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Courses

Found 139 courses
IDSEM-UG1451 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Ancient Reflections in a Time of Modern War

2 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1451

Description

In this class we explore ancient Greek attitudes toward war, as represented in epic, drama, and historiography. Among the topics we consider are: rhetoric and rationales for and against war; war and social cohesion; war and empire; the stakes of civil war; war and gender; the social costs of war; the implications for our contemporary situation. Readings may include, Homer, Iliad ; Sophocles, Ajax ; Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes ; Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulis and Trojan Women ; Aristophanes, Peace ; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War ; and twentieth century mediations on the problematic of war, such as Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain ; Jonathan Shay, Achilles in Vietnam ; Simone Weil, The Iliad, or the poem of force .

Notes

Course meets 1/29- 3/12 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1734 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Renaissance and Renewal in the 9th Century

2 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

The European Early Middle Ages may seem an unlikely place to find a renaissance. In our popular imagination, the era remains a foreign and backward place, a “Dark Age”: its systemic violence, its brutal social injustices, and its intellectual and artistic poverty. In fact, however, the Early Middle Ages of Europe was far more diverse and vibrant than our common narratives of the “brutish” medieval past suggest. In this course, we focus on the long 9th century, which saw a proliferation of scholarship and art under the patronage of Charlemagne and his heirs that in some ways harkened back to artistic world of imperial Rome. Carolingian courts became centers of learning, bringing the finest thinkers of Europe together in conversation, and recalling the aesthetics of the ancient world while also forging new styles and forms of scientific thought and artistic creation. Carolingian rulers engaged diplomatically with the world beyond—not just England and Scandinavia beyond the North Sea, but Muslim Spain and Baghdad, Jerusalem, and North Africa. In important ways, the Carolingian renaissance paved the way for the inventions and revolutions of the later Middle Ages and beyond. It thus provides a key early comparative example for the study of “renaissances” in all eras. No previous coursework required. Texts may include Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne , the “Coronation Gospels,” The Utrecht Psalter, the Heliand , and the Waltharius .

Notes

Course meets 1/28- 3/11 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

SASEM-UG9550 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2013

TEL AVIV: The Present Past: Archaeology and History of the Land of Israel and its Relevance for Today

4 units

Description

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-TEL AVIV. The course examines the archaeological findings, the biblical text and ancient Near Eastern records in an attempt to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel in the first Millennium BCE. The study of ancient Israel in biblical times attracts the imagination of millions around the world. Biblical accounts on kings such as David and Solomon are at the heart of most cultures today and it is no wonder that pure academic debates about the historicity of these biblical accounts echoes into public realm. Can we use archaeology and biblical scholarship in order to reconstruct a better image of these decisive events? Five currently hotly debated subjects in biblical history will be discussed with the students in class meetings, in field trips and with the help of guest speakers who will present their side of the argument.

Type

Global Programs (SASEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey , Aeneid , and Divine Comedy , as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics , Cicero's De Fato , Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy , and Fromm's Escape From Freedom .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1695 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2013

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1695

Description

Among the early Chinese philosophers whose ideas have framed moral, social and political discourse in East Asia, the figures of Confucius and Lao Tzu stand out, not only as thinkers of towering influence, but also as diametrically opposed archetypes of wisdom. In this seminar, we begin by reading the works attributed to each man, and then we proceed to examine the ways in which their legacies have been and continue to be appropriated by others. Toward this end we explore competing manifestations of Confucius and Lao Tzu in Chinese religion, in popular culture, and in the marketplace of ideas. Themes include the opposing impulses of idolization and iconoclasm, censorship and propaganda, and the sacralization and commercialization of traditional values. Apart from Confucius’ Analects and Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching , assignments may include Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching edited by Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue, selections from Early Daoist Scriptures by Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World by Yu Dan, and the controversial 2010 Hong Kong film Confucius starring Yun-fat Chow.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2010

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the mythical Ethiopians of Homer's epics, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity is clarified or reinforced. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What role do local ideals play in the construction and definition of another culture? What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? Readings may include Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jean-Paul Sartre, Aeschylus The Persians, Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars, Heliodorus Aethiopika (The Ethiopian Romance).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2010

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation to and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, Rushdie, and Pasolini. It continues to plays 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 and 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 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 watch how the Nights fared in adaptations in Hollywood, Bollywood, and elsewhere and will end with a film by the Italian director Pasolini. All readings will be in English. In addition to the Nights, readings may include Said, Mahfouz, Borges, Rushdie and others.

Notes

sophomores only

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1584 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2010

Shakespeare's Mediterranean

4 units Mon
2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Susanne Wofford

Description

This course examines Shakespeare's Mediterranean plays in relation to the cultural geography of the early modern period. It also provides a brief introduction to the new field of "ocean studies" and includes readings in marine environmental studies. We focus on the ways in which the various cultures around the Mediterranean opened emotional, physical, imaginative and political possibilities for English subjects, as exemplified in Shakespeare's plays and other contemporary readings. But that also means considering the sea as a space of economic and political possibility and threat; exploring the differences created by intermingling gender, genre and diverse geographies; analyzing romance and comedy and their relation to travel writing; tracing how early map making relates to other kinds of representation; examining the attraction, fear, and representation of what is considered exotic or foreign. Our work will link this past to our present in two ways especially: how do early modern travel accounts and literary art, as well as maps and prints, represent divisions between the Christian and Muslim worlds in ways that remain powerful? How does this maritine past create an environmental history that continues to affect us? Our readings begin with Mediterranean comedies by the classical Greek playwright Plautus, as well as classical geographies and selections from Vergil's Aeneid. We then turn to late medieval/early modern fictional accounts of the Mediterranean, such as Boccaccio's Decameron, and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Othello and other plays. Lastly, we read "the captive's tale" in Don Quixote, historical accounts of captivity including pirate narratives, and texts by Arab travelers about Europe in this period.

Notes

Same as V65.0986001.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1122 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2010

Discourses of Love: Antiquity to the Renaissance

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Bella Mirabella

Description

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. We want to consider its 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 will include Plato’s Symposium , mystical, and philosophical writings, the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, the female troubadours, and Dante, as well as selected plays of Shakespeare.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2010

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead) , The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu, Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions , and Mda’s Ways of Dying , and films like Lumumba, Mandabi, and Hyenas .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1457 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

The Odyssey: Estrangement and Homecoming

2 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1457

Description

One of the two foundational epics of so-called Western Culture, the Odyssey features a wily hero whose journeys are extraordinary and whose longing for home is unbounded. The Odyssey offers a complex meditation on brotherhood, bestiality, sexuality, kinship, and power; it is the great epic of cross-cultural encounter, in all its seductive and violent aspects, as well as the great poem of marriage. An adventure in nostos (homecoming), the Odyssey shows us the pleasures and dangers of voyaging among strangers. Constantly exploring the boundaries between the civilized and the savage, the poem offers as well a political critique of many ancient institutions, not least the family, patriarchy, hospitality customs, and the band-of-brothers so central to epic ideology. And as a masterwork of narrative art, the Odyssey asks us to consider the relation of fiction to “truth.” We will explore these and other matters in the Odyssey , and may make some concluding forays into contemporary re-workings of Odyssean themes and characters.

Notes

Course meets 1/24- 3/6 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1448 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Herodotus

2 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1448

Description

Referred to both as “the father of lies” and as the founder of the discipline of history, Herodotus (5th cent. B.C.E.) stands at the threshold of historical and ethnographic discourse in the West. Through its primary topic, the wars between Greece and Persia, Herodotus’ Histories examines the distinctive social, political, and religious characters of the major cultures of the ancient mediterranean world. In this class, our reading of the Histories will include a consideration of the following questions: how does the perspective of the Histories contribute to, and complicate, contemporary notions of exoticism and “otherness”; what is the relation of the Histories (with its recognition of cultural pluralism) to the themes and structure of Athenian tragedy? How does Herodotus construct a history out of travel, hearsay, participant-observation? What can we learn from Herodotus about historical method? Our readings will include (in addition to the primary text) selections from: Michel De Certeau, The Writing of History ; Carlo Ginzburg, Clues, Myths and Historical Method ; Leslie Kurke, Coins, Bodies, Games, and Gold: The Politics of Meaning in Archaic Greece .

Notes

Course meets 1/25- 3/7 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics, Cicero's De Fato, Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and Fromm's Escape From Freedom.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2010

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics, Cicero's De Fato, Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and Fromm's Escape From Freedom.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2010

The History of Kindness

4 units
Section 017
Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

Does kindness have a history? How have human beings conceived of benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? The so- called “Golden Rule” of treating others as one would be treated is present in the ethical philosophies of all of the world’s major religions. Yet humans have found it perpetually difficult to live together in peace, to tolerate cultural difference, and to provide for public welfare. In this course, we will explore the history of thought about benevolent behavior from the ancient world, through the Middle Ages, and into the present. We will read recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a “kindness gene”?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of the state and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato’s Republic, The Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Augustine’s City of God, Alcuin of York’s On the Virtues and Vices, Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee, Hobbes’ Leviathan, Voltaire’s Treatise on Tolerance, Ghandi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and the Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how “kindness” is enacted and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2010

The Qur'an

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its culture s and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic. In addition to the Qur’an and its exegesis (in translation), secondary sources may include Marx, Said, Bell, Sells, Bouhdiba and Ahmed.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2010

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia . As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SU 2012

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

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, Rushdie, Irwin) and will end by watching and exploring how the Nights fared in adaptations in popular culture, especially in the US.

Notes

Three-week Intensive: May 21-June 8.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2012

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1239

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 21-June 29.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1574 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2010

Christian Heresy and the Western Imagination

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Gregory Erickson

Description

In the development of Christianity the definition of "heresy" was crucial to defining "orthodox" belief and worship. Indeed, every faith seems to struggle over what is deemed heretical as part of defining what is deemed normative, and it is hard to imagine any ideology (even an anti-ideology ideology) that does not draw a boundary to mark what is subversive or unacceptable to it. This course pursues these ideas by asking two central questions: Can there be any form of (religious or secular) faith without such boundaries? What does the study of these boundaries reveal about some of the basic assumptions that have formed (and still form) our society? In the first part of this course we use primary texts to study several of the most divisive theological moments in Christian history: debates over the nature of Christ and God in the fourth century, the reemergence of arguments over heresy in the twelfth century, the Protestant Reformation, and several nineteenth century American sects. In the second part we read literary art that uses and wrestles with the idea and ideas of heresy. We conclude by considering how theological arguments over orthodoxy and heresy are rescripted and reenacted in current debates about censorship, education, constitutional interpretation, the environment, crime and punishment, and torture. Readings will include letters and sermons by Athanasius, Arius, Eusebius, and Augustine, Luther's 95 Theses, the Book of Mormon, poems by William Blake, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Milton's Paradise Lost, Dostoevsky's 'Grand Inquisitor' Parable, and sections from Ulysses, Moby Dick, Doctor Faustus, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Contemporary theorists will include Mark Taylor, Harold Bloom, and Slovoj Zizek.

Notes

SNY

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1202 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2010

Tragic Visions

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Bella Mirabella

Description

This course studies the nature of the tragic form in dramatic literature and performance, as well as its role in human existence. Focusing on the two great periods of tragedy in Western literature and culture­—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—we read selected tragedies by Aeschuylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare. We examine these works in their social, political, and cultural contexts, while considering questions such as gender, the role of women, and the origins and evolution of tragedy as a literary and political genre. Readings might include Agamemnon and Medea , as well as Hamlet and Macbeth. Special attention is paid to performance.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1122 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

Discourses of Love: Antiquity to the Renaissance

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Bella Mirabella

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1122

Description

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 , mystical writings, the poetry of Sappho, the stories of Marie de France, selections from Dante, as well as two plays of Shakespeare.

