First Year Program (FIRST-UG)

FIRST-UG 24  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Migration & American Culture  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will examine the immigrant and migrant narratives of varied racial and ethnic groups in the United States. What changes in identity and in political, social and economic status did they experience? What were the newcomers’ expectations of their environment, and what reality did they encounter? Our study will look at coping mechanisms, the forging of intra-tribal identity, the sociology of survival, and the concept of ‘otherness.’ We will be joined by guest lecturers from notable sites including the National Museum of the American Indian, the Tenement Museum, the African Burial Ground, the Museum of the City of New York, El Museo del Barrio, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Museum of Chinese in America, and Ellis Island. Readings may include such texts as How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, The Lucky Ones by Mae Ngai, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez, Dance and the Railroad by David Henry Hwang, and Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson. Films will include Family Name by Mackie Alston and A Raisin in the Sun.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 31  First Year Seminar:  (4 Credits)  
Generally, people identify themselves as individuals, and yet also as belonging to a certain community. We will ask, how do we define and understand ourselves as individuals? What is a ?subject?? How are communities constructed and imagined? What does it mean to ?belong? to a nation, an ethnic group, or a culture? Conversely, how do we imagine outsiders, foreigners, outcasts, that is, the ?Other?? We will combine philosophic, anthropological, psychoanalytic, and historical treatments of subjectivity, race, community, and ethnicity, to address these questions. Readings will include: Anderson's Imagined Communities, Freud's Civilization and its Discontents, Marx's ?The Fetishism of the Commodity,? Said's Orientalism, and Jean-Paul Sartre's ?The Look.?
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 32  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Social Construction of Reality  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How do we know what is real and what is illusion? From the philosophy of the ancient Greeks to contemporary movies such as The Matrix, this question has haunted humankind. This course begins with the premise that "the real" is something we construct. We create reality through the stories we tell and the stories told to us. Since the most powerful storytellers today are the commercial media, we will pay special attention to the role of entertainment, advertising, and public relations in constructing our reality. Texts for the course include works by Plato, Rene Descartes, W.E.B. Du Bois, Maxine Hong Kingston, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herman Melville, Walter Lippmann, Jean Baudrillard, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, Jonathan Lear, John Berger, and the Blackfoot peoples.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 35  First Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Family  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In our society, the concept of “family” is paradoxically omnipresent but elusive: politicians seek to define it, marketers struggle to reach it, artists attempt to represent it, and many individuals hope to transcend it. This course offers both a critical examination of family in the United States and a survey of the academic disciplines that study it. As we will see, legal, social, and personal definitions of family are fluid because historical processes such as slavery, immigration, feminism, and gay liberation re-shape popular conceptualizations of family. Similarly, disciplines such as history, sociology, biology, law, literature, and literary theory routinely offer new and sometimes contradictory ways of understanding family. This course will use these disciplines to illuminate the complicated ideas and emotions that can surround what arguably are our closest relationships. Works we may study include Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Octavia Butler's Kindred, Eric Klinenberg's Going Solo, Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Born, and the photography of Sally Mann.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 38  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Science and Society  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Although there is a persistent myth that science is somehow separate from the rest of culture, science has always been intricately interrelated with the societies in which it is done. This course explores the relationship between science and society by examining selected historical and contemporary controversies, competitions, debates, and trials involving scientific knowledge and its applications. Topics will include controversies involving science and religion, investigations into “pseudosciences,” science-related legal trials, campaigns to sway public opinion about scientific issues, such as nuclear energy, evolution or global warming, debates over the relationship between science and the state, and characterizations of science and scientists in literature, films, and popular media. Our sources will be a variety of writings by scientists, historians, philosophers, social theorists, and journalists, as well as works of fiction and documentary films. Readings may include selections by Paul Feyerabend, Carl Sagan, Rachel Carson, Evelyn Keller, Richard Dawkins, Dava Sobel, James Watson, Naomi Oreskes, Stephen Gould, and Chris Mooney, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 42  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Wealth, Power and Inequality  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
For many political and economic thinkers, the free market and the private economy are the fundamental building blocks of democratic political systems. Yet activist movements of the past twenty years have been increasingly critical of the ways in which private corporations and the inequality of wealth negatively affect our democracy. This seminar will evaluate different theories of capitalism and consider the ways that thinking about capitalism has changed over time. Is economic inequality a threat to democratic institutions? How does our political system cope—or fail to cope—with large concentrations of private power and wealth? What does it mean to think about economic life from different disciplinary perspectives? Possible readings may include Adam Smith, Max Weber, Nancy Folbre, and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 43  First-Year Interdis Sem: Travel Fictions  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The novelist John Gardner once said there were only two plots to all of the stories ever told: a stranger comes to town, and someone goes on a journey. There may be other plots, but the encounter between those who are settled and those who are on the move is one of the most intriguing and compelling of literary themes. Focusing on novels and short stories, this course asks what happens when travelers and tourists come into contact with the locals and native-born. It examines the way travelers preconceive and apprehend foreign places, the problematic search for the ?authentic? and ?essential,? and the view of tourism as a form of neo-colonialism, involving issues of power and possession, race and class, exoticism and Otherness. Readings may include James? Daisy Miller, Mann?s Death in Venice, Hemingway?s The Sun Also Rises, Bowles? The Sheltering Sky, and McEwan?s The Comfort of Strangers, as well as articles on the history, sociology, politics, and economics of travel and tourism.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 47  First Year Seminar:  (4 Credits)  
Edward Vining (1881): ?Hamlet is a woman.? William Hazlitt (1906): ?It is we, who are Hamlet.? G. Wilson Knight (1930): ?It is Hamlet, not Claudius, who is the villain of the piece.? Steven Berkoff (1989): ?Hamlet is a quest for the most perfect we can make ourselves.? Throughout time scholars, theorists, directors, performers, and writers have wrestled with Shakespeare?s most famous and influential work. In this course we will follow in the footsteps of such thinkers as Go?the, Freud, Eliot, and Laing to investigate the major interpretative puzzles posed by the play and its elusive principal characters. The central aim of this course is to introduce students to the methods and materials of bibliographic and archival research as they develop and support their own theoretic arguments about this pivotal work. Written assignments (papers, research journal and final project) will be generated from responses to Shakespeare?s text(s), critical theories, dramatic interpretations, individual literary analysis and secondary research. Course readings may also include such works as Aristotle's Poetics, Bacon's ?On Revenge,? Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Updike's Gertrude and Claudius.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 49  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Self and the Call of the Other  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Ovid’s story of Echo and Narcissus from Metamorphoses portrays the dangers of refusing to heed the call of the Other. Absorbed by his own image, Narcissus ignores the nymph Echo, who relies upon his words to speak. His solipsism leads to their deaths. This class takes Ovid’s story as a model for investigating how the self is shaped in relation to the other, a question considered by psychologists, writers, philosophers, filmmakers and literary critics. We will read psychological discussions of the development of the self or ego (Freud, Winnicott, Benjamin), literary portrayals of the self in relation to others (Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Joyce’s “The Dead,” Duras’ The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein), and philosophical essays (Blanchot, Levinas). We will examine the breakdown in the connection between the self and the other due to trauma, reading essays in trauma studies (Caruth and Brison), and the ways in which colonialism and empire shape conceptions of self and other, reading novels (Forster, A Passage To India) and theory (Said, Spivak). We will also ask what problems arise specifically when women speak—how Echo finds a voice—viewing the films Spellbound and Sunset Boulevard.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 50  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The City and the Grassroots  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course uses literature, social theory, and walking tours to explore the role of "urban space" in mediating social movements and everyday life. We'll address the following questions: what makes a "city"? What does "urban" mean? Is "urban consciousness" a necessary condition for understanding how society works and who modern people are? How can we understand the city as an object of social conflict and social change, and yet also as a political community seeking to shape its own destiny? Readings will include Saskia Sassen's The Global City, Neil Smith's The New Urban Frontier, James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, Manuel Castells' The City and the Grassroots, Doreen Massey's Space, Place, and Gender, Henri Lefebvre's The Urban Revolution, and Cynthia Kadohata's In the Heart of the Valley of Love.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 51  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Thingliness of Things  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course engages a seemingly simple question: What is an object? Relatedly, what is a thing? As a means of illuminating these questions, we will consult everyday objects, theories of various object forms (from our very first loved objects, to commodities, fetishes, even lost things) and literary and artistic representations. One of our challenges will be to learn to read objects both by having them at hand, and by understanding how economic, psychic, and social values shape their visual and material properties. In this process, we will engage the popular view that objects tell us something, first and foremost, about the people who create and use them. We will also encounter the taboo proposition that objects may have an intentionality of their own, and that humans do not dictate the meaning of all things. Readings may include Winnicott, “Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena”; Marx, “Commodities”; Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style; Baudrillard, “The Ideological Genesis of Need”; Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 53  First-Year Interdis Sem: Novel Freedoms  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Novels create whole worlds, for characters and readers alike. This course will investigate the relationship between the frameworks that writers build, and the freedoms that they imagine. Some novels record journeys, others focus on realized or unrequited love, still others are stories of individual growth. Whatever the subject, we will ask how the world within the novel is imagined in order to understand the freedoms at stake in particular narrative designs. What freedom does narrative uncertainty provide for a reader, and what freedom does a fictional narrator (omniscient, limited, or unreliable) suggest? Together we will consider how the elements of the novel?its structure, narrative style and voice?imagine freedom, making the world inside and outside the novel new. Although the novel will provide our main focus, we will also examine other texts including film, Greek tragedy, and personal essays. Authors will include Sophocles, Aristotle, Alcott, James, Woolf and Hurston.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 57  First-Year Sem: Incivility in Age of Civ  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In Cameroon women farmers defecate before state officials to protest endemic corruption. In India villagers forced to relocate to make way for dams risk death by squatting on slowly-flooding lands. In Venezuela men jailed for years before seeing trial sew shut their lips to demand justice. As international development ageIn Cameroon women farmers defecate before state officials to protest endemic corruption. In India villagers forced to relocate to make way for dams risk death by squatting on slowly-flooding lands. In Venezuela men jailed for years before seeing trial sew shut their lips to demand justice. As international development agendas peg the spread of democracy to the rise of global ?civil society,? how do we make sense of these ?uncivil? acts? This course examines the function of incivility in modern political thought and practice, drawing from the works of Machiavelli and Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, Thoureau and Tocqueville, Putnam and Fukuyama, Chartejee and }i~ek. The goal is to trace how ?civil society? has come to define what constitutes legitimate political action in democracy, in the process marginalizing as illegitimate forms of action that appear uncivil. Then, by examining contemporary case studies, we will assess how culture and history blur the boundaries between civility and incivility in the pursuit of effective government, asking: What currents of social capital underlay the exercise of incivility, and how might they be incorporated into a common language of democratization for the twenty first century? Is there a place for incivility in modern democracy, or has irreverence become irrelevant?
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 58  First-Year Interdis Sem: "Character"  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will consider two seemingly simple questions: What is ?character?? What is a ?character?? First, character is a fundamental element of the primal human activity of storytelling: Can we imagine a story without a character? A character without a story? Second, character can serve as a symbolic embodiment of the values and virtues of the culture that produced it: What can we learn from studying cultural heroes and archetypes? Why does modernity favor stories of highly individuated characters over stories of idealized ?types?? Third, the word ?character? also means ?personality?: Is character in that sense innate or ?built,? something genuine or a role we perform to meet social expectations external to our true and hidden self? We will consider these questions by observing and analyzing representations of self and others from cave drawings to Renaissance portraiture and photography, from epic poetry to tabloid magazine stars and Internet avatars. Possible readings include The Odyssey, Oedipus the King, The Poetics, Hamlet, Bartleby the Scrivener, Jane Eyre, ?The Unconscious? (Freud), Black Boy; and selections from Galen, Marcus Aurelius, Chaucer, and modern theorists of the self and representation.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 59  First-Year Seminar: Sports, Race & Politics  (4 Credits)  
Beyond spectacular touchdowns and walk-off grand slams, sport in the Americas remains a vital institution for analyzing the ideological/theoretical frameworks of nationalism, diplomacy, corruption, race, gender and sexuality, and aesthetics. From Joe Louis?s historic fight against Max Schmeling in June 1936 to concerns of sexuality in the NFL, NBA and WNBA, sport should be understood beyond masculine bravado, violence and the joy and agony of competition, but also as a serious vehicle for conceptualizing and analyzing cultural, political and economic issues that shape society. This course examines sports (baseball, boxing, soccer, basketball and cricket), primarily from a U.S. and Latin American/Caribbean context, during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In what ways do these sports reify concepts of race and gender? How is it utilized as a tool of diplomatic relations? Through primary document analysis and secondary source readings such as Adrian Burgos?s Playing America?s Game: Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line, and Grant Farred?s Long Distance Love: A Passion for Football and C.L.R James?s Beyond a Boundary this course will allow students to further assess the significance of sport in shaping culture and politics in our global society.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 60  First-Year Seminar: The Search Fo Community  (4 Credits)  
Some people see community in a romantic vision of the small town where everyone knows everyone else; some find it in a bustling urban neighborhood with its food coops and street fairs; yet others find virtual community online. This course will examine some of the literatures on the concept and experience of community?in sociology, anthropology, politics, history?and help students grapple with its meaning in their lives. It will ask: What is community? How has it changed historically? What are its benefits (to individual well-being, child development, or political solidarity) and dangers (to individual expression, economic development, or political democracy)? How has community been represented in literature and the other creative arts? We will explore the possibilities and challenges of mobilizing various kinds of communities, and may have conversations with community activists and organizers. Students will conduct and present case studies of different forms of community, and will produce various kinds of representation of community life. Readings may include: Delanty, Community; Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community; Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart; Jackson, Harlemworld; Davila, Barrio Dreams; Gregory, Black Corona; and Alinsky, Rules for Radicals.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 62  First-Year Seminar: Ritual & Art  (4 Credits)  
How do we understand the origins of art? What can we mean when we use the word art? What is the continuing relationship between ritual and art? This seminar explores ritual and art among first peoples and ancient societies through major expressions of indigenous and western cultures. We follow paths of evidence from the earliest rituals evoked in archaeologist Randall White?s Dark Caves, Bright Visions: Life in Ice Age Europe to Jane Harrison?s study of ritual as the bridge from ?lived life? into art in ancient Greece during Karl Jasper's ?axial age.? We note the braiding of ritual and art in Arnold van Gennep?s Rites of Passage, their role in play in historian Johan Huizinga?s Homo Ludens, and in anthropologists Paul Radin, Dorothy Lee and Edmund Carpenter?s recording of American Indian ritual drama. The seminar engages ritual in modern urban life through Georg Simmel and Richard Sennett?s studies of the ?Metropolis and Mental Life;? in visual art through the performance life of twentieth century Dada, Jackson Pollock?s attachment to Navajo ritual sand paintings, and Allan Kaprow's ?Happenings.? The seminar concludes with Victor Turner?s From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play as a guide to the major twentieth century innovations of Jerzy Grotowski?s ?Poor Theatre? and Augusto Boal?s Theater of the Oppressed. Student work will explore how we continue to imagine the interplay of ritual, art and the building of community.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 63  First-Year Interdis Sem: Scientific Revolution  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Science is today one of the most powerful ways to understand the world. But there was a time when all the foundations of modern science—experiments, theories, mathematics, scientific instruments—were considered radical, unreliable, and unjustified. The period when these foundations came to be accepted is known as the Scientific Revolution. This was the era of Copernicus, Newton, and Galileo pioneering dramatically new ways of thinking about the universe and humanity’s place in it, and this course explores how these new ways came to be accepted. We will look at not just the great achievements of the Scientific Revolution, but also how those achievements were crucially interdependent on the contemporary context of society, politics, religion, printing, and art. We will discuss why science appeared when and where it did, how science impacted society, and how we can retain the power of science while also acknowledging that it is fundamentally a human enterprise. Readings include works by Aristotle, Copernicus, Descartes, Boyle, Vesalius, William Harvey, Francis Bacon, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, and Leibniz, as well as selections from Shapin and Schaffer’s Leviathan and the Air Pump, Daston and Park’s Wonders and the Order of Nature, and Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 64  First-Year Seminar: Globalization  (4 Credits)  
In popular and scholarly discourse, the term "globalization" is widely used to put a name to the shape of the contemporary world. In the realms of advertising, policymaking, politics, academia, and everyday talk, "globalization" references the sense that we are now living in a deeply and ever-increasingly interconnected, mobile, and speeded-up world that is unprecedented, fueled by technological innovations and geopolitical and economic transformations. Drawing on perspectives from history, anthropology, cultural and literary studies, geography, political economy, and sociology, this course will explore theories, discourses, and experiences of globalization. Running through the course are three central concerns: 1) exploring claims about the "new-ness" of globalization from historical perspectives, 2) examining how a variety of social and cultural worlds mediate globalization and 3) analyzing a contested politics of globalization in which the opportunities for social mobility and transformation are pitted against renewed intensifications of exploitation and vulnerability along long-standing vectors of difference and inequality. While "globalization" is often touted as a "flattening" of the world, this course moves beyond such clichs to understand the intersection between large-scale transformations in political economy and culture and multiple cultural worlds situated unevenly on the world's map.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 65  First-Year Interdis Sem: Beyond Language: The Surreal, the Monstrous, and the Mystical  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Texts of the surreal, the monstrous, and the mystical are portrayals of experiences that, while they may be outside traditional logic, are clearly central to the human imagination. The texts studied in this course will reveal these experiences as metaphors of anxiety, depictions of radical subjectivity, and as manifestations of our unconscious fears and desires. Students are presented with the fascinating but difficult project of researching, interpreting, and describing irrational mental states often said to be “beyond language,” yet existing within language. Through discussion, informal writing, and experiential activities, we will take various approaches to understanding depictions of these experiences as well as their surrounding discourse. We will focus on issues of order vs. chaos, logic vs. irrationality, chance and fate, immanence and transcendence, self and other, and the concepts of nothingness, the uncanny, and the posthuman. Readings will include essays from diverse fields such as psychology (Freud, Lacan), science (Hawking, Sagan, Gleick), and literary and cultural theory (Haraway, Beal, Kurzweil), as well as surrealistic poetry, literary monster narratives from the Bible to Dracula, mystical and devotional texts, and testimonies of paranormal encounters. We will also look at visual art, installation art, film, and television.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 66  First-Year Interdis Sem: War and Peace  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
?We make war that we may live in peace.? Thus did Aristotle justify war in his time. This explanation has since been echoed, adapted, and refuted by many who have grappled with the brutality and devastation of war in their own time. Ben Franklin argued that, ?There never was a good war or a bad peace.? And John F. Kennedy pronounced it an ?unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.? Explanations of war and peace have been especially important in the last one hundred years, the bloodiest in human history. All told, as many as 170 million people died in wars in the twentieth century. In addition to the dead, there are the wounded and survivors, who struggle with the loss and destruction left in war?s wake. The sheer pervasiveness and devastation of armed conflict in our time prompts fundamental questions about the nature and purpose of war. Why do countries go to war? Is there such a thing as a good war? Can war be prevented, and if so, how? We will explore these and related questions through classical as well as modern texts in political theory, history, literature, and film. Readings will include Thucydides, Grotius, Kant, Arendt, Morgenthau, Heller, Ehrenreich, and Sontag.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 67  First-Year Interdis Sem:  (4 Credits)  
Literature can offer a window into the experience of being poor, but it also shapes and enacts cultural assumptions about the causes, nature, and phenomenology of poverty. In this seminar we will attend to poverty as it has been constituted in American literature, mindful of the ways that literary discourses on poverty have been central to debates about social justice, citizenship, political reform, and racial and gender identities. Considerations of class are often introduced as part of the critical triumvirate of race/ gender/ class, but a critical engagement with poverty can also confound these categories and expose some of the blind spots and hierarchies that inform conventional notions of social difference and identity. Does poverty pose a unique representational and ideological crisis for the United States, where profound structural inequality and pervasive doctrines of social equality converge? Our primary readings will focus on American authors?Herman Melville, Tillie Olsen, Richard Wright, James Agee, Dorothy Allison?who are particularly self-conscious about the problems poverty poses for aesthetics as well as politics. What if anything can the literary say about poverty that the literal cannot?
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 68  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Ancient Hero & The Heroic  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The names of ancient heroes are well known, even today: Gilgamesh, Achilles, Herakles, Jason, Aeneas. But the nature of these individuals is a complex and ambivalent one, even in the context of the ancient world. They are capable of distinctly unheroic behavior: they are selfish and destructive—at times committing horrific deeds—and on occasion they are lampooned within cultures that simultaneously honor them with sacrifices and temples. This class will explore the apparent slippage between the ancient identities of “the hero” and the modern understandings of “the heroic.” We will pay particular attention to the issues of what it is that defines a hero, how cultural understandings of heroic behavior differ, and whether ancient heroes are—and in what respect—heroic. In pursuing these topics, we will make use of both the literary and the visual construction of heroes, and the course will involve class trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Readings may include Homer, Iliad and Odyssey; Euripides, Medea; Sophocles, Ajax and Women of Trachis; Aristotle, Poetics; J. Campbell; O. Rank; C. Jung.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 69  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Boundaries and Transgressions  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Boundaries, especially those thought to separate national communities, are powerful human inventions that can scar landscapes and bodies. The frontiers of the United States, for example, have been centuries in the making. Yet, these geographical imaginaries, however stable they may appear, depend on their continuous embracing, enforcement and redefinition. Indeed, the limits of the U.S. community (where the national ends and the foreign begins) are redefined on a daily basis along such sites as the Rio Grande, Guantánamo and others. These sites—porous and formidable—are the cause of much movement, anxiety and debate. This course takes boundaries as a lens through which to think about identity formation, community building and transgressions. It will begin with a broad exploration of boundary-making, subjectivities and imperial formations, and then address more specific dynamics of national demarcations (with special attention paid to U.S. and Haiti/Dominican Republic frontiers). The following questions guide the semester: How are boundaries imagined into existence and made to matter in the daily lives of different peoples? And, how can transgression and its consequences be understood? Readings might include Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones, Frederick Jackson Turner’s The Significance of the Frontier in American History, and texts by Sigmund Freud, Amy Kaplan, Gloria Anzaldúa and Julia Kristeva.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 70  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Holy Grails  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The Quest for the Holy Grail has captured the modern Western imagination, inspiring bestselling fiction, scholarly and conspiratorial study, and no fewer than fourteen feature films since the silent era. In this course, students will discover the ways in which our twentieth-century fascination with the legendary Cup is only the most recent incarnation of a long obsession in popular Western culture—one that reaches back in time to at least the twelfth century, and possibly earlier still. The Holy Grail will serve as a case study for learning about the Middle Ages and medievalism in our world today. We will study the flourishing of the Grail legend in twelfth- and thirteenth-century courtly society, but we will think about other “Grails” as well: quests for the unknown, the unseen, and the unconquered; fascination with conspiracy; fear of cultural and religious difference; and above all, the hope that human beings invest in symbols, not just of the divine, but also of transcendent kindness, compassion, and sacrifice. Readings will include the Perceval romances of Chrétien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach, Robert de Boron’s Merlin, and Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. We will examine our modern associations of the Grail legend with Crusade, the Knights Templar, the Papacy, and Christian spirituality. And in dialogue with theorists of anthropology, political science, psychology, and comparative mythology, we will discuss why we pursue holy grails in the first place—what keeps us striving for those tantalizing, ultimately unreachable goals that nevertheless compel us ever forward.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 71  First Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Political Theatre and Performance  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What makes theatre political? What hopes for changing the world does theatre dramatize? What does the study of theatre teach us about politics? How does the theatre become a productive site not only for representing, but also for enacting, political change? How can the practice of embodied performance intervene in politics? This course explores these questions by reading a wide range of plays and theorists working in different time periods, different geographical locations and within different theatrical traditions. The course will engage with a range of political issues with an emphasis on migration and borders. Likely playwrights we will study include: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Ngugi wa Thiong'o & Ngugi wa Mirii, Anna Deveare Smith, Caryl Churchill, Clifford Odets, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 72  First-Year Interdis Sem: Why Monsters  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Monsters in many forms and shapes stretch back to the beginning of recorded time, first in folklore, later in literature. However, the monster that catches the current imagination is always changing and always a reflection of its times. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries excitement and anxiety about scientific experiments, epidemics, immigration, studies in heredity as well as abnormal psychology, two world wars, the threat of communism, the Atom bomb and AIDS have been mythologized through the monsters that emerged in fiction, on the stage, and on film. This course explores several of these modern monster figures, examining them within the cultural, political, philosophical, and economic contexts of their creation. Our ?monster? readings and viewings will include, but not be limited to, Frankenstein?s Creature, Dr. Jekyll?s Mr. Hyde, Count Dracula, Godzilla and his original Japanese incarnation as Godjira, the Body Snatchers. One of the central figures remains that media star, the vampire figure, who, as Nina Auerbach has observed, is for every generation a part of what their times have become. Additional readings will include essays from a range of fields.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 73  First-Year Interdis Sem: The Self & The Political  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What defines "the self"? Is it possible to "know thyself"? Or is the self something opaque, unknowable, secret, or in the parlance of psychoanalysis, the effect of unconscious drives? Is selfhood an internal experience or does that very experience come from outside, from others? Is the self primarily autonomous, or the effect of social and political forces? How do worldly definitions of gender and/or race come into play when we define ourselves or others? What, then, are the possibilities and limitations of "self-fashioning"?in what senses are we free to (re)invent ourselves? These questions are important not only in terms of self-understanding but also because the answers have political implications. In this course, we will thus consider how different authors imagine both the self and its relation to the political. We will begin by reading classic definitions of the self: Plato, Seneca, Montaigne. We then will turn to modern theorists of the self, including Rousseau, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, as well as Judith Butler and Toni Morrison.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 74  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Collective Memory of Atrocity and Injustice  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Primo Levi wrote, “Never forget that this has happened.” Levi’s imperative raises important questions about the role of memory in the context of atrocity and injustice. What is the difference between individual and collective memory? What is the purpose of remembering atrocity? What is the relationship between memory and justice? What gets forgotten in the collective memory and why? Is historical amnesia necessarily bad? How might collective memory serve to address ongoing systemic injustice? We will pursue such questions by examining specific genres and forms of collective memory--including memorials, truth commissions, reparations movements, and ecological activism--examining how they have shaped, challenged, and revised understandings of atrocity and injustice from the nineteenth century to the present. In addition to informal response papers, students will write 3 formal essays over the course of the semester. Readings may include works by Maurice Halbwachs, Maya Lin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Fred Wilcox.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 75  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Arabian Nights  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie. It continues to play a disproportionate role in constructing and perpetuating an essentialized and imaginary East, populated by violent and hypersexual beings. The narratives of the Nights and the cultural archive they have spawned have had a fascinating influence on literary and artistic production, popular culture and political imagination. The course introduces students to this important world masterpiece and the debates surrounding it. We will start out by briefly tracing the genealogy of this collectively authored and anonymous text, its collection and versions and the cultural context of its translation and popularity in the west. We will then explore the literary structure and narrative strategies an d dynamics of the Nights, read some of its most famous cycles and discuss how they have been read from a variety of perspectives, focusing primarily on gender and sexuality, power and politics, and otherness and boundaries. In the last part of the course we will read some of the modern literary works inspired by the Nights (Borges, Mahfouz, and Rushdie) and will end by watching and exploring how the Nights fared in adaptations in popular culture, especially in the US.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 76  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: What is "Development?"  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
From Bono to indigenous community activists in the Amazon, everyone is talking about 'development.' The term, however, means different things to different people and has a long and contentious history. This course considers understandings and measures of international development and poverty from an interdisciplinary perspective. Bridging different conceptions of development rooted in economic, social, cultural, political, psychological, and ecological traditions, it seeks to expose and compare the fundamental assumptions behind different ideas of how people and nations get ahead, indeed flourish. The goal is to provide a clear sense of the chief objects, processes, actors, and policies of development in order to grapple with the important stakes held by these different approaches to transforming societies and economies. Readings may include: Amartya Sen, Frantz Fanon, Bill Easterly, and Herman Daly.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 77  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: The Game of Go & the Art of War in Early China  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this course, we will combine academic study with an experiential approach to the topic of strategy as an element of both structured play and warfare in early China. To set the stage, we will begin by thinking about the larger meaning of play as a universal human activity and contextualizing several examples of popular games from the Chinese tradition with background reading on related philosophical and cosmological beliefs. At the same time, we will learn the fundamentals of the ancient Chinese game of Go (weiqi), a favorite pastime of scholars and generals since the Han dynasty. Students will be introduced to on-line resources that allow them to play the game in real time with opponents from around the world, and they will also visit local New York City Go clubs. Using knowledge of Go strategy, students will then grapple with classical Chinese philosophy on the art of war by writers such as Sunzi and Sun Bin as well as selected works of Mozi, Guanzi, and Xunzi. Finally, we will conclude with modern echoes of the longstanding relationship between Go and warfare in literature such as Kawabata’s The Master of Go and Shan Sa’s The Girl Who Played Go.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 78  First Year Interdis Seminar: Environmentalism: A Global History  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
We think of environmentalism as a new political movement, but in fact it has a long history--one that has always been engaged as well with questions about the relationship between different parts of the globe. This course traces the history of environmentalism, ecology, and public health back to natural history collecting and bioprospecting in the eighteenth century. The global history of ecological concern stays at the center of this course, which discusses the Swedish, British, German, Russian, South African, South American, and North American contexts in subsequent centuries. We will ask: How did scholars and activists around the world conceptualize “the global”? Whose knowledge and which rationality came to frame our environmental thinking? This seminar will try to untangle the social and intellectual dynamics between natural sciences and environmentally concerned citizens. Readings will include Carolus Linnaeus, Henry David Thoreau, Julian Huxley, Jan Smuts, and Garret Hardin.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 79  First Year Interdis Seminar: Fantastic Voyage: The Art and Science of Science Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
To many people the latest theories in science may seem distant and otherworldly. Complex mathematics and subject-specific technical jargon can form intimidating barriers to modern scientific understanding. Why then are big science fiction movies like Star Wars and Avatar so successful at the box office? Is the sci-fi genre simply a social lubricant for the acceptance of science? Do these fictional narratives prophetically predict innovations within the sciences or do they actually serve to inspire these innovations? At its core, the sci-fi genre emerges from the interlacing of scientific rationality and the escapism of story-telling, extrapolating current scientific knowledge into alternate realities. In this seminar we will explore the genre of science fiction and its underlying literary and scientific elements. Students will write two expository essays and a short story. Readings may include works by: Voltaire, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, Alice Sheldon, Kurt Vonnegut, Octavia Butler, H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Mary Shelley, Robert A. Heinlein, and Jules Verne.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 80  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Happiness, Tranquility, and Mysticism  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
After a century studying mental disease and pathology, contemporary psychologists have recently charted a “new” research agenda devoted to human happiness, flourishing, and positive emotions. This new science of happiness deploys modern quantitative and neuroimaging methods towards the goal of discovering the secrets of human well being. Already, this new science has many critics and adherents. In important ways, the emerging research harkens back to seminal work of William James on the Varieties of Religious Experience. At the same time it is rediscovering and reinvigorating ancient philosophical and religious traditions that go back for millennia. This seminar takes advantage of the renewed interest in the good life to compare and contrast modern “positive psychology” with its critics and with other wisdom traditions. Authors we read include Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi, Lyubomirsky, Freud, Maslow, Ehrenreich, James, Plato, Epicurus, Epictetus, Aurelius, Seneca, Montaigne, Origen, Saint Teresa of Avila, Merton, Buddha, Dogen, and Nhat Hanh.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 81  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: Fear and Loathing: Documentary & Subjectivity  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Through an examination of Cinema Verité, Direct Cinema, and ethnographic film this course will examine the ways in which filmmakers, writers and social scientists have sought innovative ways to account for cultural difference and bias. We will explore how “the other” is represented, and how such representations always mirror the one doing the observing. By Focusing on the 1950s and 1960s, we also trace how readings and films shift away from master narratives and colonialist discourses. Class readings include Franz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks; classic ethnographies by Marvin Harris, Clifford Geertz, and Bronislaw Malinowski; Elizabeth Warnock Fernea’s Guests of the Sheikh, and Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night. Films include Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North, Robert Gardner’s Dead Birds, Jean Rouch’s Les maîtres fous, Chronicle of a Summer by Edgar Morin, Chris Marker and Jean Rouch, Frederick Wiseman’s Titticut Follies, David and Albert Maysles’s Gimme Shelter, and Maya Deren’s Ritual in Transfigured Time. Class assignments will also include visits to the Museum of Natural History, Anthology Film Archives, and Union Docs.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 82  First-Year Interdiscplinary Seminar: Main Street U.S.A.  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will consider Main Street as a physical place and as an idea, examining how the space has come to represent American values and ideals for many. We will draw on a range of primary sources, including novels, plays, advertisements, photographs, and films, as well as secondary sources that model interdisciplinary scholarship, to look at the formation of the Main Street ideal and ways that this space has been shaped by some of the larger shifts in American culture and the across the world during the twentieth century, such as urbanization, suburbanization, globalization, and the modern rights revolution. What are the origins of the Main Street ideal? How and why does it promote a nostalgic view of America? How has it been used to both critique and promote small-town living? Who has access to this space, and who is excluded? How has the idea of Main Street been mobilized to present an image of America to the rest of the world? Our exploration of Main Street will allow us to reflect on a diverse range of topics and themes, including Norman Rockwell images, soda fountains, Disney theme parks, suburbs, the Cold War, and debates contrasting Wall Street and Main Street. Readings and films will include It’s a Wonderful Life, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg Ohio, Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 83  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Human Rights, Human Wrongs  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will provide an introduction to the different ways people have debated human rights claims, and the class will collectively explore and analyze the stakes of these debates. We will work through a series of human rights cases and campaigns regarding torture, labor and sexuality to look at different examples of human rights engagements and how these constitute particular notions of 'the human'. What kind of global subject is constituted in human rights engagements? What is the politics of that subject? How does humanity have to be organized, legalized and historicized for the human to be endowed with rights? We will explore these and other questions through the work of scholars, lawyers and activists. This course is neither a celebration of human rights, or a training ground for human rights activists. Rather, it invites us to take a step back to consider debates internal to invocations of right claims to better understand what the human rights framework renders visible and what it casts in shadows. Readings will be wide ranging and extend from John Locke to Karl Marx, Saidya Hartman to Samera Esmeir. We will also read and analyze international human rights instruments and draw on case studies from the US, South Africa, France, India, Kenya, Chile and elsewhere.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 84  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Picture Theories  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Between divine evidence and ready facsimiles, figments and documents, the image has radically fluctuated in material medium, social utility, and ethical implication throughout history. All images, as art historian Hans Belting has argued, imply the absence of what they depict while acquiring an existence in themselves. But why do we produce images, and what sorts of meaning do images produce? Through readings in anthropology, philosophy, and the histories of art and science, this course steeps you in an intellectual history of the image while introducing you to the analysis of visual culture. We begin with cave paintings, religious icons, the notion of graven images, and iconoclasm, to consider the controversial status of images between the sacred and the profane, life-likeness and death. Next, we track the relationship between knowledge and vision through Renaissance painting, the 19th-century urbanism of light and glass, and the politics of spectacle and surveillance. We then return to painting with Abstract Expressionism as a case study: how can non-representational pictures express—and sometimes move viewers to tears? The course concludes in the present day as we explore machinic vision and digital circulation.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 85  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Science and Literature  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In a 1959 lecture titled “The Two Cultures,” C. P. Snow famously declared, “the intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups,” with “literary intellectuals at one pole—at the other scientists.” Snow asserted that the two are separated by “a gulf of mutual incomprehension,” even “hostility and dislike.” Snow’s view of a fundamental antagonism between science and literature has its roots in the nineteenth-century; his concept of “two cultures” remains influential today. But was he right? This course addresses that question, seeking to deepen our understanding of the relationship between science and literature. Our readings will pair literary and scientific texts: we may consider Ted Chiang's short fiction and the laws of thermodynamics; Michael Frayn's play Copenhagen and quantum physics; Amitav Ghosh's novel The Calcutta Chromosome and sociological theories of scientific knowledge; and the poetry of ecologist Madhur Anand; and Robin Wall Kimmerer's interdisciplinary meditations on the environment in Braiding Sweetgrass. The class is a discussion-based seminar; assignments will include short response papers, brief contributions to a class blog, and formal essays.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 86  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Place and Behavior  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will focus on the intersections between behavior, place and space. How do the spaces we inhabit influence our lived experience? At first we will construct working definitions of "environment" and learn about the ways in which various environments can impact our behavior, beliefs, and feelings. Then we will discuss what it means to inhabit specific kinds of places: natural and constructed, wild and urban, public and private, familiar and novel. This class will examine questions related to the natural and built environments by incorporating the theoretical perspectives and research methodologies of ecology, geography, psychology, and sociology. Topics may include attachment to place, the concept of "home", environmental values, institutional spaces (e.g., schools, and hospitals), New Environmental Paradigm, privacy, pro-environmental behavior, psychological well-being, restoration and wayfinding. Readings may include: St. Francis D'Assisi, Michel de Certeau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hippocrates, Jane Jacobs, Henry David Thoreau and Edward O. Wilson.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 87  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Politics, Ethics/Aesthetics of Photography  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this seminar we will focus on the political force of photography: how do photographic images shape our understanding of citizenship, freedom, and what comes to count as war, or terror, or revolution? Under what political, legal or cultural conditions is it possible to see and to show the suffering of others, and in what ways can photographs change not only what becomes visible as violence, but what kinds of suffering--and what modes of resistance--move us affectively, ethically, politically? At its core, our work will be to better understand the complex linkages between perception and understanding, and how photographs, as the modern visual form par excellence, shape our sense of the political world and our place in it. The seminar will introduce students to key theoretical works on photography (including Sontag, Barthes, and Benjamin) and more recent critical interventions that focus on the colonial context (Hall, Alloula, Chaudhary, Enwezor). Together we will work toward an understanding of the power relations that sustain and enable photographic meaning, what Ariela Azoulay refers to as “the civil contract of photography.” The course presumes an interest not only in photography, but in political and aesthetic theory.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 88  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: (Re) Imagining Latin America  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In Bolivia, where non-indigenous elites long ruled exclusively, an indigenous president now leads a socialist revolution; in Argentina, where governments once massacred youth by the thousands, citizens now fill the streets to demand accountability; in Guatemala, where Catholicism long reigned supreme, evangelicals now find rapt audiences. Throughout the region, the once unthinkable is becoming normative, and everywhere pundits wonder: are these the stirrings of a new Latin America or the rumblings of old ghosts in different form? This course has two aims: on one hand to decipher how Latin America has conventionally been imagined, by introducing students to major themes in the region’s study like mestizaje and machismo, authoritarianism and revolution, dependency and industrialization; on the other hand to question how valid these imaginaries remain against the backdrop of contemporary examples of social, political, and economic transformation in Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, and elsewhere. Readings draw widely from academic articles in history, anthropology, and political science, excerpts from memoirs and contemporary journalism, and samplings of music and visual arts, generating thematic student projects asking: is it time to re-imagine Latin America in this new century, and if so, how? Authors include Simón Bolívar, Gabriela Mistral, Gabriel García Márquez, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Hermano Vianna, and Mariano Azuela.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 89  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Double, Double  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What happens when we look out into the world and find our own face staring back? An encounter with a double is an intimation of immortality, of the body's survival beyond its limits, which reminds the self of its own demise. A double is the outward projection of internal division, a copy that displaces the original, continuity that tears the fabric of rationality. This class will explore the ambivalence of the double by examining its repeated appearances in literature, photography and film, psychoanalysis and critical theory. Freud's concept of the uncanny explains the double as our confrontation with what we failed to keep hidden from ourselves, the return of the repressed. But doubling is also a form of magic, a practice of making resemblances that live a borrowed life, and a way of knowing the world: an "embodied knowing" by imitating, knowledge as mimicry rather than mastery. In Lacan's theory of the mirror stage, mimicry is how we form our ego: we imitate our own reflection, longing for an image of bodily coherence that we can never match. In photography and film, doubling defines the very nature of the medium, which simultaneously copies the world and causes it to disappear. We will consider the camera itself as a double, a mechanical eye that positions the viewer's gaze and projects it onto the film. Students will write several analytic essays exploring these views of the double through close readings of texts on the syllabus. Readings may include essays by Rank, Freud, Kofman, Benjamin, Taussig, Lacan, Mulvey, and Silverman; fiction by Borges, Poe, Conrad, Hoffmann, Shelley, Wilde, and Woolf; photography and films by Arbus, Hitchcock, and Mulvey.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 90  First Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Discourses of Love: Antiquity to the Renaissance  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course explores the impulse to define, understand, contain, praise, analyze, lament, restrain, and express love. Through a study of philosophy, poetry, drama, religion, art, and music we will endeavor to discourse on the meaning of this profound emotion. However, in order to understand the place of love within the lives of humans, we need to look at love in its historic, cultural, social, and political contexts from Sappho and Plato to Shakespeare. We want to consider Love's multiple roles with regard to desire, seduction, betrothal, marriage, manners, morals, political power, and the pursuit of wisdom, as well as its role in class, gender, and race. Possible readings could include Plato’s Symposium, the poetry of Sappho, the stories of Marie de France, selections from Dante, the Italian comic play, The Deceived, as well as two plays of Shakespeare.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 91  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Chains of Command: Authority and Obedience  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What do we really mean when we talk about “authority,” and why do we obey it? This semester we will examine the decision to obey or disobey and the pleasures and agonies that come with following the rules and with breaking them. Across a range of literary, philosophical, political theoretical, and psychoanalytic texts, we will examine the authority figures behind the rules, those who decide to follow them (or not), and the bystanders around them. We will ask how different disciplines grapple with the challenge of authority and obedience—for instance, how political theory imagines the “sovereign,” how literature erects archetypes of temptation, and how psychoanalysis imagines the prohibitions we carry within ourselves. We will also track these tropes and figures through history, asking how the rules, the rulers, and the ruled change over time (and how and why they might). How do our ideas about what constitutes obedience and disobedience shift? When we enter into a relationship (or a culture!) with foundational rules and preconditions, how does this enable, diminish or, some might suggest, even destroy our freedom? And what happens when the promises we’ve made conflict with each other and make it impossible to obey one command without disobeying another? Our readings will include, in addition to earlier and later works, Immanuel Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?,” Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract, Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard,” Mary Wollstonecraft’s The Wrongs of Woman, Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, and Sigmund Freud’s Totem and Taboo.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 92  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Predicting the Future  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The future is ephemeral, uncertain, and always seems just within reach. Cultures all around the world have developed a dizzying array of tools for divining the future, from reading goat entrails to calculating carbon dioxide concentrations. Prediction spans religious systems, political policy, business trends, and scientific theories. This course examines a variety of practices of prediction from different cultures, historical eras, and academic disciplines. We will assess the kinds of arguments used in prediction, and how evidence is marshaled to know the unknowable. Claims of prediction have high stakes: what we think about the future changes how we act in the present. Readings may include B.F. Skinner, Karl Marx, Nate Silver, the I-Ching, Claudius Ptolemy, Pierre Simon de Laplace, and Max Weber.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 93  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Politics of Home  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The premise of this seminar is that the “home” is not prepolitical or apolitical, in opposition to the public domain, but inextricably linked to the political. Indeed meanings of home saturate – sometimes explicitly, sometimes obliquely – our public discourse and debates. Gender, race, class, and sexuality are publically policed and reproduced with reference to normative familial relations and (private) property. Yet domestic spaces and intimate lives can often serve as spaces of relief, refuge, and even political opposition. The home, depending on where one finds oneself situated, can mean wildly different things: prison or refuge, the banal or the aspirational. In this course we will read critiques and adulations of the domestic in multiple genres (theoretical, literary, popular) alongside contemporary activist projects and artworks that willfully put the domestic on public display through the use of traditional women’s work (knitting, embroidery, sewing). We will ask how different domestic spaces and intimate relations are imagined in opposition (or conjunction) with dominant models. Readings will include Charlotte Gilman Perkins, Betty Friedan, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Kathleen Stewart, Ann Cvetkovich, David Eng, Juana Maria Rodriguez, and Foucault and artworks by Annette Messager, Marianne Jørgensen, and the Gees Bend Quilters.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 94  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Caricature  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Charles Baudelaire and others have posited that caricature is a constituent element of modernity and of humanity's fallen state. Is it? To judge from recent events, one would think that caricature is the last art form that truly matters, for it is in response to it that people move to real, not merely symbolic, acts of violence. Since the eighteenth century, it has been heralded as an emblem and vector of freedom and democracy, even if it is at times allied with stereotype and prejudice. This seminar invites an exploration of the phenomenon that will necessarily lead us to read on printing and the press; stereotypes, racism, and the supposed visual legibility of character; jokes, humor, and laughter; theories of the comic and the performative; pornography and political dissent; revolution and order. In considering the function of caricature and thinking through traditions of caricature, we will look at, amongst others, Goya, Gillray, Daumier, and Posada; and read Lavater, Baudelaire, Bergson, Freud, Bakhtin, Gombrich and Kris.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 95  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Reflexes of Romanticism  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What is Romanticism and how, after 200 years, are the Romantics still influencing culture? This course explores the literature, art, music, and thought of the so-called "Romantic era" of Europe during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. We will examine the historical contexts that gave rise to Romantic culture and the intellectual and cultural production of the movement itself: the ways in which the Romantics retooled values associated with the Enlightenment, such as critique, reason, scientific progress, equality, and individual subjectivity, toward new aesthetic, social, and political ends. We will investigate the ways in which the Romantics privileged the imagination and enabled new considerations of liberal education and social revolution. Finally, we will read post-Romantic writers such as Nietzsche, Dickinson, and Freud, for what we will consider as their radicalized romantic reflexes. The seminar will involve discussion, experiential exercises, writing (analytical and creative), and group projects. We will employ methods and theories from an array of disciplines: philosophy, critical theory, gender/queer theory, and art history. Readings may include Rousseau, Kant, Wheatley, Schiller, Coleridge,Goethe, P. Fitzgerald, M. Wollstonecraft , M. Shelley, P. B. Shelley, Keats, and we will look at the visual art of Delacroix, Turner, Odilon Redon, Fredercik Edwin Church, Caspar David Friedrich, Goya.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 96  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Idea of Nothing  (4 Credits)  
Nothing. No-thing. Negative Space. Zero. Silence. Antimatter. Black holes. Aporias. Each of these terms communicates some aspect of the concept of nothingness, absence, or emptiness. Our very existence is framed by nothing, from the abyss of non-being before our birth to the nothingness of death at its conclusion. The understanding and portrayal of absence is perhaps one of humankind’s greatest mysteries, and has triggered explorations in all different fields of human activity. Whether in mathematics, physics, theater, philosophy, theology, literature, or visual art, nothingness as an idea has been explored, defined, and depicted in multiple and contradictory ways. “Nothing is, but what is not,” says Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but is it possible to speak or write of that which is not? Is our inability to define “nothing” a failure of langue or imagination or does it point to a larger cosmological truth? Is nothingness the negation of all historical and political meaning, or can it serve as a space in which to imagine another history, another political, or a better world? Composers use silence, painters use black or white, sculptors, installation artists and architects employ negative space, authors and poets try to create emptiness within or between words. This course will explore the dimensions of Nothingness as manifested in the arts, religions, philosophy, and science. Readings will include Parmenides, Plato, early Buddhist texts, medieval Christian and Jewish mystics, Shakespeare, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Samuel Beckett, Jean Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, David Foster Wallace, and Stephen Hawking. We will look at art by Robert Ryman and Fred Sandbeck, listen to music by John Cage, and watch films and a Seinfeld episode. The class will include guest speakers and visits to museums and performances.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 97  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Race and Photography  (4 Credits)  
This course allows us an opportunity to think about the ways race is framed through the lens of a camera. Our interest in race and photography is primarily American in context, dating from the early twentieth century through the present day, and principally photojournalistic and documentary in form. We explore key moments in American history, as well as seminal photos, as we consider the politics and ethics of representation. Through sociological, historical, and journalistic prisms, we examine, for instance, slave and lynching imagery, documentation of immigrant populations, and coverage of the Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately, we progress right to the contemporary moment, with discussion of race and the photographic image in the age of social media. We also consider American coverage of peoples abroad, typically in war-based settings, as we extend our political and social discussions both geographically and conceptually. Throughout we ask, how have photographers reinforced or contested prevailing views of racial identity through the photographic form? And how are viewers influenced by these portrayals of race? Readings include theory and critical essays, as well as literary, journalistic, and historical accounts, and we will be looking at--and learning to read closely--a lot of photography. Authors may include: Frederick Douglass, Marita Sturken, Martin Berger, and Susan Sontag. Students write response papers and longer essays, will take trips to galleries and photo institutes, and can produce a visual project of their own. Guest speakers may include award-winning photographers who have covered the US-Mexico border as well as recent events in Baltimore and Ferguson.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 98  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Mindfulness and Mysticism  (4 Credits)  
Religious practices of meditation and contemplation have recently emerged as “mindfulness based interventions” (MBI) in medicine, education, the military, the arts, and popular culture. In most of these settings, the religious and historical affiliations of these practices are downplayed and their uses for developing spiritual, even mystical, states of consciousness are minimized. In this class, we go the other direction to explore the relationship between MBI and religious/spiritual practices. We will be thinking about cross-cultural ideas of health and medicine, spirituality and well-being, and what happens when these ideas migrate across cultures and historical eras. We start with a close reading of key secular texts devoted to mindfulness and we compare and contrast these with a range of original texts from religious sources. Along the way, we use theoretical and philosophical work from religious studies, cultural studies, and gender studies to contextualize and politicize key terms and concepts. Authors and texts include Jon Kabat-Zinn, William James, Pierre Hadot, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhist Sutras, Plotinus, and Cloud of Unknowing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 99  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: Mishima to Murakami: Postwar Japan Fiction, Film  (4 Credits)  
This course aims to familiarize students with a range of post World War II Japanese prose fiction and cinema. We will pursue close readings of our varied texts to discuss the concerns of 1950s-2000s literary and filmic texts, and how those concerns are articulated. Our inquiry will straddle immediate postwar laments over a disappearing traditional culture to the celebration of globalism and consumerism, and the increasingly multicultural nature of Japanese culture. Our survey will include texts by feminist women, outcastes, and Korean-Japanese. One of our goals will be to recognize the diversity of Japanese postwar fiction, and to complicate American provincial notions of what constitutes “Japaneseness.” Alongside the fiction we will read relevant sources on narratology and film theory. Our books will include Kawabata’s Snow Country, Mishima’s Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland, and Enchi’s Masks. The films will include Morita's "Family Game," Mizoguchi's "Sisters of the Gion" and Sai’s "Blood and Bones."
