Advanced Honors Seminars
January Term 2017
AHSEM-UA 238 Cognitive Neuroscience of Music – Amy Belfi
Spring Term 2017
AHSEM-UA 154 Metapatterns of Nature, Mind, and Culture – Tyler Volk
AHSEM-UA 227 Barcelona: Images of a Modern (Mediterranean) Metropolis – Jordana Mendelson
AHSEM-UA 233 The Global Space Age – Alexander Geppert
AHSEM-UA 234 Writing Women: Transatlantic Feminist Theory – Laura Hughes
AHSEM-UA 235 History and the Novel – Susie Linfield
AHSEM-UA 240 The Persian Gulf and the U.S. from Aramco to NYU-Abu Dhabi – Arang Keshavarzian
AHSEM-UA 241 Cheating Death: The Art and Craft of Portraiture – Colin Eisler
AHSEM-UA 242 Race and Ethnicity in the United States: The Asian, Black, and Irish Experiences – Barry McCarron
AHSEM-UA 243 Reclaiming the Narrative: Contemporary West African Writers Unleash Their Africa upon the World – Frankie EdozienAHSEM-UA 244 Latin American Women and their testimonies of Political Participation – Pamela Calla
Cognitive Neuroscience of Music
AHSEM-UA 238 (class # 1208)
Instructor: Amy Belfi
Monday through Friday, 12:30–3:10 p.m.
Music is a ubiquitous aspect of the human experience and we look at how music engages a wide range of cognitive processes, including perception, memory, language, and emotion. In addition, we explore whether musical training influences brain function, how musical creativity is represented in the brain, and the potential therapeutic uses of music for patients with neurological disorders. Students read and discuss primary research that uses a variety of methods in cognitive neuroscience. This course is open to both scientists with an interest in music and musicians with an interest in science – cross talk between these two disciplines is essential for progress in the field. Cross-listed with the Department of Music as MUSIC-UA 901.001.
Amy Belfi holds a BA in Psychology from St. Olaf College and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa. Her research is broadly situated in the field of cognitive neuroscience and specifically focuses on the neural systems underlying the experience of music. She uses a variety of techniques to explore how listeners are affected by music, including functional neuroimaging, psychophysiology, and neuropsychological studies of patient populations. While primarily focusing on music, Amy also studies how we experience other art forms such as paintings and poetry.
Metapatterns of Nature, Mind, and Culture
AHSEM-UA 154 (class # 9603)
Instructor: Tyler Volk
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Metapatterns are functional patterns or principles common among a variety of “things,” and very important in both biology and culture. We start with the fact that systems that evolve – whether biological, cognitive, or cultural – are produced from an iterative sequence of propagation, variation, and selection. Therefore, the things that result are patterns shaped by interaction and must “work.” In considering the general principles for the creation of patterns, including those of physics and chemistry, you will learn and apply metapatterns as general tools for analyzing systems. Metapatterns include binaries, borders, layers, alphabet-like systems, arrows in time, and breaks and cycles in time. Your exploration and findings about these and other wide-ranging, logical principles (such as systems theory, networks, positive and negative feedbacks) can include topics that interest you, such as the nature of physical laws, patterns of life from physical trees to evolutionary trees, animal societies, language, music, symbols, architecture, mental phenomena (i.e., the time-patterns of thoughts), politics, philosophy, and a wide spectrum of environmental issues. For a sense 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; for example, Volk and Bloom (2007)), or the instructor’s trio of YouTube videos on metapatterns (search “professortylevolk” and “metapatterns”). Cross-listed with Environmental Studies as ENVST-UA 254.001 and can 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. His forthcoming book for Columbia University Press is Quarks to Culture: How We Came to Be (2017).
Barcelona: Images of a Modern (Mediterranean) Metropolis
AHSEM-UA 227 (class # 9761)
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 ambitious international exhibitions (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. 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. Cross-listed with the Department of Spanish as SPAN-UA 952.001.
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 and co-author of Margaret Michaelis: Fotografía, Vanguardia y Política en la Barcelona de la República. 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.
The Global Space Age
AHSEM-UA 233 (class # 19062)
Instructor: Alexander Geppert
Thursday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
Over the course of the twentieth century the infinite void that surrounds planet Earth has stimulated the human imagination as never before. For several decades, anticipation of human spaceflight was intimately bound with futuristic visions of technoscientific progress, while space exploration became key to societal self-images. This course charts the rise and fall of the Age of Space from a global perspective. Individual sessions will be devoted to the ‘rocket fad’ of the Weimar Republic, Nazi ‘wonder weapons,’ the so-called Sputnik shock and the American moon landings, as well as providing an introduction to the historical origins of techno-nationalism, from the Cold War to today’s Space Race in Asia. Cross-listed with European and Mediterranean Studies as EURO-UA 983.001.