Notes

Open to sophomores only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2012

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1197

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo. Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (In Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1736 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2012

Making a Scientific Revolution: Medieval Christendom and Islam

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Daniel Newsome

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1736

Description

The roots of the "Scientific Revolution" were formed in the Middle Ages - both in Christian and Muslim lands. Science co-developed alongside monothesitic religions in this period of vibrant trade, scholarship, and intellectual development. This course focuses on how the sciences examined the relationships between the human being, nature and the divine. We will read original primary sources (in English) and use period tools and techniques to further our study. We will follow several of these sciences into the "Scientific Revolution" and discuss how they relate to the standard narrative of a revolution in science. Scientific themes will include mathematics, music theory, astronomy/astrology, perspective/optics, alchemy/chemistry, atomism, medicine/physiology, and physics. Readings may include Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Ptolemy, Galen, Plotinus, Boethius, Al-kindi, Alhazen, Avicenna, Ibn Tufayl, Averroes, Thomas Aquinas, Buridan, Oresme, Vesalius, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1539 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2011

Travel Classics

2 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Steve Hutkins

Description

Modern tourism begins in the eighteenth century with the Grand Tour---the rite-of-passage, "study abroad" experience of young aristocrats. This course focuses on the literature of travel before tourism, from the ancient world of Homer and Herodotus to the Renaissance explorations of the New World. We focus on several classics of travel writing, with attention to the conventions of the genre, the influence of myth and hero literature on the traveler’s tale, the Old World’s encounter with the New, and the many social and political questions raised by travel. Readings may include selections from Homer’s Odyssey , Herodotus’ History of the Persian Wars , Travels of Marco Polo, The Travels of Ibn Battuta , Sir John Mandeville’s Travels , The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca , and Shakespeare’s The Tempest .

Notes

Course meets 1/25 - 3/10 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
WI 2011

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
10:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights) is one of the most fascinating "world" texts. Since its translation to and publication in European languages it has captivated the imagination of countless writers and artists such as Poe, Joyce, Borges, Mahfouz, Rushdie, and Pasolini. It continues to plays 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 and 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 watch how the Nights fared in adaptations in Hollywood, Bollywood, and elsewhere and will end with a film by the Italian director Pasolini. All readings will be in English. In addition to the Nights, readings may include Said, Mahfouz, Borges, Rushdie and others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1593

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the mythical Ethiopians of Homer's epics, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity is clarified or reinforced. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What role do local ideals play in the construction and definition of another culture? What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? Readings may include Simone de Beauvoir, Clifford Geertz, Euripides Medea, Aeschylus The Persians, Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars, Heliodorus Aethiopika (The Ethiopian Romance).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1695 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2012

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1695

Description

Among the early Chinese philosophers whose ideas have framed moral, social and political discourse in East Asia, the figures of Confucius and Lao Tzu stand out, not only as thinkers of towering influence, but also as diametrically opposed archetypes of wisdom. In this seminar, we will begin by reading the works attributed to each man, and then we will proceed to examine the ways in which their legacies have been and continue to be appropriated by others. Toward this end we will explore manifold competing manifestations of Confucius and Lao Tzu in Chinese religion, in popular culture, and in the marketplace of ideas. Themes will include the opposing impulses of idolization and iconoclasm, censorship and propaganda, and the sacralization and commercialization of traditional values. Apart from Confucius’ Analects and Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching , assignments may include Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching edited by Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue, selections from Early Daoist Scriptures by Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World by Yu Dan, and the 2010 Hong Kong blockbuster movie Confucius starring Yun-fat Chow.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1681 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2012

Wandering Knights, Errant Detectives

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Matthew Vernon

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1681

Description

This class will explore the medieval roots and later reinterpretations of the ideas of wandering and error, primarily through the figure of the “errant knight.” The image of the gallant hero who becomes lost within his systems of morality and chivalry persists in English fiction from accounts of the Knights of the Round Table to Batman, the Dark Knight. The course will examine the evolution of this figure and the multiple uses to which he has been put as an avatar of the desire to correct social disorder. These themes will also be discussed in medieval mystical texts and migration narratives that construct a framework around which notions of race and national identity are still constructed. This course will begin with the most robust instances of wandering that the Middle Ages offer – Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur , Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain , Guy of Warwick , Njal’s Saga and Mandeville’s Travels . Readings will also include texts about metaphorical wandering in Julian of Norwich’s Showings , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales , the Old English Exodus , Spenser’s Faerie Queene , Shakespeare’s Macbeth , Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and McCarthy’s Blood Meridian . There may also be screenings of Huston’s Maltese Falcon , Ford’s The Searchers and Batman: The Dark Knight .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1574 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

Christian Heresy and the Western Imagination

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Gregory Erickson

Description

In the development of Christianity the definition of “heresy” was crucial to defining “orthodox” belief and worship. Indeed, every faith seems to struggle over what is deemed heretical as part of defining what is deemed normative, and it is hard to imagine any ideology (even an anti-ideology ideology) that does not draw a boundary to mark what is subversive or unacceptable to it. This course pursues these ideas by asking two central questions: Can there be any form of (religious or secular) faith without such boundaries? What does the study of these boundaries reveal about some of the basic assumptions that have formed (and still form) our society? In the first part of this course we use primary texts to study several of the most divisive theological moments in Christian history: debates over the nature of Christ and God in the fourth century, the reemergence of arguments over heresy in the twelfth century, the Protestant Reformation, and several nineteenth century American sects. In the second part we read literary art that uses and wrestles with the idea and ideas of heresy. We conclude by considering how theological arguments over orthodoxy and heresy are rescripted and reenacted in current debates about censorship, education, constitutional interpretation, the environment, crime and punishment, and torture. Readings will include letters and sermons by Athanasius, Arius, Eusebius, and Augustine, Luther’s 95 Theses, the Book of Mormon, poems by William Blake, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Milton’s Paradise Lost , Dostoevsky’s ‘Grand Inquisitor’ Parable, and sections from Ulysses, Moby Dick, Doctor Faustus, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose . Contemporary theorists will include Mark Taylor, Harold Bloom, and Slovoj Zizek.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1705 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

Antigone(s): Ancient Greece/Performance Now

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Kristin Horton, Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1705

Description

A production of Antigone is taking place somewhere in the world every day—right now, as you are reading this. What was Antigone ? What is Antigone ? What might Antigone yet be? Our course—a collaboration between a stage director and a classicist—begins with an immersion in Sophocles' prize-winning play (441 BCE), with close attention to the history, politics, aesthetics, performance conditions, and production features of ancient Athenian drama more generally. The second half of our course turns to contemporary renditions of Antigone and will consider the dramatic and cultural configurations each new production activates. Antigone's exploration of the complexities of gender, kinship, citizenship, law, resistance to authority, family vs. the state, and religion (among other issues) has been compelling for modern thought, and especially galvanizing to theaters of resistance and dissent. Our classes will combine critical inquiry into the plays and surrounding discourse as well as experiments in interpretation—including acting workshops and staging exercises. Students need no background in acting, theater, or ancient literature, but do need critical energy and discipline. Among the modern plays we might address, in the second half of the semester, are reimaginings of Antigone by Brecht, Fugard, McLaughlin, and Miyagawa. To help us place antiquity and modernity in a productive conversation, we will also read secondary literature from several fields (classics, political theory, anthropology, theory of sexuality/gender).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1454 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

The Iliad and its Legacies in Drama

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1454

Description

"The poem of force," according to Simone Weil, the Iliad is also a poem of forceful influence. In this course we will read the Iliad intensively, followed by an examination of its heritage on the dramatic stage. In the first half of the semester we will primarily explore the Iliad in terms of the poetics of traditionality; the political economy of epic; the ideologics of the  Männerbund (the "band of fighting brothers"); the Iliad 's uses of reciprocity; its construction of gender; its intimations of tragedy. In the second half of the course, informed by a reading of Aristotle's Poetics , we will focus on responses to the Iliad in dramatic form; possible readings will include Sophocles' Ajax ; Euripides' Iphigeneia in Aulis ; Shakespeare's  Troilus and Cressida ; Racine's  Andromaque ; Giraudoux's La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu; Ellen McLaughlin's  Iphigenia and Other Daughters. Students will give presentations on an Iliadic intertext of their own choosing.

Notes

Same as COLIT-UA 104.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1584 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

Shakespeare's Mediterranean

4 units Mon
2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Susanne Wofford

Description

This course examines Shakespeare’s Mediterranean plays in relation to the cultural and imaginative geography established for this region in the classical, medieval and early Renaissance periods. It also provides a brief introduction to the new field of "ocean studies" and will include some readings in marine environmental studies. We will spend about one third of the class on the Ancient Mediterranean, seen through the lens of comedies by Plautus, Virgil’s Aeneid , and writings by Plutarch, among others. We will consider how the various cultures around the Mediterranean opened emotional, physical, imaginative and political possibilities for Renaissance writers and thinkers, particularly as exemplified in Shakespeare’s plays. Topics for study will include the sea as a space of economic and political possibility and threat, including piracy; the differences created by intermingling gender, genre and diverse geographies; romance and comedy and their relation to travel writing; early map making in relation to other kinds of representation; questions of exoticism, orientalism, and the attraction and fear of the foreign. Along with studying how classical and renaissance writers may imagine the Mediterranean differently, we will consider some representations of religious and cultural divides between the Christian and the Muslim worlds in traveler’s accounts and in literature. Readings will include plays by Plautus, Cervantes and Shakespeare, Vergil’s Aeneid , selections from Boccaccio, Ibn Khaldûn, and Don Quixote.

Notes

Open to freshmen, sophomores and juniors only. Same as ENGL-UA 800.004 and MEDI-UA 996 002.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1708 Lib Arts
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

Visions of the Good Life in Ancient Greece

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
James Bourke

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1708

Description

How should one live? What is the best life? The thinkers of Ancient Greece contemplated these questions in different ways, and their responses have powerfully influenced subsequent political and social philosophies. In this course, we will examine four ways in which the Greeks thought about and articulated the idea of the good life—the heroic, which understands the good life as striving for distinction and lasting fame through great deeds; the tragic, which sees the pursuit of happiness as fraught with conflict, ambiguity, and finitude; the philosophical, which prizes contemplation and the quest for truth; and the political, which emphasizes the contribution of collective life to individual happiness. Texts will include Homer’s Iliad , selected plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, Plato’s Republic , and Aristotle’s Politics . We will explore the visions of the good life these texts present, their possible points of overlap, the internal tensions that complicate them, and their continuing relevance and impact on modern ethical and political ideals.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1202 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

Tragic Visions

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Bella Mirabella

Description

This course studies the nature of the tragic form in dramatic literature and performance, as well as its role in human existence. Focusing on two of the great periods of tragedy in Western literature and culture­—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—we read selected tragedies by Aeschuylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare as well philosophical considerations of the tragic by, for example, Aristotle and Nietzsche. We examine these works in their social, political, and cultural contexts, while considering questions such as gender, power, fate, free will, and the origins and evolution of tragedy as a literary and political genre. Readings might include Sophocles' Oedipus, and Euripides' Medea , as well as Shakespeare's Macbeth, or King Lear . Special attention is paid to performance.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1639 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

Witch, Heroine, Saint: Joan of Arc and Her World

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1639

Description

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 after the French nobility had betrayed her. An illiterate peasant girl just sixteen years of age, she had led the French back from the brink of defeat and saved the French monarchy from ruin. Yet in death, she would gain further power still as a martyr and symbol of indomitable French will and resistance. In this seminar, we 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 national heroine, patron saint, and political symbol that she is today. Texts will include Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies, Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues and Letters, Thomas of Cantimpré’s Life of Christina the Astonishing, and Shakespeare’s I Henry VI. We will also analyze and discuss modern renditions of the Joan of Arc story by such diverse artists as Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Luc Besson.

