and whether women should strive for full equality in the armed services or reject war. And finally, if women had more power in global politics, would we have a more peaceful world?
Jurate Kazickas, a former Associated Press writer, was a combat correspondent in Vietnam and has reported from the Middle East. She is the coauthor of War Torn: Stories of War from the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam, The Woman’s Calendar, and Susan B. Anthony Slept Here. She has done refugee relief work in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan and was a volunteer teacher in Kenya.
(V50.0373; call # 76229)
Instructor: Robin Nagle
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Urban centers can seem like chaotic conglomerations of too many people, a hodgepodge of infrastructure, and poorly understood (or forgotten) history crammed into spaces too small to contain them. Initial reactions to those spaces can leave conflicting, even confusing, impressions. Urban studies addresses these impressions through various theoretical models that illuminate and clarify the cultural choices that urban space represents. Such theories consider, for example, urban political economy, or artistic expression, or environmental history. This course offers perspectives on the urban by focusing specifically on the unseen. Through three organizing rubrics—Structure, History, and Sensation—we will explore elements of a city that, though generally hidden, are key to its vitality, even to its survival. We will read ethnographies of urban lifeways along with texts from relevant theorists. Fieldtrips will include a visit to a sewage treatment plant, a tour with local Freegans, lessons in foraging edible wild plants from a major city park, and a look at the now closed Fresh Kills landfill. By the end of the semester students will have acquired ways of seeing a city that reveal some of its more invisible elements at a glance.
Robin Nagle, director of the Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program within the Graduate School of Arts and Science, has taught anthropology and urban studies at NYU for 13 years. Last year she was named Anthropologist-in-Residence for New York City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY). She is finishing an ethnography about the DSNY, to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux next year.
Global Warming Science
(V50.0374; call # 75805)
Instructor: David Holland
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
Prerequisites: AP Calculus and Physics
The past year (2006) broke temperature records in many countries and ranked among the ten warmest years on record worldwide. The increasing temperatures have been attributed to the influence of humankind on the natural environment, principally through the emission of greenhouse gases. The importance of understanding and predicting future climate change is highlighted by the fact that a warmer planet might also be one in which global sea levels rise substantially. In this seminar students will be intensively engaged in computer modeling and observations of various facets of the climate system. The computer modeling will be based on the MATLAB software package. No prior computer programming experience is required, because the necessary knowledge will be developed in the course as needed. The observational activities include the operation of an automated rooftop weather station, and a one-meter-diameter rotating platform, used to directly simulate some of the key geophysical phenomena in the climate system. The seminar will provide students with a firm basis for understanding the scientific principles underlying global climate change, as well as for separating misconceptions about climate change from scientific fact.
David Holland is an Associate Professor of Mathematics (and Atmosphere-Ocean Science) in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of NYU. He is Director of the Center for Atmosphere- Ocean Science. He is an oceanographer who studies phenomena relating to the polar regions and their impacts on global climate. His current research focuses on the computer modeling of the interaction of floating ice shelves with polar ocean waters, and the acquisition and implementation of observational data for model improvements. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles on polar environmental science.
States, Justice, and Violence in Modern History
(V50.0375; call # 75813)
Instructor: David Engel
Wednesday, 2:00–4:45 p.m.
Modern times are generally assumed to have provided a greater measure of peace, physical security, and prosperity for most people than did the Middle Ages. That supposedly greater security is often attributed to the ability of modern states to establish the rule of law in their territories and to administer the law in ways that made it possible for individuals and communities to resolve their differences without resorting to violence. In fact, however, the 20th century witnessed some of the most horrific acts of collective violence ever recorded in human history. What is more, states were sometimes active instigators of that violence. This seminar examines the complex relationship between states and violence in modern history. We will explore how modern constitutional states have performed their roles as guarantors of justice and public order, how they have enforced their monopoly on the legitimate use of the means of violence, and how populations under their authority have responded to perceived shortcomings in state performance in these areas. We will be especially concerned with seeing how states have been able both to mitigate and to encourage violent expressions of interethnic tensions.
David Engel holds the Maurice and Corinne Greenberg chair in Holocaust Studies at NYU, where he is also Professor of History and Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. A member of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, he has written extensively on interethnic relations and minority affairs, particularly on the nexus among law, politics, and diplomacy in mediating the relations among ethnic groups. He has taught in Israel, Russia, and Poland and has twice won the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching. His books include In the Shadow of Auschwitz, Facing a Holocaust, Between Liberation and Flight, The Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Jews, and Understanding the Holocaust.
