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.
(V50.0207; call # 73819)
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.
Language and Reality in Modern Science and Literature
(V50.0210; call # 73820)
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 Virginia Woolf, Borges, Kundera, Pirsig, and Pynchon, and from non-technical texts on quantum and chaos theory.
Friedrich Ulfers is Associate Professor of German. Winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence, 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 # 73821)
Instructor: John E. Sexton
Tuesday, 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 # 73822)
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.
First Amendment Freedom of Expression
(V50.0235; call # 73824)
Instructor: Stephen D. Solomon
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Conflicts over freedom of speech erupt into public debate almost every week. Congress passes a law to purge indecency from online communications. A judge issues an order shutting down a website that publishes secret documents. Reporters go to jail for refusing to reveal the identity of sources who provide critical information for a story of national importance. Although the First Amendment appears on its face to prohibit any governmental restrictions on speech, the Supreme Court in fact balances free and open expression against other vital interests of society. This course begins by examining the sharp disagreements over what freedom of speech and press meant in 1789, even as Madison drafted the amendment. Students will learn about the struggle against seditious libel (the crime of criticizing government or its officials) that was not won in this country until the landmark decision in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964. The course will look at freedom of speech through the prism of a rich variety of contemporary conflicts, including libel of public and private persons, political dissent that advocates overthrow of the government, prior restraints against publication, flag burning, restrictions on freedom of speech during wartime, and religious expression in the public schools.
Stephen D. Solomon is an Associate Professor of Journalism and the Associate Director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He teaches courses on First Amendment law in which he focuses on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. His most recent book, Ellery’s Protest, tells the story of one of the most controversial Supreme Court cases of the last century, Abington School District v. Schempp, in which the justices ruled that state-organized prayer and Bible reading in the public schools violated the First Amendment. Solomon is a recipient of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence. He earned a J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center.
What If?: The Art and Science of Imagined Social Worlds
(V50.0249; call # 75872)
Instructor: Robert Max Jackson
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
Imagining a future or past that never happened can help us push our understanding of social life beyond the boundaries of historical experience. What if we discover a drug that stops the aging process? What if fossil fuels had never been found? By writing stories around such puzzling questions, science fiction writers explore imaginary social worlds far outside social science’s normal study of the real world and real history. In this class, we use such imaginary constructions to help us understand social life and the meanings we attach to it. Each week we pose a “What if…?” question, read a classic work of science fiction in which that question looms large, write our own analyses of what we think possible, then discuss the merits of these alternative interpretations. This class aims to develop students’ analytical skills, to explore the scientific and philosophical foundations of social issues in a new way, and to offer a special window into the wonders of science fiction.
Robert Max Jackson, Professor of Sociology, studies the ways that social inequality changes over time, reflecting his enduring puzzlement with the trajectory that took him from his youth in the rural American Midwest to adulthood as a New York academic. His book, Destined for Equality: The Inevitable Rise of Women’s Status, analyzes the social causes of women’s rising status in American history, and his book, The Formation of Craft Labor Markets, shows how markets for skilled labor became organized in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During breaks from his scholarly work, he indulges his secret addiction to science fiction and mystery novels, occasionally thinking he should discover some way to portray this fascination as serious work.
School and Society: NYU in the Sixties and Seventies
(V50.0255; call # 73827)
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 Social Work 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.
Disease and History
(V50.0265; call #75617)
Instructor: Richard Hull
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
This seminar focuses on the historical dimensions of several major epidemics that profoundly affected human societies in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Students identify each epidemic and explore its causes, origins, means of transmission, efforts at containment, and impacts on societies, particularly on their cultural development. They examine representations of the epidemic in the arts, media, and literature of the period, as well as assess the effects of each disease on demographics, religions, economies, and lifestyles. To what extent did an epidemic, or plague, accelerate or retard fundamental changes in human relationships within societies and between them, and the ways people viewed themselves and their universe? Students read and discuss several core texts and write a short response paper on each. They also write a brief paper on a disease of their choice and discuss their findings in class.
Richard Hull is Professor of History. A specialist in African and European history, he is the author of numerous books, including African Cities and Towns, Modern Africa, and Munyakare: African Civilizations, as well as coauthor of the two-volume World Civilizations. He has received both the Great Teacher Award and two Golden Dozen Awards for Teaching Excellence.
The Politics of Knowledge
(V50.0277; call # 75618)
Instructor: Thomas Bender
Monday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
Knowledge is a form of power, and one can think of a politics of knowledge. 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? What is the political role of knowledge in the United States? 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 three 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; Intellect and Public Life: Essays on the Social History of Academic Intellectuals in the United States; and American Academic Culture in Transformation. Among his most recent books are Rethinking American History in a Global Age; The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea; and A Nation among Nations: America’s Place in World History. He also frequently contributes to newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Ethics, Pointillism, Epidemiology, and Epistemology: EPEE Dueling with Scientific Health Information
(V50.0278; call # 75644)
Instructor: Ralph V. Katz
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
The common citizen is well challenged—if not overly challenged—trying to deal with the flood of scientific health information as presented in the media. “Scientific” health findings of this week seem routinely to conflict with the “scientific” health findings of last week. As the movie theme song first asked so poignantly over three decades ago, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” This course explores that question as it relates to scientific health information as used both by individuals to make personal life decisions about health behaviors, and by society to protect its citizens via court decisions and governmental regulations. Concepts from the fields of ethics, art, and science are central to readings and discussions focused on how to make sense of it all. Beginning with the history and foundation concepts of bioethics and epidemiology, the course provides a framework for understanding this flood of scientific health information, i.e., what are the strengths and limitations (and misuses) of this free flow of scientific health findings in our democratic “instant, electronic news” world. Textbooks and videos cover background on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, polar bears, and rubbish. As the major course assignment, each student writes a newspaper-style “op-ed” article, backed up by an annotated bibliography.
Ralph V. Katz is Professor of Epidemiology and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion in the NYU College of Dentistry. He has been the 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.
The Representation of “the Other” in the Israeli-Palestinian Cinema and Beyond
(V50.0286; call # 75774)
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. World political cinema, fiction and documentary, engages similar practices. This pattern of representation will be examined in a series of contemporary films that will provide a window into some of the hottest world conflicts and into the genre of political cinema. Each class consists of a screening followed by a discussion concentrating on topics such as: a) the specific political conflict represented in each film, b) variations in the use of film language (form and content, sight and sound, montage, point of view) to achieve a subjective portrayal. Screenings include The Battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo; Divine Intervention, by Elia Suleiman; No End In Sight, by Charles Ferguson; Paradise Now, by Hany Abu-Assad; Close, Closed, Closure, by Ram Loevi; Syrian Bride, by Eran Riklis; Wedding in the Galilee, by Michel Khleifi; Fog of War, by Errol Morris; Hot House, by Shimon Dotan. This class is designed for anyone interested in filmmaking, film criticism, and contemporary politics and history.
Shimon Dotan, a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities at NYU, is an award-winning filmmaker with thirteen 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 and film studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel and at Concordia University in Montreal, and is a member of the Directors and Writers Guilds of America (DGA, WGA).
