THE FRESHMAN HONORS SEMINARS 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.
(FRSEM-UA 207; class # 9470)
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
(FRSEM-UA 210; class # 9471)
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 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 Virginia Woolf, Borges, Kundera, Pirsig, and Pynchon, and from non-technical texts on quantum and chaos theory.
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
(FRSEM-UA 218; class # 9472)
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. Most students consider the workload for this course very heavy; please do not enroll unless you are willing and eager to perform at that level.
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.
First Amendment Freedom of Expression
(FRSEM-UA 235; class # 9473)
Instructor: Stephen D. Solomon
Monday and Wednesday, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Conflicts over freedom of speech and press 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 in NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. 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, 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 in the public schools violated the First Amendment. Solomon is a recipient of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence. He earned a J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center.
School and Society: NYU in the Sixties
(FRSEM-UA 255; class # 9474)
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.
From the Rise of Christianity to Bowling Alone:
A Sociological Perspective on Two Millennia
(FRSEM-UA 282; class # 9476)
Instructor: Edward W. Lehman
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
The second decade of the new millennium has dawned with intensifying ideological cleavages in the United States and assertions that we are increasingly a nation of isolated individualists whose disregard for collective responsibilities is eroding civic virtues and democratic institutions. Our seminar’s aim is to assess these diagnoses using Amitai Etzioni’s The New Golden Rule as a theoretical template and relying on such analytical dimensions as autonomy versus order and freedom versus determinism. We first situate American society in the broader context of decisive moral and social transformations which have occurred in Western civilization over the last two thousand years. To that end, our seminar looks at Rodney Stark’s acclaimed The Rise of Christianity, which focuses on formative developments during the first four centuries of the first millennium of the common era, and Max Weber’s classic, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. We then examine social-science analyses of the contemporary American situation, with the help of such books as Habits of the Heart by Robert Bellah and his colleagues. Our final readings are Robert Putnam’s controversial Bowling Alone, which remains the most publicized critique of contemporary American civic life, and Claude S. Fischer’s recent Made in America, which paints a much more upbeat picture of what is happening around us.
EDWARD W. LEHMAN is Professor Emeritus 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 coeditor 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.
Communications and Human Values
(FRSEM-UA 291; class # 9478)
Instructor: Richard D. Heffner
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–noon
This seminar is an intellectual inquiry into the development of American public policy as it relates to mass communications. It is not a practicum, not a “how-to” course about film and television, nor about the media generally. The seminar’s purpose is instead to analyze how much of our sense of what it means to be an American early in the 21st century has been molded by the media—first print and now increasingly electronic—with particular reference to their socializing and value-legitimating content. To learn about and then deal appropriately and reasonably with such media power, students are asked first to identify their own respective approaches to the role of the state and its proper relationship to the individual through class discussion 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; of such films as Hearts and Minds, JFK, and Fahrenheit 9/11; and of the increasingly unfair and unbalanced rants and raves of America’s newer communications outlets. Finally, class emphasis is placed on analyzing and resolving 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?); the importance of journalistic “privilege”; and 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; Eighth Revised and Updated Edition—with Alexander Heffner—2009) and the editor of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1956; reissued 2010). 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 (2003). 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.
The Crusades and Their Legacy
(FRSEM-UA 296; class # 9480)
Instructor: Jill N. Claster
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 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. The unexpected result of the First Crusade was the conquest of lands in the Middle East known as the Latin Kingdom, or Outremer, the lands across the sea. For two hundred years, against all odds, the Crusaders managed to keep some of their newly won lands. They lost more of them with every passing decade, however, until at last the Muslims triumphed and the kingdom in the Middle East was lost to Western Christendom. This seminar covers the Crusades themselves, the background which made it possible for thousands of people for over two centuries to join the crusading movement, and the religious ardor which informed the Crusades. It also focuses on life in the Latin Kingdom in the Holy Land, particularly on the relations among the three great religious groups and how it came about that they all claim Jerusalem for their own. Most of all, the course addresses many issues that are crucial to an understanding of the world we live in: the nature of a Christian holy war and the nature of jihad; the question of whether the Crusades were the first manifestation of European imperialism in the Middle East; and the centuries-long legacy of the crusading era.
JILL N. CLASTER is Professor of History Emerita with a specialty in the Middle Ages; she has taught and studied the Crusader era extensively and is the author of the recently published book, Sacred Violence: The European Crusades to the Middle East, 1096–1396 (2009). She served as Dean of the College of Arts and Science and as Director of the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. She was the recipient of a Fulbright grant and was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award by the Alumni Association of NYU.
Latin America at the Start of the 21st Century:
Coming of Age or Continuing Chaos?
(FRSEM-UA 306; class # 9481)
Instructor: Jorge G. Castañeda
Monday, 9:30 a.m.–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 D. CASTEANEDA 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 nineteen books, including, in English, Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left after the Cold War; Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara; Perpetuating Power; Ex-Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants; and Leftovers: Tales of the Latin American Left (with Marco Morales) He has also written articles for many newspapers and magazines in Mexico, the United States, and other countries.
Louis XIV and the Art and Architecture of France:
the “Splendid Century”
(FRSEM-UA 344; class # 9482)
Instructor: Guy Walton
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
King Louis XIV (reign: 1643–1715) is widely regarded as the greatest of Early Modern European art patrons, one whose achievements in numerous areas were regarded by some (e.g. Voltaire) as constituting nothing less than the Golden Age of French culture. No one can deny the value of Louis’ support of a vast number of talented, highly accomplished artists, architects, gardeners (not to mention craftsmen, writers, musicians, scholars, and scientists). Interest in these achievements continues today, as millions continue to visit his chateau of Versailles. In this course we focus on two areas that Louis himself called to our attention with two series of tapestries, The History of the King and the Houses of the King, which he commissioned from his Gobelins Manufactory in Paris. The class begins with the study of the events of the king’s reign as depicted there, along with some other images that were produced at the time in a number of artistic media. This introduces us to major events of the history of the reign as background to our studies, and, further, we discuss these art works themselves as examples of the king’s politics, his taste and the refined and elegant French pictorial art of his period. The second part of the course, focusing on images from both sets of tapestries, considers some of Louis’ grandiose buildings, especially the chateau of Versailles, its décor and gardens. Selected readings include portions from the memoirs of contemporaries such as the Duke de Saint-Simon and Mme. de Sévigné, along with historical and art historical publications.
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 publication have centered on European courts of the Early Modern period. He has served as organizer and curator of important international exhibitions and of the Colloque de Versailles (1985) at the chateau. His publications include scholarly articles, reviews, exhibition catalogs, and he is the author of Louis XIV’s Versailles.
(FRSEM-UA 351; class # 9484)
Instructor: Carol Martin
Monday, 11:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
This course explores the subject matter, history and theoretical discourses surrounding the global occurrence of contemporary theatre of the real, also popularly known as documentary theatre. By analyzing the content, structure and dramatic devices of a number of plays, we will look at the problems and possibilities of the ways in which theatre that cites reality portrays a range of human behavior from everyday life to important political events in the attempt to create and recreate personal, political, and historical realities. Documentary theatre both acknowledges a positivist faith in empirical reality and underscores an epistemological crisis in knowing truth. We will read plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, terrorism, the Holocaust, racial clashes, the deposition of Cardinal Law, Oscar Wilde, the murder of Matthew Shepard, Lebanese suicide bombers, the open murder of demonstrators in Greensboro, the cover up of industrial accidents in Poland, honor killings in Holland, and accompanying theoretical essays, as well as look at some performances on video. The questions we will consider include: Can theatre effectively critique social and moral values? What are the implications of the blurring of art and life? Are fiction and nonfiction adequate terms for considering the idea of truth? How might we consider theatre of the real from the vantage point of the contemporary collapse of the distinction between the real, the simulated and the virtual?
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. Her most recent book is Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage.
Literary Theory and Its Applications
(FRSEM-UA 355; class # 9485)
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 to the present. 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. 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 m Victorian Literature and Culture. His most recent book is on readers and reading. 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
(FRSEM-UA 357; class # 20193)
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 address these questions, looking at the issues both historically and in terms of modern discoveries. We 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 of the 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. He is also a member of a rock band, The Amygdaloids, an all-NYU band that plays original music about mind and brain. They have two CDs: Heavy Mental and Theory of My Mind.
From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great: Finds, Art, and History
(FRSEM-UA 365; class # 13437)
Instructor: Günter Kopcke
Wednesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This course will examine highlights of Greek art from its beginnings in the 15th century B.C. to the 4th century B.C. Special attention will be paid to holdings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The basic requirement for students is the willingness to engage seriously—mentally and visually—with artwork, not mediated but directly before their eyes. Students are expected to verify points of class discussion on their own by independently visiting the MMA, and to do so often; they will later be asked to articulate their findings. Questions addressed will be both technological and aesthetic in nature. The general theme of the class is the intersection of history and art; that is, how Greeks, undergoing changes in political outlook and experience, responded by “inventing” forms, and reflecting effects. An effort will be made throughout to prove that what was at stake was social betterment, just as it is in our contemporary society.