Alexander C.T. Geppert holds a joint appointment as Associate Professor at NYU New York and NYU Shanghai. A historian of 19th- and 20th-century Western Europe, his work focuses on the nexus of spatiality, knowledge and transcendence in varying configurations, including outer space, miracles, world's fairs and the theory of historiography. He received master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University (1995) and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (1997), and a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence (2004). From 2010 to 2016 he directed the Emmy Noether Research Group "The Future in the Stars: European Astroculture and Extraterrestrial Life in the Twentieth Century" at Freie Universität Berlin.
Writing Women: Transatlantic Feminist Theory
AHSEM-UA 234 (class # 19162)
Instructor: Laura Hughes
Monday, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Why has French feminist theory been so influential over the second half of the 20th century? How has it affected literature, art, cinema, and politics? How has it been in dialogue with other critical discourses? How does it respond to or critique philosophical traditions? What is its place in institutions such as universities? We explore major themes and issues of feminist theory including the body, being, becoming, time, space, intersectionality, and performance, through theoretical analysis and close reading of classic and less familiar texts and their application to novels and films, paying particular attention to the analysis of genre and gender in the writing of theoretical texts that are hard to classify. Cross-listed with the Department of Comparative Literature as COLIT-UA 141.002 and with the Department of French as FREN-UA 886.001.
Laura Hughes is a Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow who has also taught in the Department of French at NYU. Her current work focuses on contemporary French autobiography, archive theory, and collaborative writing.
History and the Novel
AHSEM-UA 235 (class # 19163)
Instructor: Susie Linfield
Wednesday, 3:30-6:15 p.m.
What sorts of insights into history can they provide? How much imaginative leeway should the author of a historic novel be allowed – and how closely should she stick to "true" events? In this course we'll read a wide range of novels--looking at them both as literature and as keys to history – on topics that include slavery in the U.S., the Holocaust, post-apartheid South Africa, McCarthyism, the 9/11 terror attacks, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Arab Spring. One of our major aims will be to analyze each mode of inquiry (fiction, history, journalism), and discover the ways in which they synthesize – and, sometimes, conflict – with each other as we attempt to discover the truth of these complex and painful events. Cross-listed with the Department of History as HIST-UA 282.001 and with the Department of Journalism as JOUR-UA 504.001.
Susie Linfield is Associate Professor at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and writes about the intersection of culture and politics for a wide array of publications. Recent essays have addressed Syrian torture photographs (the New York Times), war photography (Aperture and The Nation), the Zionist Left in Israel (the Boston Review), and an anti-Vietnam War classic (Bookforum). Her book The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. Prior to NYU, she was the editor in chief of American Film, the deputy editor of the Village Voice, and the arts editor of the Washington Post; she also spent six years as a critic for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. She serves on the editorial boards of Dissent and Photography and Culture, and is a member of the New York Institute of the Humanities. She received her BA from Oberlin College, where she studied American history, and her MA in journalism from NYU (minor: documentary film). From its founding in 1995 until 2014, she was instrumental in building NYU’s Cultural Reporting and Criticism Program, first as Associate Director and then as Director.
The Persian Gulf and the U.S. from Aramco to NYU-Abu Dhabi
AHSEM-UA 240 (class # 19848)
Instructor: Arang Keshavarzian
Thursday, 2:00-4:45 p.m.
This seminar investigates the political, economic, and cultural engagements between the U.S. and the Persian Gulf region in the 20th century. We explore the multiple factors and movements that have made the region critical to U.S. political power and how U.S. socio-cultural forms and political economic agendas have shaped the region. In the process, students will critically examine such concepts as cosmopolitanism, globalization, imperialism, and the nation-state. Students will develop their research, writing, and oral presentation skills though a semester-long project. Cross-listed with the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies as MEIS-UA 751.001.
Arang Keshavarzian is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. His areas of research focus on comparative politics of the Middle East with a focus on issues related to political economy, transnationalism, and contentious politics in authoritarian contexts. He has written essays for journals such as Politics and Society, International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Economy and Society and is the author of the book Bazaar and State in Iran: The Politics of the Tehran Marketplace.
Cheating Death: The Art and Craft of Portraiture
AHSEM-UA 241.001 (class # 22037)
Instructor: Colin Eisler
Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.
This seminar will consider the special role played by portraiture in culture. Historically, the pursuit of likeness was art's major mission over the millennia, declared by a renaissance philosopher to triumph over death. By its preservation of feature, how, why, where and when might this be true? What are its uses and abuses?
Portrayal plays special roles in special contexts: on Mochica pottery, Etruscan sarcophagi, or Egyptian funerary likenesses. Likeness, whether on Selfies, photographs, or screens raises the question of how do we see ourselves? How do we want/need to be seen by others? How do all arts and fashions contribute to such visual stitches in time? Simply put, portraiture is no more and no less than ourselves, whether writ large or "as we were." Cross-listed with the Department of Art History as ARTH-UA 982.001.