Notes

Same as MEDI-UA 984 002.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2012

The Qur'an

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2012

The History of Kindness

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1640

Description

Does kindness have a history? How have human beings conceived of benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? The so- called “Golden Rule” of treating others as one would be treated is present in the ethical philosophies of all of the world’s major religions. Yet humans have found it perpetually difficult to live together in peace, to tolerate cultural difference, and to provide for public welfare. In this course, we will explore the history of thought about benevolent behavior from the ancient world, through the Middle Ages, and into the present. We will read recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a “kindness gene”?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of the state and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato’s Republic, The Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Augustine’s City of God, Dhuoda’s Handbook for her son, Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee, Hobbes’ Leviathan, Voltaire’s Treatise on Tolerance, Ghandi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth, and the Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how “kindness” is enacted and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1651 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

From Memory to Myth: The Mighty Charlemagne

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1651

Description

In this course students will explore historical memory, mythmaking, and the myriad ways in which human beings construct and reconstruct the past to address present hopes, dreams, and fears. Our case study will be the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne (d. 814), who in life helped to lay the foundations of modern European society, and in death would continue to represent an imagined pan-European unity that predated factionalism, regionalism, and nationalism. The seminar will begin in the ninth century with Charlemagne in memory before moving briskly forward in time to study Charlemagne in legend and myth. Along the way, we will discuss themes and problems of particular relevance, including the birth of “Europe,” the advent of “the state,” Christianity and Crusade, the rise of vernacular literature, and early colonialism. In addition to theoretical works on memory, myth, and history-writing, texts for discussion will include a vibrant mix of canonical and lesser-known gems: Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, The Song of Roland , and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso ; but also the Astronomer’s Life of Louis the Pious , The Voyage of Charlemagne to Jerusalem and Constantinople , and the anonymous Charlemagne play from the London of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

Notes

Same as HIST-UA 245.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1566

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species . We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as "designed" come from? How did natural philosophers (i.e. magicians) unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pseudo-Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Rousseau, Voltaire, Linnaeus, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1539 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2012

Travel Classics

2 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Steve Hutkins

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1539

Description

This course focuses on the literature of travel, from the ancient world of Homer and Herodotus to the Renaissance explorations of the New World. We focus on the conventions of the genre and how they evolved, the influence of myth and hero literature on the traveler’s tale, the construction of the Other and manifestations of Orientalism, the rhetorical implications of the writer’s motives and audience, the Old World’s encounter with the New, and the many social and political questions raised by travel. Readings may include selections from Homer’s Odyssey , Herodotus’ History of the Persian Wars , Travels of Marco Polo, The Travels of Ibn Battuta , The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus , The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca , and Shakespeare’s The Tempest .

Notes

Course meets during the first seven weeks only, September 4–October 18.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2012

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia . As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1417 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2009

Politics and the Gods

4 units Thu
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Aaron Tugendhaft

Description

How is political life related to the divine? In this course, students will explore this question through close readings of classic texts from the ancient world. We shall tackle the question from both ends, asking both what it might mean to have a political life founded theologically and what the possibilities are for a politics that does not orient itself with respect to the divine. We will investigate the political roles of piety, revelation, and divine law, comparing these to notions of a politics rooted in unaided human reason. Additional themes will include: the relationship between poetry and prophecy, the tension between cultural particularity and universal humanity, and the political function of myth. Throughout, emphasis will be on close readings of primary texts. Readings are likely to include the Sumerian King List, the Hebrew Bible, Herodotus' Histories , and Plato's Republic . Occasional secondary-source readings may also be assigned.

Notes

sophomore only

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1258 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2009

Ancient Theatre and Its Influences

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Description

What role did the theater play in the civic life of ancient Greece? How did Greek drama address vital social and political issues? Does Greek drama serve as a useful paradigm for exploring Roman drama? For contemporary theater? Through our readings of tragedy and comedy, we will explore Greek theater as a live space of social action, representing conflicts between the claims of family and state, between male and female, between traditional values and emergent democratic concerns. Drawing on the work of anthropologists and historians of antiquity, we will examine Greek drama’s relation to religion (e.g. sacrifice, lament, festival), to law (e.g. courtroom proceedings, punishment), and to civic debate. We will discuss both how plays were produced and the theories of drama they inspired. Building on our investigation of the Greek ‘case’, we will turn our attention to Roman tragedy and comedy and to selected works of the modern theater. Readings may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander; Plato, Aristotle; Plautus, Seneca; Racine, Sartre, Fugard, Soyinka.

Notes

crosslisted with V29.0104

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1772 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

Music and Civic Culture: Ancient and Modern

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Description

This course examines the role of music theory and musical performance in the formation of community, actual and utopic. We will begin our study with the musical, mathematical, and mystical thought of Pythagoras and his followers in the short-lived utopian community of Croton: How is “the Music of the Spheres” a paradigm both for ethical action within the community and for the progress of the soul within the cosmos? From Croton, we will turn to debates about music and civic culture in fifth-century democratic Athens: What forms of music and poetry sustain and subvert citizens and states? Is there a particularly “democratic” form of music? (Readings from Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, and Aristotle.) From ancient Greece, we will then turn to the late-nineteenth century efforts of Wagner, partially inspired by Athenian tragedy, to create the “Total Work of Art” in his operas (especially Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) and in the festival at Bayreuth; we will also read Nietzsche’s (and Adorno’s) responses to Greek tragedy and to Wagner. Finally, we will consider some twentieth-century experiments in music and art, especially those associated with Fluxus (e.g. John Cage, Stockhausen, La Monte Young), in dialogue with our earlier readings.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2010

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course examines several "classic" texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life's dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus' The Oresteia, Sappho's Poems, Plato's Republic, Lucretius' On the Nature of the Universe, Ovid's Metamorphoses or Cicero's On the Laws, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes's Don Quixote.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1739 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Kinship and Community: Ancient Texts and Modern Theories

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1739

Description

What is the relation of the family to larger structures of community and of state? Do kinship bonds provide a model for those of community or must they be superseded in the interest of a more enlightened state? To what degree do contemporary aspirations for gender equality entail a radical renovation of our understanding of the family? We consider these questions through a close reading of ancient texts, from the Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, which we read in conjunction with some contemporary thinkers on kinship and the state. Primary readings include: Aeschylus Oresteia , Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone , Euripides Ion , Plato Republic 5 , Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae , Longus Daphnis and Chloe , Genesis and Exodus , Paul Letter to the Galatians , Martyrdom of Perpetua , Shakespeare Measure for Measure , John Henry Noyes Bible Communism ; theoretical texts include: Freud Totem and Taboo , and selections from Engels, Lévi-Strauss, G. Rubin, P. Clastres, and J. Butler.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1783 Lib Arts
SOC
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2014

Theories of Justice

4 units Mon Wed
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Peter Rajsingh

Description

Ideas of justice are central to discussions of morality, rule of law, politics and the good life in both the ancient and modern worlds. For instance, the concept of “liberty and justice for all” has potent normative force—undergirding narratives about legitimacy in liberal legalism, as well deployed to defend acts of civil disobedience. Justice has been invoked throughout history as belonging to a higher order moral scheme that supervenes over positive law and politics, serving as a way to endorse or critique social and political arrangements. But, while there tends to be broad acceptance of the general concept of justice, particular conceptions that instantiate the term continue to be matters of controversy and debate. This course explores ways in which conceptions of justice play out in politics, law and morality. We will examine particular forms of justice—distributive, retributive, procedural, substantive, restorative, constitutive etc., reading classic texts, legal opinions and journal articles. And we will discuss how accounts of justice are predicated on various kinds of arguments, such as naturalist claims concerning antecedent facts about the world, etc. We will also look at justice used in novel locutions, such as the term “environmental justice.” The approach will be interdisciplinary, drawing upon a variety of source texts ranging from Socratic propositions about justice (δικαιοσύνη) and virtue (ἀρετή) in Plato’s Republic and Crito to John Rawls’ Theory of Justice , landmark US Supreme Court cases and Albert Camus’ L’Etranger . Course objectives are to develop proficiency in moral theory, political philosophy, law and jurisprudential theory, using the concept of justice as the analytical window to highlight key moments in legal and political philosophy, and as a mechanism to understand conceptions of the good life from the ancient world into modernity. No prior knowledge of social and political philosophy is required or assumed.

Notes

Session II: July 7 - August 15

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2014

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 27 - July 3

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1797 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Rome: A Visual and Virtual Empire

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Sebastian Heath

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1797

Description

In this course we will use modern tools to study an ancient empire. Rome was at the height of its power in the late first century BC through the 4th century AD, during which time it was a multi-cultural and complex political system. In the 21st century, Rome’s visual and material record is increasingly being studied with digital techniques. Over the course of the semester, students will gain hands-on skills with a variety of digital resources and tools; skills that will be useful in the study of any culture, including our own. We will look at the development of public entertainment as seen in amphitheaters around the empire. Students will learn to map the spread of these great structures so as to identify both imperial control and common identity as well as local initiative in the Roman Empire. Pompeii, the city famously destroyed in 79 AD, provides rich opportunities to think about daily life in ancient times. Modern technologies—including Google Street View and 3D reconstructions—are facilitating new approaches to our understanding of how women and men—both rich and poor—interacted, made a living, and died in this complex urban environment. Students will also make their own 3D models of imperial and private portraits in the Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1562 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Reading the Faces of Ancient Cultures

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1562

Description

In this class, we will investigate the form, development, and role of images of people in ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. Using visual and literary sources, we will focus on how we define a portrait and will confront the variety of problems that the representation of the individual in the ancient world entails. How essential are the concepts of “likeness” and “realism” to the definition of a portrait, and to its function? How are ancient portraits manipulated to serve specific public or private roles? Who does the manipulating, and who is the audience? Does there exist, in pre-modern cultures, a correlation between the portrait of an individual and that individual’s character? We will address these questions and others, concentrating on the use of portraiture in shaping personal, political, and cultural identities. Texts may include the Stele of Naram-Sin; Aristophanes, Clouds; Pseudo-Aristotle, Physiognomics; images of Alexander the Great and his Successors; the Prima Porta Augustus; and Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2014

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead ), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions , and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo . Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (I n Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1787 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Iphigenia(s): War, Sacrifice, and Politics in Performance

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Kristin Horton, Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1787

Description

A war must be fought: or must it? The Greek army must sail: or must it? A daughter's sacrifice is required: or is it? Patriotism motivates war: or does it? Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis is a brilliant, vertiginous investigation into the intersection of war, sacrifice, politics, and kinship. Through Euripides, we see how a marriage might become a sacrifice; how motives shift over time; how conflicts in one moment are reframed in another —this play is a stunning inquiry into the tricky ways of reason and passion. We will begin with Iphigenia in Aulis and the tradition it mobilizes—that Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks, is compelled to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia in order to ensure a fair wind for the sailing of the Greek expedition against Troy. Behind this play are centuries of profound, complex thinking about reasons for war, the nature of heroism, the rhetorics of patriotism, the obligations of kinship, the logic of marriage. From the Iliad through the efllorescence of tragedy in Athenian state theater, to early modern and 21st century adaptations and transformations, poets and playwrights have found Iphigenia "good to think with." Our classes will combine critical inquiry into Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis and other ancient and modern treatments of the Iphigenia myth, together with experiments in interpretation—including acting workshops and staging exercises. Students need no background in acting, theater, or ancient literature, but do need critical energy and discipline. Authors we will read, in addition to Euripides, will include Homer, Aeschylus, Thucydides,and Aristotle; in the second half of the semester, we will explore modern re-imaginings of Iphigenia (e.g. Racine's Iphigénie ) and those by contemporary playwrights (among them: Ellen McLaughlin, Caridad Svich, Charles Mee).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2014

The Qur'an

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1541 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Divine Indifference

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Aaron Tugendhaft

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1541

Description

Do the gods care about human beings? Is history providentially guided? Is there divine retribution after death? Or is god indifferent to human well-being? In this course we explore how different views of the divine are related to such themes as human freedom, happiness, despair, justice, and nihilism. We begin with works by Solon and Sophocles to set forth the traditional view of Greek piety and observe how it begins to be questioned. We then turn to the Epicurean tradition, to assess the impact of its view of god's indifference. We will conclude by considering two questions: What is at stake in the contrast between Epicurean theology and the Christian teaching of a philanthropic god who dies for human sins? To what degree does ancient Epicureanism serve as the foundation for the modern critique of Christianity? The key texts will be Sophocles' Oedipus Rex , Lucretius' On the Nature of Things , Spinoza's Ethics , and Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia . As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1611 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Past As Prelude: Thinking Historically

4 units Wed
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Alejandro Velasco

Description

In a much-remarked campaign speech on race relations, then-candidate Barack Obama drew on Faulkner to remind Americans of the continuing legacies of racism in the US: “the past is never dead,” he noted, “it’s not even past.” In doing so Obama called upon a familiar trope in critical thought, that history is just as dynamic and elusive as the present, each one (past and present) continuously shaping and informing the other. This begs the question: what is history? What does it mean to think historically, to understand history not as an array of facts but as process, not as a field of study but as a sensibility, as a way to analyze the world around us? This course is designed for students seeking to add meaningful historical dimensions to their concentrations. We begin by surveying conventional approaches to historical analysis, from Herodotus to Hegel to Marx to Benjamin. Then we draw from Nietzsche, Foucault, Hayden White, and Michel-Rolph Trouillot to consider how history is constructed, used, and misused. We will then examine how jurists, anthropologists, novelists, sociologists, and human rights activists think historically to inform and deepen their craft, reading from Tolstoy, Justices Breyer and Scalia, Eric Wolf, Charles Payne, and Daniel Wilkinson. We end with workshops that consider what it would mean to think historically about your own concentrations. What kinds of questions and materials would you include as you prepare for your rationale, booklist, colloquium, and ultimately, life after NYU, armed with a sense of history?