Communications and Human Values
(V50.0291; call # 75766)
Instructor: Richard D. Heffner
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
This seminar is an intellectual inquiry into the development of American public policy as it relates to mass communications. It is not a practicum, not a “how-to” course about film and television, nor about the media generally. The seminar’s purpose is to analyze how much of our sense of what it means to be an American early in the 21st century has been molded by the media—first print and now increasingly electronic—with particular reference to their socializing and value-legitimating content. To learn about and then deal appropriately and reasonably with such media power, students are asked first to identify their own respective approaches to the role of the state and its proper relationship to the individual through class discussion 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; of such films as Hearts and Minds, JFK, and Fahrenheit 9/11; and of the increasingly unfair and unbalanced rants and raves of America’s newer communications outlets. Finally, class emphasis is placed on analyzing and resolving 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?); the importance of journalistic “privilege”; and 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 over half a 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; Eighth Revised and Updated Edition, 2009) 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 (2003). 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 # 73834)
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 outside 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. Hobbes’s philosophy anticipates many modern developments, from binary logic to game theory, and it was a direct attack on the magical practices of the Roman Catholic Church that persecuted Galileo, so if these are logical developments of Galileo’s insights, perhaps the pope was right to be nervous. We begin by looking at Bertold Brecht’s comprehensive view of Galileo’s persecution, and end, after having tried to come to grips with the relevant issues in the history of science and philosophy, by formulating our own syntheses.
William Klein teaches the history of political discourse in NYU’s Liberal Studies Program. In the College of Arts and Science he has also taught in both the Morse Academic Plan and the Advanced Honors Seminar program. He specializes in early modern European legal and political thought and has been on the editorial review board of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. He has also published, under a pen name, several mysteries for young adults.
The Crusades and Their Legacy
(V50.0296; call # 73835)
Instructor: Jill N. Claster
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The Crusades, which began at the end of the 11th century, form one of the most important chapters in the history of the interactions among Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The Crusades began as religious wars to recover the holy places venerated by Christians in the city of Jerusalem. The unexpected result of the First Crusade was the conquest of lands in the Middle East known as the Latin Kingdom, or Outremer, the lands across the sea. For two hundred years, against all odds, the Crusaders managed to keep some of their newly won lands. They lost more of them with every passing decade, however, until at last the Muslims triumphed and the kingdom in the Middle East was lost to Western Christendom. This seminar covers the Crusades themselves, the background which made it possible for thousands of people for over two centuries to join the crusading movement, and the religious ardor which informed the Crusades. It also focuses on life in the Latin Kingdom in the Holy Land, particularly on the relations among the three great religious groups and how it came about that they all claim Jerusalem for their own. Most of all, the course addresses many issues that are crucial to an understanding of the world we live in: the nature of a Christian holy war and the nature of jihad; the question of whether the Crusades were the first manifestation of European imperialism in the Middle East; and the centuries-long legacy of the crusading era.
Jill N. Claster is Professor of History Emerita with a specialty in the Middle Ages; she has taught and studied the Crusader era extensively and is the author of a forthcoming book, Sacred Violence: The European Crusades to the
Middle East, 1096–1396 (2009). 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.
The Genomics Evolution and Revolution: Scientists, Discoveries, and Societal Impact
(V50.0304; call # 76644)
Instructor: Tamar Schlick
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
With the rapid advances in science and technology, the biological sciences occupy center stage, linking not only basic to applied research, and applied research to commercial success and economic growth, but also the biological sciences to the chemical, physical, mathematical, and computer sciences. The many concerted initiatives in genomics, in particular, such as sequencing various organisms, identifying genes in humans and analogues in other species, determining variations in human genes related to disease, and designing drugs for specific gene products, have immense ramifications on every aspect of our lives, from health to technology to law. Though progress appears to have been revolutionary in the past decade, such developments have evolved from foundations laid by many pioneers in the biochemical sciences and allied fields. This course, especially appropriate for nonscientists, explores through a series of books, plays, and other materials three aspects of these scientific developments: the rise of genetics and genomics, from Mendel’s genetics to Watson and Crick’s DNA double helix structure to the human genome and related projects; biomedical research today—challenges, dilemmas and research misconduct, including the political and academic environments for medical research; and new life forms and societal impact, such as in vitro technology and reproductive cloning. Reading requirements are essential for engaging discussions in class; student presentations on the reading are also important. The collective material from the arts and sciences exposes students to the complex web of scientific discovery, including the personal dimensions in research, the mixture of the serendipitous and systematic progress, and connections between the sciences and arts.
Tamar Schlick is Professor of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Computer Science. Her field of research is the modeling and simulation of biological macromolecules, including regulatory DNA/protein complexes related to chromatin folding DNA replication and repair, and RNA structure and function. Her graduate textbook entitled Molecular Modeling: An Interdisciplinary Guide (2002, 2006) is widely used. Among her honors are: APS and AAAS Fellow, Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award in Chemistry, Outstanding Woman in Science, Burroughs Wellcome Visiting Professor, John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, NYU Distinguished Recent Alumni, NSF Presidential Young Investigator, and Searle and Whitaker Scholars.
Latin America at the Start of the 21st Century: Coming of Age or Continuing Chaos?
(V50.0306; call # 73838)
Instructor: Jorge G. Castañeda
Monday, 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 is Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico from 1978 to 2004, 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. Among his many books published in the United States and elsewhere are Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left after the Cold War (1993), The Mexican Shock (1995), Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara (1997), Perpetuating Power: How Mexican Presidents Were Chosen (2000); Ex-Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants (2007); and Leftovers: Tales of the Two Latin American Lefts (2007).
Literary Theory and Its Applications
(V50.0355; call # 73848)
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. 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 completing a project on reading theory. From 1983 to 1989, he served as chair of the Department of English. He likes New York City, New York theater, and bicycling.
From Mind to Brain and Back Again
(V50.0357; call # 75650)
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 address these questions, looking at the issues both historically and in terms of modern discoveries. We 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. He is also a member of a rock band, The Amygdaloids, an all-NYU band that plays original music about mind and brain. They have two CDs: Heavy Mental and the newly released Brainstorm.
Country and City in Modern Chinese Literature and Film
(V50.0362; call # 73850)
Instructor: Jing Wang
Monday, 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 1990s (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 Art and Architecture of Papal Rome, 300–2000
(V50.0366; call # 73851)
Instructor: Guy Walton
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
The course considers the history of the city of Rome after the year 313 and some famous buildings, their settings, and works of art made for them. It looks first at surviving buildings of ancient Rome, then examines city planning, and the churches, palaces, villas, gardens, and urban ornaments (such as fountains) of Christian Rome. 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 recent papal building 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 religious communities and the secular nobility of Rome—those most often responsible for the commissioning of buildings and art—including several individuals and organizations responsible for the creation some of the greatest works of Western European art and architecture. The contributions to Rome by such figures as the first Christian emperor, Constantine, and many popes, such as Julius II, Sixtus V, and Urban VIII, are examined along with the works of great artists employed by the church and nobility such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Bernini, and Piranesi.
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 # 73852)
Instructor: Vincent Passaro
Tuesday, 3:30–6:00 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.
Vincent 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, and the 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.
Welcome to College: The Novel
(V50.0371; call # 75856)
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 F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise (about life at Princeton just before World War I) to Tom Wolfe’s recent bestseller I Am Charlotte Simmons (about the corruption of a brilliant and innocent country girl at a contemporary Ivy League 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 Teaching Excellence in 2005.
(V50.0373; call # 73856)
Instructor: Robin Nagle
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
This is an urban studies seminar with an unusual perspective. Using four organizing themes—Nature, History, Structure, and Sensation—we ask what it is about cities that makes them unique expressions of human social organization, but we look for answers in aspects of urban life that are generally unmarked or unacknowledged. For example, what ecological conditions constrain or benefit any particular city? How do those environmental influences shape a city’s history and development? Who does the labor to build and sustain an urban infrastructure? What can we learn about urban life from smells and other sensual impressions specific to a metropolis? What kinds of theories have been proposed over time to understand and interpret urban life, and how well do such theories fit for your own experiences of city living, especially in the context of urban dynamics that are sometimes hard to see? We read ethnographies of urban lifeways, engage New York City through our own ethnographic observations, and write regular papers discussing our findings and analyses. We also take fieldtrips; among possible excursions are a visit to a sewage treatment plant, food scavenging with Freegans, lessons in foraging edible wild plants with an urban botanist, a nighttime rat tour, and a look at the now-closed Fresh Kills landfill. By the end of the semester students will have acquired new ways of seeing a city and will have learned to recognize some of its more invisible elements at a glance.