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 100  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Slow Looking  (4 Credits)  
What does it mean to look at an object, image, or practice? How is sight connected to knowledge and power in Western modernity? How might the visual be displaced by other cultural traditions and bodily experiences for apprehending art? And what happens if we slow down our impulse to immediately evaluate works of art and other cultural productions? Drawing on social and visual theorists such as Jonathan Crary, bell hooks, Georgina Kleege, and Jolene Rickard, this class will build a critical genealogy of looking as a social, cultural, and political act. Through writing assignments, we will play with the pace and genre of analysis in documenting our experiences of looking at and participating in art, including visual works, installations, and performances, toward an inquiry into the stakes of slow looking. Alongside shorter texts, we will also read three full books that model slow looking as an intervention, which may include Mieke Bal’s Louise Bourgeois’ Spider, Michael Taussig's I Swear I Saw This, and Anna Tsing's The Mushroom at the End of the World.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 101  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Returnings  (4 Credits)  
Expanding on Nabokov's idea that "one cannot read a book: one can only reread it," this first-year interdisciplinary seminar asks students what happens—to our minds, our souls—when we read or listen or see again and again a work of literature, music, visual art, or film. Rooted in the disciplines of religious and literary studies, the course asks students to consider the depths our stories, our artistic creations, can plumb if we return to them—ritually, in a way—always seeking more and different meaning. How does ritual returning deepen the meaning of a story we know like we know our own name? How does a piece of music prepare us to hear it again? How does a novel teach us how to read it? Beginning with a rereading of a favorite book, this class will ask students to explore a wide variety of cultural expressions in order see what happens when we see something again for the first time. The seminar also introduces the idea that reading well will always mean rereading. Discussions will consider the Christian Gospels, Nabakov, Leslie Jamison, Marilynne Robinson, Patricia Meyer Spacks, J.Z. Smith, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 102  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Critical Disaster Studies  (4 Credits)  
Such crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, and outbreaks of disease can be moments of severe distress, deprivation—and yet they also represent times when social change can take place. This class will engage with the scholarship that has emerged in the years since September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, aiming to put such events in historical, social and political context in order to think about how best to respond to, mitigate, and even prevent such catastrophes from taking place. How do we define disaster? Are disasters natural or political events? Are there differences between disaster zones that emerge as a result of human actions and those that appear to be natural? How people, organizations, and governments have responded and continue to respond to disasters says much about how we imagine society to be and how we hope it will be in the future. Readings will include texts by Ted Steinberg, Kai Erikson, Karen Sawislak, Eric Klinenberg, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 103  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Journalism and Democracy  (4 Credits)  
A free press is vital to a functioning democracy. In fact, journalism is the only industry in the United States that enjoys a specific Constitutional protection. This course explores how journalism works and contemplates its role in democracy. We examine the history of journalism, explore major debates that have defined and challenged news coverage through the years, and consider the dynamics of reportage in the digital age. Our seminar also takes NYC as a case study, as we consider how some of the city’s hot-button issues, like gentrification or race relations, are covered. Learning the basics of reporting and photojournalism, students, in turn, will don the guise of young reporters and photojournalists, as they cover newsworthy events and issues around the city. Students are encouraged to bring a range of interests to class—literary, musical, political—that will broaden our approach to assigned topics. Our readings include history, theory, and cultural criticism; in addition, they comprise varied forms of journalism—from long and short form print to blogs to photo essays—and in turn, so do the class assignments. Guest speakers may include journalists (news editor, reporter, photojournalist) who can help deepen our conversations.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 104  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Literature and the Environment  (4 Credits)  
Critic Raymond Williams once proposed that the word “nature” might be the most complicated in the English language. This class is about how writers have used imaginative literature to examine those complexities. How have such writers defined “nature”? What relationships do they construct between human beings and the natural world? How are conceptions of nature, the human, and their interaction inflected by cultural assumptions and concerns, including ones about race, gender, and imperialism? Who possesses knowledge about nature? What constitutes such knowledge? We’ll address these questions while reading literary works by Amitav Ghosh, Zakes Mda, Jamaica Kincaid, and others; we’ll put these texts into dialogue with work on ecology and environmental history by Rachel Carson, Bill Cronon, Rob Nixon, and Robin Wall Kimmerer; and we'll consider how nature shapes even New York City, the quintessential urban environment. Our readings will be supplemented by field trips and lectures that may complicate our ideas about nature by revealing how it shapes even New York City, the quintessential urban environment. Assignments will include response papers, a blogging activity, and formal analytical essays.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 105  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Urban Music, Urban Spaces  (4 Credits)  
This course will introduce and acclimate students to the globalized music cosmopole that is New York City. As urban dwellers, we are constitutive parts of a vast and complex cultural ecosystem—and the global microcosm that is our city, New York City, reverberates with music that expresses the fullness and diversity of the lives of its inhabitants. Our way of understanding music making in this context, as well as the industry and cultural imperatives behind this music making, is through the city’s various music institutions. We will explore a cultural history of the city that highlights waves of migration, the establishment and destabilization of industry, institution building, ethnic enclaves, cultural diffusion, stylistic evolution, and locality. What are the music cultures that surround us, near NYU and beyond? How might musical performance and patronage give us insight into the role of arts and creative expression in the city and in the lives of its inhabitants? What can we learn about the relationship between music, the arts, and the social world? Students will be able to experience what they learn in class out in the city itself; they will be required to attend six musical performances (approved by the instructor) in different parts of the city, each different in style and cultural context than the other.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 106  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Africa, China, and Globalization  (4 Credits)  
China’s controversial investment in Africa has caused reactions ranging from accusations of a “new colonialism” to celebrations of a collaborative “win-win” for development. In addition, immigration both by Africans to China and Chinese to Africa signals a fundamental shift in global power dynamics and the deepening of a new era of multi-polar globalization. Through an analysis of journalistic and historical accounts, literature, economics, art, and film, this seminar will explore the multi-faceted nature of Africa and China relations. We will ask what are the connections between Cold War history and the contemporary moment? How do different African actors at state and individual levels engage with the Chinese presence? And finally, how does this shift to multi-polarity impact theories of globalization?
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 107  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: La Mode: Fashioning Modernity  (4 Credits)  
How has fashion contributed to shaping the social, visual, and libidinal environment in which we live and the ways in which we live in it? To what extent do changing fashions not only reflect but also factor in the formation and transformation of cultures? Students in this course will develop their understanding of and capacity to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship through the study of a tradition of writing on fashion that dates back to the early nineteenth century, and that encompasses journalism, aesthetics, sociology, psychoanalysis, political economy, and philosophy. Over the course of the semester students will be introduced to a wide range of authors, texts, intellectual traditions, and theoretical approaches to the study of fashion, as well as to contemporary issues bearing on the clothed body in both Western and non-Western contexts. In addition to encouraging students to think critically about the place and function of fashion in modern life, the course assignments aim help them to develop the ability to address complex questions with both clarity and substance, to craft well-constructed and compelling arguments, and to recognize and assess the different methods employed and types of claim advanced by scholars working in various disciplines. Readings will include texts by Honoré de Balzac, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Caroline Evans, Kennedy Fraser, Anne Hollander, Joan Wallach Scott, and Thorstein Veblen, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 108  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: Technologies of Meaning(Un)Making/ Digital World  (4 Credits)  
For inhabitants of the modern world, digital media’s intervention into our lives is nearly complete. Many have celebrated the expansion of digital technologies as a means to dismantle hegemonic power structures, expanding the sites of knowledge production to traditionally marginalized communities and empowering people across grassroots networks. But what does it mean to live in a world so completely mediated by unknown and invisible agents of information? How does this technology construct, illuminate, and obfuscate meaning and identity? Is seeing the code behind the simulacra an act of subversion? In this class, theory and fiction serve as a framework for analyzing online journalism (including the fake news phenomenon and trending tweets), digital art, social media and activism, and augmented reality and games. Alongside this analysis, we will participate in the act of technological meaning making, producing mini digital prototypes and developing the basic skills necessary to become critical authors within this world. Students will have the opportunity to compose digital stories, create data visualizations, curate digital archives, and build interactive AR projects. No prior skills or digital know-how is necessary, just a willingness to try new things. Readings will include Marshall McLuhan, Susan Sontag, Safiya Umoja Noble, N. Katherine Hayles, and Edward Tufte.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 109  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Concept of Race in Society and History  (4 Credits)  
This course offers a comparative social and historical analysis of race. Using a wide range of empirical and theoretical materials, we problematize what is too often considered settled: what constitutes race. We challenge the prevailing assumption that race is a biological fact and investigate race as a social construct--one that has changed over time, and varies across societies. A major goal of the course is to understand the mechanisms through which racial domination is (re)produced. We ask questions like: How do systems of racial classification stem from and facilitate patterns of prejudice, discrimination, and segregation? How do those patterns relate to racial violence and even genocide? Why do some societies sanction interracial sex and/or marriage and not others? We read selections from sociology, anthropology, history and literature on ethnoracial division in the US, Western Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Readings may include works by Stephen Gould, George Fredrickson, Virginia Dominguez, Carl Degler, James Baldwin, Barbara Fields, Pierre Bourdieu, Loic Wacquant, Ann Stoler, Zygmunt Bauman, Dorothy Roberts and Colson Whitehead.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 110  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: Wisdom for Life: Cultivating Self, Phil, & Soc  (4 Credits)  
Why wisdom, why now? We live in a time of tremendous challenges: climate change, financial inequality, global risk and conflict, rising mental illness and life style disease, and declining happiness and well-being. These challenges, beyond the many hardships they create, can also be triggers for change. They signal, or can be seen to signal, the need for personal, social, and political movement in the direction of greater human wisdom. This course takes this possibility seriously to explore the very idea of wisdom. Our method will be interdisciplinary as we explore insights from medical, philosophical, religious, scientific, and aesthetic traditions to develop visions for human life in harmony with an idea of wisdom? Texts we explore include contemporary wisdom science, the Hebrew Bible, the Pali Canon, Plato’s writings on the death of Socrates, the Bhagavad Gita, Hamlet, and the poetry of Mary Oliver.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 111  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Reading Closely, Reading Historically  (4 Credits)  
What does it mean to read closely? How does a work of literature change as you learn more about its historical context or the history of its own production? This is a class on reading and perspective meant to cultivate our skills as students of literature or other kinds of texts. In the first half of the semester, we will approach lyric poems, short stories and novels (Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the Arabian Nights), as worlds unto themselves, taking seriously the texts’ internal logic while probing their peculiarities, ambiguities, and paradoxes. We will attend to how poetry fuses intellectual, emotional and aesthetic concerns while developing a shared vocabulary in order to better understand and describe the ways poets utilize wordplay, figurative expression (such as metaphor, synesthesia, and synecdoche), and sonic devices (like rhyme and rhythm) as they transform ordinary language into art. For fiction, we will consider how stories are narrated, their arrangement of time and space, their experiments with point of view, and the ways in which they instantiate character. In the second half of the semester, our perspective will broaden as we look at two case studies. We will set Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre against the backdrop of nineteenth-century ideas about women’s work, the cult of the home and domesticity, the early feminist movement, and roiling debates about the British empire, all issues which intersect Brontë’s strange novel, which is at once a coming-of-age story, a spiritual memoir, and a Gothic romance. Similarly, we will explore how issues of race, diaspora, and urban life shape Langston Hughes’s 1949 poetry volume One-Way Ticket. In the process, we will consider how literary forms themselves are marked by genre (a different kind of history) as they play with and against longstanding conventions.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 112  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Thinking Poetically  (4 Credits)  
“It is difficult/to get the news from poems,” William Carlos Williams writes in his poem, “Asphodel: That Greeny Flower,” “yet men die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there.” Similarly, W.H. Auden, in his elegy for W.B. Yeats, may proclaim that poetry “makes nothing happen,” but he quickly asserts that “It survives/ In the valley of its saying.” Williams and Auden are two modern poets grappling with the questions that poets and scholars across disciplines have long debated about the place and purposes of poetry. In this course, we will study the domain of lyric poetry and poetics and the kinds of thinking that happen in poems. We may begin with some classical texts that seek to articulate the poetic realm, and then turn to studying poetic forms and conventions. What do we mean when we say that a text is poetic? What is the relation between form and meaning in poems? Why do poets choose the forms they do, and how might these forms and structures express feelings and ideas difficult (or impossible) to express otherwise? Most importantly, what kinds of knowledge does lyric poetry entail? Readings will include a wide range of poems written in English and poems in translation, as well as secondary materials that extend the conversations into the relation between poetry and the other arts, poetry and philosophy, and poetry and politics.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 113  Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: (Un)relatable  (4 Credits)  
Since the mid-twentieth century, the old word “relatable,” which once signified that which can be “told or narrated,” took on a new dimension, or so the Oxford English Dictionary tells us. It began to be used to deem a person, situation, or work of art “that…with which one can identify or empathize.” “Relatability,” in turn, could then indicate the degree to which a work of art or a circumstance could be approached or, more simply, liked. This semester, we will take a harder look at the political, philosophical, and rhetorical circumstances that determine what counts as “relatable” or not. However ordinary the term might seem, the assessment of what or who is “relatable” has prompted fierce criticism: it has been denounced as “empty,” “a critique killer,” and “self-involved.” To understand why and how this term might court controversy, we will examine texts across disciplinary, national, and historical fields that help us form a genealogy of sympathy and its kin: empathy, pity, the more recent “relatable.” We will ask how moral philosophy has handled the question of fellow-feeling; how psychoanalysis understands the operations of identification and narcissism; how alternative genealogies of sympathy in Stoic, neoplatonic Islamic, and early modern European philosophies of “natural sympathies” might change how we understand the operation of “relation”; how (and when and why) literary form might undermine “relatability”; and how the determination of the relatable emerges as a question of politics and spectacle.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 114  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: American Paranoia:Comm. & Fear of Others  (4 Credits)  
Devils, Communists, aliens, terrorists: Lurking just out of sight—or perhaps, maddeningly, already inside us—a ruthless enemy is plotting our downfall. From the Puritan’s “Angry God,” to the Salem witch trials, the specter of slavery (and a slave revolt), the Red scares of the 1920s and 1950s, to threats of terrorist cells, biological and computer viruses, secret cabals and the “deep state,” American national identity has often been defined in opposition to a perceived threat by an all-powerful, yet invisible enemy. Who are they? What do they want, how do we recognize them, how do we stop them? And who, in this conflict, are we? Reading texts from Cotton Mather, Frederick Douglass, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Walt Whitman, and Gish Jen, among others, and viewing films and TV, for example, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “The X-Files,” and “Homeland,” this class analyzes the national psyche as it confronts (or imagines) moral corruption, spiritual possession, political subversion, subliminal brainwashing, physical abduction, and the fear of fear itself.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 115  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Media, Democracy and the New Political  (4 Credits)  
Across the globe today, we are witnessing the emergence of new political movements, fueled by media technologies, passionately advancing the claims of "the people" against the ruling "political classes". We see the rise of charismatic populist leaders and the simultaneous waning of civic values, and polarized political cultures. In this seminar, designed for sophomore students, we will discuss the cotemporary moment of growing polarization and passionate social media-infused politics, by taking a historical and transnational perspective in our overview of normative theories of media and democracy. We will focus on four core questions throughout the course of the semester: What insights and limitations are offered in theories of the “public sphere” and “deliberative democracy”? How has colonialism and capitalism shaped political imaginaries constituted through the media? How has the rapid expansion and commercialization of media infrastructure transformed political participation? How might we rethink media as space of civil society and contentious politics? Authors may include: Walter Benjamin, Aimé Césaire, Claudia Jones, Edward Said, Partha Chatterjee, Stuart Hall, Aníbal Quijano, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Verónica Gago, Armond R. Towns and Jacques Ranciere.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 116  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Slavery and Science  (4 Credits)  
In conversation with recent works that argue that many scientific advancements of the 19th century came at the expense of unnamed blacks whose bodies were used for experiment, research and study, students in this seminar will consider the relation between the production of scientific knowledge and the institution of slavery. This course centers a history in which the plantation is a site for experimentation and slaves are specimens--their bodies probed and prodded without consent, their corpses used for postmortem dissection and display, their bones appropriated in perpetuity for medical training. While these exploitative medical practices loom large in this history, we also spend considerable time thinking about how the scientific knowledge produced on the plantation contributed to the business sciences of management, capitalist risk assessment, and accounting. Over the course of the semester, we will individually and collectively reflect on the legacies of this gritty and terrible history and on what it might mean to repair or redress it. In this vein, we will end the class by exploring creative projects of reparation--in which the enslaved reverse Agassiz's scientific gaze, in which stolen bones are buried, in which monuments to racist gynecology are pulled down and the names of brutalized black women are spoken, in which poetry reassembles documents of "insured loss" in order to restore the humanity of the lost.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 117  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: History of Ecology & Environmentalism  (4 Credits)  
This course traces the history of ecology and environmentalism from Charles Darwin to current affairs. The global history of ecological concern stays at the center of this course, which discusses environmental worries in the British, German, Scandinavian, African and American contexts in subsequent centuries. The chief focus will be on U.S. experience in trying to deal with organizing nature, environmental preservation and conservation, population growth, environmental design and global warming, among other issues. Various ecological understandings of human philosophy, race, gender, religion, architecture, politics, and economy will be subject to critical discussion.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 118  First-Year Interdisc. Sem: There & Back Again: Travelers/Traveling through Middle Ages & Beyond  (4 Credits)  
The image of the pre-modern world as dark, backward, and stagnant has for too long held sway over our modern popular conceptions of the era. In this course, we will investigate the ways in which movement and migration have always been central to the experience of being human. We will begin by exploring metaphors of movement that pre-modern writers employed in thinking about the natural world and the place of human beings within it. In the second half of the course, we will study encounters between Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. We will delve into the questions, the conflicts, and the painful changes that travels and encounters fomented. And throughout, we will ask how we can better understand the historic dimensions of the identities, structures of power, and ideologies of authority that govern our world today.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 119  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: Caves: Science, Art & Metaphor of Subterranean Earth  (4 Credits)  
Caves hold a mythical position in the human perception of our species’ deep past that has resonance with how we conceive of the deep future. What are the varied metaphors of the cave? To answer this question, we will examine the ancient Greek concept of Gaia and the far deeper time depth that archaeology and paleontology give to our understanding of the role caves played in human pasts. We will examine some of the world’s iconic archaeological cave sites such as Sterkfontein (South Africa), Shanidar (Iraq), Lascaux (France), Altamira (Spain), Matera (Italy), and the Cueva de las Manos/Cave of the Hands (Argentina). We will draw upon recent scientific publications for our understanding of speleology (which combines geology, hydrogeology, biology, and cartography) to understand cave formation but we will also think through caves and their metaphors for how culture and Nature intersect via theoretical works such as Gayatri Spivak’s ‘Imaginary Maps’, Bruno Latour’s ‘Critical Zone’ project, and Kate Brown’s work with Chernobyl. Films, work by contemporary artists, and recent cave entrapments and rescues such as occurred at Tham Luang (Thailand) can all be drawn into discussions to query our contemporary imagination of the telluric power that caves contain. 
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 120  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: American Dream(s): Self, Stuff, Status and Social Mobility  (4 Credits)  
Faith in the notion that one may attain success and virtue through hard work is a dominant ideology in American life. We exalt those who “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and repeatedly tell of that ancestor who “came here with a dollar in his pocket” and achieved wealth. This “American Dream” promises self-fulfillment, material comfort, and, importantly, social mobility-- surpassing one’s parents in status and socioeconomic standing. Yet, realizing the American Dream has always been more difficult for some than others, and a deep skepticism of its possibility has always been part of US political discourse. As inequality has soared in recent years (by some accounts, you’re more likely to live the American Dream in…Canada), that skepticism has moved to the center of political and social debates. This course considers the status of the American Dream as cultural concept and social reality. To what extent do concerns of the self, stuff, status and social mobility animate Americans’ notions of the good life? We ask whether an American Dream predicated on social mobility was, is, and will be achievable--and for whom. We explore ways that ideas of the good life are changing in a post-Great Recession context and in the face of ecological limits. We pay particular attention to authors’ theoretical starting points, methods, and interpretation of evidence in order to develop analytical reasoning skill. Reading includes works of sociology, political science, economics, literature, and social commentary.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 121  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: What is a Photograph?  (4 Credits)  
In this seminar we will examine some of the most provocative ways in which photography has been imagined and practiced, from early accounts of the daguerreotype to recent work on the digital image. Through close examination of a range of photographic practices as well as the critical discourses that have grown up around them, we will endeavor to understand not just what André Bazin calls the “ontology” of the photographic image, but also how the photograph has been thought about, talked about, utilized and, in turn, produced fantasmatically as a particular kind of object and a special way of picturing. What, precisely, is a photograph? How have photographers and theorists answered that query? Do we draw upon the photograph's material, chemical, visible, invisible, affective, or discursive properties to describe the essential aspects of the medium? Like no other medium, the photograph is, at once, everywhere and, at the same time, functions in ways that we tend to allow ourselves to remain blind to. This course also serves as an introduction to the nature, processes, and perils of interdisciplinary study, as well as the practices of analytic writing and close reading of both visual images and written texts. Readings may include Azoulay, Barthes, Batchen, Bazin, Benjamin, Fox Talbot, Heidegger, Kracauer, Metz, Moten, Silverman, Smith, Sontag, Tagg, Wall.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 122  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Lives, Deaths and Rebirths of Public Space  (4 Credits)  
Recent and very visible social movements have reclaimed public spaces in cities around the world, prompting the question of what, exactly, are public spaces and to whom do they (and the cities around them) belong. For many scholars, the existence of public spaces - the town square, the agora, the rialto, are what makes cities distinctive, but a number of critics have, for at least the last fifty years, been decrying the end of such spaces. This course first examines a number of the classic statements on public space, followed by a close reading and interrogation of the decline of public space theses. Finally, we examine a number of attempts to recapture and reinvigorate public spaces, drawing freely from examples of public art, planning and architecture, and social movements. Among the statements on public space will be selections from classical, democratic, and critical theory, including Aristotle, Arendt, Habermas, De Certeau, and Foucault. Critical contemporary readings on urban space will include Jane Jacobs and selections from urban geographers, sociologists, feminist scholars, and critical race theorists who have engaged the question. The last third of the course, dedicated to rebirths, will include selections and materials from planners and architects, activists and artists who have reflected on the issue while engaging it. Course requirements include student presentations of materials, three short writing assignments, and a final paper on a case of a reimagined public space from NYC.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 123  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Aphrodite  (4 Credits)  
The first monumental statue of a nude woman in the Greek world was reportedly the Aphrodite of Knidos, sculpted by Praxiteles. The sculpture, apparently set up in an open, round temple, so that she could be viewed from all sides, was a hit in antiquity. It became a tourist destination, the subject of ruminations on the nature of sex and the body, and the inspiration for uncountable ancient copies of the nude goddess in various poses. The original statue is lost, but it fundamentally influenced, perhaps more than any other single monument, the later history of European art. Female nudes—including those of Botticelli, Canova, Manet, Dalí—reference the Aphrodite and her famous “pudica” pose, which simultaneously obscures, draws attention to, and, some argue, reduces her to her sex organs. This course takes the Knidian Aphrodite and the long legacy of the female nude as its subject. What are the stakes of nudity in the ancient contexts, and how are those stakes gendered? How does the representation of the divine body relate to the real, and in particular to the sexualized female body? How does the legacy of the female nude engage modern discourses of sexuality, gender, and race? Alongside modern essays that take on these questions, our primary sources will draw from ancient and modern visual traditions.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 124  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Masters and Servants  (4 Credits)  
This course will explore the tension between masters and servants as portrayed in literature, history, philosophy and film. Writers have depicted this relationship to examine not only relationships of power, but also as a strategy for criticizing social conventions and literary styles. In the 19th and 20th centuries, this dynamic describes more than power relationships. The rapport of servant and master influences our conceptions of knowledge and psychology, defining our mental lives, as well as our social relationships. Through our readings, discussions, and essays, we will seek to discover how this relationship animates our understanding of the world and ourselves.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 125  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem:Ancient & Renaissance Fest: Its Literary, Dramatic & Social Forms  (4 Credits)  
This class investigates the role of festive custom and holiday release, ritual festivity as well as public political expression, and the kinds of performance and literary form that they enable or frustrate in ancient Greece and Rome and in Renaissance Europe, with a 20th century postlude. Why does festivity sometimes lead to political revolt and at other times does not? "We will look at some theories of festivity and carnival, at the festive worship of the gods including especially Dionysus, the Greek god of theater and wine (among other things), at the role of music, at representations in Renaissance paintings, and at the way classical ritual practices shape Renaissance and even modern ideas of festivity and irony. We also explore the effect of the Protestant suppression of festive holiday and theatricality in Shakespeare"s England, and at the tensions inherent in festivity between excess and moderation, between the saturnalia and the philosophical symposium. Readings from Plato, Euripides, Ovid, Shakespeare, Paule Marshall; paintings by Botticelli, Velazquez, Titian, Caravaggio, Poussin and Brueghel, and the film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro, directed by Marcel Camus). We will include New Orleans carnival and Jazz Funerals, and may end with a consideration of Woodstock in 1969 and the intersection of protest, rebellion and festive celebration in modern times.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 126  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: Examining the Mundane: Art & Literature of the Everyday  (4 Credits)  
What makes boredom interesting? How have writers, thinkers, and artists sought to represent, elevate, and interpret the mundane? Considering that most of life is consumed by unspectacular moments, shouldn"t we have a clearer understanding of how and what these moments mean? What do recent movements like hyperrealism, maximalism, Dadaism, the avant-garde, and hysterical realism tell us about our evolving fascination with life"s routine? This course investigates the complex history and poetics of the mundane as it has been represented in art and literature across a wide-range of epochs, mediums, and traditions. Beginning with philosophical assessments of the everyday, including phenomenology, existentialism, and post-modernism, we will focus our exploration on novelists, poets, photographers, and filmmakers whose work reveals the overlooked and under-thought aspects of daily living that in fact make up life itself. Artists and writers will include: Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Andy Warhol, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Richard Linklater, Slavoj Zizek, Matt Siber, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Jacques Prevert, among others. In addition to these Western perspectives, we will examine the work of modern Arabic poet Amjad Nasser, Japanese filmmaker Koreeda Hirakazu, Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, and traditional folk music from Bosnia and Kosovo.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 127  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Use and Abuse of Story  (4 Credits)  
Once upon a time, a story (or “narrative”) was regarded as a sequence of words or other symbols arranged to create the impression of events connected over time by the continuing presence of an individual or community. In the West, the formal study of narrative began with a focus on its role in rhetoric and aesthetics--does it persuade or instruct? does it please? In the 2020’s, however, as fledgling fashion designers are told they “must have a story” and struggling politicians are told to “get a new narrative,” story/narrative seems to have taken on all sorts of new applications—some good, some questionable. Through a survey approach, this class will critically explore the uses of story over time and new understandings of narrative and media emerging today. We will explore the use of story across disciplines, its important functions and forms, and its relation to problems of truth and fiction, intention and interpretation. We will read works that use narrative to give pleasure and conduct philosophical inquiry, build nations and propagate belief, and make sense of our individual and collective lives. The syllabus will include literary and philosophical texts (by Plato, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Morrison, and others); films, tv shows, and other visual objects; and recent work in the fields of marketing, applied psychology, art history, and anthropology.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 128  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Data: A History  (4 Credits)  
We live in an era of “Big Data.” From smartwatches and social media to credit scoring and baseball analytics, our lives, government, and business are enmeshed in “Big Data.” But what, if anything, is new about “Big Data” in the twenty-fist century? This course explores this question by examining the “datafication” of American society from the nineteenth century to the present day. We will consider what data is, investigating the theoretical premise that data is made, rather than simply out there, existing as “raw data,” as well as delve deeper into different episodes in U.S. history where the large-scale production, management, and use of information has drastically altered Americans daily life. Readings will feature primary source texts including naturalist Samuel George Morton’s Crania Americana (1839), nineteenth-century credit reports, black journalist Ida B. Wells’ Southern Horror (1892), turn-of-the-twentieth-century maps, Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times (1936), and Robert and Helen Lynd’s sociological study Middletown (1929). To put these and other primary sources into context, we will also read works from history, sociology, philosophy, media studies, and the digital humanities.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 129  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: American Road Narratives  (4 Credits)  
This seminar will explore the literary and historical significance of the road narrative in twentieth-century American literature and film. We will identify the defining features of the American road narrative and ask how stories of travel, especially automobile travel, have functioned as a forum for examining larger social and cultural issues. As we consider the possibilities and promises represented by travel in these stories, we will also interrogate how race, class, and gender affect the experience of being on the road. While the road might signify freedom and new opportunity for some, for others it is linked with desperation or homelessness. Throughout the course, we will think about the relationship between cultural texts and the historical periods during which they were produced. The ways that the automobile has shaped American cities, landscape, and daily life will be particularly important to us. Many of the texts in the seminar feature movement from East to West that evokes the conquest and settling of the U.S. West, a central component of the founding mythology of the United States. However, we will also contemplate different trajectories in the Americas that question the association between travel and conquest. Authors include Zora Neale Hurston, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, and Cormac McCarthy.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 130  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Witch, Heroine, Saint: Joan of Arc and Her World  (4 Credits)  
In May 1431, Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orléans, was burned at the stake as a heretic and a witch by an English partisan court. An illiterate peasant girl just eighteen years of age, she had led the French in war and saved the French monarchy from ruin. In death, she would gain further power still as a martyr and symbol of indomitable French will and resistance. In this seminar, students will study Joan’s complex historical moment and her place within the long history of medieval women, Christian mysticism, and religious fanaticism. We will trace the stories of her appearance and military success, attempt to hear her voice in the extant transcript of her heresy trial, analyze contrasting French and English narratives about her life, and explore how she became the transnational heroine, patron saint, and political symbol that she has become today.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 131  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Introduction to Science and Technology Studies  (4 Credits)  
In this course you will be introduced to the interdisciplinary study of science, technology, and medicine. Since the early twentieth century, historians, philosophers, anthropologists and allied scholars have asked consequential questions about what science is, how it is practiced, and how it is related to society. Our first objective is to learn about the authors, methods, concepts, and approaches that together comprise what might be (or should be?) thought of as canonical to Science and Technology Studies. These include works by Arendt, Popper, Merton, Fleck, Weber, Kuhn, Fanon, and Foucault. We will then address various schools of thought that emerged around the social study of science in the 1970s and 1980s, whose acronyms include SSK (sociology of scientific knowledge), SCOT (social construction of technology), and ANT (actor-network theory). Our focus will then shift to our second objective, which is to examine how STS is now in conversation with a constellation of areas of inquiry that includes postcolonial studies, critical race theory, new materialisms, indigenous knowledges, and queer theory.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 134  First-Year Interdisciplinary Sem: Travel & Travel Writing: From Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean  (4 Credits)  
How did people travel in a world without passports and borders? As difficult as it might be to imagine this possibility in today’s world, in this course we reconstruct the human experience of travel, and its literary expression, in a world unbound by nation-states. Through journeys in two inter-connected maritime arenas, this course examines travel-writing as a literary genre that crystallized between 1400 to 1900. The emphasis is on travelers who crossed conventional or older cultural boundaries, thereby forging a new sense of the world. Each week, we investigate concepts such as curiosity, translation, acculturation, disambiguation, cultural encounters, and boundaries. The materials treated include translations of Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Urdu, and Malay texts to and from the Islamic world (with a specific focus on circulation between the Middle East, South Asia, East Africa, and Southeast Asia) alongside accounts of European (Portuguese, Dutch, Italian, and French) travelers to the Indian Ocean. In this interdisciplinary seminar, students examine the conventions, topoi, and modes of narration in travel accounts while locating early modern texts and their authors within their historical contexts. Students will produce one research paper on a travel account in any language of their choice. The writing process is divided into several stages and students will collectively curate, revise, and workshop paper drafts in class over the course of the semester. Readings may include the Baburnama, Matteo Ricci’s The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, al-Hajari’s The Book of the Protector of Religion against the Unbelievers, Shaikh I‘tisamuddin’s The Wonders of Vilayet, Alam & Subrahmanyam’s Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries, Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes, and Stuart Schwartz’s Implicit Understandings.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 135  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Popular Dance  (4 Credits)  
The course will examine selected forms of social or popular dance as expressions of cultural or group identity from approximately the late-19th century to the present. These dances, from the secular tradition of American social dance, include those performed in ballrooms, cabarets, nightclubs, cabarets, discotheques, and the street. The seminar will explore various social and popular dance styles developed as a result of the rich fusions of West African, African American, Euro-American, and Latin American forms of dance within the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Topics will ragtime couple dance and the New Woman; the lindy-hop and the crossing of racial boundaries; teen dances and youth rebellion of the 1950s; and tradition and change in contemporary ballroom dance. In all cases, we will explore social and popular dance forms as experiences of movement that both respond and give shape to social, cultural, and political issues of the day. In addition to extensive viewing of dance, readings will include Mauss, “Techniques of the Body”; Katz, “The Egalitarian Waltz”; Hunter, “The Blues Aesthetic and Black Vernacular Dance”; Tomko, Dancing Class: Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Divides in American Dance; Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn of the Century New York; Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance; and Dinerstein, Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African American Culture Between the World Wars.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 137  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Walking New York  (4 Credits)  
In this course we will walk, while also explore the meaning of it. We will walk famous parks, visit hidden gems, and discover the secret trails of New York City. Along the way we will find new human and non-human friends, and perhaps learn something about the importance of walking to you as a young learner. The history of learning from ancient times till today is filled with walkers, and this course will begin untangling what that may entail for you as a student. We will get to know our NYU neighborhood, and walk places such as Coney Island, Governor's Island, Central Park, Battery Park, The High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fort Tryon Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows and the Wickquasgeck Trail. Along the way you will get to know the city and its natures, and perhaps also your classmates and yourself. Walks will be without your professor on Sundays 2-5, or independently as you wish. We will read about walking and the places we will visit. You will be asked to document and share your weekly walks through photos, and to reflect on them in two different papers.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 138  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Bananas: An Interdisciplinary Case Study  (4 Credits)  
During the course of the twentieth century, bananas went from being an obscure tropical fruit never tasted by most people in the United States to an ubiquitous staple of the U.S. diet. This seminar will examine how the banana came to be readily available in U.S. grocery stores, investigate the political, economic, and environmental issues surrounding the banana, and analyze the ways that bananas have been represented in cultural texts in the United States and Latin America. Our study of bananas will serve as an interdisciplinary case study that highlights how one topic can be studied from a variety of disciplinary angles and the insights to be gained from an interdisciplinary approach. Students will explore the seminar topic through literary texts, films, advertising, and secondary material written by historians. Specific topics for discussion include the history of the United Fruit Company, the 1954 CIA-led overthrow of Guatemalan leader Jacobo Arbenz, the career of Brazilian performer Carmen Miranda, the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez’s 1969 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, sustainable agriculture, labor rights, and banana recipes.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 139  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Puppetry and Material Performance  (4 Credits)  
In an unstable and unpredictable world, what do puppets have to teach us? How might the study of puppetry and material performance inform, challenge, or help us imagine new kinds of relationships (social, political, ecological, etc.) in an ever-changing world? Through a combination of seminars and studio practice, this course introduces students to the field of puppetry and material performance. Throughout the course we will consider puppetry and material performance in a range of contexts including political activism, religious ceremony, cultural celebration, and popular theater. In each of our material investigations we will examine the visual dramaturgy and aesthetics of objects as well as the relationships between animators and objects and how these configurations and dynamics change with the context and circumstance of performance. Readings will be drawn from a range of disciplines including anthropology, dance, political theory, performance studies, disability studies, media studies, to name just a few.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 140  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Work, Freedom, and Social Change  (4 Credits)  
How have workers created social and political change in the United States? What counts as work? What can workers do today to maintain and build power? This course explores these three thematic questions through an exploration of the history of workers and their organizations in American history after Emancipation. We will explore the history and meaning of class and work and the relationship of work to the state through reading, discussion, and film. We will pay special attention to the ways in which these understandings of class are shaped by gender. Readings include David von Drehle, Bethany Moreton, Selma James, and Wendy Brown.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 141  First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Media and Empire  (4 Credits)  
What does the telegraph and cinema, the Internet and new social media, have to do with empire building? Contemporary discussions about media and technology often focus on how the ways in which our world today has been radically transformed by new kinds of information technologies and novel forms of globalized cultures, yet uneven media flows have long connected the world through processes of imperialism. We will begin at the height of European colonialism in the 19th century, and move forward through the period of decolonization and the Cold War era of the 20th century, into current debates about US hegemony and decline. We will focus on the significance of communication technologies in establishing military and economic power and the role of the mass media in shaping our ideas about racial supremacy and cultural difference. We will also consider the role of these same media and information technologies to challenge colonial domination, mis-representation and imperial rule in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a geographical focus on Africa, Asia and Latin America in relation to British, French and US imperial legacies. Authors we will read include: Simone Browne, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Claudia Jones, Edward Said, Kim TallBear, Anand Teltumbde, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 319  First-Year Writing Sem: Aesthetics On Trial  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