GÜNTER KOPCKE is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. Before coming to this country, he served as Assistant Curator in Munich, taught at the University of Zurich, and participated in many excavations in Greece and Israel. In outlook more an historian than an archaeologist or art historian, he is interested chiefly in understanding the critical role of (visual) art in the image of man in the Western tradition. His fields of concentration are the first thousand years of this tradition, from the middle of the second millennium B.C. to the middle of the first millennium B.C.
The Writer in New York
(FRSEM-UA 367; class # 15716)
Instructor: Vincent Passaro
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
New York was once the undisputed capital of American literary life. Taking on the many images and expressions of the writer in New York over the past century and more, this seminar presents the city as a kind of super-literary event, a vivid aesthetic and social organism that enlarges and tunes the artistic imagination and the writer’s crucial powers of observation. We read primary sources and secondary commentary to examine how a number of writers have negotiated—and how the city has powerfully influenced—the fragile construction of their literary art and their personal identities. An important goal of the course is to reach a nuanced historical understanding of our city, acknowledging its peculiar power to erase its own history as it changes and grows. We attend to the perennial difficulties of money and competition that preoccupies most writers living here, the stress that characterizes both life in New York and the life of the writer, and how those strained lives have helped to create a kind of literary tradition of their own. Through the readings—from Whitman to James, from Crane to Millay to Fitzgerald, from the Beats to the Downtown writers to recent web postings—we will try to understand the New York writer’s particular forms of misery and joy.
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, and the 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.
Jewish Women in European History
(FRSEM-UA 369; class # 13523)
Instructor: Marion Kaplan
Wednesday, 2:00-4:45 p.m.
This course will approach Jewish women’s history from the perspective of social history. After an introduction to the normative role of women in Judaism, we will survey the roles of Jewish women in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe. The body of the course will focus on Jewish women in Modern Europe, analyzing their history in a variety of countries from the French Revolution, through Emancipation, the bourgeois 19th century, World War I, the interwar era, the Nazi era, and postwar Europe. Students will read secondary sources but we will pay particular attention to memoirs, diaries, and letters. Students will learn about the prescriptive roles of Jewish women in the home, family, religion, and worlds of work and social life. They will focus, however, on the actual activities of Jewish women, what they did, rather than what they were supposed to do. They will investigate the rich variety of responsibilities and tasks that women performed in the (often intersecting) private and public spheres of life, how they both preserved religion in the modern era and also mediated non-Jewish culture for their families. They will further note that women both kept the Jewish family and community together and reached out to non-Jews, joining in secular women’s organizations, local community projects, and the field of social work. They will discover that women’s roles were often contested and always crucial to the Jewish community.
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, 1904–1938 (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 (2005) and Dominican Haven: The Jewish Refugee Settlement in Sosúa, 1940–1945 (2008). She is co-editor of Gender and Jewish History (2010).
Welcome to College: The Novel
(FRSEM-UA 371; class # 9488)
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 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 League 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 and a director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute’s new multimedia Studio 20 graduate program. As the department’s former Director of Global Initiatives, she created study-abroad programs in London, Prague, and Accra. She was the founding Director of the College’s women’s studies major (now Gender and Sexuality Studies) 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.
Lethal Passions: Medea and Her Legacies
(FRSEM-UA 377; class # 13442)
Instructor: Liana Theodoratou
Tuesday, 3:30–6:00 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 Professor and Director of 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
(FRSEM-UA 379; class # 9490)
Instructor: Michael E. Makover
Tuesday, 6:20–8:50 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. Students submit weekly essays on subjects assigned in class and write a long essay at the end of the semester.
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. He is the Chief Medical Officer for a major union. 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.
Our Legal System Today: How and Why We Got Here
(FRSEM-UA 382; class # 9492)
Instructor: Sam Radin
Monday, 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. In addition, we will discuss issues relating to intellectual property—copyright, trademark and patent law—and their practical effect on writers, artists and businesses. 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 the PBS program 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. His practice includes planning for authors and other artists. He serves as Vice Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, the leading repository for the papers of current and 20th-century British and American writers.
New York City: A Survey, 1609–1898
(FRSEM-UA 383; class # 9493)
Instructor: Leo Hershkowitz
Wednesday, 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, the Municipal Archives, 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 visits 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. in history from New York University and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion.
(FRSEM-UA 385; class # 9494)
Instructor: Dennis E. Shasha
Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30–4:45 p.m.
Prerequisites: AP calculus, discrete mathematics, or 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. You can find some of his puzzles on the Scientific American website: www.sciam.com.
History and Storytelling
(FRSEM-UA 386; class # 13593)
Instructor: Martha Hodes
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.–noon
The best works of history explain the world by telling compelling stories. The question “Did you like this book?” will be part of every classroom discussion as we read about lives, places, and events in the past. Focusing mostly on the United States, we will take on authors both conventional and unconventional, exploring different ways in which historians combine storytelling with argument and asking questions about voice, tone, and style. Around the seminar table, we will also pay attention to footnotes and work hands-on with primary-source documents, puzzling out just what it takes to research and write 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 could be 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, a finalist for the Lincoln Book Prize, 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 Fulbright Commission, 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, and the Whiting Foundation. A consultant for a variety of film, radio, and television projects, she has also co-directed a Humanities Council workshop at NYU entitled “Storytelling across Disciplines.” Professor Hodes is a winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
Live from NYU: American Poetry Now
(FRSEM-UA 388; class # 9495)
Instructor: Deborah Landau
Thursday, 4:30–7:00 p.m.
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 Anne Carson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Matthew Zapruder, Charles Simic, John Ashbery, Matthea Harvey, Terrance Hayes, 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 author of Orchidelirium, which won the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and The Last Usable Hour (a Lannan Literary Selection published by Copper Canyon Press). Her poems, essays, and reviews appear in the Paris Review, Tin House, American Literature, the Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, The Best American Erotic Poems, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among other publications. She was educated at Stanford, Columbia, and Brown, where she was a Javits Fellow and received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature. For many years she co-directed the KGB Bar Monday Night Poetry Series, and co-hosted the video interview program Open Book on Slate.com. She is the Director of the NYU Creative Writing Program.
Comfort and Suffering
(FRSEM-UA 393; class # 9499)
Instructor: Michele Shedlin
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
The purpose of this seminar is to explore 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.”
MICHELLE SHEDLIN, Ph.D., Professor, NYU College of Nursing, is a medical anthropologist with extensive experience in reproductive health, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS research in Africa, Latin America and the U.S. She has designed and implemented behavioral studies at the community, university and national levels, to inform and evaluate prevention and care. Dr. Shedlin is currently involved in NIH-funded research on HIV risk for Colombian refugees in Ecuador, medication adherence among US-Mexico border populations, acculturation and HIV risk for sexual minority populations and post-Katrina Latino migrant workers in New Orleans. She maintains adjunct faculty appointments at Columbia University, University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Connecticut. Her publications and reports address HIV risk behavior and care, ethical issues in research and practice, immigrant health, and women’s reproductive decision-making and access to services.
Sexual Harassment and the Law
(FRSEM-UA 396; class # 9500)
Instructor: Shelley D. Fischel
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Is sexual harassment a problem of gender or a problem of power? Is there a difference? Is sexual harassment a sui generis incident or a pervasive structural reality? Should sex between a teacher and a student, supervisor and a subordinate, be harassment, regardless of consent or coercion? Can sexual harassment law reproduce homophobia, or suppress same-sex communities and same-sex desire? While we may agree that the “casting couch” is no longer permissible, we may not as easily find consensus to these other questions. In tracking the feminist, political, and uneven development of sexual harassment over the past thirty years, this course will familiarize students with this body of law while at the same time engaging broader philosophical discussion and debate. Its relative youth, narrow focus, and interesting fact patterns make sexual harassment law an exciting mechanism for exploring the way jurisprudence develops in the United States, and its doctrinal focus on sex and state make it an equally exciting mechanism to explore issues of gender and power. Among topics to be covered are judicial expansion into sexual orientation, retaliation; Title IX and the development of sexual harassment law in education, the litigation process of these cases, and the political and constitutional implications of sexual harassment policies censoring speech.
SHELLEY D. FISCHEL, ESQ., served as Executive Vice President of Home Box Office, Inc., responsible for Human Resources, Facilities and Real Estate, as well as labor law matters until her retirement in December 2009. She oversaw 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 Classical Music
(FRSEM-UA 397; class # 15764)
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 its 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, Britten, and Messiaen), chosen both because of their importance and as illustrations of ideas about music. Each composition will be explored for itself—how it is made and how to listen to it—and also as a stimulus to discussion of ideas about music. 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 between composer, performer and listener, as that balance has evolved over the last 1,000 years. Professor Boorman is the author of books and articles on music from the late Middle Ages through the early Baroque.