Robin Nagle, director of the Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Arts and Science, has taught anthropology and urban studies at NYU for 15 years. She is anthropologist-in-residence for New York City’s Department of Sanitation. Her ethnography about the DSNY is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
The Doctor’s Dilemma: Being Both Correct and Right
(V50.0379; call # 73858)
Instructor: Michael Makover
Wednesday, 6:20–8:50 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 the 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, 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.
Our Legal System Today: How and Why We Got Here
(V50.0382; call # 73861)
Instructor: Sam Radin
Monday, 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, criminal law, property law governing home ownership, contract law for the sale of goods and services, and tort law to redress negligence. In addition, we will discuss issues relating to intellectual property—copyright, trademark and patent law—and their practical effect on writers, artists and businesses. 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, Esq., 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. His practice includes planning for authors and other artists. He serves as Vice Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, the leading repository for the papers of current and 20th-century British and American writers.
New York City: A Survey, 1609–1898
(V50.0383; call # 73862)
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. in history from New York University and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion.
(V50.0385; call # 73863)
Instructor: Dennis E. Shasha
Monday and Wednesday, 3:30–4:45 p.m.
Prerequisites: AP calculus, discrete mathematics, or some programming experience
Computational technology and methods lie at the core of modern science, commerce, entertainment, and, regrettably, war. There are very powerful ideas underlying the field that have roots in mathematics, linguistics, engineering, and even philosophy. Some of its greatest inventions were born in cafés or as responses to a puzzle. Some recent algorithmic methods come from studying ants and evolution. This course introduces computational thinking as it builds on logic, linguistics, heuristics, artificial intelligence, and biological computing. The learning style will combine straight lecture, interactive discussions of puzzles and games, and short computer programs (in the programming language Python). Students will make a few presentations during the semester about topics such as the solutions to computationally motivated puzzles, the relative power of linguistic descriptions, and their very own simulations of a Rogerian psychiatrist. The goal is for students to learn to think about computation from multiple perspectives and to synthesize those perspectives when faced with unsolved challenges.
Dennis E. Shasha is Professor of Computer Science. His fields of research include computational biology, technologically enhanced privacy, and pattern matching. On the way to becoming a computer scientist, he studied linguistics, engineering, and philosophy. For fun, he writes the puzzle column that appears on the Scientific American website.
Live from NYU: American Poetry Now
(V50.0388; call # 73866)
Instructor: Deborah Landau
Thursday, 4:30–7:00 pm
This course, both writing workshop and literature seminar, offers a lively introduction to the contemporary poetry scene. Students attend a series of poetry readings at Writers House, studying poems by each acclaimed contemporary poet in advance of that writer’s visit to NYU. After each reading, students have the opportunity to participate in an intimate Q & A with the visiting writer; some authors also visit the classroom to discuss the art and craft of poetry. In response, students create their own poems, taking risks and experimenting to discover their own distinctive style and voice. Fundamental aspects of craft are addressed in a supportive yet challenging classroom environment; exercises are suggested to help combat “writer’s block,” develop skills with language, and teach techniques for revision. Visiting poets vary each semester but past seasons have included Billy Collins, Mark Strand, Anne Carson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Galway Kinnell, Charles Simic, John Ashbery, Marie Ponsot, Mark Doty, and Sharon Olds.
Note: Students will be required to attend a number of poetry readings on Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Deborah Landau is the Director of NYU’s Creative Writing Program and author of Orchidelirium. Her poems, essays, and reviews have been widely published and anthologized, and for many years she co-directed the legendary KGB Monday Night Poetry Reading Series. She co-hosts the video interview program Open Book on Slate.com and has taught poetry at the New School, Antioch, Loyola Marymount, and Brown.
Living Off the Laughter: Comedy in America
(V50.0389; call # 73867)
Instructor: Eddy Friedfeld
Thursday, 6:20–8:50 p.m.
The history of comedy in 20th-century America is the history of America. Comedians have provided a funhouse mirror as well as a perceptive lens for American society and culture. Silent film comedians, for example, were instrumental in establishing the movie industry, while the physical nature of vaudeville’s humor reflected the linguistic diversity of its immigrant audience. An overview of American comedy, this seminar will be history with a laugh track, taking the significant periods and players of modern America and analyzing them against their historic context and their legacy, using their humor as the platform. We will examine how their comedy was shaped by and responded to American society, and how they in turn influenced and shaped American life. The great comedians and moments from film, radio, and TV to be studied in this seminar include Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 40s, the Golden Age of television, the sitcom, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Jerry Lewis. Clips and segments from classic TV and movies will enrich our discussion of the evolution of comedy, its place in history, and its similarities in time.
Eddy Friedfeld is a film and entertainment journalist and historian. He is the co-author of Caesar’s Hours with comedy legend Sid Caesar, and is working on a book on the history of comedy in America. He was the Senior Consultant for the PBS documentary Make ’Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, has written and lectured extensively on entertainment, and has produced and hosted tributes to Alan King, Robert Altman, and George Carlin, among others.
Comfort and Suffering
(V50.0393; call # 73871)
Instructor: Terry Fulmer
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
The purpose of this seminar is to explore the nature of comfort and suffering as a human experience. We will examine related readings through the lens of the health care system paradigm, and will use case studies to explore the wellness-illness continuum of human experiences. Students will become familiar with conceptual frameworks used by nurses, physicians, and social workers as they assist patients through the illness experience, which is continually balanced between comfort and suffering. Our discussions on the nature of comfort and suffering will focus on writings from the Bible, which will be contrasted with contemporary editorials and publications, in order to examine historical changes in the way individuals think about these important dimensions of the human experience. Scientific advances create heretofore unimaginable opportunities, choices, and dilemmas for all of us as we seek to discern how to cope with disease, human suffering, and the psychological consequences that are inevitable when illness and care needs create complexity in our lives. We will debate the notion of “self-care,” now very popular in the health care literature, and contrast it with the concept of “patient abandonment.”
Terry Fulmer is the Erline Perkins McGriff Professor and Dean of the College of Nursing at New York University. Her program of research focuses on acute care of the elderly and, specifically, elder abuse and neglect. She has served on the National Research Council’s panel to review risk and prevalence of elder abuse and neglect and has published widely on this topic. She has been on the NYU faculty since 1995, and loves working on interdisciplinary projects across the University.
Global Climate Change: Science, Policy, and NYU
(V50.0394; call # 76713)
Instructor: Olivier Pauluis
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with Al Gore, received the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” This award recognized the work of thousands of scientists over more than five decades to better understand of the impacts of human activities on the Earth’s climate. The study of global warming draws from many academic disciplines such as physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, economics, geology, anthropology, and political science. Through the course of this seminar, we examine the scientific foundations of climate change, and explore how researchers at a major university like NYU tackle some of the key issues related to global warming on a daily basis.
Olivier Pauluis is Professor of Atmosphere-Ocean Sciences at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Before joining NYU in 2004, he was a researcher at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, where he participated in the development of climate and weather forecasting models. His scientific research deals with fundamental issues in atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics, and in particular with the role of water vapor and clouds in the Earth’s climate.
