The Freshman Honors Seminar program in the College of Arts and Science was established in 1992 at the urging of a committee of distinguished faculty members from several schools in the University. The aim was to offer select freshmen, in their very first semester, the opportunity to be in a small, intellectually stimulating class taught by an expert professor. From the start, the program proved to be highly popular with students and instructors alike. The number of seminars has grown from a mere seven in the fall of 1992 to more than fifty in recent fall semesters. The instructors have been drawn not only from the College’s faculty but also from NYU’s professional schools and from among New York’s professional, cultural, and governmental leaders. Required of freshmen in the College’s Presidential Honors Scholars program, the seminars have been open to other capable students in the College and other NYU schools who wish to do honors-level work. Since spring 2005, the College has extended the principles behind these seminars to advanced-level courses.
The Freshman Honors Seminars have as their goals to put new students into contact with leading thinkers, to introduce them to important subjects, to challenge them intellectually through rigorous standards of analysis and oral and written argumentation, and to prepare them to conduct their own research. To that end, they stress demanding readings and writing assignments that introduce students to an essential research skill—such as a literature review, quantitative reasoning, critical use of primary sources, the identification of a research problem, critical analysis of texts, or confrontations with works or art. In addition to participating actively in class discussions, students are expected to give oral presentations in class. A final paper will typically, though not always, have gone through one or more revisions, perhaps revised with the benefit of in-class comments. In other seminars the focus may be on individual or group projects.
Baseball and American Culture
(V50.0206; call # 73595)
Instructor: Carl E. Prince
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
Baseball is neither a metaphor for life nor a perfect explanation for the uniqueness of American culture or American character. But sport—and, for some cogent reasons, baseball in particular—does provide a way into an examination of major contemporary historical questions in the areas of race, gender, and class. The Brooklyn Dodgers’ pioneering role in American racial integration in the years after World War II, for example, and the Yankees’ early failure to follow suit provide useful laboratories for a study of race. The strongly macho character of baseball reveals basic gender aspirations and prejudices more subtly evoked in other areas of American life. To the extent that baseball is indeed a working-class game, fan involvement reveals much about the nature of urban class values and tensions in the 20th century. The course involves a good deal of writing, including two major papers; several small reaction papers intended to provoke discussion are required as well.
Carl E. Prince is Professor of History Emeritus and past president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He has published four books and numerous articles on early American political culture and edited the five-volume Papers of William Livingston. A former baseball player and lifelong fan, he is also the author of Brooklyn’s Dodgers: The Bums, the Borough, and the Best of Baseball (1996), which opened for him a new academic field.
(V50.0207; call # 73596)
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 # 73598)
Instructor: Friedrich Ulfers
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00–3:15 p.m.
The course explores the possibility that there exists a common ground between the so-called two cultures of science and the humanities. It posits the hypothesis of a correlation between postclassical science (e.g., quantum theory) and “postmodern” literature and philosophy. Among the key notions examined are Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” and the “undecidability” of deconstructive theory. The discussion of these notions and of their implications in literary works revolves around their effect on classical logic, the referential function of language, and the traditional goal of a complete explanation/description of reality. Readings include selections from the works of Borges, Kundera, Pirsig, and Pynchon and from non-technical texts on quantum and chaos theories.
Friedrich Ulfers is Associate Professor of German. Winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for 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 # 73599)
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 # 73600)
Instructor: Mario J. Rizzo
Monday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principles of classical liberalism through the discussion of theoretical and empirical issues in economics, law, and ethics. “Classical liberalism” is the political, economic, social, and moral philosophy that is severely skeptical of the power of the state and seeks to reduce its power over the citizen. It advances the view that society, under the rule of law, is largely self-regulating, and so government intervention, whether in economic or social affairs, is either unnecessary or simply makes problems worse. Sometimes classical liberalism is called “19th-century liberalism,” but its development has roots in ancient Roman thought, in the 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment, as well as in many strains of 20th-century philosophy and economics. Its leading thinkers have included Adam Smith, F. A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman. The course considers philosophical principles and empirical issues in the context of contemporary problems, such as free trade, property rights, income distribution, and social-religious toleration.
Mario J. Rizzo is Associate Professor of Economics, as well as co-director of the Austrian Economics Program. His fields of research lie at the interface of a number of academic subjects, including the economic analysis of law; ethics and economics; and the methodology and philosophy of economics. He also has a longstanding interest in political philosophy. He is the author (with Gerald O’Driscoll) of The Economics of Time and Ignorance, many articles in law journals, and philosophically oriented articles on economic theory.
From Moving Articulators to Sound Structure
(V50.0233; call # 73601)
Instructor: Adamantios I. Gafos
Wednesday, 2:00–4:45 p.m.
Prerequisite: AP calculus or physics and an interest in human language
Meaning in spoken language is communicated via sound. Sound is generated from a set of moving speech articulators and their acoustic consequences. How can this physical system, the human vocal tract, communicate such richness of distinctions in meaning? To what extent is the structure of sound patterns in language influenced by constraints of the physical system? This seminar addresses these questions by seeking to identify ways to better understand the relation between the cognitive aspects of sound structure and their manifestation as physical activity in the vocal tracts of actual speakers. The seminar begins by providing the necessary concepts and tools for exploring language sound structure. Using speech data collected with electromagnetic articulometry (EMA) and software for visualizing and quantifying speech movements, we study how humans produce sequences of consonants and vowels in different languages. We then study how language-specific patterns of consonants and vowels can be described as formal systems of rules and how such rules can be modeled using tools from mathematics. In the final part, through a sequence of readings and group projects, students tackle issues in the relation between sound patterns and their realization in terms of activity in the vocal tract. The course emphasizes hands-on laboratory exercises and projects through which students, working individually or in teams, grasp and sharpen conceptually complex notions met across different areas in cognitive science.
Adamantios I. Gafos is Associate Professor of Linguistics. After completing the Ph.D. in cognitive science at Johns Hopkins, and before coming to NYU, he taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MIT, and Yale. His research focuses primarily on phonology, as a subfield of cognitive science, and specifically on the nature of phonological representations. He is the author of the book The Articulatory Basis of Locality in Phonology and of many scholarly articles.
First Amendment Freedom of Expression
(V50.0235; call # 75929)
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, and restrictions on freedom of speech during wartime.
Stephen D. Solomon is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Journalism. 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, was published in 2007. It 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 violated the First Amendment. The case prompted a conservative backlash that continues to this day in skirmishes over the role of religion in public life. Solomon earned a J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center.
Latinos/as in New York and Beyond
(V50.0252; call # 76657)
Instructor: Arlene Dávila
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Throughout cities in the United States one is increasingly confronted with taquerías emerging alongside bodegas, while salsa and rumba are being heard in both neighborhood and fashionable clubs. Such are the signs of the growth and diversification of the U.S. Latino population and of the Latinization of urban landscapes in New York City and beyond. This seminar looks in detail at the growth and diversification of U.S. Latino populations. It examines the economic and political factors that have historically fueled the immigration of Latin American peoples to U.S. cities, their incorporation into U.S. society and culture, and the impact of global economic restructuring and the deindustrialization of U.S. cities on urban race/ethnic relations and cultural politics. Other topics include the contestation of space and power in global cities, issues of immigration and citizenship, and the politics of language. Students also develop fieldwork projects geared to discovering the history and present-day landscapes of “Latino” New York.
