The College is one of the most diverse communities anywhere–an exciting, sophisticated center in one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Our mission is to prepare students to be thought leaders and successful global citizens. We do this by creating unique academic opportunities for student and faculty engagement that emphasize research and scholarly communication. Part of the College’s Honors Program, the Advanced Honors Seminars place students in small classes with distinguished faculty to study topics that have the potential to change how we think and how we work. As such, they are ideal gateways for the intellectually stimulating discussions we aim to foster. They challenge students and faculty to engage intensively within and beyond their fields of study, and they inspire intellectual responsibility towards the scholarly community and the wider world.
In spring 2005, the College of Arts and Science launched the Advanced Honors Seminar program, which extends the basic principles behind the Freshman Honors Seminars to upper-level courses (open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors). Distinguished professors 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, teach these small classes. In many instances, the seminars are cross-listed with departments and students may count the classes toward their majors or minors; in some cases, the classes will count only as electives.
Advanced Honors Seminars have three central goals: to create close mentoring relationships between exceptional faculty and students; to challenge students intellectually through honors-level work in critical thinking, writing, and conversing; and to strengthen students’ interest in and aptitude for conducting independent research (e.g. a DURF grant or a Senior Honors Thesis). They are designed to foster scholarly insight and debate and to nurture the intellectual passions of students and faculty alike. We encourage you to try one this year!
G. Gabrielle Starr
Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and Science
Director of College Honors Programs
The NYU Mediation Lab: Museum and Gaming Edition
Instructor: Clifford Siskin
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
MIT has its famous Media Lab (media.mit.edu) for “envisioning the impact of emerging technologies.” Here at NYU we use the term more inclusive “mediation”— our shorthand for the work done by everything that intervenes, enables, or is simply in-between—to invite students from EVERY discipline of FAS to participate in the making of new knowledge. For this fifth edition of the Lab, we’ll reach out from the university to two of the most exciting arenas for creating new ways of knowing today: museums and games. After 250 years of arranging and displaying objects, museums are reinventing themselves into interactive sites for thinking through those objects. Gamification—applying gaming strategies and design to the real world—has become a major strategy for this effort to make knowledge and objects come alive. Bring what you’ve learned from your majors, and your passions for museums and/or games, to the Lab. We’ll work together to learn about these efforts—and to design and produce our own. As part of switching from passive classroom mode to active collaboration with each other, we will also collaborate with New York City—home for an astonishing array of museums and resources (academic and commercial) for gaming. Cross-listed with English as ENGL-UA 252.001.
Clifford Siskin is the Henry W. and Alfred A. Berg Professor of English and American Literature and the Director of The Re:Enlightenment Project. His subject is the interrelations of literary, social, and technological change. Links between past and present inform all of his work, from his sequencing of the genres of subjectivity (The Historicity of Romantic Discourse) to his recovery of literature’s role in the formation of the modern disciplines (The Work of Writing). He is also co-editor, with William Warner, of This Is Enlightenment, and a forthcoming monograph that asks when and how the central genre of Enlightenment became the thing that we now love to blame: the SYSTEM.
What is Memory?
Instructor: Martha Rust
Monday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
The questions “What is memory?” and “What is forgetting?” have intrigued thinkers for millennia. Thanks to the written records that serve as our cultural memory, we know that memory has been a topic of inquiry at least since those records began. Today’s philosophers, psychologists, and literary scholars are continuing to hone the concept of the self as it was understood by John Locke, David Hume, and Ralph Waldo Emerson among others, as a dynamic tension between memory and consciousness. Together this work pursues such questions as how is memory embodied? How and why do we forget? What is the connection between memory and the self—and with language and story-telling—and with moral and ethical reasoning? What events are best forgotten and how do we go about forgetting them? The proliferation of memorials of war and conflict today has led some cultural critics to wonder if so much remembering gums up the salve of forgetting so necessary for the healing process of forgiving. The course is structured around six units: Life Memories, The Idea of Memory, The Science of Memory, The Art of Memory, Cultural Memory, and Forgetting. Readings represent the full spectrum of western thinking about memory, from Plato to the Pew Research Center’s report on memory and the internet. It is hoped that in addition to learning a great deal about memory and forgetting as academic topics, students come away from the course having gained new insights into the workings of their own memories and having developed a personal practice of memory that serves their growth as individuals long after their memories of the course itself have dimmed. Cross-listed with English as ENGL-UA 252.002 and with the Silver School of Social Work as UNDSW-US 79.001.