Sexual Harassment and the Law
(V50.0396; call # 73874)
Instructor: Shelley D. Fischel
Monday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
We all know that the casting couch is no longer permissible. What about emailing explicit cartoons around the office? Or the campus? The law of sexual harassment is young: although the first few cases were in the late 1970s, sexual harassment did not gain real social or legal traction in discrimination law until the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991. The relative youth, narrow focus, and interesting fact patterns behind this law make it an exciting mechanism for exploring the way jurisprudence develops in the United States, from philosophical underpinnings through the impact of federal regulations and local and state laws. This course will examine the peculiar legislative history of the sex discrimination prohibitions of Title VII as well as judicial expansion into sexual orientation, vicarious liability, retaliation, and impositions of workplace policies and training. Students will also explore such “real world” concerns as workplace power dynamics, the consequences of employer investigations on employee privacy and attorney-client privilege, and settling cases. We will briefly examine Title IX and the quite different development of sexual harassment law in education. Finally, we will look at the policy implications of requiring censorship of speech in a context in which the excesses of speech can do real (and often intended) harm to the targets of such speech, both in the workplace and in educational institutions.
Shelley D. Fischel, Esq., is an Executive Vice President of Home Box Office, Inc. Her responsibilities include Human Resources, Facilities and Real Estate, and she serves as the company’s labor Counsel. She oversees all sexual harassment claims in the company. She received her J.D. from Columbia University and her L.L.M. from NYU.
Thirteen Masterworks of 20th-Century Classical Music
(V50.0397; call # 76116)
Instructor: Stanley Boorman
Monday and Wednesday, 2:00–3:15 p.m.
The last hundred years have seen radical changes in classical music, not only in the sound-world, but also in aesthetic and technique—ranging from the breakdown of tonality and the use of electronic and computer resources in performance to questions of the relationship of composer and performer, of the place of noise, and even of what music is or could be. This course presents outstanding works by a range of composers (among them Stravinsky, Carter, and Messiaen) both because of their importance, and as illustrations of ideas about music. Each composition will be explored for itself, and also as a stimulus to discussion about one or more of these issues. Each will be one that has stood the test of time, and been hailed as a major work—and those criteria will also need discussion. The course will involve considerable listening, alongside readings. It will require a willingness to reassess conventional views about music and to accept unconventional solutions.
Stanley Boorman is a Professor of Music. Originally trained as a pianist in England, he is a specialist in music of the Renaissance, with a strong enthusiasm for classical music since 1950. Much of his research has focused on the changing balance of responsibilities between composer, performer, and listener, as that balance has evolved over the last one thousand years. He was the recipient of a 2002 Guggenheim Fellowship and is the author of books and articles on the use of musical editions and manuscripts dating from the late Middle Ages through the early Baroque.
Alexis de Tocqueville
(V50.0398; call # 73876)
Instructor: Paul Berman
Monday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840. Those volumes have come to be widely regarded as a masterpiece twice over, the most incisive portrait of the American national character ever written, and a profound reflection on the meaning of democracy itself. Democracy in America is also a beautiful work of literature. This seminar will study Democracy in America in depth. It looks at some of Tocqueville’s writings on his own country, France. It also glances briefly at his predecessor and kinsman, René de Chateaubriand, who visited America in the 1790s. By reading and discussing Tocqueville and Chateaubriand, students sharpen their ability to think philosophically about democracy, America, France, and other themes. And the students increase their ability to recognize and appreciate the art of good writing.
Paul Berman is a Distinguished Writer in Residence, a Professor of Journalism, and a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. He is the author or editor of eight books, including A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968; Terror and Liberalism; and Power and the Idealists: Or, The Passion of Joschka Fischer and Its Aftermath. His most recent book is an edited anthology, Carl Sandburg: Selected Poems, published by the American Poets Project of the Library of America. He writes for the New York Times Book Review and a number of other magazines in the United States and elsewhere, including the New Republic, where he is a contributing editor, and Dissent, where he is a member of the editorial board. He has received fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim foundations, among other awards.
Word and Image
(V50.0399; call # 73877)
Instructor: Mark Podwal
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
This art survey will explore the interplay between the verbal and visual. With the invention of the printing press, pictures were characteristically regarded as less important than texts. Nowadays, there is much less distinction between the realms of the verbal and visual. In the 1970s, the op-ed page of the New York Times set editorial illustration in a new direction: a symbiosis of word and image. The “iconotext,” a genre in which neither image nor text is free from the other, includes one-panel cartoons, children’s picture books, comic books, and graphic novels such as Art Spiegleman’s Maus. Words are frequently featured in modern art from the Cubist collages of Picasso to the stenciled letters of Jasper Johns. Although it has been more common for words to inspire images, at times images have inspired words. E. B. White’s poem “I Paint What I See” parodies the controversy over Diego Rivera’s mural in Rockefeller Center. Readings will include All the Art That’s Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn’t): Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Page, by Jerelle Kraus; The Painted Word, by Tom Wolfe; and Leonardo and a Memory of His Childhood, by Sigmund Freud. Relevant gallery and museum visits will be assigned.
Mark Podwal, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine, pursues a parallel career as an artist. For 37 years, his drawings have appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times. He is the author and illustrator of numerous books as well as the illustrator of books by Elie Wiesel and Harold Bloom. His art is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Library of Congress. He has received awards from the Society of Illustrators and the Society of Newspaper Design, and the French government named him an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His documentary film House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague was broadcast this year on PBS.
The Meanings of Photography
(V50.0400; call # 76882)
Instructor: Ulrich Baer
Monday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
We live in an illustrated world, and photographs have come to determine political, personal, and even the most private of decisions. Who is guilty and who is exonerated? Who gets elected and who loses the vote? Whom do you like, will get to know, or want to be with? Whom you remember and whom will you forget depends on how someone or something has been presented in a photograph. To navigate this maze of images takes special skills. Nowhere more powerfully than in photographs the lines between reality and fiction, truth and lie have been blurred. There is great danger in this development and immense potential to free ourselves from existing constraints, too. This interdisciplinary seminar explores how photographic images create meaning, and how they help us make the worlds we live in. Particular attention will be paid to the way photography marks the often invisible difference between someone’s private world and the world at large. We will read major theoretical texts on photography, watch films where photographs play a decisive role, and look at a wide range of photographs from the inception of the medium to the current moment to test theories of photography against the medium’s uncanny and unrivaled power to evoke the real. Be prepared to look closely and to think hard. Readings include texts by Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Vladimir Rodchenko, André Bazin, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Geoffrey Batchen, Alan Sekula, Vilém Flusser, and Mario Vargas Llosa, and images by a plethora of artists, professionals, and amateurs from around the globe.
Ulrich Baer, Vice Provost for Globalization and Multicultural Affairs and Professor of Comparative Literature and German, was awarded the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence in 1998 and 2004. He is the author of Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan and Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma, editor of the literary anthology 110 Stories: New York Writes after September 11, and editor and translator of The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke. He has published widely on photography, and co-taught a seminar entitled “Archive, Image, Text” with Professor Shelley Rice in spring 2008, cross-listed in four departments and two schools.
The Health of New Yorkers, from Colonial Times to the Present
(V50.0402; call # 76873)
Instructor: Mariano Jose Rey
Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30–4:45 p.m.
This seminar explores, in a broad historical approach, the health of New Yorkers over nearly four hundred years, from the time of the original Dutch colony to the present. It considers responses to epidemics and other health crises, the impact of immigration and other economic and social changes, the effects of racism and sexism, and the role of folk remedies and alternative medicine. It also examines the development of formal health care infrastructures, such as medical schools and physician training programs, the NYC Health Department, and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation. Readings include contemporary documents from the different centuries. The class will visit the Emergency Room of Bellevue Hospital, the Office of the NYC Chief Medical Examiner, the Museum of the City of New York, and several historical places in New York City. The class will meet at the medical school.
Mariano Jose Rey, M.D., is the Senior Associate Dean of Community Health and the recent former Dean of Students at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a specialist in cardiology and cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology. He is also currently the Director of the federally funded NYU Institute of Community Health and Research. The Institute houses the Center for the Study of Asian American Health, the Center for Latino Health, and the Center for the Health of the African Diaspora. The Centers are engaged in research on the causes of health disparities and health inequities and in the search for solutions. He has published numerous articles in a variety of journals on academic medicine, cardiology and cardiovascular diseases, and public health.