While cultures often like to see themselves reflected in the arts, groundbreaking art is frequently accompanied by controversy. In literature, Vladimir Nabokov was faced with charges of obscenity with Lolita. In photography, artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and Diane Arbus challenged the role of the visual arts as innocent representation. In film, Leni Riefenstahl blurred the lines between aesthetics, politics, and ethics by directing Triumph of the Will for Hitler, while Pier Paolo Pasolini, in Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom, created what one critic has called “the most repulsive, nauseating, yet most beautiful and perhaps most important film ever to exist.” Richard Wagner, whose musical genius and historical impact is undisputed, has also been called out for anti-Semitism and misogyny, as have painters like Picasso and Balthus, among many others. Through critical writing, discussion, and research, we will consider such cases and investigate questions such as: What is the proper relationship between ethics and aesthetics? At what point, if any, should ethical transgression count against a work’s aesthetic value? How do we define obscenity in the arts? Is art inherently political? What should we make of “cancel culture?” In addition to frequent in-class writing exercises, two short argumentative essays and one longer literary-critical essay will be assigned.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 323  First-Year Writing Seminar: Artists' Lives, Artists' Work  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What is the relationship between art and life, between the luxury of creating and the necessity of surviving? In this writing seminar, we will explore the many ways artists’ experiences and the circumstances of creation influence artists’ work. How are artists shaped by the societies in which they live? How do family background, historical events, political movements, social disruptions, and celebrity influence our creations? How do artists, in turn, shape their societies’ attitudes and values? Focusing on how art and writing reveal the effects of race, gender, sexuality, and politics in the second half of the twentieth century, we will consider a number of works in their contexts. Using writing as a way of thinking critically, students will produce descriptive, analytical, and literary-critical essays. Readings may include works by Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol, Susan Sontag, and Joan Didion.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 324  First Year Writing Seminar: Metamorphoses  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course explores the idea of metamorphosis, or transformation, by which humans become—among other things--stones, flowers, and stars; animals, gods, monsters; and members of the opposite sex. We read and write about some of the many varieties of metamorphosis, such as those linked with disguise and dissimulation; madness and dissolution; immigration and exile; sickness and healing; and self-creation that reflects self-knowledge. Students write academic essays that develop their own ideas in their own voices, in stages that progress from freewriting and drafting to workshopping, revising and polishing. Throughout the course, we reflect on writing itself as a transformation of subjective, ephemeral impressions into words fixed on paper (or shimmering in cyberspace) through which we communicate with others. Readings include selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Humphries trans.) and a contemporary play based on it by Mary Zimmerman; fairy tales, folk tales and contemporary revisions (ed. Maria Tatar); Kafka’s The Metamorphosis; essays on neurological transformation and creative responses to it in Oliver Sacks’s An Anthropologist on Mars; and essays on immigration and exile in Letters of Transit (ed. Andre Aciman).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 333  First Year Writing Seminar: Writing Twentieth Century Music and Culture  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The twentieth century, in all its innovation and violence, produced forms of music that were equally radical and challenging. This course will study the ways in which music reacted to, reflected, encouraged, resisted and participated in dramatic cultural shifts, ruptures, and movements of the twentieth century. Our study of music will, in turn, spur topics for writing?in journals and critical essays. We will listen to, read and write about the noise machines of Luigi Russolo, the early jazz of New Orleans, the atonality of Arnold Schoenberg, the labor songs of the 1930s, the silence of John Cage, the rebellion of 1960s rock and free jazz, and the anger of rap. Readings may include the writings of musicians like Milton Babbitt, Glenn Gould, and Miles Davis, critical writings of musicologists such as Susan McClary, Lawrence Kramer, and Robert Walser, essays by Theodor Adorno, Ralph Ellison, and Norman Mailer, and fiction and poetry by James Joyce, James Baldwin, Wallace Stevens, Amira Baraka and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 334  Writing Sem I: Writing The Body  (4 Credits)  
Writing is, first and foremost, a physical act performed by the body. It is also, however, an art form capable of expressing physical and emotional states and sensations rooted in the body. In this seminar, we will look closely at the intimate relation between the body and writing, considering how sensations and experiences are contained in and expressed through acts of writing, as well as how writing functions as a meaning-making tool by which we come to know and understand the body. Through critical essays and a literary critical essay, we will consider the body?s impact on writing, and writing?s impact on our relation to the body. Readings will include theoretical, fictional, and autobiographical texts that explore issues of pleasure, pain, confinement, and torture, among others; these may include works by Michel Foucault, Nancy Mairs, Virginia Woolf, and J.M. Coetzee.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 343  First-Year Writing Sem: Writers On Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
"Language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the while we long to move the stars to pity," said Gustave Flaubert in his relentless quest for "le mot juste." In this course, students will learn to write the academic essay while reading and analyzing essays, letters, interviews, videos, poetry, and fiction about writers and writing. Why do writers write? Where do they get their inspiration? Their preparation? Where do they find their models and mentors? What are their various methods? Why do writers not write? What are the responsibilities of the writer? Can writing be dangerous? Can success have its perils? Some possible answers (and further questions) may come from George Orwell, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Tracy K. Smith, Joy Harjo, Yiyun Li, Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, James Joyce, Jorge Luis Borges, Lorrie Moore, Grace Paley, and Alice Munro. We may attend a reading and a writer or editor may visit.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 345  First-Year Writing Seminar: Love and Trouble  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
All you need is love, love makes the world go around, and love is a battlefield, so the songs tell us. What kinds of love are essential to our well-being, and why does love so often go wrong? This course will examine friendship, romance and marriage, and parenthood as forms of love that are very personal and yet have social rules of their own, sometimes unspoken. We will use a selection of philosophical, sociological and literary texts to see what they contribute to our understanding of how love and trouble sometimes go together. Readings might include selections from Aristotle on friendship, Dan Savage on parental love, a history of marriage, and the postmodern theorist Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse; literary texts include drama by Neil LaBute, memoir by Jamaica Kincaid, fiction by Jane Smiley and Yukio Mishima, and poetry by Anne Sexton. Discussing what we think and feel about these representations of love will serve as the springboard for developing students’ writing on the subject. Students will compose descriptive and critical essays and workshop their writing in multiple drafts.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 351  Writing Sem I:  (4 Credits)  
One of the most lasting rules of culture remains that crises in history provoke literary expression. When the structures of society are threatened, writers, essayists, novelists, dramatists, and poets often try to shape the world around them through the power of their language. In this course, we will examine the relationship between literature and political or social upheaval. We will examine writing inspired by events such as the French Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, and contemporary conflicts. Through journal responses, several short essays and one longer literary critical essay, we will investigate historical crises and the writing that came out of them. Readings may include essays by Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Carlyle, Thoreau, Edward Said, Susan Sontag and Katha Pollitt; narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs; and fiction by Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and John Updike.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 353  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Faith Between Us  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Look at the headlines, flip through a magazine, or click the link to your favorite blog, and increasingly you’ll find that whether faith comes between us, separating one believer from another, or lives between us, forming the glue that holds communities together, is a question we all must face. Through a consideration of a variety of contemporary religion writing—mostly from newspapers, popular magazines, journals, and Web sites—this course will ask students to take their own excursions into faith and faithlessness, and through a process of writing, workshopping, and the all-important rewriting, create the stories that, in Joan Didion’s words, “we tell ourselves in order to live.” Readings may include works by Jeff Sharlet and Karen Armstrong, Paul Elie and Marilynne Robinson, Peter Manseau and Matthew Teague, Christopher Hitchens and John Jeremiah Sullivan.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 354  Writing Sem I: Mobility and The American Map  (4 Credits)  
While the American map is considered a fixed entity by now, in actuality, it is a fluctuating space that changes shape in response to population shifts and global realliances, drawing new parameters in our cultural consciousness. In this course, students will use their writing to examine the causal landscape of American mobility through fiction, non-fiction, and film, paying close attention to the roles of race, gender, and class in negotiating the social and political terrain of American life. Questions we will consider include who has the right or ability to move? How does movement respond to the exigencies of urban or rural life? How does a text re-map America through movement? How does geographic movement correspond to social mobility? We will explore imaginative depictions of vertical and horizontal movement, focusing on themes such as westward exploration, the Great Migration, immigration, the road trip, the fugitive, and border crossing. Framing our discussions will be questions about the national and global implications of such re-mappings. Students will write a series of short descriptive and analytical essays and a longer literary critical paper. Possible authors include Oscar Zeta Acosta, Bonnie Bremser, Willa Cather, Jack Kerouac, Jamaica Kincaid, Vladimir Nabokov, and Richard Wright. Films may include Easy Rider and Into the Wild.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 355  First-Year Writing Sem: Writing The City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
"New York was an inexhaustible space, a labyrinth of endless steps, and no matter how far he walked, no matter how well he came to know its neighborhoods and streets, it always left him with the feeling of being lost. Lost, not only in the city, but within himself as well." Describing his protagonist's relationship to New York in his novel City of Glass, Paul Auster articulates the way in which the city has frequently been the location of a search for the self. From the great wave of immigration in the early twentieth century all the way through the end of the millennium, New York has beckoned as a site where people come to lose or rediscover themselves, the life unfolding within its "inexhaustible space" reflecting not only intense personal upheavals but also larger historical shifts. In this class, we will use our own writing to explore twentieth- and twenty-first-century narratives about New York, and to consider how individual experiences of the city intersect with broader historical conditions. Through regular informal writing as well as a series of finished essays, we will examine stories of how New York has inspired euphoria and dejection, contentment and restlessness, exhilarating feelings of belonging or unrelenting isolation. Authors we will read may include James, Wharton, Singer, Hurston, Baldwin, Kazin, Ellison, Didion, Auster, Alexander, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 357  First-Year Writing Seminar: Wilderness and Civilization  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this seminar we will study a sampling of texts from various fields that deal with the tension between wilderness and civilization and the identities it enables. We will consider how the concept of wilderness sometimes doubles for that of nature in shaping a dynamic identity we call “civilized.” Our studies will draw on insights from biology, ecology, anthropology, postcolonial studies, political theory, and literature. We will also engage in experiential learning to ground our studies in practice. We will attempt to respond to such questions as: If wilderness is nature without humans, why are we so irresistibly drawn to it? What function does wilderness serve in our civilized lives? How has it become necessary to our imaginative, spiritual, and political lives? What does an investigation of “wilderness,” “nature,” and “civilization” allow us to express about the world we inhabit? What are the limits of these concepts—what possibilities do they disallow? We will examine these concepts in terms of how they work to create identity for humans, what ways of life they offer, what they obscure. And we’ll look closely at related concepts that structure our sense of ourselves, sometimes without our being wholly conscious of it: What does it mean to be natural, or live a natural lifestyle? Should social organizations follow nature, be “organic,” or go in a different direction? How natural is sex? gender? class? race and ethnicity? How does what we consider “natural” and “unnatural” affect the lifestyle options available to us? Our goal in this seminar is to think through these and related issues and to develop language that enables us to imagine viable alternative futures.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 358  Writing Semi: World War II Creations  (4 Credits)  
More than any other war, World War II represented a breakdown and a turning point in our concept of Western civilization. What about this war led writers to question not just the nature of violence, but also our notions of rational thought, humanity, and even language, literature, and representation? We will read memoirs and essays about three major events of the war: the Holocaust, the fire bombings of Germany, and the use of atomic weapons. We will also explore fictional representations of the war in both film and literature. Students will write and revise three or four essays, in which they will compare and analyze our readings, as well as address their own positions on themes raised by the course. Readings may include works by Kurt Vonnegut, Martha Gellhorn, Hannah Arendt, Gnter Grass, Imre Kertsz, W.E. Sebald, Theodor Adorno, and Janet Flanner.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 361  First-Year Writing Seminar: Collage: From Art to Life and Back  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This writing seminar will explore the implications of making the new from the ready-made, of constructing one’s own from what was—and remains—somebody else's. Collage aims at reintegrating art and life, so we will examine collage works that comment on existing society, critique its values and forms of representation and demand their revision. By selecting heterogeneous elements from remote areas of culture, high and low, and juxtaposing them on a single plane, collage disrupts conventional associations and traditional narratives, collapses oppositions, scrambles classifications, and levels hierarchies. What new meanings do the fragments and quotations acquire from these radical juxtapositions, and how does their assemblage contest the mythologies of the culture from which they were taken? The class will consist of several case studies in visual and verbal collage placed in relation to a set of political and aesthetic ideas, which we will derive from a series of theoretical texts. Theorists may include Roland Barthes, Viktor Shklovsky, John Berger, Marjorie Perloff, Rosalind Krauss, Dawn Ades, Peter Bürger, and Dick Hebdige. Collages may include visual artworks by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Hannah Höch, Romare Bearden, and Robert Rauschenberg, as well as poetry by T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, and Susan Howe.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 363  Writing Sem I: What is The Avant-Garde?  (4 Credits)  
Perhaps the most famous piece of avant-garde art is Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, which was just a regular urinal displayed as art. This intentional transgression of the "normal" boundaries of art, literature, and film is at the heart of the avant-garde. But what exactly are these boundaries, how do they get established and what does it mean to transgress them? In analytical essays and a literary-critical essay, we will explore the avant-garde aesthetic in literature and film, focusing on the avant-garde's rhetoric of shock as well as its critical stance towards the culture industry. Course materials may include manifestos and other work by Karl Marx, Filippo Tommasso Marinetti, Mina Loy, Tristan Tzara, and Andr Breton; theory by Peter Burger, Clement Greenberg, Max Horkheimer, and Theodor Adorno; films by Germaine Dulac, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Francis Picabia, Maya Deren, and other media.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 364  Writing Sem I: Writing The Environment  (4 Credits)  
In this class, we will look at ways of imagining and approaching the natural environment through writing. Beginning with the Romantic engagement with the natural sublime, we will examine writing about nature in its various manifestations, from travelogue to activism. Topics for reading and writing might include wilderness preservation, global warming, sustainable energy, and the urban environment. Readings will include Wordsworth, Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, and Al Gore, as well as other contemporary nature and environmental writing. Papers will center on description, argumentation, and critical analysis, and the final paper will be on a related topic of the student?s own choosing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 365  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Idea of America: What Does it Mean?  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This class will examine “America” as a complex, historically-rooted, and malleable idea, which writers, social scientists, politicians, and the state have shaped, changed, and critiqued to fit their own contexts and purposes. We will explore the historical roots and shifting conceptions of the idea of America through analysis of political treatises, poetry, essays, and official government documents from the pre-colonial period to the present. Approaching “America” as both a nation-state and an empire, and considering how it has been imagined by those within as well as outside its borders, we will analyze the idea of America not only in the context of life in the United States, but also in the context of global development, environmental crises, and American foreign policy. Students will write informal response papers as preparation for drafting and revising 3 essays over the course of the semester, including a literary critical essay. Texts will include works by Mary Rowlandson, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Michael Rogin, and Barbara Ehrenreich.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 366  Writing Sem I:  (4 Credits)  
Ernest Hemingway wrote, ?Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.? Yet war ironically has produced some of the most compelling and humane narratives the world over, and certainly American war writing is no exception. American war writing varies across genres from Walt Whitman?s Civil War diary and the letters of Clara Barton to Tim O?Brien?s short story collection The Things They Carried and Susan Sontag?s editorial, ?Regarding the Pain of Others.? In this course, we will look through multiple lenses at the American experience of war since the Civil War. As we consider and analyze what we read, and through our own writing, we will explore various modes in our writing, including the use of narration, description, reportage, and argument. We will practice strategies of the writing process?freewriting, multiple drafting, and editing. Requirements include three essays and a literary critical essay. Readings may also include works by Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Ernie Pyle, Frances Fitzgerald, Michael Herr, and Anthony Swofford.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 367  First-Year Writing Seminar: Visual Texts  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The force of the familiar claim that a picture is worth a thousand words is curiously undercut by the reliance on words to deliver that news. Is there a way for us to apprehend an image without thinking it through language, or to read a text without conjuring our own visuals? Why do we so often think of the tensions between image and text as a contest in which one form is necessarily more accurate, immediate or capable of encouraging us to see, to feel or to know what we did not before? In this course we will read a number of theoretical essays on politics and aesthetics to historicize and orient our work, but we will focus on modern and contemporary texts that offer some form of collaboration between images and text in the form of fiction, documentary, novel, or graphic novel. Readings will be drawn from work as varied as that of Edward Said, Susan Sontag, Joe Sacco, Wafaa Bilal and Banksy. Students will write, revise, and workshop a series of analytical essays that culminate in a final, extended critical reading that considers texts and images in concert, as forms that tend to rely on one another, even when they assert their own specificity.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 368  Writing Sem I:  (4 Credits)  
Is the "scientific method" a myth?an illusion propagated by the scientific establishment to maintain an aura of logic, objectivity, and inevitability? Science is a human enterprise, so it shouldn?t shock us to realize that there is a good deal of politics that infuse our national and international scientific policies and agendas. In reality, how extensive is this `human? influence? This writing seminar will look at the advancement of science in the modern world and tensions between innovation and orthodoxy. Students will write, workshop and revise three essays and a literary critical essay. Readings may include: essays by Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, Albert Einstein, David Bohm, Rachel Carson, and Erwin Schrodinger; excerpts from fiction by Mary Shelley and Carl Sagan; a memoir by James Watson; and Evelyn Fox Keller's biography of Barbara McClintock.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 369  Writing Sem I:  (4 Credits)  
Recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of critical attention given to the study of popular music. More than just entertainment for the young, popular music has been established as an important cultural force, especially its role in the creation, negotiation, and articulation of cultural, ethnic and geographical identities. In this course, we will think and write about the various effects popular music can have on identity: as a link to one?s past, as part of defining a subculture or creating an imagined community, as an expression of sexuality, gender, nation, or race, and as a form of resistance to dominant ideologies. Genres of music studied may include minstrel shows, jazz, blues, R&B, pop, punk, metal, disco, hip hop, and electronica. We will also study Latino and South Asian genres such as bachata and bhangra in exploring issues of diasporic and post-colonial identities. Students will be responsible for online postings and discussions, informal reaction papers, three short essays, collaborative workshopping, an oral presentation, and a final literary-critical essay on a subject of the student?s choice. Theoretical readings will include works of cultural studies scholars, social theorists, and musicologists such as Robert Walser, Tricia Rose, George Lipsitz, Susan McClary, Tia DeNora, Richard Middleton, Simon Frith, Kevin Dettmar, Greil Marcus, Chuck Klosterman, and Dick Hebdige.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 370  Writing Sem I: Abroad in America  (4 Credits)  
From the great waves of immigration in the nineteenth century all the way through the end of the millennium, New York has beckoned as a site where people come to lose or rediscover themselves, the life unfolding within what Paul Auster has called its ?inexhaustible space? reflecting not only intense personal upheavals but also larger historical shifts. In this class, we will use our own writing to explore narratives about New York and to consider how individual experiences of the city intersect with broader historical conditions. Through regular informal writing as well as a series of finished essays, including a literary critical essay, we will examine stories of how New York has inspired euphoria and dejection, contentment and restlessness, exhilarating feelings of belonging or unrelenting isolation. Authors we will read may include Walt Whitman, Edith Wharton, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Ralph Ellison, Joan Didion, Paul Auster, Joseph O?Neill, and others. We will pair these texts with works by photographers and filmmakers including Alfred Stieglitz, Ben Shahn, Robert Frank, and Chiara Clemente.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 371  First-Year Writing Sem:  (4 Credits)  
In this writing seminar we will consider both the routine violence of everyday life?what Michael Taussig has called ?terror as usual??and more monumental, episodic forms of state and organized violence. We will try to understand what comes to count as violence and why. We will also ask what literature can do that perhaps history or philosophy cannot to help us fathom or survive violence, or to better comprehend how violence travels, passes hands, and how it might be abated. This course works across disciplines and media, but close attention to language, our own and others, is at the heart of our shared project. Readings will include essays and fiction by Hannah Arendt, Bertolt Brecht, Dave Eggers, Jamaica Kincaid, Joe Sacco, Edward Said, and others. Students will write analytical essays and one longer critical literary piece to be shared, edited and resubmitted.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 372  First-Year Writing Sem:  (4 Credits)  
President Obama's campaign motto, "Change You Can Believe In," highlighted the need for change in American politics and in the world more broadly. At the same time, it also raised questions about what is actually meant by change and how real change is brought about. Should change be gradual or radical? Does change take place at the level of the individual or the collective? From the abolitionist and women's movements of the nineteenth century to the anti-globalization and environmental movements of today, these questions have long divided individuals and groups who have sought to change the socio-political order on a grand scale. Through a series of informal response papers and polished analytical essays, we will explore our own conceptions of how to "change the system" today as well as examine the contours of the great debates of anti-systemic change in the past. Texts will include essays, speeches, and literature of journalists, poets, politicians, and activists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martin Luther King, Karl Marx, Audre Lorde, Barbara Ehrenreich, Michael Pollan, and Barack Obama.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 373  First-Year Writing Sem:  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
To many people the latest theories in science may seem distant and otherworldly. Math, logical reasoning, and subject-specific technical jargon can form intimidating barriers to modern scientific understanding. Why then are big science fiction movies like Star Wars and Avatar so successful at the box office? Is the sci-fi genre simply a social lubricant for the acceptance of science? Do these fictional narratives prophetically predict innovations within the sciences or do they actually serve to inspire these innovations? At its core, the sci-fi genre emerges from the interlacing of scientific rationality and the escapism of story-telling, extrapolating current scientific knowledge into alternate realities. In this seminar we will explore the genre of science fiction and its underlying literary and scientific elements. Students will write, workshop and revise three essays and a literary critical essay. Readings may include works by Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, Leon Lederman, Orson Scott Card, Alice Sheldon, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Dawkins, H.G. Wells, Anne McCaffrey, Robert A. Heinlein, John Gribbin, and Jules Verne.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 374  First-Year Writing Sem:  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
From the writings of Alain Locke and Zora Neale Hurston to the sounds of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, the Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro movement, was a period of literary, artistic and cultural innovation spanning the first four decades of the twentieth century. This course will examine the popular and lesser-known literary, visual and musical texts of the period and how they sought to define African-American culture. We will interrogate the ideology of the Renaissance and its impact on contemporary literature, visual art, and music. Students will explore the social, cultural, and discursive forces at work in the formation of the ?New Negro? and more broadly, the impact of the Harlem Renaissance on African-American cultural identity then and now. Students will write, workshop and revise three essays and one literary-critical essay. Readings may include works by Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Nella Larson, Sterling Brown, and Gwendolyn Bennett, among others. Weekly readings will be compared to and contrasted with selected visual art and music from the period.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 375  First-Year Writing Seminar: Writing the Self  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Sylvia Plath writes: “There is no terminus, only suitcases / Out of which the same old self unfolds like a suit / Bold and shiny, with pockets of wishes, / Notions and tickets, short circuits and folding mirrors.” Rather than simply telling the truth, autobiography is a complicated mirage of wish fulfillment and creative self-fashioning. As Plath suggests, a life can never be fully told; its narration is an ongoing journey of self-discovery where the lies one tells and the style one uses are just as revealing as the truth about what happened. In this course, we consider how writers tell the story of themselves by selecting certain events and images, how writers use their writing to come to self-awareness, and how writers cover up or omit important facts in the construction of selves. Students will write and revise three essays and a longer literary-critical essay. Readings may include selections from works by such authors as St. Augustine, Dostoevsky, Rimbaud, James Baldwin, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick and Sylvia Plath.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 377  First-Year Writing Seminar: Working  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Visible and invisible, lonesome and collaborative, inspired and endured, labor makes and maintains the world we live in. To learn about work is to learn how most people spend most of the day, securing means, pursuing dreams, existing in active relation to other people—whether spreadsheeting or ship-breaking, trading or patrolling, composing or caretaking. How do we come to choose the work we do, and how to navigate the seeming injustices that come with the division of labor? What are the ethical and economic ties that bind us to the faraway strangers, or half-familiars we greet everyday, whose strenuous productivity we benefit from? How have art and literature depicted working people, and when does work go undepicted? What difference does work make for our notions and experience of time? Through topics such as globalization, class, migration, slavery, and unemployment, and genres like pastoral and documentary, this course explores the challenges that work has posed to political thought, political action, and aesthetic representation alike. Readings span fiction, oral history, poetry, philosophy, and art criticism. Films and a field trip or two will supplement the readings.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 378  First-Year Writing Sem:  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
People who share a language, culture, or identity, and at one time also shared a homeland, are said to form a diaspora. This course will look at the relationship between storytelling and the creation of diasporic identities. How vital are narratives in defining and solidifying diasporic affiliation? What is a diaspora anyway? Beginning with our own definitions, we will read essays exploring traditional themes of diasporic identity such as home, hybridity, multilingualism, deracination, nostalgia, anger, loss, and hope. Building from these we will turn to fictional works to examine how diasporic literatures differ across the globe. How do categories such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender get mobilized in definitions of diaspora? Such considerations will prompt us to examine how these stories resonate with readers who are not necessarily members of diasporic groups. Students will write weekly responses, which in conjunction with in-class workshops will form the basis for four critical essays. Readings may include works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Octavia Butler, Junot Diaz, Chang-Rae Lee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Safran Foer, Mohsin Hamid, Rey Chow, Frank McCourt, and Dubravka Ugreai?, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 379  First-Year Writing Seminar: Utopia: The Logic and Ethics of Imagining New Worlds  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In the sixteenth century, Thomas More, inspired by Plato’s Republic, imagined his own ideal state. Instead of Eutopia, which means ‘happy place,’ More ironically named his imaginary island Utopia, which means simply ‘no place.’ More’s influential book eventually lent its name to a diverse set of texts and visions. The concept of utopia now carries both meanings and embodies the logical and ethical tensions that plague metaphorical (and sometimes geographical) borderlands between the ideal and the real. In the 20th century authors and theorists began to seriously weigh the benefits and dangers of utopian thought, as feminists, Marxists, environmentalists, and cosmopolitans continued to imagine new and complex utopias. In this course, we will examine the long tradition of utopian writing and thinking, analyzing its aesthetics and logic, uncovering and assessing its recurring themes and assumptions, and evaluating its utility and ethics. Students will write and revise four essays, each of which emphasizes a particular analytic strategy. Readings may include work by Plato, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, Ernest Callenbach, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Frederic Jameson, Karl Popper, Krishan Kumar, B.F. Skinner, and George Orwell.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 381  First-Year Writing Seminar: Shifting Identities  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Each day we construct, reconstruct, fine tune and attempt to harmonize the multiple facets of our identity. On any given day, we emphasize or de-emphasize different parts of ourselves. Sometimes we make it up altogether by passing – intentionally or unintentionally allowing others to believe that we are something that we are not. Many of us live moments, hours, days, years, or lifetimes under an assumed identity – a component or aspect of ourselves that seemingly contradicts the ways in which we see ourselves or the ways in which others see us – for myriad reasons such as professional advancement, physical safety, or social acceptance. In this writing seminar, we will explore representations of passing, such Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larsen’s study of early 20th century racial passing, Passing, or Modern Yiddish Literary movement Pulitzer Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer’s exploration of gender passing, Yentl the Yeshiva Boy. Our reading and writing will delve into t hemes including but not limited to race, gender, sexuality, religion, and social/economic status as we address why we pass, how we pass, and what happens when we get “caught.” Students will read essays, poetry, fiction, autobiography, film, and plays and will write three analytical essays and a literary-critical paper. Texts will include works by Elaine Ginsberg, Nella Larsen, Isaac Bashevis Singer, John M. Stahl, Neil Jordan, James Weldon Johnson, and Philip Roth.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 382  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Body Politic and the Politics of the Body in American Culture  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
On the surface, nothing seems more private than the experience of the body and more public than politics. But, look deeper, and it becomes evident that representations of the body have extensive political implications. The intersection of the public and private, of the body politic and the politics of the body, will thus be our chief concern. We will consider how bodies are imagined, monitored, disciplined, and represented, and examine the body’s role in political life. How does ideology shape our understanding of the body, our own and others? How do artistic and pop culture depictions of bodies translate into political action? What might it mean for the body to serve as political battleground? Using writing as a way of thinking critically, students will produce a series of descriptive, reflective, and analytical essays. Readings may include works by Susan Bordo, Michel Foucault, Elaine Scarry, Laura Mulvey, and Sander Gilman.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 383  First-Year Writing Seminar: Coming of Age: Selves, Writers, Societies  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course explores the inescapably social process of growing up. How can people both become who they want to be and participate fully in society? What do personal development and socio-economic development have to do with one another? How do coming-of-age fictions from Jane Austen to Kazuo Ishiguro reflect on questions of identity, belonging, sexuality, growth, modern-ization, and citizenship? These questions will be the occasion for intensive work on students’ own intellectual development as writers and readers. Three shorter essay assignments—selecting and interpreting textual evidence, responding to a theory, and incorporating a personal motive—build up to the culminating literary-critical paper on the coming-of-age novel. Social-scientific accounts of the development of persons and societies will provide context and counterpoint to the literary works. Readings include works by Jane Austen, James Joyce, and Anne Carson; scholarly essays in sociology, psychology, and literary studies.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 384  First-Year Writing Seminar: Walking and Writing in New York City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Writing and walking are both peripatetic activities: we wander through our ideas, making observations along the way, often taking a detour or two before arriving at our conclusion. This class will take the streets of New York as its starting point—our “primary text” will be the City itself—and we will read the ways in which it has been walked through on paper, often in the form of descriptions of seeing it for the first time, or re-seeing it as if it were the first. Through a series of writing assignments, including informal journals and analytic, revised essays, students will contextualize and historicize their journeys through these texts–and through the city–as we come to understand how New York City got from “there” to “here.” Readings may include works by Paul Dunbar, Gloria Naylor, Walter Benjamin, W.J.T. Mitchell, Michel de Certeau, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Diane Di Prima, Joyce Johnson, Rita Mae Brown, James Baldwin, Charles Brockden Brown, Henry James, José Martí, Hart Crane, Frank O’ Hara, Nathanael West, Jacob Riis, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 385  First-Year Writing Sem: Contemplation and Culture  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
There is a significant body of cultural work that seeks to describe the experience or results of contemplation or meditation, offer instruction in its various methods, or to induce or encourage a contemplative state. This course will examine texts and images from a number of fields (including spiritual autobiography, sermons, psychological studies, philosophical writing, and poetry) and from a range of religious and philosophical traditions (Christian mysticism, Daoism, Buddhism, Sufism), which represent some aspect of contemplative experience. Readings may include works by Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, Simone Weil, William James, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Blake, Eihei Dogen, Lao-tzu, Walt Whitman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Gary Snyder, Dante Alighieri, Jelaluddin Rumi, and Matsuo Basho. Writing in the course will include a daily journal (which will include observations of assigned readings, four shorter essays (4-5 pages), and a longer critical essay (6-8 pages).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 386  First-Year Writing Seminar: Listening to Rebel Voices: From Medieval Peasants  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The Rising of 1381 marked one of the largest mass movements in medieval European history, with 100,000 peasants, artisans, and middle-class workers marching on London to protest oppressive legislation and an antiquated system of feudalism. Accounts of the Rising have been used in subsequent periods to forward political agendas, raising questions of how such rebellion should be narrated and understood. This course will examine how such historical events can be harnessed to contemporary agendas, and how remembering the past can often be an important part of determining the future. Students will be asked to engage in larger questions about the nature of revolution and rebellion, such as: How do protestors represent themselves or create a narrative of collective dissent? How do rebellions or protests use, affect, and transform collective narratives of nationhood? How do the stories of individuals figure into the story of a nation, a group, or an era? How do protests effectively use the historical past to make assertions about the present? And how do writings about protests affect both the protest and how we remember it? We will focus on the Rising (and the rebel leader Wat Tyler), the French Revolution, and the recent Arab Spring; readings may include Chaucer, Gower, Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, Robert Southey, Barbara Salert, Jack Goldstone, Alaa Al-Aswany, Nazih Ayubi, Ahdaf Soueif, as well as videos and other social media sources relating to the Arab Spring.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 387  First-Year Writing Seminar: Keeping It Real: Thinking about Authenticity  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In his book The Authenticity Hoax (2010), Andrew Potter refers to authenticity as “one of the most powerful movements in contemporary life, influencing our moral outlook, political views, and consumer behavior.” Scholars have linked the concept of authenticity to various phenomena including the mass production and marketing of material goods, the development of audio-visual media, the move from agrarian to urban ways of living, and populist politics. This course will explore the idea of “keeping it real” in its various manifestations, focusing on how the concept of the authentic has been used (and abused) in contemporary advertising, music, literature, visual arts, religion and politics. In this course we will contextualize our contemporary ideas about the authentic, and we will seek to understand how authenticity influences the way we think about identity and culture. We will use different forms of essay writing as a way of thinking critically about these issues. Three shorter essays and a longer critical essay are required. Texts for this course will include a mixture of critical and creative works, and may include works by Andrew Potter, Zadie Smith, Walter Benjamin, Percival Everett, Woody Allen, and Elia Kazan.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 388  First-Year Writing Sem: Debating Science:Great Scientific Controversies in Context  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Is light a wave, a particle, or both? Were the ‘Bone Wars’ controversies of the late nineteenth century good for the study of paleontology? Does quantum physics deny the existence of physical reality? Which is the more powerful driver: nature or nurture? Will the universe continue expanding forever or will it ultimately end in a fiery collapse? Tesla vs. Edison: is AC or DC more likely to cause death by electrocution? These are some of the greatest debates that have gripped the scientific community over the past two hundred and fifty years. Many of these debates have been restricted to a healthy dialogue within the scientific community but on occasion they have sparked lively and even ad hominem exchanges between scientists. In this seminar we will explore the nature of these debates within their appropriate contexts. No mathematical or scientific background is necessary; a sincere interest in the subject matter is the only pre-requisite for this seminar. Students will write, workshop and revise three shorter expository essays and a longer literary critical essay. Readings may include works by: Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Thomas Henry Huxley, Samuel Wilberforce, Harlow Shapely, Heber Curtis, Othniel Marsh, and Edward Cope, Jill Jonnes, Manjit Kumar, Kevin Davies, Brenda Maddox, Edward Lawson, and Tom Rea.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 389  First-Year Writing Seminar: Translation: History, Theory and Practice  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The problems and pleasures of translation have shaped cultural, economic, intellectual, religious, and diplomatic interactions for centuries. Emily Apter has noted that “the 9/11 tragedy, followed on its heels by the Iraq invasion and occupation, has contributed to the focus on translation in film, fiction, academic research, and the media.” In an increasingly globalized and technologized world, we translate across linguistic and cultural boundaries all the time. Looking at translation as a powerful dynamic in our daily interactions helps us to understand the world in which we live. In this seminar, we will explore many aspects of cross-linguistic communication, including language acquisition, textual translation, professional interpreting, and the role of technology in translation. In addition to reading and comparing translations of literary texts, we will engage with theoretical works about translation, statements written by translators about their craft and profession, and recent news articles about the politics of translation and translation in politics. In various essays and projects, students will be encouraged to pursue a range of topics that reflect their interests and curiosities about language and intercultural exchange. Readings may include works by Apter, David Bellos, Edith Grossman, Brian Friel, Michael Cronin, Nataly Kelly and David Remnick.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 390  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Return of the Soilder  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Hero? Victim? Political pawn? Psychological casualty? Brother? Sister? Mystery? In this writing seminar, we will ask: What is a soldier, and what is his or her role in civilian society? What do civilians, in turn, owe the soldiers who defend us? In order to explore these questions, we will turn to the writers and artists who have shaped our perceptions of returning soldiers from the classical world to the present day. We will meet Homer’s Odysseus on his long journey home from the Trojan War, and two waiting wives: loyal Penelope, who outwits her many suitors, and faithless Clytaemestra, who greets her husband with a smile and a sharp blade. In Shakespeare we see the returning soldier venerated as a leader and a lover, then in the literature of World War One and Vietnam we observe the veteran transmuted into a victim. We will begin and end the course by discussing key issues in contemporary American military culture, from battles against veteran suicide and sexual assault, to questions of rehabilitation and commemoration. Students will write regular personal and critical responses to the material, and a longer essay on a relevant issue that the writer finds particularly intriguing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 391  First-Year Writing Sem: Photo-Graphic Selves: The Art of the Visual Memoir  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will focus on the interplay of images and words in autobiographical texts. We will ask what it means to represent the self on the page, and how the added element of the visual – including photographs and graphic images – complicates the many negotiations involved in self-portraiture. What, if anything, do pictures convey that words cannot? How does the inclusion of images or descriptions of images affect the ways we tell, or the ways that others read, our lives? Do the formal differences between visual images that are hand-drawn, as in comics, and those that appear more “realistic,” like photographs, change how we approach personal narratives? Throughout the semester, students will become acquainted with the basic theories and vocabularies surrounding the intersections between the visual and the verbal. They will write four formal essay assignments that draw on the use of textual evidence, research, and the incorporation of various points of view in order to form focused and thesis-driven arguments. Texts may include: Native Guard: Poems, Natasha Trethewey; Nox, Anne Carson; Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes;The Invention of Solitude, Paul Auster; Being in Pictures, Joanne Leonard; The Principles of Uncertainty, Maira Kalman; H Day, Renée French; One Hundred Demons, Lynda Barry; Are You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel; Funny Misshapen Body, Jeffrey Brown.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 392  First-year Writing: Self-Writing: The Art of Experience  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