Notes

Same as HIST-UA 275 001.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2011

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the mythical Ethiopians of Homer's epics, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity is clarified or reinforced. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What role do local ideals play in the construction and definition of another culture? What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? Readings may include Simone de Beauvoir, Clifford Geertz, Euripides Medea, Aeschylus The Persians, Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars, Heliodorus Aethiopika (The Ethiopian Romance).

Notes

Formerly titled "Cultural Others in the Ancient World."

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1639 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2011

Witch, Heroine, Saint: Joan of Arc and Her World

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

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 after the French nobility had betrayed her. An illiterate peasant girl just sixteen years of age, she had led the French back from the brink of defeat and saved the French monarchy from ruin. Yet in death, she would gain further power still as a martyr and symbol of indomitable French will and resistance. In this seminar, we 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 national heroine, patron saint, and political symbol that she is today. Texts will include Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies , Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues and Letters , Thomas of Cantimpré’s Life of Christina the Astonishing , Shakespeare’s I Henry VI , and Voltaire’s Maiden of Orléans . We will also analyze and discuss modern renditions of the Joan of Arc story by such diverse artists as Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Luc Besson.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1258 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Ancient Theatre and Its Influences

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1258

Description

What role did the theater play in the civic life of ancient Greece? How did Greek drama address vital social and political issues? Does Greek drama serve as a useful paradigm for exploring contemporary theater? Through our readings, we will explore Greek theater as a live space of social action, representing conflicts between the claims of family and state, between male and female, between traditional values and emergent democratic concerns. We will examine Greek drama's relation to religion (e.g. sacrifice, lament, festival), to law (e.g. courtroom proceedings, punishment), and to civic debate. We will discuss both how plays were produced and the theories of drama they inspired. Building on our investigation of the Greek 'case', we will turn our attention to Roman drama and to selected works of the modern theater. Readings may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander; Plautus, Seneca; Racine, Sartre, Fugard.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1647 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

Visual Narrative: Reading Ancient Art

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1647

Description

Using the foundation of ancient imagery from the Ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome, this course will examine that process of visual communication with special attention to the question: How is time represented? While the reading of imagery often seems a natural one to us, the ancient world offers a moment in the history of art when artists were wrestling with—and innovating—ways of telling a narrative that unfolds at different moments over time. We will look, for instance, at narrative programs like the ones displayed on the walls in Neo-Assyrian palaces (which both serve as a record of the king’s accomplishments and symbolically reflect the Empire’s geography) and the victory columns of Rome. We will look at single images that conflate pivotal moments of ritual movement or mythological episodes, and at images that juxtapose moments that seem to have no direct sequential relationship. The following questions, among others, will guide our investigation: How do audiences learn to recognize an abstract concept like “time”? How does narrative imagery in architectural settings shape the audience’s movement through and relationship to space? To what extent do the “reading” of text and image correspond? How does the study of narrative intersect with and impact other concerns in the study of ancient imagery, including political and social functions and cross-cultural exchange? We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Readings may include K. Weitzmann, Illustrations in Roll and Codex ; T. Todorov, Grammar of Narrative; R. Barthes, “An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative”; G. Genette, Narrative Discourse ; Homer, Odyssey ; Virgil, Aeneid ; Theocritus; Aristotle, Poetics; and Res Gestae Divi Augustus.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1665 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

From Medieval Manuscripts to Graphic Novels

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Matthew Vernon

Description

International, innovative and cool are terms rarely associated with medieval texts. These adjectives more usually describe the domain of contemporary forms, particularly the graphic novel or avant-garde literature. This course will complicate the relationship we assume between medieval and contemporary texts by reading them in tandem with an eye to their many commonalities. The goal of this course is to consider the way texts - both medieval and modern - challenge how we read and how older literary styles inform current works. We will be reading medieval manuscripts and graphic novels as complex forms which allow us to interrogate the relationship between high and low art; the connections between books as physical objects and as vehicles for narrative; and the workings of non-linear plot structures. Readings may include Beowulf, Le Morte d’Arthur , Mandeville’s Travels , Dave Eggers’ McSweeney’s project, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home , Art Speigelman’s Maus and W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1419 Lib Arts
SOC
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2011

Primary Texts: Plato and Machiavelli on Philosophy and Politics

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
George Shulman

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1419

Description

This course compares Plato’s Republic to Machiavelli’s two great texts, The Prince and The Discourses. Our goal is two-fold. On the one hand we learn the art of close reading to reveal the complex and contradictory layers of meaning in a text. On the other hand, we introduce the enterprise of political theory by exploring two of the greatest (and apparently antithetical) thinkers about politics. For Plato, philosophy seems to provide standards of judgment and order in politics: human life can flourish only if rulers gain philosophic knowledge of justice. He thus consigns political life, and the “mere” opinions of those who inhabit it to a “cave” which can be escape (and ruled) only by those who pursue philosophy. In contrast, Machiavelli denies that philosophic truth is relevant to politics: we do not need to leave “the cave” of the political world, for we can produce forms of order and standards of justice through political life itself. If he seems to embrace the moral dilemmas, contingency, and risk that Plato seems to avoid by turning to philosophy, it is no wonder he has been cast as a corrupt even “evil” figure! To stage a conversation between Plato and Machiavelli, therefore, is to confront the fundamental questions about politics: what is the nature of power? What is justice? What is the best form of regime? How is myth and art related to political life? Is force or fraud ever justified? What characterizes human excellence? In what consists human freedom? We pursue these questions by focusing on primary texts, but also by reading essays about the contemporary stakes of their arguments. This class is limited in enrollment to sophomores.

Notes

Open to sophomores only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1664 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Omens and Oracles: Reading the Future and Retaining the Past in Early China

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1664

Description

When ancient Chinese kings seared sacred bones with elemental fire, reading the future from the resulting cracks went hand in hand with creating archival records to preserve the past. In this class, we will explore several interrelated early Chinese divination traditions through classical texts, archaeology, and recently excavated manuscripts. In all cases we will pay attention to the complex interplay between past, present, and future, including aspects of the history of writing, the history of the book, and the interwoven histories of science and religion. After starting with a discussion of the above-mentioned oracle bones, we will proceed to examine the enigmatic Yijing ( Book of Changes ), the earliest and most revered of all the Chinese classics. Then we will consider a popularization of divination practices in the form of almanacs that circulated widely in ancient China. Students can expect to try their hands at the actual practice of the various divination techniques covered, but most class time will be used to engage important themes arising from our investigations, Readings may include: The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (Ca. 1200-1045 B.C.) by David Keightley, Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler, the Yijing ( Book of Changes ), selections from The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C ., and select scholarly articles.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1351 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Passion and Poetics in Early Japan

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Nina Cornyetz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1351

Description

It can be argued that until the 1880s one thing was absent in Japanese literary and performing arts: the notion of an interiorized subject. In fact, the premodern Japanese arts are examples of extreme "exteriority," that privilege form, word play and intertextuality and enfold the human being and human erotic passions within rituals for purity, and harmony with a cosmology of the heavens. This course will explore premodern Japanese poetics and prose, performing and visual arts, from the very first writings through the nineteenth century, in relation to history and religious and philosophic belief systems such as Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism. Texts will include: selections of poetry, emaki (picture scrolls), noh and puppet plays, selections from The Tale of Genji, The Pillow Book, Essays in Idleness .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2011

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics, Cicero's De Fato, Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and Fromm's Escape From Freedom.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1651 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

From Memory to Myth: The Mighty Charlemagne

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1651

Description

In this course students will explore historical memory, mythmaking, and the myriad ways in which human beings construct and reconstruct the past to address present hopes, dreams, and fears. Our case study will be the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne (d. 814), who in life helped to lay the foundations of modern European society, and in death would continue to represent an imagined pan-European unity that predated factionalism, regionalism, and nationalism. The seminar will begin in the ninth century with Charlemagne in memory before moving briskly forward in time to study Charlemagne in legend and myth. Along the way, we will discuss themes and problems of particular relevance, including the birth of “Europe,” the advent of “the state,” Christianity and Crusade, the rise of vernacular literature, and early colonialism. In addition to theoretical works on memory, myth, and history-writing, texts for discussion will include a vibrant mix of canonical and lesser-known gems: Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, The Song of Roland , and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso ; but also the Astronomer’s Life of Louis the Pious , The Voyage of Charlemagne to Jerusalem and Constantinople , and the anonymous Charlemagne play from the London of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2011

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1197

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo. Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (In Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1374 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2011

The Birth of the World: The Cosmological Tradition

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Katharina Piechocki

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1374

Description

"How did the world begin?" and "why is there anything rather than nothing?" and "Who made the starts?" These are primary questions: the kind children like to ask, and philosophers, and theologians, and scientists. In this course we'll read and discuss the various classic accounts of Creation. We will anchor the course in the Hebrew tradition (Genesis) and the Greek tradition (both mythic and philosophical: Hesiod, and the Presocratics), and from there examine sources and analogs in Babylon, Sumer, Egypt; their counterparts in Japanese, African, and other global mythologies and religions; the story of their interpretation (especially in the Talmudic and Patristic traditions); and, finally, their relation to the paradigms of modern astronomy and philosophy. Texts will include Genesis; the Theogony; the fragments of the Presocratics; selections from Plato's Timaeus and other dialogues; Midrash on Genesis; Commentaries by Church Fathers such as Augustine and Gregory on the Creation story; and selections from ancient Middle Eastern, Hindu. Buddhist, Taoist, and Muslim scriptures and myths.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1562 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Reading the Faces of Ancient Cultures

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1562

Description

In this class, we will investigate the form, development, and role of images of people in ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. Using visual and literary sources, we will focus on how we define a portrait and will confront the variety of problems that the representation of the individual in the ancient world entails. How essential are the concepts of “likeness” and “realism” to the definition of a portrait, and to its function? How are ancient portraits manipulated to serve specific public or private roles? Who does the manipulating, and who is the audience? Does there exist, in pre-modern cultures, a correlation between the portrait of an individual and that individual’s character? We will address these questions and others, concentrating on the use of portraiture in shaping personal, political, and cultural identities. Readings may include Plato, Apology ; Aristophanes, Clouds ; Pseudo-Aristotle, Physiognomics ; Plutarch, Life of Alexander ; Vasari, Life of Leonardo ; and Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray . We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2013

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1239

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 28 - July 5

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1425 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

The Philosophic Dialogue

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Stacy Pies

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1425

Description

In this course, we read philosophical dialogues and their modern successors, poetic prose pieces and a play whose subjects are art and rhetoric. Ancient to modern writers have been fascinated with the power of art, and for each, ideas about art are connected to those about language and society. In our reading of Ion and Gorgias we look at Plato’s ideas on art, rhetoric (oratory), and power before his Republic. Phaedrus, written later, complements the discussion in earlier texts, developing Plato’s ideas about the relation of the intellect, the emotions, and the appetites. We then discuss Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, which revisits some of Plato’s themes from the perspective of the eighteenth century and the changing world of the Enlightenment. Finally, we explore the dialogue form in the twentieth century through Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia and excerpts from works of modern writers. In our dialogue, we explore not only what these writers say, but how they say it, and speculate on how and why conversation, rather than monologue, can give rise to knowledge. Among the questions I hope we consider are the following: How are ideas born from conversation (and, I hope, our conversations)? What is the importance of human relationship in intellectual inquiry? How does the dialogue imply, and necessitate, our participation as readers? Readings may include works by Plato, Diderot, Stoppard and selected excerpts from Bakhtin and Mallarmé.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1727 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Plato's Apology

2 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1727

Description

‘Corrupting the youth’ of Athens? Virtue in action? Threat to the body politic? Model citizen? Plato’s Socrates presents a conundrum for ancient and modern thought. In his brilliant dialogue, the Apology , Plato recreates Socrates’ defense of himself at his trial in 399 BCE for (among other things) ‘corrupting the youth’ of his city. The Apology sits at the intersection of law, politics, philosophy, religion, erotics, and pedagogy. In this course, we read the Apology closely, exploring it as philosophical reflection, courtroom oratory, literary text—and as gripping drama. Supplementary readings address: intellectual milieu, historical and political context, questions of genre.