Alexis de Tocqueville
(FRSEM-UA 398; class # 9501)
Instructor: Paul Berman
Tuesday, 6:20–8:50 p.m.
Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840. Those volumes have come to be widely regarded as a masterpiece twice over, the 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. This seminar will study Democracy in America in depth. The seminar looks at some of Tocqueville’s writings on his own country, France. And the seminar glances briefly at his predecessor and kinsman, François-René de Chateaubriand, who visited America in the 1790s. By reading and discussing Tocqueville and Chateaubriand, students sharpen their ability to think philosophically about democracy, America, France, and other themes. And the students increase their ability to recognize and appreciate the art of good writing.
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 nine books, including The Flight of the Intellectuals; 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. He edited 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
(FRSEM-UA 399; class # 9502)
Instructor: Mark Podwal
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
This art history survey explores the interplay between the verbal and visual. The Second Commandment, which some say bans all figurative art, has been interpreted in ways far less literal and more ambiguous. 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 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. Leonard Shlain in The Alphabet versus the Goddess proposes that literacy reinforced the brain’s predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the iconic feminine right side. Readings 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; The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe; and Leonardo and a Memory of His Childhood by Sigmund Freud. Relevant gallery and museum visits will be assigned.
MARK PODWAL, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine, pursues a parallel career as an artist. For 38 years, his drawings 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. Moreover, he was the first recipient of the NYU School of Medicine Alumnus Medicine in the Humanities Award. His documentary film House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague was broadcast this year on PBS.
Photography as a Global Language
(FRSEM-UA 400; class # 9503)
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. It takes special skills to navigate this maze of images—skills that can be learned and that allow us to make informed decisions in our illustrated world. This interdisciplinary seminar explores how photographic images create meaning, and how they help us create the worlds we live in. We will examine images by major photographers such as Nadar, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Paul Strand, Robert Frank, Richard Avedon, Cindy Sherman, Malick Sidibe, Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, and others. But we also examine how news, documentary and commercial photographs shape our behavior on every level. We will read canonical texts on photography (by Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Geoffrey Batchen, Allan Sekula, and others) to examine a range of photographs from the inception of the medium in 1839 to the present time, and from around the world. We will learn to apply and test various theories of photography against the medium’s uncanny and unrivaled power to evoke the real. Several sessions will take place in major museum collections in New York City, and we will have guest lectures by photographers and photography editors and critics. You will write a series of concise critical essays and create your own image-essays in group work to be presented in the seminar. Be prepared to look closely and to think hard.
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 Excellence in Teaching 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, cross-listed in four NYU departments and two schools.
America’s Role in International Affairs since
World War II
(FRSEM-UA 405; class # 9505)
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 in recent years; the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962; American involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s; America’s long involvement in the Middle East, including its more than 60-year support for the State of Israel and the alleged influence of the “Israel Lobby” on U.S. foreign policy; the current U.S. relationship with Iran; how the U.S. may have inflamed the
insurgency in Iraq during the first few years of the war; the imperial presidency (comparing Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s celebrated 1973 book on the subject with the actions of the Bush 43 administration); and the foreign policy challenges of the Obama administration.
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, the oldest international law firm in America during which time that firm opened the first private law office in the then Soviet Union, 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 international legislation and negotiating treaties with foreign countries. 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.
Literature, Love Poetry, and Lamentations in
(FRSEM-UA 407, class # 9506)
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 two-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. MORIS is Clinical Assistant Professor of Egyptology at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and the Academic Director of New York University’s semester abroad program Archaeology and History in Egypt. Previously she taught courses in Egyptology at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a fellow in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A specialist in Egyptian archaeology, she has excavated at Abydos, Mendes, and Dakhleh Oasis. Her research interests include Egyptian state formation, settlement archaeology, gender studies, 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, is under contract to Blackwell Press.
Ezra Pound: An Introduction
(FRSEM-UA 410; class # 13441)
Instructor: Richard Sieburth
Tuesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
American literature’s modernist revolution is inconceivable without the catalyzing presence of Ezra Pound. Always in the vortex of poetic change—as the promoter of Eliot, Joyce, Lewis, Williams, and the American Objectivists—he followed his own injunction to “make it new,” opening fresh formal paths while exploring ancient literary traditions. Like some Odyssean space-time traveler, Pound moved between Confucian China, Homeric Greece, the Middle Ages of Dante and the Troubadours, the America of Adams and Jefferson, the London of Henry James, the Paris of the Dadaists, and the Italy of Mussolini. To read his work is therefore to experience a continuous displacement—a continuous translation—between these various languages and worlds. In this introductory seminar we will read selections from Pound’s poetry and prose, while also exploring his affiliations with the arts of painting, sculpture, music, and cinema.
RICHARD SIEBURTH, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, has edited Pound’s Poems and Translations for the Library of America and Pound’s Pisan Cantos, Walking Tour in Southern France, Spirit of Romance, and Selected Poems for New Directions. His many translations include works by Friedrich Hölderlin, Walter Benjamin, Gershom Sholem, Maurice Scève, Gérard de Nerval, and Henri Michaux.
Vertigo, Rupture, Revolution: Russia and the Experience of Modernity
(FRSEM-UA 416; class # 13440)
Instructor: Michael Kunichika
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This course explores the experience of modernity as exemplified in the literature, film, and art of Russia. Bewildering and liberating. celebrated and reviled, modernity — and such related processes as secularization, industrialization, and technological change —posseses a particularly ambivalent status in Russian cultural history. Beginning with Peter the Great’s decision in first decade of the eighteenth century to modernize Russia, Russian thinkers and writers have long negotiated between a sense of the country’s belatedness and a wariness towards modernity. This course will consider Russia as a case study in the thrills and agonies of modernization, focusing on literary works by Nikolai Gogod, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ivan Turgenev, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Andrei Platonov, and Vladimir Nabokov; and films by Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov. We will consider such topics as the significance of the city of St. Petersburg, once called “the most abstract and intentional city in the world”; utopian dreams and dystopian nightmares; the city; and revolution. Primary texts will be accompanied by secondary readings that aim to introduce students to the cultural contexts in which the works were written, and to various methodologies that can shed light onto different facets of each text. No familiarity with the literature or history of Russia is required.
MICHAEL KUNICHIKA is an Assistant Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies. He received hs B.A. from Reed College and his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to coming to NYU in the fall of 2008, he taught at Amherst College. He is working on a book on the creation of an indigenous antiquity during the Russian modernist period.
History of Medicine and Dentistry
(FRSEM-UA 417; class # 9511)
Instructor: Andrew I. Spielman
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
“Adqui consilium futuri ex praeterito venit.” We gain advice for the future from the past, said Seneca in 69 A.D. Understanding the history of major medical and dental discoveries leads to a better appreciation of what we have today. This seminar deals with important topics in the history of medicine and dentistry, with an emphasis on the last 500 years. Topics include: the origins of “an eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth”; the real DaVinci Code; three weasels, a coat-of-arms, and the rise of anatomy; how the dark secret of the Sun King changed surgeons forever; how laughing gas is no laughing matter in medicine; and the stories of Jenner, Pasteur and Koch, and other giants in the field of medicine. Additionally, the course explores the history of the modern dental and medical professions. Assignments include a short, in-class context presentation, active class participation and a final class video project that links the major medical discoveries across centuries and their dependence on each other.
ANDREW I. SPIELMAN is Professor of Basic Sciences at NYU College of Dentistry and was recently honored with the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and former chair of the Department of Basic Sciences and Craniofacial Biology at the dental school. In addition to a dental degree, he has a certificate in Maxillofacial Surgery and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. For over two decades, his research interests focused on the molecular mechanisms of bitter and sour taste. During the past decade his research and educational interests have also included the history of dentistry and medicine. He is currently working on the history of the NYU College of Dentistry.
Disease in American History
(FRSEM-UA 418; class # 13439)
Instructor: David Oshinsky
Monday, 9:30 a.m.–noon
This seminar will explore the immense historical importance of disease, from the first contact between Europeans and Native Americans to the modern-day crisis of AIDS. We will explore the social impact of disease at critical points in American history, such as westward expansion, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and the rising tides of immigration. We will study the great epidemics that devastated our nation, as well as the scientific breakthroughs in vaccines and antibiotics that tamed the scourges of smallpox, polio, and pneumonia, among other deadly diseases. Readings will include major studies of disease and primary documents.
DAVID OSHINSKY holds the Jack S. Blanton Chair in History at the University of Texas and is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University. His books include A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy, which won the Hardeman Prize for the best book about the U.S. Congress and was a New York Times “notable book of the year”; Worse Than Slavery, which won the Robert Kennedy Book Award for its “distinguished contribution to human rights” and was also a New York Times “notable book of the year”; and Polio: An American Story, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2006. His reviews and essays appear regularly in the New York Times and other national publications. In 2009, PBS’s The American Century aired the documentary “The Polio Crusade,” based on Polio: An American Story.