“An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience,” wrote James Baldwin. This course will examine how writers “face and use” their life experience in a variety of genres, including private correspondence, journals, essays, and memoirs. What is the relationship between lived experience and literary experiment? Who is the “self” that emerges in a story? Do all identities count as “authentic”? These questions will frame our analysis of how personal writing gives shape to, and is shaped by, an author’s life. We will also consider how, and why, artists working in different media, such as song, film, and paint, create “self-portraits.” These different aesthetic approaches will help us understand how our reception of a life-story is informed by the style of its transmission. This course is designed to advance your skills and confidence as writer, so we will experiment with a range of written exercises and draft techniques. Assignments will include short online responses, and four personal and analytic essays, each revised at least once. Readings may include: St. Augustine, Confessions (Book One); The Book of Margery Kempe (selections); Rousseau, The Confessions (Book One); Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl; James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (select essays); Zora Neale Hurston, Dust on the Tracks (selections); Virginia Woolf, “A Sketch of the Past”; Richard Rodriguez, The Hunger of Memor; Anchee Min, Red Azalea; and Alison Bechdel, Fun Home.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 395  First-Year Writing Seminar: Science Fiction: Frankenstein and Revisions  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not only one of the earliest and most famous works of science fiction, it’s also a story that has been retold many times over. This course focuses on Shelley’s novel and on the novels and films it has inspired: we may consider H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Doctor Moreau and James Whale’s films Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein. How do later authors and filmmakers retell Shelley’s story? What appeals to them in her novel? What elements of Frankenstein do they retain, what do they alter, and why? Exploring these questions, we will examine how authors from Shelley onwards use the Frankenstein story to engage with contemporary scientific developments; these may include Darwin's theories of human descent, twentieth-century ideas about eugenics, and recent concepts in artificial intelligence. Our thematic focus on revision parallels the writing practices we will develop in the course: just as a novel or film may creatively rewrite and respond to an earlier story or scientific idea, so is the academic paper a kind of creative rewriting of and response to another text; just as radical revision enables the novelist or filmmaker to create an original work, so does revising and rewriting one’s own drafts enable the student writer to make an original argument. The course’s assignments aim to help students develop a productive writing practice through short exercises as well as drafts and revisions of three formal papers.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 396  First-Year Writing Seminar: Participation, Art, and Democracy  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Through reading, discussion, and a series of writing exercises, this class will examine the form, ethics, and politics of art that calls for the audience’s participation in the creative process. We will trace the evolution of “participatory art” from a radical avant-garde strategy to a contemporary marketing tactic. Expanding on this rich history, we will consider how interactive art forms relate to political regimes, cybernetic technology, the “experience economy,” and common social rituals. The course concludes with a look at participation’s inverse: antagonism, refusal, and withdraw. Our discussion will be guided by the following inquiries: How do we assess art that is made out of systems and relationships between people, rather than traditional art material? What are the philosophical arguments behind critiques of spectatorship? How have notions such as authorship, passivity, exploitation, productivity, and collaboration changed throughout time and across cultures? Students will voice their responses in a variety of writing assignments, culminating in a longer critical essay. Readings will include texts by Nicholas Bourriaud, Claire Bishop, Jacques Rancière, Umberto Eco, Roland Barthes, and Shannon Jackson, among others. Students are also required to gain exposure to participatory art through visits to exhibitions and, of course, by being an active participant in the classroom.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 397  First-Year Writing Seminar: Queer Time and Narrative  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will explore the role of time and narrative in tales of queer desire. How are queer stories told and what is their relationship to so-called "normative" romantic narratives of marriage, monogamy, and child rearing? From Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, gay and lesbian artists have suggested that temporal and sexual dissonance are deeply intertwined—in other words, that feeling “queer” might have something to do with feeling “out of time.” If queer artists march to the beat of a different drum, then how do they explore this temporality through narrative? Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to the role of pace, sequence, and narrative in writing, especially our own. We will consider how to build both long- and short-form arguments in the form of analytic essays and concise blog-posts. Shaping our inquiry will be Virginia Woolf’s modernist novel, To the Lighthouse, Andy Warhol’s experiments with duration in film, Gertrude Stein’s reflections of repetition and portraiture, and Alison Bechdel’s recent memoir about queer history and coming out. Students will write several short essays and blog-posts as well as one longer, literary-critical essay.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 398  First-Year Writing Seminar: Myths of Orpeus  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The mythical figure of Orpheus was celebrated in ancient Greece as the greatest musician and poet ever to have lived as well as one of a handful of mortals who managed to journey to the underworld. In this course we will look at how the myth of Orpheus has been portrayed in the arts from ancient to modern times. We will begin by examining early representations of the myth in Ovid and Virgil before proceeding to more recent interpretations in poetry (Rilke, H.D., Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Rich), theater (Tennessee Williams, Sarah Ruhl), Film (Jean Cocteau, Marcel Camus), Opera (Monteverdi, Glück, Offenbach), and the graphic novel (Neil Gaiman). Finally, we will explore the significance of Orpheus as the consummate artist in relation to the contemporary phenomenon of the popular performer. An important part of our survey will be dedicated to the figure of Orpheus’s lost love, Eurydice, and to the question of how feminist revisions of the myth alter our conceptions of love, heroism, and artistic achievement. Through papers and in-class exercises students will work on developing their abilities to think and write critically about contrasting modes of artistic expression. The task will then be to apply these skills to a final comparative study that examines how a key issue raised by the myth is resolved across different media.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 399  First-year Writing Seminar: Community & Collaboration  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
When studying literature, we often focus on individual creators—Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Langston Hughes—to the near exclusion of their communities of influence. What would it mean to flip the script and concentrate on what role not only community but also collaboration play in individually-authored texts? Studying writers’ communities from the mid-nineteenth century to the modern day, we will consider how to build a canon that more fully acknowledges interpersonal relationships. We will ask what forms of writing lend themselves particularly well to acknowledging the influence of community. We will also explore the larger question of how valuing collaboration might speak to our digital reading and writing practices. We will build our own writing communities, first in a digital space where students will compose short writing assignments and comment on others’ reflections. Then, students will work through the writing process together to compose a series of longer essays around a central theme and collaboratively write an introduction that links all the pieces together. Texts may include selections from the following communities, collectives, and groupings: Transcendental Club, Bloomsbury, Harlem Renaissance, modernists, Confessional School, second-wave feminists, zine culture.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 400  First-Year Writing Seminar: Portraiture and Power  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
From Velazquez’s dazzling and enigmatic Spanish Baroque painting “Las Meninas,” which depicts the artist himself in the presence of the royal family, to the current moment when the digital “selfie” is thought to function as a gauge of cultural narcissism, this writing-intensive class will examine “the portrait” and its prominent and peculiar place as a visual and textual object in global contexts through description, formal analysis and contextualization. What forms of power and identity are portraits capable of representing and revealing? How can portraiture expose the ways that a society classifies its people, establishes its hierarchies and presents its value systems? In addition to examining portraiture as an art practice, we will explore it as a vernacular and ritual form in diverse time periods and geographical locations. We will devote some attention to the practice of street photography as well as to the formation of iconic images and the representational politics of figures including Mussolini, Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh. We will consider what influences different and transforming media technologies have on representing people and the self. In two five-page essays and three drafts of a 10-page final essay, students will develop academic writing and rhetorical skills through an engagement with visual and textual material. Course material may include essays or works by Italo Calvino, George Simmel, Vivian Maier, Michel Foucault, Richard Brilliant, Nancy Burson, Graham Clarke, Geoffrey Batchen and James Elkins.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 401  First-Year Writing Seminar: Anxiety  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What is anxiety? Is it uniquely modern or has it always been with us? Where does it come from? How is it represented? Are we really getting more anxious, and if so, why? In this course we will theorize anxiety through four lenses: existential and religious doubt; psychoanalysis; the advent of modernity and modern warfare; and neuroscience. Our readings will come from many genres and periods, and may include Kierkegaard, Sartre, Beauvoir, Freud, Melanie Klein, Hamlet, Elizabeth Wurtzel, and Clarice Lispector; films may include Dr. Strangelove and Safe. We will try to understand whether different modes of anxiety are necessarily exclusive of each other; why scholars describe texts as being anxious; and, most important, how the writing process can be less anxiety-provoking. Assignments will include short exercises, freewriting, close reading, and critical essays, and we will stress the process and practice of revision.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 402  First-Year Writing Seminar: Gimme Shelter: Dwelling and Telling in the City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Advice manuals popular in the mid-nineteenth-century illustrate a long held anxiety about the urban landscape. The assumption was that the city was rife with “confidence men” and “painted women” who sought not only to swindle newcomers but also to recruit them into their nefarious fold. The city was thus imagined as a mercurial landscape of shifting forms and deceptive appearances unfit for wholesome living. This course explores the history and changing shape of ideas about dwelling in the American city. From the mid-nineteenth century guidebooks to the design section of New York Magazine, from Walt Whitman’s poetry to hashtags—we will examine how Americans have made themselves physically and imaginatively at home in the city. Writers we will consider include Herman Melville, Joan Didion, Marshall Berman, Rebecca Solnit and Paul Auster. We will look at the design work of Frederick Law Olmstead and Robert Moses, and consider the relationship of urban design to social structures. Music from the Harlem Renaissance as well as the films of Charlie Kaufman will help us think about the ways different mediums capture, reflect and shape the urban experience and what kinds of obstacles—psychological, social and class-based—the city poses for the activity of dwelling. Students will contribute to a course blog, write three papers and collaborate to make creative digital maps of New York City.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 403  First-Year Writing Sem: Abundance: Thinking, Writing & Creating In The Age of Plenty  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Every three minutes Americans take more photographs than the entire 19th century produced. We have some 100 000 words of text pass through our eyes and ears each day (that’s ¼ of War and Peace). We are in the midst of constant abundance – of information, choices, opportunities, products, texts, and images. Even the city we live in is bursting at the seams. But what is abundance and how do we navigate it ethically, socially, and artistically? This course investigates the history and changing shape of abundance, from sonnet writing in the Renaissance to twitter feeds today, from Augmented Reality poems and the Digital Humanities to consumerism, overcrowding, and artistic repurposing. Writers we will consider include Kenny Goldsmith, David Foster Wallace, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Marjorie Perloff, Walter Benjamin; Photography projects will include Penelope Umbrico’s Flikr Sunsets, Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, and Walker Evans’s Many Were Called; Music by Glenn Gould, Sonic Youth, and Jay-Z; Films by Richard Linklater, Sarah Polly, and Bela Tarr. As we examine these materials we will also consider the changing shape of the traditional college essay and how to navigate abundance in our own writing. Students will write three short papers and create a final critical essay that reframes and repurposes existent textual or media sources.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 404  First-Year Writing Seminar: Thinking and Writing Through New Media  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The complex relationships between our social and intellectual lives and the technology we use to project our ideas into the world are continually evolving, and this changing landscape has affected few other realms of human activity than the process of writing. Students in this course will investigate these evolving relationships between writing and the technological means behind its production, addressing technological issues such as censorship and surveillance, the paradoxes of the synthetic, social media-driven life, and the affordances and pitfalls of technological developments. We will pay attention to historical theories of media, particularly those concerned with changes in writing technologies and information revolutions since the invention of the codex and how these shifts bear on our own moment. As we examine these areas we will discuss the critical theory of Marshall McLuhan, Lisa Gitelman, and Lev Manovich. Fictional readings may include: “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster and Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner. Together, we will use digital tools to communicate our ideas to a public audience. On the course blog, students will analyze readings and explore pressing questions. Students will write thesis-driven, analytical essays, and throughout the semester you will design your own Word Press project.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 405  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Literary Animal  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Literature is obsessed with animals. They howl and lurch through the history of literary art: creatures with clawed wings; faces that breathe fire; whales that smash ships; and men who turn into insects, wolves, and bats. We will begin our exploration of this obsession with two scenes at the origin of the Western tradition: Adam giving names to the creatures assembled in the Garden of Eden, and Aristotle declaring that the real difference between “man and other animals” is that man alone possesses language. Setting out with an examination of the representation of animals in literary and philosophical texts, we will soon take our cue from Emerson’s mysterious statement that “every word was once an animal,” and consider how some works of literature ask to be read as animals – unpredictable, strangely animate, and uneasily familiar. In the course of exploring the link between animals and language, we will pay special attention to our own writing. We will discuss the construction of analytical and critical arguments, and ask some fascinating questions along the way. What does it mean to write about writing? What is at stake when we take a piece of literature as an object of study? In addition to Genesis and Book I of Aristotle’s Politics, our readings may include selections from the fables of Aesop and La Fontaine; Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift); selections from the poetry of William Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley; Frankenstein (Mary Shelley); selections from On the Origin of Species (Charles Darwin); and Elizabeth Costello (J.M. Coetzee).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 406  First-Year Writing Seminar: Mean Streets: The Detective and the City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What would Sherlock Holmes be without London, Philip Marlow without Los Angeles, Jimmy McNulty without Baltimore? From what was arguably the first instance of detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the "mean streets" of the city have been crucial to the formation of the genre. The detective moves between different social spaces within the city, with access to both expensive high-rise apartments and crack dens, and the city itself becomes a kind of character in the novel – alternatively helpful, seductive, sullen, and dangerous. Using short stories, novellas, TV shows and films set in London, Baltimore, Johannesburg, Kolkata, New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, and other world cities, we will both examine the art of detective writing and trace the narrative complicity of the detective and urban space. Alongside the fictional texts, writings by practitioners of crime fiction as well as urban and cultural critics will provide us with the theoretical scaffolding for our investigation. One of the authors we'll be reading, Paul Auster, argues that “[t]he detective is the one who looks, who listens, who moves through this morass of objects and events in search of the thought, the idea that will pull all these things together and make sense of them. In effect, the writer and the detective are interchangeable.” In learning about detective fiction, we will thus also be sharpening our own writing skills, working out how to most effectively express that one idea that pulls everything together. Shorter writing assignments during the course of the semester will focus on close reading, with a longer, argumentative essay as the final assignment.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 407  First-Year Writing Seminar: Popular Religion and Popular Culture in North America  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
American religion, historian Nathan Hatch writes, has “less to do with the specifics of polity and governance and more with the incarnation of the church into popular culture.” Although Hatch was writing about the 19th century, this complex relationship between the popular, the lived, and the liturgical continues to shape and define America today. In this course, we study and write about ways in which film, television, advertising, music, sports, politics, food, and the news media present, negotiate, and affect religious issues, and, conversely, how religion changes popular culture. We “read” primary texts of popular religion and popular culture, such as Billy Graham sermons, Mormon pageants, Lady Gaga videos, basketball and video games, as well as theoretical works by Jean Baudrillard, Elaine Graham, Peter Williams, Kate McCarthy, Eric Mazur, Susan Mizruchi, Richard Santana and Gregory Erickson. Students are encouraged to explore topics of their own interest, and assignments include reaction papers, various essay forms, and a final paper of critical analysis.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 408  First-Year Writing Seminar: Antiwar Activism in the Vietnam Era and After  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
From Norman Morrison's dramatic self-immolation in front of the Pentagon in 1965 to Muhammad Ali's refusal to enter the U.S. military, to Jane Fonda's widely publicized antiwar activism, the Vietnam War motivated a wide range of Americans to take action against it. In this first-year writing seminar, we will explore some of the central questions raised both by war itself and the various types of activism that have historically arisen to challenge its power. What kinds of people become involved in the efforts to stop war? What types of strategies and activities have they developed? And, perhaps most importantly, what impact have their actions had on the operation of not only of the war in Vietnam, but also on the direction of war and peace in the decades that followed? Through readings, class discussions, and writing exercises that lead to formal essays, this course will employ methodologies drawn from disciplines like film and literary studies, cultural theory, and political science to write and think through the complex moral, philosophical, political, and aesthetic elements involved in antiwar activism. Texts and films may include works by T.V. Reed (The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle), Peter Davis (Hearts and Minds), Penny Lewis (Hardhats, Hippies, and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory), Nick Turse (Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam), Diane di Prima (Revolutionary Letters), David Maraniss (They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace, America and Vietnam, October 1967), and David S. Meyer (The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 409  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Contents and Discontents of Marriage  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this class we will look at the ways weddings and marriages have been represented in art and culture throughout modernity. We will investigate marriage as a celebration of love and union and as a system of religious, patriarchal, hetero-normative, and capitalistic exploitation and oppression. Through the analysis of key texts we will seek to understand why our longstanding cultural obsession with marriage—an institution often deemed outmoded—has persisted. Segments of the course will be devoted to representations of weddings and marriage in plays by Shakespeare, Federico García Lorca and Edward Albee; in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; in artworks by Jan van Eyck, Frieda Kahlo, and David Magnusson; in essays by Marx and Engels, Emma Goldman, and Joan Didion; in Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage and David Fincher’s Gone Girl; and in contemporary popular music. We will also look at recent studies on marriage and divorce rates, discuss Bruce Benderson’s polemic, Against Marriage, opinions from the recent Supreme Court case affirming marriage equality, and examine fissures in the LGBTQ community around the question of marriage. At the same time, students will learn how to write the academic essay by completing a series of writing assignments around topics drawn from our objects of study.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 410  First-Year Writing Seminar: Narrative as Catharsis: A Critical Look  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What does it mean to heal in the wake of violence? It is often taken for granted that telling one’s story can have a cathartic effect. This presumption has grounded both individual and collective approaches to recovery from trauma in a wide range of contexts over the last fifty years. On this model, narrating one’s experience of victimization—be it in a courtroom, documentary film, or memoir—is presumed to help set one free from psychic pain and from histories of oppression and violence. This course will attempt to deconstruct the trope of narrative as catharsis with respect to specific case studies, including truth commissions, war crimes tribunals, feminist anti-violence campaigns, and postcolonial movements. It will explore this theme using different theoretical, methodological and critical “lenses,” such as feminist narrative scholarship, critical race theory, trauma theory, transitional justice, and postcolonial theory. At stake are the presumptions about humans’ ability to heal, their capacity to access the truth, the possibility of recovery following violence, and the power relations at work in different post-traumatic scenes of narration. The course theme will serve as the framework for developing students’ analytic thinking, reading, and writing skills, and provide the basis for class discussions and assignments. In addition to weekly responses, students will be required to write one long and three short analytic papers related to the course theme. Readings may include works by Sigmund Freud, Martin Luther King Jr., Michel Foucault, Frantz Fanon, Shoshana Felman, Desmond Tutu, Veena Das, and Martha Minow.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 411  First-Year Writing Seminar: Scandal and Spectacle  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What is interesting about bad behavior and provocation? In this writing seminar we will explore works of literature, visual art and critical thought that either depict or have caused scandals. We will engage recent as well as ancient material —from Pussy Riot to Sophocles’ Antigone—and will focus on the first half of the twentieth-century. We will analyze strategies, forms, and styles of defiance, and think about the complex set of cultural, economic, religious and political relations that are revealed through scandals. Some of the concepts and problems that we will be addressing are commodity, icon, fetish, shock, scandal, tragedy, manifesto, the intersections between religion and the secular avant-garde, the influence of the sensationalist press on the novel and “serious” literature, as well as the relationship between modern and archaic. The authors and materials we will deal with in this course include Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the artists and poets of Italian, Russian, and Afro- Futurism, Constructivists, Dadaists, Victor Shklovsky, Kazimir Malevich, Marcel Duchamp, Karl Marx and Pussy Riot.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 412  First-Year Writing Seminar: Urban Inequality and Social Change  (4 Credits)  
This century is known as the “century of the city” with more people living in urban environments than ever before in history. How does the physical and social fabric of cities shape life chances and opportunities of citizens? Who do cities welcome and serve, and who do they marginalize and push out to the peripheries? How do citizens transform cities and claim their rights to space, resources, and opportunities? Focusing on a diverse set of cities from around the world such as New Delhi, Jakarta, Mexico City, Lagos, New York, and Rio de Janerio, in this course we will examine urban inequality and citizen struggles for right to the city. We will examine different forms of inequality in global urban contexts and learn about various practices and strategies of resistance from encroachment to urban social movements. We will pay attention to how gender, caste, sexuality, class, age, and generations shape experiences of the city and of urban change. Through a range of writing assignments, student will develop and practice their skills in argumentative writing across genres, as well as, critical thinking, constellational thinking, and close analytical reading. Readings may include David Harvey, Jane Jacobs, Henri Lefebvre, Suketu Mehta, Dinaw Mengestus, and AbdouMaliq Simone.
Grading: Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 413  First -Year Writing Seminar: Musical Subcultures  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The American musical landscape is now comprised of many self-contained factions, subcultures that exist and thrive independent of mainstream culture and operate according to their own ideologies and rules. In this first-year writing seminar, we’ll consider the best ways for music journalists to define and reveal these communities on the page. What exactly defines a subculture, musical or otherwise? What happens when certain sounds are co-opted by the mainstream? As writers, how do we look past preexisting archetypes and our own presumptions regarding certain movements and their fans? Do we keep an objective distance or fully submit ourselves to the experience, participating as we document? Students will explore, study, infiltrate, and report on several musical subcultures – web-based or otherwise – of their choosing, submitting four 1,500-2,000 word essays. Readings will include Chuck Klosterman, Joan Didion, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Sara Marcus, Laina Dawes, Kent Russell, and more.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 414  First-Year Writing Seminar: Underworld Journeys in the Renaissance and Beyond  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Since antiquity—in classical epic and myth, in the Bible and apocryphal lore—mortals have wandered the beyond and the deceased have roamed the earth. Often these journeys are of critical importance to those left alive, instrumental steps to founding empire or earning salvation. This course explores literary, artistic, theatrical, and cinematic representations of otherworlds infernal and paradisal. We visit the realms of the afterlife, as well as edenic or dystopic spaces in the land of the living. Our focus is how these imagined lands reflect, critique, and animate the real world. Because the desire to know the beyond cuts across geography and time, the topic also affords us the opportunity to conduct comparative explorations of various national traditions and periods, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages and Renaissance to modernity. Texts may include excerpts from Virgil’s Orpheus myth and his Aeneid, the books of Genesis and Revelation, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Columbus's journals, art by Botticelli and Bosch, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Primo Levi’s Auschwitz memoir, and contemporary science fiction in literature and film. Through reading responses, a creative writing project, and argumentative papers, students will develop and practice skills of critical thinking and persuasive written communication.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 415  First-Year Writing Seminar: Just Food: Sustainability and Survival  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Humans have evolved over millennia, and yet it seems that the most pressing concerns of today remain connected to basic issues of survival. One such concern is that of food — our most primal need — and the way we relate to land and the environment. Are we consuming real “food” that provides nourishment or something else? Who has access to healthy food, and who gets to make decisions about how food is produced and distributed? How have our food habits and farming processes changed over time? And are we eating food or eating up the Earth? These are just some of the questions that we will carefully ponder, as we examine the relationship between food, agrarian history and sustainability from the perspective of global development studies. Students will cultivate their writing voice by working on three reflection papers and one longer, final essay, with guidance provided at each stage. The material for the course will be drawn from a variety of disciplinary approaches including history, sociology, political economy, and environmental studies. Amongst other texts, we will read selections from Wendell Berry’s Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food, Vandana Shiva’s The Violence of the Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology, and Politics and Deborah Barndt’s Tangled Routes: Women, Work, and Globalization on the Tomato Trail. The course will also feature guest lectures from farmers and sustainability thinkers who are actively pursuing a just, food order in the New York area.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 417  First-Year Writing Seminar: Youth and Globalization  (4 Credits)  
What does it mean to be a young person in today’s rapidly changing world? In this course we will examine how global processes such as economic restructuring, shifts in higher education, development, migration, and social movements shape young people’s experiences in different parts of the world. Conversely, we will also investigate how “youth” can be a lens to rethink and even re-theorize contemporary globalization. In our readings and discussion, we will map out geographies of difference, connection, and solidarity between youth across the globe and students at Gallatin. Throughout the course we will read ethnography, fiction, and scholarly texts as well as study cultural materials such as film. Students will develop writing skills through a range of assignments including narrative, analytical, and argumentative essays. Some authors we will read may include: Doreen Massey, David Harvey, Karan Mahajan, Tina Chang, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 418  First-Year Writing Seminar: La Mode: Fashioning Modernity  (4 Credits)  
How has fashion contributed to shaping the visual, tactile, and libidinal environment in which we live and the ways in which we live in it? How do changing fashions reflect but also factor in the formation and transformation of cultures? Students in this course will develop their own writing abilities by engaging in dialogue with a tradition of writing on fashion that dates back to the early nineteenth century, and that encompasses journalism, sociology, aesthetics, political economy, and philosophy. Over the course of the semester students will be introduced to a wide range of authors, texts, intellectual traditions, and theoretical approaches to the study of fashion, as well as to contemporary issues bearing on the clothed body in both Western and non-Western contexts. In addition to encouraging students to think critically about the place of fashion in modern life, the course assignments aim help them to develop the capacity to address complex questions with both clarity and substance, to read and revise their own writing, and to craft well-constructed and compelling arguments. Readings will include texts by Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, Georg Simmel, Adolf Loos, Thorstein Veblen, Roland Barthes, Caroline Evans, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Leila Ahmed, and Joan Wallach Scott, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 419  First-Year Writing Seminar: Disability Arts & Culture  (4 Credits)  
The last few decades have seen the emergence of disability as a game-changing social analytic. By foregrounding the generative possibilities of non-normative forms, disability studies has offered profound insight into long-held conceptions of time, space, environment, and difference. Activists and academics alike have drawn upon disability art and culture in order to expand the category and shift towards a focus in self-representation. In this course, we will understand writing as a form of access and we will use many forms of disability art (visual, textual, performative, digital) to develop key modes of textual expression (personal, descriptive, analytical, critical). Over the course of the semester, students will develop complex ideas about disability through a series of essays while also having the opportunity to produce and reflect on their own creative work. In the course, we will engage with the art of Judith Scott, Sins Invalid, Alice Sheppard, Lucy Grealy, the Deaf Poets Society, as well as many theoretical and scholarly texts.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 420  First-Year Writing Sem: The Politics of Home: Gender, Race, Class and Kinship  (4 Credits)  
The premise of this seminar is that the “home” is not prepolitical or apolitical, in opposition to the public domain, but inextricably linked to the political. Indeed meanings of home saturate – sometimes explicitly, sometimes obliquely – our public discourse and debates. Gender, race, class, and sexuality are publically policed and reproduced with reference to normative familial relations and (private) property. Yet domestic spaces and intimate lives can often serve as spaces of relief, refuge, and even political opposition. The home, depending on where one finds oneself situated, can mean wildly different things: prison or refuge, the banal or the aspirational. In this course we will read critiques and adulations of the domestic in multiple genres (theoretical, literary, popular) alongside contemporary activist projects and artworks that willfully put the domestic on public display through the use of traditional women’s work (knitting, embroidery, sewing). We will ask how different domestic spaces and intimate relations are imagined in opposition (or conjunction) with dominant models. Readings will include Charlotte Gilman Perkins, Betty Friedan, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Kathleen Stewart, Ann Cvetkovich, David Eng, Juana Maria Rodriguez, and Foucault and artworks by Annette Messager, Marianne Jørgensen, and the Gees Bend Quilters.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 421  First-Year Writing Seminar: Latin American Literature/ Cult in the Era of Globalization  (4 Credits)  
In this writing seminar, students will explore cultural production Latin America during the last four decades. Our readings will pay particular attention to how literature, film, and mixed media have attempted to take stock of the region’s rapid cultural transformations in the era of globalization. This question becomes particularly important insofar as Latin America’s rapid urbanization over the last half century, as well as its increased integration into an emerging, global consumer culture, have together given rise to what Jean Franco calls a “crisis of the popular,” a term denoting inability of artists, writers, and other intellectuals to produce coherent representations of culture in the wake of these shifts. Some of the writers whose work we will examine, such as Alberto Fuguet, have responded to this crisis through a writing practice that integrates both literature and pop journalism. Specific readings will deal with specific topics such as urban life, consumerism, political activism, the construction of identity, and the observed divide between so-called “elite” and “popular” or “pop” cultures. Writing assignments will ask students to engage and experiment with different ways of thinking about and representing culture approached in our readings, and will ask them to reflect upon cultural artefacts in the context of scholarly theories of globalization. Part of the course will also focus on non-textual outlets for thinking about the globalization of culture such as film, radio storytelling, and popular music.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 422  First-Year Writing Seminar: The History of Orientalism and the Politics of Its Legacy  (4 Credits)  
Europe’s fascination with the, East, or “Orient,” has a complicated and often contradictory history. From the time of Alexander the Great to Marco Polo to Napoleon and Lawrence of Arabia, European scholars, linguists, writers, artists, and explorers have depicted the “Orient” as sometimes sophisticated, exotic, mysterious, barbaric, dangerous, or debauched. In doing so, they constructed both a disciplinary field called “Orientalism” as well as a powerful narrative of civilization that pitted “East” against “West.” Using a flexible historical approach, this seminar will explore intellectual and cultural encounters between Europe and the "Orient" from Antiquity to the present. Our main text and guide in this course will be Edward Said’s seminal 1978 book Orientalism. We will also read selections from the field broadly defined as “postcolonialism, which called for a more complex understanding of how gender, class, power, race, and nationalism shaped the construction and reproduction of knowledge. How do imperialism and knowledge production intersect? Can they be disentangled? Do Orientalist constructs still shape our own understandings of “East” and “West,” and our own production of knowledge, still to this day? In answering these questions, we will engage various texts, including primary sources, non-fiction, literature, and theory. Through these readings, class discussions, and weekly writing exercises leading to formal essays, we will explore and write about complex issues of identity, race, exile, multiculturalism, and religious fundamentalism. Readings may also include William Jones, J. S. Mill, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rudyard Kipling, E. M. Forster, Franz Fanon, Timothy Mitchell, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Gayatri Spivak and Nadia Abu El-Haj.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 423  First-Year Writing Seminar: Bedtime Writing: The Literature of Sleep  (4 Credits)  
“[I]n dreaming, / The clouds methought would open and show riches / Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked, / I cried to dream again” (The Tempest III.ii.147-150). As the supposed one-third of life we spend unconscious continues to shrink, Caliban’s lament feels more familiar than ever. But current obsessions with the health and productivity consequences of our collective sleep debt obscure a much longer tradition of cultural engagement with sleep, one that not only makes space for slumber as more than mere refueling, but also posits a special relationship between writers and sleep. This course aims to recover that secret affinity and plunder its “riches” by studying literary representations of sleep. Expect encounters with sleepwalkers, insomniacs, oneironauts, and other creatures of the night as we ask how sleep—or lack of it—factors in to literary practices. Readings will include fiction (Dickens, Collins, Chekhov, Carver), poetry (Spenser, Coleridge, Tennyson, Thomson), history (Burgess, Dorhn-van Rossum, Ekirch, Moss), philosophy (Schwenger, Turcke, Wortham), psychology (Freud), the sociopolitics of sleep (Derickson, Williams, Wolf-Meyer), and contemporary memoirs of sleeplessness (Butler, Greene).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 424  First-Year Writing Seminar: Work, Freedom and Social Change  (4 Credits)  
How have workers created social and political change in the United States? What counts as work? What can workers do today to maintain and build power? This course explores these three thematic questions through an exploration of the history of workers and their organizations in American history after emancipation. We will explore the history and meaning of class and work and the relationship of work to the state through reading, discussion, and film. We will pay special attention to the ways in which these understandings of class are shaped by gender. Readings include David von Drehle, Bethany Moreton, Selma James, and Wendy Brown.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 425  First-Year Writing Seminar: Obsession  (4 Credits)  
Andy Warhol famously said of Campbell’s Soup, “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” Martin Luther obsessively confessed his sins in response to tormented thoughts of religious transgression. An Ethiopian girl named Bira could not stop eating the mud bricks that composed her house. We also find obsession in works of literature and film. In Shelley’s Frankenstein, for example, Victor Frankenstein is obsessive in his quest to create life, and the monster that he creates is obsessed with enacting revenge. In this class, we will study hoarders, collectors, hypochondriacs, addicts, fanatics and perfectionists. We will consider such questions as: What does it mean to be obsessed with an object or idea? Why are some obsessions praiseworthy whereas others are representative of pathology? What distinguishes obsession from states such as desire and delusion? Does society influence how we categorize health and disease? Do we control, or are we controlled by, our obsessions? What are the differences between practice, habit, ritual, repetition and compulsion? Examination of these questions will lead us to consider the laws of sympathetic magic, the artwork of Andy Warhol, Freudian psychoanalysis, and the role of the emotions in rational thinking. Readings will include Freud’s Case Studies, Fraser’s Golden Bough, a memoir on obsessive-compulsive disorder, Descartes’ Methods on First Philosophy, Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Because this is a writing course, students will develop argumentative writing skills and participate in the peer review process. We’ll also visit the Museum of Modern Art to view Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans exhibit.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 426  First-Year Writing Seminar: What is Science Fiction?  (4 Credits)  
What is the relation between literature and science? Is fiction a form of knowledge, and if so how is it different from the sort of knowledge arrived at in the natural sciences? What is the role of thought experiments in scientific and philosophical inquiry? Are literary works thought experiments? The course will explore such questions through a focus on science-fiction as a genre, broadly construed. In addition to reflection on what is meant by "genre," we will consider how science and the scientist are represented in works of fiction, the literature and philosophy of artificial intelligence, the idea of time travel, and the idea of fiction and possible worlds. Students write 3-4 essays making claims and using evidence from works on the syllabus, with emphasis on writing clear prose in support of an original argument. Authors and filmmakers may include H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin, William Gibson, Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Sigmund Freud, Stanely Kubrick, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Delaney, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Italo Calvino, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alan Turing, Jonathan Lethem, Ridley Scott and George Lucas.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 428  First-Year Writing Seminar: Why Black People Tend to Shout  (4 Credits)  
In a book with an outwardly jokey title, journalist Ralph Wiley offers up some fairly serious views about Why Black People Tend To Shout (1991). “When joy, pain, anger, confusion and frustration, ego and thought, mix it up, the way they do inside black people,” he says, “the uproar is too big to hold inside. The feeling must be aired.” In this course we will consider both the joking and serious import of Wiley’s provocative (but not unproblematic) assertion by drawing on a theoretical framework provided to us by affect studies. Several carefully chosen case studies in black peoples’ shouting draw our attention to the role that “catching feelings” often plays in creating and sustaining notions of community, protest and resistant politics. Readings on a variety of subjects—ring shouts and race riots, black power protests and protest novels, spoken word poetry and prophetic hip hop, the Black Arts movement and Black Lives Matter—are designed to fuel thoughtful and exploratory discussions whose references run the gamut from church ladies hollering “Hallelujah” to Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go, to Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)” and Tupac Shakur’s “Holler If Ya Hear Me.” In each instance, we will attempt to uncover specific spiritual, political, psychological and aesthetic motives for (or effects of) airing inside feelings in public spaces. Our collective inquiry might provoke some heated—and hilarious—conversations; it will definitely provide us with an opportunity to critically and conscientiously engage key concepts in black cultural studies.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 429  First-Year Writing Sem: Fictions on Record:Journalism, Lit & Claims to Truth  (4 Credits)  
Literature tends to be seen as a space for dynamic aesthetic experimentation and critical thought. But journalistic texts are rarely granted the same transcendence. How, then, can journalism be read as literature? This seminar examines the relationship between journalism and literature in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Coursework is centered on the following questions: what claims to truth are at work in narrative fiction versus journalistic storytelling? Are certain kinds of fictional and nonfictional accounts better positioned than others to take up political, aesthetic, and philosophical concerns? How have literature and journalism historically interacted with, and reacted to, each other? For the final paper, students will produce a critical analysis of a nonfiction text. Shorter writing assignments will encourage students to experiment with the narrative styles we encounter, and to reflect critically on how their own writing constructs its particular claims to truth. Readings may include excerpts from the work of: Svetlana Alexievich, James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Ryszard Kapuściński, Valeria Luiselli, Óscar Martínez, Joe Sacco, and Rodolfo Walsh.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 430  First-Year Writing Seminar: Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Text, Image, Film  (4 Credits)  
At a moment when popular culture is obsessed with reality television and new technology permits “real time” access to current events, this course examines the concept of reality in philosophy, literature, and film. What is the relationship between language and reality? How do different genres and media represent the world around us? How do visual and linguistic representations mediate our understanding of the “true” and the “real?” We will begin the course by examining key philosophical works by Plato and Karl Marx along side films like the Wachowskis' The Matrix and Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. We will then discuss how writers associated with disparate aesthetic movements such as realism, surrealism, and magical realism claimed to present and define reality. We will probe deeply into the category of everyday life to explore questions relating to race, gender, and the experience of modern life. Lastly, we will consider the force of the photographic image and assess its relationship to evidence, truth, and reality. Here, our primary texts will include works of photography and commercial advertisements. Authors include but are not limited to: Aimé Césaire, Herman Melville, Nikolai Gogol, bell hooks, André Breton, Henri Lefebvre, Franz Fanon, Susan Sontag, and Claudia Rankine. This seminar will help you discover your voice as an academic writer. Students will explore all aspects of the writing process through multimodal assignments designed to facilitate engagement with course materials and develop critical writing skills.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 431  First-Year Writing Sem: American Paranoia: Community and the Fear of "Others"  (4 Credits)  
Communists, aliens, terrorists: Lurking just out of sight—or perhaps, maddeningly, already inside us—a dangerous enemy is plotting our downfall. From Colonial era encounters with Native Americans, to the Salem witch trials, the specter of slavery (and a slave revolt), the Red scares of the 1920s and 1950s, to the terrorist threat of today, American national identity has often been defined in opposition to a perceived threat. Who are they? What do they want, how do we recognize them, how do we stop them? And who, in this conflict, are we? Reading texts from Cotton Mather, Frederick Douglass, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Walt Whitman, and Gish Jen, among others, and viewing films and TV, for example, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “The X-Files,” and “Homeland,” we analyze the national psyche as it confronts (or imagines) moral corruption, spiritual possession, political subversion, subliminal brainwashing, and physical abduction.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 432  First-Year Writing Sem:Pilgrimage, Road Stories & Travel Narr. from Past to Present  (4 Credits)  
Travel writing is a fascinating and diverse genre that has proliferated from antiquity to the twenty-first century. It appeals to many people for a variety of reasons: it introduces us to new people and places; it often features vivid and appealing prose; it offers insight into the way people make sense of their real-life experiences; and it inspires us to daydream about our own travels. In this course, we will study travel writing by discussing each text’s authorial personae, context, narrative structure as well as intended audiences, and evaluate the writing through the lens of some potent critiques of travel writing and tourism. Sources of study include European Romantic travel writing by canonical writers such as Gerard Nerval and Gustave Flaubert, Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, travel photography by Maxime Du Camp and excerpts from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah. Throughout the course, we will consider the following questions: Who is telling these road stories? Why? At what type of audience are these stories directed? How can we tell? What are we meant to learn about the people, places, and journeys they describe? How do these texts invite us to make sense of the world? How do the authors shape meaning through their use of language? What anxieties, desires, and visions of selfhood do they project?