Notes

Course meets 1/30- 3/13 only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1739 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2013

Kinship and Community: Ancient Texts and Modern Theories

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Description

What is the relation of the family to larger structures of community and of state? Do kinship bonds provide a model for those of community or must they be superseded in the interest of a more enlightened state? To what degree do contemporary aspirations for gender equality entail a radical renovation of our understanding of the family? We consider these questions through a close reading of ancient texts, from the Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, which we read in conjunction with some contemporary thinkers on kinship and the state. Primary readings include: Aeschylus Oresteia , Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone , Euripides Ion , Plato Republic 5 , Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae , Longus Daphnis and Chloe , Genesis and Exodus , Paul Letter to the Galatians , Martyrdom of Perpetua , Shakespeare Measure for Measure , John Henry Noyes Bible Communism ; theoretical texts include: Freud Totem and Taboo , and selections from Engels, Lévi-Strauss, G. Rubin, P. Clastres, and J. Butler.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1611 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2013

Past As Prelude: Thinking Historically

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Alejandro Velasco

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1611

Description

In 2008 then-candidate Barack Obama drew on Faulkner to remind Americans of the continuing legacies of racism in the US: “the past is never dead,” he noted, “it’s not even past.” In doing so Obama called upon a familiar trope in critical thought, that history is just as dynamic and elusive as the present, each one (past and present) continuously shaping and informing the other. This begs the question: what is history? What does it mean to think historically, to understand history not as an array of facts but as process, not as a field of study but as a sensibility, as a way to analyze the world around us? This course is designed for students seeking to add meaningful historical dimensions to their concentrations. We begin by surveying conventional approaches to historical analysis, from Herodotus to Hegel to Marx to Benjamin. Then we draw from Nietzsche, Foucault, Hayden White, and Michel-Rolph Trouillot to consider how history is constructed, used, and misused. We then examine how jurists, anthropologists, novelists, sociologists, and human rights activists think historically to inform and deepen their craft, reading from Tolstoy, Justices Breyer and Scalia, Eric Wolf, Charles Payne, and Daniel Wilkinson. We end with workshops that consider what it would mean to think historically about your own concentrations. What kinds of questions and materials would you include as you prepare for your rationale, booklist, colloquium, and ultimately, life after NYU, armed with a sense of history?

Notes

Open to sophomores only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2013

The Qur'an

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2011

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1239

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 23-July 1.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia. As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1122 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2013

Discourses of Love: Antiquity to the Renaissance

4 units Tue Thu
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Bella Mirabella

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1122

Description

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.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2013

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1566

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species . We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as "designed" come from? How did natural philosophers (i.e. magicians) unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pseudo-Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Rousseau, Voltaire, Linnaeus, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.

Notes

Sect 002 for Environmental Studies majors.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1258 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Ancient Theatre and Its Influences

4 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Description

What role did the theater play in the civic life of ancient Greece? How did Greek drama address vital social and political issues? Does Greek drama serve as a useful paradigm for exploring contemporary theater? Through our readings, we will explore Greek theater as a live space of social action, representing conflicts between the claims of family and state, between male and female, between traditional values and emergent democratic concerns. We will examine Greek drama's relation to religion (e.g. sacrifice, lament, festival), to law (e.g. courtroom proceedings, punishment), and to civic debate. We will discuss both how plays were produced and the theories of drama they inspired. Building on our investigation of the Greek 'case', we will turn our attention to Roman drama and to selected works of the modern theater. Readings may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander; Plautus, Seneca; Racine, Sartre, Fugard.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1593 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Barbarians: Ancient Conceptions of the Outsider

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1593

Description

The conceptions of people outside of one's own culture are complex and multi-layered, and this was as true in the ancient world as it is today. From the conquered Elamites that were depicted on the palace walls of the Neo-Assyrian Assurbanipal, to the exotic Dionysus of Euripides' tragedy, or to the Gauls with whom Julius Caesar did battle, representations of other kinds of people serve as a backdrop against which a distinctive sense of cultural identity can be clarified, rethought, or complicated. This seminar explores the representation of "foreign" peoples in the visual arts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman worlds. Using visual (reliefs, vase-painting, sculpture, mosaics, and wall-painting) and written (inscriptions, epic poetry, drama, histories, novels) sources, we pursue the following questions: What are the political or social motivations for the representations of foreigners in ancient art and literature? To what extent does the definition of an "other" reflect an already defined identity, and to what extent is identity constituted by imagining difference? How does the representation of difference problematize one's own values or traditions? Readings may include Simone de Beauvoir, Clifford Geertz, Euripides Bacchae , Aeschylus The Persians , Herodotus, Caesar The Gallic Wars , Heliodorus Aethiopika ( The Ethiopian Romance ).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1515 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2013

Homer/Ellison: The Odyssey and Invisible Man

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
E. Frances White, Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1515

Description

Who is the “man of many ways”? Who is it who declares “I am nobody but myself”? This course creates a dialogue between Homer's Odyssey and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man , the masterwork that evokes the Odyssey even as it reimagines the scope of the twentieth century novel. We will focus on the historical and cultural specificities of each text but will also pursue the synergies and energies promoted by reading them together. We will thus consider what the ancient world has to say to the modern novel, and how modernity might reanimate a key text of antiquity. Among the topics we will consider: formations and representations of subjectivity in antiquity and modernity; the status of race and ethnicity; the structuring effects of kinship, marriage, institutions, the state, and the law; the cultural poetics and politics of narrative. What stories are we telling about “ourselves,” and/or about “others,” and to what ends? We will draw upon secondary readings in literary theory, gender studies, critical race studies, and other social sciences. Students need no background in these materials but do need critical energy and discipline.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1197 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2013

Narratives of African Civilizations

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Dan Dawson

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1197

Description

African civilizations speak to us as much through monumental edifices, visual artifacts, sign systems, oral tradition, and films as they do through alphabetic texts. In their varied expressions, these societies, ancient and contemporary, present us with new ways of knowing. When we encounter these social imaginations through their multiple texts, the experience is reflexive, double-imaged, because of the complex interaction of the perceptions of Africa with the West’s own image of itself. Texts may include hieroglyphics, architectural symbolism, music, visual art, epics, folktales and proverbs, cosmologies and rituals (such as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead ), The Epic of Sundiata (which explores medieval Ghana and Mali), and the society of the Dogon and its extraordinary cosmology. African modernist art and writing will also be represented, through novels like Conde’s Segu and Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions , and films like Keita, Finzan and Ceddo . Using ideas both ancient (African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo by Fu-Kiau) and contemporary (I n Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara), African civilizations will speak through their own words.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1351 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

Passion and Poetics in Early Japan

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Nina Cornyetz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1351

Description

It can be argued that until the 1880s one thing was absent in Japanese literary and performing arts: the notion of an interiorized subject. In fact, the premodern Japanese arts are examples of extreme "exteriority" that privilege form, word play and intertextuality and enfold the human being and human erotic passions within rituals for purity, and harmony with a cosmology of the heavens. This course will explore premodern Japanese poetics and prose, performing and visual arts, from the very first writings through the nineteenth century, in relation to history and religious and philosophic belief systems such as Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism. Texts will include: selections of poetry, emaki (picture scrolls), noh and puppet plays, selections from The Tale of Genji , The Pillow Book, Essays in Idleness .

Notes

Formerly titled Behind the Mask I: Exteriority.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1202 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2014

Tragic Visions

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Bella Mirabella

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1202

Description

This course studies the nature of the tragic form in dramatic literature and performance, as well as its role in human existence. Focusing on two of the great periods of tragedy in Western literature and culture­—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—we read selected tragedies by Aeschuylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare as well philosophical considerations of the tragic by, for example, Aristotle and Nietzsche. We examine these works in their social, political, and cultural contexts, while considering questions such as gender, power, fate, free will, and the origins and evolution of tragedy as a literary and political genre. Readings might include Sophocles' Oedipus , and Euripides' Medea , as well as Shakespeare's Othello, Macbeth, or King Lear. Special attention is paid to performance.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1809 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

Achilles' Shield: Mapping the Ancient Cosmos

4 units Mon Wed
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Matthew Stanley, Hallie Franks

Description

In Book 18 of the Iliad , Homer describes the shield made for the hero Achilles. On the shield, the god Hephaestos represented the whole earth, the sun and moon, the constellations, the Ocean that encircles the world, the cities of men, and their farms, festivals, and wars. Achilles’ shield introduces questions about the ways in which the world and the cosmos were understood in the ancient world and the contexts that produced these understandings. How did different ancient sources represent the world and the relationship of the world to the heavenly bodies? What were the organizational principles and goals that governed these representations? As scientific knowledge expands, how do popular conceptions of the world adapt to this new information? And in the absence of maps, which have largely not survived from antiquity, how might other kinds of visual and textual evidence reveal how people thought about geographical relationships, as well as related relationships between centers and frontiers, peoples familiar and foreign, and the earth and heavens? This course investigates ancient scientific and mathematical theories on the extent and shape of the world alongside other kinds of representations—poetic, political, religious, material, and visual. Primary sources may include: Homer Iliad , Alcman, Plato Timaeus , Aristotle De Caelo , Herodotus, Hanno’s Periplous, Ptolemy, Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Gallileo.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2014

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics , Cicero's De Fato , Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy , and Fromm's Escape From Freedom .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1664 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

Omens and Oracles: Reading the Future and Retaining the Past in Early China

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1664

Description

When ancient Chinese kings seared sacred bones with elemental fire, reading the future from the resulting cracks went hand in hand with creating archival records to preserve the past. In this class, we will explore several interrelated early Chinese divination traditions through classical texts, archaeology, and recently excavated manuscripts. In all cases we will pay attention to the complex interplay between past, present, and future, including aspects of the history of writing, the history of the book, and the interwoven histories of science and religion. After starting with a discussion of the above-mentioned oracle bones, we will proceed to examine the enigmatic Yijing ( Book of Changes ), the earliest and most revered of all the Chinese classics. Then we will consider a popularization of divination practices in the form of almanacs that circulated widely in ancient China. Students can expect to try their hands at the actual practice of the various divination techniques covered, but most class time will be used to engage important themes arising from our investigations, Readings may include: The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (Ca. 1200-1045 B.C.) by David Keightley; Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler; the Yijing ( Book of Changes ); selections from The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C. ; and select scholarly articles.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

SASEM-UG9550 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

TEL AVIV: The Present Past: Archaeology and History of the Land of Israel and its Relevance for Today

4 units

Description

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-TEL AVIV. The course examines the archaeological findings, the biblical text and ancient Near Eastern records in an attempt to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel in the first Millennium BCE. The study of ancient Israel in biblical times attracts the imagination of millions around the world. Biblical accounts on kings such as David and Solomon are at the heart of most cultures today and it is no wonder that pure academic debates about the historicity of these biblical accounts echoes into public realm. Can we use archaeology and biblical scholarship in order to reconstruct a better image of these decisive events? Five currently hotly debated subjects in biblical history will be discussed with the students in class meetings, in field trips and with the help of guest speakers who will present their side of the argument.