America’s Role in International Affairs since World War II
(V50.0405; call # 73883)
Instructor: James B. Sitrick
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
This seminar will explore America’s role in international affairs since World War II, interweaving into the conversation current foreign policy issues that are challenging America. To provide historical perspective, the class first reads George F. Kennan’s classic book American Diplomacy, 1900–1950. Subsequent topics include the creation of the UN during the late 1940s and some of its more recent activities, including possible reform; the activities of the CIA beginning in the 1950s; the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962; American involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s; America’s long involvement in the Middle East, including its 60-year support for the State of Israel and the alleged influence of the “Israel Lobby” on U.S. foreign policy; the current U.S. relationship with Iran, and how the U.S. may have inflamed the insurgency in Iraq; the imperial presidency (comparing Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s celebrated 1973 book on the subject with the actions of the Bush 43 administration); and the foreign policy challenges of the Obama administration.
James B. Sitrick, Esq., serves as Of Counsel to the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie, which has offices in 70 cities in 40 countries. Previously he served as Chairman and CEO of Coudert Brothers, during which time that firm opened the first private law office in Moscow, in addition to offices in Sydney, Shanghai, Bangkok, Jakarta, Los Angeles, and San Jose. His government and NGO service includes extensive work for the Department of the Treasury in drafting legislation and negotiating treaties. He has also served as Secretary General of the World Federation of United Nations Associations. In addition, he serves as a Trustee of many American and European cultural institutions, as well as on the Arts and Science Board of Overseers at NYU.
Literature, Love Poetry, and Lamentations in Ancient Egypt
(V50.0407, call # 73885)
Instructor: Ellen F. Morris
Friday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
In this seminar, students read a wide variety of ancient Egyptian texts, including fairy tales, myths, poems, prophecies, lamentations, battle narratives, satiric compositions, thinly veiled political propaganda, autobiographies, and romances. These texts are read in conjunction with a number of articles that discuss the cultural context of a work and, in some cases, offer very different interpretations of it. We look at the texts from an emic (internal, culture-specific) point of view in order to determine how they illuminate different aspects of ancient Egyptian society, such as gender relations, class, ethnicity, ethics, religious belief and practice, economy, politics, and education. We consider both official ideology and subversive reactions to it. We also analyze the texts from a more universal, etic perspective, asking questions about authorship, audience, and intention, as well as about literary conventions, genres, and archetypes. Students present on individual works in class, prepare two-page weekly reaction papers, and produce a well-researched final term paper on a subject relating to Egyptian literature that they find of particular interest.
Ellen F. Morris is the Academic Director of New York University’s spring semester abroad program Archaeology and History in Egypt. Previously she taught courses in Egyptology at Columbia University, and she has also been a fellow in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A specialist in Egyptian archaeology, she has excavated at Abydos and Mendes and is starting a survey project in Dakhleh Oasis. Her research interests include Egyptian state formation, settlement archaeology, and imperialism. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, she is the author of The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom (2005). Her second book, Ancient Egyptian Imperialism, which analyzes episodes of Egyptian imperialism from an anthropological perspective, will be published in 2010.
The Politics of Human Rights
(V50.0408; call # 75775)
Instructor: George W. Downs
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
This seminar provides a broad introduction to the study of human rights from the perspective of political economy. As such, it will focus primarily on identifying the political, economic, and social causes of various human rights problems and how this knowledge can be used to design more effective institutional strategies to address them. Philosophical and legal issues associated with the nature and definition of human rights will be discussed in passing, but the primary emphasis will be on social science issues. Some of the topics that will be examined include (1) the history of the first modern human rights movement: the antislavery campaign in 18th-century England that culminated in the elimination of the slave trade in the British Empire; (2) the nature and incidence of various contemporary human rights problems and the political, sociological, economic, and geographic variables believed to be responsible for their emergence and severity; (3) the evolution of the current international human rights regime; and (4) the likely effectiveness of existing and recently proposed solutions to particular human rights problems.
George W. Downs is Professor of Politics and the former Dean for Social Sciences at NYU. His areas of specialization are international institutions and international cooperation, and his current research focuses on the impact of failed states on neighboring states and on the geopolitical consequences of an increasingly fragmented international regulatory regime. His books include The Search for Government Efficiency; Tacit Bargaining, Arms Races, and Arms Control; Collective Security after the Cold War; and Optimal Imperfection?: Domestic Uncertainty and Institutions in International Relations.
The Shape of New York: The Greatest Grid
(V50.0409; call # 75874)
Instructor: Hilary Ballon
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
NYU lives at a crucial juncture in the city, where the irregular pattern of lower Manhattan streets gives way to the imposing order of a rigorous grid. Designed in 1811 to govern growth as it moved up Manhattan Island, New York’s grid is the first great public works in the city’s history and a landmark in city planning. Not only did the grid erase the island’s original topography, as straight streets were inscribed in the land, but it also shaped New York’s urban form, from row houses to skyscrapers and Central Park. The seminar examines why the grid was established, how it was built over the course of the 19th century, and its influence on social life, real estate, housing, architecture, and nature in the city, to the present day. We also discuss the idea of the grid, conflicting interpretations of its meaning and uses, as well as its critics. Comparisons with alternative approaches to city planning, such as Washington, D.C., and other types of grids, from ancient Rome to Philadelphia to Abu Dhabi, put New York in a broader context. Frequent field trips turn students into keen observers of the urban fabric.
Hilary Ballon, Deputy Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi, is a University Professor and an architectural and urban historian at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Her scholarship focuses on cities and the intersection of architecture, politics, and social life; her recent work has focused on urbanism in New York City, with a book and exhibitions on Robert Moses’s transformation of the city.
Ezra Pound: An Introduction
(V50.0410; call # 75855)
Instructor: Richard Sieburth
Tuesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
American literature’s modernist revolution is inconceivable without the catalyzing presence of Ezra Pound. Always in the vortex of poetic change—as the promoter of Eliot, Joyce, Lewis, Williams, and the American Objectivists—he followed his own injunction to “make it new,” opening fresh formal paths while exploring ancient literary traditions. Like some Odyssean space-time traveler, Pound moved between Confucian China, Homeric Greece, the Middle Ages of Dante and the Troubadours, the America of Adams and Jefferson, the London of Henry James, the Paris of the Dadaists, and the Italy of Mussolini. To read his work is therefore to experience a continuous displacement—a continuous translation—between these various languages and worlds. In this introductory seminar we will read selections from Pound’s poetry and prose, while also exploring his affiliations with the arts of painting, sculpture, music, and cinema.
Richard Sieburth, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, has edited Pound’s Poems and Translations for the Library of America and Pound’s Pisan Cantos, Walking Tour in Southern France, Spirit of Romance, and Selected Poems for New Directions. His many translations include works by Friedrich Hölderlin, Walter Benjamin, Gershom Sholem, Maurice Scève, Gérard de Nerval, and Henri Michaux.
(V50.0411; call # 75645)
Instructor: Maureen N. McLane
Tuesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Poetry: dead or alive? And if alive, in what forms? An intriguingly elastic category, “poetry” encompasses everything from oral tradition (e.g., the ballad) to literary forms (e.g., sonnet, villanelle, ode) to experimental media (e.g., e-poetry). In this seminar we convene as intensive readers, writers on, writers of, and (for those interested) performers of poetry. This is a hybrid class, a “poetry lab” combining critical and creative work. Students have the chance to “make” various works, inspired (or repelled) by the poetry and criticism we read. Among the questions we explore: how exactly is “poetry” defined and experienced? What constitutes a “tradition”? A poet’s “voice”? A “form”? How and when do differing medial realizations—oral performance, writing, printing, digitizing—transform our senses of poetry? Our reading (and occasional listening) will be weighted toward contemporary English-language poetry but may well include some examples of British romantic poetry, 19th-century American poetry, and poetry in translation. Students will also be invited to explore the vast riches of poetry-making and auditing in New York City, from the Bowery Poetry Club to NYU’s own Lillian Vernon House.