Barcelona: Images of a Modern (Mediterranean) Metropolis
(FRSEM-UA 420; class # 13438)
Instructor: Jordana Mendelson
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Some of Spain’s most famous artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and architects came from, or made their home in, Barcelona, including Antoni Gaudí, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Pau Casals, and Salvador Dalí. The city has hosted ambitious international exhibitions (1888 and 1992), the Olympics (1992), and the Forum (2004), all of which impacted Barcelona in countless ways. With its rich urban history and its reputation as a creative crossroads, Barcelona has become a model, modern metropolis. Restaurants, bars, museums, concert halls, shopping centers, and hotels have all made the city a designated tourist attraction known for its contemporary design. In this seminar, our aim is to understand the historical context for the city’s “boom.” Beginning with the emergence of a Catalan national movement, in politics and literature, we also look at the role of artists and poets in the development of a Barcelona-centered Catalan identity. Class trips and visiting lectures enhance our discussions of selected texts from novels, essays, and the popular press, in addition to films (fiction and documentary), performance, and the visual arts. Our readings are in English, though knowledge of Spanish or Catalan is helpful.
JORDANA MENDELSON is Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her research on early 20th-century visual culture in Spain has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is the author of Documenting Spain: Artists, Exhibition Culture, and the Modern Nation 1929–1939 (2005) and co-author of Margaret Michaelis: Fotografía, Vanguardia y Política en la Barcelona de la República (1999). She has curated numerous exhibitions, including “Revistas y Guerra 1936–1939/Magazines and War 1936–1939” (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2007) and “Other Weapons: Photography and Print Culture during the Spanish Civil War” (New York: International Center of Photography, 2007), for which she produced the accompanying web site http://www.revistasyguerra.com.
Branding: People, Places, Things
(FRSEM-UA 422; class # 9512)
Instructor: Richard L. Lewis
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
As thinking people, we want to believe that we are resistant to branding and its most obvious tool, advertising. Yet both penetrate: occasionally honestly, sometimes deviously, often entertainingly. How do they do it, even when our guards are up? Why do we revere Apple, be wary of American Apparel, admire Google, and resent BP? Brands use a variety of rational and emotional tools to connect with us, and companies often don’t really know what works, or how; sometimes, they are just lucky. Brands also have a darker side, according to some social commentators, and may lead to mass consumer hypnosis. This course analyzes what makes brands tick, how they’re created, and how time, technology, distribution, competitors, and consumers force them to change. We examine how branding has impacted politics and politicians, taking a short look back at the creation of “Obama Nation” and a long look back to 1968, when many of today’s tools were developed. We then cross the moat to our own lives, asking ourselves: how are we perceived? How do we create, change, and live up to our own reputations; that is, our own “brands”?
RICHARD L.LEWIS is an independent marketing doctor who solves business, branding, and strategic problems for companies, professionals, and individuals. He was the longtime worldwide managing director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, leading the ABSOLUT vodka account, responsible for marketing, strategy, and creative. He has written two bestselling books about advertising, and has also taught at Yale College.
Guitar Heroes (and Heroines): Music, Video Games, and the Nature of Human Cognition
(FRSEM-UA 427; class # 9514)
Instructor: Gary Marcus
Wednesday, 6:20–8:50 p.m.
A look at music and video games from the perspective of cognitive and evolutionary psychology. Among the questions we consider: Why are human beings so passionate about music and so easily sucked in by video games? Is our love of music the product of natural selection? Can science tell us anything about what works in music and what doesn’t? What is the relationship between music and language? Is there a “universal grammar” for music? Will machines ever be able to create satisfying works of music? The primary focus is on the psychology of music, with video games serving as counterpoint. Readings are drawn from a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, linguistics, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. Written assignments include weekly reaction papers and a final paper proposing a novel experiment.
GARY MARCUS, Professor of Psychology and Director of the NYU Center for Child Language, is a cognitive scientist interested in the origins and nature of human mental life. His books include The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexity of Human Thought; The Norton Psychology Reader; and Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind.
Storytelling in Song: The Ballad Tradition
(FRSEM-UA 430; class # 9516)
Instructor: Evelyn (Timmie) Birge Vitz and Dan Milner
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Embracing literature, folklore, music, history, and geography, this seminar on the ballad tradition investigates the stark, realistic, centuries-old form of narrative song, along with its powerful themes. Ballads have had many uses: they have preserved history from the viewpoint of the common people, disseminated news, expressed community solidarity, provided social guidance, rallied protesters, given rhythm to work, and simply offered entertainment in times long before the existence (or dominance) of print, broadcast, and electronic media. Ballads were once as commonplace in New York and London as they are today in the Ozark Mountains and the wilds of western Ireland. This course also offers a panorama of rural and urban folk culture in select areas of Western Europe and North America. Students encounter lumberjacks, gypsies, chain-gang prisoners, sailors, shepherds, housewives, and scholars, all of whom either composed, collected, or passed on narrative songs. Students read, listen to and analyze many ballads—and learn to sing a few as well. Guest singers will visit the class. Students also conduct research into the history and scholarly controversies surrounding this major art form. Assignments are designed with an emphasis on improving students’ oral, research, and writing skills. This course will be particularly attractive to students interested in history, literature, folklore, and traditional music.
EVELYN (TIMMIE) BIRGE VITZ is Professor of French and Affiliated Professor of Comparative Literature and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She has worked extensively on narrative and storytelling; she has published widely on these issues and directs a website on performance of medieval narrative. She is also an amateur singer of ballads and other songs. She has twice won the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
DAN MILNER is a traditional singer and a cultural geographer. He is the author-compiler of The Bonnie Bunch of Roses: Songs of England, Ireland & Scotland, a columnist and reviewer for Visions: The Journal of New York Folklore and other folk music and history publications, and an internationally known lecturer and performer. His recent compact disc for the Smithsonian Institution’s Folkways label is Irish Pirate Ballads and Other Songs of the Sea.
(FRSEM-UA 433; class # 9519)
Instructor: Michael Weitzman
Wednesday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Children in the United States are not all equally healthy. Nor do all receive the same quantity and quality of services to prevent disease and promote health and optimal development, or services for problems that they may develop. By virtue of genetic endowment and prenatal exposures, each newborn enters life with certain risks for physical, intellectual, and psychological problems. These probabilities change over the course of childhood because of economic, social, family, and other psychological influences. Poverty (and wealth), malnutrition, obesity, immigration status and ethnicity, housing conditions, child abuse and neglect, foster care, adoption, divorce and single and multiple adult households, gender roles and sexuality, incarceration of parents and youth, parental participation in the military and other parts of the workforce, as well as children’s exposure to tobacco, lead, mercury, alcohol, illicit drugs, and the media all exert profound effects on children’s health and development. This course explores the social and environmental factors in children’s lives that result in disparities in health and healthcare and provides evidence-based information on ways of improving the health and development of our nation’s children.
MICHAEL WEITZMAN is Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. He has conducted research and written extensively on such diverse issues as childhood lead poisoning, childhood effects of passive and prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke and ways to reduce exposure, numerous aspects of child nutrition and obesity, and the epidemiology of children’s mental health problems, school failure, and asthma. His work has focused largely on the health problems of children living in poverty, and on the social and environmental determinants of children’s health. He has published over 300 original articles, chapters, books, and abstracts of scholarly work, and he is co-editor of two pediatric textbooks. He has served in advisory capacities to the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency, and as a medical expert for the Department of Justice in its 2005 federal racketeering case against the tobacco industry.
Trials of the Century
(FRSEM-UA 434; class # 9520)
Instructor: Jack Ford
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
How does a trial become viewed as a “trial of the century”? What does that designation say about the crime and the personalities involved, about the legal, social, and political implications of the case, and about the nature and extent of the attendant media coverage? Since the trial of Socrates, the public has been intrigued, galvanized, and even entertained by the real drama of real trials. These trials have provided a prism through which society’s strengths and weaknesses are often revealed. This course will offer in-depth examinations of select “trials of the century.” Some, such as the Lindbergh kidnapping case and the O.J. Simpson trial, will focus on the impact of celebrity on the justice system. Others, such as the trials of the “Scottsboro Boys,” will examine the effect of race inside the courtroom. Political issues often find voice in the justice system, as in the case of the “Chicago Seven.” And religion, that great uniting and dividing force, played a critical role in the Scopes “Monkey Trial.” Such trials have historically held a mirror up to society and have provided an instructive reflection of what transpires within our courts of law.