Arlene Dávila, Professor of Anthropology and of Social and Cultural Analysis, is a cultural anthropologist interested in urban and ethnic studies, the political economy of culture and media, and consumption studies. Her work focuses on Puerto Ricans in the eastern United States, and Latinos nationwide. Her recent books include Latinos Inc.: Marketing and the Making of a People and Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the Neoliberal City, both published by the University of California Press. She is currently working on a collection of essays on the production and circulation of contemporary representations of Latinidad examining the place of Latinos in the contemporary politics of race.
New Media Law and Content Creation
(V50.0253; call # 73603)
Instructor: Karl P. Kilb
Monday, 6:20–8:50 p.m.
This course explores the legal and journalistic issues surrounding the creation and distribution of content in the “Electronic Information Age.” Content is a commodity that is packaged in many forms, known as “media.” We are all consumers of content, which is tailored by each media organization to target specific audiences. Consumers base their content choices on the type of information, as well as on the method of delivery. The traditional print and broadcast media have found a powerful, relatively inexpensive new means of distribution: the Internet. The rapid packaging of content by means of new technology has forced content creators and distributors to develop new interpretations of fundamental intellectual property issues, including copyright law. The seminar will promote active research and discussions with leaders in the media and legal professions, and explore how legislation and industry practices are responding to new technology.
Karl P. Kilb, Esq., is the General Counsel of Bloomberg LP, managing a global Legal Department since 1997. Before becoming an attorney in 1995, he was a broadcast journalist at FNN, CNBC, 1010 WINS Radio, Bloomberg, and various other networks and stations in New York for twelve years, having graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in broadcast journalism from NYU. He frequently lectures at universities and industry organizations about media and intellectual property law.
School and Society: NYU in the Sixties and Seventies
(V50.0255; call # 73604)
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.
The Art of the Enemy
(V50.0270; call # 73605)
Instructor: Hector Feliciano
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
The destruction of the art of the enemy, or cultural looting, has almost always been one of the staple by-products of international, civil, or religious strife. From ancient or biblical times to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, art plunder and the willful destruction of cultural patrimony—from palaces, museums, libraries, churches, mosques, and synagogues to paintings, statues, icons, and books—have been used by victors and looters as a supplementary means to conquer, annihilate, and humiliate the enemy. By studying some historical and recent examples of destruction and looting, we will explore the enemies’ fascinating political, aesthetic, or religious justifications for these acts. We will also consider why some enemies destroy while others simply take along, sell, or abandon; we will describe the positive and negative role of museums in some of these events, and learn how the “values of collecting” and the creation of museums may have helped to preserve art destined to be destroyed or looted by others. Above all, we will learn about the history of art and constantly be redefining what art is and what it means—to us and to our enemies. There will be two field trips, including one to MoMA.
Hector Feliciano is a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. Formerly cultural writer for the Paris bureaus of the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, he is the author of The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World’s Greatest Works (1997); first published in French, this work has since been published in nine languages. He served on the Panel of Experts of the Presidential Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. He is the organizer of the First International Symposium on Cultural Property and Patrimony (Columbia University, 1999) and currently writes for El País in Madrid and Clarín in Buenos Aires.
What Makes a Great Leader?:
Perspectives from Government, Law, and Business
(V50.0275; call # 73607)
Instructor: Diane C. Yu
Tuesday, 6:30–9:00 p.m.
Machiavelli wrote in 1532, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” This seminar explores some of the ways in which leaders, particularly over the past two centuries, have arisen in a number of settings. How do we define greatness in leadership? Have the standards remained static, or have they changed over time? How have leaders overcome the obstacles in their paths? What, if any, traits do they have in common? Do leaders make the times in which they serve, or do the times dictate the leaders who emerge? Are leadership skills innate, or can they be learned and developed? The seminar will stimulate thinking through readings and discussion about notable figures from politics and government, such as the Founding Fathers, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Gandhi, and Churchill, while looking at contemporary examples drawn from the business and legal world as well. Readings include selections from leading researchers, as well as biography, analysis and commentary, history, and autobiography. Students keep a journal, write essays, deliver oral reports, and participate in team interviews of local leaders. The seminar also features sessions with prominent figures from the business, media, professions, nonprofit sector, and political worlds who will discuss their views and firsthand observations about leadership.
Diane C. Yu, Esq., is Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President of NYU. She has been a high-ranking executive at a Fortune 250 company, California judicial officer, general counsel for a California public corporation, and appointed by the President as a White House Fellow. Her B.A. is from Oberlin, her J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and her honorary doctor of laws is from CUNY. A national bar leader, she serves on the boards of the American Management Association, Oberlin College, and is president of the White House Fellows Foundation and Association. She has won awards for her service to the legal profession, and was the first woman of color to chair the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which accredits American law schools. She is a past chair of the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession.
From the Rise of Christianity to Bowling Alone:
A Sociological Perspective on Two Millennia
(V50.0282; call # 73610)
Instructor: Edward W. Lehman
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The new millennium has dawned with growing disenchantment with traditional left-right cleavages and with the claim that the United States is increasingly a nation of isolated individualists whose disregard for collective responsibilities is eroding civic virtues and its democratic institutions. Our aim is to assess the trajectory of our culture using the dimensions of autonomy versus order and freedom versus determinism. This seminar begins by probing these diagnoses in the broader context of moral and social transformations in the West over the last two thousand years. We examine social-science analysesof pivotal changes that have occurred in that period. We consider the sociologist Rodney Stark’s highly acclaimed The Rise of Christianity, which focuses on developments during the first four centuries of the first millennium of the common era. Our final reading is the political scientist Robert Putnam’s controversial Bowling Alone, which is currently the most publicized critique of contemporary American civic life.
Edward W. Lehman is a Professor of Sociology. His research interests include political sociology, cultural sociology, and sociological theory. He is the author of Coordinating Health Care: Explorations in Interorganizational Relations, Political Society: A Macrosociology of Politics, and The Viable Polity. He is co-editor of A Sociological Reader in Complex Organizations. He has edited and published Autonomy and Order: A Communitarian Anthology, a collection of original essays by 15 authors that explores how the fraying of shared moral understandings and the erosion of communal bonds affect our capacity to balance individual rights and collective responsibilities.
The Representation of “the Other” in the
Israeli-Palestinian Cinema and Beyond
(V50.0286; call # 73611)
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) form and content—variations in the use of film language (sight and sound, montage, point of view) to achieve a subjective portrayal; c) modalities of representation and self-critique. Screenings include The Battle of Algiers,by Gillo Pontecorvo; Divine Intervention, by Elia Suleiman; Beyond the Walls, by Uri Barabash; 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.
Shimon Dotan, a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities at NYU, is an award-winning filmmaker with twelve 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 Guild of America (DGA, WGA).