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 433  First-Year Writing Seminar: Science/Fiction  (4 Credits)  
In this writing seminar, we will study the role of boundaries between truth and fiction in the presentation of science to popular audiences today. The course will revolve around two main themes. First, we will examine scientific inaccuracy for the sake of entertainment – how works of science fiction and sensationalist online news sites manipulate scientific facts to leave a more spectacular impression. Second, we will look at the portrayal of physics to the general public in works of popular science – how writers balance the intricacies of expounding advanced and often mathematically based subject matter with the simplicity and clarity necessary for general comprehension. Together, we will investigate whether missing information can sometimes serve as a better educational tool than the full story. How much information is necessary for understanding? Must we always sacrifice accuracy in the name of accessibility? And what is at stake when we do? By reading, analyzing, and discussing a range of sources with different goals and audiences, we will learn how to express technical ideas selectively, succinctly, and engagingly in writing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 434  First-Year Writing Seminar: Literary Transformations from Ovid to the Present  (4 Credits)  
From the first century CE when the Roman poet Ovid wrote his Metamorphoses, writers have been fascinated with the idea of transformation. From the most mythic creation stories to gender transformation and fluidity to the way authors “transform” an experience into literature, “transformation” has proven to be an enduring and flexible theme across the literary world. Beginning with selections from Ovid, this course will chart transformation across poetry, prose, and drama. Readings may include Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, sections from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, as well as some theories on the construction of identity and its malleability. What does it mean to become someone or something else, especially when “becoming” that person is beyond your control? What writing techniques do authors use to express the way transformation effects relationships, character growth, and the world around them? How are previous stories “transformed” through rewriting, and how does the writing process “transform” history? As a course devoted to writing and the writing process, this class will explore these texts by thinking critically about how and for what purpose authors use “transformation” in their writing while focusing on transforming our own writing along the way.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 435  First-Year Writing Seminar: Money and Literature, Capital Fictions  (4 Credits)  
Cash or credit, money is a substance that flows, often invisible and ghost-like, behind our most concrete relations. Yet, how do we represent money? What structures of imagination and cultural memory get mobilized whenever we think about currency? Often the desire to describe money, to visualize this opaque medium, gives rise to fantastic, grotesque, and surreal forms. This course will explore the theme of money — and with it, of debt, counterfeit currency, gambling, lottery, austerity, commodity fetishism, as well as relationship between the circulation of capital, desire, and gender — in literature and film. Our exploration of fictions that sustain and critique capitalist advancement will begin with the study of the nineteenth-century realist prose, arguably the literature of capitalist modernity. The works of the nineteenth-century realists like Balzac, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy are preoccupied with money as something that underlies all social relations. Karl Marx, another nineteenth-century figure, is the most famous critic of capitalism and its fictions, which imprison real bodies. The course will also draw on materials from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: from the cinematic adaptations of Friedrich Dürrenmatt by a Senegalese film director Djibril Diop Mambéty to contemporary Greek literature of austerity. The authors and filmmakers we will deal with in this course include Honoré de Balzac, Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melville, Charlote Perkins Gillman, Edith Wharton, Christina Stead, Robert Bresson, Djibril Diop Mambeti, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, David Graeber, Christos Ikonomou, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 436  First-Year Writing Seminar: Langston Hughes's Travels and Translations  (4 Credits)  
Although Langston Hughes’s poetry, prose and plays are widely celebrated, his translations have garnered less—and less favorable—attention. Hughes’s work as a translator was at times subject to pointed critiques by his contemporaries and eclipsed by translations deemed better or more definitive. The fate of these works perhaps underscores the assertion, set forth in the introduction to a collection of Hughes’s translations, that Hughes’s “concept of translation was not as developed as his need to practice the activity.” In this course we will nuance the above assertion and explore Hughes’s contributions to both the concept and practice of translation by reading his French, Spanish and Russian translations in conjunction with his autobiography, I Wonder as I Wander (1956), in which he details his travels in the 1930s. This dual focus on travels and translations aims to link Hughes’s tendency to wander (from to Cuba, Haiti, the Soviet Union, Paris, Spain and East Asia) and to wonder (about the social, political, spiritual and musical connections between the different peoples he encounters) to his need to translate, and thus share, the work of authors he admired along the way. Primary readings for this course—Nicolás Guillén’s Cuba Libre (1948), Jacques Roumain’s Gouverneurs de la Rosée (1945)/ Masters of the Dew (1947), and Federico Garcia Lorca’s Romancero Gitano (1928)/Gypsy Ballads (1951), plus poems by Louis Aragon, Leon-Gontran Damas and Vladimir Mayakovsky—deepen our awareness that Hughes chose to translate authors with whom he cultivated lifelong friendships or felt deep kinship based on their shared aesthetic sensibilities, political commitments, and passion for popular musics such as jazz, flamenco and son.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 437  First-Year Writing Sem: The Radical Eye: Aesthetic Experience in New York  (4 Credits)  
Crossing on the Brooklyn ferry in 1855, Walt Whitman famously declared, “I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence.” Writing during a period of democratic ferment, Whitman used the expansive form of free verse to capture the embodied release he felt walking through crowded streets. In the vital experience of the city, Whitman saw the potential for personal as well as cultural transformation, and many writers in “generations hence” have seized this potential. Radical expression has become the basis for new identities and new conceptions of New York that challenge social limitations. In this seminar, we will examine the cultural history of New York since Whitman’s time through the eyes of selected writers in context of the movements that shaped them – labor, feminist, anti-racist, and queer – and parallel experiments in art, music, and film. Drawing on poetry, short fiction, and memoir, we will consider how creative expression mediates historical experience to transform the collective understanding of the city. Students will complete three papers that analyze individual works and authors as well as develop their own perspective on the urban experience. Readings include Whitman, Jose Martí, Djuna Barnes, Langston Hughes, Nathanael West, Frank O’Hara, Joan Didion, The Velvet Underground, Audre Lordé, David Wojnarowicz, Nas, and N.K. Jemisin, supplemented by readings in New York history.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 438  First-Year Writing Seminar: Writing Against Time  (4 Credits)  
Many first-year college students experience the frustration of scrambling to finish papers and assignments on time. Perhaps equally frustrating has been the intellectual endeavor to grasp the nature of this most elusive of terms we are constantly racing against: time. In this course, we will question, probe, and defy our temporal adversary––"the devourer and demolisher of all things," as Cervantes calls it––through the very act of writing about it. How to define time? Do we all experience its inexorable flow in the same way? Do we have any control over it? Does time exist at all? We will attempt to answer these and related questions through an encounter with a series of writers, thinkers, artists, and cineastes who have grappled with the notion of time. While perfecting our own writing, we will share their findings, illuminations, and exasperations in order to consider time variously as a philosophical category, as a multi-layered medium, as a valuable resource, as a potent currency, and as a political tool. Alongside examining the conventional tripartite division of chronological time into past, present, and future, our discussions will explore other seminal temporal concepts such as eternity, modernity, memory, nostalgia, history, anachronism. Works by Plato, St. Augustine, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Gabriel García Márquez, Ousmane Sembène, and Chris Marker, among others, will guide our reflections.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 439  First-Year Writing Seminar: Small Lives  (4 Credits)  
How do we tell distinctive stories about ordinary lives? What can the details of ‘small lives’ tell us about their larger cultural, historical, and political moment? In this seminar we will analyze representations in literature, journalism, memoir, and documentary and fiction film of lives framed as unremarkable and common; politically and socio-economically marginalized; and geographically and culturally adrift. We will focus on the ways in which the nuances and forms of these representations often blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction; how the textures of these ‘small lives’ are captured in verbal and visual mediums; and how these often isolated lives resonate with the experiences of a greater collective. Within the broader goal of developing critical reading and writing and effective speaking skills, we will focus on understanding the different ways in which our selected writers and filmmakers and we ourselves represent the contours and meaning of the ‘ordinary’ lives we encounter every day. Texts may include Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Freud’s case study of Dora, Teju Cole’s Open City, Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be?, interviews by Svetlana Alexievich, and films by Barry Jenkins, Chantal Akerman, and Sarah Polley.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 440  First-Year Writing Seminar: Gender and Masculinities  (4 Credits)  
This course gives students the vocabulary and analytical frameworks to write systematically and rigorously about how gender orders our everyday lives (e.g., our sense of self, our access to power and privilege, our friendships, romances, conversations, clothing, body image, entertainment, work, sexuality, and parenthood). It develops students’ understanding of how gender is constructed and reproduced by social factors and processes such as race and class, culture and socialization, institutions and structures, discourses and politics; that is, it does not assume gender is “natural.” Historically, men have been the overwhelming producers of knowledge, but they were by and large not studying themselves as gendered beings. This course takes masculinity as the critical subject of inquiry in order to explore masculinities across and within societies and historical eras. It pays particular attention to the ways masculinity is almost universally privileged and dominant, pitted in opposition to femininity, and—despite significant variation across social terrain—plays a part in the production of a system where men hold a disproportionate number of positions in the highest echelons of political, military, and corporate power hierarchies. Through theoretical readings from scholars such as R.W. Connell and bell hooks, empirical studies such as Niobe Way’s Deep Secrets and C.J. Pascoe’s Dude, You’re a F**, relatable case studies from analyses of The Hunger Games franchise to underground hip hop, and interdisciplinary work from disability studies, queer studies, and feminist international relations, students of a wide variety of interests will gain insight into the complex terrain of multiple masculinities.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 441  First-Year Writing Seminar: Writing(s) on Photography  (4 Credits)  
Since its inception writers, academics, poets, artists, public intellectuals, and philosophers have been grappling with the nature, purpose, and effects/affects of photography and the photographic image. In this seminar we will study the ways in which photography and the photographic image have been written about from the nineteenth century to the present. Writing assignments will include weekly reading responses, exercises involving the description of photographic works (formal, semiological, and affective), writing an accompanying text to their own or someone else’s photographic works (a rationale or artist’s statement), and a final essay/review of a photographic exhibition. A creative component (for those who are photographically inclined) may include photographic responses to the texts. Readings will include texts by Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Jacques Rancière, Siegfried Kracauer, Rosalind Krauss, Allan Sekula, László Moholy-Nagy, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 442  First-Year Writing Sem: Manahata Sites of Memory: From Past to Presence  (4 Credits)  
Who is present that can inform our shared pasts in NYC? When Brazilian pop star Caetano Veloso sings Manahatã, can you feel the Lenape presence? Where were slaves sold? Where were the Underground Railroad stations? Are there any traces left of 19th-century Bengali peddlers in Harlem? Through critical close reading of texts and workshops of student essays, we will investigate the presence of our forbearers invisible in plain sight, many of whom pushed to create a city with a more inclusive character. Utilizing primary sources, fiction, essay, poetry, film, song, and site visits, the course will explore New York both as an historical place formed by displacements and erasures and as an imagined geography projected by collective dreams and nightmares about past and future.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 444  First-Year Writing Sem: Examining the Mundane: Art & Literature of the Everyday  (4 Credits)  
What makes boredom interesting? How have writers, thinkers, and artists sought to represent, elevate, and interpret the mundane? Considering that most of life is consumed by unspectacular moments, shouldn’t we have a clearer understanding of how and what these moments mean? What do recent movements like hyperrealism, maximalism, Dadaism, the avant-garde, and hysterical realism tell us about our evolving fascination with life’s routine? This course investigates the complex history and poetics of the mundane as it has been represented in art and literature across a wide-range of epochs, mediums, and traditions. Beginning with philosophical assessments of the everyday, including phenomenology, existentialism, and post-modernism, we will focus our exploration on novelists, poets, photographers, and filmmakers whose work reveals the overlooked and under-thought aspects of daily living that in fact make up life itself. Artists and writers will include: Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Andy Warhol, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Richard Linklater, Slavoj Zizek, Matt Siber, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Jacques Prevert, among others. In addition to these Western perspectives, we will examine the work of modern Arabic poet Amjad Nasser, Japanese filmmaker Koreeda Hirakazu, Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, and traditional folk music from Bosnia and Kosovo. Students will write three shorter essays and one final research essay of approximately 8-12 pages.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 445  First-Year Writing Seminar: Staging (In)Justice: Aeschylus to Butterworth  (4 Credits)  
From #blacklivesmatter to climate justice, the cries for “justice” cover our twitter feeds and news networks on a daily basis. But what exactly is “justice”? How are ideas of justice construed or understood across different periods, cultures, places, or individuals? Is justice for one injustice for another? Why depict these tensions on stage? “Staging (In)Justice: Aeschylus to Butterworth” traces the way justice is depicted in drama from Greek tragedy to the present day, with a special attention to the way live theater, which requires the bodies of actors to tell a story, both makes justice more immediate and the audience complicit in the justice or injustice presented—as well as complicit in the actions that follow. Beginning with Aeschylus’s The Oresteia, this course will cross time and place to look at plays such as Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, August Wilson’s Jitney, Sulayman Al-Bassam’s The Al-Hamlet Summit, and Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman, as well as a musical such as the Broadway revival of Oklahoma!. Are corrupt systems responsible for injustice? Do we champion some who search for justice and condemn others? Is justice always “fair”? What about revenge? As we focus on theater, this class will also consider how revivals of plays often resonate with contemporary experiences in ways non-dramatic literature cannot. Working on our writing to create clear, convincing arguments backed by textual evidence, this class will work our way through drama to reflect on our own responses—written and otherwise—to current-day cries for justice.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 446  First-Year Writing Seminar: Twilight of the Gods  (4 Credits)  
“The nymphs are departed.” From Milton’s Paradise Lost to Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, the departure of the gods haunts Western literature and art: Titans deposed by their Olympian children, pagan gods banished by the advent of Christ, spirits of woods and rivers displaced by industrialization. Whether defeated in epic battles or consigned to neglect and decline, departing deities leave traces of their abandoned cults scattered across the modern landscape, ruins marking once sacred sites. In this writing seminar, we will ask what is at stake in these stories of fallen gods and their lingering afterlives in the places they once inhabited, now overwritten and overrun by a disenchanting modernity. What sociohistorical forces does their departure allegorically represent? What is exiled from the world along with these banished spirits? What remains behind? We will explore these questions by closely reading a series of works ranging in genre and time period, from Baroque and Romantic epic to modernist poetry and prose to contemporary fantasy. Students will write three analytic essays, formulating critical questions and attending to the imagery and rhetoric of specific texts. Authors may include Milton, Keats, Kipling, Seznec, H.D., Eliot, Tolkien, Jansson, Gaiman, and Jemisin.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 448  First-Year Writing Seminar: Writing About Ethics  (4 Credits)  
What is the right thing to do? How should we act in the world? How do we know? This writing seminar engages critically with the answers that Western philosophy has given to these questions (which philosophy calls “ethics” and “epistemology”) and considers what these answers have neglected or left out. We will inquire into how philosophers, in their approaches to the study of gender and race, teach us how to think about our knowledge of the world and the ways in which we are affected by other people. We will ask how ideas of gender and race have shaped philosophical thought and how they shape our knowledge of our own bodies and the bodies of others. We will read works by Plato, Aristotle, Martha C. Nussbaum, René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Audre Lorde, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, Judith Butler, and George Yancy. Students will write and workshop a variety of essays that critically and creatively engage with the topic of the course.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 449  First Year Writing Seminar: Asian/American Labor: Past, Present and Future  (4 Credits)  
This writing seminar will explore the role of labor in the making of Asian America. Much of the course will connect the past to the present, paying close attention to historical analyses and community-engaged research. The readings, discussions, and assignments will provide critical context in our collective understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected Asian/American working people. Many of the readings will examine New York City. Each week, we will study interdisciplinary themes around work as it relates to Asian communities, such as “food and migration,” “race-making in New York’s nail salons,” “care work,” etc. Through close readings and film screenings, we will discuss the ways in which laboring Asian Americans have organized, resisted, created, and mobilized from the bottom-up, challenging their bosses and the state. How have Asian American workers shaped, pushed back against, and transformed New York? How can we understand racial formation and immigration in New York’s labor movements? Through discussions of the readings and films, we will reflect questions that unpack “work” and “labor.” Students will write reflective and analytical papers, making arguments with evidence to comment about the past, present, and future of Asian/American labor. Texts by scholars of Asian American Studies and labor histories, such as Vivek Bald and Miliann Kang, will guide students and encourage their writing. Film screenings will include From Spikes to Spindles (1976) and Nailed It (2019), which capture the stories of garment and nail salon workers (respectively), to facilitate our discussions about Asian/American labor studies.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 450  First-Year Writing Seminar: Theories of Memory and the Art of Autobiography  (4 Credits)  
This course will investigate the variety of stylistic and formal choices that authors make when representing subjective experience, specifically past experience. We will examine a range of autobiographies and memoirs written in Europe, primarily Britain, and America from eras as diverse as the fourth century, the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, and today, and in forms as various as verse, prose, avant-garde language experiments, and graphic novels. We inquire into different ways in which authors understood memory and its relationship to language, with the support of theoretical texts on memory, including writings on trauma, confession, neuroscience, psychoanalysis, dreams, mnemonics and repetition, selective memory, somatic memory, marginalized identity, and the relationship between selfhood and narrative. Questions we will consider include: to whom, if anyone, and why, are we writing when we write about ourselves, and does this affect how we write? And how have authors addressed the problem of accounting for what they cannot remember or cannot explain? Authors include St. Augustine, William Wordsworth, Thomas De Quincey, W.E.B Du Bois, Lyn Hejinian, and Alison Bechdel.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 451  First-Year Writing Seminar: Poetics of the Citizen  (4 Credits)  
Who gets to be called a citizen? Who is denied the status of citizen and why? How can we define the citizen in ways that elide the state’s legal definition of citizenship? Liberal Western thought has conventionally defined the citizen as an autonomous, self-sufficient individual. Artistic and social movements all over the world have questioned this definition, bringing to light the various human subjectivities (gendered, racialized, and sexualized) that such a conception of the citizen has erased. This course investigates what it means to be a citizen in our present historical moment. Taking our cue from Claudia Rankine’s poetic work Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), we will examine migration, (dis)placement, (dis)orientation, racialization, gender, class, queerness, foreignness, transness, sexuality, creativity, and self-expression. We will work together to craft an alternative definition of the citizen through creative and poetic means. We will think beyond official, state-sanctioned citizenship and contemplate our citizenness as an ethical relation to one another mindful of the power structures that have packaged and labeled us in accordance with a catalogue of social hierarchies. Students will learn to analyze a variety of genres, such as essays, visual culture, fiction, poetry, and film. Authors will include James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Diane di Prima, Frantz Fanon, John Berger, José Muñoz, and, of course, Claudia Rankine. In addition to discussing the assigned readings in class, students will write and revise drafts of formal papers, review each other’s work, compose a found poem, and write less formal in-class essays and reading responses.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 452  First-Year Writing Seminar: Writing of Exile  (4 Credits)  
How might exile help us think about the problem of nationalism in the modern era? Do those who write about or represent exile in the visual arts propose alternative senses of belonging to a particular group, such as a nationality, race, or ethnicity? And could their approaches help us rethink our fraught notions of social identity and community in the twenty-first century--a century still traversed by the mass dispersion of peoples across the globe? Writers of exile tend to tell stories about departure and return, about the difficulties of residing in a foreign land, or about estrangement in their own homeland. They frequently convey feelings of unease about inhabiting the border zones between at least two different nations, cultures, languages, traditions, or geographies. Yet at the same time they tend to articulate the space of the in-between as a locus for freedom and justice. In this seminar, we will consider the writing of exile in connection to related themes of mass displacement, migration, exodus, and refuge, with an emphasis on the Jewish and African diasporas, accompanied by a range of works from the Arab, Asian, and Latinx diasporas. We will read fiction and poetry by Gloria Anzaldúa, Aimé Césaire, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Mahmoud Darwish, Assia Djebar, Edmond Jabès, Franz Kafka, and Claudia Rankine; as well as literary criticism and theory by Hélène Cixous, Zadie Smith, Paul Gilroy, Walter Benjamin, and Edward Said, among others; finally, we will watch a film by John Akomfrah exploring the digital archives of funk, jazz, and techno. The seminar will introduce first-year students to modern Francophone, Anglophone, and Comparative Literature and Theory, focusing on class discussion, close reading, and analytic writing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 453  First-Year Writing Seminar: Race and History in Contemporary American Theatre  (4 Credits)  
The Hamilton craze has swept the country, and with it, a renewed interest in how American history is taught, used, and twisted on the American stage. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s vision of placing race at the center of American history has sparked particular interest and heated discussion. While Hamilton may be the best-known version of this phenomenon, it is by no means its only example. Indeed, race—its performance, its abstraction, its stereotyping, or its silencing—has always been a topic of conversation on American stages, especially in the performance and shaping of American history. In the last nine years alone, there have been more than 18 new shows asking these kinds of questions. This course proposes to examine what role race has played in the performance of American history as well as how American history has been portrayed in contemporary theatre. We will read plays along with historical and theoretical texts and view performances and other visual media. Students will write 3-4 essays that use evidence from works on the syllabus to make original arguments in clear analytic prose.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 454  First-Year Writing Seminar: Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom  (4 Credits)  
One entry point into the experience of the enslaved is how they were forced or chose to dress and adorn themselves. Fashion was one of the few arenas in which slaves could possibly exert a modicum of control. This course will explore the politics of fashion among people of African descent during slavery and the period immediately following emancipation. Geographical breadth is crucial to examining the African Diaspora in its full complexity; therefore, course material will cover the United States, Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. We will examine in particular the relationship between consumptive patterns among enslaved people (and their descendants) and the development of capitalism in the Atlantic World.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 455  First-Year Writing Seminar: Immigration, Race, and Citizenship in the United States  (4 Credits)  
In this course, we will survey important themes in the history of American immigration through fiction, poetry, memoir, and film. Since the earliest European settlement, America has provided a refuge for the poor, the disadvantaged, and religiously persecuted seeking a new life. Yet American history has also been crucially defined by those immigrants who came here unwillingly or under duress, whether African slaves, indentured servants, or refugees. The continual cheap source of labor that immigration has provided helped fuel the rise of American capitalism, but has also undermined the privileges of established groups, often provoking nativism along racial, ethnic, and religious lines. In this regard, the history of immigration is inextricable from the politics of the Other. Through literature about immigration, we will explore common experiences across four centuries including: the arrival of European religious dissenters and African enslaved people in colonial America; the struggle of refugees from Irish famine and Russian pogroms to establish themselves in industrial America; exclusion and racial discrimination against Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian immigrants; economic migrants from Mexico and the Caribbean seeking work in fields and cities; and the internal Great Migration of Black Americans fleeing the Jim Crow South. Course texts will draw on the work of Willa Cather, Thomas Bell, Charles Reznikoff, Isabel Wilkerson, Toyo Soyemoto, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Gold, Ramin Bahrani, Caribbean Fragoza and others along with an introduction to key legislation and political events in U.S. immigration history. Students will hone their compositional and close-reading skills through short essays, a longer analytical paper, and creative options.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 456  First-Year Writing Seminar: Trans Poetics and Social Movement  (4 Credits)  
In this course, we’ll examine in detail the overlaps between anti-capitalist politics, social movements for gender liberation, and poetry and poetics by trans writers. Poetics—writing that both encompasses and explicitly theorizes the opportunities and limits of poetry—is one form of cultural production that trans writers have used during the past three decades to reflect on and intervene in a series of historical and political situations. We’ll think about the possibilities opened up by this simultaneous exploration of aesthetic and political radicalism, and ask what various experiments of aesthetic movements have to do with social and political demands for people to have access to different, more liberatory, forms of living and being together. We’ll practice writing essays about poetry with precision, clarity and creativity; we’ll study the surprising and frequent alignment of trans poetry and political radicalism; and we’ll think together about whether and how poetry distinctly links people and political movement in new forms of social and political consciousness. Readings, from writers both in the U.S. and internationally, will include writing by Trish Salah, Viviane Namaste, Cam Awkward-Rich, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Amiri Baraka, Leslie Feinberg, Robert Glück, Lou Sullivan, Bryn Kelly, Nat Raha, Raquel Salas Rivera, Kamden Hilliard and Jordy Rosenberg.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 457  First-Year Writing Seminar: Engaging Art in Our World  (4 Credits)  
This course will introduce students to the history of writing about art through examining the relationship of Art History and Anthropology. Students will practice writing as a method of thinking through and evoking ideas. Participants in this hybrid creative writing and criticism course will visit artists’ studios, galleries and museum across New York City and produce different forms of writing such as ekphrasis, poetry, short essay, art writing and criticism. Students will have opportunities to produce images through photography, photocollage, and a collaborative publication of visual criticism. From early forms of literature, to art writing, and contemporary criticism, students will produce writing and criticism about artwork and exhibitions, which communicate an experience and interpretation of works of art and their social and historical context to a larger audience. This course explores art history, anthropology, critical theory, critical thinking and aesthetics through literature and essays from, Nina Chave, Robert Farris Thompson, Linda Nochlin, Alfred Gell, Harold Rosenberg, and many others. We will consider some key societal commentators on literature, art and society, including Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Ariella Azolay, Fred Moten, Hortense Spillers, Edward Said, Susan Sontag and others. By exploring forms of writing such as ekphrasis, poetry and short essay, along with producing experiences through photo essay and video essay, students will gain an understanding of the relationship between artist and critic.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 458  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Sounds Beneath Your Feet: Downtown Music and Downtown Memory  (4 Credits)  
In the book Here by the artist Richard McGuire, one undistinguished place—a corner of a living room like the one where McGuire grew up—is pictured through time. The images are juxtaposed across the pages with multiple insets, portraying that same spot in hundreds of moments, as if McGuire were using magic glasses: 1949 (a mother cradles an infant), 1993 (a teenager dances), 1910 (two men fight, with a stick!), 1624 (before there was a house), 10,000 B.C. (before there were any houses: a bison sits in marshland). McGuire’s point, or one of them, is that history doesn’t need monuments—we walk on its layers everywhere and at all times. The musical history of the 20-block radius around NYU has been historicized a lot—particularly the history of the same few places in the late 1970s, and particularly CBGBs. But longstanding New Yorkers look at the whole area with McGuire glasses. It doesn’t matter how many banks or drug-store chains have masked the sites: things happened here. In this class we will read history, criticism and memoir about the sounds of downtown Manhattan over the last 150 years or so--jazz, Cantonese opera, punk, disco, No Wave, Afro-Latin music, and other kinds--learning how to define and theorize a subject as volatile and often misrepresented as urban nightlife. Our materials will include books; oral histories; films; newspaper accounts; photographs, flyers and ephemera. We will read, write, research, and interview about musical events and places that have defined our neighborhood.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 459  First-Year Writing Seminar: The self in its Spaces  (4 Credits)  
How do the spaces we occupy determine who we are? This writing seminar will explore the ways our identities are formed by the geographic, cultural, and even psychic spaces we inhabit. For example, we’ll read authors who are shaped by New York, by memories of a homeland, by queer community, and by various social forces at play through it all. We’ll think about the making of a “self” in light of these spaces, and do both literary critical analysis and deep self reflection. Our primary readings will be personal essays, studying the way this most flexible form allows master writers to formulate new ways of articulating selfhood while also engaging with the world round them, but we’ll also read some critical social theory to provide a framework for our thinking. We’ll read established authors like James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Richard Rodriguez and Jamaica Kincaid, and mix them up with newer authors like Rahawa Haile, Beth Nguyun and Chantha Nguon. We’ll also read Michel Foucault to explore notions of surveillance in all public spaces. Students will be expected to write one critical essay of literary analysis, one essay that brings two or more readings into dialogue, and one final personal essay that incorporates ideas gathered throughout the course.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 460  First-Year Writing Seminar: Wild Weather: Writing About Climate and the Environment  (4 Credits)  
The term “wild weather” implies that extreme climate events are unusual, once-in-a-lifetime, unfathomable, even entertaining. Yet since they are an increasingly common part of our everyday lives, the word “wild” suggests a failure to assimilate, understand, or accept this “new normal.” This class asks how short stories, novels, drama, and film can address this problem, providing us with the emotional and imaginative tools to overcome denial and cultivate realism, resilience, and sustainability. Narrative fiction and storytelling have traditionally aimed to help human readers sympathize with and relate to other humans, via shifting points of view, experiments with narrative time, and evocations of mood and (emotional) “climate.” What new aesthetic forms might we need now to engage meaningfully both with each other and with the nonhuman—and increasingly inhuman—climates and environments of the Anthropocene? Readings and viewings will include texts by George Saunders, Amitav Ghosh, Richard Powers, Chantal Bilodeau, Lucy Kirkwood, and Bong-Joon Ho.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 461  First-Year Writing Seminar: Travel Writing: Exploring Place with Purpose  (4 Credits)  
Travel writing has existed since Herodotus trekked the ancient world. Today, from TripAdvisor and blogs to long-form journalism and books, we routinely read about travel, whether it’s planning a trip to Shanghai or to the local coffee shop. To be such a writer, however, is not without its challenges. From describing the “Other” to struggling to redefine the notion of travel in a pandemic, travel writing can be as powerful as it is exciting. Through readings and exercises, we will explore the difference between basic narratives and more career-focused practices of journalism. Students will delve into larger questions by focusing on places, finding their voice as they create their arguments related to themes presented in class. We will question cliché in travel writing and perfect our placemaking skills, using New York City as a living laboratory for classroom exercises. Expect a broad range of readings to debate the good and the bad, featuring authors like Marco Polo, Freya Stark, Alain de Botton, Adam Gopnik, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Bill Bryson as well as stories from journalistic publications like The New York Times and Afar.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 462  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Critic as Artist in the Digital Age  (4 Credits)  
What does it mean to write seriously about art when the critic has to compete with a plethora of pixilated images and quick-handed posts on social media that cater to our ever-shortening attention span? How can long-form writing about art still reach and affect us in a world that favors mass-consumed visual representation on the Internet? How can the art critic create new forms of writing that use the digital landscape but bypass its shortcuts? In this course, we pursue these questions by exploring the complex relationship between art and criticism in the past and present. We study texts by major writers who have written with great poetic skill about artists and their art, including Oscar Wilde on Turner, Marcel Proust on Vermeer; Gertrude Stein on Picasso; Antonin Artaud on Van Gogh; and Jean Genet on Giacometti. We discuss miscellaneous reflections on art by exceptional poets and critics such as Charles Baudelaire, Rainer Maria Rilke, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and Wisława Szymborska, as well as influential essayists such as Walter Pater, John Ruskin, Paul Valéry, Susan Sontag, John Berger, Jeanette Winterson, and Teju Cole. We investigate different approaches to writing about art, the artist, and the creative process, and gather assets to break free from conventional criticism through the poetic use of language, style, and form. We visit art exhibits and analyze the reviews they received. Each student will be asked to chronicle their personalized, in-depth, weekly observations about art by producing a notebook. Writing about art, as we shall see, is an art form in its own right.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 463  First-Year Writing Seminar: Pilgrimage & the Pilgrim's Tale in the Medieval World  (4 Credits)  
This course will examine the concept of pilgrimage within the medieval world. The first half of the course will explore the function of pilgrimage in medieval Western Christianity, Islam and Judaism including the reasons why individuals set out on pilgrimage, how belief and travel intertwined, the necessary preparation for pilgrimage, the enaction of ritual and use of specific objects and the pilgrimage sites themselves, particularly Jerusalem, Mecca, Canterbury, Santiago de Compostela and related sites We will also look at some examples of pilgrimage from medieval Buddhism and Shintoism, such as those described in Lady Sarashina’s eleventh-century memoir, in order to reflect on both the universality of pilgrimage and differences within distinct cultures and religions. The second half of the course will then turn to specific tales of pilgrimage and how pilgrimage came to be portrayed by those who documented their experiences. Along with the examination of the pilgrimage itself, students will be encouraged to closely analyse texts in order to understand how the documentation of personal pilgrimage provided a window into diverse medieval perceptions of geography, history, study of religion, politics and socio-economic life. Texts that will be discussed include the ‘Travels of Egeria’, Adomnán of Iona’s ‘On the Holy Places’, ‘The Travels of Ibn Jubayr’, Alî al-Harawî’s ‘Lonely Wayfarer’s Guide to Pilgrimage’, the account of Benjamin of Tudela, ‘The Travels of Rabbi Petachia of Ratisbon’ and Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’. In addition, texts reacting to pilgrimage, such as anecdotes of Irish clerical students potentially critiquing distant pilgrimages and Islamic legal regulations about pilgrimage, will be investigated. Students will gain a familiarity with global medieval studies and hone critical thinking and writing skills. This course will enable students to study different regions and religions in the medieval world while also recognizing their links and similarities through a shared, yet still very distinctive, practice in which countless men and women participated.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 464  First-Year Writing Seminar: Shapeshifters: Writing in and across Genre  (4 Credits)  
The central goal of this course, as of most college writing courses, is for students to develop their voices as academic writers. Implicit in that common aim is a relationship between tradition and individuality that may seem counterintuitive: By practicing the conventions of a particular genre of writing—in this case, the critical essay—one will start to sound, not like other writers, but more like oneself. To help illuminate that relationship between received convention and an original authorial voice, we will look to writers whose works span multiple contemporary literary genres. As readers, we will pay careful attention to how our expectations of a given genre influence how we tune into and interpret a text’s unique qualities. We’ll begin by reading essays, poems, and a work of self-designated “biomythography” by Audre Lorde, all of which have a first-person speaker or narrator. How does genre shape the relationships between reader, speaker, author, and meaning? We then turn to Samuel Delany, reading examples of his science fiction followed by his coming-of-age memoir, The Motion of Light in Water. How do the differing relationships to real events, people, and places across these two genres cue our reading? We conclude the course by reading two books that combine and blur genre distinctions, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee and Anne Carson’s Decreation, to examine their fundamentally hybrid natures. Throughout, we will also read critical writing about the primary course texts, both to enrich our understanding of those texts as well as to examine the genre conventions of scholarly writing as students set out to practice it.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 465  First-Year Writing Seminar: Do Colors Have Histories?  (4 Credits)  
The ancient world presents us with some puzzles about color. The ancient Greeks described the sea not as blue, but as porphureos, a term that is most often translated into English as “purple.” This is reinforced in their metaphor for the sea as like wine in a cup. The beard of the god Zeus, meanwhile, is kuanos, a deep blue—a quality that he shares with gods in Egypt and west Asia, whose beards are described as and rendered in the blue stone, lapis lazuli. Did ancient people see colors in a different way? Or did “color” entail something different? In this class, these ancient examples serve as prompts for us to consider—or, to reconsider—how we think about color and color’s expressive possibilities, especially in the visual arts. Our semester will be divided into three parts, each guided by a question: (1) How did the ancient world think about color differently, and how might their experience of color encourage us to see differently? (2) How does color function symbolically in art and representation? (3) Do colors have histories? We will write short essays that correspond to each part of the class; essay topics may include a description of a color category all your own, a visual analysis, and a history of your favorite color.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 467  First-Year Writing Seminar: Contemporary U.S. Playwriting  (4 Credits)  
This first-year writing seminar combines the artistic study of some of the most important recent dramatic works in the United States with a detailed exploration of the basic tools of academic writing. This is not a playwriting course (though students may write a short play or two), and this is not a "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" theater criticism course. Students will read, view, and discuss plays written by some of today's most exciting contemporary dramatists, analyzing each play as both appreciative audience and fellow artists. How do these writers structure their plays? What themes loom large in these works, and how does each playwright dramatize/illustrate/complicate those big ideas? How can these big ideas then be placed into larger cultural contexts? How can these plays be placed in conversation with other works, theatrical or otherwise? The class may include a trip to an Off-Broadway show, viewings of streaming/digital media productions, and/or visits from some of the assigned playwrights or other theater artists. Readings may include plays and/or essays by Sarah Ruhl, Jose Rivera, Martina Majok, and Jordan Cooper, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 468  First-Year Writing Seminar: The Poetic History of Science in Western Thought  (4 Credits)  
What does poetry have to do with science? It seems at first glance a fairly implausible pair. Unlike in our world today, however, in Ancient Greek thought these two ideas were actually far more similar to one another than they were different, both stemming from the same notion of creating or “crafting” something. What happens when we moderns forget the poetic roots of our idea of modern technology? Where did our thinking go astray? Working with the texts of figures from Parmenides to Goethe, Mary Shelley to Martin Heidegger, and Plato to Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche, this essentially interdisciplinary course focuses on the interpretation of complex manuscripts from poetry to cybernetics to connect seemingly disparate ideas about the interlocking histories of the arts and the sciences. In this class we will be turning concepts we think we know inside out in order to pose fundamental questions about global issues that occupy our minds today, from social media to ecology. As a First-Year Writing Seminar, this class challenges students to rethink the obvious by interrogating language and grappling with difficult texts to become both more rigorous and technical but also creative and questioning writers.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 469  First-Year Writing Seminar: Books to Read for the End of the World  (4 Credits)  
In a moment of history so populated with crises, such as climate change, economic and political instability, and international violence, it can be challenging to see the value or the usefulness of literature. What can reading a novel do for global warming? How does a short story engage with political unrest? What use is a book in the middle of a pandemic? This course will explore possible answers to these questions. We will read a series of novels and short stories to think more about how storytelling and creation in general suggest solutions to, coping mechanisms within, or new possibilities for a world that feels on the brink of collapse. We will also interrogate what we mean when we say “end of the world.” What forms a world, and what constitutes an ending? Our texts will feature more typical understandings of the terms as they foreground environmental collapse, plague, and nuclear warfare, but others will suggest alternate definitions: a world might be a home or a nation, ended when an individual moves away from it. Or, a world might be one’s relationships, ending when one is separated from others. As we read, we will consider this terminological nuance and pair these broader concepts with learning the fundamentals of literary criticism. This writing course will emphasize developing close reading skills and the effective communication of ideas by taking into consideration how writing constructs and deconstructs worlds. Some of our questions, therefore, will emphasize the literary arts in particular: How does form, from the short story to the graphic novel, impact the portrayal of catastrophe? How do different genres, such as science fiction versus horror or literary fiction, imagine (or do not imagine) resolutions to these crises? Through a series of readings and writing assignments (which will include two small papers and one, larger final project), we aim to ask and answer, finally, what can literature or storytelling do for us, the readers, at the end of the world?
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 470  First-Year Writing Seminar: What Are Poets For?  (4 Credits)  
“What are poets for in a destitute time?” asked philosopher Martin Heidegger, meditating on the place and usefulness of poetry in the modern world. Poets and philosophers have often wondered about each other and sought inspiration in each other’s work. Historically, poets were seen as frivolous or even dangerous by philosophers. Plato proposed banning them from the republic. Heidegger proposes a dialogue between the two, suggesting that poets attempt to express an ‘unconcealedness of being’ with an immediacy that philosophers can learn from, and that poets can offer a path in a destitute time.What happens when this dialogue takes place; when the border between genres is blurred or willfully ignored? This course takes up this conversation in the work of several contemporary poets, and looks at the philosophers who inspire them through the lens of their poetry. We read philosophers who write with the grace and depth of poets, and poets who enlarge the scope of their investigations with the rigor and clarity of philosophers. We look at how they influence and inspire each other, and ask what they have to tell us about how to live today. How can they help us unconceal our own being, and illuminate the dangers of our own destitute time? Students will write several analytic essays exploring this dialogue through close readings of texts on the syllabus, and write a philosophical-poetic project of their own, inspired by the readings. Authors are likely to include Gertrude Stein, Paul Celan, Claudia Rankine, Maggie Nelson, Fred Moten, Mahmoud Darwish, Sara Ahmed, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone Weil, Byung Chul Han, Aimé Césaire, and Heraclitus.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 639  Writing Sem II: Myths & Fables in Popular Cult  (4 Credits)  
Myths, fables, folk tales, and fairy tales are universal. Their heroes, villains, gods and monsters are as old as storytelling and as new as the latest award-winning film. In this class we will examine some of these stories and their historMyths, fables, folk tales, and fairy tales are universal. Their heroes, villains, gods and monsters are as old as storytelling and as new as the latest award-winning film. In this class we will examine some of these stories and their histories, watching the shifts in emphasis as they are retold and adapted, but also considering why certain mythic figures, such as the vampire, gain greater currency in contemporary tales. Our research will focus on old and new versions of tales, their cultural construction and the critical discourse surrounding them. It will serve as the springboard for a series of exercises focused on research methods, several short writing assignments, and a major research paper. Sources will include, but not be limited to, selections from works by: J.R.R. Tolkien, Disney, Ovid, Apuleius, Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Angela Carter, Bruno Bettelheim, Joseph Campbell, Jack Zipes, and Nina Auerbach.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 700  First-Year Research Sem: Curiosity: Inquiry, Discovery, and Uncertainty  (4 Credits)  
In this interdisciplinary research seminar, we will be curious about curiosity itself. Exploring a range of materials from trans-historical US and European contexts, we will investigate the value of not knowing and wanting to know, as well as the anxieties and dangers signaled by the phrase “curiosity killed the cat.” We consider: what leads us to ask questions and what happens when we ask a question whose answer is far from sight or endlessly inconclusive? We begin by analyzing children’s literature (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Curious George) alongside theories of education from Locke to Dewey to contemporary school psychology. We then examine the role of open exploration in both poetry and scientific discovery, working with ideas from literature (i.e. Frankenstein, Gothic mystery, Romantic poetry, theories of indeterminacy) and from present-day Mars exploration and the development of vaccines. We consider aesthetics and attributes of objects that spark curiosity in proto-museum curiosity cabinets, modern art, travel shows, and social media. Finally, we investigate the interpersonal ethics of how we fill “information gaps,” considering the fine line between openness to learning about others and treating humans as objects of curiosity (as in the case of Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in the US). We consider who is allowed to be curious, and for whom curiosity is seen as nosiness, gossip, insubordination, or vice, particularly within the long gendered and racialized history of curiosity. As we analyze instances of curiosity in our sources, we also reflect on our own curiosity in our developing research processes.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 701  First-Year Research Seminar: Aesthetics in Context  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Philosophical aesthetics is naturally concerned with problems pertaining to the arts in general, but there are issues that must also be examined within the context of the particular arts. This course will begin with an examination of broad issues in aesthetics: What is art? What is beauty? What is the sublime? Is there such a thing as “good taste?” We will then consider particular issues within the context of painting, photography, film, architecture, music, literature, and the popular arts (specifically popular music, television, and video games). Some questions posed will be the following: What does it mean for a painting to be “about” or to “express” something? How should we think of photography—as a means by which we can actually see things and people in situations that no longer exist or as simply a means of registering the world? What is it about film that gives the medium its peculiar illusion-making power? Can architecture ever be considered a “pure” art form? What exactly is music? Does it represent and express in the same way as other art forms? What is literature? Do the literary arts have a special relationship to the arousal of emotion? What value is there in the popular arts and what ethical issues arise along with them? Readings will be drawn from Benjamin, Danto, Eco, Gombrich, Greenberg, Heidegger, Kant, Kivy, Langer, Nehamas, Plato, Scruton, and others. In addition to contributing regularly and actively to class discussions and activities, students will be required to compose frequent responses and reflections, write two formal essays (4-5 pages each), present a research proposal, and complete a final research paper (8-10 pages).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 702  First-Year Research Sem: Imagining Cities  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course looks at the way the modern and post-modern city has been?and is being?imagined by writers, artists, urban planners, architects, philosophers, and historians. Our focus will be on concepts of the city and theories of urban experience, especially in relation to ideas about modernity. We will read, discuss and write about urban environments of the past, present, and future, including real cities like New York, Paris, and L.A., and cities dreamed up by urbanists like Paolo Soleri and Le Corbusier. We will consider the urban phenomena of the crowd, the neighborhood, notions of public and private space, and the cultural mix of the modern city. Students will conduct research projects on cities in their areas of interest. Texts may include essays by writers and philosophers Poe, Baudelaire, Barthes, and Benjamin; by urbanists Jacobs, Mumford, Mike Davis, and Matt Gandy, as well as visual sources.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 703  First-Year Research Sem: Truth or Fiction?  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The academic field of scholarship in “memory studies” is booming; new memoirs (for example, Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner and I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy) continue to appear on best-seller lists. We seem to be reckoning with how memory frames the stories we tell about our lives and ourselves, and how stories we tell ourselves about the remembered past, in turn, shape us as individuals, groups, and nations. At the interface of individual memory, cultural and collective memory, and political and social formations of narrative, lies a process of interpretation and manipulation—the process of writing. This course will explore how memories are "written" on the printed page (or the screen) in order to help students sharpen their own writing. The process of writing a series of critical papers over the course of the semester will serve as background for the final research paper addressing some aspect of memory and its framing through story. Readings and film will include Plato, Tawada, Freud, hooks, Borges, Woolf, Duras, Modiano, Machado, and Ernaux.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 704  First-Year Research Sem: Myths and Fables  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Myths, fables, folk tales, and fairy tales are universal. Their heroes, villains, gods and monsters are as old as storytelling and as new as the latest award-winning film. In this class we will examine some of these stories and their histories, watching the shifts in emphasis as they are retold and adapted, but also considering why certain mythic figures, such as the vampire, gain greater currency in contemporary tales. Our research will focus on old and new versions of tales, their cultural construction and the critical discourse surrounding them. It will serve as the springboard for a series of exercises focused on research methods, several short writing assignments, and a major research paper. Sources will include, but not be limited to, selections from works by: J.R.R. Tolkien, Disney, Ovid, Apuleius, Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Angela Carter, Bruno Bettelheim, Joseph Campbell, Jack Zipes, and Nina Auerbach.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 709  First-Year Research Sem: Language & The Political  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How does language affect how we think about political possibilities? How have writers and activists sought to change society through changing how we use language? How is rhetoric used politically, in essays, law, oratory, propaganda, and poetry? We read arguments about the interplay of language and the political, think about political theory, examine political rhetoric, and study literary works. We write about the power of rhetoric to form and criticize political practices: movements for civil rights, human rights, rights for women, workers’ rights, and animal rights. We investigate in detail how language participates in our ideas about rights, ethics, political action, and social justice. And we examine the affective dimensions of this interaction of language, ideas, and values. After familiarizing ourselves with various approaches to thinking about political and social relations, you can then explore in depth an issue of social justice that animates you. This means that we use the reading to focus your critical thinking capacities, expand your horizons, and communicate the results of these processes in writing that is persuasive, coherent, exhilarating, meaningful. Readings may include works by Plato, Alice Walker, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi, Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Malcolm X, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Ursula LeGuin, Cornel West, and Jose Munoz.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 710  First-Year Research Sem: Food Culture & Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