JACK FORD is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist, author, and a nationally recognized trial attorney who has taught at Yale University and Fordham Law School. Currently a CBS News Legal Analyst, Mr. Ford most recently served as the Anchor of Jack Ford: Courtside on COURT TV, which he helped launch in 1991. He has also served as Chief Legal Correspondent on NBC News and as an Anchor/Correspondent for ABC News. As a trial attorney, he successfully handled a number of high-profile cases, such as the Northeast’s first death-penalty trial, one of the nation’s first corporate homicide cases, and the Wall Street insider-trading scandal of the late 1980s, and authored a number of articles for respected legal publications. He is the recipient of five honorary degrees, recognizing his professional accomplishments and his extensive public service work.
Encountering Frederick Douglass
(FRSEM-UA 435; class # 9521)
Instructor: Philip Kunhardt
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Few figures in American history are as compelling or inspiring as the former-slave-turned-abolitionist-editor Frederick Douglass, whose eloquence and moral passion resonate still. A complex and at times conflicted figure, his life intersected with some of the most interesting and charged characters of his age, including Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and many others. This seminar will take a deep and sustained look at the life of this American prophet, probing his thought and character and examining his trajectory through a freighted era. Though he claimed to have written with “the ragged style of a slave’s pen,” he is now considered one of the most important and original writers of the 19th century. Students will read a wide selection of his works, as well as several biographies and scholarly treatments, and will explore important questions in the light of Douglass’s thinking, for example: How does the religion of slaves relate to the religion of slave-holders? Is there a legitimate use of violence in the pursuit of noble ends? Does there exist, as Douglass believed, a force of progress in history? How do self-awareness, moral insight, and public eloquence undergird the effectiveness of a reformer?
PHILIP KUNHARDT teaches history and biography in the College of Arts and Science. He focuses on the lives of transformative figures and is a specialist on the history and visual record of Abraham Lincoln and his times. He has co-authored five books, including Looking for Lincoln (2008), The American President (1999), and P.T. Barnum: America’s Greatest Showman (1995), and has been writer and producer of more than a dozen documentary films for PBS, ABC, HBO, Discovery, and others, including the ten-part PBS series The American President (2000). From 2004 to 2006 he served as Editorial Director for the International Freedom Center in NYC. Before coming to NYU he was a Bard Center Fellow at Bard College in Annandale, New York.
History, Memory, and the Quest for Social Justice in the U.S.
(FRSEM-UA 437; class # 9523)
Instructor: Jack Salzman
Monday and Wednesday, 2:00–3:15 p.m.
This course explores the relationship between history and memory, between what we know and how we know what we think we know. One of its primary objectives is to address the ethics of memory. Do we remember events not as they are but as we are? Do we have an obligation to remember events from the past? If we do, which events must we remember, and how do we remember those we did not experience? Or, as Marc Auge argues, is it essential for the health of the individual and of society that we know how to forget? We begin by looking at three major aspects of life in the United States in the early 1940s: the response to the Holocaust, the establishment of internment camps for Japanese-Americans, and the impact of Jim Crow laws. We then consider such events as the bombing of Dresden and Hiroshima, Brown v. Board of Education, McCarthy and the blacklist, the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, the destruction of the World Trade Center, and the response to genocides in Rwanda and Darfur. To understand better the lives of those people most affected by acts of injustice, we will read works by such writers as Baldwin, Roth, and Salinger. We will also consider the role that museums, photography, film, and popular culture have in defining our individual and collective memory.
JACK SALZMAN has been the recipient of a Distinguished Teaching award, and twice has been awarded a Fulbright Professorship. He formerly served as the Director of the Center for American Culture Studies at Columbia University, and for thirty years was the editor of Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the five-volume Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History. Much of his work has been devoted to the relationship between African Americans and American Jews, including Struggles in the Promised Land (with Cornel West) and Bridges and Boundaries, the catalog for an exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York. He recently completed We Remember the Children, a collection of thirty-five memoirs by Holocaust survivors, and currently is working on a book focusing on the impact the Holocaust had on Jews and social justice in the United States.
Virtue/Success/Happiness: Business in
(FRSEM-UA 440; class # 9526)
Instructor: Saul Rosenberg
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
Through the study of stories, novels, nonfiction, and film from 1776 to the present, we study the evolution of attitudes among some of the most engaging American writers to the central ideas of business. What is the relationship between virtue, material success, and happiness? How did the idea of “doing well by doing good” fare as the Republic developed? We examine what writers such as Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and James thought about the American business of “getting and spending,” and how Stowe and Twain reacted to the moral collapse inherent in the “business” of slavery. We observe how our theme fared with the emergence in the later 19th century of the “robber barons” of the Gilded Age, the rise of the corporation at the end of the century, and the enormous influx of immigration into American cities that fed the growth of capitalism shortly afterwards. In the 20th century, what do films like Greed and Wall Street and novels such as The Great Gatsby and The Fountainhead tell us about how the connections between virtue, success, and happiness have developed? The course finishes with reflections on what conclusions we can draw from the recent financial crisis for our theme.
SAUL ROSENBERG, who holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from Columbia and degrees from Berkeley and Cambridge, has taught American literature at Columbia University and the 92nd Street Y, and served as associate editor of Commentary magazine. He has also been a consultant at McKinsey and Company, the leading management consulting firm, where he now manages publishing and knowledge management programs. He writes regularly on books for the Wall Street Journal.
Three Moments in Witchcraft
(FRSEM-UA 441; class # 9527)
Instructor: Laura Levine
Monday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
In I Samuel 28, when King Saul wants to know what to do about the army of Philistines gathering at his door, he seeks out the witch of Endor to conjure up the dead Samuel to answer his questions. Renaissance commentators puzzled over what it is that the witch summoned up: a devil? the real Samuel? “An illusion” says Reginald Scot in his Discoverie, the first book in the period to offer a theory of witch-hunts as scapegoating. For him, the witch of Endor was a ventriloquist. King James I of England also saw the scene as one of theater, but for him it was the devil playing Samuel. What lies at the root of the association between witchcraft and theater during the period? When Spenser has his heroes in Book I of The Faerie Queene strip the witch Duessa to look at her naked body, how is he commenting on the theatricality of judicial procedures? Why does The Winter’s Tale’s Leontes throw Paulina out of his chambers as a “mankind witch”? This course seeks to answer such questions, beginning with the Bible, focusing on the Renaissance and ending with the story of a mouse who was a witch and Balanchine’s re-creation of the moment as a ballet.
LAURA LEVINE is an Associate Professor of Theater Studies in Drama at Tisch, where she teaches courses in Shakespeare, Renaissance studies, and autobiography and solo performance. She did her doctoral work in English at the Johns Hopkins University, and holds an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University as well as a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. Her first book, Men in Women’s Clothing: Anti-theatricality and Effeminization, 1579–1642, examines anxieties about boy actors on the Renaissance stage. She is at work on a book about anxieties about witchcraft during the early modern period. She also writes about ballet. She is the recipient of grants from the NEH, the Mary Ingraham Bunting Association, and the Folger Shakespeare Library and is a 2010 winner of NYU’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
New York and the American Revolution
(FRSEM-UA 443; class # 13631)
Instructor: Thomas M. Truxes
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
New York City was as important in the history of the American Revolution as its better-known rivals, Boston and Philadelphia. Unlike New York, both Boston and Philadelphia have self-consciously (and successfully) woven their revolutionary pasts into the fabric of their 21st-century identities. New York’s fast-changing urban culture, on the other hand, has effectively obliterated popular memory of the city’s role in the tumultuous events that gave birth to the United States of America. This seminar reconstructs the New York of the late-colonial and revolutionary periods, traces the city’s role in the unfolding narrative of the American Revolution, and brings to life the New Yorkers—and others—who figured prominently in that story. The seminar also serves as an introduction to rigorous historical scholarship. In addition to reading widely in the secondary literature, participants will immerse themselves in the rich primary sources associated with this subject. There are weekly writing assignments, frequent oral presentations, a guided research project, and opportunities to uncover evidence of New York’s revolutionary past on the streets of the city.
THOMAS M. TRUXES, Clinical Assistant Professor of Irish Studies and History, is the author of Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York, a finalist for the 2009 Francis Parkman Prize in American History. His research interests include New York City in the era of the American Revolution; the overseas trade of British America; the intersection of war and trade in the early-modern Atlantic World; and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Irish history, especially as it relates to Irish communities abroad. He is also the author of Irish-American Trade, 1660-1783 (1988) and Letterbook of Greg & Cunningham, 1756–57: Merchants of New York and Belfast (2001).