Communications and Human Values
(V50.0291; call # 73612)
Instructor: Richard D. Heffner
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
This seminar is not a practicum, a how-to course about film and television. Rather, its purpose is to analyze how much our sense of what it means to be an American at the dawn of the 21st century has been molded by the media, with particular reference to their socializing and value-legitimating content. To deal appropriately and reasonably with such media power through the formulation of meaningful public policy, students are asked first to identify their own respective approaches to the power of the state and its proper relationship to the individual through discussion both of such readings as Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion, Robert Merton’s Mass Persuasion, J. S. Mill’s On Liberty, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, and of such films as Birth of a Nation, 12 Angry Men, Hearts and Minds, and JFK. Finally, class emphasis is on such contemporary media issues as a Fairness Doctrine (the real or imagined “chilling effect” of a requirement for media fairness and balance); cameras in the courts (do televised trials enhance justice, or instead create a “mobocracy” with trial by a new jury of public opinion?); media self-regulation (can there in fact be meaningful voluntary self-discipline in a free market, free speech, mass media–driven society?).
Richard D. Heffner is Producer/Moderator of the weekly public television series The Open Mind, which he began 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) and the editor of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1956). His newest books are a collaboration entitled Conversations with Elie Wiesel (2001) and his paperback edition of As They Saw It . . . A Half Century of Conversations from The Open Mind. From 1974 to 1994 Mr. Heffner served as Chairman of the film industry’s voluntary classification and rating system in Hollywood, commuting from Rutgers, where he has been University Professor of Communications and Public Policy since 1964.
Galileo and Hobbes
(V50.0295; call # 73613)
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’ 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 Bertolt 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 General Studies Program. In the College of Arts and Science he has also taught in both the Morse Academic Plan and the upper-level honors seminar program. He 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 # 73614)
Instructor: Jill N. Claster
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 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. For two hundred years the Crusaders managed to keep some of their newly won lands. However, they lost more of them with every passing decade, until at last the Muslims triumphed and the kingdom in the East was lost to Western Christendom. This seminar covers the Crusades themselves, how it was possible that they came about, and life in the Latin Kingdom in the Holy Land. The course also focuses on the relations among the three great religions and how it came about that they all claim Jerusalem for their own. We study the differences among the religions as well as their many similarities. Most of all, we address some of the problems that are crucial to an understanding of the world we live in: the nature of a holy war; the issue of whether the Crusades were the first manifestation of European imperialism in the Middle East; and the legacy of the crusading era. Readings include Muslim, Jewish, and Christian writings of the era, in translation, as well as secondary works.
Jill N. Claster is Professor of History Emerita with a specialty in the Middle Ages; she has taught and studied the Crusader era extensively. She served as Dean of the College of Arts and Science and as Director of the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright grant and was honored with the Great Teacher Award by the Alumni Association of NYU.
Europe in Africa and Africa in Europe:
Interaction and Rupture in History
(V50.0303; call # 76656)
Instructor: David Levering Lewis
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This seminar explores pivotal moments of confrontation and exchange in which the course of economic, cultural, and political development in the European and African experiences are reciprocally and significantly altered. The proposition—that the formation of identity is a reciprocal phenomenon—is to be tested in this seminar through an exploration of five turning-point interactions: (1) Islam’s European arrival (8th–12th centuries, viz., Iberia, Gaul); (2) Age of Exploration and Slavery, 1400s to 1850; (3) African resistance in the scramble for Africa; (4) After the Great War (Harlem, Paris, Berlin) (5) Clashing Civilizations—21st century. Two essays keyed to the five topics and based on seminar discussions, required readings, and independent research are to be presented.
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).
The Genomics Evolution and Revolution:
Scientists, Discoveries, and Societal Impact
(V50.0304; call # 76409)
Instructor: Tamar Schlick
Monday, 2:00–4:30 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 (polymorphisms) 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, appropriate for scientists and nonscientists, explores through a series of books, plays, and other materials three aspects of these scientific developments: the science pioneers, from Watson and Crick to Feynman to Elion, their lives, struggles, and triumphs; the scientific discoveries, from reports of the DNA double helix to the polymerase chain reaction; and the societal impact of these discoveries, from human cloning to age-extension miracles. The readings and discussions are designed to expose students to the complex web of scientific discovery, including the personal dimensions that are not often appreciated, and the mixture of serendipitous and systematic progress.
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 is widely used. Among her honors are fellowships with the APS and AAAS, the Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award in Chemistry, Outstanding Woman in Science, Burroughs Wellcome Visiting Professorship, John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigatorship, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, NYU Distinguished Recent Alumni, NSF Presidential Young Investigator, and Searle and Whitaker Scholarships.
Latin America at the Start of the 21st Century:
Coming of Age or Continuing Chaos?
(V50.0306; call # 76192)
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 returned to NYU in fall 2003 as Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico since 1979, he has also been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton, and Dartmouth. A principal strategist in the election campaign of President Vicente Fox in 2000, he served as Mexico’s Foreign Minister from late 2000 until early 2003. He is the author of eight books, including, in English, Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left after the Cold War, Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara, and Perpetuating Power. He has also written articles for many newspapers and magazines in Mexico, the United States, and other countries.
Memoirs and Diaries in Modern European Jewish History
(V50.0312; call # 75489)
Instructor: Marion Kaplan
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
This course analyzes modern Jewish history through the use of memoirs and diaries, which can offer an abundance of detail about the public political, economic, social and religious worlds and provide valuable, often rare glimpses into the motivations and expectations of Jews regarding the non-Jewish world. Moreover, these ego-documents reveal crucial concealed thoughts and emotions, as well as attitudes and behaviors within the family, friendship networks, and the Jewish community. They allow students to delve into relations between parents and children, spouses, generations, neighbors, and friends. The course begins with a memoir written by a Jewish woman, Glikl of Hameln, in the late 17th century, and continues through the mid-20th century and the Holocaust. It includes the autobiographies of Leon Modena, a 17th-century Venetian rabbi; Solomon Maimon, an 18th-century Jewish philosopher-bohemian-heretic; Pauline Wengeroff, a traditional Jewish woman in 19th-century Russia; and Puah Rakowski, a Polish radical. Students will study a variety of readings from the period of the Holocaust. Students are responsible for reading the primary sources, and the instructor assigns introductory materials to place the memoirs in their historical context in each class.
Marion Kaplan is Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History. She has also taught at Queens College, CUNY. She is the author of The Jewish Feminist Movement in Germany: The Campaigns of the Jüdischer Frauenbund, l904–l938 (1979), The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity in Imperial Germany (1991), and Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany(1998). The last two won the National Jewish Book Award in their respective years. She has edited books on European women’s history: When Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany and The Marriage Bargain: Dowries in European History. Her most recent books are Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618–1945 and Dominican Haven: The Jewish Refugee Settlement in Sosúa, 1940–1945.
Making Choices in Contemporary America:
Dedication, Deals, and Deception
(V50.0324; call # 73622)
Instructor: Frederick G. More
Tuesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
Have you ever done what you believed was the right thing then found yourself regretting it later? Do you ever judge your values by those of others like you? This course explores values, decision making, and choices we make in our lives. The course uses a case-study approach to reflect on issues about values, ethics, and contemporary life. The course uses books, movies, and case study as a vehicle to explore these topics. Examples included in the course are: a study of Erin Brockovich, who discovered deception and injustice suffered by citizens of Hinckley, CA; the 40-year U.S. Public Health Service research project that deceived 600 black men with syphilis their right to health care; and, Randy Shilts’ book And the Band Played On, which chronicles the Reagan administration’s denial of the HIV epidemic. The course uses movies, books, articles, and self-study as vehicles for reflection about the personal values that one can employ for decision-making and for exploration of ethical dilemmas posed in our daily lives. Students in this seminar should be prepared to participate actively in class discussions; share opinions and positions in writing, and be open to diverse opinions that emerge during the class discussions.