Maureen N. McLane, Associate Professor of English, is a poet, critic, and teacher. She is the author of Same Life: Poems (2008); a poetry chapbook, This Carrying Life (2005); and two works of literary criticism: Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (2008) and Romanticism and the Human Sciences (2000). She also co-edited The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry (2008). She is a contributing editor at Boston Review, and her articles on poetry, contemporary fiction, and sexuality have appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and American Poet, among others. In 2003 she won the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Award for Excellence in Book Reviewing. She has taught at Harvard, the University of Chicago, MIT, and the East Harlem Poetry Project.
Jews of Western Europe
(V50.0412; call # 75646)
Instructor: Marion Kaplan
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
This course analyzes the history of Jews in Western Europe, focusing on three major sites of Jewish integration: France, Germany and Italy. It begins by examining how Jews worked for and achieved citizenship, relatively quickly in France with the French Revolution, in the mid-nineteenth century in Italy, and a decade later in Germany. As acculturated, established, and integrated citizens, Jews felt patriotism and loyalty to their nations during World War I. When the Nazis came to power, Jews experienced shock and dismay as they faced repression from Nazi Germany—and later from its allies, Italy, and Vichy France. Still, Jewish experiences differed, depending on the country in which they lived and its relationship to Germany during World War II. Reading both scholarly studies and first-hand Jewish accounts, students explore each country’s attitudes towards Jews, legislation against Jews, and the ultimate deportation of Jews. Once the Nazis had lost the war, some Jews came out of hiding, while others returned to their homelands. Many survivors began to reconstruct their lives and their communities in Western Europe. The class asks why and how did they live among non-Jews who had (for the most part) persecuted them? And what did Judaism and the Jewish community look like in postwar Western Europe?
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, 1904–1938 (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 (2005) and Dominican Haven: The Jewish Refugee Settlement in Sosúa, 1940–1945 (2008).
Is Karl Marx Still Relevant?
(V50.0413; call # 75647)
Instructor: Jeff Goodwin
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
The current crisis of capitalism has raised anew the question of the relevance of the ideas of Karl Marx. A close, critical engagement with the writings of Marx was once considered an intellectual and political rite of passage—whether one ultimately accepted or rejected Marx’s ideas, in whole or in part. No serious intellectual or political activist could not read Marx. Is this still true? Are Marx’s ideas, or some of them, still relevant in the 21st century? Which of his ideas remain important or valuable for people who wish to understand—and perhaps to change—the contemporary world? Which of Marx’s ideas are problematic or passé? To address these questions, students in this course will critically examine some of Marx’s most important writings, including The Communist Manifesto, The German Ideology, The Civil War in France, and—above all—Capital, Marx’s magnum opus. In assessing the relevance of Marx’s ideas, we will also examine several efforts by Marx’s followers to understand the state, imperialism, the capitalist economy, and the current economic crisis, including works by Lenin and the so-called Monthly Review school of Marxism.
Jeff Goodwin is Professor of Sociology. His has written extensively about social movements, revolutions, and terrorism. His books include The Social Movements Reader, Rethinking Social Movements, Passionate Politics, and No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945–1991. He is currently writing a book about why some political groups employ terrorism as a strategy.
Shakespeare’s Adaptations of His Sources
(V50.0414; call # 75648)
Instructor: Daniel Javitch
Tuesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
This seminar aims to enrich our understanding of Shakespeare’s process of dramatic composition by considering how he adapted the known sources of several of his plays. It consists of a close study of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Richard II, The Winter’s Tale, and Othello, and of their primary sources. While the writings Shakespeare adapted (e.g., Holinshed’s Chronicles, Lodge’s Pandosto, Giraldi Cinthio’s The Moor of Venice) are considered for their own merits, what, we ask, happens to a chronicle, a romance, or a novella when it is reshaped into a dramatic work? Does dramatic form allow meanings to be expressed that cannot be so readily articulated into other genres? Can Shakespeare’s adaptation of his sources allow us to understand his authorial intentions? Other questions that recur: How has our understanding of the nature of a source been modified by the broader concept of intertextuality, and how does such a concept allow us to recognize that other texts than the acknowledged sources also had effects on Shakespeare’s plays? What aspects of Shakespeare’s dramatic art are not illuminated by considering his treatment of sources?
Daniel Javitch is Professor of Comparative Literature. His field of expertise is Italian, English, and French literature of the early modern period, and he also teaches courses on poetic theory before 1700, epic poetry from Homer to Milton, and the history of fiction before the novel. His publications include Poetry and Courtliness in Renaissance England; Proclaiming a Classic: The Canonization of “Orlando Furioso”; and numerous articles on 16th-century poetry and poetics. This seminar reflects his long-standing interest in the techniques of imitation and rewriting practiced by early modern poets.
Three Epic Moments: The Aeneid, Paradise Lost, Moby Dick
(V50.0415; call # 75875)
Instructor: Ernest B. Gilman
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Beginning with Homer, the epic has figured in the West not only as the most ambitious literary work an author could attempt but also as one that defines the culture that produces it. Thus Rome finds in Virgil a writer who creates the foundational story of the Empire, celebrating its mythic origins and its present grandeur, but not without a critical awareness of its darker side. Just as epic heroes do battle, so in Paradise Lost Milton’s ambition will be to outgo Virgil in writing the definitive epic from a “higher” Christian vantage point. The echoes of both writers, classical and biblical, reverberate in Moby Dick, our own national epic and a book arguably still unsurpassed as the “great American novel.” Melville’s Captain Ahab is the descendant of the Virgilian seafarer and, in his demonic greatness and ferocious desire, of Milton’s Satan. Our epic journey takes us from the Roman Empire to the nascent American empire of the mid-19th century, a course leading to a greater understanding of our own time.
Ernest B. Gilman, Professor of English, has taught at NYU since 1981. His fields of interest include Renaissance English literature, literature and the visual arts, and the cultural history of medicine and disease. He is the author of four books, most recently Plague Writing in Early Modern England (2009). He has held Guggenheim and American Council of Learned Societies fellowships and has been a winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
Vertigo, Rupture, Revolution: Russia and the Experience of Modernity
(V50.0416; call # 75858)
Instructor: Michael Kunichika
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This course explores the experience of modernity as exemplified in the literature and art of Russia. At times embraced and at others reviled, modernization—as well as related processes such as secularization, industrialization, and technological change—possesses a particularly ambivalent status in Russian cultural history. Beginning with Peter the Great’s decision to modernize Russia in the early 18th century, Russian thinkers and writers have long negotiated between an anxiety of belatedness and a wariness towards efforts to modernize Russia. This course will consider Russia as a case study in the thrills and agonies of modernization, focusing on works by such writers as Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and Andrei Platonov, as well as films by avant-garde filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov. We will consider such topics as the significance of the city of St. Petersburg, once called “the most abstract and intentional city in the world”; utopian dreams and dystopian nightmares; revolution and reaction; and nostalgia. Primary texts will be accompanied by secondary readings, which will introduce students to the cultural contexts in which a given work was written and to various methodological approaches employed in the study of literature and culture.
Michael Kunichika is an Assistant Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies. While completing his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley, he taught at Amherst College. He came to NYU in fall 2008. He is working on a book on the creation of an indigenous antiquity during the Russian modernist period.
