Summer 2014 Courses

SUMMER 2014 CORE-UA 204, Natural Science I: Einstein's Universe
Prof. Budick (Physics)     syllabus
Session I: May 27 – July 5, 2014
Addresses the science and life of Einstein in the context of 20th-century physics, beginning with 19th-century ideas about light, space, and time in order to understand why Einstein's work was so innovative. Einstein's most influential ideas are contained in his theories of special relativity, which reformulated conceptions of space and time, and general relativity, which extended these ideas to gravitation. Both these theories are explored quantitatively, together with wide-ranging applications of these ideas, from the nuclear energy which powers the sun to black holes and the big bang theory of the birth of the universe.

SUMMER 2014 CORE -UA 510, Cultures & Contexts: Russia—between East and West

Prof. Kotsonis (History)
Session I: May 27 – July 5, 2014
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 2014 CORE-UA 549, Cultures & Contexts: Multinational Britain
Prof. Ortolano (History)     syllabus
Session I: May 27 – July 5, 2014
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 2014 CORE-UA 555, Cultures and Contexts:  Brazil
Prof. Robbins (Spanish & Portugueses)     syllabus
Session I: May 27 – July 5, 2014
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 2014 CORE-UA 710.001, Expressive Culture: Words
Prof. Borenstein (Russian & Slavic Studies)
Session I: May 27 – July 5, 2014
What is literature or the literary? Is there a literary language that works differently from ordinary language? What is literary style and form? What does it mean to tell a story, and how is it different from telling a lie? What kinds of stories do we tell about our lives? Paying particular attention to questions of manipulation and emotion, we examine the status of fiction and representation through short stories, novels, and graphic novels by a range of authors, including Barth, Borges, Gogol, Melville, Roth, Tolstoy.

SUMMER 2014 CORE-UA 711, Expressive Culture: The Graphic Novel

Prof. Borenstein (Russian & Slavic Studies)
Session I: May 27 – July 5, 2014
Examines the interplay between words and images in the graphic novel, a hybrid medium with a system of communication reminiscent of prose fiction, animation, and film. What is the connection between text and art? How are internal psychology, time, and action conveyed in a static series of words and pictures? What can the graphic novel convey that other media cannot? Authors include Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, Peter Milligan, Charles Burns, Carla Speed McNeil.

SUMMER 2014 CORE-UA 710.002, Expressive Culture: Words
Prof. Borenstein (Russian & Slavic Studies)
Session II: July 7 – August 16, 2014
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Reality.  All fiction allows authors to create their own worlds; science fiction and fantasy bring this element of the creative process to the forefront.  We look at science fiction and fantasy as literary genres, examining their rules, the ways in which these rules are broken, and the genres' strengths and potential.  What do science fiction and fantasy do that mainstream fiction does not?  What is the connection between narrative form and the representation of reality?  Authors include Asimov, Delany, Dick, Heinlein, Le Guin, Lem.

SUMMER 2014 CORE-UA 711, Expressive Culture: The Graphic Novel
Prof. Borenstein (Russian & Slavic Studies)
Session II: July 7 – August 16, 2014
Examines the interplay between words and images in the graphic novel, a hybrid medium with a system of communication reminiscent of prose fiction, animation, and film. What is the connection between text and art? How are internal psychology, time, and action conveyed in a static series of words and pictures? What can the graphic novel convey that other media cannot? Authors include Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, Peter Milligan, Charles Burns, Carla Speed McNeil.

SUMMER 2014 CORE-UA 9556, Cultures and Contexts:  Germany
Prof. Hückmann (NYU Berlin)     syllabus*
Session II: July 7 – August 16, 2014
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.