Lethal Passions: Medea and Her Legacies
(V50.0377; call # 75851)
Instructor: Liana Theodoratou
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The mythic figure of Medea has held our imagination for nearly 2,500 years. What kind of woman is capable of casting such an enduring spell? Best known as the partner of Jason and the murderer of her own children, Medea has been the name of an exploration into the passion and violence, the devastation and vengeance, the complex relations and modes of betrayal that so often punctuate our everyday existence. She has demanded that we think about the relations between the sexes, the meaning of home and exile, the experience of the foreigner, the ethical and moral dimensions of agency and decisions, and the meaning of motherhood. Because these issues have remained vital, her popularity has outlived the ancient Greek texts in which she was born and has found new expressions in various forms—including tragic drama, poetry, novels, painting, cinema, and music. This course seeks to understand the reasons for her longevity in the rich complexity of her character and actions and to explore the ways in which her story has been revised and recontextualized across the ages for new and different ends. We will consider a range of texts from antiquity to the present in order to think about how they understand the tensions, contradictions, and conflicting desires embodied and enacted in this mesmerizing figure.
Liana Theodoratou is Clinical Associate Professor in the Alexander S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies and Director of the NYU in Athens Program. She is a recipient of the College’s Outstanding Teaching Award and of its Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has written widely on ancient and modern Greek poetry and has translated several works by, among others, Foucault, Althusser, and Derrida into Modern Greek. She is currently completing a book on the politics of mourning in contemporary Greek poetry, entitled Mourning Becomes Greece.
Plato and Freud on Love and Sexuality
(V50.0378; call # 75877)
Instructor: Jerome Wakefield
Thursday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
We will read what are arguably the two boldest and most influential theoretical treatises on love and sexuality in Western history, Plato’s Symposium and Sigmund Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Freud himself compared his theory of sexuality to Plato’s theory of Eros, and their parallels and divergences form a fruitful basis for reading the two texts together. We will also consider the Roman poet-philosopher Lucretius’s infamous attack on love. Questions we will be thinking about include these: What is love? How is erotic love different from other kinds of love? What do we desire from the people we love, and is this desire insatiable or can it be satisfied? Do we genuinely love individuals or merely what the individual can provide? How are love and sexual desire related? Is sexual desire painful (a kind of tension), or pleasurable, or both? How much of human behavior is “sexual,” and what unites all the forms that sexuality can take? How is love related to the desire to create something that will live after you? We will focus on critically assessing what Freud’s theory of sexuality adds to the classic Greek tradition. Freud’s startling claims about controversial topics such as sexual perversion, child sexuality, and incestuous desire have been considered everything from scientifically revolutionary to pseudoscientific and sexist, raising profound questions about how to distinguish genuine science from its counterfeit. We will also read secondary works by commentators from a variety of perspectives, including that of feminism.
Jerome Wakefield is University Professor and Professor in the School of Social Work; he is also an affiliate of the Bioethics Program and the Center for Ancient Studies. Before coming to NYU, he taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Rutgers University. He holds doctoral degrees in both social work and philosophy. His research interests are in the philosophical foundations of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and social work. He has published numerous scholarly articles, including ones on both Freud and Plato.
The Doctor’s Dilemma: Being Both Correct and Right
(V50.0379; call # 75878)
Instructor: Michael Makover
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
Dr. Saul Farber, former Dean of the NYU School of Medicine, frequently cautioned that an action or a conclusion might be correct, but would it be right? Ethics, laws, and religious and cultural beliefs intersect in every medical encounter and healthcare issue and affect patients’ options and care. Determining how to treat patients correctly and safely is difficult, but figuring out what is right is even harder. The challenging issues to be studied and debated in this seminar include the following: Should doctors help terminal patients die to relieve intractable suffering? Should doctors participate in executions or in interrogation of terrorists? Do we want to know so much about our genetic makeup that we are faced with terribly difficult consequences of that knowledge? Is “alternative medicine” a reasonable alternative? What makes a good doctor good? Who should pay for your healthcare? The course aims to teach students how to address such questions by learning to think like doctors and scientists, to apply logic tempered by human values and experience, to analyze information critically, and to present ideas effectively and honestly.
Michael E. Makover, M.D., is Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, Attending Physician at the NYU Medical Center, and in active practice of internal medicine and rheumatology. He is particularly interested in preventive medicine and has published on new approaches to preventing nearly all heart disease and stroke. He is the author of the book Mismanaged Care: How Corporate Medicine Jeopardizes Your Health, as well as articles on healthcare quality, ethics, and economics. A co-founder and Director of a medical device and telehealth company, he has also been a consultant to many corporations. He was an aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and a spokesman for the American Cancer Society and the New York Heart Association. He is developing a book called 120 Years Young.
Bread, Wine, and Genes: The Evolution of Food Species
(V50.0380; call # 75866)
Instructor: Michael D. Purugganan
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The Neolithic Revolution, which began approximately 12,000 years ago, saw different human cultures around the world start to domesticate wild plant and animal species to serve as food sources in agriculture. The prehistoric genetic tinkering of those pioneer farmers transformed various plant and animal genomes and resulted in the evolution of new species. Through readings, discussion, and research assignments, we will explore how modern genomics and molecular evolutionary biology shed light on the genetic changes underlying the origins of our food species, and how the study of these domesticated species in turn has advanced our understanding of the evolutionary process.