Frederick G. More is Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion and the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in the NYU College of Dentistry. He teaches courses in ethics in each year of the dentistry curriculum, the core course in bioethics in the NYU Masters in Global Public Health program, bioethics courses in the Masters Program in clinical research, as well as ethical issues in children’s health for residents in pediatric dentistry. Dr. More serves as vice chair of the NYU School of Medicine Institutional Review Board.
New York’s Writing Women: Reading and Writing
Communities in Early 20th-Century New York City
(V50.0334; call # 73625)
Instructor: Deborah Lindsay Williams
Friday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
This course examines the women writers who helped to shape the overlapping cultural phenomena of the Harlem Renaissance and Greenwich Village’s Bohemia—when the Village became “the Village.” We will discuss both fiction and nonfiction from this period, and we will explore these neighborhoods ourselves. We will also consider questions of adaptation by looking at how these novels were altered for the movies, in the early days of Hollywood. Through our reading and exploration, we will consider such issues as the struggle for female suffrage; the often interlocked influences of race and gender; the culture wars of the early 20th century; and the linking together of politics and art. We will be reading such authors as Willa Cather, Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, Fannie Hurst, and Nella Larsen.
Note: Priority for enrollment in this seminar will go to students in the Explorations community “Arts and Activism in Early 20th-Century New York City.”
Deborah Lindsay Williams is an Adjunct Professor in the English Department and a Faculty Fellow in Residence at University Hall. She is also Director of the Honors Program at Iona College and Professor of English. Her scholarly interests include the writing and political activism of the early 20th century, women’s studies, and postcolonial literature. She has published books and articles on a number of women writers, including Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Virginia Woolf.
Girls in the Sixties:
Getting Coffee and Getting Political
(V50.0349; call # 75925)
Instructor: Marylouise Oates
Monday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
Women’s participation in the struggles of the sixties is largely undocumented. Despite the relative dearth of women-specific literature, primary and secondary sources will allow us to explore the crucial but neglected role women played in achieving social change while their efforts simultaneously helped to liberate themselves as well. Students will be expected to complete the following assignments: (1) Teams will research a social justice movement and present the findings of their investigation to the seminar. (2) Each student will select one living woman involved in the social justice movements, research and interview her, and share her story with the class. In addition to the oral presentation, the woman will be the subject of a five-page midterm paper. (3) All students will complete a ten-page final paper with their own analysis of the broader themes of the course.
Marylouise Oates holds an M.Div. from Yale. In 1964, as the youngest national reporter for UPI, she covered the 1964 Democratic National Convention, the Philadelphia riots, and New Jersey politics, before moving to the National Desk in New York City. She served as Deputy National Press Secretary in McCarthy’s presidential campaign. In 1968–69 she was journalist-in-residence at UC-Berkeley’s Daily Californian, then returned to Washington, D.C., where she was the press secretary for the National Vietnam Moratorium and later for the National Welfare Rights Organization. Active in the gay and lesbian civil rights movement in California in the 1970s, she went on to become a reporter and the society columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where she refocused coverage to include minority communities, the power of political money, and the emerging AIDS crisis. She is the author of three novels; one of them, Making Peace, which describes the turmoil and intrigues of the antiwar movement, was praised in the New York Times for capturing the spirit of those times.
(V50.0351; call # 73630)
Instructor: Carol Martin
Monday and Wednesday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
This class is devoted to an examination of contemporary documentary theater and the historical and theoretical discourses surrounding it. We will carefully read documentary texts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, terrorism, racial clashes, the deposition of Cardinal Law, Oscar Wilde, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and Lebanese suicide bombers. In addition, we will read theoretical essays about the nature of documentary, the real and the represented, view selections of some documentary theater on DVD and examine the transformation of history into theater. The questions we will consider include: What has promoted the blurring of art and life that typifies documentary theater? Is documentary theater capable of objectively presenting facts? Are fiction and nonfiction adequate conceptual ideas when one considers the idea of truth in documentary theater? How might we consider documentary theater from the vantage point of performer process in addition to textual material?
Carol Martin is Associate Professor of Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She writes on documentary theatre, contemporary American and Japanese performance, as well as on performance and globalization. Her essays and interviews have appeared in academic journals in the U.S. and abroad and in the New York Times and have been translated into French, Polish, Chinese, and Japanese. The author of, Dance Marathons: Performing American Culture of the 1920s and 1930s and editor of Documentary Theatre on the World Stage, Brecht Sourcebook and A Sourcebook of Feminist Theatre: On and Beyond the Stage, she has appeared as an academic specialist on the American History channel and the BBC. Her essays are widely anthologized and also appear in academic journals.
Literary Theory and Its Applications
(V50.0355; call # 73632)
Instructor: John Maynard
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
Students in this seminar will read a selection of essays from major thinkers about literature, mainly from the latter half of the 20th century. They will learn to consider different approaches to literature. They will complete the course by preparing a discussion of a work of literature using one or more of the conceptual approaches they have studied. Emphasis will be placed on learning how to analyze theoretical problems and how to improvise in applying them to new situations. The seminar is recommended for students interested in any area of the humanities.
John Maynard is Professor of English and a former Chair of the department. His interests include literary interpretation, readers and reading, literary theory, biography, and Victorian and modern literature. He has published books on a variety of subjects in Victorian literature and is editor of Victorian Literature and Culture. He is currently 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 # 76654)
Instructor: Joseph LeDoux
Monday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
What is mind? Is it a system of impulses or something changeable? This paraphrase of a Bart Simpson remark captures one of the great debates in history: to what extent are we hard-wired as opposed to shaped by experience? Several hundred years ago, fundamental questions such as these were addressed by philosophers. The birth of psychology in the late 19th century gave us ways of studying the mind scientifically rather than simply speculating about it. Modern neuroscience gives us a new approach, one in which we use discoveries about the brain to understand who we are and why we are that way. What have we learned? And does this approach enhance (or diminish) our sense of who we are? In this course we will address these questions, looking at the issues both historically and in terms of modern discoveries. We will use the topic of emotions, and their relation to the brain, as a window on the broader problem of mind and brain.
Joseph LeDoux is a University Professor and Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science, and a member of the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology at NYU. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1977. He was a postdoctoral fellow and then an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Cornell University Medical College. In 1989 he joined NYU. His work is focused on the brain mechanisms of emotion and memory. In addition to articles in scholarly journals, he is author of The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life and Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are. He is the recipient of the 2005 Fyssen International Prize in Cognitive Science.