Type

Global Programs (SASEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1624 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2015

There and Back Again: Travelers and Traveling through the Middle Ages and Beyond

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

The image of the medieval 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 the Middle Ages were actually a period of vast movement, migration, and pilgrimage. We will study the “discovery” of North America by Scandinavian sailors five centuries before Columbus. We will explore the colonization of the New World by European powers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. And throughout, we will ask how we can better understand the history of identity formation, orientalism, and imperialism in the pre-modern era. We will delve into the questions, the conflicts, and the painful changes that these travels and encounters fomented both within European society and without. Readings may include the Confession of St. Patrick , Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People , The Thousand and One Nights , the Saga of Eirik the Red , Marco Polo’s Division of the World , Mandeville’s Travels , Dante’s Divine Comedy , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales , Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies , More’s Utopia , Bartolomé de las Casas’ Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies , and Françoise de Graffigny’s Letters from a Peruvian Woman .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1639 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2015

Witch, Heroine, Saint: Joan of Arc and Her World

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

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 after the French nobility had betrayed her. An illiterate peasant girl just sixteen years of age, she had led the French back from the brink of defeat and saved the French monarchy from ruin. Yet in death, she would gain further power still as a martyr and symbol of indomitable French will and resistance. In this seminar, we 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 national heroine, patron saint, and political symbol that she is today. Texts will include Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies, Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues and Letters, Thomas of Cantimpré’s Life of Christina the Astonishing, and Shakespeare’s I Henry VI. We will also analyze and discuss modern renditions of the Joan of Arc story by such diverse artists as Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Luc Besson.

Notes

Same as HIST-UA 670

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1425 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

The Philosophic Dialogue

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Stacy Pies

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1425

Description

In this course, we read philosophical dialogues and their modern successors, poetic prose pieces and a play whose subjects are art and rhetoric. Ancient to modern writers have been fascinated with the power of art, and for each, ideas about art are connected to those about language and society. In our reading of Ion and Gorgias we look at Plato’s ideas on art, rhetoric (oratory), and power before his Republic. Phaedrus, written later, complements the discussion in earlier texts, developing Plato’s ideas about the relation of the intellect, the emotions, and the appetites. We then discuss Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, which revisits some of Plato’s themes from the perspective of the eighteenth century and the changing world of the Enlightenment. Finally, we explore the dialogue form in the twentieth century through Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia and excerpts from works of modern writers. In our dialogue, we explore not only what these writers say, but how they say it, and speculate on how and why conversation, rather than monologue, can give rise to knowledge. Among the questions I hope we consider are the following: How are ideas born from conversation (and, I hope, our conversations)? What is the importance of human relationship in intellectual inquiry? How does the dialogue imply, and necessitate, our participation as readers? Readings may include works by Plato, Diderot, Stoppard and selected excerpts from Bakhtin and Mallarmé.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2015

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad or Odyssey, Aeneid, and Divine Comedy, as well as selections from Plato's Protagoras or Aristotle's Ethics , Cicero's De Fato , Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy , and Fromm's Escape From Freedom .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2015

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

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 and 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. All readings in English.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2014

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

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 and 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. All readings in English.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2014

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s Divine Comedy . A close reading of The Divine Comedy will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia. As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include: The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and The Book of the Zohar.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1790 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2014

The Scientific Revolution

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Matthew Stanley

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1790

Description

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, Ibn Sina, Copernicus, Descartes, Vesalius, 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 .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2014

The History of Kindness

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

How have human beings conceived and represented benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? In this course, we will explore the history of the concepts, ideals, and behaviors that we associate with the modern English word, "kindness" -- a story that begins in the classical world and unfolds slowly through two millennia into the present day. We will connect ancient debates about human nature, the practice of justice, and moral responsibility, to recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a "kindness gene"?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of state-sponsored morality and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato's Republic, The Gospel of Matthew, Augustine's City of God, Dhuoda's Handbook for her son, Chaucer's Tale of Melibee, Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance, and Ghandi's The Story of My Experiments with Truth. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how "kindness" is defined, enacted, and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1569 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2014

Myths as Images from the Ancient World to Shakespeare

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1569

Description

The mythological stories of the classical gods and heroes are perhaps the best known and most widely appealing of the legacies left from the ancient world. Myths offered morals and explanations in addition to entertainment, and, although they are familiar in large part because they are preserved in literary sources, the episodes and characters from the mythic world supplied a vast and compelling body of subjects for ancient artists. This course investigates the ways in which episodes from mythology appear in the visual tradition, and focuses on the ways in which the visual tradition complicates and enhances what we think we know from written sources. We also expand our study to later traditions from the Renaissance and modern periods. We consider what ancient sources are influential in transmitting myths and how these myths are reinterpreted both in literature and in visual media. Readings may include Homer, Iliad and Odyssey ; Ovid, Metamorphosis ; Pseudo-Apollodorus Library; Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica ; Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream ; Kurt Weitzmann, Illustrations in Roll and Codex . We will also make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1772 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2014

Music and Civic Culture: Ancient and Modern

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Description

This course examines the role of music theory and musical performance in the formation of community, actual and utopic. We will begin our study with the musical, mathematical, and mystical thought of Pythagoras and his followers in the short-lived utopian community of Croton: How is “the Music of the Spheres” a paradigm both for ethical action within the community and for the progress of the soul within the cosmos? From Croton, we will turn to debates about music and civic culture in fifth-century democratic Athens: What forms of music and poetry sustain and subvert citizens and states? Is there a particularly “democratic” form of music? (Readings from Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, and Aristotle.) From ancient Greece, we will then turn to the late-nineteenth century efforts of Wagner, partially inspired by Athenian tragedy, to create the “Total Work of Art” in his operas (especially Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) and in the festival at Bayreuth; we will also read Nietzsche’s (and Adorno’s) responses to Greek tragedy and to Wagner. Finally, we will consider some twentieth-century experiments in music and art, especially those associated with Fluxus (e.g. John Cage, Stockhausen, La Monte Young), in dialogue with our earlier readings.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1827 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
WI 2015

Justice, Tragedy and Philosophy: Politics in Ancient Greece

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
10:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Justin Holt

Description

This course is an introduction to the tragedy and philosophy of ancient Athens. We are especially interested in exploring concepts of guilt, justice, and the good, as these are developed in diverging ways by tragedians and philosophers. What role does free will play in politics? What does the invention of philosophy tell us about changing attitudes toward politics? Can justice be decided by a political body or must humans conform to an eternal standard? What is the correct way to educate the young? Is the good attainable and what is its relationship to happiness and pleasure? Is democracy possible or must we be ruled by the virtuous and the wise? What place does divinity and revelation have in politics? Does philosophy have a unique vantage point to discuss political questions? Is the emphasis in tragedy on imperfect knowledge a legitimate political concern? These issues will be considered by reading the following works: Aeschylus' Oresteia , Sophocles' Three Theban Plays, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and Plato's Republic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2015

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’ The Oresteia , Sappho’s Poems , Plato’s Republic , Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s Metamorphoses  or Cicero’s On the Laws , Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or Cervantes’s Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 26 - July 2

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SU 2016

The History of Kindness

4 units Mon Tue Wed Thu
10:00 AM - 1:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

How have human beings conceived and represented benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? In this course, we will explore the history of the concepts, ideals, and behaviors that we associate with the modern English word, "kindness" -- a story that begins in the classical world and unfolds slowly through two millennia into the present day. We will connect ancient debates about human nature, the practice of justice, and moral responsibility, to recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a "kindness gene"?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of state-sponsored morality and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato's Republic, The Gospel of Matthew, Augustine's City of God, Dhuoda's handbook for her son, Chaucer's Tale of Melibee, Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance, and Ghandi's The Story of My Experiments with Truth. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how "kindness" is defined, enacted, and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Notes

Intensive: May 23 - June 9

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1239 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SU 2016

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life

4 units Tue Thu
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course examines several “classic” texts to understand both their own intrinsic merit and their influence on society from their inception until our own time. Our emphasis, indeed, is on using these texts to understand our lives and world now. We explore classic texts in relation to contemporary life’s dilemmas of consumerism and spiritualism, individual rights and community rights, vocation and career, God and the afterlife, rebellion and escape from freedom. Readings may include Aeschylus’  The Oresteia , Sappho’s  Poems , Plato’s  Republic , Lucretius’  On the Nature of the Universe , Ovid’s  Metamorphoses  or Cicero’s  On the Laws , Chaucer’s  The Canterbury Tales  or Cervantes’s  Don Quixote .

Notes

Session I: May 23 - July 3

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1842 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2015

Ancients vs. Moderns

4 units Mon
2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Frederic Clark

Description

Ancients and moderns have participated in constant dialogue—sometimes friendly, and sometimes hostile—that still shapes the complexities of our own approaches to the past today. This relationship has been figured in the metaphor of the modern dwarf standing atop the shoulders of the ancient giant, and seeing further thanks to the giant’s tall stature. This trope goes back to the Middle Ages, when medieval thinkers used it to express their relationship to the philosophers, poets, and historians of ancient Greece and Rome. While elegant, the phrase is decidedly ambiguous. Is the present better than the past? Or is the present only praiseworthy because of the past that preceded it? Could moderns ever be giants too? And what of conflicts, when moderns preferred to stand on their own two feet instead? As we will see, the story of “ancients vs. moderns” often proved counterintuitive. Moderns did not always advocate what we might regard as progress, nor did ancients always adopt outlooks that we might think traditional. This seminar traces approximately two millennia of conflict and compromise between so-called “ancients” and “moderns”—from ancient Greece to the world of revolutionary France and America. Students will explore competing constructions of antiquity and modernity through primary source readings from Cicero, Augustine, Peter Abelard, Petrarch, Erasmus, Bacon, Descartes, Gibbon and others.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

SASEM-UG9550 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2015

TEL AVIV: Ancient Israel History and Archaeology: Travelers, Collectors, and Antiquities Robbers

4 units

Description

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-TEL AVIV. The story of the archaeological discipline in the Land of Israel is strongly tied with the major developments that the region has undergone in the last two centuries. This course offers an overview of the history of archaeology in Palestine since the appearance of the first European travelers and missionaries in the mid-19th century, along the vibrant interest of collectors, forgers and robbers in the Promised Land, through the appearance of the first scientific excavations, the rise of the American biblical archaeology and its influence on local Israeli research. Special attention will be given to the way the newly born Israeli archaeology helped to establish the Zionist identity that wished to pass over two thousand years of Diaspora history; the methods by which the nascent Israeli archaeology connected new-comers to the land of the patriarchs and the manner by which Israeli scholars served state interests in the creation of the national Zionist ethos. The aftermath of the Six Days War and the increasing tension between the Bible and archaeology will be discussed in light of the intense debate over the historicity of the Exodus story, Joshua's conquests and the United Kingdom of David and Solomon. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, post-modern archaeology presented a new pluralistic view of the past. This multi-vocal framework will be used as a background for discussing the archaeology of otherness and minorities in 21st century Israel.

Type

Global Programs (SASEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2015

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1566

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s  The   Origin of Species . We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as “designed” come from? How did natural historians and philosophers unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Linnaeus, Buffon, Jefferson, Rousseau, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.

Notes

Sect 002 for Environmental Studies majors.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2015

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1609

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s  Divine Comedy . A close reading of  The Divine Comedy  will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s  Divine Comedy  is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia. As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include:  The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and  The Book of the Zohar. 