Colin Eisler is the Robert Lehman Professor of Fine Arts at New York University. He received his PhD from Harvard University. His areas of research include anthropology, archaeology, art and photography. He is the author of several books and is the recipient of numerous honors.
Race and Ethnicity in the United States: The Asian, Black, and Irish Experiences
AHSEM-UA 242 (class # 22038)
Instructor: Barry McCarron
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
This course examines the history of race and ethnicity in the United States with a particular focus on the experiences of Asians, Blacks, and Irish since the nineteenth century. Students will analyze how race and ethnicity have been socially constructed and defined, how these definitions have changed over time, and how they have influenced various ethnic/racial groups and American history. Utilizing a comparative framework of analysis and drawing on an array of primary and secondary sources, this course looks at similarities and differences between the experiences of Asians, Blacks, Irish and others, explores the nature of their interethnic and interracial relations, and examines how race and ethnicity have intersected with other social categories and issues such as class, gender, immigration, citizenship, religion, and politics. Major themes include migration, cross-cultural contact, foreign policy, community and identity formation, capitalism, “free” and “unfree” labor, imperialism, nativism, immigration law and policy, and racism in popular culture. Cross-listed with Irish Studies as IRISH-UA 185.001.
Barry McCarron earned his PhD in history from Georgetown University in 2016 and before coming to New York University taught world history at CUNY-Hunter College and American history at McDaniel College. He holds a BA in history and politics and an MA in history from University College Dublin. His research and teaching interests include Sino-Irish relations, the Irish and Chinese diasporas, American immigration and ethnic history, U.S. history in a global context, and the histories of migration, race, and empire in the Pacific world. McCarron’s current book project, based on his doctoral dissertation “The Global Irish and Chinese: Migration, Exclusion, and Foreign Relations Among Empires, 1784-1904,” is the first study to examine relations between the Irish and Chinese in the United States and the British Empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Reclaiming the Narrative: Contemporary West African Writers Unleash Their Africa upon the World
AHSEM-UA 243 (class # 22153)
Instructor: Frankie Edozien
Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Comprehensive news coverage of Africa is scant. The sparse coverage is often a variation of an incomplete portrait that has dominated the Western media for the last fifty years: tales of starvation, political instability, and disease are mainstays. There is often little or no historical or political context in most of this coverage. In recent years, a cadre of West African writers has begun to change that narrative. These writers, often educated in the West and equally comfortable on the streets of Lagos, Accra, Rome, or New York, have churned out works of fiction and non-fiction essays about their homelands. Their writing offers a nuanced, balanced portrait of contemporary African life, giving a detailed understanding of issues and events and succeeding where their counterparts in mainstream journalism are not. Cross-listed with the Department of Journalism as JOUR-UA 503.005 and with the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis as SCA-UA 721.002.
Frankie Edozien has directed the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute’s “Reporting Africa” program at NYU since 2008. He is a journalist who honed his skills writing about government, health, and cultural issues for a variety of publications. His work has appeared in the Times (UK), Vibe, Time, Out Traveler, Blackaids.org, The Advocate, Quartz, the New York Times, and elsewhere. For fifteen years Edozien was an award-winning New York Post reporter, serving as City Hall Reporter and also covering crime, courts, labor issues and human services, public health, and politics from around the country and abroad. In 2001, he co-founded the AFRican magazine and served as its editor-in-chief. He has traveled around the world reporting on the impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa, and was a 2008 Kaiser Foundation fellow for Global Health Reporting. He is a contributor to the Arise News Network, where he reports weekly on issues in sub-Saharan Africa, and has contributed commentary on MSNBC on sub-Saharan African issues. A selection of his work is available on www.edozien.net.
Latin American Women and their testimonies of Political Participation
AHSEM-UA 244 (class # 23247)
Instructor: Pamela Calla
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
This seminar explores whether and how women in social movements in Latin America have embraced feminist stances and positions. We consider the historical relation between social movements and States and ask how "gendered logics" have informed the relations between them. We consider social movements in the contexts of democratic socialism, dictatorship, and democracy from the 1970s to the present, with examples from Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, and Argentina. We focus on testimonies produced by women in these contexts to better understand the gendered politics of representation, voice, and political action. Students will be expected to participate actively in the seminar and to write three papers: one 3-page, one 5-page, and a final 12-page paper.
Pamela Calla, an anthropologist, is a Visiting Associate Professor at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU and Director of the Observatory on Racism of the Universidad de la Cordillera in La Paz, Bolivia. She co-coordinates the “Network of Observatories on Racism in the Americas,” a joint initiative of Universidad de la Cordillera and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas. Her research focuses on race, gender, ethnicity, and state formation in Bolivia. She coedited Antropología del Estado: Dominación y prácticas contestatarias en America Latina and Observando el racismo: Racismo y regionalismo en el proceso constituyente boliviano (to which she also contributed), and was an associate researcher of the United Nations Development Project’s “The State of the State in Bolivia.”