We love food and it haunts us. We indulge in it and abstain from it. It makes us sick and it heals us. We worry over where it comes from and serve it during our religious rituals. We pay a fortune for it and we give it away. Its preparation is a science and an art. With a major focus on crafting the research essay, this course asks students to consider the many, often contradictory, roles food has played, and continues to play, in culture. And through a process of writing, workshopping, and the all-important rewriting, students have their own hand in the kitchen of the essay writer. Readings require a consideration of a variety of food writing—from primary sources, cookbooks, newspapers, magazines, and journals—and include works by David Foster Wallace, John McPhee, Ruth Reichl, Chang-Rae Lee, Lily Wong, and Michael Pollan.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 712  First-Year Research Sem: Art & The Dream Life  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What is the connection between sleeping and waking life, between dream visions and creativity? Are dreams prophetic or aesthetic? Do they fulfill desire or endlessly frustrate it? Do they reveal or conceal our truest selves? Taking these issues as our starting points, we will consider a variety of texts?scientific, religious, philosophical, literary, visual, and film, as well as our own dreams?as we explore the connections between sleep and aesthetics, between nightmares and trauma, between dreams and beauty. We will think too about the possibilities art offers for reconciling the many paradoxes of dreaming. Using writing as a way of thinking and reading critically, students will produce a dream journal, three analytical and literary critical essays, and a research paper. Readings may include works by Aristotle, Sigmund Freud, Andr Breton, Ralph Ellison, Jack Kerouac, Luis Borges, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton, and Walt Whitman. We may also consider art by Surrealists, Dadaists and Kara Walker, as well as the films of Luis Buuel, David Cronenberg, and Alfred Hitchcock.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 714  First-Year Research Sem: Immigration and Identity  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this course we will examine the complex and varying experiences of recent immigrant populations. We will explore the perspectives of immigrants who see themselves as outsiders and the experiences of immigrants who see themselves as insiders within a relocated immigrant ethnic culture. We will consider what these perspectives show us about belonging and alienation, about being part of a group or being the ?Other.? This course asks: What does it mean to be an immigrant today? What logistical, legal, emotional and psychological issues does it entail? What differences are there between 20th century immigrants' experiences and the lives of 21st century transnational immigrants? We will read and discuss fictional accounts drawn from actual immigrants' experiences and will supplement these with numerous historical, anthropological, autobiographical, literary critical and journalistic works. Students will write several essays throughout the semester, which will prepare them for the research paper. Readings may include fiction by Samuel Selvon, Jamaica Kincaid and Jhumpa Lahiri, in addition to theoretical and historical texts by Benedict Anderson and Roger Daniels, among others, as well as social criticism by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 715  First-Year Research Sem: The Surreal Thing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The Surrealist movement sought to transform the self and the world, each by way of the other. The world was to be remodeled in the image of the liberated psyche, alienation and repression overcome by a passionate exchange between the self and its environment. Inside and outside would continually change places as the psyche discovered its own desires written in the cipher of material things and assimilated these fragments of reality into its language of dreams. Inanimate objects would come to life, speaking the language of the self, while the self would take its place among them as a fellow thing of the world. This class will explore Surrealism as a method of interpreting the material world and a model for living in it. Students will write essays based on close readings of literary and theoretical texts and their own encounters with urban spaces, as well as a research essay. Readings may include essays by Freud, Marx, Kracauer, Balakian, Caws, Krauss, and Jameson; poetry and prose by Eluard, Breton, Cahun, Césaire, Aragon; films by Buñuel and Dalí, Deren, and Hitchcock.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 716  First-Year Research Sem: Image and Event  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf refers to photographs as "statement[s] of fact addressed to the eye." Because of their unique claim to realistic representation, photographs are a potent form of polemic at work in our everyday world. But what exactly is the relationship of the image to the things it seems to document? How does it indicate what has been? Through a series analytical essays and a research essay we will explore the space between images and what they represent (and evoke). We will consider works by Andre Breton, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Guy Debord, and Lev Manovich among others, for whom reflections on the act of looking and thinking are just as important as descriptions of images themselves.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 717  First-Year Research Seminar: Literature and the Idea of Justice  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
A blindfolded woman holding scales aloft: the classic allegory of Justice might suggest that justice is an abstraction. It also represents justice as tied to a state of equilibrium, which can be completely restored. Yet justice itself is very difficult to define, shifting its meanings over time, between cultures and among individuals; can we presume such a balance? Is justice really only an effect of power, the right of the strong to define the terms under which the weak live? How are law and justice connected? While these seem to be questions for political philosophers, they have also been addressed by literary writers. In this course, our focus will be on how literary texts take up these problems at different junctures primarily in the Western tradition. We will also read some jurists and critical theorists on what constitutes justice—and for whom. Readings may include Plato, Aeschylus, Herman Melville, Bertolt Brecht, Richard Wright, Immanuel Kant, John Rawls, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Martha Nussbaum, and Nadine Gordimer. Assignments will include a variety of forms of writing, including a research essay in which students will seek to integrate their thinking with that of our authors.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 718  First-Year Research Sem:  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
W.G. Sebald contended that our lives are decisively shaped by ?slight inner adjustments? of which we are barely conscious. History is also radically changed by things of apparently trivial size?the rise of a degree Fahrenheit that remaps the globe, the splitting of an atom that destroys a city?our perception of consequence often turns on a paradox of magnitude. Attention to seemingly minor matters will be both the methodology and the subject of this seminar; through rigorous close reading and writing practices we will develop a keen attention to the details of our own work, and also move toward an informal philosophy of small things. How does Freud read an entire psyche from a slight, seemingly inconsequential tic? How does Proust?s Remembrance emerge from crumbs in the shallow bowl of his teacup? We will read fiction, history, memoir, and theory, all devoted to small coincidences and minor figures, and we will view art that attends to those tiny things that can utterly reinvent our lives. Students' research may focus on anything from nanotechnology to Gertrude Stein?s critique of the comma, but with the aim of discovering what makes the small matter so much. Readings will include works by Franz Kafka, Genevieve Jurgensen, Sigmund Freud, Carlo Ginzburg, Marcel Proust, and Susan Stewart among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 719  First-Year Research Sem:  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
George Orwell wrote that one of the ?great motivations? of all writers is ?political purpose.? At the same time, Orwell highlighted the inherent tensions between political and artistic writing, especially writing about contemporary international politics. In this course, we will explore the many and sometimes conflicting aims and effects of writing in response to contemporary international conflicts and crises. In addition to reading novels, memoirs, and scholarship that responded to or became implicated in the Cold War and Islamist jihad, we will explore the role of human rights journalism in stopping recent genocides, as well as the writings of presidential advisors and speechwriters who helped formulate international policies of the Cold War and the War on Terror. Readings will include Norman Mailer, Azar Nafisi, Edward Said, Susan Sontag, Anderson Cooper, Susan Moeller, George Kennan, and George Ball. These texts will be the focus of several critical essays that students will write over the course of the semester, culminating in a final research paper in which students will integrate their own analysis with that of other scholars and critics.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 720  First-Year Research Sem:  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Ideology is a system of ideas that shapes politics and society, and in so doing transforms people as well. In this course, students study the lived experience of ideology, contemplating what it means to contend with conflicting ideologies, and how those ideologies shape an individual life. We will explore different disciplinary approaches to the study of ideology, reading philosophy, literary criticism, history, and critical theory, at the same time examining the incorporation of political and moral ideas into everyday life. By bridging the gap between the theoretical and the practical, we will study how ideology changes a person's understanding of the self. Readings will include key works on capitalism, fascism, and communism, including Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx, and Leon Trotsky, as well as memoirs, poems, letters, and other accounts that capture the subjective experience of ideological conflict, including Horatio Alger Jr., W. H. Auden, Pasha Angelina, and Tommaso Marinetti. Students will conduct research projects on ideologies connected to their areas of interest. Readings may also include Louis Althusser, Guy Debord, Frantz Fanon, Betty Friedan, Henri Lefebvre, Georges Perec, and Slavoj Zizek.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 721  First-Year Research Sem: The Novel & Its Uses  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
While the novel has been regarded as a vehicle for the highest artistic achievement, it has also been derided as a repository of empty, time-wasting fantasy. It has been seen as the quintessential modern literary form, crucial in the shaping of Western identity, but its origins are ancient and novels have been written in most languages within cultures throughout the world. It is a form much favored by scholars of literature, and yet it has often been appropriated for extra-literary purposes?as fonts of philosophical insight, sources of historical and anthropological information, and models for psychological and sociological writing. In this class we will approach these paradoxes and other problems having to do with the uses of the novel. Students will research, draft, and write three papers on topics such as: Where and when did the novel originate? Why are some novels considered ?genre fiction? and others considered ?art?? Do novels have particularly powerful psychological and didactic effects? Do novels reflect and disseminate ideas? What makes novels autobiographical? Historical? Philosophical? Readings may include novels by authors such as Defoe, Dickens, Emily Bront, Dostoevsky, Wharton, Fitzgerald, and Joyce, as well as works from outside the Western canon, popular fiction, and essays on the history of publishing and readership.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 722  First-Year Research Sem: Popular Religion and Popular Culture in North America  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
American religion, historian Nathan Hatch writes, has "less to do with the specifics of polity and governance and more with the incarnation of the church into popular culture." Although Hatch was writing about the nineteenth century, this complex relationship between the popular and the liturgical continues to shape and define America today. In this course, we will study and write about ways in which film, television, advertising, music, sports, and the news media present, negotiate, and affect religious issues, and, conversely, how religion changes popular culture. We will ?read? primary texts of popular religion and popular culture, such as Billy Graham's sermons, Mormon pageants, Madonna videos, baseball games, and the Left Behind novels, films and video games, as well as theoretical works by Jean Baudrillard, Elaine Graham, Peter Williams, Kate McCarthy, Eric Mazur, Susan Mizruchi, Richard Santana and Gregory Erickson. Students will be encouraged to explore topics of their own interest, and assignments will include reaction papers, various essay forms, and individual research projects.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 723  First - Year Research Sem: Innovation and Sustainability  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How was the concept of environmental sustainability born? How did the idea of sustainability transform into the goal of sustainable development? Is innovation helping or hindering achieving the aims of sustainable development? These are some of the questions we will address in this course. While working to define sustainability within various contexts, students will explore how the complexity of a particular system can complicate the task of sustaining it. Building off of a diverse set of texts, we will examine the concept of sustainability from many different perspectives including agriculture, economic development, health care, international law, urban planning, engineering, and religion. Readings may include texts by Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elinor Ostrom, Norman Borlaug, Kirkpatrick Sale, Sally Goerner, Richard Norgaard, Sharachchandra Lele, David Pearce, Janis Birkeland, and Geoffrey Heal. Students will write several critical essays throughout the semester culminating in a final research paper.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 724  First-Year Research Sem: Questions of Travel  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
As Susan Sontag observed: “Books about travel to distant places have always opposed an ‘us’ to a ‘them’—a relation that yields a limited variety of appraisals.” In this course we will attempt to question and to complicate the familiar binaries of self and other, foreign and familiar, utopia and dystopia that condition our understanding of writing about the “exotic.” We will read texts that have sought to imagine the strange and unfamiliar and at the same time come to grips with the ever-elusive idea of what it means to be at home. Readings may include works by Homer, Voltaire, Swift, Aphra Behn, Jules Verne, Levi-Strauss, Elizabeth Bishop, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 727  First-Year Reserch Sem: Sense and Consensus  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Blink. Sniff. Tickle. Eavesdrop. Slurp. We experience the world through our senses. To make sense of what we sense is to navigate between feeling and knowing, immediacy and otherness, idiosyncrasy and consensus. Whether deprivation or overload, sensory experience at once invites description and eludes understanding, challenging writers and scientists alike. This class explores the mechanics as well as the poetics of perception. Students develop individual research topics from diverse disciplines, such as literature, music, neuroscience, art, philosophy, and mysticism. Color, pain, synesthesia, umami, disgust, the sublime, phantom limbs, and "non-lethal" weaponry will be some phenomena we look into. Readings may include works by Franz Kafka, Isadora Duncan, J.-K. Huysmans, Gertrude Stein, Marcel Proust, Caroline Walker Bynum, Oliver Sacks, and Virginia Woolf. Films and excursions will supplement the readings.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 730  First-Year Research Seminar: Adventure Narratives  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Adventure narratives have been a popular sub-genre of both fiction and non-fiction for over a century. In such narratives, men and women typically seek out, or are thrust into, unfamiliar spaces where they confront elemental forces. Some adventurers traverse dramatic natural environments—The Arctic and Antarctic Poles, Mt. Everest—while others explore spaces of dramatic cultural difference. We will explore how and why these spaces are represented as staging grounds for conflicts with principles of gender, power, and moral life. Students will write three analytic essays and a longer research essay as they explore some of the following questions: Why are these conflicts desirable to adventurers and to those who admire them? How do these often masculine narratives represent women and domesticity, especially when dealing with women adventurers? How do they represent the people who populate the adventurous landscape? Are adventurers ultimately imperial or anti-social? Theoretical sources may include Immanuel Kant, Sigmund Freud, Mariana Torgovnick, William Cronon, and Frederick Jackson Turner. Other readings may include works by H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Amelia Earhart, Richard Burton, Ernest Shackleton, Jon Krakauer, Joseph Conrad, Cormac McCarthy, Jamyang Norbu, and Charles Johnson.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 732  First Year Research Sem: Fictionalizing History/Historicizing Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course explores the permeable boundaries between history and fiction as well as the links between literary texts and the values, institutions, and practices that comprise culture. It is axiomatic that an examination of a specific culture or period of history will deepen one’s understanding of the literature produced in that culture, especially works that are presumed “to reflect” the period. However, in recent decades interdisciplinary inquiry has turned to literature to study culture and, more specifically, how a fictional work interprets, reinforces, challenges and shapes culture. New Historicist critic Stephen Greenblatt coined this approach the “Poetics of Culture” to denote the interaction between literary production and other social practices, to bridge the divide between literary and non-literary texts, and to blur the distinctions between that which is “within a text” and that “which lies outside.” In addition to reading historical novels, documentary fiction, and docudrama, we will bring a historical and cultural analysis to literary works that seem a world apart from political conflicts, history-making events, or even daily life as we imagine it. Readings will juxtapose fiction and film with contemporary non-literary texts, including historical documents, essays, and journalistic accounts. The readings will serve as sources for critical essays that will lead to a final research project. Class time will also be devoted to identifying a research question, locating source materials, incorporating sources into a clearly developed argument, and reading drafts in the revision process. Readings may include texts by Toni Morrison, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, and Emily Mann.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 733  First Year Research Sem: Storytelling and Collective Identity  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Sharing stories may draw together two friends, inspire a political party to action, sway a jury, delight an audience, instruct a congregation, or unite a tribe, race, or nation. In this research and writing course, students will define “the story” using narrative theory, study the relationship between storytelling and identity formation by analyzing recent psychological findings, and finally learn how stories foster a sense of community by evaluating anthropological and sociological articles. With this critical background, we will examine the formative storytelling in selections from Boccaccio’s Decameron and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for a historical perspective before looking at contemporary Native American communities that preserve collective identity through oral histories and stories. We conclude by exploring popular movements such as The Moth live storytelling performances and poetry slams. Students will debate how groups organized to create and appreciate stories offer a sense of identity in the modern world. For their research projects, students may pursue a variety of topics related to storytelling, such as political speech and propaganda; advertising strategies; ancient epic traditions; preaching and religious parable; folklore; mythology; survivors’ tales; and oral history projects. Students may also wish to conduct more research about the literary, psychological, or anthropological approaches to storytelling that we reviewed earlier in the semester.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 734  First Year Research Sem: Urban Desires: Sex, Gender and New York City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
New York has often times been imagined as a place of “vice,” filled with promiscuous crowds, prostitution, and loose morals; it has also been imagined as a refuge for independent women, LGBT persons, and radical thinkers. This seminar will consider how issues of sex, gender, and sexuality can be understood within New York’s urban context and how the possibilities of urban life come to shape and reshape these concepts. Our readings will delve into New York City history, art, and literature as well as methodologies taken from feminist theory, queer theory, sociology, and literary studies. These methodologies will give us frameworks to produce shorter papers and a longer research paper, one that will move in stages of research and writing and take advantage of the archives of New York City, including the New York Public Library, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and other archives. Some readings may include Luc Sante, Low Life, Samuel Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, and theoretical works may include writers such as George Chauncy, Robert Reid-Pharr, Judith Halberstam, Elizabeth Freeman, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 735  First Year Research Sem: Immigrant New York  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How has the concept of assimilation been used politically and how has it shaped immigrant subjectivity? Our emphasis in this course will be on the history of immigration in New York, particularly in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However we will also connect that history to contemporary immigrant experiences and contemporary political debates over immigration. Finally, we will explore the various methods by which immigrant history is preserved and disseminated, including through museums, oral history projects and public monuments. Students will produce several short essays leading up to a final research project. Texts for this course may include the following: poetry by Walt Whitman, Emma Lazarus and Claude McKay, novels such as Abraham Cahan’s Yekl: A Tale of the New York and Paule Marshall’s Browngirl, Brownstones, journalism such as Herbert Ashbury’s Gangs of New York and Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, historical works such as Burrows and Wallace’s Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, and films such as Joan Micklin Silver’s Hester Street.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 736  First Year Research Sem: The 20th Century Manifesto & the Aesthetics of Text  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Manifestos declare, publicly, a group or individual's aims and goals. The manifestos published by 20th-century aesthetic movements often acknowledge, graphically, that words are also material, textual, and aesthetic objects, and their shape, font, and arrangement on the page can also contain (and produce) meaning. Using 20th-century manifestos as a springboard, students study the interactions between art, technologies of representation (like photography), text, type, font, and graphic design throughout the 20th—and into the 21st—century. As well as writing essays responding to texts and images, students learn to conduct, evaluate, cite, and synthesize research, produce a research paper on a 20th-century aesthetic movement, and finally, write their own manifestos. Readings, which delve into art history and critical theory as well as manifestos, may include Roland Barthes,Vicente Huidobro, Gertrude Stein, Kathleen Hanna, Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, André Breton, MaryAnn Caws, and Oswald de Andrade.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 737  First Year Research Sem: Memory and the City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How does a city ‘remember’ the past lives of its inhabitants? How do the peculiar characteristics of a city like New York­—its population density, cultural diversity, and constant evolution—affect the memories of the individuals and groups who live there? This seminar will explore the interplay between memory and the city through the study and analysis of literary texts, photographs, monuments, maps and movies. A wide range of theoretical readings will provide us with a working critical vocabulary for investigating questions of cultural memory and memorialization. The research paper will explore some aspect of the creation, ideology and reception of a commemorative site in New York City­. Sites could include major memorials such as the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Ellis Island, or the Irish Hunger Memorial; a smaller museum or commemorative site such as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the African Burial Grounds, the Stonewall Inn, or the statues in a city park; or an unofficial, virtual, or erased memorial. Writers and artists may include Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, James Young, Jane Jacobs, E.B. White, Susan Sontag, Colson Whitehead, and Woody Allen.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 738  First Year Research Sem: Identity and Cultural Construction of Race  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Identity: the ways in which we see our selves; the ways in which others see us; the dynamic relationship between these two seemingly distinct and often irreconcilable poles is the underlying theme of this first-year research seminar. We will focus specifically on the ways in which we create, build, rebuild, and live our racial identities in constant dialogue with contemporary American societal constructions of race and ethnicity. Questions we will explore include: what is race? Is it immutable? How do we know it when we see it? How is it distinct from ethnicity? What is gained and/or lost by considering or not considering race today? In what ways do other facets of identity, for example gender, sexuality, and class inform, challenge, reconstruct, or deconstruct our racial identities? We will employ historical, sociological, and cultural lenses. Several short written assignments will help students formulate, research, and respond to questions about racial identity in a longer final research paper. Text will include fiction, plays, theory and criticism including Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, “Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States by Barbara Fields, Stuart Hall’s “What is This Black in Black Popular Culture,” Kip Fulbeck’s What Are You?, Heid E. Erdrich and Laura Tohe collection Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers On Community, Edward Said’s Orientalism, Matthew Jacobson’s Whiteness of a Different Color, and Off with Her Head!: The Denial of Women's Identity in Myth, Religion, and Culture edited by Howard Eilberg-Schwartz and Wendy Doniger.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 739  First-Year Research Seminar: Deconstructing the U.S. National Security State  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Arguments about national security are at the heart of contemporary debates about international threats, typically deemed to include “rogue states” and “terrorists,” as well as radical Islam and economic instability, among others. In this course, we will take a critical look at the U.S. national security state, focusing on the period since 1947, when the National Security Act was passed. Through official government documents, political theory, sociology, literature, journalism, and film, we will examine the theoretical and historical roots of the national security state, its impact on U.S. foreign and domestic policies, and its role in American popular culture. Texts will include the writings of George Kennan and C. Wright Mills, the 1955 film noir Kiss Me Deadly, journalism about WikiLeaks, and the memoirs of Guantánamo prisoners. Course readings will be the focus of several critical essays that students will write over the course of the semester, culminating in a final research paper on a topic selected by the student.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 740  First-Year Research Seminar: The Cold War: What Was It and Why Does It Matter?  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The Cold War occupies a central, but contested place in the contemporary political imagination. Some say we are in a new Cold War, while others argue that the Cold War is a relic of a bygone age. Despite these disagreements, such proclamations operate on the shared assumption that we know what the Cold War was and why it mattered. This course seeks to challenge such assumptions. Rather than study a stock textbook version of the Cold War, we will examine interpretations and framings of the conflict, interrogating the very concept and stakes of the Cold War, as well its relationship to other organizing principles in U.S. and global history. What changes, for example, when we re-frame the Cold War not as an existential battle between the United States and the Soviet Union, but rather as part of a shared history of Western colonial/imperial conquest? What are the origins and legacy of Cold War ideology? What role did race, class, and gender play in the geopolitical conflict? What influence did the Cold War have on twentieth-century literature and culture? How do these alternative frameworks shape our understanding of the Cold War in contemporary politics? Students will write 2 shorter close-reading essays and a longer research paper in which they delve into a specific aspect of the intellectual and political debate that interests them.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 741  First - Year Research Seminar: Home and Homeland  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What is home? Where is home? How do we define home? What does it mean to be home? In this course, we will explore the concepts of home and homeland as they relate to geographical place, birth, language, and cultural identity. We will read texts by and about exiles, émigrés, and expatriates in order to think about the departure from home, the loss of home, and the processes by which people make new homes and maintain relationships to their native lands. Does the ability or inability to return home affect one’s perceptions of home? Is the idea of home an imagined fantasy or is it grounded in concrete places and experiences? We will also examine past and contemporary practices of defining homes and homelands in relation to outsiders. How, in other words, are ideas of home and homeland exclusionary? Students will write various analytic essays that address these questions and will develop individual projects for a longer research essay. The texts for this course may include the writings of Edward Said, Salman Rushdie, and Eva Hoffman, articles about immigration policy and Homeland Security, the PBS documentary Homeland: Immigration in America, and clips from the recent television show Homeland.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 742  First - Year Research Seminar: The Digital Commons  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will examine how artists, writers, and activists have used both physical and digital resources to transmit ideas about the world and to the world. What is the future of writing, reading, and thinking in an era where the Internet has become, in Jennifer Egan’s words, “th hum tht nevr gOs away”? The “commons” traditionally refers to the cultural and social goods shared by a public; we will examine how the “digital commons” have transformed our understanding of public participation. What does it mean to be an audience in a digital environment that favors user interaction and what sorts of users do online communities reward (and discourage)? How should we best participate within these shared, but virtual, spaces? In examining the relationship between material collections (of books, paintings, or film footage) and information available on the Internet, we will consider how written language informs digital text, how blogs interact with traditional journalism, how political movements take shape through both old and new media, and how technology alters aesthetic expression. Through this investigation, students will develop strategies for effective research both on and offline. Readings will include excerpts from Mcluhan’s Understanding Media; Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees; Gitelman’s Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture; Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad; Crystal’s, Txting: The Gr8 Db8te; and online materials. Students will participate in a workshop at NYU’s Digital Studio, create and maintain a public blog, write two short analytic papers, a longer research paper, and a final reflective essay.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 743  First-Year Research Seminar: Writing the Visible: Between Images and Prose  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What can images reveal that words cannot, and vice versa? If “a picture tells a thousand words,” would those words tell the same story as that image? What happens when you try to verbalize what you see? In this first-year research seminar, we will focus on texts that are invested in the relationship between words and images. Specifically, we will examine photographs and drawn images, including comics, as documentary evidence or testimonials, as sites of manipulation and fantasy, and as objects that help us remember as well as forget. Our readings will confront the allure of the visual, prompting us to explore the pulls, as well as the dangers, of believing in what we see. We will use writing to think through these questions, as well as develop clear and original arguments that respond to the ideas of others. Students will hone their research and writing skills, including developing an argument, citing texts, and evaluating and documenting sources, through a series of writing assignments that culminate in a research essay. Readings may include: Susan Sontag’s On Photography, Paul Hendrickson’s Sons of Mississippi, John Berger and Jean Mohr’s A Fortunate Man, Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas, Roland Barthes’s Image-Music-Text, Art Spiegelman’s Maus I, Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde, Josh Neufeld’s A/D: New Orleans After the Deluge, and W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 744  First-Year Research Seminar: Buddha Studio: The Art of Practice and the Practice Art  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will focus on some of the ways in which American literature, visual arts, and music reflect, embody, or respond to Buddhist principles and practice. The course will include discussion of Buddhist thought and history, particularly its emergence in the North American context, and of traditional Buddhist arts. Work by Han Shan, Meng Hao-Jan, Meng Chiao, Matsuo Basho, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Cage, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, Bill Viola, Marina Abramovic, Gary Snyder, Li Young Li, Arther Sze, Lan Cao, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joanne Kyger, Philip Whalen, and Jane Hirschfield may be included, along with critical and historical work by Donald Lopez, Richard Seager, Rick Fields, Charles Prebish, John Whalen-Bridge, Jonathan Stalling, Jacquelynn Baas, Kay Larson, and Mary Jane Jacobs. Writing in the course will include informal response papers, three to five shorter essays, and a longer research essay, produced in multiple drafts with in-class workshops.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 745  First -Year Research Seminar: Thought Crimes: Criminal Intent in Law, Lit & Society  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The concept of mens rea or criminal intent is a relatively new legal innovation, dating from the Middle Ages. Why did jurists and philosophers begin to recognize the mind, and specifically intent, as an important site of transgression? And how did this revolution in theories of morality shift the focus away from action in order to promote theories of innocence or guilt based on intent? By reading Augustine and Abelard as well as ancient legal codes, we will study the origins of the creation of a moral self that was based on the mind, as opposed to observable actions. The poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer will offer an important example of how writers of the period used the idea of individual intent to develop literary character and to represent human subjectivity. Medieval plays that represent the thought crimes of Satan will also provide a platform for thinking about intention and religious or intellectual dissent. We will also explore how studying the roots of these concepts can help us understand the modern world. We will, for example, examine the related problems of just intent in just war theory from its medieval origins to its presence in current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will read recent literary works by authors such as Junot Díaz and Alice Munro as a way to study intention as both a problematic and a defining element of culpability and the moral self. Finally, modern theories of intention and morality from philosophers and neuroscientists will offer additional theoretical lenses for analyzing the semester’s readings. These topics will form the basis for several short writing assignments and a major research paper.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 746  First-Year Research Seminar: Fear and the Gothic  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Why do some stories scare us? This course seeks to define and examine fear by reading scary stories defined as gothic. The course begins with the birth of the "Gothic" novel in Great Britain and traces the genre's evolution during the revolutionary turmoil of the 1790s. In addition to reading the gothic as a response to a shifting political landscape, we will consider the extent to which the gothic's ability to inspire fear and produce a sensory response relates to the goals of the Enlightenment. How does gothic literature test the limits of empiricism and question the authority of sensory experience? How and why do works of gothic literature succeed in creating fear? We will read canonical works of the gothic, including drama, short stories, horror ballads, and a satirical send-up of the genre. Readings may include M.G. Lewis' The Monk and Castle Spectre, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Miles Peter Andrews' The Enchanted Castle, Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow and selected ballads such as "The Children in the Wood," "Tam Lin," and "Sweet William's Ghost."
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 747  First-Year Research Seminar: Archaeology and Nationalism  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Modern nations frequently seek an origin in the peoples and civilizations that came before. They often gain from these predecessors—in some ways of thinking, their ancestors—a sense of a long-standing historical and cultural identity, and use the past to shape that nation’s relationships to the landscape, to cultural traditions, and even to other nations. Archaeology, including the excavation, preservation, and interpretation of monuments and artefacts, often plays an active part in the construction of these national pasts, contributing to national narratives that claim long, continuous cultural histories, that delineate territory, that present a golden age and the promise of its return, or that give the members of the national community cause to come together. This course investigates the ways in which the archaeological remains have been employed in the shaping of modern national identities. In class, our discussions may focus on Greece, Egypt, Iran, China, and the U.S. For their projects, students are invited to apply the questions and problems we encounter in class to a context of interest to them.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 748  First-Year Research Seminar: Writing Evolution  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Although On the Origin of Species was published more than 150 years ago, evolution remains a controversial theory: inspiring to some, disturbing to others, and provocative to many. This class is about how people have used writing to argue over evolution, to understand it, and to imagine its implications—a topic that students will investigate in seminar discussions and through their own writing. We begin with the Origin, asking how Darwin’s prose seeks to persuade his readers. Next, we consider how Darwin’s ideas are taken up and transformed by writers of narrative fiction, reading H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds (1897) and Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love (1997) alongside texts about social Darwinism and evolutionary psychology. The second half of the course builds towards students’ independent research papers by surveying the impact of evolutionary ideas in a wide range of disciplines: we may consider Richard Dawkins’s concept of the cultural meme; the impact of evolution on ideas about society and ethics; and the spread of evolutionary ideas through popular media.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 750  First-Year Research Seminar: Making Strange  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Burdened by a world that is “too much with us,” modern art has had to “make it new” by making it strange — to render the familiar unfamiliar. Through close reading and analytic writing, this class will examine and compare several strategies of estrangement. To represent the everyday as though for the first time is to rescue daily life from the oblivion of habit—in Viktor Shklovsky’s words, “to return sensation to our limbs, to make a stone feel stony.” Estrangement restores difference to a world of universal sameness. In the hands of Bertolt Brecht, estrangement became a means of awakening us from the fictions of our bourgeois existence. To achieve this effect on stage, Brecht invented an Epic Theater that interrupted its own theatrical illusion. As Shklovsky and Brecht were estranging the familiar, Freud was theorizing why the familiar so often already felt strange, frightening, “uncanny.” Psychoanalysis shows us our own selves as strangers. Students will write essays that place these theories in dialogue with each other, use them to interpret the art and culture of their own time, and construct arguments that draw on scholarly sources. The culminating research paper will examine an artistic practice in any medium in the light of estrangement, engaging particular artworks as well as contemporary scholarship. Readings may include essays by Shklovsky, Brecht, Freud, Benjamin, Barthes and Kristeva; prose and poetry by Woolf, Stein, and Césaire; films by Eisenstein, Deren, and Godard.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 751  First-Year Research Seminar: Animality and the Problem of Description  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will address problems of language and writing through the rapidly growing theoretical field of animal studies. We will examine a diverse array of writing about animals—from literature to philosophy and science writing—considering what depictions of animals (including humans) tell us about emotion, language, agency, humanity, and animality. How do we describe the animal and what do the words we use tell us about how animals are understood? Why has the animal posed such a problem for philosophers of language and literature, especially those concerned with the problem of description? Students will learn how literary and scientific texts use words to make explicit and implicit claims about animals and how to make interpretive arguments that intervene in a scholarly conversation about a text. Readings may include Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Jakob von Uexküll’s A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans, Giorgio Agamben's The Open: Man and Animal, Friedrich Nietzsche’s “On Truth and Lies in and Extra-moral Sense,” Roland Barthes’ “The Reality Effect,” and poetry by Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop. Students will write several short essays that compare representations of the animal in the texts under discussion as well as research and participate in a critical debate about a text. The class culminates with a research paper for which students investigate a piece of writing of their choice that engages the question how animals are or should be described.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 752  First-Year Research Seminar: The Rise of Graphic Archives  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The idea of an archive—a place where historical materials are preserved—has come under scrutiny on the basis of its contents and context. Academics have asked: What defines an archive? Who or what controls an archive? How do we access these materials? What relationship do these records have to our ideas of history? How do physical archives relate to digital repositories? This course will conside the archive both as a space and as a concept and ask students to explore what role the archive plays in research. In our class, we will focus on the visual archive. Over the past decade, New York City institutions have begun to embrace radical ephemera; we see this in new collections like Barnard Zine Collection (2003), NYU's Riot Grrrl Collection (2009), and Brooklyn College Library's Zine Collection (2011). Through site visits and presentations by those who work with/in archives, students will learn how to conduct archival research while considering the question of which materials and experiences get archived. Documenting their own research process, students will create their own visual archive and contribute field notes to a class website. They will write a series of short essays in preparation for a research paper that examines a subject and its archival context. Readings may include works by Alison Bechdel, Ann Cvetkovich, Lisa Darms, Angela Davis, Jacques Derrida, Kate Eichhorn, Michel Foucault, and Alison Piepmeier.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 753  First-Year Research Seminar: War Stories  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Simone Weil writes that “the true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad is force,” and that force “is the very center of human history.” From the Iliad to the war on terror, from the Bhagavad Gita to the journalism of the Spanish Civil War to Rebecca West’s amnesiac solider to the last lines of Myung Mi Kim’s epic poem on the Korean war, the centrality of force is persistent in our texts and rhetoric. This course will examine how war is written about, documented and represented. We will ask whether representations and narratives of war lead to desensitization and the continuation of violence, or if they give voice to the victims and critique the systems that cause conflict. This class will explore writing from the classical to modern periods, examining the ways in which writers represent war to expose injustice, advocate for peace, incite and condemn violence, draw the boundaries of nation and gender, and collapse the public and private. The texts we will read are at times openly argumentative or activist, while at others lyric and psychological; as writers, students will respond to each work through various rhetorical and critical modes, employing argumentation, comparative analysis, close reading, and epistolary forms. Students will prepare for a final investigative paper by developing research questions that locate a text in light of the conflict it was written to address. Possible authors might include Sophocles, Homer, Shakespeare, Fanon, Owen, West, Woolf, Orwell, Weil, Césaire, Sembène, H.D., Rukeyser, Sontag, Notley, Cha.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 754  First-Year Research Seminar: Globalization  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Globalization is often described as the process via which the world gets integrated. It can be traced back to the time preceding Europe's discovery of the New World; today, we experience the effects of globalization in cultural, political and economic contexts. This class is about how globalization is discussed in academic and non-academic communities, and how it affects people and places around the world. Through seminar discussions and their own writing, students will consider important questions such as these: What are the competing definitions of globalization? What are the dominant agents of change? How have the processes of globalization transformed our world? What is new? What's traditional? What is hybrid? We will arrive at multiple responses to these questions by watching films, following blogs, mining visual texts, and discussing readings which may include selections from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire and Multitude, Arjun Appadurai's Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Tom Friedman's The World Is Flat, and Dave Eggers' Hologram for a King. In the course of honing our critical thinking about globalization, students will write at least three short essays, formulate research questions, and learn to choose and evaluate sources. The class culminates in a research paper in which students will arrive at their own analyses of globalization through a study of multiple sources. Finally students will create a reflective multi-media text about their own status as global citizens.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 755  First-Year Research Seminar: Between the Still and Moving Image  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Why was time such an important theme in post-war art? How did experiments with temporality result in new forms of cultural production? Why did artists want to complicate the distinction between still and moving imagery? This research seminar explores the aesthetic fascination with time. We begin by looking at how artists in the wake of WWII understood time in relation to psychoanalysis and changing labor conditions. We then consider how artists used ephemerality, repetition, and endurance to engage with systems of power in the 1960s and 70s. Art from the 1980s and 90s will guide a discussion on presence, representation, and experience in late-capitalist society. Finally, the class will look at our surrounding culture to grasp the time in which we live and anticipate the future that awaits us. Readings include texts by Henri Bergson, Jonathan Crary, Elizabeth Grosz, Sigmund Freud, Pamela M. Lee, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Paul Virilio (among others). In preparation for a final research paper, students will discuss this material in tandem with discoveries made through their own research and writing process.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 756  First-Year Research Sem: Double Vision: Reorienting & Disorienting "West" Visual Cult  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
From postcards to portraits, visual images inform how we see and understand the world around us. In the European-American framework, these ways of seeing have been influenced by global exchanges, colonial encounters, and cultural differences with “The Other.” We begin this class by reading Orientalism, Edward Said's foundational text that critically assesses the ways that representations of “The East” and “The West” have been formulated. We will also draw upon anthropologist Deborah Poole's concept of a "visual economy," which refers to the system and organization of images and their social relationships as they flow between cultures. Building on the questions posed by these thinkers, we will investigate visual images and objects in relation to imperial and post-colonial projects in contexts such as India, Egypt, China, Algeria, Viet Nam and The Philippines. Through a series of short research and writing assignments culminating in a research paper on a cultural context and set of images of your own choosing, you will develop your thinking about the issues raised by class material and discussion. In the process, you will develop your research skills, such as locating legitimate sources and integrating authoritative voices into your own work. Course readings may also include works by Michel Foucault, Igor Kopytoff, Rey Chow, Orhan Pamuk, Benedict Anderson, Timothy Mitchell, Christopher Pinney and Linda Nochlin.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 757  First-Year Research Seminar: Art Crimes  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This is a course about ostensibly illicit, sometimes illegal, acts done to works of art, such as destruction, theft, forgery, ruinous or deceitful restoration, and unwitting conflation with divinity or living reality. To think about what we’re not supposed to do with art is also to historicize what we now seem encouraged or permitted to do with it, like emote, collect, trade, authenticate, display, conserve, and sometimes censor, or worship after all. In examining how such practices and values coalesced, and the controversies that have attended them, we aim to better understand how artworks have challenged the boundaries among intellectual property, personal property, and cultural property—and why, long into the secular age, they are often treated not only as matter, but presence. In addition to readings drawn from art history, anthropology, philosophy, and law, course materials include forgers’ memoirs, art-heist films, and artworks that have at some point been deemed improper, whether idolatrous, pornographic, or (under Nazism) “degenerate.”
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 758  First-Year Research Seminar: Love, Pedagogically  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Friedrich Nietzsche likened the flourishing of amorous feeling to the educative process of gradually accommodating oneself to a strange melody, remarking that, “love, too, has to be learned.” In this course, the rich western tradition of thinking about love in pedagogical terms will serve as a departure point for discussion, research, and critical writing. Our focus will be not only on the ways in which love has been conceived as a discipline—an ars amatoria—that one aims to master but also on the ways in which love, as an emergent phenomenon, instructs us in arenas of personal or spiritual development, social interaction, and political engagement. Students will assemble personalized archives based on their areas of particular interest and undertake a series of writing assignments. The final project will comprise an extended research-based investigation into an issue of each student’s choosing. Topics of weekly discussion will include: conceptions of Eros in Plato’s philosophy; the question of “authentic” love in the work of Simone de Beauvoir; representations of queer love in the work of Jean Genet, Samuel Delaney, and Sharon Hayes; the contemporary debate about love as a political category in the work of Michael Hardt and Lauren Berlant.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 759  First-Year Research Seminar: Apartment Stories: Architecture, Literature and Culture  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course examines the rise of living in apartments in the 19th and 20th centuries and the cultural forms and formations it made possible. Proceeding from the idea that there is a deep resonance between mental forms and architectural spaces and styles, we will begin by looking at the literature, music, and political practices that accompanied the population shift from rural homes to urban apartments in the mid-nineteenth century. Apartment living fostered the development of novel forms of identity like the New (single) Woman, innovative modes of expression like the newspaper, and a host of anxieties about the moral, physical and psychological effects of living in close quarters with strangers. We will trace the legacy of these 19th-century cultural formations through the 20th and 21st century to ask questions about the relationship between modern subjectivity and the spaces we live in. Fiction we will consider includes work by Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Cheever. We will also look at the writing of Yi Fu Tuan, Walter Benjamin, Jacob Riis, and Sharon Marcus; and consider other media, including real estate ads; pinterest; the films of Roman Polanski; and TV depictions of apartment living. Students will contribute to a course blog, write two short papers and collaborate using social bookmarking on a final research paper.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 760  First-Year Research Sem: Examining the Mundane: Art and Literature of the Everyday  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What is the meaning of work? Why is it embarrassing to dine in a restaurant alone? What do funeral rites say about our understanding of life’s purpose? Is boredom interesting? What makes a dirty joke funny — or offensive? This course investigates the complexities and poetics of the banal, quotidian rights and rituals we move through on a daily basis as we navigate our lives and the world around us. Beginning with recent philosophical assessments of the everyday, including phenomenology, existentialism, and post-modernism, we will extend our exploration to include novelists, photographers, and filmmakers whose work reveals the overlooked and under-thought aspects of daily living that, in fact, make up life itself. Artists and writers to be studied will include: Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Richard Linklater, Slavoj Zizek, Matt Siber, and Jacques Prevert, among others. In addition to these Western perspectives, we will examine the work of modern Arabic poet Amjad Nasser, Japanese filmmaker Koreeda Hirakazu, Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, and traditional folk music from Bosnia and Kosovo. Students will write three shorter essays and one final research essay of approximately 8-12 pages.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 761  First-Year Research Seminar: Robots, Apes, and Electric Sheep: Investigating Our Cybernetic Culture  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Is the divide between human and machine becoming harder to maintain? From the Golem of folk tales to Frankenstein and even Siri, the concept of the semi-artificial person, or cyborg, is long-lived, appearing across popular, religious, and scientific imaginations. As technology becomes more personal, the cyborg becomes less alien, and the prospect of our own transformation into technologically enhanced organisms seems imminent. In this course we will investigate posthumanism through a critical look at cybernetics in our culture, examining representations in media such as literature, film, television, advertising, video games, and comics. Students will research the current state of modern medical and robotics science and use this to inform their readings of the cyborg in our society. Critiques will be framed through the lens of gender, race, and labor using the theory of scholars Katherine Hayles, Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Judith Bulter, and Howard Reingold. The class will engage in multimodal research projects on a WordPress blog that focus on building written and visual rhetorical skills. Readings will include fiction such as Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Marge Piercy’s He, She, and It, and Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), which will be paired with films such as Blade Runner and The Stepford Wives.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 762  First-Year Research Seminar: Divine Justice/Human Law  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How do literature and film allow us to understand justice? What is the relationship between justice and law? Do we obey the law out of fear of punishment or because we believe it to be just? And what does it mean for a punishment to fit a crime? Starting with Greek mythology, this course examines a range of literary narratives that investigate both the abstract idea of justice and its more prosaic counterpart, the law. The class will be arranged thematically rather than chronologically, and we will move outside of the Western canon, examining other traditions of divine and worldly law. Authors and texts may include: Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, the Laws of Manu, Dante, Foucault, Tolstoy, Asimov, Poe, Kafka, Borges, Benjamin, Coetzee, Faulkner, “12 Angry Men” and “Orange is the New Black.” Through shorter papers over the course of the semester, as well as informed in-class debates, students will learn how to identify and incorporate reputable primary and secondary sources, critically evaluate and challenge arguments, and frame their own hypotheses about justice. Coursework will include an extended research paper on a topic of the student’s choice, while the final assignment will involve writing an informed, well-researched legal judgment on a literary “case.”