Comparative Financial Institutions
(FRSEM-UA 444; class # 13634)
Instructor: Mary Poovey
Tuesday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
Financial systems direct the flow of capital between savers and borrowers, but they also reflect and help shape contemporary values and understandings of the self and others. In this course we compare and contrast the theories implicit in the financial systems of the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and we describe how these systems work in practice. The most basic distinction between the two systems involves assumptions about the economy and the individuals who participate in it. In the US, the economy is assumed to govern itself by the law of supply and demand, and individuals are assumed to be rational agents who seek to maximize their own profit and minimize personal loss. Credit—and therefore debt—is central to the US economy because interest-based financing is the primary mechanism for transferring money from one party to another. In the UAE, by contrast, commercial transactions are governed by Shari’ah law because the economy, like every other facet of life, is subject to the commands of Allah and because human reason is considered fallible. While Shari’ah law bans one fundamental part of the US system—interest—it does recognize the principle of profit and loss sharing, and special financial instruments have been developed to enable individuals to form partnerships and transfer capital. By comparing these two systems and the practices they require, we seek to understand how financial systems mediate competing values in an increasingly interconnected global context.
MARY POOVEY is the Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English at New York University. She received a Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence from the College, and she was also recognized for excellence in teaching by Swarthmore College. She has published books and articles on subjects ranging from feminist theory to the history of bookkeeping and statistics. This course grows out of her current project, which is a co-authored book exploring the ways financial instruments and institutions shape the ways their users understand themselves and interact with the world.
From St. Petersburg to Paris and New York: George Balanchine and the Politics of Modernism
(FRSEM-UA 445; class # 13635)
Instructor: Jennifer Homans
Tuesday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
This course is a biography of modernism, told through the life and work of the ballet master George Balanchine. We trace Balanchine’s path and artistic development from his birth in Imperial St. Petersburg in 1904 through the political and artistic tumult of the Russian Revolution and onto Paris in the 1920s, where he collaborated with Serge Diaghilev and artists, dancers, and composers working at the forefront of modernism. From 1933 until his death in 1983, Balanchine lived in New York, where he and other émigré artists transformed the cultural life of the city. We will follow the life of the man and investigate the relationship between politics, ideas, and art in the 20th century. Readings will range from history to memoir and biography. Students will also attend live performances and study dances and other forms of art at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art. Students prepare weekly writing assignments and an in-class presentation analyzing a dance or other work of art in its historical context.
JENNIFER HOMANS is the author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (2010) and the dance critic for the New Republic. She has also published with the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the Guardian, among others. Homans earned her B.A. at Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Modern European History at New York University, where she is presently a Distinguished Scholar in Residence. Before becoming a writer, Homans was a professional dancer. She was trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the School of American Ballet, and performed with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She has danced a wide repertory ranging from the 19th-century classics to works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and contemporary choreographers.
(FRSEM-UA 446; class # 14139)
Instructor: Bruce Grant
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00–3:15 p.m.
Nations and nationalisms have been among the defining phenomena of the modern epoch. Yet in some contrast to other central phenomena of modernity such as classes, cities, revolutions, industrialism, or capitalism, the terms of nationhood are extraordinarily plastic. A central aim of this course is to encourage systematic reflection about the power of this plasticity, and to cultivate the habit of thinking about nationalisms in the plural. Across the semester, students are invited to explore a single case study from a number of points of view in order to grasp the power of the national idea as remarkably variable along cultural, historical, and political dimensions. There are great opportunities today for new work in this context precisely because the field remains wide open. The
fundamental, perennial questions remain contested, and the world generates new materials every day. By fostering a close and critical engagement with an emergent canon of key writings, this course leaves students equipped to do independent work in this or related areas.
BRUCE GRANT is Associate Professor of Anthropology and winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence. A specialist on cultural politics in the formerly communist world, he is the author of two award-winning books, In the Soviet House of Culture: A Century of Perestroikas (1995) and The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russia and the Caucasus (2009). He is currently President of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, the largest scholarly association of its kind in the world devoted to research on the former communist bloc.
Investigative Reporting, Data Journalism, and
Advanced Nonsense Detection
(FRSEM-UA 447; class # 13637)
Instructor: Charles Seife
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
If you want to prove that someone’s lying, there’s no better person to ask than an investigative journalist. Investigative journalists use a number of techniques to expose truths that some parties would rather keep hidden. No matter what major you choose, no matter what research you eventually wind up doing, you will benefit by learning how investigative journalists ply their trade. Whether it’s figuring out how to find documents, whether it’s using spreadsheets and databases to extract meaning from inchoate data, or whether it’s figuring out how to get the most out of a source, investigative journalists are experts at research. We’ll do all this and more during the semester, with luck, performing an investigation of our own.
CHARLES SEIFE is an Associate Professor of Journalism at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He has written for numerous publications, including Science, Scientific American, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Economist, and New Scientist. His most recent book, Proofiness, was published in 2010.
Seven Forbidden Voices of Latin America
(FRSEM-UA 448; class # 13638)
Instructor: Eduardo Subirats
Monday and Wednesday, 2:00–3:15 p.m.
This seminar is an introduction to the essays of seven 20th-century thinkers who have produced important critiques of Latin America’s unique post-colonial experience. Despite the nascent republican traditions of Latin America, at the dawn of the century the tone for the study of its national literatures was set by conservative Catholic nationalists (such as Miguel Antonio Caro from Columbia and José Enrique Rodó from Uruguay) whose work identified positively with the civilizing values of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism. Other intellectuals have, of course, devised alternative strategies for interpreting the meaning of Latin America’s national cultures; but, in attempting to counter the conservative tendencies of Hispanism, they have too often blindly followed postmodern trends. The essays we will read in this seminar are among the most original—and successful—anthropological, historical, political, and literary interpretations of Latin America and its two hundred years of independence from Spain and Portugal. The authors to be studied include the Brazilians Darcy Ribeiro, Gilberto Freyre, and Josué de Castro; the Uruguayans Angel Rama and Eduardo Galeano; the Peruvian José Carlos Mariátegui; and the Mexican Octavio Paz.
EUARDO SUBIRATS is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese. His research interests include Spanish intellectual history; the Counter-Reformation and the colonization of Spanish America; the Enlightenment; avant-garde theory, artistic movements in Spain and Latin America; and the modern Latin American and Spanish essay. Among his many publications are Linterna Mágica (1997); El continente vacío (1994); Da vanguarda ao pós-moderno (1984); Memoria y exilio (2003); Viaje al fin del Paraíso. Un ensayo sobre América latina (2005); and Filosofía y tiempo final (2010).
Wiseguys, Spies, and Private Eyes: Heroes and
Villains in American Culture, Film, and Literature
(FRSEM-UA 449; class # 13639)
Instructor: Eddy Friedfeld
Thursday, 6:20–8:50 p.m.
Through thematic analyses of books and films by topic and genre, this seminar explores the ways in which specific American archetypes and themes are perceived and articulated—from the rugged Old West individualist, to the persevering underdog who becomes a boxing champ, to the evolving perceptions of government, to the Cold War-era uncertainty that spawned a generation of literary and celluloid superspies. We will examine representations of heroes and villains in modern American popular culture and how great films and novels of three particular genres, the Detective, the Gangster, and the Spy, influenced our understanding of these archetypes. From the early influences of Hamlet and Macbeth to Sherlock Holmes, Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe, Mario Puzo’s (and Francis Ford Coppola’s) The Godfather, James Bond, and Batman, we will look at the mythology and evolution of heroes and villains through popular and high culture icons, the genesis of the genres and how they developed over time, and how great directors, actors, and writers influenced audiences worldwide and were themselves influenced by culture and history.
EDDY FRIEDFELD is a film and entertainment journalist and historian. He is the co-author of Caesar’s Hours with comedy legend Sid Caesar, and is working on a book on the history of comedy in America. He was the Senior Consultant for the PBS documentary Make ’Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, has written and lectured extensively on entertainment, and has produced and hosted tributes to Alan King, Robert Altman, George Carlin, and Paul Newman, among others.
The Teachable Art of Governing
(FRSEM-UA 450; class # 14515)
Instructor: Gov. David A. Paterson
Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–noon
This course offers a view into the day-to-day working knowledge of politics. The key parts of politics examined in this course are how and why people get into politics, campaign and advertising strategies, representation, governing from the legislative and executive branch, managing credit and blame for policy, state budgeting, and specific case studies on areas of current policy change. The focus will be largely on current issues—specifically gay marriage and the obesity tax—framed by classic studies of politics. Readings will come from books, scholarly articles, and news media accounts. Students will learn from a combination of social science analyses of the weekly phenomena of interest and lectures will add the real-life insight provided by a long time practitioner of politics. Because of the advanced nature of the course, students are expected to write a research paper on a topic of their choosing that can be related to the readings and/or lectures of the class. Smaller, component papers will also be assigned throughout the class. An important part of the research paper will be a presentation of the finished project.
DAVID A. PATERSON was Governor of New York from 2008 to 2010. In 1985, at the age of 31, Governor Paterson was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate, becoming the youngest Senator in Albany at the time. In 2003, he became the first non-white legislative leader in New York’s history when he was elevated to Minority Leader of the Senate. In 2004, he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention and again in 2007 when he became New York’s first African-American Lieutenant Governor. He earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Columbia University in 1977, and completed his J.D. at Hofstra Law School in 1982.