Country and City in Modern Chinese Literature and Film
(V50.0362; call # 73634)
Instructor: Jing Wang
Thursday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
The story of modern China is, in a sense, the story of the transformation of a rural society into an urban, industrial one. This change has altered people’s experience and consciousness and, in turn, their cultural visions and artistic expressions. This course focuses on the tension and mutual dependency between country and city in modern China as viewed through the prism of Chinese fiction and film. The compressed temporality in China’s rapid metamorphosis from a sleepy rural giant to the “workshop of the world” means not only the mushrooming or ballooning of Chinese cities but also an intense drama of social change, moral conflict, cultural diversity, and emotional strain. All of these have found their representation in literature and film, and the angle of the rural-urban relationship offers us an excellent opportunity to examine and rethink the epic experience of modern China as but one specimen of the human experience of modernity. The class discusses such works as Lu Xun’s “Hometown” and “New Year’s Sacrifice,” Mao Dun’s “Spring Silkworm,” Shen Congwen’s “Vegetable Garden,” Ailing Chang’s “Sealed Off,” and Shi Zhecun’s “One Evening in the Rainy Season” and such films as Crows and Sparrows and The World.
Jing Wang is Assistant Research Scholar in the College of Arts and Science and the Department of East Asian Studies, where, from 1999 to 2006, she was Lecturer in Chinese. She is the editor and translator of Anthology of Short Stories by American Women Writers in the 1990’s (2002). In 2000, she was the featured columnist/translator on foreign literature for the literary magazine Shanghai Literature. Her teaching and research interests include women writers in China and the West; literary translation; modern Chinese social thought; and comparative studies of cities and urban culture. In addition to literary translations, she also publishes personal essays.
The Art and Architecture of Papal Rome, 300–2000
(V50.0366; call # 75923)
Instructor: Guy Walton
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:45 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 # 73638)
Instructor: Vincent Passaro
Monday and Wednesday, 4:55–6:10 p.m.
This seminar will examine both the romantic idea and the real history of writers who have lived in and written about New York City. We will also study the city itself, learning to see it as these writers have seen it, less as a home than as a super-literary event, a means of enlarging our imaginations and tuning our powers of observation. Through discussion of the readings—from Poe to Fitzgerald, from the Beats to recent web postings—we will try to understand the New York writer’s particular forms of misery and joy. We will make unique use of the University’s rich resources, such as the Fales Library’s renowned collection of materials on the Downtown New York writers of the 1970s and 1980s, and we also will entertain special visiting writers to share their experiences working in New York over the last two decades.
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,andthe London Sunday Times Magazine, among other venues, and he has written online for Salon.com and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, a site dedicated to stories from New York.
Life in the Universe
(V50.0370; call # 73641)
Instructor: Steven Soter
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This seminar explores the open question of extraterrestrial life as a multifaceted “thought experiment” informed by contemporary astronomy and biology. Topics include the history of scientific ideas on the subject; the origin, evolution, and environmental range of life as we know it; possible habitats for life in the solar system; discovery of other planetary systems; habitable zones around other stars; remote sensing of evidence for biology in the spectra of other planets; possible transfer of microbial life between worlds via meteorites; the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by means of radio telescopes; problems of interstellar travel and colonization; critical scrutiny of UFO claims; and philosophical implications of the cosmic perspective.
Steven Soter is a Scientist-in-Residence in NYU’s Program in Environmental Studies and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He was co-author with Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan of the Cosmos television series and co-author of the first two space shows at the new Hayden Planetarium.
Welcome to College: The Novel
(V50.0371; call # 73642)
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 in 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 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.
Women and War: From Vietnam to Iraq
(V50.0372; call # 73643)
Instructor: Jurate Kazickas
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
In a world beset by war, the faces of women are everywhere: fighting and dying in Iraq, fleeing for safety from rape and pillage in Darfur, working for peace in the Middle East. This seminar will study various perspectives on women and war by analyzing the different roles that women as groups and individuals have played in different conflicts in the late 20th century to present day: warrior, leader, reporter, victim, peacemaker. Topics include the relationship between war and gender, the unique impact of war on women, the ongoing debate about women in combat, rape as a weapon of war, the portrayal of the woman warrior in popular culture, the challenges facing female combatants in Iraq, women and the war on terror and the search for new paradigms for peace. Students will be challenged to explore their own views on such subjects as why wars have been fought primarily by men; whether women are by nature nurturers and peacemakers; and whether women should strive for full equality in the armed services or lobby against a militaristic society. And finally, if women had more power in global affairs, would we have a more peaceful world?
Jurate Kazickas, a former Associated Press writer, was a combat correspondent in Vietnam and has reported from the Middle East. She is the co-author of War Torn: Stories of War from the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam, The Woman’s Calendar, and Susan B. Anthony Slept Here. She has done refugee relief work in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan and was a volunteer teacher in Kenya.
(V50.0373; call # 73644)
Instructor: Robin Nagle
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
This course offers perspectives on the urban by focusing specifically on the unseen. Through four organizing rubrics—Nature, History, Structure, and Sensation—we will explore elements of city life that, though generally hidden, are key to its vitality, even to its survival. Initial reactions to the chaos of a city can create conflicting, even confusing, impressions. To sort out the confusion, we will read ethnographies of urban lifeways, engage New York City through our own ethnographic observations, and write weekly papers discussing our findings and analyses. Much of the ethnographic work and the writing will become part of a class blog. We’ll also take fieldtrips; among possible excursions are a visit to a sewage treatment plant, a night tour with Freegans, lessons in foraging edible wild plants in a major city park, 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 learn to recognize some of its more invisible elements at a glance.
Robin Nagle, director of the Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program within the Graduate School of Arts and Science, has taught anthropology and urban studies at NYU for 13 years. She was recently named Anthropologist-in-Residence for New York City’s Department of Sanitation and is finishing an ethnography about the DSNY, to be published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux next year.
Lethal Passions: Medea and Her Legacies
(V50.0377; call # 73647)
Instructor: Liana Theodoratou
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The mythic figure of Medea has held our imagination for nearly 2,500 years. What kind of woman is capable of casting such an enduring spell? Best known as the partner of Jason and the murderer of her own children, Medea has been the name of an exploration into the passion and violence, the devastation and vengeance, the complex relations and modes of betrayal that so often punctuate our everyday existence. She has demanded that we think about the relations between the sexes, the meaning of home and exile, the experience of the foreigner, the ethical and moral dimensions of agency and decisions, and the meaning of motherhood. Because these issues have remained vital, her popularity has outlived the ancient Greek texts in which she was born and has found new expressions in various forms—including tragic drama, poetry, novels, painting, cinema, and music. This course seeks to understand the reasons for her longevity in the rich complexity of her character and actions and to explore the ways in which her story has been revised and recontextualized across the ages for new and different ends. We will consider a range of texts from antiquity to the present in order to think about how they understand the tensions, contradictions, and conflicting desires embodied and enacted in this mesmerizing figure.
Liana Theodoratou is Clinical Associate Professor in the Alexander S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies and Director of the NYU in Athens Program. She is a recipient of the College’s Outstanding Teaching Award and of its Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence. She has written widely on ancient and modern Greek poetry and has translated several works by, among others, Foucault, Althusser, and Derrida into Modern Greek. She is currently completing a book on the politics of mourning in contemporary Greek poetry, entitled Mourning Becomes Greece.
The Doctor’s Dilemma: Being Both Correct and Right
(V50.0379; call # 76655)
Instructor: Michael Makover
Thursday, 4:55–7:25 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.