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 763  First-Year Research Seminar: Being Young in a Globalizing World  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this course we will examine how global processes such as economic restructuring, development, shifts in education, rising unemployment, civil conflict, and social movements shape young people’s experiences in different parts of the world. Conversely, we will also investigate how “youth” can be a lens to rethink and even re-theorize global processes. In our readings and discussion we will map out the geographies of difference, connection, and solidarity between students at Gallatin and youth across the globe, especially in South Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Throughout the course we will read scholarly texts and ethnographies as well as study cultural materials such as fiction, policy documents, and film. Students will develop research and writing skills through a range of assignments including group presentations, short essays, and a culminating research essay. In the final research essay, students will draw from multiple sources to develop scholarly expertise on one key contemporary issue youth are facing today. This will be a multi-step research assignment in which students will hone skills in constructing a research question, building a scholarly annotated bibliography, and developing an argumentative position with supporting evidence. Authors we will read include: Stuart Hall, Paul Willis, Craig Jeffrey, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Alcinda Honwana, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 764  First-Year Research Seminar: Comedy  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this class, we will study theories of comedy and modern Euro-American comic literature, with special attention to how comedy is informed by politics, gender, and power. We will investigate jokes, wordplay, satire, parody, comedies of manners, the absurd, and other modes of humor. We will be interested in what’s funny, but also in what defines comedy as a genre. It’s said, for example, that a comedy ends in marriage—are those marriages satisfying or unsatisfying? Under what conditions does comedy operate as social critique? What is the function of a fool? Students will write several short papers, including a close reading and a critical essay. The class will culminate in a research progression in which the student will choose a literary work, vet sources, develop an annotated bibliography, and write an original essay that makes an argument about the comic genre. Our syllabus may include texts by Freud, Bergson, Agnes Heller, Northrop Frye, Stanley Cavell, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Molière, Swift, Jane Austen, and Lewis Carroll.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 765  First-Year Research Seminar: Suburban Nation  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The suburbs are ripe spaces in the American cultural imagination, conjuring images of sprawling housing tracts with endless rows of seemingly identical single-family units, "big box" retail stores, giant sport-utility vehicles and, perhaps above all, a stifling cultural homogeneity. In the 21st century, however, the American suburbs emerge as much more complex and diverse spaces than these stereotypical images suggest. In this course, we will consider suburban living in all its dimensions, exploring the ways that race, gender, sexuality, class politics, labor issues, political expression, and ideas of public space take on particular resonance in suburban contexts. In exercises and assignments that model the writing process from start to finish, we will develop our abilities to respond critically to pieces by authors and filmmakers who focus on suburban life. Our work will be guided by some of the central questions raised by suburbs: How are suburbs related to other types of social spaces? How do suburbs function in relation to national mythology? What is the future of suburban life? Students will complete a final research project that focuses on a particular American suburb, producing a journalistic, research-based piece that may consider questions of political economy, environmental sustainability, and civil rights, among other critical elements of contemporary suburban studies. Texts may include works by Betty Friedan, Mike Davis, Rebecca Solnit, Eric Schlosser, Lisa McGirr, Gustavo Arellano, Eric Avila, Todd Haynes, Ang Lee, and David Lynch.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 766  First-Year Research Seminar: Gender, Violence and International Human Rights  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
What does it mean to understand certain forms of violence as gendered violence? This course will explore this question in the context of international human rights. It may seem obvious that “women’s rights are human rights,” and that personal and collective violence targeting women and girls (but also men and boys) on account of their gender must be addressed. And yet, competing gender norms raise highly contested questions about human rights with respect to gender, especially: When do human rights apply to acts of gender violence? Precisely who and what should human rights protect, and how are those rights best secured? The course will introduce students to contemporary feminist human rights movements, engage key debates in the field, and critically examine cases studies, such as: sexual violence as a war crime, sex trafficking, female genital cutting, and gender and poverty. The theme will also provide the basis for class discussions and writing assignments, culminating in a final research paper. Readings may include works by: Uma Narayan, Kelly D. Askin, Catherine MacKinnon, Vasuki Nesiah, Karen Engle, Rutvica Andrijasevic, Sally Engle Merry, Susan Moller Okin, and Chandra Mohanty.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 767  First-Year Research Seminar: Looking at Development:Power and Progress in the Modern World  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Development—in the most basic, common-sense use of the term—is about making lives better. But what counts as “better”, and for whom? And how have modern societies across the “First” and “Third” Worlds sought to realize their visions of progress? We will explore these questions by interrogating the dominant ways in which the world is seen in the eye of Development - its “world-view”, so to speak. In effect, we will be looking at development by examining how development itself looks: its view of societies, of the “Third World”, of the “poor”, of labor, of nature, of women, and of the body. These are some of the key themes that we will tune into, as we analyze the histories of colonialism, modernity, and development that have shaped our contemporary existence. Alongside, we will also explore the problems and prospects of putting development ideas into practice in specific areas of concern, such as poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation. The material for this course primarily draws upon development theory, anthropological analysis, and historical inquiry, supplemented by poetic and documentary sources. We will also make a field visit to a local non-profit. Students with cultivate their research ability by working on three reflection papers, and one final research paper with guidance provided at each stage. Students will also implement a multi-media group project with an oral and written component, which will enable them to grapple with the politics and practice of a specific development issue of their own choice.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 769  First-Year Research Seminar: Road Trips  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road,” Jack Kerouac famously wrote in 1957’s On the Road, summarizing an optimistic (and particularly American) ethos: Just Go. America is a frontier country, and hitting the open road – in search of catharsis, transformation, answers, a new beginning of one kind of another – is a venerated and beloved American tradition. This first-year research seminar will examine how the great American road trip has been depicted in literature and, especially, music: what it entails, what it connotes, what it requires, what it actuates. What should happen during a road trip? How might a person expect to be different at the end? Paying especially close attention to the role music plays – a tour being, of course, the ultimate road trip – we’ll look at how the idea, the practice, and the myth of the road trip has been presented in books, essays, photographs, films, and records, from Robert Frank’s “The Americans” to Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and write and workshop three short, researched pieces – including at least one first-person essay incorporating original reportage – and a final research paper analyzing a notable road trip from art or history.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 770  First-Year Research Seminar: The Politics of Work  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Work—especially wage labor—has come to be assumed as a necessary and unavoidable orientation of modern adult life. Even more, we assume that work is intrinsic to our sense of identity and self-worth. Attached to modern understandings of work are implicit values and morals, specifically the work ethic that frames work as individualistic, merit-based, and belonging to the private sphere. However, recent political critiques have begun to (re) question the ways in which labor and spaces of work constitute (or exclude) us as social and political subjects. In this seminar we will consider work as not only connected and buttressed by the political sphere but as itself political. Our aim will be to examine the unquestioned values that inhere in our understanding of work as well the ways in which the organization of modern forms of work constitute us and organize us a political subjects. In doing so we will consider how labor relations produce and reproduce us as embodied and affective subjects that sustain or exclude different classes, genders, races and ages. We will begin by first examining classical understandings and critiques of the organization of work in the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, Marx, and Max Weber. We will then turn to contemporary critiques of work including those that point to postwork imaginaries. What would it look and feel like to live in a postwork society? How would we reorganize our time? What creative projects might ensue? What conditions (a basic universal income?) would make such a society possible? Readings for this section of the course may include: Arendt, Foucault, Baudrillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Aronowitz, Negri, Bloch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Kathi Weeks.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 771  First-Year Research Seminar: Building Better Humans  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The idea that we can build better humans—humans who are smarter, happier, stronger, more beautiful, and with longer life spans—is no longer a remote possibility given recent advances in technology and genetics. This course will consider whether these technologies should be understood as a threat to humanity or as valuable tools in the progression of humans towards a post-human state of being. Specific questions to be addressed include: Would it be ethical to design babies to possess a desired set of attributes? Is there a fixed human nature that would be corrupted by enhancement technologies? If the aim of enhancement technologies is to produce more perfect humans, which conception of perfection is relevant to this aim? In what ways do attitudes toward human enhancement vary across cultures? Students will build their own research projects around issues such as the current state of the human genome project and the proper role of the scientist in the pursuit of genetic knowledge; the histories of plastic surgery, tattooing, body piercing and other artistic forms of bodily enhancement; and cross-cultural differences among attitudes toward human enhancement. Readings will include Shelley’s Frankenstein, Hawthorne’s The Birthmark, and Sandel’s The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 772  First-Year Research Seminar: A World Lit Only by Chaucer  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this course, the fourteenth-century English courtier, social critic, and scoundrel, Geoffrey Chaucer, will serve as chief muse for learning the basic skills and methods of humanities research. Chaucer may be the most talented poet and storyteller ever to have written the English language, yet the dialect in which he wrote renders him notoriously difficult for modern readers to approach. Few realize that with only a handful of simple tools and a bit of honest practice, even novices can unlock the door to Chaucer’s literary world. Inside they find a surprisingly accessible artistic voice, which combines the dramatic timing of Shakespeare with the elegant simplicity of E.B. White, the charmingly hilarious self-deprecation of Tina Fey with the soulfully funny insight of Louis C.K. or Dave Chappelle. As a seminar, we will draw on Chaucer’s imagination and talent to inspire individual research into any period and any concentration interest that students wish to pursue. We will study, in addition to Chaucer’s work, stories that he inspired, such as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), and stories that inspired him, such as Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy. Previous enthusiasm for the Middle Ages will be helpful, but not necessarily required. The only true prerequisites for the course are an open mind and a willingness to try something new.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 773  First-Year Research Seminar: The World in Pieces: Emergency Literature  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How do we write in a situation of crisis, when familiar things and routines lose their habitual meanings? What is the value of artistic practice and intellectual labor in the face of danger? Can words (and, for that matter, music and images) save lives and give form to terrifying uncertainty? This course will explore the literary and aesthetic methodologies used to represent traumatic events and historical crises. By focusing on autobiographical and documentary accounts of three types of dramatic experiences in twentieth-century history (privations and displacement during the October Revolution, hunger during the Leningrad Blockade, and mass incarceration during the Holocaust and Stalinist repressions), we will analyze the international intellectual context that their authors engage with and the ways in which their narratives are structured to impart form to chaos. For their research paper, students will be invited to apply concepts derived from historical readings to analyze an approved work of their choice, emblematic of emergency literature (past or contemporary), and its context. Readings may include: René Descartes, Walter Benjamin, Leo Tolstoy, Victor Shklovsky, Lydia Ginzburg, Varlam Shalamov, Giorgio Agamben, Primo Levi, W.G. Sebald, James Baldwin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Films by: Alain Resnais, Sergei Loznitsa, Dick Fontaine, and Abounaddara Film Collective.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 774  First-Year Research Seminar: Latin American Modernities: Literature, Testimony, Film  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Latin American literature has a long tradition of reflecting closely on the historical processes shaping the region's history. This course, which will culminate in a final research paper, will guide students in examining some of Latin America's most significant social, political, and cultural debates as they emerge in its literary output since 1960. Our survey of the literary landscape and its varied contexts will allow students to address, through a rigorously researched comparative project, one of two overarching questions. First, despite the vast geographical and cultural diversity of the nations comprising the region, to what extent does literature in Latin America give voice to a shared experience of globalization across the region? Second, how has Latin American narrative made sense of the region’s often tortuous path toward democratic rule? Coursework will guide students in investigating and reflecting critically on themes that recur frequently in late twentieth and early twenty-first century Latin American writing: nation; ethnicity; dictatorship; revolution; modernity; globalization; and, of course, the region’s often ambivalent relationship to the United States. Finally, this course will emphasize a research methodology that is intertextual, interdisciplinary, and multicultural. Readings will include works by Julio Cortázar, César Aira, M. Vargas Llosa, Ricardo Piglia, Zoé Valdés, Elena Poniatowska, Manuel Puig, Roberto Bolaño, and Alejandro Zambra. In addition to contributing actively to class discussions each week, students will be required to compose a research proposal, an annotated bibliography, and to give periodic presentations on the state of their research.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 775  First-Year Research Seminar: Sounding the City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
French economist Jacques Attali tells us that the world is not for seeing; it is for hearing. Taking a cue from Attali’s claim, this course examines the poetics and politics of city sounds across a diverse range of media from the 19th century to the present day. Our goal will be to develop methods for critical listening and writing in order to describe and analyze how soundscapes shape civic life. In tuning these practices we will attend to both musical and nonmusical aspects of the urban aural experience. How, for example, do representations of rhythms and soundmarks define the temporal and spatial relations of cities? How have writers and artists deployed noise and other aberrant sonic devices in order to reconfigure and reimagine the cityscape? How have technologies shaped and been shaped by cultures of listening within neighborhoods? From this sonic orientation we will delve into such cities as New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Los Angeles through the aural imaginations of a diverse range of writers and artists such as Walt Whitman, Ralph Ellison, Patti Smith, and Kim Gordon. We will also think alongside such sound studies critics as Jonathan Sterne, Emily Thompson, Carlo Rotella, and Mara Mills. Each week students will complete assigned reading, blog posts, short in-class writing assignments, and reading. These weekly assignments will prepare students to write two short papers (4-5 pages), and a final paper (8-10 pages) on a topic of their choosing. Final papers will use original research to analyze critical issues around some aspect of an urban soundscape and the social structure of the city, for example the effects of gentrification on a music scene or the politics of noise laws.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 776  First-Year Research Sem: To Tell a Free? Story: Black Autobiography/Confinement  (4 Credits)  
In To Tell a Free Story, William L. Andrews posits the origin of the black autobiographical tradition in slave narratives, wherein the escaped or emancipated are able to exercise authentic selfhood and seize authorial power through the writing of their life stories. While most canonical works in the genre fit this model, many others do not. What, then is to be said about black autobiographers for whom escape is improbable and freedom is a more tenuous, elusive or ambiguous experience? This course examines the degree to which confinement (containment, constraint) emerges as a feature, a circumstance and even a condition of possibility for black autobiography. We will study alternative autobiographical texts that rest on the telling of decidedly unfree stories, including: slaves’ and ex-slaves’ “confessions” dictated from jail cells on the eve of their executions; songs, tales and interviews by inmates in Southern prisons during the Jim Crow era; testimonies from inside the nation’s prisons brought to us by reality television series such as Lockup and Lockdown ; writings by CLR James, Paul Robeson, Chester Himes and women participants in Free Space in the 1970s. Among the questions raised are: How does confinement figure in these autobiographical narratives? Should autobiographical projects carried out in fraught relations with producers, collectors, and handlers be dismissed as less authentic than writings? Ultimately, can our study of black autobiography from confinement potentially challenge, extend and complicate the tradition? Alongside these questions, expect to discuss issues of method, politics and ethics that archival research involves.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 777  First-Year Research Seminar: Making Public Queer History  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
As understandings of racial, gender, sexual, and class oppression and resistance evolve in the present, so do understandings of Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) history--both the questions we ask and the answers we find. In this course we will examine how we have come to narrate LGBTQ history in the U.S. since 1910, investigating the ways archival and scholarly practices shape conceptions of LGBTQ life, politics, and culture of the past. Students will learn fundamental concepts and approaches in historical research: how do we as historians find, read, and interpret a primary source, from letters and photographs to magazines and novels? How can secondary sources—existing research and theoretical writing—shape our interpretations? And how can an understanding of history reshape public understandings of the present? Students will work to locate a single, short artifact (a single document, periodical, letter, pamphlet, song, advertisement, etc.) through a local archive and produce a 1,000 word digital exhibit. Students will also produce a longer research paper that will expand on their artifact. Readings include texts by Susan Stryker, George Chauncey, Marc Stein, Regina Kunzel, Margot Canaday, Jonathan Ned Katz, Marlon Bailey, Horacio Roque Ramirez, Lisa Duggan, and others, as well as documentary films.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 778  First-Year Research Seminar: Shadow Cities: Literary Alterity and Urban Underworlds  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The city we see is not all there is. Over seven thousand miles of sewers undergird the five boroughs of New York; centuries of occluded catastrophe dictate the architectural fabric of modern London; and in metropolises around the world the labor of an unacknowledged precariat lets us pass through the urban everyday without reflection. This course looks at how these invisible cities are made visible through literature. We’ll grapple with the pathological, the potential, the evanescent, and even the scatological, as we ask how literature maps on to hidden registers of the built environment. Alongside conventional exercises in essay writing, research, and in-class presentations, students can expect to put theory into practice with assignments involving urban exploration, literary fieldwork, and urban audition. Writing requirements will include formal papers responding to readings; an exploration journal linking texts and experiences; construction of a city itinerary (and corresponding reaction to a classmate’s); and a final research project (which can, with permission, incorporate creative elements). Events at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and excursions with the Atlas Obscura collective may be arranged. Readings may include fiction (Daniel Defoe, China Miéville, Neil Gaiman), film (Undercity, Dark Days), photography (Wayne Barrar), sensation journalism (G.W.M. Reynolds, Eugène Sue, and the files of The Illustrated Police News), literary history (David Pike, W.G. Sebald), and social science (Margaret Morton, Robert Neuwirth, Russell and Cheryl Sharman).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 779  First-Year Research Seminar: Imagining the Library  (4 Credits)  
From the legendary ancient library in Alexandria to the medieval monastic library at Melk to the Library of Congress to the new fully digital library at Florida Polytechnic University, how we imagine, remember, and construct our libraries is indicative of how we narrate our cultural identity. In modern fiction, texts such as Jorge Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and the Harry Potter books use libraries to speculate about our world using the organization of great fictional libraries from the past and the future as metaphors for human thought. To imagine a library is to ask: What is worth preserving? Who has access to certain information? How do we organize this information? In addition to actual and imaginary libraries, class topics include the history of the book and of reading, the concept of scripture, theories of the archive, and the significance of new media and digital technology. Readings may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Joyce, Bradbury, Orwell, Benjamin, Derrida, Murakami, Anthony Grafton and N. Katherine Hayles. Examples from film and television may include Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, and Doctor Who. Student research projects and papers might explore the history, theory, or architecture of actual libraries new and old; they may look at the role of libraries in education, research, and in speculative fiction about the future of humankind. The course will include guest speakers and site visits.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 780  : First-Year Research Seminar: Poverty and Inequality  (4 Credits)  
The commitment to end poverty is widespread from the United Nations to national governments, corporations to NGOs, activists to globally minded millennials. But why are people still poor and why does poverty endure? In this seminar, we will critically examine and interrogate dominant conceptualizations of poverty and inequality. In our study, we will draw connections to social relations, histories, and systems that perpetuate impoverishment and inequality. We will also investigate the strengths and limitations of dominant methodologies of “poverty action” such as philanthropy, aid, ethical consumerism, or NGO-based development. In this process we will reflect on our own aspirations of poverty action and social change. Throughout the course we will read scholarly texts and ethnographies as well as study cultural materials such as fiction, policy documents, and film. Students will develop research and writing skills through a range of assignments including group presentations, short essays, and a multi-step research essay. Readings may include Matthew Desmond, Branko Milanovic, Ananya Roy, and Jesmyn Ward.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 781  First-Year Research Sem: The Politics of Prison: The History of Mass Incarceration  (4 Credits)  
What are the historical roots of mass incarceration in the United States? This course will trace the evolution of law enforcement and prison policies through the post WWII era, when the growth of American suburbs, along with rising fears of radicalism and urban violence, shifted the nation's focus from a war on poverty to new wars on crime and drugs. From the Zoot Suit Riots to the Battle in Seattle, from the Weather Underground to Black Lives Matter, we'll investigate the intersection of race, class, and social policy driving this phenomenon. Through a series of readings and research assignments, we will explore the social and political history of the past several decades, while honing our skills as researchers and writers. Primary readings will include Bryan Burrough's Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence, Heather Ann Thompson's Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, Damien Echols' Life After Death, Angela Davis' Are Prisons Obsolete? and Elizabeth Hinton's From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 782  First-Year Research Seminar: The American Welfare State  (4 Credits)  
How has American society defined and dealt with poverty? Should "the poor" be forced to work, be objects of pity, have the right to basic necessities? And what does it mean to designate a human beings as "poor" in the first place? Americans have debated these questions for generations, and indeed debates about welfare policy remain central to contemporary politics. Our answers implicate not only our society's treatment of those who live below the poverty line, but broader questions of American identity and of the government’s role in the lives of citizens. In this research seminar, we will examine the history of social welfare and government benefits in the United States from the colonial period to the present. Chronologically, we will devote half the term to the second half of the 20th century, and we will learn about the development of the peculiarly American private welfare system and the welfare rights movement. We will pay special attention to the positions and subjectivities of reformers, bureaucrats, social workers, and aid recipients. In other words, we will ask how reformers, social workers, and welfare recipients have related to each other, how their relative positions in society have influenced how they have acted, and what the power relationships have been among them. We will read books by Michael Katz and Annelise Orleck. Students will write their own histories of welfare, using archival documents and secondary sources.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 783  First-Year Research Seminar: Money and the Muse: Culture, Creativity, and Capital  (4 Credits)  
This course is focused on the interactions between cultural production, individual creativity, and the market forces that impact them. Although centered on the contemporary, we will place this relationship within a wide historical and theoretical context and will make our considerations across a global frame of reference. Beginning with the patronage system that helped to make the Renaissance possible, extending all the way up to crowd sourcing today, our analysis will track the aesthetic and cultural impact money has had over the arts. Our aim is to understand money and its metaphors within artistic, philosophical, and cultural spheres. We will investigate not only how means of cultural production have changed, but also how the contemporary global capitalist superstructure has changed our relationship to cultural production and creativity. Special emphasis will be given to the contemporary movement toward individual producer-consumers, and we will centrally examine works of art and literature that take money as an object of thought and investigation. This element—the examination of works overtly about money and its meanings—will make up a substantial element of the course, and will serve as the grounds where our more theoretical investigations become concretized. Works by artists and writers across a global perspective will be pursued, including Justine Smith’s money-sculptures, Mark Wagner’s currency-collages, Lyn Hejinian’s My Life in the Nineties, Iva Pekárková’s Gimme the Money, among others. Slavoj Žižek, Theodor Adorno, Bernard Stiegler and other theorists will provide organizing principles and a working language for our investigations.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 784  First-Year Research Seminar: The History of Museums and the Politics of Space  (4 Credits)  
The concepts of “cultural heritage” and “historic preservation” are capacious, including natural resources, man-made artifacts, monuments, folklore, myth, and tradition. Most importantly, these concepts connect the past, present and future within a coherent narrative. The construction of this narrative is itself an ideologically and politically charged process. This is a history and theory based course that course explores how and where this process occurs. How does it manifest itself in the spaces of museums, archaeological digs, sacred spaces, and tourist destinations? And how do these sites shape communities or nations? This seminar traces how global imperial projects of preservation and plunder filled the museums of London, Paris, and Rome. We explore how museums become contested sites of postcolonial nation-building, historical reckoning, and as a means of integrating traumatic events into our historical consciousness. Combining insights from history, museum studies, architecture, and urbanism, we examine how “cultural heritage” and “historic preservation” relate to the history of museums. . In what ways can museums be understood as political spaces shaped by national, colonial, and postcolonial forces? How do colonial and postcolonial politics shape the processes of curation and “museumification?” We also visit museums in New York to discuss the power dynamics behind “museumification” in our own city. More informal writing assignments culminate in two formal research projects. The aim of assignments throughout the seminar is to hone critical thinking and writing skills, to disentangle concepts of “heritage,” and to explore how museums helped build civilizations, empires, and modern-day nations. Readings may include Sir Walter Scott, John Ruskin, Pierre Nora, Michel Foucault, Eric Hobsbawm, Benedict Anderson, David Harvey, Susan Crane, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Nezar AlSayyad, and Alexander Stille.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 785  First-Year Research Seminar: Normalcy and Media  (4 Credits)  
What does it mean to act or be normal? In what ways do media determine how we imagine normalcy? In this course we will consider media as a broad category, including a range of technologies, objects, texts, and even collective feelings. We will discover normalcy as a fragile and curiously inconspicuous concept, exploring its development in the U.S. since the mid-19th century. We will consider the role of media in, for example, gay and lesbian activists’ campaign to depathologize homosexuality or how the charity telethon genre presented ideas of dis/ability to enormous audiences in the latter half of the 20th century. As we tour these cases and others, students will work independently to produce original research. In four essays, students will select media artifacts to study, reviewing appropriate literature and designing methods for examining an object’s capacity to enforce or dismantle ideas about “the normal.” As a writing-intensive journey, this course will train students in the skills required to render complicated thinking. Primary readings will include works by Langon Winner, Donna Haraway, Paul Preciado, Joseph Dumit, and Steven Epstein.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 786  First-Year Research Seminar: Marriage in American Literature and Culture  (4 Credits)  
Edith Wharton once proclaimed the only cure to being alone is to “make one’s center of life inside of one’s self.” Echoing Wharton’s sentiment, Kate Bolick’s recently published book Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, attempts to reclaim the term “spinster” as a powerful feminist identity. With the Marriage Equality Act, the meaning of contemporary marriage has changed, though some queer theorists make the case for resisting the normalization the institution of marriage entails. Beginning in the nineteenth century and moving into these varying contemporary voices, this course asks why American identity has become so intimately bound up with marriage. From mid-nineteenth century treatises on the dangers of bachelorhood to reality television, from queer theory to the current proliferation of idyllic wedding scenes clustered together through hashtags—we will examine the construction of gender roles and the shifting meaning of marriage.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 787  First-Year Rsrch Sem: The Detective Story: Solving Mysteries from Oedipus Sherlock  (4 Credits)  
In the course we look closely at detective stories, novels and films, with attention to their style and narrative structure. Starting with the proto-detective story Oedipus Rex we move on to Edgar Allan Poe’s invention of the genre proper in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and to Poe's first inheritors (Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" and the recent BBC television series Sherlock). We then move on to some American “hard-boiled” writers (The Maltese Falcon and John Huston’s 1941 film adapation); stories and novels in which the reader must assume the role of detective (The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd, “The Turn of the Screw”; The Real Life of Sebastian Knight); non-fiction forms which share some of the narrative features of detection (Freud’s “Wolf-Man” case study); neo-noir films (Chinatown) and works that mix detective fiction with science-fiction (Minority Report).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 788  First-Year Research Seminar: Tales of the Jazz Age: New York City in the 1920s  (4 Credits)  
Today's New York City first took shape in the 1920s. Known as “The Roaring Twenties” or “The Jazz Age,” the decade between the end of World War I and the Stock Market Crash witnessed the dizzying birth of modern mass communication; mass consumer culture and advertising; talking pictures (AKA movies); Jazz and electric sound recording; women’s suffrage, flappers, “the New Woman”; “the New Negro” and the Harlem Renaissance; affordable automobiles; passenger air travel; skyscrapers... Indeed, almost every feature of the modern city that we take for granted today first came to frenetic fruition in the 1920s. Why? What caused this sudden explosion of cultural production? How can we grasp the cultural history of so dynamic an era? How did those who lived through the era understand (and reflect) the changes they experienced? Finally, how does their experience influence the way we see the city (and modern life) today? To begin to answer these questions, we will read (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jean Toomer, Dorothy Parker, among others); view (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford); and listen (Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, the Gershwins, Fats Waller). Each student will select a research focus (in literature, music, art, architecture, consumer culture, gender or race relations, etc.) and develop a semester-long project exploring a specific dimension of the era in depth.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 789  First-Year Research Seminar: Power and Politics  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered Spring  
To study politics is to study power, and as such, this course addresses the production, conservation, and distribution of power, addressing questions such as: What is power? How is power exerted? How is it gained and lost? How do power centers get challenged? We begin with theoretical understandings of power, applying philosophical and sociological theories of power to social problems including global inequality, national welfare policy, residential patterns, and racial and gender discrimination. We investigate the mechanisms by which groups maintain power historically and currently including the use of force, the control of media, and the dissemination of propaganda through art, film, and literature. Lastly, we address challenges to power structures posed by social movements. Authors include Mills, Chomsky, Gaventa, and Domhoff.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 790  First-Year Research Seminar: Literature and the Performing Arts  (4 Credits)  
In this class we will consider the relations between literature and the performing arts. What is the relationship between text and performance? How can we approach theatre, dance and music through the lenses of literature and philosophy? And how might theatre, dance, and music deepen and enrich our understanding of literary and philosophical texts? We will begin by discussing key theories of performance from antiquity to the present day. We will then consider how the conventions of representation established by classicism relate to forms of experimentation associated with modernism and the avant-garde. Lastly, we will consider the limits of performance as a facet of our everyday lives. Central to our investigation will be to assess the political and aesthetic dimensions of various literary and performance practices. Students will use these materials to hone and develop their research skills and formulate final projects that bring course topics into conversation with their individual academic interests. In addition to the dedicated reading of course materials, students will take advantage of performance events around NYC. This is an active learning course and full participation is required.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 791  First-Year Research Seminar: Autoethnography  (4 Credits)  
Autoethnography is a genre of ethnography that narrates the self in relation to the social, cultural, and political worlds in which the author is embedded. In critical theorist Mary Louise Pratt’s definition, it is “a text in which people undertake to describe themselves in was that engage with representations others have made of them”; in this way, autoethnography is a radical genre that often speaks from the margins to the center. Drawing on feminist genealogies of autoethnography in socio-cultural and visual anthropology, this research seminar will explore the genre to ask questions about how knowledge is produced in the social sciences, foregrounding issues of objectivity/subjectivity, collaboration, and authority. Through writing exercises, object-based analysis, and archival research, students will work toward producing an autoethographic text. We will read several book-length autoethnographies, which may include Ruth Behar’s The Vulnerable Observer, S. Lochlann Jain’s Malignant and Audre Lorde’s Zami. We will also look at visual and material culture forms of autoethnography, including work by artists Richard Fung, Catherine Opie, and Annie Pootoogook.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 792  First-Year Research Seminar: American Dream(s):Self, Stuff, Status & Social Mobility  (4 Credits)  
Faith in the notion that one may attain success and virtue through hard work is a dominant ideology in American life. We exalt those who “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and repeatedly tell of that ancestor who “came here with a dollar in his pocket” and achieved wealth. This “American Dream” promises self-fulfillment, material comfort, and, importantly, social mobility-- surpassing one’s parents in status and socioeconomic standing. Yet, realizing the American Dream has always been more difficult for some than others, and a deep skepticism of its possibility has always been part of US political discourse. As inequality has soared in recent years (by some accounts, you’re more likely to live the American Dream in…Canada), that skepticism has moved to the center of political and social debates. This course considers the status of the American Dream as cultural concept and social reality. To what extent do concerns of the self, stuff, status and social mobility animate Americans’ notions of the good life? We ask whether an American Dream predicated on social mobility was, is, and will be achievable--and for whom. We explore ways that ideas of the good life are changing in a post-Great Recession context and in the face of ecological limits. We pay particular attention to authors’ theoretical starting points, methods, and interpretation of evidence in order to develop analytical reasoning skill. Reading includes works of sociology, political science, economics, literature, and social commentary.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 793  First-Year Research Seminar: Politics, Religion, and the State  (4 Credits)  
What role can religious beliefs and institutions legitimately be expected to play in modern "democratic" states? What sorts of relationships have been established historically between secular and theological claims to political authority? In what ways might they not be as different as they first appear? In this class, we will explore both the role of religion in the development of modern states and its persistence as a political factor in a putatively secular, post-Enlightenment world. We will examine a succession of significant moments in the history of politics and political thought, from early modern notions of divine kingship and the emergence of the modern system of international relations to contemporary concerns such as the role of religion in American politics and the rise in the twentieth century of "political Islam." Over the course of the semester, students will be introduced to a range of methods of historical analysis and ways of theorizing the results of historical research. At the end of the term, they will employ those methods in a research project on a topic, whether contemporary or historical, of their own choosing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 794  First-Year Research Seminar: Utopian Literature from Antiquity to Today  (4 Credits)  
Due to recent political events stemming from the rise of populism across the globe, dystopian literature from George Orwell’s 1984 to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale have been flying off the shelves. But what about the utopian literature on which they are based? This research seminar traces the path from ancient to contemporary utopias to explore these paradise spaces and the dystopic elements within them. How do we define a utopia? What can utopian literature tell us about time and place? How ideal are these “ideal” spaces, particularly if a utopia is marked by exclusion? How are legacies of empire treated in utopian literature? How can we analyze utopias through the lenses of history, feminism, queer theory, or the place of race, religion, or personal identity? Readings may include selections from Plato's Republic, Virgil’s Eclogues, Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, Thomas More's Utopia, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost; as well as Shakespeare's As You Like It, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (yes, as a utopia!), Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” and Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem. We will close by exploring how utopian ideas are represented on screen with the film Wall-E.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 795  First-Year Research Seminar: Literatures of Imperialism Imperialism  (4 Credits)  
Cultural and literary critic Edward Said has boldly declared: “Without empire, there is no European novel as we know it…” (Culture and Imperialism, p. 69). Guided by Said’s assertion, this course will examine how empire was represented in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and non-European literature. We will consider how nineteenth-century literature made visible the purposes, contradictions and anxieties of British and French empire building. In particular, students will attend to the impact of colonial expansion on narrative form, historical consciousness and stylistic choice. While our literary texts will mainly come from Britain and France, we will be examining the meaning of imperialism as a global institution. Central to our considerations will also be an investigation on how the cultures of empire shaped different aspects of metropolitan cultures—from everyday life to social values. We will read novels, critical texts, poetry and travel writing by Edward Said, Jane Austen, Charles Baudelaire and Joseph Conrad as well as a novel written by Assia Djebar who “writes back” to the Empire. Students in this class will write two shorter close-reading essays and develop a longer research paper in which they formulate and answer an original research question related to a specific aspect of one of the literary or theoretical debates studied in the seminar.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 796  First-Year Research Seminar: Love and War in the Long Sixties  (4 Credits)  
This seminar investigates the literature, film, music, and philosophy of what some historians have termed “the long sixties” (starting in the late 1950s and ending in the 1970s). The sixties saw an explosion of youth culture as the baby boomers came of age, a media revolution with the rise of TV, and the triumph of new postcolonial states as classical European colonialism drew to a belated close. Yet the memory of the 1960s is contested. Was this a time of repression on a vast scale or of a great flowering of political consciousness? Did radically liberatory forms of subjectivity begin to assert themselves in the sixties, or did the Cold War instead create a geopolitical order of stifling Manichaeism and unprecedented violence? As we work through the mystifying haze that obscures the period, we’ll consider conflicts, social movements, and sexual revolution in four specific countries: Algeria, France, the United States, and Cuba. The class will devote special attention to archival material, in both digital and physical collections, culminating in independent student research projects. Authors read might include Frantz Fanon, Guy Debord, Mavis Gallant, Assia Djebar, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Tom Wolfe, Donald Barthelme, Lino Novás Calvo, and Valerie Solanas; we will watch films by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Stanley Kubrick, Gillo Pontecorvo, Sarita Gómez, and Ralph Bakshi; and we listen to music from Gil Scott-Heron, Silvio Rodríguez, and the Eurovision Song Contest.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 797  First-Year Research Seminar: Translation in Science: Dual Ways of Thinking  (4 Credits)  
In A Madman Dreams of Turning Machines, rich, mathematical prose transports the reader into the idiosyncratic minds of two brilliant mathematicians. Examples such as these (as well as those that use flowery language to convey scientific ideas) highlight the differences in thought process between the scientist and the general public. In this research seminar, we will investigate what it takes to translate science into “ordinary” language. If writers can be thought of as translators of scientific jargon, how do interpretations vary among them? On the other hand, communication between scientific subcultures is facilitated at “trading zones,” which allow for the trading and transfer of information across their cultural and linguistic boundaries. In many ways, the conversations between scientists with different backgrounds reflect the scientific discourse between scientists and non-scientists. In each case, we will ask: In what sense is the translation complete?
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 798  First-Year Research Seminar: What is World Literature? Literature?  (4 Credits)  
What happens to literature when it becomes global? What does it mean to read translated literature across time and culture? This course will interrogate if and how the category of World Literature is useful for answering these questions. World Literature reserves a central but debatable prestige in contemporary literary studies. Some view World Literature as the natural consequence of a world more connected in the wake of the 19th century and the global marketplace; others view it as a term which conceals asymmetrical linguistic power relations and furthers the power of English as a literary language. In this course, we will study different understandings of the term “World Literature” and complicate our contemporary reception of literature from around the globe while also being critical of the translations of these literatures. We will examine different definitions of “World Literature” and assess arguments for and against World Literature. We will read novels in translation by prominent global authors and pair them with a diverse selection of theoretical material, examining the problems of reading a text translated from one language, culture, and time to another. Students will write various assignments culminating in a research paper that testifies to their critical understanding of World Literature as a category of theoretical inquiry. Reading may include Tayib Saleh, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahasweta Devi Pascale Casanova, Gayatri Spivak, Emily Apter, and David Damrosch.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 799  First-Year Research Seminar: Afrolatinidad, NYC  (4 Credits)  
We have often been encouraged to think of "black" and "latinx" as separate, static, mutually exclusive, and often hostile, identities. In this course we aim to deepen our understanding of how ever-shifting strategies of identification (and mis- and dis-identification) have shaped the sense of afrolatinidad in New York City and how it continues to evolve through intercultural, diasporic and transnational exchange. During our first weeks of study we will consider the stories and histories of earlier generations of migrants, focussing on the groups that represent the majority of afrolatinxs living in the area: afro-Puerto Ricans, afro-Dominicans and afro-Cubans. We will also learn about afrodescendiente communities from Honduras, Panamá and Brazil. In the remaining weeks we immerse ourselves in the study of afrolatinx social and cultural life in New York. Music, memoir, dance, food, fashion and religion figure heavily here, and this course has a significant experiential learning component, so be prepared to get out of the classroom and into neighborhood parks, bodegas, botanicas, clubs, cafeterias, museums, art studios, talleres, barbershops and beauty supply stores. Our experiences in these places are designed to remind us that the body is a site for the accumulation and transmission of knowledge--we will rely on all of our senses to conduct research. In our writing and discussion sessions we practice transmitting what we see, smell, touch, taste, hear, and feel when we study.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 801  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Myths and Fables in Popular Culture  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Myths, fables, folk tales, and fairy tales are universal. Their heroes, villains, gods and monsters are as old as storytelling and as new as the latest award-winning film. In this class we will examine some of these stories and their histories, watching the shifts in emphasis as they are retold and adapted, but also considering why certain mythic figures, such as the wizard, gain greater currency in contemporary tales. Our research will focus on old and new versions of tales, their cultural construction and the critical discourse surrounding them. It will serve as the springboard for a series of exercises focused on research methods, several short writing assignments, and a major research paper. Sources will include, but not be limited to, selections from works by: J.R.R. Tolkien, Disney, Ovid, Apuleius, Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Angela Carter, Bruno Bettelheim, Joseph Campbell, Jack Zipes, and Marina Warner.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 802  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Coming Home: Identity and Place  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Historian Eric Hobsbawm famously referred to the last century as “the age of extremes,” an era of violence marked by “the destruction of the past.” Responding to this perceived break with history, many contemporary narratives seek to recover lost pasts by employing tropes of homecoming and return in order to bridge temporal and geographical gaps. Stories of coming home document the urgency with which we attempt to remember the past in the aftermath of trauma and invest specific places, or “sites of memory,” with the power of recall. Our class will investigate the linkages between identity and place as they are imagined in the aftermath of historical trauma in film, literature, and theory as well as practices including reparations and genealogy. The ways in which contemporary narratives treat the theme of coming home across boundaries of time and space and the role this idea plays in the construction of ethnic, racial, and national identities will serve as the impetus for frequent exploratory writing, formal essays, and a research paper. Readings will include selections from trauma theory, memory studies, fiction, and memoir by Svetlana Boym, Andreas Huyssen, Nadine Fresco, Phil Klay, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, and Jonathan Safran Foer, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 803  Transfer Student Research Sem: Working  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Visible and invisible, lonesome and collaborative, inspired and endured, labor makes and maintains the world we live in. To learn about work is to learn how most people spend most of the day, securing means, pursuing dreams, existing in active relation to other people. How do we come to choose the work we do, and how to assess and redress the injustices that often come with the division of labor? What are the ethical and economic relationships that bind us to the faraway strangers, or familiar faces we greet everyday, upon whose efforts our own routines rely? How have artists and writers depicted working people, and in what ways does creative work fit into or fall outside the economy at large? How has work structured our notions and experience of time? In this course, students develop individual research projects across diverse disciplines, such as anthropology, philosophy, art history, law, and critical theory, to explore the challenges that work has posed to political thought, political action, and aesthetic representation alike. Readings drawn from literature, visual culture, intellectual history, and globalization discourse will be supplemented by artworks and films.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 804  Transfer Student Research Seminar:Identity & Cultural Construction of Race & Ethnicity  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Identity: the ways in which we see ourselves; the ways in which others see us; the dynamic relationship between these two seemingly distinct and often irreconcilable poles is the underlying theme of this first-year research seminar. We focus specifically on the ways in which we create, build, rebuild, and live our racial and ethnic identities in constant dialogue with contemporary American societal constructions of race and ethnicity. Questions we explore include: what is race? Is it immutable? How do we know it when we see it? How is it distinct from ethnicity? What is gained and/or lost by considering or not considering race today? In what ways do other facets of identity, for example gender, sexuality, and class inform, challenge, reconstruct, or deconstruct our racial identities? We employ historical, sociological, and cultural lenses. Several short written assignments help students formulate, research, and respond to questions about racial identity in a longer final research paper. Texts include fiction, plays, theory and criticism including, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Edward Said’s Orientalism, Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman and B.D. Wong's M. Butterfly.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 805  Transfer Students Research Seminar: Memory in the Digital Age  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Memory is part of the human condition, and the way it works has long captivated us—and continues to do so in the digital age. In this seminar we consider ways that new technologies change how we remember and by extension, how we forget. Do we remember more now because data can be so easily stored digitally? Or do we forget more because we too readily save information in a way that doesn’t require us to meaningfully process it? What are the ramifications for how we understand history? This course engages critical debates surrounding personal memory as well as cultural memory, in particular with regard to museums, memorials, and archives—all sites that have been, in ways, transformed by digital technology. Even Facebook is altering the way we store and remember aspects of our own lives. This seminar aims to bring crucial awareness to these many aspects through readings, discussion, and writing, culminating in a research paper. Assignments include reaction papers and class trips to memorial sites, and students are encouraged to develop a research topic of their interest. Our syllabus features cultural critics such as Benjamin, Huyssen, and Hirsch, in addition to scholars who focus on the Internet, digital archives, and social media.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 806  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Buddhism and Culture in the U.S.  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course focuses on some of the ways in which American literature, visual art, and music reflect, embody, or respond to Buddhist principles and practice. The course includes discussion of Buddhist thought and history, particularly its emergence in the North American context, and of traditional Buddhist arts. Work by Han Shan, Matsuo Basho, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jack Keroucac, John Cage, Meredith Monk, Bill Viola, Gary Snyder, Charles Johnson, and Ruth Ozeki may be included, along with critical and historical work by Donald Lopez, Rick Fields, and Kay Larson. Writing in the course includes informal response papers, three to five shorter essays, and a longer research essay, produced in multiple drafts with in-class workshops.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 807  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Popular Religion and Popular Culture in North America  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
American religion, historian Nathan Hatch writes, has “less to do with the specifics of polity and governance and more with the incarnation of the church into popular culture.” Although Hatch was writing about the 19th century, this complex relationship between the popular and the liturgical continues to shape and define America today. In this course, we study and write about ways in which film, television, advertising, music, sports, politics, and the news media present, negotiate, and affect religious issues, and, conversely, how religion changes popular culture. We “read” primary texts of popular religion and popular culture, such as television shows, exercise classes, music videos, baseball and video games, as well as theoretical works by Peter Williams, Kate McCarthy, Eric Mazur, Susan Mizruchi, and Richard Santana. Students are encouraged to explore topics of their own interests, and assignments include reaction papers, various essay forms, and a final research projects.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 809  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Imagining the Library  (4 Credits)  
Archibald MacLeish, head librarian of the Library of Congress during World War II, asserted that librarians “must become active agents of the democratic process” and that libraries could be a kind of “warfare.” From the Library of Congress to the legendary ancient library in Alexandria to the medieval monastic library at Melk to the new fully digital library at Florida Polytechnic University, how we imagine, remember, and construct our libraries is indicative of how we narrate our cultural identity. In modern fiction, texts such as Jorge Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and the Harry Potter books use libraries to speculate about our world using the organization of great fictional libraries from the past and the future as metaphors for human thought. To imagine a library is to ask: What is worth preserving? Who has access to certain information? How do we organize this information? How do changes in our ideas of books and libraries reflect changes in the ways we organize other forms of knowledge and in how we read and think? In addition to actual and imaginary libraries, class topics will include the history of the book and of reading, the concept of scripture, theories of the archive, and the significance of new media and digital technology. Readings may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Joyce, Borges, Bradbury, Orwell, Benjamin, Derrida, Eco, Murakami, Scott Sherman, John Palfrey, Anthony Grafton and N. Katherine Hayles. Examples from film and television may include Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, The Name of the Rose, and Doctor Who. Student research projects and papers might explore the history, theory, or architecture of actual libraries new and old; they may look at the role of libraries in education, research, and in speculative fiction about the future of humankind. The course will include guest speakers and visits to the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library, and collections within NYU Bobst Library.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 810  Transfer Student Research Sem: Examining Mundane: Art and Literature/Everyday  (4 Credits)  
What makes boredom interesting? How have writers, thinkers, and artists sought to represent, elevate, and interpret the mundane? Considering that most of life is consumed by unspectacular moments, shouldn’t we have a clearer understanding of how and what these moments mean? What do recent movements like hyperrealism, maximalism, Dadaism, the avant-garde, and hysterical realism tell us about our evolving fascination with life’s routine? This course investigates the complex history and poetics of the mundane as it has been represented in art and literature across a wide-range of epochs, mediums, and traditions. Beginning with philosophical assessments of the everyday, including phenomenology, existentialism, and post-modernism, we will focus our exploration on novelists, poets, photographers, and filmmakers whose work reveals the overlooked and under-thought aspects of daily living that in fact make up life itself. Artists and writers will include: Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Andy Warhol, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Richard Linklater, Slavoj Zizek, Matt Siber, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Jacques Prevert, among others. In addition to these Western perspectives, we will examine the work of modern Arabic poet Amjad Nasser, Japanese filmmaker Koreeda Hirakazu, Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, and traditional folk music from Bosnia and Kosovo. Students will write three shorter essays and one final research essay of approximately 8-12 pages.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 811  Transfer Student Research Seminar: The Politics of Work  (4 Credits)  