Michael D. Purugganan is the Dorothy Schiff Professor of Genomics and is a leader in the study of plant evolutionary and ecological genomics. He has conducted a wide array of research, including studies of the molecular evolution of Hawaiian plants, the genomics of the model species Arabidopsis, and the genetic origins of rice and other crop species. His recent work has appeared in the journals Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and Genetics. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Sloan Young Investigator Award in Molecular Evolution.
Liftoff: Humanity and the Age of Space
(V50.0381; call # 76280)
Instructor: William E. Burrows
Friday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
Access to space provides humanity with one of the most important capabilities in history. Sending people to orbit Earth and to visit the Moon has profoundly shaped our view of ourselves and of the larger world in which we exist. And the exploration of the solar system with robots that have sent back a virtual library of information has increased our understanding of the universe to an extent never before possible. But the space program is about much more than exploration. It is also about the work-a-day machines that have revolutionized weather prediction, communication (certainly including cell phones), navigation, land use, and spotting and monitoring climate change. The course begins with the basics of rocketry and elementary astronautics and, with that understood, moves on to see how they are used. The military dimension is included, and also the likely future of humans in space beginning with the establishment of a Moon colony.
William E. Burrows is Professor of Journalism and Director of the Science and Environmental Reporting Program in the department. He has covered the space program for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal and has written several books on the subject, including This New Ocean, which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for History and is used as a textbook at the U.S. Air Force Academy and elsewhere. He is a contributing editor at Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine and is writing his twelfth book, on humanity’s future in space. He has won the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Our Legal System Today: How and Why We Got Here
(V50.0382; call # 76268)
Instructor: Sam Radin
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Our legal system affects us daily. We live in a tangle of legal systems—federal, state, civil, and criminal—that differ yet intersect. This course explores the elements of the modern American legal system and how it evolved from the early English system. We need a legal system that promotes public safety, offers ways to resolve disputes, and meets commercial needs. We will study the evolution of the jury and its function today and compare it with its popular presentation in film. We will also examine the sources of law such as custom, statute, and judicial decisions as well as the principles that guide courts. Emphasis will be on the relationship between the courts and the legislature and their interdependent roles under the Constitution and why this imperfect system works. We will read judicial decisions to understand the necessity and practical effect of certain laws, including, for example, property law governing home ownership, contract law for the sale of goods and services, and tort law to redress negligence. Finally, we will study the role, purpose, and operation of administrative agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (taxes), the Environmental Protection Agency (pollution) and the Federal Trade Commission (consumer protection).
Sam Radin is a lawyer and an entrepreneur. He founded National Madison Group, a nationally recognized firm that provides tax and life insurance planning services to high net worth individuals and businesses. The company is a subsidiary of a New York Stock Exchange company with its headquarters in New York City and its operations center in Austin, Texas. A frequent speaker to accountants, attorneys, and financial planning professionals, he has been cited on the topic of estate taxation in the Wall Street Journal,the New York Times, and Forbes, and has appeared as a guest commentator on PBS-TV’s Nightly Business Report. He has written extensively on estate planning and executive compensation. He is listed in Who’s Who in American Law and Who’s Who in America.
New York City: A Survey, 1609–1898
(V50.0383; call # 76263)
Instructor: Leo Hershkowitz
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
In this study of New York City, we shall look for answers to several basic questions. For example, how did the city become the “World’s Capital”? Why is New York so different from other American cities? Why is it the center of art, music, finance, science? Is New York an American city? How have artists, writers, and travelers viewed New York? How do New Yorkers see New York? What is its future? This is also a voyage into unknown New York by means of archival sources largely overlooked by historians, but which are important to understanding the complexity, as well as the excitement, that is New York history. Many of these primary sources are now in the Tamiment Library at NYU, while others are at the New-York Historical Society and such city agencies as the offices of the County Clerk and Register of New York County. The materials found there are basic to the lectures, discussions, and students’ papers in the class. There will also be a walking tour of lower Manhattan and visit to a number of institutions where archival materials are housed.
Leo Hershkowitz, Professor of History at Queens College, CUNY, has written widely on aspects of New York City history. His work has also included testimony before the U.S. Supreme Court (1997) and consultancy to the New York Attorney General, the County Clerk of New York County, and the Appellate Division of the State of New York, First Department. He has presented many papers at such diverse institutions as the Museum of the City of New York, Jewish Historical Society of England, American Jewish Historical Society, New York State Medical Society, and Columbia University. He received a Ph.D. degree in history from New York University and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion.
Updated on 05/28/2008