Bread, Wine, and Genes: The Evolution of Food Species
(V50.0380; call # 76606)
Instructor: Michael D. Purugganan
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The Neolithic Revolution, which began approximately 12,000 years ago, saw different human cultures around the world start to domesticate wild plant and animal species to serve as food sources in agriculture. The prehistoric genetic tinkering of those pioneer farmers transformed various plant and animal genomes and resulted in the evolution of new species. Through readings, discussion, and research assignments, we will explore how modern genomics and molecular evolutionary biology shed light on the genetic changes underlying the origins of our food species, and how the study of these domesticated species in turn has advanced our understanding of the evolutionary process.
Michael D. Purugganan is the Dorothy Schiff Professor of Genomics and is a leader in the study of plant evolutionary and ecological genomics. He has conducted a wide array of research, including studies of the molecular evolution of Hawaiian plants, the genomics of the model species Arabidopsis, and the genetic origins of rice and other crop species. His recent work has appeared in the journals Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and Genetics. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Sloan Young Investigator Award in Molecular Evolution.
Liftoff: Humanity in the Age of Space
(V50.0381; call # 73651)
Instructor: William E. Burrows
Wednesday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
Access to space provides humanity with one of the most important capabilities in history. Sending people to orbit Earth and to visit the Moon has profoundly shaped our view of ourselves and of the larger world in which we exist. And the exploration of the solar system with robots that have sent back a virtual library of information has increased our understanding of the universe to an extent never before possible. But the space program is about much more than exploration. It is also about the work-a-day machines that have revolutionized weather prediction, communication (certainly including cell phones), navigation, land use, and spotting and monitoring climate change. The course begins with the basics of rocketry and elementary astronautics and, with that understood, moves on to see how they are used. The military dimension is included, and also the likely future of humans in space beginning with the establishment of a Moon colony.
William E. Burrows is Professor of Journalism and Director Emeritus of the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program in the department. He has covered the space program for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal and has written several books on the subject, including This New Ocean, which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for History and is used as a textbook at the U.S. Air Force Academy and elsewhere. He is a contributing editor at Air and Space/Smithsonian magazine and is writing his twelfth book, on humanity’s future in space. He has won the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
Our Legal System Today: How and Why We Got Here
(V50.0382; call # 73652)
Instructor: Sam Radin
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Our legal system affects us daily. We live in a tangle of legal systems—federal, state, civil, and criminal—that differ yet intersect. This course explores the elements of the modern American legal system and how it evolved from the early English system. We need a legal system that promotes public safety, offers ways to resolve disputes, and meets commercial needs. We will study the evolution of the jury and its function today and compare it with its popular presentation in film. We will also examine the sources of law such as custom, statute, and judicial decisions as well as the principles that guide courts. Emphasis will be on the relationship between the courts and the legislature and their interdependent roles under the Constitution and why this imperfect system works. We will read judicial decisions to understand the necessity and practical effect of certain laws, including, for example, criminal law, property law governing home ownership, contract law for the sale of goods and services, and tort law to redress negligence. Finally, we will study the role, purpose, and operation of administrative agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (taxes), the Environmental Protection Agency (pollution) and the Federal Trade Commission (consumer protection).
Sam Radin, 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.
New York City: A Survey, 1609–1898
(V50.0383; call # 73653)
Instructor: Leo Hershkowitz
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
In this study of New York City, we shall look for answers to several basic questions. For example, how did the city become the “World’s Capital”? Why is New York so different from other American cities? Why is it the center of art, music, finance, science? Is New York an American city? How have artists, writers, and travelers viewed New York? How do New Yorkers see New York? What is its future? This is also a voyage into unknown New York by means of archival sources largely overlooked by historians, but which are important to understanding the complexity, as well as the excitement, that is New York history. Many of these primary sources are now in the Tamiment Library at NYU, while others are at the New-York Historical Society and such city agencies as the offices of the County Clerk and Register of New York County. The materials found there are basic to the lectures, discussions, and students’ papers in the class. There will also be a walking tour of lower Manhattan and visit to a number of institutions where archival materials are housed.
Leo Hershkowitz, Professor of History at Queens College, CUNY, has written widely on aspects of New York City history. His work has also included testimony before the U.S. Supreme Court (1997) and consultancy to the New York Attorney General, the County Clerk of New York County, and the Appellate Division of the State of New York, First Department. He has presented many papers at such diverse institutions as the Museum of the City of New York, Jewish Historical Society of England, American Jewish Historical Society, New York State Medical Society, and Columbia University. He received a Ph.D. degree in history from New York University and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion.
(V50.0385; call # 75849)
Instructor: Dennis E. Shasha
Tuesday and Thursday, 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.
History and Storytelling
(V50.0386; call # 75837)
Instructor: Martha Hodes
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.–12:00 noon
The best works of history explain the world by telling compelling stories. The question “Did you like this book?” will be a starting point of every classroom discussion as we read about lives, places, and events in the past. We explore the different ways in which historians combine storytelling with argument, by asking questions about voice, tone, and style. We even pay attention to footnotes, in order to understand the research that lies behind narrative history. Focusing on U.S. history, we take on books both conventional and unconventional. Around the seminar table, we also work hands-on with historical documents in order to understand just what it takes to craft a sound historical narrative. During the term, students will try their hands at combining history and storytelling, sharing their work and reflecting on one another’s efforts. Whether you loved high school history, or slept straight through it, this course is for you.
Martha Hodes, Professor of History, is the author of The Sea Captain’s Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century and White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South, winner of the Allan Nevins Prize for Literary Distinction in the Writing of History. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, and the Whiting Foundation. A winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence, she has also co-directed a Humanities Council workshop at NYU entitled “Storytelling across Disciplines.”
Introduction to Ancient Greek Medicine
(V50.0387; call # 75835)
Instructor: Markus Asper
Thursday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Medicine as a set of practices trying to heal the human body is as old as mankind. The concept of “rational medicine,” which explains how the body works and how it reacts to wounds and infections, emerged in ancient Greece in the late 5th century B.C.E. The scientific standards of modern Western medicine still refer back to this beginning, which thus deserves a closer look. After having discussed some even older traditions (Egyptian medicine), we will read in this course some of the ancient Greek texts still extant (in translation), authored by, among others, “Hippocrates,” Soranus, and Galen (5th century B.C.E.–2nd century C.E.). Our interest will be primarily cultural rather than medical. Among the questions asked will be the following: What is the agenda of this ancient author? For whom does he write? What are his theoretical models? What are his arguments like? During the course, we will not only learn about the many aspects of rational medicine in ancient Greece but also gain some grasp of how “scientific” explanation works in general.
Markus Asper is Assistant Professor of Classics. He specializes in Hellenistic poetry and ancient Greek science, and has published books on the Hellenistic poet Callimachus and on literary aspects of Greek scientific and technical texts. His recent articles have investigated constructions of authority in Galen, the cultural background of mathematics in ancient Greece, and the emergence of Greek prose. He is currently working on a monograph on writing ancient science and a study of how Alexandrian poets constructed Ptolemaic identities.
Live from NYU: American Poetry Now
(V50.0388; call # 75834)
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 has taught poetry at The New School, Antioch, Loyola Marymount, and Brown.
Living Off the Laughter: Comedy in America
(V50.0389; call # 75838)
Instructor: Eddy Friedfeld
Thursday, 6:30–9:00 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, Lenny Bruce, 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 the comedy legend Sid Caesar and is working on a book and documentary on the history of comedy in America. He has written and lectured extensively on comedy and film and has produced and hosted tributes to Alan King and Robert Altman, among others.