History of Medicine and Dentistry
(V50.0417; call # 75772)
Instructor: Andrew I. Spielman
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
“Ad qui consilium futuri ex praetorito venit.” We gain advice for the future from the past, said Seneca in 69 A.D. Understanding the history of major medical and dental discoveries leads to a better appreciation of what we have today. This seminar deals with important topics in the history of medicine and dentistry, with an emphasis on the last 500 years. Topics include: the origins of “an eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth”; the real DaVinci Code; three weasels, a coat-of-arms, and the rise of anatomy; how the dark secret of the Sun King changed surgeons forever; how laughing gas is no laughing matter in medicine; and the stories of Jenner, Pasteur and Koch, and other giants in the field of medicine. Additionally, the course explores the history of the modern dental and medical professions as well as the history of NYU College of Dentistry. Assignments include a short, in-class context presentation and an essay on the status of the dental profession during a period selected by the student from the years 1850 to 1950.
Andrew I. Spielman is Professor of Basic Sciences at NYU College of Dentistry and was recently honored with the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and former chair of the Department of Basic Sciences and Craniofacial Biology at the dental school. In addition to a dental degree, he has a certificate in Maxillofacial Surgery and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. For over two decades, his research interests focused on the molecular mechanisms of bitter and sour taste. During the past decade his research and educational interests have also included the history of dentistry and medicine. He is currently working on the history of the NYU College of Dentistry.
Disease in American History
(V50.0418; call # 75876)
Instructor: David Oshinsky
Monday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
This seminar will explore the immense historical importance of disease, from the first contact between Europeans and Native Americans to the modern-day crisis of AIDS. We will explore the social impact of disease at critical points in American history, such as westward expansion, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and the rising tides of immigration. We will study the great epidemics that devastated our nation, as well as the scientific breakthroughs in vaccines and antibiotics that tamed the scourges of smallpox, polio, and pneumonia, among other deadly diseases. Readings will include major studies of disease and primary documents.
David Oshinsky holds the Jack S. Blanton Chair in History at the University of Texas and is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University. His books include A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy, which won the Hardeman Prize for the best book about the U.S. Congress and was a New York Times “notable book of the year”; Worse Than Slavery, which won the Robert Kennedy Book Award for its “distinguished contribution to human rights” and was also a New York Times “notable book of the year”; and Polio: An American Story, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2006. His reviews and essays appear regularly in the New York Times and other national publications. In 2009, PBS’s The American Century aired the documentary "The Polio Crusade" based on Polio: An American Story. In 2010, PBS will air a documentary on the McCarthy era based on A Conspiracy So Immense.
Darwin and The Origin of Species
(V50.0419; call # 75857)
Instructor: Michael D. Purugganan
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The publication of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859 was one of the seminal scientific events in science. His ideas, as outlined in this work, forever changed our worldview about the nature of evolutionary change and the relatedness of all organisms, including humans. Over the last 150 years, evolutionary biology has made dramatic progress, but many of the ideas that Darwin first proposed in Origin as well as other works continue to resonate today in science and society. In this seminar, 200 years after Darwin’s birth and 150 years after the publication of Origin, we explore evolutionary science, reading both his classical works and modern papers on the subject. The readings will cover everything from speciation to assembling the Tree of Life, from human evolution to social evolution, and include the impacts of evolutionary concepts on contemporary thinking outside of biology. Part of this seminar may also involve visits to the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Botanical Garden.
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.
Barcelona: Images of a Modern (Mediterranean) Metropolis
(V50.0420; call # 75877)
Instructor: Jordana Mendelson
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Some of Spain’s most famous artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and architects came from, or made their home in, Barcelona, including Antoni Gaudí, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Pau Casals, and Salvador Dalí. The city has hosted ambitious international exhibitions (1888 and 1992), the Olympics (1992), and the Forum (2004), all of which impacted Barcelona in countless ways. With its rich urban history and its reputation as a creative crossroads, Barcelona has become a model, modern metropolis. Restaurants, bars, museums, concert halls, shopping centers, and hotels have all made the city a designated tourist attraction known for its contemporary design. In this seminar, our aim is to understand the historical context for the city’s “boom.” Beginning with the emergence of a Catalan national movement, in politics and literature, we also look at the role of artists and poets in the development of a Barcelona-centered Catalan identity. Class trips and visiting lectures enhance our discussions of selected texts from novels, essays, and the popular press, in addition to films (fiction and documentary), performance, and the visual arts. Our readings are in English, though knowledge of Spanish or Catalan is helpful.
Jordana Mendalson is Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her research on early 20th-century visual culture in Spain has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is the author of Documenting Spain: Artists, Exhibition Culture, and the Modern Nation 1929–1939 (2005) and co-author of Margaret Michaelis: Fotografía, Vanguardia y Política en la Barcelona de la República (1999). She has curated numerous exhibitions, including “Revistas y Guerra 1936–1939/Magazines and War 1936–1939” (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2007) and “Other Weapons: Photography and Print Culture during the Spanish Civil War” (New York: International Center of Photography, 2007), for which she produced the accompanying web site http://www.revistasyguerra.com.
Digital Technologies and Education
(V50.0421; call # 75773)
Instructor: Caroline Persell
Monday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
Many technological innovations have been touted as transformative for education, but only a few warrant such a description. Education has experienced one technological hype after another, from film strips to computer-aided instruction, but most would agree they have not transformed education. Are emerging digital technologies different? Digital technologies include ways of capturing and sharing content such as text, images, numbers, video, and audio, as well as new “Web 2.0” technologies such as social networking sites that permit interaction, iterative searches, sharing, and collaboration. Are they now transforming or might they transform education in the future? If so, how? For example, how might the movement toward open source content and tools affect education? What are the implications of participative publication (e.g., Wikipedia, blogs) for the creation and validation of knowledge? The seminar will consider theoretical and historical analyses of the relations between technologies and society by briefly examining printing and the invention of the telephone, before reading contemporary studies and critics of technology and education. Besides common readings, each student will conduct a research study on some aspect of digital technology and education.
Caroline Persell is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Sociology. Her current areas of research include the relationship between race/ethnicity and educational achievement, funded by the National Science Foundation. In addition, she is developing a website of interactive data and resources for teaching Introduction to Sociology, also NSF-funded. She is a former Vice President of the American Sociological Association, past President of the Eastern Sociological Society, the recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Development Award, recipient of several teaching awards at NYU (including the Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence) and nationally, and the winner of several national awards for her research. She has published many 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 multiple editions of several leading textbooks, including Understanding Society: An Introduction to Sociology.
Branding: People, Places, Things
(V50.0422; call # 76065)
Instructor: Richard L. Lewis
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
As thinking people, we want to believe that we are resistant to branding and its most obvious tool, advertising. Yet both penetrate: occasionally honestly, sometimes deviously, often entertainingly. How do they do it, even when our guards are up? Why do we revere Apple but revile Halliburton? Hug Disney but keep our distance from Exxon? Admire the Red Cross but resent Blue Cross? Brands use a variety of rational and emotional tools to connect with us, and companies often don’t really know what works, or how; sometimes, they are just lucky. Brands also have a darker side, according to some social commentators, and may lead to mass consumer hypnosis. This course analyzes what makes brands tick, how they’re created, and how time, technology, distribution, competitors, and consumers force them to change. We examine how branding has impacted politics and politicians, taking a short look back at the creation of “Obama Nation” and a long look back to 1968, when many of today’s tools were developed. We then cross the moat to our own lives, asking ourselves: how are we perceived? How do we create, change, and live up to our own reputations; that is, our own “brands”?
Richard L. Lewis is an independent marketing doctor who solves business, branding, and strategic problems for companies, professionals, and individuals. He was the longtime worldwide managing director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, leading the ABSOLUT vodka account, responsible for marketing, strategy, and creative. He has written two bestselling books about advertising, and has taught at Yale College.
