Summer 2015 Courses

Summer 2015

SUMMER 2015 CORE-UA.204, Natural Science I: Quarks to Cosmos
Prof. Dubovsky (Physics)    
Session I: May 26 - July 2, 2015
Modern science has provided us with some understanding of age-old fundamental questions, while at the same time opening up many new areas of investigation. How old is the Universe? How did galaxies, stars, and planets form? What are the fundamental constituents of matter and how do they combine to form the contents of the Universe? The course will cover measurements and chains of scientific reasoning that have allowed us to reconstruct the Big Bang by measuring little wisps of light reaching the Earth, to learn about sub-atomic particles by use of many-mile long machines, and to combine the two to understand the Universe as a whole from the sub-atomic particles of which it is composed.

SUMMER 2015 CORE-UA 510, Cultures & Contexts: Russia—between East and West
Prof. Kotsonis (History)   
Session I: May 26 - July 2, 2015
Focuses on distinctive historical and geographical dichotomies and issues in Russian culture. Emphasis is on primary documents, including literary works, travel notes, works of art, and political statements from all periods, chosen to establish the particular matrix of competing positions that make up the Russian national and cultural identity. 

SUMMER 2015 CORE-UA 549, Cultures & Contexts: Multinational Britain
Prof. Ortolano (History) 
Session I: May 26 - July 2, 2015
Introduces students to the peoples, cultures, and histories of the British Isles. Today home to a pair of European states, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, this grouping of islands off the northwestern coast of Europe has historically been home to an astonishing variety of peoples, kingdoms, religions, nations, and states. Rather than collapsing this diversity into a study of the English people or the British state, we think about the United Kingdom as a multinational formation, produced through the experience of repeated invasions, encounters, and migrations. Our ultimate goals are twofold: to learn about the peoples of the British Isles, and to use this knowledge to think critically about claims regarding national characteristics, ethnic stability, or cultural homogeneity--in Britain, and beyond.

SUMMER 2015 CORE-UA 555, Cultures and Contexts:  Brazil
Prof. Robbins (Spanish & Portugueses)   
Session I: May 26 - July 2, 2015
Brazilian culture in a global context:  For five centuries, Brazil has found itself at the crossroads of international commerce. Numerous indigenous groups, Portuguese, Africans of various ethnicities, Spaniards, French, Dutch, and British have all played central roles in the fashioning of Brazil—the only modern nation whose name derives from the commodity (Brazilwood) it would first export in great quantity. And while commerce provided the initial impetus to bring these groups—often violently—together, their prolonged contact shaped an exceptionally rich cultural history in Brazil. Through popular music, cinema, soccer, visual art, and literature, we revisit some of these encounters, in order to examine how they have shaped Brazilian culture, as well as how this culture has, in turn, engaged with the world around it.

SUMMER 2015 CORE-UA 740.001, Expressive Culture: Performance
Prof. Shimakawa (Performance Studies)
Session II: July 6 - August 15, 2015
What “counts” as performance?  Does it have to be on a stage? (and what counts as a stage?) Why do performers perform? (and what difference does that performance make?)  We consider a wide range of performances—on the stage, page, screen, and street—in order to explore these questions, focusing on performance as a form of cultural expression, as a site of cultural change, and as a building block for “culture” itself.  

SUMMER 2015 CORE-UA 9556, Cultures and Contexts:  Germany
Prof. Ertman (Sociology)
Session II: July 6 – August 15, 2015
Introduce students to modern German culture through the works of seven emblematic figures—both positive and negative—whose ideas have helped shape, for good and for ill, that culture over the past century and continue to do so in varying degrees in our own day. We begin with Lessing and Kant, Enlightenment thinkers whose values in part provide the legitimacy for today’s democratic Federal Republic of Germany, then turn to the ambiguous universal genius Goethe, long considered the country’s equivalent to Shakespeare but whose relationship to enlightened values is far from clear. Next we examine the case of Richard Wagner, perhaps the most influential artistic figure of the 19th century, who saw his own masterpieces of music drama as proof of German cultural superiority and whose theoretical writings provided the basis for the racist national socialist theory of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, first a supporter and then a vocal opponent of Wagner, was also later idealized by the Nazis, though his writings attacked and even ridiculed the German nationalism of his day. We then analyze the self-presentation, as found in Mein Kampf, of Adolf Hitler himself, the impact of whose life and horrific deeds continues to cast a shadow on an almost daily basis over Germany. Finally, we turn to the great, recently deceased East German writer Christa Wolf, who for most of her life fervently believed that her communist homeland was the "better Germany," even while illustrating the reality and human costs of this state in her novels. Extensive readings from all of these figures will be supplemented by lecture tours through relevant areas of greater Berlin and an extended day trip Weimar and Leipzig.

NOTE:  Consult the syllabus for important information about purchasing course readings in the U.S. before departure to NYU Berlin.