From Saying to Meaning: The Literal and the Implied
(FRSEM-UA 451; class # 13640)
Instructor: Chris Barker
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
What we say has a literal meaning. For instance, the sentence “John has been visiting Boston a lot lately” imposes truth conditions on the world: that John has been traveling, that he has been to Boston, that this has happened recently, etc. But if I utter this sentence immediately after you ask me “Does John have a new girlfriend?”, you might reasonably conclude that I meant something more, that yes, John has a new girlfriend. The modern science of linguistics, building on the seminar work of Paul Grice, has considerable experience understanding the linguistic, economic, and social factors that relate what is said to what is meant. (These factors go by the cover term “pragmatics.”) This course will develop skills for reasoning carefully and rigorously about what is said versus what is meant. Data will include simple natural conversations, written texts, graphic novels, and advertisements. Topics will include entailment, implicature, presupposition, ambiguity, vagueness, politeness forms, lying, speech acts (“You’re fired!”), and metaphor. Work will include problem sets, short papers, and class presentations.
CHRIS BARKER is Professor of Linguistics. His research bridges the theory of programming language meaning (continuations, monads, substructural logics) and natural language meaning.
Diplomacy in the 21st Century: Contemporary
Challenges to an Ancient Profession
(FRSEM-UA 452; class # 14942)
Instructor: Ambassador François Barras
Monday, 9:30 a.m.–noon
Diplomacy, one of the prime methods by which mankind manages relations between politically organized groups, has undergone a profound transformation in recent decades due (among other factors) to the information revolution, globalization, and the increased relevance of new non-state actors in international affairs. How do diplomats and governments react to these changes? Does traditional diplomacy still matter in today’s world? What skills are required to be a competent diplomat in the 21st century? This seminar aims to answer these questions by exploring the many dimensions of contemporary diplomacy. We will begin with an historical perspective and then explore the different types of diplomatic activities, such as political, commercial, cultural, and scientific; bilateral and multilateral; soft and hard; secret, discreet, and public. We will also focus on current challenges facing diplomacy. Topics will be addressed through selected readings, discussions with the instructor, guest speakers, and visits to diplomatic missions in New York.
AMBASSADOR FRANÇOIS BARRAS is Consul General of Switzerland in New York. He was appointed to this post in 2010, having previously served as Ambassador of Switzerland to Lebanon (2006–2010), Swiss General Consul to Hong Kong and Macao (2003–2006), and Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates (1999–2003). Prior to this, he held several positions within the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs in Berne, Tel Aviv, Washington, and Mexico City. Ambassador Barras received a Ph.D. in Legal Anthropology from University of London, SOAS, in 1983, a Masters Degree in Anthropology from University of Virginia in 1976, and a Law Degree from the University of Geneva in 1974.
Cognitive Neuroscience Bursts out of the Lab
(FRSEM-UA 453; class # 13641)
Instructor: Nava Rubin
Thursday, 2:00–4:30 p.m.
Recent advances in cognitive neuroscience are providing exciting insights about human nature, but they also give rise to new dilemmas in public and private life. This course surveys the main findings (and myths) and explores both the challenges and the opportunities these findings create. Among the issues at the interface between neuroscience and society that we examine is use of drugs and other procedures for cognitive enhancement or modification, such as improved attention or selective memory erasure. Can society draw boundaries between medical necessities and optional luxuries? If so, who determines this? Another innovation we investigate is mind-reading technology, for it will soon be possible to determine reliably when a person is lying, and, one day, perhaps also to elicit withheld information without consent. How should societies balance individuals’ rights with the group’s interests? In the face of mounting evidence of links between brain structure and anti-social behavior, we discuss the relationship between criminal behaviors. Can “my brain made me do it” ever be a valid defense? Regarding racial, ethnic, and gender biases: should neuroscience findings make us revisit how we tackle those enduring issues, and if so, how? Finally, we explore what the neural basis of human striving for justice and morality can teach us as citizens.
NAVA RUBIN is Associate Professor of Neural Science. Her research expertise is in human visual perception and visual cognition, in particular their physiological and computational bases. Combining psychophysical experiments, brain imaging techniques (fMRI, EEG) and mathematical analysis, she has published many scientific articles and book chapters on topics ranging from visual motion and illusory contours to perceptual bi-stability and neurocinematics approaches to brain organization. More recently, her research activities have expanded into Social Cognitive Neuroscience, a field concerned with the neural basis of social perception and social cognition. She is the recipient of several research awards, including a McDonnell-Pew Award in Cognitive Neuroscience and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.
The Radical Intellectual Tradition in America
(FRSEM-UA 454; class # 14136)
Instructor: Jeff Goodwin
Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
From the colonial era to the present, many intellectuals have analyzed American society and have concluded that it should be transformed radically in order to ensure liberty and justice for all. For these radical intellectuals, America has never been as free and democratic as most intellectuals, liberal and conservative alike, have suggested. (Radicals have been as critical of liberal intellectuals and politicians—if not more so—as conservative ones.) They believe that economic and political elites have far too much power, especially the control of concentrated wealth, and ordinary folk not nearly enough. And radical intellectuals believe these elites have used their power and wealth overseas not in the “national interest,” but in self-interested ways that have been destructive of life and liberty, both here and abroad. This course will examine the radical intellectual tradition in America during two periods: the 1960s era of mass protest and the current period of war and recession. We will ask, simply, whether this tradition of thought is persuasive and, if so, what might be done to create a more just society. Students will read works by C. Wright Mills, Tom Hayden, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Howard Zinn, Michelle Alexander, and Chalmers Johnson.
JEFF GOODWIN is Professor of Sociology. He has written extensively about social movements, revolutions, and terrorism. His books include The Social Movements Reader, Rethinking Social Movements, Passionate Politics, and No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945–1991. He is currently writing a book about why some governments and political groups employ terrorism as a strategy. He is a winner of the College’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence.
Race in America, 1700–1965
(FRSEM-UA 455; class # 14135)
Instructor: Michael Nash
Tuesday, 6:20–8:50 p.m.
Race and racial identity have been at the center of the ongoing discussion about what it means to be an American. This seminar will explore the ways in which the ideas about race and racial identity have been formed and changed over time, from the colonial period to the present. Readings, discussion, and written work will focus on what it means to be African American, white, and Asian-American in the United States. The seminar will be interdisciplinary. It will draw on scholarship in American History, American Studies, labor studies, sociology, psychoanalysis, literature, and film. Dr. W.E.B. DuBois’ writings about “double consciousness,” first explored in his 1903 The Souls of Black Folk will be at the center of our discussion about African American racial identity. The seminar will also discuss whiteness and how this concept has been socially constructed. It will be taught in the Tamiment Library, one of our nation’s most important centers for the study of labor history and the history of the progressive politics. Tamiment’s archives, photographs, ephemeral collections, and oral histories will be our text books.
MICHAEL NASH is the Director of the Tamiment Library and teaches in the History Department. He is co-director of NYU’s Center for the United States and the Cold War and the Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center. His publications include Conflict and Accommodation: Coal Miners Steel Workers, and Socialism, 1890–1920; Red Activists and Black Freedom: James and Esther Jackson and the Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement; and The Good Fight Continues: World War II Letters from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
“Laboratories for Democracy”: Making American
(FRSEM-UA 456; class # 14011)
Instructor: Eric Gioia
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
At a time when many Americans have become increasingly frustrated with what government has produced, there are places that are getting it done right. Cities, states and municipalities serve as what Justice Brandeis called “little laboratories for democracy”—where ideas flourish and problems get solved. From fighting crime in the streets of New York City, to banning smoking in bars and restaurants, to making the power grid more efficient, to encouraging the arts and culture in urban environments, innovations in American cities have spread across the globe. This course examines the intersection of ideas, politics, and action. We study best practices from around the country (and the world), evaluate their effectiveness, and determine whether and how successful programs can be replicated. This course asks students to not only think critically issues of public policy but also to think anew about the role they play in shaping it. Topics for student projects are drawn from current issues and problems facing decision-makers and elected officials in America today.