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1454 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2015

The Iliad and its Legacies in Drama

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1454

Description

"The poem of force," according to Simone Weil, the  Iliad  is also a poem of forceful influence. In this course we will read the  Iliad  intensively, followed by an examination of its heritage on the dramatic stage. In the first half of the semester we will primarily explore the  Iliad  in terms of the poetics of traditionality; the political economy of epic; the ideologics of the   Männerbund  (the "band of fighting brothers"); the  Iliad 's uses of reciprocity; its construction of gender; its intimations of tragedy. In the second half of the course, informed by a reading of Aristotle's  Poetics , we will focus on responses to the  Iliad  in dramatic form; possible readings will include Sophocles'  Ajax ; Euripides'  Iphigeneia in Aulis ; Shakespeare's   Troilus and Cressida ; Racine's   Andromaque ; Giraudoux's  La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu;  Ellen McLaughlin's   Iphigenia and Other Daughters.  Students will give presentations on an Iliadic intertext of their own choosing.

Notes

Same as COLIT-UA 972.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1838 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2015

Narrating Seduction: The Tale of Genji

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Nina Cornyetz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1838

Description

Written in the eleventh century by a noble lady of the Japanese court, the Tale of Genji has been called the world’s first novel, and even the world’s first psychological novel. But can we really use the terms “novel” and “psychological” to describe the narrative? In this course we will carefully and closely read  The Tale of Genji  alongside selected secondary sources to focus our attention on such topics as: narration, visuality, sexual politics, relation to reality, poetics, and aesthetics in the text.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1357 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2015

The Qur'an

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

The political upheavals and events of recent years have focused much attention on “Islam” and its cultures and texts, especially the Qur’an. Most of the attention and interest in the Qur’an, however, has been reductive and superficial, amounting to no more than de-contextualized misreadings of certain verses in most cases. This seminar will serve as an introduction to the Qur’an as scripture, but also as a generative and polyphonic cultural text. We will start with a brief look at the legacy of Qur’anic studies within the larger paradigm of Orientalist scholarship and “Western” approaches to all things Islamic. We will, then, address the historical and cultural background and context of the Qur’an’s genesis as an oral revelation, its intimate affinities with Biblical and Near Eastern narratives, and its transformation into a written and canonized text after the death of Muhammad. We will then examine the Qur’an’s structure as a “book” and read selections from its most famous chapters and explore how they were deployed in various discourses as Islam became the official religion of a civilization and an empire. Readings and discussions will focus on the themes of prophecy, gender and sexuality, violence and peace. The seminar neither assumes nor requires any prior knowledge of Islamic studies or Arabic.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1739 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2015

Kinship and Community: Ancient Texts and Modern Theories

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1739

Description

What is the relation of the family to larger structures of community and of state? Do kinship bonds provide a model for those of community or must they be superseded in the interest of a more enlightened state? To what degree do contemporary aspirations for gender equality entail a radical renovation of our understanding of the family? We consider these questions through a close reading of ancient texts, from the Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, which we read in conjunction with some contemporary thinkers on kinship and the state. Primary readings include: Aeschylus  Oresteia , Homeric  Hymn to Demeter , Sophocles  Oedipus Tyrannus  and  Antigone , Euripides  Ion , Plato  Republic , Aristophanes  Ecclesiazusae , Longus  Daphnis and Chloe , Genesis and Exodus, Paul  Romans  and  Galatians ,  Martyrdom of Perpetua , Shakespeare  Measure for Measure , Kushner  Angels in America ; theoretical texts include: Freud  Totem and Taboo  and  Moses and Monotheism , and selections from Engels, Lévi-Strauss, G. Rubin, P. Clastres, A. Rich, and J. Butler.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1351 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
FA 2015

Passion and Poetics in Early Japan

4 units Tue Thu
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Nina Cornyetz

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1351

Description

It can be argued that until the 1880s one thing was almost entirely absent in Japanese literary and performing arts: the notion of an interiorized subject. In fact, the ancient Japanese arts are examples of extreme "exteriority" that privilege form, word play and intertextuality and enfold the human being and human erotic passions within rituals for purity and harmony with a cosmology of the heavens. This course will explore ancient and premodern Japanese poetics and prose, performing and visual arts, from the very first writings through the nineteenth century, in relation to sociocultural history and belief systems such as Buddhism and Shintoism. Texts will include: selections of poetry,  emaki  (picture scrolls), noh and puppet plays, selections from  The Tale of Genji ,  The Pillow Book , and the earliest forms of manga.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1640 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2015

The History of Kindness

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

How have human beings conceived and represented benevolent behavior toward others differently across time and place? In this course, we will explore the history of the concepts, ideals, and behaviors that we associate with the modern English word, "kindness" -- a story that begins in the classical world and unfolds slowly through two millennia into the present day. We will connect ancient debates about human nature, the practice of justice, and moral responsibility, to recent studies concerning the evolutionary biology of altruism (is there a "kindness gene"?), sociological studies of gender difference (is hostility a male trait?), and anthropological studies of how culture regulates conduct. We will study the rise of state-sponsored morality and the ways in which ideals of social welfare have changed over time. Key texts will include Plato's Republic, The Gospel of Matthew, Augustine's City of God, Dhuoda's handbook for her son, Chaucer's Tale of Melibee, Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance, and Ghandi's The Story of My Experiments with Truth. As part of the course, students will also conduct individual studies of how "kindness" is defined, enacted, and organized throughout the New York metropolitan area today, with the opportunity to combine research with internship work.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1449 Lib Arts
SOC
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2015

Plato: Tragedy, Philosophy, and Politics

2 units Thu
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
George Shulman

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1449

Description

This two-credit course focuses on Plato’s  Republic . Our goal is two-fold: we learn the art of close reading to reveal the complex and contradictory layers of meaning in a text, and we introduce the enterprise of political theory by lingering over the central questions Plato raises. Those questions concern philosophy and its relationship to politics, the relationship between knowledge and power, the nature of justice, the role of art, poetry, and myth in politics and culture. we also read Sophocles'  Oedipus Tyrannos  to explore the relationship between tragedy and philosophy. We analyze these issues in relation to Plato’s world, and to our own.

Notes

Open to sophomores only. Course meets first seven weeks, 9/3-10/15.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1515 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2015

Homer/Ellison: The Odyssey and Invisible Man

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
E. Frances White, Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1515

Description

Who is the “man of many ways”? Who is it who declares “I am nobody but myself”? This course creates a dialogue between Homer's  Odyssey  and Ralph Ellison’s  Invisible Man , the masterwork that evokes the  Odyssey  even as it reimagines the scope of the twentieth century novel. We will focus on the historical and cultural specificities of each text but will also pursue the synergies and energies promoted by reading them together. We will thus consider what the ancient world has to say to the modern novel, and how modernity might reanimate a key text of antiquity. Among the topics we will consider: formations and representations of subjectivity in antiquity and modernity; the status of race and ethnicity; the structuring effects of kinship, marriage, institutions, the state, and the law; the cultural poetics and politics of narrative. What stories are we telling about “ourselves,” and/or about “others,” and to what ends? We will draw upon secondary readings in literary theory, gender studies, critical race studies, and other social sciences. Students need no background in these materials but do need critical energy and discipline.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1729 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2016

Ancient and Renaissance Festivity: Its Literary, Dramatic and Social Forms

4 units Mon
2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Susanne Wofford

Description

This class investigates the role of festive custom and holiday release, 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? Why does the "carnivalesque" often include festive abuse as well as celebration? We look at theories of festivity and release, at the dionysiac, at the human/animal union in festivity, and at the role of the classical period in shaping Renaissance and even modern ideas of festivity, irony and the festive worship of the gods. 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. The class begins with classical festivity, with Plato's “Symposium,” Euripides'  The Bacchae , selections from Ovid's  Fasti  and the  Metamorphoses , and Apuleius'  Golden Ass . Readings from the Renaissance include: Rabelais,  Gargantua and Pantagruel ; Shakespeare,  A Midsummer Night’s Dream ,  1 Henry IV; Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra,   The Winter’s Tale.  Concluding with carnival practices in the circum-Atlantic world, we take as examples the film  Black Orpheus  ( Orfeu Negro , directed by Marcel Camus), New Orleans carnival and Jazz Funerals, and probably Paule Marshall’s novel  The Chosen Place, the Timeless People  (1969) in order to see how these older traditions shape modern experience. We will end in 1968 in Greenwich Village with Richard Schechner’s Dionysus in 69.

Notes

Open to sophomores and juniors. Seniors require permission of the instructor (susanne.wofford@nyu.edu). Same as ENGL-UA 252 003.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1488 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2016

Antigone

2 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1488

Description

Antigone: heroine or harridan? Political dissident or family loyalist? Harbinger of the free subject or captive of archaic gender norms? Speaking truth to power or preserving traditional privilege? Sophocles' Antigone has been good to think with since its first production in the fifth century BCE. From ancient commentators through Hegel to contemporary gender theorists like Judith Butler, readers have grappled with what Butler calls "Antigone's Claim." The play's exploration of gender, kinship, citizenship, law, resistance to authority, family vs. the state, and religion (among other issues) has proved especially compelling for modern thought. In this seminar we will closely read the play and some select commentary; supplemental readings may include writings of philosophers, classicists, playwrights, political theorists. We will also conclude with some 20th C. adaptations/re-imaginings of Antigone on the stage.

Notes

Course meets during the first seven weeks only, First Class: January 27; Last Class: March 9.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1651 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2016

From Memory to Myth: The Mighty Charlemagne

4 units Mon Wed
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Andrew Romig

Description

In this course students will explore historical memory, mythmaking, and the myriad ways in which human beings construct and reconstruct the past to address present hopes, dreams, and fears. Our case study will be the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne (d. 814), who in life helped to lay the foundations of modern European society, and in death would continue to represent an imagined pan-European unity that predated factionalism, regionalism, and nationalism. The seminar will begin in the ninth century with Charlemagne in memory before moving briskly forward in time to study Charlemagne in legend and myth. Along the way, we will discuss themes and problems of particular relevance, including the birth of “Europe,” the advent of “the state,” Christianity and Crusade, the rise of vernacular literature, and early colonialism. In addition to theoretical works on memory, myth, and history-writing, texts for discussion will include a vibrant mix of canonical and lesser-known gems: Einhard’s  Life of Charlemagne,   The Song of Roland , and Ariosto’s  Orlando Furioso ; but also the Astronomer’s  Life of Louis the Pious ,  The Voyage of Charlemagne to Jerusalem and Constantinople , and the anonymous  Charlemagne  play from the London of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

Notes

Same as HIST-UA 245.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1521 Lib Arts
SOC
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2016

Political Theology

4 units Tue
6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
George Shulman

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1521

Description

This course explores the idea of "political theology." In conventional interpretations, the concept has suggested that forms of political rule are anchored in or justified by divine revelation, god's law, or a scripture that enshrines them. Commentators thereby infer a politics from a scripture that they read didactically. But many political theorists have interpreted political theology more broadly, to suggest that collective and personal life is always anchored in a form of faith, including faith in reason, or secularism or democracy. In addition, because no faith (or scripture) is self-evident in what it means and entails, people interpret and practice "theology" in deeply divergent ways, even within the same ostensible faith. Politics thus involves the practice of reading or interpretation, as well as judging and mediating conflict both within and among a variety of faiths. To explore how issues of interpretation and conflict relate faith, self-formation, and politics, we read closely but "against the grain" in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian gospels, while also exploring seminal modern commentaries. The modern readings may include: Kierkergaard,  Fear and Trembling;  Schmitt,  Political Theology  and  The Concept of the Political ; Dostoevsky, "The Grand Inquisitor;" Nietzsche,  Thus Spake Zarathustra , as well as work by William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin, and contemporary political theorists.