Climate Science Laboratory
(V50.0423; call # 76414)
Instructor: David M. Holland
Friday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to instrumentation used in collecting basic data of the earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and cryosphere. Most of the fundamental knowledge of the earth’s global environment has been obtained from observations taken over the last few decades, using a wide variety of observational techniques, ranging from in situ observations at the sea floor to remote sensing satellites at high altitudes in the atmosphere. In this seminar, students are introduced to basic meteorological instrumentation using a hands-on approach with equipment on a rooftop, and basic oceanographic instrumentation deployed in the nearby Hudson estuary. To help understand the data collected and the underlying theoretical principles governing the behavior of the atmosphere, oceans, and cryosphere, the students will operate a laboratory turntable which serves as a scale-model of the real earth. Experiments will be performed that remarkably demonstrate natural phenomenon such as the Jet Stream in the atmosphere and the Gulf Stream in the ocean, all on a laboratory turntable.
Note: Space in this seminar is extremely limited and an application is required. To obtain an application, please stop by the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Silver Center, Room 908.
David M. Holland is Professor of Mathematics and Atmosphere-Ocean Science in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University, and Director of the Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science (CAOS). His principal research area is the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets, where he carries out observational and theoretical studies. He has published more than fifty peer-reviewed articles on climate science.
What Is Life?
(V50.0424; call # 76604)
Instructor: Laura Franklin-Hall
Friday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
It seems that living things—such as people, penguins, algae, and bacteria—differ from rocks, metal, and other inanimate matter in some fundamental way. But in what exactly does this difference consist? Are living things animated by souls that non-living things lack? Or do living things possess some life-bestowing metabolic property? In this course we probe both contemporary and historical answers to the question “What is life?” through an examination of the work of philosophers, psychologists, biologists, and writers of fiction. After considering the views of historical thinkers such as Aristotle, Descartes, and Bergson, we investigate examinations of the boundary between the living and the non-living. We consider how life first evolved on Earth from inanimate matter, and learn about the search for life on other planets. What assumptions about the nature of life guide such searches? How different from terrestrial life might alien life be? Next, we discuss scientific attempts to manufacture artificial life, both in the past and in our own time by synthetic biologists, engineers, and computer scientists. Finally, while reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, among other works, we reflect on how life—and artificial life in particular—has been portrayed in literature and art.
Laura Franklin-Hall, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, trained both as a biologist and as a philosopher. Her research and teaching interests include the nature of scientific explanation and scientific modeling; the structure of evolutionary theory and the evolutionary tree of life; and the relationship between evolution and our ethical commitments. She has published articles on the functioning of the hippocampus, on the nature of microbial species, and on the “scientific method.” She is currently investigating modeling and explanatory practices in developmental biology.
Current Controversies in Public Health
(V50.0425; call # 76769)
Instructor: Hila Richardson
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
This class explores current controversies in public health. How can (or should) we reconcile public health goals of preventing disease and prolonging life with competing social values and political influences? How do we balance community good, public authority, personal freedoms, and privacy concerns? The course focuses on a wide variety of public health measures, including mandated child immunization, environmental standards, the medical use of marijuana, seatbelt and helmet laws, condom distribution, needle exchanges, restaurant and food inspection, smoking bans, and mandated health insurance. The class challenges the student to think into the realm of consequences and political reality. What is the main goal of the public health measure? Is the goal socially valued and politically feasible? Which groups gain and lose from achieving the goal? Does the public health end justify the means? Assignments stress discovering the evidence and the arguments behind the controversy and viewing them through the lens of key public health concepts and today’s political and social environment.
Hila Richardson is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at NYU’s College of Nursing at the College of Dentistry. Her leadership roles in public health include serving on the Executive Board of the American Public Health Association, as President of the Public Health Association of New York City, and as a member of the Hermann Biggs Honorary Public Health Society. She was a public health nurse in both rural and urban health departments and has taught public health nursing at two universities. She has been on the faculty at NYU since 1997 and serves on the Faculty Governance Committee for its Global Public Health program.
Tolerance and Relativism
(V50.0426; call # 76715)
Instructor: Matthew Silverstein
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00–3:15 p.m.
Most of us agree that we should be tolerant of the beliefs and practices of others. Often the call for tolerance is grounded in some form of relativism—that is, in the thought that there simply isn’t an absolute or objective fact of the matter. After all, on what basis could we insist that others share our beliefs if those beliefs are subjective in some way, a reflection of our upbringing, our religion, our social norms, our culture, or our own peculiar tastes and concerns? But what reasons do we have to accept some such form of relativism? Can relativism actually ground our commitment to tolerance? If not, then how else can we justify that commitment? We will explore these questions as they arise in a number of different philosophical and religious (including Islamic and Buddhist) traditions. Readings will be drawn from both classical and contemporary sources and will include the work of anthropologists, literary and political theorists, philosophers, and theologians.
Matthew Silverstein is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at NYU Abu Dhabi. He specializes in ethics, and his research focuses on the question of whether we can locate the foundations of ethics by studying the nature of action. He is also interested in the history of ethics, as well as the history of philosophy more broadly. Before joining NYUAD, he was a Robert E. Keiter Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Amherst College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2008.
Guitar Heroes (and Heroines): Music, Video Games, and the Nature of Human Cognition
(V50.0427; call # 76785)
Instructor: Gary Marcus
Wednesday, 6:20–8:50 p.m.
A look at music and video games from the perspective of cognitive and evolutionary psychology. Among the questions we consider: Why are human beings so passionate about music and so easily sucked in by video games? Is our love of music the product of natural selection? Can science tell us anything about what works in music and what doesn’t? What is the relationship between music and language? Is there a “universal grammar” for music? Will machines ever be able to create satisfying works of music? The primary focus is on the psychology of music, with video games serving as counterpoint. Readings are drawn from a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, linguistics, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. Written assignments include weekly reaction papers and a final paper proposing a novel experiment.
Gary Marcus, Professor of Psychology and Director of the NYU Center for Child Language, is a cognitive scientist interested in the origins and nature of human mental life. His books include The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexity of Human Thought; The Norton Psychology Reader; and Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind.
When There Were Two Europes: Islam & Christendom, 711–1529
(V50.0428; call # 76944)
Instructor: David Levering Lewis
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
At the beginning of the 8th century, Muslim Arabs conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula, bringing a revolution in power, religion, culture, and wealth to Dark Ages Europe that flourished for seven centuries. This seminar explores the economic, political, and cultural asymmetries of this long symbiosis in which “Europe” was divided at the Pyrenees into a Muslim and a Christian sphere. Muslim Spain was religiously tolerant, culturally rich, and economically robust. Carolingian and post-Carolingian Europe was economically retarded and culturally impoverished. By the beginning of the 12th century, a Christian reconquest, fueled by military power and religious zealotry, overwhelmed the Muslim caliphate and successor city-states of Andalusia. Nevertheless, for a century after the historically pivotal fall of Muslim Toledo in 1085, an Indian summer of interfaith collaboration of Christian, Muslim, and Jew persisted (the so-called convivencia), despite the Crusades and intensifying Muslim and Catholic fanaticism in Iberia. Toledo served as an intellectual conveyor belt that transmitted most of what Paris, Cologne, Florence, and Rome knew of Aristotle and Plato, Euclid and Galen, the “Hindu” numbers and the astronomical and navigational science underpinning the European Age of Discovery. The history of symbiosis terminates at the close of the 15th century after the convivencia is chased into oblivion by Muslim and Christian holy warriors engaged in conflicts of mutual extinction. Seminarians will make sense of all this in a series of research essays as the seminar concludes with Suleiman the Magnificent’s aborted 1529 siege of Vienna.
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. His most recent book is God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570–1215 (2008).