Martha Dana Rust is Associate Professor of English at NYU. She is the author of Imaginary Worlds in Medieval Books: Exploring the Manuscript Matrix and, most recently, “The Architecture of the Infinite Library: Teaching Intertextuality and Bibliography with The Name of the Rose,” in Postscript to the Middle Ages: Teaching Medieval Studies Through Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. She is currently at work on a book project, “Item: Lists and the Poetics of Reckoning in Late-Medieval England,” which concerns, among other things, the medieval arts of memory.
Making Art in the Anthropocene: A Creative Research Project on Ecology, Species, and Vibrant Matter
Instructor: Una Chaudhuri and Fritz Ertl
Tuesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m.
“Either stop writing, or write like a rat!” In one of the most provocative texts in contemporary animal philosophy, the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari famously propose “becoming animal” as a liberating artistic practice. This workshop-cum-seminar will engage with key themes in recent “post-humanist” discourse by applying and testing them in our own creative practice. We will read recent theories of species, ecology, and matter (by writers like Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, Elizabeth Grosz, Jane Bennett, and Timothy Morton) and we will study a variety of literary, cinematic and visual art works that seem to resonate with key themes of that discourse (works like Wallace Shawn’s Grasses of a Thousand Colors, Cesar Aira’s An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, Marina Zurkow’s “Slurb,” Marian Engel’s Bear, and Robinson Devor’s Zoo). Our seminar-style investigations of these texts and artworks will regularly be applied in workshop sessions where we will use space, objects, movement, sound, imagery, and writing to explore the aesthetic implications of these theoretical ideas. A main interest of this course is to experiment with “creative research,” a way of doing intellectual work in which art-making is regarded as—and systematically used as—a mode of knowledge and inquiry, and in which ideas are developed by doing and making as well as by thinking/writing/speaking. Prior artistic training/practice is welcomed but not required; however, all students must be willing to and interested in exploring their "inner artist." Cross-listed with Animal Studies as ANST-UA 393.001; with English as ENGL-UA 252.003; with Environmental Studies as ENVST-UA 593.001; with Dramatic Literature as DRLIT-UA 971.001; and with the Department of Drama in the Tisch School of the Arts as THEA-UT 801.004.
Una Chaudhuri, Collegiate Professor and Professor of English, of Drama, and of Environmental Studies, has served as Chair of both the Department of English in the Faculty of Arts and Science and of the Department of Drama at the Tisch School of the Arts. She is the author of No Man’s Stage: A Semiotic Study of Jean Genet’s Plays and Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama, editor of Rachel’s Brain and Other Storms: The Performance Scripts of Rachel Rosenthal, and co-editor, with Elinor Fuchs, of the critical anthology Land/Scape/Theater. Her current work explores the intersections of performance studies and the emerging field of animal studies, on which she just guest-edited a special issue of TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies. She has won both the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence and the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Fritz Ertl is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Drama in the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. He has produced or directed world premieres of plays by Steven Drukman, Erik Ehn, and Paula Vogel, and has worked at theatres such as Berkshire Theatre Festival, BACA Downtown, HERE, and Incubator Arts Project. He has directed plays at NYU such as PENTECOST, by David Edgar; THE PAINS OF YOUTH, by Ferdinand Brukner; and MAD FOREST, by Caryl Churchill. In recent years, he has been working on a series of new plays exploring the catastrophic consequences of globalization: YOUTH IN ASIA: A TECHNO FANTASIA (aka the resistance project); FOXHOLLOW (aka the animal project); THERE WAS AND THERE WASN‘T: AN OLD IRAQI FOLK TALE (aka the queeraq project); and CARLA AND LEWIS (aka the ecocide project). He has been teaching at NYU since 1990, and is the former Managing Director of the Drama Department at Tisch. In 2005-06 he was the program director of the Tisch Acting Conservatory in Dublin. Currently he is the head of acting at Playwrights Horizon Theater School and a member of the adjunct faculty at the Meisner Studio.