Work—especially wage labor—has come to be assumed as a necessary and unavoidable orientation of modern adult life. Even more, we assume that work is intrinsic to our sense of identity and self-worth. Attached to modern understandings of work are implicit values and morals, specifically the work ethic that frames work as individualistic, merit-based, and belonging to the private sphere. However, recent political critiques have begun to (re) question the ways in which labor and spaces of work constitute (or exclude) us as social and political subjects. In this seminar we will consider work as not only connected and buttressed by the political sphere but as itself political. Our aim will be to examine the unquestioned values that inhere in our understanding of work as well the ways in which the organization of modern forms of work constitute us and organize us a political subjects. In doing so we will consider how labor relations produce and reproduce us as embodied and affective subjects that sustain or exclude different classes, genders, races and ages. We will begin by first examining classical understandings and critiques of the organization of work in the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, Marx, and Max Weber. We will then turn to contemporary critiques of work including those that point to postwork imaginaries. What would it look and feel like to live in a postwork society? How would we reorganize our time? What creative projects might ensue? What conditions (a basic universal income?) would make such a society possible? Readings for this section of the course may include: Arendt, Foucault, Baudrillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Aronowitz, Negri, Bloch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Kathi Weeks.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 812  Transfer Student Research Sem: The Cold War: What Was It and Why Does It Matter?  (4 Credits)  
The Cold War occupies a central, but contested place in the contemporary political imagination. Some say we are in a new Cold War, while others argue that the Cold War is a relic of a bygone age. Despite these disagreements, such proclamations operate on the shared assumption that we know what the Cold War was and why it mattered. This course seeks to challenge such assumptions. Rather than study a stock textbook version of the Cold War, we will examine interpretations and framings of the conflict that interrogate the very concept, framing, and stakes of the Cold War, as well its relationship to other organizing principles in U.S. and global history. What changes, for example, if we re-frame the Cold War not as an existential battle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but rather as part of a shared Western history of colonial/imperial conquest? What might both Puritans and the U.S. Civil War have to do with the Cold War? What are the origins and legacies of Cold War ideology? What is gained by shifting the framework away from geopolitics to study the role of race, class, and gender in the conflict? How do these alternative frameworks revise our understanding of the Cold War in contemporary politics? Students will write 2 shorter close-reading essays and a longer research paper in which they will delve into a specific aspect of the historiographical and theoretical debate that interests them.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 814  Transfer Student Research Seminar: La Mode: Fashioning Modernity  (4 Credits)  
How has fashion contributed to shaping the social, visual, and libidinal environment in which we live and the ways in which we live in it? To what extent do changing fashions not only reflect but also factor in the formation and transformation of cultures? Students in this course will develop their understanding of and capacity to engage in interdisciplinary research through the study of a tradition of writing on fashion that dates back to the early nineteenth century, and that encompasses journalism, aesthetics, sociology, psychoanalysis, political economy, and philosophy. Over the course of the semester students will be introduced to a wide range of authors, texts, intellectual traditions, and theoretical approaches to the study of fashion, as well as to contemporary issues bearing on the clothed body in both Western and non-Western contexts. In addition to encouraging students to think critically about the place and function of fashion in modern life, the course assignments aim help them to develop the ability to address complex questions with both clarity and substance, to craft well-constructed and compelling arguments, and to recognize and assess the different methods employed and types of claim advanced by scholars working in various disciplines. Readings will include texts by Honoré de Balzac, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Caroline Evans, Kennedy Fraser, Anne Hollander, Joan Wallach Scott, and Thorstein Veblen, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 815  First-Year Research Seminar: Science Fiction and the Other  (4 Credits)  
In her 1975 essay “American SF and the Other,” Ursula K. Le Guin accused American science fiction of “brainless regressivism” in its treatment of “The Other—the being who is different from yourself” in race, class, gender, or planetary origin. Le Guin’s critique and her call for science fiction to embrace the radical idea of equality are the starting points for this class. The first half of the class focuses on stories of otherworldly invasion; readings may include Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon and Joanna Russ’s “When It Changed.” These narratives will be the subject of the first writing assignment, which asks students to develop original arguments that engage with both primary and secondary sources. In the second half of the course, we’ll consider how authors have used science fiction to experiment with ideas of gender, and to imagine post-apocalyptic futures; readings may include Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, Samuel Delany’s “Aye, and Gomorrah . . .”, and W. E. B. DuBois’s “The Comet.” We’ll pair these narratives with non-fiction readings that exemplify the types of sources that can appear in research essays. Thus the second half of the semester builds towards the final essay, for which students will research and write about a science fiction text of their choosing. In addition to the two formal papers, assignments will include response papers, peer review, and leading class discussion.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 816  First-Year Research Seminar: Representations of Disability in Contemporary Memoir  (4 Credits)  
In this course, we will pursue analysis of contemporary memoir through the lens of disability representation, considering the ways the complexities of the body and mind are translated by authors onto the page, and how these experiences are received by readers. Through this practice, we will interrogate our own understandings of disability as well as societal assumptions of idealized and/or normative ways of being. Readings will include first hand accounts of chronic pain, cancer, paralysis, and mental illness, thus highlighting the many ways of moving through the world that may align with disabled identity and community. We will engage in an intersectional approach to analysis, considering the ways that race, gender, sexuality, and class inform the content, form, and construction of disability memoirs. Primary texts for our investigation will include Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals, Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Esmé Wang's The Collected Schizophrenias and Sonya Huber's Pain Woman Takes Your Keys. Readings will be supplemented with scholarship from the growing field of Disability Studies.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 817  First-Year Research Seminar: Immigration, Race, and Citizenship in the United States  (4 Credits)  
In this course, we will explore important themes and events in the history of American immigration, with particular attention to the concepts of race and citizenship. Since the earliest European settlement, America has provided a refuge for the poor, the disadvantaged, and religiously persecuted seeking a new life. Yet American history has also been crucially defined by those immigrants who came here unwillingly or under duress, whether African slaves, indentured servants, or refugees. The continual cheap source of labor that immigration has provided helped fuel the rise of American capitalism, but has also undermined the privileges of established groups, often provoking nativism along racial, ethnic, and religious lines. In this regard, the history of immigration is inextricable from the politics of the Other. Topics we will explore include the role of immigration in driving capitalism and shaping its radical critics; the legal history of citizenship before and after the 14th Amendment; the rise of exclusion, borders, and quotas to define legal and illegal persons; and the relation between American national identity and cultural diversity. Course readings will draw on the work of Bernard Bailyn, Barbara J. Fields, Greg Grandin, Beth Lew-Williams, Mae Ngai, Isabel Wilkerson, and Anne Fadiman as well as selected primary sources and cultural texts. In addition to two short papers, students will be introduced to methods of archival research and expected to make use of primary sources for a longer research paper.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 818  First-Year Research Seminar: A Tale of Two Caesars  (4 Credits)  
For ancient Rome, the shift from republic to empire meant the unprecedented centralization of power within a single figure. This course explores the rise and reign of Rome’s most remembered autocrats, Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, analyzing the birth of the Roman empire from both contemporary and current perspectives. How did Caesar disrupt the traditional dynamics of Roman society? How did the rise of Augustus complicate Roman paradigms of power? And what can these ancient autocrats teach us about leadership and authority in the modern world? Together we examine these questions in context, including the notion of the Pax Romana and Pax Americana, considering also the relationship between power, state, and people within various facets of ancient and modern society. We will utilize both primary texts in translation and secondary sources on the reception of Caesarian politics and the ethics of empire. Readings include Vergil, Ovid, Shakespeare, Hannah Arendt, Duncan Kennedy, and Clifford Ando. A series of short writing assignments will prepare students to explore their historical or theoretical interests in a longer research paper.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 819  First-Year Research Seminar: Sounds Beneath Your Feet: Downtown Music and Downtown Memory  (4 Credits)  
In the book Here by the artist Richard McGuire, one undistinguished place—a corner of a living room like the one where McGuire grew up—is pictured through time. The images are juxtaposed across the pages with multiple insets, portraying that same spot in hundreds of moments, as if McGuire were using magic glasses: 1949 (a mother cradles an infant), 1993 (a teenager dances), 1910 (two men fight, with a stick!), 1624 (before there was a house), 10,000 B.C. (before there were any houses: a bison sits in marshland). McGuire’s point, or one of them, is that history doesn’t need monuments—we walk on its layers everywhere and at all times. The musical history of the 20-block radius around NYU has been historicized a lot—particularly the history of the same few places in the late 1970s, and particularly CBGBs. But longstanding New Yorkers look at the whole area with McGuire glasses. It doesn’t matter how many Duane Reades have masked the sites: things happened here. This class will research specific topics in downtown music history, including early disco, Afro-Latin music, punk and no wave, experimental music, jazz, folk, and Cantonese opera on the Bowery. We will learn how to determine what is reliable in a subject as volatile and often misrepresented as urban nightlife. Our materials will include books; oral histories; newspaper accounts; photographs, flyers and ephemera accessible at NYU’s Fales Collection and other special New York-based collections; and on-the-ground interviewing and research, sometimes collaborative. Aside from readings and writing assignments about the past, we will write about musical events and places that define downtown New York now.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 820  First-Year Research Seminar: The Everyday Gothic  (4 Credits)  
We often associate the gothic with explicitly supernatural and sinister tropes: haunted castles, bloodthirsty vampires, gruesome deaths. But there are also subtler instances of the gothic that swarm our quotidian existence: the eerie message from a bot on our screens; the shady character on the subway staring intently; an elevator altercation that turns into a grotesque crime. How to think of such insidious forces that interrupt the flow of our mundane existence and perturb the ostensible safety of our routines? What are the economic, political, social, and cultural factors that shape our perception of these occurrences and our reactions to them? In this class, we will study the multifarious manifestations of the gothic and will consider it as a literary and cinematic mode of representation as well as a critical analytical tool. We will begin by reading canonical texts by Horace Walpole, Mary Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe in order to develop a sophisticated understanding of the gothic as an aesthetic. We will then investigate our contemporary daily lives in order to detect, describe, and research pernicious gothic events, tensions, and subjectivities.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 821  First-Year Research Seminar: Microhistory and the Uniqueness of the Individual Instance  (4 Credits)  
In this course, students will learn the basics of college level humanities research through the lens of European microhistory, a genre of historical writing that seeks to tell the stories of the very small or unique. Much like the case study, microhistory focuses on individual objects, events, persons, families, or communities. Yet while a case study examines the singular in order to demonstrate broader patterns or theses, microhistory seeks to illuminate the uniqueness of the individual instance – the anomalies and disruptions that resist overly simplistic explanations and stereotypical definitions. During the course of the semester, students will analyze the construction of classic microhistories: a sixteenth century imposter who managed for three years to integrate himself into the life of another man, a troop of ordinary men who somehow became able to commit horrific acts of genocide, an eighteenth century clockmaker who revolutionized mapmaking and the future of world travel. Then students will devise and execute microhistory projects of their own about any era or geographic region that they wish to study. Along the way, students will ultimately develop a keener eye – an eye for the unusual, for the unfamiliar, and for the infinite improvisations and innovations that human beings can perform, even within the most limiting and oppressive structures of society and culture.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 822  First-Year Research Seminar: Time Travel: Science, Fiction, and the Western Imagination  (4 Credits)  
This seminar will examine the idea of time travel from the perspectives of Western literature, popular culture, philosophy, physics, and the history of science. Co-taught by a professor of literature and a professor of physics, the course will consider how the concept of time travel has changed the human imagination. By exploring time in several contexts, we will examine the construct of time and what it means to travel through it. Through thinking about time travel we will necessarily reflect on a variety of related topics including the nature of time, the role of metaphor in scientific understanding, and such speculative topics as parallel universes, the origin of the universe, wormholes, and infinity. What defines a clock, and how does the concept of time differ from its measurement? Students will write several essays reflecting on these fields and questions and will also take on a research project that will involve studying research methodologies in the humanities and the sciences. Course readings will be taken from the fields of philosophy (Aristotle, Augustine, Bergson), physics (Einstein, Penrose, Smolin, Hawking), the history of science (Galison, Gleick), literature (Wells, Proust, Woolf, Heinlein, Asimov), and popular culture (Doctor Who, Harry Potter, The Terminator).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 823  First-Year Research Seminar: Music Journalism  (4 Credits)  
Effective music writing – criticism or reporting that places a song or album within the appropriate social, political, personal, and aesthetic contexts – can be as enthralling and moving as the music it engages. In this First-Year Research Seminar, we will explore different ways of writing about popular music, from the record review to the personal essay. We’ll consider the evolving tradition of pop music criticism (how is the critic’s role changing?) and the mysterious practice of translating sound into ideas (how do we train ourselves to be better and more thoughtful listeners?). Through reading, writing, workshop, and extensive class discussion, we’ll contemplate the mysterious circuitry that causes people to embrace or require pop music – from Bob Dylan to Travis Scott – and how best to explore that connection on the page. We'll also learn how to properly contextualize an artist or an album, how to research, how to discuss technical elements of music (even if you’re not a musician yourself), and how to artfully render a character or sound on the page. Readings will include selections from John Jeremiah Sullivan, Craig Jenkins, Jia Tolentino, Lester Bangs, Ellen Willis, Hua Hsu, Greg Tate, Ann Powers, and more.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 824  First-Year Research Seminar: Anton Chekhov: Life, Literature, and Medicine  (4 Credits)  
Anton Chekhov was a Russian writer of short stories and plays who lived and died in the years before the Russian revolution. He was also a physician and he took both worlds—medicine and literature—seriously. In addition, Chekhov’s life includes his own lived-experience of physical and mental suffering, a compassionate concern for the politics of embodiment, and a wise and rich approach to spirituality. Not only that, Chekhov is a writer’s writer who is deeply enriching to read and contemplate. Bringing all this together, Chekhov becomes a particularly valuable guide and companion for understanding the complexities of the human life and human vulnerabilities. This course will focus on Chekhov short stories across the span of his writing combined with commentary from literary theory, narrative medicine, and health humanities. We will be using these sources to practice reading closely, thinking intensely, and writing well-crafted research papers combining Chekhov’s writings with a range of interdisciplinary scholarship.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 825  First-Year Research Seminar: Topics of Conversation  (4 Credits)  
What is conversation, and what is it good for? In this research seminar we will explore the role of conversation in Western philosophy and culture. How has the idea of dialogue shaped understandings of art and ethics, metaphysics and psychology, race and cosmopolitanism, and gender and sexuality from classical times to the present? More specifically: How does the art of conversation arrive at metaphysical truths? How does talking to another person help us to uncover psychic meaning, and why do we need another person to understand our psyches? What do the dialogues in our selected works tell us about the interpersonal construction of meaning and the nature of friendship and erotic experience? What do we bring to our encounters with people of different backgrounds, and what can we take away from conversations with those of disparate political views? Some of our foundational theoretical texts may include Plato’s exploration of metaphysics and love in The Symposium; Bakhtin’s The Dialogic Imagination and his interpretation of Dostoevsky’s vivid characters and philosophically rich dialogues in Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics; Freud’s writings on psychoanalytic technique, including “Remembering, repeating, working through” and “Analysis terminal and interminable”; Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose’s feminist revisions of psychoanalysis; and Montaigne and Alexander Nehamas on friendship. We will ourselves put these theoretical works in dialogue with films and novels that take conversation—as well as the silences and tacit subtexts, ambiguities and ironies embedded within—as their structuring principle and primary subject of concern. Texts may include Jane Austen’s Persuasion, excerpts from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Notes from Underground, Henry James’s “The Beast in the Jungle,” Teju Cole’s Open City, Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre, Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her, and Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 827  First-Year Research Seminar: The Arts and the Sciences: Divides and Intersections  (4 Credits)  
In 1959, the chemist-turned-novelist C.P. Snow delivered a lecture in which he decried a growing separation between the humanities and the sciences. In it, he argued that two intellectual “cultures” were developing, both of whose practitioners were increasingly incapable of engaging each other. Today, the notion of a divide between “the humanities” and “the sciences,” or, as some term them, “the arts” and “the sciences,” is rather commonplace. We often hear people self-identify as “more left brain,” for example, or “not a math person.” In this course, we will explore how and why different people have found it useful to distinguish the arts and the sciences. We will also consider why others have found it useful to blur the arts and the sciences. Participants will begin by reading and contextualizing Snow’s original lecture, after which we will trace both the historical origins of the key concepts involved as well as how their meanings have changed over time from early modernity to today. (Mathematics, for example, was deemed an “art” for much of European history.) Having done so, we will then consider contemporary assessments. All told, in their research and in their writing, participants will be asked to examine how different people have sought to distinguish, reconcile, or even move beyond the “two cultures.” Readings for the course may include works by: Francis Bacon, Lisa Jardine, Marwa Elshakry, Paul Kristeller, Yuval Levin, and Rueylin Chen.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 828  First-Year Research Seminar: Black Experiences in Literature, Movies, and Television  (4 Credits)  
From the antebellum era to the Harlem Renaissance, Black people have turned to art, writing, and spirituals to make a statement about race relations, construct their racial identity, and (re)claim a sense of humanity under conditions of oppression. These artistic expressions are all the more significant and worthy of analysis in this era of mass media and in light of contemporary racial conflicts. This course will explore the pluralities and contradictions of black experiences as depicted in literature, movies, and television. It will take special interest in the work of Spike Lee, Toni Morrison, Tyler Perry, and Shonda Rhimes, all of whom delve into issues concerning race and captivate black audiences while doing so. We will use each artist to decipher what it means to be black; how this definition varies according to gender, class, age, and sexuality; and how depictions of blackness have changed over time. While many of the readings and media in this class are fiction, we will approach them from a sociological and humanistic perspective—that is, mining them for clues on how historical and social conditions (e.g., Jim Crow, mass incarceration, gentrification) shape the possibilities and limits of black experiences. And we will probe how different media permit artists to convey the lived experience and struggles of blacks in different, often more visceral, ways—and to different audiences—than conventional social science and nonfiction reporting. Students must write an 8-10 page term paper. You are required to critically engage with the existing theories on the topic, choose and analyze your selected case, and make an argument based on your findings.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 829  First Year Research Seminar: The Politics of Abstraction  (4 Credits)  
Abstraction has been a valuable artistic style for artists seeking to escape visibility, legibility, surveillance, and other forms of identification that would limit their work. For that reason, abstraction has been a terrain of freedom for artists. However, abstraction can also diffuse meaning and render politics unrecognizable. For example, abstraction has a role in the story of the Cold War: the CIA promoted Abstract Expressionism as a vehicle for ideologies of American freedom. In this class, we will study these ambivalent potentials of abstract art in order to think about how art-making and interpretation are linked to power. We will use this case study to reflect on students’ own developing practices of research and interpretation.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 830  First-Year Research Seminar: The Desert of the Real: Text, Image, Film  (4 Credits)  
At a moment when popular culture is obsessed with reality television and new technology permits “real-time” access to current events, this course examines the concept of reality in philosophy, literature, and film. What is the relationship between language and reality? How do different genres and media represent the world around us? How do visual and linguistic representations mediate our understanding of the “true” and the “real?” We will begin the course by examining key philosophical works by Plato and Karl Marx alongside films like the Wachowskis' The Matrix and Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. We will then discuss how writers associated with disparate aesthetic movements such as realism, surrealism, and magical realism claimed to present and define reality. We will probe deeply into the category of the “everyday” to explore questions relating to gender, race, (post)coloniality, and the experience of modern, urban life. Lastly, we will consider the force of the photographic image and assess its relationship to evidence and truth by examining works of photography and commercial advertisements. Readings will include texts by a range of authors including but not limited to Jamaica Kincaid, Gabriel García Márquez, Herman Melville, Nikolai Gogol, Susan Sontag, bell hooks, Roland Barthes, Saidiya Hartman, and Claudia Rankine. Student will draw from course themes to hone their research skills and develop final projects that engage their individual interests.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 831  First-Year Research Seminar: Feminist Cultures of the US, 1960s-Present  (4 Credits)  
This course will explore some of the major strands of feminism in the United States since the beginning of the so-called “second wave” in the 1960s. While tracing the variegated history of feminism as a social and political movement and mapping out major areas of political and theoretical debate, we will pay particular attention to feminist cultural production—literature, film, visual art, performance, and music—and how this has played a crucial role in defining what feminism is and advancing its demands. Among our guiding questions will be: What issues have been most influential in shaping feminist movements? How have feminists grappled with questions around race, class, gender identity, and sexuality? What cultural practices and spaces have helped foster feminism? Are there recognizable feminist aesthetics? What legacies of earlier feminist thought and art resonate most strongly today? Course materials may include readings by Gloria Anzaldúa, Judith Butler, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Alice Echols, Audre Lorde, Laura Mulvey, Jennifer C. Nash, Linda Nochlin, and Adrienne Rich; films directed by Lizzie Borden, Cheryl Dunye, and Barbara Hammer; and a wide selection of visual art and recordings of performances and music. To the extent possible, students will also be expected to take advantage of some of the feminist cultural resources that New York City has to offer, including the Riot Grrrl Collection at NYU’s Fales Library, the Barnard Zine Library, the expansive collection of feminist art at the Brooklyn Museum, and the WOW Café Theatre in the East Village.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 832  First-Year Research Seminar: Aesthetics on Trial  (4 Credits)  
While cultures often like to see themselves reflected in the arts, groundbreaking art is frequently accompanied by controversy. In literature, Nabokov was faced with charges of obscenity. In photography, Mapplethorpe challenged the role of the visual arts as innocent representation. In film, Riefenstahl blurred the line between art and propaganda by directing for Hitler while Pasolini directed what still remains one of the most shocking films in cinematic history. Through critical writing focused on specific case studies we will investigate such key questions as: Could there be a great work of art that is morally flawed? What is the relationship, if any, between aesthetic and moral values? What, after all, are aesthetic and moral values? Three shorter essays and a longer literary-critical paper are required. Texts may include selections from Aristotle, Plato, David Hume, Vladimir Nabokov, as well as more contemporary writers such as Arthur Danto, Berys Gaut, Martha Nussbaum, Louis Pojman, Kendall Walton, Michael Tanner.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 833  First-Year Research Seminar: The Suburban Imaginary and the American Dream  (4 Credits)  
The recent interest in the “suburbs” in political tweets and post-COVID19 migration patterns is part of suburbia’s historically fluctuating rise and fall in the American imaginary. In this research seminar we will critically examine the history, culture, and politics of the American suburb and its representation(s) in popular culture, the media, and the arts. The sociological and ideological origins of the suburb will be traced, as well as the growth, popularization, and changing attitudes towards “suburbia” in advertising, television, and film. Particular attention will be placed on the suburb as a utopian and dystopian motif in these various mediums. Readings will include critical texts from fields as diverse as architecture (Le Corbusier), critical race theory (Kate Baldwin, Dianne Harris), feminist theory (Dolores Hayden), queer studies (Karen Tongson), philosophy (Marc Augé), and the social sciences (Herbert J. Gans, Kenneth T. Jackson). Film and television screenings will include Far From Heaven, American Beauty, The Truman Show, Leave it to Beaver, Desperate Housewives, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 834  First-Year Research Seminar: Women's Work and Identity Politics in Latin American Food and Cooking  (4 Credits)  
This course hinges on harnessing food and foodways to research and explore issues and questions of cultural behaviors and traditions, gender politics, social hierarchies and perceptions or realities of agency in Spanish and Portuguese speaking Latin America. We examine the history and current lived experience in various nations in Latin America by considering how eating and cooking practices changed over time to become a symbol of civilization, whether biased towards European standards or culturally relative to local, indigenous or multiracial realities on the ground. Attention will be paid to the Columbian Exchange, the role of food in various nation-states, and the effects of globalization on the eating habits of Latin Americans. Finally, we consider the connections between food and identity among Latino/as in the United States. Throughout the semester, we reflect predominantly on the role of women in transforming and preserving food cultures, and how women’s choices in the kitchen influenced the history of Latin American countries. In this course we will research and question the association of cooking with drudgery, a task from which women should liberate themselves. Concurrently we will look at cooking as a creative and empowering activity, as a source of identity and a manifestation of culture. The course is based on analysis of primary sources such as cookbooks, historical documents, chefs, cinema, and art along with various secondary sources.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 836  First-Year Research Seminar: Supreme Court in American Life  (4 Credits)  
A core principle of the U.S. Supreme Court holds that it can only decide a judicial question through a specific case brought by two or more interested parties. Many times in its history, however, individual appellants to the Court have become secondary to the larger constitutional issues at stake. A lively debate among the current justices involves how much weight should be given to consequences for the individual parties involved alongside more formalist methods. In this course, we will explore the history of the Supreme Court and the nature of judicial power in American society from the perspective of how rulings of the high court have affected the lived experience of American citizens (and non-citizens). In addition to learning the institutional history of the Court – its constitutional origins, relation to the political branches, and key doctrines – students will analyze case studies of landmark decisions, supplementing the facts of the cases with other primary sources (fiction and memoir) to richly imagine the circumstances of each case. We will also interrogate the “myth of the law” in the U.S., asking to what degree justice can be achieved through constitutional law and judicial politics. Case studies will include: slavery and civil rights; Native American sovereignty; economic and enviromental regulation; immigration law; criminal justice; educational equality; and personal and privacy rights. Based on these case studies, students will write a research paper on one recent Court decision of their choosing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 837  First-Year Research Seminar: Space, Place, and the Body From Gentrification to Climate Justice  (4 Credits)  
In an increasingly virtual world of Zoom classes, Tiktok performances, and political speeches on Instagram Live, this research seminar raises questions about embodiment in physical space and place. How do we map and navigate space and place in our daily lives, and how do we negotiate the official paths we are expected to take with the scenic routes, shortcuts, or desire lines of our preferred, or “delinquent,” personal imaginaries? Is there a place for sidewalk culture, public characters, and queer space in increasingly gentrified urban landscapes? How do we decolonize the institutions complicit in the displacement of Black, indigenous, immigrant, and other underserved and overpoliced communities? And how do we reverse a process that may drastically change the stakes of these questions in a few decades, if cities are under water? How do we demand large-scale action in the face of an ever-worsening climate crisis while engaging in multispecies solidarity that makes the world livable for everyone, human or otherwise? Authors will include Frantz Fanon, Jamaica Kincaid, Sara Ahmed, Jane Jacobs, Samuel Delany, Claudia Rankine, Zoe Todd, Neel Ahuja, The Red Nation, Timothy Morton, and Sylvia Wynter.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 838  First-Year Research Seminar: Introduction to Trans Studies  (4 Credits)  
What is trans studies, and what can it teach us about formations of gender and sexuality? In this advanced introduction to trans studies, we’ll think about the emergence of the field over the past 20 years, and we’ll ask what it offers to our understanding of gender, labor, race, colonialism, incarceration, policing, public space, family structures, childhood, film and literature. We’ll also think about the politicization of trans identity according to different agendas in the present moment. This course will feature readings by Trish Salah, Viviane Namaste, Susan Stryker, Jules Joanne Gleeson, Leslie Feinberg, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Nick Estes, Jules Gill-Peterson, Michelle O’Brien, Kevin Floyd, Jordy Rosenberg, Jasbir Puar, Tourmaline, Emma Heaney, Rosemary Hennessy, Lou Sullivan and C. Riley Snorton.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 840  First-Year Research Seminar: Philosophical Approaches  (4 Credits)  
Stuart Hall asks, both rhetorically and inquisitively, “Who needs ‘identity’?”. This question suggests that the very idea of identity cannot be taken for granted and subjects it to critique. Starting from Hall's foundational and classic essay, this course engages with philosophical approaches to identity and to its intersectional character, with a focus on feminist philosophy and philosophy of race (stretching to include figures in cultural studies and critical theory). Coming from a diverse array of backgrounds in exploring issues in identity, we will engage with categories such as class, dis/ability, ethnicity, gender, language, nationality, race, sex, sexuality, and additional aspects of identity. This course will take an intersectional approach to identity as a concept in its own right and to the various categories that constitute it. We will gain inspiration for research by reading works from such figures as Kwame Anthony Appiah, Judith Butler, Aimé Césaire, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Michel Foucault, Jack Halberstam, Stuart Hall, Donna Haraway, Charles Mills, José Muñoz, Mae Ngai, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 841  First-Year Research Seminar: The Art of Doing Nothing  (4 Credits)  
What would it take to stop working? To refuse work? Give it up? To do something else, at odds with productive activity and labor, or nothing at all? And how might doing nothing, so to speak, introduce radically different senses of freedom? In this seminar, we’ll think about some of the ways that modern literature and film reflect on the art of doing nothing, frequently turning the city or its outskirts into a locus for personal and collective struggle, resistance, and transformation. Our aim will be to examine strategies for breaking free from the dominance of work, as illustrated by the so-called flâneur/flâneuse, but also by other antiwork figures like the slacker, idler, cruiser, fugitive, drifter, and street ambler, primarily but not exclusively within the urban topographies of New York, Paris, and London from the 19th century onward. We will pay special attention to the critical potentialities of unmanaged and wayward lives at the intersection of race, class, sexual orientation, and gender. The course will introduce first-year students to critical methodologies in the fields of comparative literature, transnational modernisms, queer and feminist theory, and Black studies and enable them to undertake an array of research projects corresponding to their own academic interests or concentrations. We will read fiction, memoirs, and poetry by Baudelaire, Beckett, Boyer, Breton, Calle, Delany, Jacobs, Melville, Poe, and Woolf; theoretical work by Barthes, Benjamin, Federici, Hartman, and Weeks; and watch movies by Tsai and Varda. There may also be occasional musical interludes.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 842  First-Year Research Seminar: Western Materialism  (4 Credits)  
This course will offer a survey of seminal texts on materialism: the Western philosophical tradition which posits that external, physical reality exists prior to, and independently from, human (or other kinds of) consciousness. What has led to the development and success of such a view, given that many things that matter the most to us are seemingly immaterial: thoughts, ideas, emotions? Indeed, our lives do revolve around materiality in its myriad forms: our physical bodies are subject to violence and pleasure; stuff in our environment degrades––forests burn, glaciers melt; we interact with inanimate objects we grow attached to (or which oppress us). But wouldn’t insisting on the materiality of life reduce the complexity of our existence to brute matter? What case could be made in defense of materialism? In answering these questions, we will study the long genealogy of materialist thought, from ancient Epicurean philosophy through classical 19th century Marxism all the way to the contemporary New Materialism. We will explore the various philosophical strands and theoretical debates that are contained in, or are adjacent to, materialism (mind-body duality, empiricism vs. rationalism), along with the challenges posed to materialism from various angles (idealism, deconstruction, and––ostensibly––quantum mechanics). We will discover that materialism has something to say about current debates that include the ecological crisis and the effects of the Anthropocene, movements for social change, and the increasing ubiquity of virtual reality. Reading will include works by Lucretius, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Frantz Fanon, Silvia Federici, Anna Tsing, Jane Bennet, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 843  First-Year Research Seminar: The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World  (4 Credits)  
The Great Pyramids of Giza; The Hanging Gardens of Babylon; The Lighthouse of Alexandria; The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus; The Statue of Zeus at Olympia; The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; The Colossus of Rhodes. These are the seven monuments that were listed as the most wondrous sights in the ancient world, spanning the eastern Mediterranean, northern Africa, and western Asia. Today, only one of the seven monuments is extant; but in antiquity, they were must-see destinations that were famed for their colossality, technological achievements, and beauty. In addition to their marvelous qualities, these wonders beg questions around the cultural, political, and social functions of monuments. In this course, we will unpack the list of ‘Seven Wonders,’ especially as they relate to topics on travel and tourism, cultural heritage, memory, and myth-making. Furthermore, we will learn how to study and analyze monuments for which the physical, visual, and literary evidence is fragmentary. For their research projects, students will pick a monument for analysis and deep study, using the resources that are available to them through New York University and across New York City.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 844  First-Year Research Seminar: Intellectual History of Capitalism  (4 Credits)  
How does capitalism differ from other forms of organizing societies such as feudalism or socialism? Is democracy, in particular universal suffrage, a necessary condition or a threat to the capitalist order? Is capitalism a natural order? To what extent is slavery elided in the intellectual histories of capitalism? This course explores these questions by engaging with formative texts in political theory, political economy, and select historical accounts of capitalism that may contest intellectual histories. It is divided into three sections. First, our purpose is to understand how capitalism, resting on specific institutions of private property and ‘free’ labor, has been socially constructed and reconstructed through powerful political arguments. Second, we will study how capitalism presents several contradictions for democratic ideals of equality and liberty, which is why the waxing and waning of arguments for and against it persist to date. As such, we will inquire if capitalism can exist without the state functioning as its enabler and backstop. The final part will consider the rise of neoliberalism from the mid-1970s to explore if and how it marks a fundamental shift in political and economic thought concerning the role of the state vis-à-vis that of the market.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 845  First-Year Research Seminar: Africa, China, Globalization  (4 Credits)  
China’s controversial investment in Africa has caused reactions ranging from accusations of a “new colonialism” to celebrations of a collaborative “win-win” for development. Furthermore, immigration both by Africans to China and Chinese to Africa signals a fundamental shift in global power dynamics and an opening of a new era of multi-polar globalization after America’s dominance post-Cold War. Through an analysis of journalistic and historical accounts, literature, economics, art, film and blogs, this seminar will explore the multi-faceted nature of Africa and China relations. We will ask what are the connections between Cold War history and the contemporary moment? How do different African actors at state and individual levels engage with the Chinese presence? And finally, how does this shift to multi-polarity impact theories of globalization? Readings can range from diplomatic histories like O. Arne Westad’s The Global Cold War, and studies in globalization like Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing, to novels including In Koli Jean Bofane’s Congo Inc. and Kwei Quartey’s Gold of Our Fathers. We will read studies on immigration like Ufrieda Ho’s memoir, Paper Sons and Daughters, Adams Bodomo’s Africans in China and Howard French’s China’s Second Continent. In terms of media we will examine films such as Cold Harbour, the documentary, When China Met Africa, as well as paintings by Michael Soi, China Loves Africa, photographs by Li Dong, Baohan Street, and the blogs, The Mind of a African-Chinese Guy, and Africans in China.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1802  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Coming Home: Identity and Place  (4 Credits)  
Historian Eric Hobsbawm famously referred to the last century as “the age of extremes,” an era of violence marked by “the destruction of the past.” Responding to this perceived break with history, many contemporary narratives seek to recover lost pasts by employing tropes of homecoming and return in order to bridge temporal and geographical gaps. Stories of coming home document the urgency with which we attempt to remember the past in the aftermath of trauma and invest specific places, or “sites of memory,” with the power of recall. Our class will investigate the linkages between identity and place as they are imagined in the aftermath of historical trauma in film, literature, and theory as well as practices including reparations and genealogy. The ways in which contemporary narratives treat the theme of coming home across boundaries of time and space and the role this idea plays in the construction of ethnic, racial, and national identities will serve as the impetus for frequent exploratory writing, formal essays, and a research paper. Readings will include selections from trauma theory, memory studies, fiction, and memoir by Svetlana Boym, Andreas Huyssen, Nadine Fresco, Phil Klay, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, and Jonathan Safran Foer, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1810  Transfer Student Research Sem: Examining the Mundane: Art & Literature of the Everyday  (4 Credits)  
What makes boredom interesting? How have writers, thinkers, and artists sought to represent, elevate, and interpret the mundane? Considering that most of life is consumed by unspectacular moments, shouldn’t we have a clearer understanding of how and what these moments mean? What do recent movements like hyperrealism, maximalism, Dadaism, the avant-garde, and hysterical realism tell us about our evolving fascination with life’s routine? This course investigates the complex history and poetics of the mundane as it has been represented in art and literature across a wide-range of epochs, mediums, and traditions. Beginning with philosophical assessments of the everyday, including phenomenology, existentialism, and post-modernism, we will focus our exploration on novelists, poets, photographers, and filmmakers whose work reveals the overlooked and under-thought aspects of daily living that in fact make up life itself. Artists and writers will include: Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Andy Warhol, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Richard Linklater, Slavoj Zizek, Matt Siber, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Jacques Prevert, among others. In addition to these Western perspectives, we will examine the work of modern Arabic poet Amjad Nasser, Japanese filmmaker Koreeda Hirakazu, Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, and traditional folk music from Bosnia and Kosovo. Students will write three shorter essays and one final research essay of approximately 8-12 pages.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1811  Transfer Student Research Seminar: The Politics of Work  (4 Credits)  
Work—especially wage labor—has come to be assumed as a necessary and unavoidable orientation of modern adult life. Even more, we assume that work is intrinsic to our sense of identity and self-worth. Attached to modern understandings of work are implicit values and morals, specifically the work ethic that frames work as individualistic, merit-based, and belonging to the private sphere. However, recent political critiques have begun to (re) question the ways in which labor and spaces of work constitute (or exclude) us as social and political subjects. In this seminar we will consider work as not only connected and buttressed by the political sphere but as itself political. Our aim will be to examine the unquestioned values that inhere in our understanding of work as well the ways in which the organization of modern forms of work constitute us and organize us a political subjects. In doing so we will consider how labor relations produce and reproduce us as embodied and affective subjects that sustain or exclude different classes, genders, races and ages. We will begin by first examining classical understandings and critiques of the organization of work in the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, Marx, and Max Weber. We will then turn to contemporary critiques of work including those that point to postwork imaginaries. What would it look and feel like to live in a postwork society? How would we reorganize our time? What creative projects might ensue? What conditions (a basic universal income?) would make such a society possible? Readings for this section of the course may include: Arendt, Foucault, Baudrillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Aronowitz, Negri, Bloch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Kathi Weeks.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1814  Transfer Student Research Seminar: La Mode: Fashioning Modernity  (4 Credits)  
How has fashion contributed to shaping the social, visual, and libidinal environment in which we live and the ways in which we live in it? To what extent do changing fashions not only reflect but also factor in the formation and transformation of cultures? Students in this course will develop their understanding of and capacity to engage in interdisciplinary research through the study of a tradition of writing on fashion that dates back to the early nineteenth century, and that encompasses journalism, aesthetics, sociology, psychoanalysis, political economy, and philosophy. Over the course of the semester students will be introduced to a wide range of authors, texts, intellectual traditions, and theoretical approaches to the study of fashion, as well as to contemporary issues bearing on the clothed body in both Western and non-Western contexts. In addition to encouraging students to think critically about the place and function of fashion in modern life, the course assignments aim help them to develop the ability to address complex questions with both clarity and substance, to craft well-constructed and compelling arguments, and to recognize and assess the different methods employed and types of claim advanced by scholars working in various disciplines. Readings will include texts by Honoré de Balzac, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Caroline Evans, Kennedy Fraser, Anne Hollander, Joan Wallach Scott, and Thorstein Veblen, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1815  Transfer Student Research Seminar: New York City's Public Spheres  (4 Credits)  
Where, in the city, are demands for justice made? This course surveys a history of public spheres in New York City—of contested spaces where critical matters are discussed and addressed. Sometimes these spaces are parks, as with the history of Labor protests in Union Square; other times these spaces are virtual, as with the recent “Sh*tty Men in Media” list that helped launch the #MeToo movement. In all cases, from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to the community centers that hosted the first hip-hop concerts, the demand for recognition or justice—and the debates surrounding these demands—require claiming, reclaiming, or inventing sites where debates can take place and demands can be made. Focusing on the 20th and 21st century, we will consider the history of constant struggle for control by commercial, political, governmental, and activist forces that define the city’s public spheres, and we will consider the aesthetic works produced in and around these sites, from the literary experiments of the Harlem Renaissance to the Rimbaud photographs of David Wojnarowicz. These works will be read as extensions or elaborations of the public sphere—calls for justice and recognition through inventive approaches to fiction, film, music, art, and architecture. The course will consider the evolving meaning of the public sphere as we survey an intellectual and cultural history of spaces and works where claims for justice or recognition have been—or are being—made.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1816  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Literatures of Imperialism  (4 Credits)  
Cultural and literary critic Edward Said has boldly declared: “Without empire, there is no European novel as we know it…” (Culture and Imperialism, p. 69). Guided by Said’s assertion, this course will examine how empire was represented in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and non-European literature. We will consider how nineteenth-century literature made visible the purposes, contradictions and anxieties of British and French empire building. In particular, students will attend to the impact of colonial expansion on narrative form, historical consciousness and stylistic choice. While our literary texts will mainly come from Britain and France, we will be examining the meaning of imperialism as a global institution. Central to our considerations will also be an investigation on how the cultures of empire shaped different aspects of metropolitan cultures—from everyday life to social values. We will read novels, critical texts, poetry and travel writing by Edward Said, Jane Austen, Charles Baudelaire and Joseph Conrad as well as a novel written by Assia Djebar who “writes back” to the Empire. Students in this class will write two shorter close-reading essays and develop a longer research paper in which they formulate and answer an original research question related to a specific aspect of one of the literary or theoretical debates studied in the seminar.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1817  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Bedtime Writing: The Literature of Sleep  (4 Credits)  
“[I]n dreaming, / The clouds methought would open and show riches / Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked, / I cried to dream again” (The Tempest III.ii.147-150). As the supposed one-third of life we spend unconscious continues to shrink, Caliban’s lament feels more familiar than ever. But current obsessions with the health and productivity consequences of our collective sleep debt obscure a much longer tradition of cultural engagement with sleep, one that not only makes space for slumber as more than mere refueling, but also posits a special relationship between writers and sleep. This course aims to recover that secret affinity and plunder its “riches” by studying literary representations of sleep. Expect encounters with sleepwalkers, insomniacs, oneironauts, and other creatures of the night as we ask how sleep—or lack of it—factors in to literary practices. Readings will include fiction (Dickens, Collins, Chekhov, Carver), poetry (Spenser, Coleridge, Tennyson, Thomson), history (Burgess, Dorhn-van Rossum, Ekirch, Moss), philosophy (Schwenger, Turcke, Wortham), psychology (Freud), the sociopolitics of sleep (Derickson, Williams, Wolf-Meyer), and contemporary memoirs of sleeplessness (Butler, Greene).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1818  Transfer Student Research Sem: Fictions on Record: Journalism, Literature, & Claims to Truth  (4 Credits)  
Literature tends to be seen as a space for dynamic aesthetic experimentation and critical thought. But journalistic texts are rarely granted the same transcendence. How, then, can journalism be read as literature? This seminar examines the relationship between journalism and literature in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Coursework is centered on the following questions: what claims to truth are at work in narrative fiction versus journalistic storytelling? Are certain kinds of fictional and nonfictional accounts better positioned than others to take up political, aesthetic, and philosophical concerns? How have literature and journalism historically interacted with, and reacted to, each other? Small writing assignments over the course of the semester and a short mid-term essay will allow students to practice elements of academic research and writing in preparation for a final research paper, which will be developed and polished in a series of workshops. Readings may include excerpts from the work of: Svetlana Alexievich, Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Ryszard Kapuściński, Valeria Luiselli, José Martí, Rodolfo Walsh, and Ida B. Wells.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1819  Transfer Student Rsrch Sem: No Justice, No Peace: Peacebuilding, Social Movements, and Intellectuals  (4 Credits)  
“What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! If we don’t get it...SHUT IT DOWN!” This seminar teaches essential research skills for undergraduate writing through the lens of peace and justice studies and sociological approaches to the study of social movements. We will combine both primary (interviews, surveys, etc.) and secondary (existing literature and data sets) research methods, studying how and when agents for social change fight for justice as peacebuilders, organizers, and intellectuals. In this course, we will read peace scholars such as Johan Galtung, social movement intellectuals like Angela Davis and Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor; we’ll learn to evaluate academic and practitioner work measuring, describing, and analyzing the efficacy of peacebuilders, activists and intellectuals writing in academic and nonacademic spaces. Students will work through the interdisciplinary course material on peace, justice, and activism through low stakes shorter essays on course content. They will compose a literature review, a proposal for a semester-long research project, and a final research essay, submitted in sections with ample time for peer review. Upon completing this course, the successful student will be prepared with general research skills as well as a strong foundation in the various ways scholars and practitioners fight for justice.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1820  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Promise & Pitfalls of Markets  (4 Credits)  
In his classic text, The Wealth of Nations, the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith argued that the human propensity to "truck, barter and exchange" would naturally lead to socially optimal outcomes if people were left to trade freely, without any government interference in markets. This idea that a competitive market can lead to efficient outcomes is a central tenet of economic theory today. Moreover, the more general belief that markets know what's best is widely held throughout U.S. society. This course is designed to teach students about what economics has to offer to the analysis of markets and the ways that firms make decisions. It also will include analyses of market outcomes from scholars in disciplines outside economics, and some discussion of firms' ethical obligations. In its exploration of these topics, the course draws largely on disciplines such as economics, history, moral philosophy, and the law. Readings may include texts such as the following: Free to Choose by Milton and Rose Friedman, The Winner-Take-All Society by Robert Frank, The Globalization Paradox by Dani Rodrik, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, Lochner v. New York by Paul Kens, and Mary Hirschfeld’s Aquinas and the Market.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1821  Transfer Student Research Seminar: Looking at Development  (4 Credits)  
Development—in the most basic, common-sense use of the term—is about making lives better. But what counts as “better”, and for whom? And how have modern societies across the “First” and “Third” Worlds sought to realize their visions of progress? We will explore these questions by interrogating the dominant ways in which the world is seen in the eye of Development - its “world-view”, so to speak. In effect, we will be looking at development by examining how development itself looks: its view of societies, of the “Third World”, of the “poor”, of labor, of nature, of women, and of the body. These are some of the key themes that we will tune into, as we analyze the histories of colonialism, modernity, and development that have shaped our contemporary existence. Alongside, we will also explore the problems and prospects of putting development ideas into practice in specific areas of concern, such as poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation. The material for this course primarily draws upon development theory, anthropological analysis, and historical inquiry, supplemented by poetic and documentary sources. We will also make a field visit to a local non-profit. Students with cultivate their research ability by working on three reflection papers, and one final research paper with guidance provided at each stage. Students will also implement a multi-media group project with an oral and written component, which will enable them to grapple with the politics and practice of a specific development issue of their own choice.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
FIRST-UG 1824  Transfer Student Research Seminar: What is a Revolutionary Woman?: Intersectional Approaches  (4 Credits)  
Women across lines of race, class, and national borders have always been at the forefront of social protest and political revolution. This fact, however, seems lost on the news media and even history textbooks, all of which tend to treat women’s activism as limited exclusively to so-called “women’s issues”. This approach implies a specific imaginary of what a woman is and should be and overlooks not just women’s contributions to political change, but also how much of women-oriented activism is scaffolded upon networks first developed fighting on other fronts. Many leaders of the US women’s suffrage movement were first active in abolitionism, and before Margaret Sanger agitated for birth control, she was agitating for workers’ rights in mill strikes. While the media has largely turned a blind eye, women have rallied for civil rights and democracy and against colonialism and dictatorships. This course seeks to situate such women in history, approaching them in a critical rather than hagiographic manner, analyzing their contexts, words, actions, and afterlives. Over the course of the semester, we will analyze how women’s roles in social movements were shaped not only by gender, but also by race and class. We will also address how these women have come to be represented--or not--in our collective memory and how their respective social contexts relate to this representation. We will analyze and critique journalism, political cartoons, advertisements, fictional depictions, and new media sources such as social media posts. Movements we will study include abolitionism, the international labor movement, the American civil rights movement, and global decolonial movements through critical frameworks informed by thinkers such as Jennifer Nash, Stuart Hall, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, and Nancy J. Peterson.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No