Secret Weapons: Reading Julio Cortázar
(V50.0390; call # 75836)
Instructor: Lourdes Dávila
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
The Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar (1914–1984) remains one of the most important Boom authors in Latin America. His incursions into the fantastic genre, his development of a new theory of the novel in Hopscotch or 62: A Model Kit, his exploration of popular culture in texts like the hybrid Around the Day in Eighty Words and the comic-strip novel Fantomas, and his political essays like Nicaraguan Sketches trace not only his own development as an author but also the development of Latin American culture and politics in the 20th century. This seminar will follow the evolution of Cortázar’s writing with a specific emphasis on his fantastic stories and their relationship to Poe and Borges, his strategic use of popular culture, specifically his use of visual language and jazz music, as a means of questioning the limits between high and low, the influence he received from the Cuban revolution, and the political struggles he faced as émigré writer in France.
Lourdes Dávila is a member of the faculty of Spanish and Portuguese and a Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence winner. Since the 1980s, she has written and published several articles on works by Cortázar, such as Hopscotch, Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, and Fantomas Against the Multinational Vampires. Her first book, The Image Arrives on a Verbal Shore, focuses on Cortázar’s use of visual language. She is currently working on a book on photography and literature in Latin America. Lourdes has worked as a translator for the Guggenheim Foundation and now has two book translation projects: Corner of the Dead, (English to Spanish), a short novel by the award-winner Lynn Lurie about the Shining Path in Peru, and Julio Cortázar’s Silvalandia (Spanish to English).
Different Families, Different Values
(V50.0391; call # 75839)
Instructor: Judith Stacey
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
The memorable opening line of Anna Karenina—“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”—expresses a view that remains widespread. Especially in the U.S. campaigns for family values insist that nuclear families formed through monogamous heterosexual marriage are normal and best, while “alternative” families are unnatural, immoral, and unhappy. In fact, however, successful (and unsuccessful) forms of family and kinship differ wildly across the centuries, continents, and cultures. This seminar will provide a selective guided tour of happy and unhappy features of diverse marriage and family systems and the political conflicts they raise in the United States, in South Africa, and among an unusual ethnic minority culture in Southwestern China, the Mosuo. We examine dramatically different family and social systems, including polygamy and gay chosen families, in order to assess their characteristic strengths and weaknesses and to better understand the social and political stakes in contemporary global conflicts over family values.
Judith Stacey is Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies of Social and Cultural Analysis and Professor of Sociology at NYU. Her research examines the politics of changing forms of family, gender and sexuality in the U.S. in comparison with other societies. Her publications include In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age, Brave New Families: Stories of Domestic Upheaval in Late Twentieth Century America, and Patriarchy and Socialist Revolution in China, as well as many articles on family change in academic journals and more popular periodicals. A frequent public commentator on family issues, she is a founder of the Council on Contemporary Families, a group committed to public education on family research.
The Making of Iconic Images
(V50.0392; call # 75848)
Instructor: Deborah Willis
Monday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
This interdisciplinary seminar explores the range of ideas and methods used by photographers, artists, historians, and critical thinkers in addressing the notion of iconic images. Iconic images are pictures that become rooted in our personal memory, pictures that are stored away for future reference through our experiences with them. How do icons emerge from the billions of images that surround us? What makes an image iconic? How are icons viewed cross-culturally and over time? Why do some help end wars? To what extent can an image-maker aim at creating an icon, or is there no way of approaching the goal? How is it done in advertising, where a Nike swoosh can be made into an icon? Why do we have such extraordinarily powerful responses toward the images and pictures we see in everyday life? Why do we behave as if pictures were alive, possessing the power to influence us, to demand things from us, to persuade us, or seduce us? In examining the salient features of the iconic image, the class will take comparative approaches to the diverse types of imagery. We will critique the trends and transformations that have characterized the evolution of the iconic image.
Deborah Willis is University Professor and Professor of Photography and Imaging in the Tisch School of the Arts. Her many awards include a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, an Alfonse Fletcher Jr. Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, an Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award, and an International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Writing on Photography. As a former curator of exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and as the curator of photography and prints at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, she has organized exhibitions and lectured extensively on African American photography. She is the author of Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography, Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present,The Black Female Body: A Photographic History (with Carla Williams), and, most recently, Family History Memory: Recording African American Life.
Comfort and Suffering
(V50.0393; call # 76384)
Instructor: Terry Fulmer
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
This seminar explores 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 # 75957)
Instructor: Olivier Pauluis
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Last year, 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 the impacts of human activities on 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 will discuss 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 in 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 to 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 Earth’s climate.
Modernist New York
(V50.0395; call # 75956)
Instructor: Cyrus R. K. Patell
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Modernism was a broad cultural movement that flourished first in Europe and then in the United States from the turn into the 20th century until just after the Second World War. This course will examine the ways in which New Yorkers reshaped European modernism and created a distinctive legacy that marks the city to this day. We explore the reciprocal relationship between modernism and the city, investigating how modernism was shaped by urban experience and how, in turn, modernism helped to mold our conception of the modern city. We investigate the parallels and contrasts among a variety of forms, including literature, film, art, music, and architecture, stressing the uneven developments of the period, with special attention paid to the tension between highbrow and lowbrow forms. Coursework will be supplemented with film showings and outings that will include concerts, plays, museum trips, and walking tours.
Note: This course is linked to the Explorations community “New York and Modernism” at University Hall.
Cyrus R. K. Patell is Associate Professor of English and Faculty Fellow in Residence at University Hall. His interests include American literature, New York literature, popular culture studies, and emergent American literary traditions. He teaches the course “Writing New York” with Professor Bryan Waterman, and the two of them are collaborating on a cultural history of New York and editing the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to the Literatures of New York City.
Sexual Harassment and the Law
(V50.0396; call #)
Instructor: Shelley D. Fischel
Thursday, 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. Finally, we will look at the policy implications of requiring employers to censor speech in a context in which the excesses of speech can do real (and often intended) harm to the targets of such speech.
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 Music
(V50.0397; call # 75955)
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 1,000 years. Professor Boorman was the recipient of a 2002 Guggenheim Fellowship and is the author of Studies in the Printing, Publishing, and Performance of Music in the 16th Century, a collection of essays detailing musical manuscripts of the period.
Alexis de Tocqueville
(V50.0398; call # 76468)
Instructor: Paul Berman
Monday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840, and those volumes have come to be widely regarded as a masterpiece twice over—the greatest and 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. Tocqueville wrote other books, as well—on the history of France, on the French colonization of Algeria, on political events of his own time, and on his travels. This seminar will study his writings, particularly Democracy in America. The seminar will also examine a number of other authors, in France and in America, who influenced Tocqueville or made observations similar to his own. By reading and discussing these several works, the members of the seminar will sharpen their ability to think philosophically about democracy, America, France, and other themes. Participants in the seminar will sharpen their ability to appreciate philosophical and political writing as a literary art.
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 # 76545)
Instructor: Mark Podwal
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
This course 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,and How Picturebooks Work,byMaria Nikolajeva and Carole Scott.
Mark Podwal, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine, pursues a parallel career as an artist. For 36 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.
