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
Mettapatterns from Quarks to Culture
AHSEM-UA 154 (class # 18798)
Instructor: Tyler Volk
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This class will allow you to develop projects along areas of interest that could aid your career as well as expand your mind. The instructor will introduce the concept of metapatterns: structural/functional patterns in systems, which occur across the levels of the universe, as it built in a series of steps of “combogenesis” from quarks to culture (about 12 main levels), including the emergence of atoms, simplest cells, animal societies, agriculture, the geopolitical state). Examining these steps, we will explore themes such as binaries, borders, emergence, and alphabet-like systems. You will apply these and more (such as systems theory, networks, positive and negative feedbacks) to topics that interest you, from many aspects of environmental issues to, say, physical laws, language, music, biological evolution, cultural evolution, politics, philosophy, or the overall nature of reality (your imagination is the only limit). For a flavor of the material, see the instructor’s book Metapatterns Across Space, Time, and Mind or the instructor’s papers about metapatterns available from this website (http://metapatterns.wikidot.com/members:tylervolk), or the instructor’s 3 YouTube videos on metapatterns (search “professortylevolk” and “metapatterns”). Cross-listed with Environmental Studies as ENVST-UA 254.001. This course will count towards the major in Environmental Studies.
Tyler Volk is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies and a recipient of the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He is the author of Metapatterns across Space, Time, and Mind and of papers that point to common functional principles at different scales. Several relevant papers can be accessed at http://metapatterns.wikidot.com/members:tylervolk. Volk conducts research on the global carbon cycle and Earth’s future and has written books on death-and-life as a scale-transcending pattern and on the integrated systems of our biosphere. He plays lead guitar for The Amygdaloids (http://www.amygdaloids.com).
Love and Hate: Natural, Human and “Divine”
AHSEM-UA 169 (class # 21033)
Instructor: William Klein
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
If there are many types of love, ranging from the romantic to the familial to the civic, there are just as many, if not more, types of hatred, and so violence. People who love someone, something or some activity, sometimes find that they have been drawn into a room with a little door on a far wall—remaining firmly shut if they are lucky or careful—that leads to a dark and often violent inversion of what drew them in the first place.
The ancient Greeks called the dark matter of love stasis, and they knew all too well the contours of the violence that could erupt where it ruled. Shakespeare, under their influence, illuminated for us many of the rooms in the house of love. But it fell to his contemporary, Thomas Hobbes, to recommend building on new principles altogether, requiring of political subjects only the lowest form of self-love—a kind of safe retreat from the most basic forms of rivalry. To some recent theorists, Hobbes’ now-dominant mode of imagining our common space rests on a basic indifference to—and certainly not love of—the higher forms of life. They blame it for the more horrific, systemic forms of violence over which the modern state has presided. Far from showing us the way out of civic violence, the liberal social contract, they argue, has instead taught us how to hate with indifference. We may agree that this is true, while still wishing for a more comprehensive explanation not rooted in mere political theory—or we may disagree altogether.
Readings draw from Thucydides, Sophocles, Plutarch, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Marx, Max Scheler, Freud, Schmitt, Bataille, Foucault, Girard, Agamben, Zizek. Background readings draw from the ancient philosophy and theology of love; exploring love of truth, friends, money, honor, country, family and virtue, along with erotic love; comparison of eastern and western ascetic ideals as modes of redirecting love; violence in animal communities; and hate speech.
William Klein studied the history of political theory under J.G.A. Pocock at Johns Hopkins and, as a Fulbright Scholar, under Quentin Skinner at Cambridge. He specializes in legal and political theory, and has served on the editorial review board of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. At NYU, he teaches the history of ideas in Liberal Studies, and has taught in the Freshman Honors Seminar program since 2003. He is currently writing a study of the history and theory of sedition and has also published works of fiction and art criticism.
Understanding Modern War Culture
AHSEM-UA 205 (class # 19483)
Instructor: Patrick Deer
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
What impact has war had on literature and culture? How have writers, intellectuals and citizens struggled to find a voice during wartime in the face of censorship, propaganda, trauma and the technologies of violence? What does it mean to live in a culture of war? Focusing in particular on questions of gender, imperialism and resistance, this course explores these questions in a range of British, American and postcolonial novels, poems, memoirs, military writings, theoretical texts, films and popular culture from the 20th and 21st century.