ERIC GIOIA, ESQ. is an attorney with over eleven years of experience in business, law, and government. He joined J.P. Morgan in January 2010 after serving for eight years on the New York City Council. Prior to serving on City Council, Mr. Gioia practiced law at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, and served in the White House under President Bill Clinton. Mr. Gioia holds a B.A. from New York University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Discard Studies, or How to Read the World in Waste
(FRSEM-UA 457; class # 14132)
Instructor: Robin Nagle
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
In contemporary life, we’re used to the idea that we can discard nearly anything. The act of creating garbage is so casual and so continual that it almost feels like a right—but the practice is costly. Modern discard habits have caused unprecedented environmental problems within the United States and around the world, and that’s only their most obvious consequence. Waste generation, definitions, and disposal reveal startling assumptions about our relationships to the material world and to each other. This class considers the practical side of living in a throw-away society while also exploring the deeper cultural conventions around which such a society is organized. We’ll study the history and infrastructure of solid waste management and ask how other cultures have dealt with garbage issues. We’ll look at how our discard habits reflect patterns of thinking that understand time in a historically new way; examine the challenge of tracing a commodity from its raw materials through processes of extraction, manufacture, distribution, and consumption; and survey some of the global economic and political contexts of our cast-offs. These and other themes will be explored through readings, field trips, practice-experiments, regular contributions to a class blog, and occasional lectures from invited guest experts. Students should be aware that this class has a significant writing component.
ROBIN NAGLE, director of the Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Arts and Science, teaches anthropology and urban studies. She is anthropologist-in-residence for New York City’s Department of Sanitation. Her ethnography about the DSNY is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Not in My Back Yard: Exploring Environmental Justice and Equity in Our Communities
(FRSEM-UA 458; class # 14131)
Instructor: Sara Pesek
Thursday, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
Would you buy a house next to a landfill? Would you want your younger siblings playing next to a factory that emits carcinogens? Environmental degradation affects all Americans, but the impact isn’t always equitable. Many communities experience disparate distribution of environmental burdens. There is a growing awareness among citizens as well as policymakers—including at the highest level of government—about the impact of concentrating landfills, power plants, and highways in disadvantaged communities. Yet these environmental “bads” continue to be sited disproportionately among the worst-off—typically also those with the least power to object, legally or politically. This seminar examines environmental justice through readings, field trips, mixed media (including movies), and conversations with environmental justice advocates in New York City. It isn’t just a tree-hugger’s seminar; rather, students will explore environmental justice issues through economic, political, and social lenses. Students will focus on the ways we can positively impact our communities—social involvement that can potentially result in more equitable distribution of environmental benefits.
SARA PESEK is Director of the Environmental Finance Center, one of nine such Centers around the U.S. established under EPA auspices. She is also an adjunct faculty member in NYU’s Environmental Studies Program. She is a nationally-recognized expert in sustainability education and environmental program implementation. Pesek writes and speaks internationally on issues such as sustainable materials management, green building, local food systems, and water resources. She is on the board of two environmental nonprofits and was appointed as Faculty Affiliate for the Green Stream in NYU’s Goddard Residential College for first-year students. She has also led two alternative spring break trips to New Orleans for NYU students to participate in Historic Green, a project dedicated to the sustainable rebuilding of the Lower 9th Ward.
Drama Criticism: In History and Practice
(FRSEM-UA 459; class # 14130)
Instructor: Ethan Youngerman
Thursday, 2:00–4.30 p.m.
The history of theater criticism begins with an obscure newspaperman named Plato. Ever since, writers have struggled to capture performance on the page. This craft requires, among other things, a basic knowledge of all aspects of theater—after all, how else can we assess something as complex and collaborative as a play’s production? Put another way: how do we know the difference between an amazing actor and an amazingly written part (or between a bad actor and a good actor laboring under horrible direction)? Readings to help us grapple with these questions include many of the great modern theater reviewers (Richard Gilman, John Brown, Frank Rich, John Simon), as well as reviews written by playwrights and poets (everyone from George Bernard Shaw and David Mamet to Dorothy Parker). We also read and workshop the reviews of New York’s newest theater critics: you. Students review four current New York theater productions, as well as write a critical research essay. In this way, we study the history of theater reviews so that we can get better at writing them ourselves, and we write them ourselves so that we can better understand their history.
ETHAN YOUNGERMAN is the Director of Writing the Essay in Goddard Residential College and a Lecturer in the Expository Writing Program, where he has won departmental awards for Excellence in Teaching every year since he joined the faculty. He is also a playwright and his plays have been workshopped or produced at numerous theaters, including Manhattan Theatre Club, the Living Theater, and the Hangar Theatre. His play The Sublet Experiment ran for over six months in actual New York City apartments, receiving positive reviews from the New York Times, the AP, New York magazine, and many other publications. He received his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from NYU.
Literature, Economics, and History in 18th-Century Britain
(FRSEM-UA 460; class # 16551)
Instructor: Kevin R. Brine
Wednesday, 4:55–7:25 p.m.
Few authors have had more influence on modern thought than Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson, and Edward Gibbon. Smith defined the terms by which we understand modern economics; Johnson taught us how to read English literature; and Gibbon pointed the way to modern historiography with an account of the Roman Empire that has never been surpassed. All three were members of the same Literary Club, founded by Johnson and the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1764. In 1791, Club member James Boswell published the remarkable biography Life of Johnson, which vividly portrays the intellectual life of Georgian Britain through an astounding wealth of anecdotes, intellectual repartee, and the personal details of an unforgettable and larger-than- life Samuel Johnson. In this course we read selections from Life of Johnson, Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776), and Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire (1776), with an eye toward the contemporary relevance of these works. Students come to know Samuel Johnson as though he were a family friend, gain a deep understanding of Adam Smith’s concept of how a modern economy works, and see the ancient grandeur of Rome through the eyes of one of the world’s most influential historians. Working in small groups, students learn to present their ideas in a seminar setting and improve their writing skills with assignments geared toward expressing their ideas and insights.
KEVIN R. BRINE had a long and successful career on Wall Street, before turning to the study and practice of three of his passions: literature, art, and economics. Mr. Brine holds an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business and an M.A. in English from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. A former Trustee of New York University, he is a member of the Board of Overseers of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, founding Chairman of the Libraries’ Deans Council and co-founder of NYU’s Re:Enlightenment Project. His 2005 gift enabled the transformation of the Bobst Library’s two lower floors into the Brine Commons, which is devoted to undergraduate student life. His publications include Objects of Enquiry: The Life, Contributions and Influences of Sir William Jones (1746-1794); The Porch of the Caryatids: The Drawings, Paintings and Sculptures of Kevin R Brine; and The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across the Disciplines. He is currently working on a history of financial models, co-authored with Professor Mary Poovey, with whom he is also co-teaching a graduate course on Samuel Johnson’s Literary Club.
Reading The Dream of the Red Chamber
(FRSEM-UA 461; class # 16742)
Instructor: Jing Wang
Monday, 3:30–6:00 p.m.
The Dream of the Red Chamber is an epic literary classic produced by Cao Xueqin in the middle of the 18th century. Following the traditional form of Chinese fiction, known as “the chaptered novel,” it covers a vast terrain of Chinese culture and social life and is widely regarded as the culmination of the vernacular novel of imperial China and a synthesis of Chinese aesthetic and philosophical traditions. With the tragic love story between two teenage members of an aristocratic clan in southern China at its dramatic center the novel intimately explores the questions concerning what is eternal and what is ephemeral; love and affection, or “qing,” as the heart of being that both animates and destroys life; the nature of individual talent and its fragility; the excesses and decadence of the privileged; as well as the growing, if hidden, social and class tensions. Its manifold structure, intricate plot development, coupled with its dazzling array of memorable characters, makes this novel the most complex and colorful of all times. Both reading and discussions are conducted in English.
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.
Oral History of Irish America
(FRSEM-UA 462; class # 16937)
Instructor: Linda Dowling Almeida
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
This seminar is a unique experience that offers freshmen an interdisciplinary approach to documenting the lived experience of Irish Americans and their communities in a small class setting. The course reviews the methodology of oral history, its significance as a resource, its role in historical research, specific interviewing and research techniques, and the opportunity to create an original public history document that will be deposited in the Archives of Irish America at NYU for use by scholars in a variety of research projects. Students will be assigned an interview subject chosen from the Irish American community in New York City. To date we have interviewed parish priests from the Bronx, an Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and director, a National Book Award-winning novelist, as well as actors, musicians, teachers, and Wall Street executives. In addition to the interview, the course includes classroom lectures, readings, and extensive writing exercises. The final project (which will undergo careful editing and numerous rewrites) includes a biography and full finding aid to the interview for the archive, as well as web content that will be launched on the Glucksman Ireland House Oral History website. This course offers real world experience and communications skills acquisition that will be invaluable throughout students’ academic and professional careers.
LINDA DOWLING ALMEIDA, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Irish Studies at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House, teaches classes in the history and literature of Irish America. Specializing in twentieth-century immigration, Professor Almeida has focused primarily on the “New Irish” of the 1980s and 90s, publishing chapters in The Irish World Wide (1992), Ireland in the 1950s (2004), and Making the Irish American (2006). Her book Irish Immigrants in New York City, 1945-1995 (2001) compared those who arrived in the 1950s with their counterparts thirty and forty years later. She has delivered papers on pedagogical approaches to oral history to both the Oral History Association and the International Oral History Association. Her latest project involves the production of podcasts on a variety of themes and issues drawn from the archives.