The Meanings of Photography
(V50.0400; call # 76596)
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; who we like, will get to know, desire, remember, or 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. How do we make sense of the ways in which photographs shape our experience of being in the world, and how do we shape our own lives amidst this flood of images? We will read major theoretical texts on photography, watch several movies where photographs play a decisive role, and look at a wide range of photographs from the inception of the medium to the present 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, Vilem Flusser, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Anna Deavere Smith, and images by 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.
Bloggers, Journalists, and the Power of the Web
(V50.0401; call # 76588)
Instructor: Jay Rosen
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
This seminar charts a new and disruptive shift in the world of publishing and journalism: the rise of the independent blogger and blogging software. This phenomenon is only part of a larger shift: the emergence of the World Wide Web and the distribution to the population at large of all the tools of media production, which were once controlled by a small number of media companies. Armed with these tools, bloggers became instantly effective as media watchdogs, newsy opinion writers, and personal guides to press coverage. Furthermore, their low start-up costs brought to the news business a new era of intense competition and conflict. In this course, we will study the democratization of journalism since the advent of blogging, as well as the major controversies that have arisen since 2000. Students track and examine carefully the work of a successful blogger and report to the class on how an effective blog operates. In written work, they consider how blogging has changed journalism and whether this change is for the better. They also receive a short introduction to blogging software and learn the basics of how to operate a blog.
Jay Rosen, Associate Professor of Journalism, has taught at NYU since 1986. He is a blogger himself, the author of PressThink, a blog about journalism and its ordeals in the age of the Web (www
.pressthink.org), which he introduced in September 2003. Considered one of the most influential blogs on new media issues, it had by 2008 recorded over 3 million page views. He also writes at the Huffington Post, another important blog site, and is a member of the Wikipedia Advisory Board.
The Health of New Yorkers, from Colonial Times to the Present
(V50.0402; call # 76647)
Instructor: Mariano Jose Rey
Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30–4:45 p.m.
This seminar explores, in a broadly 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 a formal medical infrastructure, such as medical schools and the training of physicians, the creation of the New York City Department of Health, and the establishment of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Readings include contemporary documents from the different centuries. The class will visit the emergency room of Bellevue Hospital, as well as the Museum of the City of New York.
Mariano Jose Rey, M.D., is Director of the NYU Institute for Community Health and Research. A specialist in cardiology, he is also a founding member of NYU’s Institute for Urban and Global Health, and was its Executive Director from 2001 to 2004. His most recent research addresses general health disparities in New York City and differences in the treatment of HIV-positive patients with protease inhibitors. He has published numerous articles in a variety of journals, from cardiology to public health journals and the New England Journal of Medicine, on subjects ranging from cardiology to medical education and its interaction with the humanities.
Women in Antiquity
(V50.0403; call # 76586)
Instructor: Raffaella Cribiore
Monday and Wednesday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
In this seminar students will study the status, social and life experiences, and educational and cultural accomplishments of women in the Greek and Roman worlds. In the first part of the semester they concentrate on the few literary voices of women (those of Sappho and other female poets) and especially on male perceptions of women in Epic poetry and in philosophical prose. The focus shifts to Egypt and students examine the representation of women in a few Hellenistic authors. The class then concentrates on the women from Greek and Roman Egypt as revealed by the papyri in various areas such as marriage, divorce, sexual mores, and magic. Students learn to listen to the voices of actual women through the many letters that they wrote and compare these with the letters of women composed by male literary authors. Classes include lectures and discussions of the assigned readings and of art and archaeological representations.
Raffaella Cribiore, Professor of Classics, is a specialist in education in the Greek and Roman worlds, papyrology, and ancient rhetoric. She is the Curator of Papyri at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia, where she taught as an adjunct Professor for many years. She has written three books on ancient education: Writing, Teachers, and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt; Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, which won the prestigious Goodwin Award of the American Philological Association in 2004; and The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch. She also co-authored with R.S. Bagnall the book Women’s Letters in Ancient Egypt: 300 B.C.–A.D. 800. The author of numerous articles on ancient education, she was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 2004.
The Power of Words and the Winning of Power:
The 2008 Election in Real Time
(V50.0404; call # )
Instructor: Robert Shrum
Monday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
The rule and relevance of “words” and “speeches” in the selection of a president have become a contentious issue in the 2008 Democratic primaries, yet the general election is certain to be a contest and contrast of message in speeches, debates, ads, and on the Internet. After reviewing this topic and its impact on the primaries and conventions, the seminar will study the campaign in real time as it unfolds through debates, speeches, and communication ranging from message framing to the impact of the Internet. We will read, watch, and analyze both contemporaneous events and historical parallels from 1952 to 2004. Specifically, we will examine the appeal of “change” versus “experience”; the power of eloquence, ideology, and historical memory; the impact of race and gender; strategies and “accidents” in presidential and vice-presidential debates; advertising as well as fundraising; closing arguments and the use of biography as message.
Robert Shrum is a Senior Fellow at the Wagner School of Public Service. He was senior strategist in the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns. As a political consultant, he has been responsible for strategy and advertising in 26 winning Senate campaigns, in numerous statewide and national campaigns, and in campaigns overseas, ranging from that of the British Labour Party to that of Ehud Barak in Israel. For 35 years, Mr. Shrum has written speeches for leading Democrats like Edward Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore and prepared candidates for presidential and nonpresidential debates.
America’s Role in International Affairs since World War II
(V50.0405; call # 76605)
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; the relationship between President Nixon and his national security adviser and secretary of state, Henry Kissinger; 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 imperial presidency (comparing Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s celebrated 1973 book on the subject with the actions of the present Bush administration); the current administration’s commitment to spread democracy throughout the Middle East; and the foreign policy aspects of the 2008 presidential election.
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.
Staging the Greeks: A Workshop
(V50.0406, call # 76646)
Instructor: Peter Meineck
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Scholars and theater artists have tended to be divided in their approach to ancient Greek drama. In this seminar, we will combine the insights of both traditions in our attempt to comprehend the theatrical dynamics of Greek texts, in this case plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. The goals of this seminar are to establish practical working principles for understanding the original objectives of an ancient Greek play within its historical, cultural, and political context, to provide effective tools for understanding these objectives, and to create new techniques for translating them to the modern page and stage. Through practical acting workshops, directorial examinations, and readings in classical scholarship, we explore techniques for understanding the plays’ performative aspects, such as emotion, catharsis, empathy, satire, violence, status, character, and gender. Using the insights gained from workshops, we investigate important physical elements such as masks, scenic design, the use of the chorus, messengers, stage properties, entrances, and exits. Course participants do not need to have any acting training or background in theater; they should, however, be prepared to contribute in group exercises, physical explorations, and collaborative workshops.
Peter Meineck is Artistic Director of the Aquila Theatre Company, which has performed the Iliad at Lincoln Center and regularly produces classical plays in New York and on national tours. He is also Clinical Assistant Professor both in Classics and in Drama at NYU and Artist in Residence at NYU’s Center for Ancient Studies. He has published several translations of Greek plays.
Literature, Love Poetry, and Lamentations in Ancient Egypt
(V50.0407; call # 76671)
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 2-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 Director of Instructional Programs for the New York University Excavations at Amheida. 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, Dr. Morris 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.
Updated on 05/19/2009