Beginning with some foundational representations of war cultures by Homer, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, we will chart the transformations and mutations of modern war culture from the eras of colonial warfare, total warfare during the First World War and the “People’s War” of World War Two, to more recent conflicts like the apocalyptic imaginary of the Cold War; the Vietnam war; guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency; and the mythology of “high tech warfare” in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Readings may be drawn from the work of: Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Ernst Junger, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bowen, Tim O’Brien and Michael Ondaatje. We will also examine recent war fiction by writers like Anthony Swofford, Lea Carpenter, Kevin Powers, Brian Turner, Ben Fountain, Siobhan Fallon, Phil Klay, Matt Gallagher, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, Sinan Antoon and Riverbend. Films may include: The Battle of the Somme, Listen to Britain, Dr. Strangelove, The Battle of Algiers, Apocalypse Now, Come and See, The Thin Red Line, Three Kings, Generation Kill, Restrepo, and American Sniper. The course will also include visits by several war writers, veterans and activists. Cross-listed with English as ENGL-UA 252.004.
Patrick Deer is Associate Professor of English. He is the author of Culture in Camouflage: War, Empire and Modern British Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009; paperback, forthcoming winter 2015), and has published widely on war culture and war literature, modernism, poetry and the novel, music and film. He is currently working on two book projects about twentieth and twenty-first century transatlantic literature and culture: Surge and Silence: Understanding America’s Cultures of War; and Deep England: Forging British Culture After Empire. He guest edited special issues of Social Text on The Ends of War (ST 91, Summer 2007) and co-edited Punk and Its Afterlives (ST 113, Fall 2013). He is co-organizer of NYU’s Cultures of War and the Post-War research collaborative, which aims to create dialogue between academics, veterans, the military, activists, and creative artists to contribute to debates about war culture and public policy in today’s challenging global climate.
Barcelona: Modern (Mediterranean) Metropolis
AHSEM-UA 227 (class # 19292)
Instructor: Jordana Mendelson
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.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 worlds fairs (1888 and 1929), 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. 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. Cross-listed with Spanish as SPAN-UA 591.001.
Jordana Mendelson 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.
Lorca's Lives and Afterlives
AHSEM-UA 228 (class # 20901)
Instructor: James Fernández
Wednesday, 3:30–6:10 p.m.
In this course we will explore the lives and works of the great Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca (1898-1936). We will also study how Lorca, who was assassinated by fascists forces shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, has been invoked, appropriated and re-invented in a number of contexts and moments, right up to the present. Particular emphasis will be given to the place of Lorca in contemporary debates in Spain regarding historical memory. Cross-listed with Spanish as SPAN-UA 952.001.
James D. Fernández is Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. His research interests include the literature, history, and culture of modern Spain; autobiography; cultural relations between Spain and Latin America; and visions of Spain in the United States. He served as the Director of NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center from 1995 to 2007 and as Chairperson of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese from 2003 to 2007. He is the Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. He is the author of Apology to Apostrophe: Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Self-Representation in Spain and co-editor of the essay collection Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War.
Love and How to Understand It
AHSEM-UA 230 (class # 21071)
Instructor: Mitchell Stephens
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
This course studies both what may be the most powerful and mysterious of human behaviors and mental states, romantic love, and how various disciplines and art forms have tried to grapple with it. It considers romantic love in a variety of forms and deals with works from a variety of cultures and historical periods. Readings are selected from philosophy, psychology, anthropology, science, and journalism, as well as literature; students also examine films, songs, and paintings. They are asked to complete experiments of their own on this topic using some of these kinds of analyses or forms of expression. The course encourages students to think more deeply not only about love itself but about the strengths and weaknesses of different intellectual and artistic methods, and therefore the potential and the limitations of different academic disciplines.
Mitchell Stephens is Professor of Journalism. His book Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World was recently published by Palgrave. He is also the author of, among other books, the rise of the image the fall of the word and A History of News. His articles on media issues, philosophy, anthropology, physics, and other subjects have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. His current book project is on the future of journalism.
The Planet's Last Frontiers
AHSEM-UA 232 (class # 21565)
Instructor: Jessica F. Green
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00–3:15 p.m.
There are more than 7 billion people on the planet. And yet, there are still places where people rarely tread: the high seas, the deep seabed and Antarctica do not belong to any nation. How do we, as a global community, protect these areas? What international laws are in place and are they working? This class will examine the law, policy and environmental challenges surrounding the planet's last frontiers. Cross-listed with Environmental Studies as ENVST-UA 455.001.
Jessica F. Green is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU. She is the author of Rethinking Private Authority: Agents and Entrepreneurs in Global Environmental Governance(Princeton University Press, 2014), which has received awards from the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association for the best book in environmental politics and policy, as well as the Levine Prize for its contribution to public policy and administration. She has published in journals including International Organization, Global Environmental Politics, and Governance, and contributes to the Monkey Cage, a political science blog published by the Washington Post.