Seeing the City
Instructor: Richard Sennett
Wednesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
This seminar explores how the buildings, streets, and public spaces of a city relate to its economic, social, and political life. The seminar thus bridges visual studies and the social sciences. The seminar is pro-active. In addition to classroom readings and discussions, you will work in small teams to photograph and film particular conditions in the city. Your term project will take you into one of the Marron Institute's urban design projects. The course aims to sensitize you to the urban environment, as well as introduce you to the skills urbanists use in their work. Cross-listed with Sociology as SOC-UA 940.001 and with Social and Cultural Analysis as SCA-UA 721.004.
Richard Sennett is a Professor of Sociology at NYU and at the London School of Economics, where he is also chair of The Cities Programme. He has executed design projects for New York City, Berlin, Beirut, and other cities and also headed UNESCO's Committee on Cities and World Heritage. Professor Sennett's work explores how individuals and groups make social and cultural sense of material facts (their urban environments, what they do for a living, etc.). His research entails ethnography, history, and social theory, continuing the pragmatist tradition pioneered by William James and John Dewey. His first books, The Uses of Disorder and The Hidden Injuries of Class, examined the formation of personal and working-class identity in the modern city and society. Since the 1990s he has charted the personal consequences for workers of the work-world of modern capitalism in such studies as The Corrosion of Character, Respect in a World of Inequality, and The Culture of the New Capitalism. Professor Sennett Richard is assisted in the seminar by Dom Bagnato, a film maker and researcher at the Marron Institute.
East/West? Politics of Cultural Representation and the Middle East
Instructor: Asli Igsiz
Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Scholars have argued that since the “fall” of Byzantine Constantinople to the Ottomans in the fifteenth century, Western European intellectuals started framing cultural difference in terms of the “East” and the “West.” Renaissance humanists, for example, resorted to ancient and medieval texts to create a religiously and culturally defined “other”—the “Ottoman Turks.” Their writings then spread around Europe and generated conceptualizations of what the West “ought to be,” as different from the East.
This course will examine a wide variety of cultural representations pertaining to the modern Middle East that have contributed to the configuration of "East/West" divides, such as: the World Exhibitions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; novels; discourses and institutions of humanitarianism; and the contemporary human rights regime. We will thus explore politics of cultural representation over the last two centuries and how they lend themselves to problematic interpretations of the East/West in general, and the Middle East in particular. Sources to be examined include historical pamphlets, old newspapers, film, travel accounts, and fictional works by authors such as Hanif Kureishi, Tayeb Salih, or Orhan Pamuk. Cross-listed with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies as MEIS-UA 727.001.
Aslı Iğsız is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU. Her teaching and research interests, informed by anthropology, literary studies, and cultural history, address a wide variety of issues related to cultural representation and cultural history such as narratives of war and displacement and dynamics of heterogeneity in late Ottoman and contemporary Turkish contexts. Her recent publications examined contemporary issues such as the Gezi Park protests, multiculturalism and museumization of culture in Turkey. She is currently working on her book project entitled Humanism in Ruins: Politics of Memory and the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange in Contemporary Turkey. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the book explores cultural memory and representation and politics of “multiculturalism” in post-1980 military coup era Turkey, with a special focus on Greco-Turkish shared heritage and the culture of “minority.”
The New Documentary Film in Brazil
Instructor: Marta Peixoto
Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
How does documentary film represent reality? Is it a transparent window? Or is it a more complex form that may include elements of staging and fiction? In Brazil (as elsewhere) the last twenty years have seen a surge in documentary filmmaking and critical thinking about this kind of film. The increased production of documentary film is part of the Retomada or Renewal of Brazilian cinema of all kinds since the 1990s, made possible by favorable government policies. This course, CONDUCTED IN ENGLISH, will examine a selection of these Brazilian films from the 1990s to the present (with brief retrospectives to earlier films) and explore issues such as: the uses of fact and fiction and the multiple ways in which documentary film may go beyond offering realistic versions of preexisting realities; the scope of its political impact; ethical concerns about the respectful use of other people's images and words; and the construction of layered and complex images of Brazil. Cross-listed with Portuguese as PORT-UA 706.001 and with Dramatic Literature as DRLIT-UA 851.001.
Marta Peixoto is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese. Her studies focus on Brazilian literature and culture, and she has written books and essays on the major 20th-century writers Machado de Assis, João Cabral de Melo Neto and Clarice Lispector, as well as on other novelists and poets. Her work draws on gender theory and more recently on theories of affect. She has also published essays on Brazilian cinema, focusing on representations of urban crises, on the blurring of distinctions between documentary and fiction, and on lyric aspects of recent documentary films.