Notes

Open to sophomores only.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1867 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2016

Global Noodles: Silk Routes & Subway Connections

4 units
Section 003
Thu
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1867

Description

Is this just an excuse to eat lots of noodles. Yes, it is! This basic research course is immersive education in the most delicious, fully embodied sensate, and legal way possible. Along the way, you’ll learn about the secret ingredient to noodle making, the oldest noodle, Italian or Chinese?, and what Genghis Khan did for modernity. And yes this course is also historical and sopping in critical cultural theory, you can tell your parents, as a way to learn about cross-cultural communication challenges, intermingled spaces, and embodied knowledges and practices. We will examine the historical and ongoing impacts of the silk route latitudinal and longitudinal movements throughout Central Asia on the vernacular cultures of global cities, such as the migrant friendly neighborhoods New York City. Part of what is unarticulated yet implied by global cities is the compression of longue durees of times/spaces in one distinctive time/space. Besides slurping for mouth feel, understanding family broth recipes, and storytelling practices, we’ll be documenting, making, analyzing, and appreciating the worlds of noodle practices and conveying our collaborative findings using the latest in mapping apps. Readings and films will include: work by Chef Ken Hom, histories by Morris Rossabi, Jared Diamond and Jack Weatherford, food and affect studies, and the use of CartoDB mapping software. Prerequisites – still loving  Tampopo  (1985) after three viewings, having comfy but stylish walking shoes, and purchasing two monthly Metro Cards.

Notes

Same as SCA-UA 380 003.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1867 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2016

Global Noodles: Silk Routes & Subway Connections

4 units
Section 002
Tue
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1867

Description

Is this just an excuse to eat lots of noodles. Yes, it is! This basic research course is immersive education in the most delicious, fully embodied sensate, and legal way possible. Along the way, you’ll learn about the secret ingredient to noodle making, the oldest noodle, Italian or Chinese?, and what Genghis Khan did for modernity. And yes this course is also historical and sopping in critical cultural theory, you can tell your parents, as a way to learn about cross-cultural communication challenges, intermingled spaces, and embodied knowledges and practices. We will examine the historical and ongoing impacts of the silk route latitudinal and longitudinal movements throughout Central Asia on the vernacular cultures of global cities, such as the migrant friendly neighborhoods New York City. Part of what is unarticulated yet implied by global cities is the compression of longue durees of times/spaces in one distinctive time/space. Besides slurping for mouth feel, understanding family broth recipes, and storytelling practices, we’ll be documenting, making, analyzing, and appreciating the worlds of noodle practices and conveying our collaborative findings using the latest in mapping apps. Readings and films will include: work by Chef Ken Hom, histories by Morris Rossabi, Jared Diamond and Jack Weatherford, food and affect studies, and the use of CartoDB mapping software. Prerequisites – still loving  Tampopo  (1985) after three viewings, having comfy but stylish walking shoes, and purchasing two monthly Metro Cards.

Notes

Same as SCA-UA 380 002.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1867 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2016

Global Noodles: Silk Routes & Subway Connections

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Jack Tchen

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1867

Description

Is this just an excuse to eat lots of noodles. Yes, it is! This basic research course is immersive education in the most delicious, fully embodied sensate, and legal way possible. Along the way, you’ll learn about the secret ingredient to noodle making, the oldest noodle, Italian or Chinese?, and what Genghis Khan did for modernity. And yes this course is also historical and sopping in critical cultural theory, you can tell your parents, as a way to learn about cross-cultural communication challenges, intermingled spaces, and embodied knowledges and practices. We will examine the historical and ongoing impacts of the silk route latitudinal and longitudinal movements throughout Central Asia on the vernacular cultures of global cities, such as the migrant friendly neighborhoods New York City. Part of what is unarticulated yet implied by global cities is the compression of longue durees of times/spaces in one distinctive time/space. Besides slurping for mouth feel, understanding family broth recipes, and storytelling practices, we’ll be documenting, making, analyzing, and appreciating the worlds of noodle practices and conveying our collaborative findings using the latest in mapping apps. Readings and films will include: work by Chef Ken Hom, histories by Morris Rossabi, Jared Diamond and Jack Weatherford, food and affect studies, and the use of CartoDB mapping software. Prerequisites – still loving  Tampopo  (1985) after three viewings, having comfy but stylish walking shoes, and purchasing two monthly Metro Cards.

Notes

Same as SCA-UA 380 001. In order to register, students enroll in the lecture, IDSEM-UG 1867 001, and then select one of the recitations, IDSEM-UG 1867 002 or IDSEM-UG 1867 003.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1695 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
SP 2016

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Ethan Harkness

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1695

Description

Among the early Chinese philosophers whose ideas have framed moral, social and political discourse in East Asia, the figures of Confucius and Lao Tzu stand out, not only as thinkers of towering influence, but also as diametrically opposed archetypes of wisdom. In this seminar, we begin by reading the works attributed to each man, and then we proceed to examine the ways in which their legacies have been and continue to be appropriated by others. Toward this end we explore competing manifestations of Confucius and Lao Tzu in Chinese religion, in popular culture, and in the marketplace of ideas. Themes include the opposing impulses of idolization and iconoclasm, censorship and propaganda, and the sacralization and commercialization of traditional values. Apart from Confucius’  Analects  and Lao Tzu’s  Tao Te Ching , assignments may include  Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching  edited by Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue, selections from  Early Daoist Scriptures  by Stephen R. Bokenkamp,  Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World  by Yu Dan, and the controversial 2010 Hong Kong film  Confucius  starring Yun-fat Chow.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1116 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2016

Fate and Free Will in the Epic Tradition

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1116

Description

The role of the gods in human affairs inevitably raises the question of fate and free will. The epics, from the ancient world to the Renaissance, frequently reflect and define this debate. This course examines how the epics of Homer, Vergil, Dante and Milton not only mirror the philosophical and theological perceptions of the period, but sometimes forecast future debates on the issue. Readings may include the  Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad  or  Odyssey, Aeneid,  and  Divine Comedy,  as well as selections from Plato's  Protagoras  or Aristotle's  Ethics , Cicero's  De Fato , Boethius's  Consolation of Philosophy , and Fromm's  Escape From Freedom .

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1862 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2016

Oedipus the King

2 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1862

Description

Oedipus: exemplary citizen or outlier? Savior of the city or its destroyer? Upholder or suspender of the law (including the law of kinship)? As a meditation on kingship as well as kinship, Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannos, first produced in the fifth century BCE, offers a complex Oedipus, if not, perhaps, an Oedipus complex. Sophocles' meditation on the polis, law, family, knowledge, the structure of mind, desire, and the disease in and of state has proved especially rich for philosophers, psychoanalysts, and theater artists: the play also famously provides the core example for Aristotle's meditation on tragedy in the Poetics. We will explore the OT as tragedy, as resource, as example and exception.

Notes

Some prior familiarity with Greek drama required, or permission of the instructor (laura.slatkin@nyu.edu). Course meets during the first seven weeks only, First Class: January 26; Last Class: March 8.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1202 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
SP 2016

Tragic Visions

4 units Tue Thu
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Bella Mirabella

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1202

Description

This course studies the nature of the tragic form in dramatic literature and performance, as well as its role in human existence. Focusing on two of the great periods of tragedy in Western literature and culture­—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—we read selected tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare as well philosophical considerations of the tragic by, for example, Aristotle and Nietzsche. We examine these works in their social, political, and cultural contexts, while considering questions around gender, power, fate, free will, and the origins and evolution of tragedy as a literary and political genre. Readings might include, for example, Aeschylus', Agamemnon; Sophocles' Antigone or Oedipus; Euripides' Medea, as well as Shakespearean tragedies such as Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, or King Lear. Special attention is paid to performance, and we will also attend a performance.

Notes

Same as MEDI-UA 992 001.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1772 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
SP 2016

Music and Civic Culture: Ancient and Modern

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Syllabus

IDSEM-UG1772

Description

This course examines the role of music theory and musical performance in the formation of community, actual and utopic. We will begin our study with the musical, mathematical, and mystical thought of Pythagoras and his followers in the short-lived utopian community of Croton: How is “the Music of the Spheres” a paradigm both for ethical action within the community and for the progress of the soul within the cosmos? From Croton, we will turn to debates about music and civic culture in fifth-century democratic Athens: What forms of music and poetry sustain and subvert citizens and states? Is there a particularly “democratic” form of music? (Readings from Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, and Aristotle.) From ancient Greece, we will then turn to the late-nineteenth century efforts of Wagner, partially inspired by Athenian tragedy, to create the “Total Work of Art” in his Ring cycle of music-dramas and in the festival at Bayreuth; we will also read Nietzsche’'s (and Adorno’'s) responses to Greek tragedy and to Wagner. Finally, we will consider some twentieth-century experiments in music and art, especially those associated with Fluxus and with New York City (e.g., John Cage, Steve Reich, La Monte Young, Yoko Ono, The Velvet Underground), in dialogue with our earlier readings.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1567 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
SP 2016

The Arabian Nights

4 units Mon
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Sinan Antoon

Description

 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 and 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. All readings in English.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

SASEM-UG9550 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or GLOBAL
FA 2016

TEL AVIV: Ancient Israel History and Archaeology: Travelers, Collectors, and Antiquities Robbers

4 units

Description

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-TEL AVIV. The story of the archaeological discipline in the Land of Israel is strongly tied with the major developments that the region has undergone in the last two centuries. This course offers an overview of the history of archaeology in Palestine since the appearance of the first European travelers and missionaries in the mid-19th century, along the vibrant interest of collectors, forgers and robbers in the Promised Land, through the appearance of the first scientific excavations, the rise of the American biblical archaeology and its influence on local Israeli research. Special attention will be given to the way the newly born Israeli archaeology helped to establish the Zionist identity that wished to pass over two thousand years of Diaspora history; the methods by which the nascent Israeli archaeology connected new-comers to the land of the patriarchs and the manner by which Israeli scholars served state interests in the creation of the national Zionist ethos. The aftermath of the Six Days War and the increasing tension between the Bible and archaeology will be discussed in light of the intense debate over the historicity of the Exodus story, Joshua's conquests and the United Kingdom of David and Solomon. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, post-modern archaeology presented a new pluralistic view of the past. This multi-vocal framework will be used as a background for discussing the archaeology of otherness and minorities in 21st century Israel.

Type

Global Programs (SASEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1566 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
FA 2016

History of Environmental Sciences Before Darwin

4 units Tue Thu
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Peder Anker

Description

This seminar will provide an overview of the history of the environmental sciences from ancient times to Charles Darwin’s  The   Origin of Species . We will explore ways in which naturalists and lay people came to know the environment and in what ways nature could mobilize social and moral author­ity. With a focus on the history of the European environmental problems from the ancient Greeks, Middle Ages, to colonial and Modern experiences, we will survey different ways of knowing nature. Where did the idea of nature as “designed” come from? How did natural historians and philosophers unveil nature’s secrets? What role did scientists play in the colonial experiences? How could Modern scholars imagine “improving” the face of the Earth? These broad questions will guide us in our readings of a series of primary sources, including great and not-so-great books by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, St. Francis, Evelyn, Grew, Bacon, Linnaeus, Buffon, Jefferson, Rousseau, Malthus and Darwin, as well as largely forgotten texts by anonymous authors and colonial explorers.

Notes

Sect 002 for Environmental Studies majors.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1351 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
or EARLY
or GLOBAL
FA 2016

Passion and Poetics in Early Japan

4 units Mon Wed
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Nina Cornyetz

Description

It can be argued that until the 1880s one thing was almost entirely absent in Japanese literary and performing arts: the notion of an interiorized subject. In fact, the ancient Japanese arts are examples of extreme "exteriority" that privilege form, word play and intertextuality and enfold the human being and human erotic passions within rituals for purity and harmony with a cosmology of the heavens. This course will explore ancient and premodern Japanese poetics and prose, performing and visual arts, from the very first writings through the nineteenth century, in relation to sociocultural history and belief systems such as Buddhism and Shintoism. Texts will include: selections of poetry,  emaki  (picture scrolls), noh and puppet plays, selections from  The Tale of Genji ,  The Pillow Book , and the earliest forms of manga.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1739 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2016

Kinship and Community: Ancient Texts and Modern Theories

4 units Mon Wed
4:55 PM - 6:10 PM
Bruce King

Description

What is the relation of the family to larger structures of community and of state? Do kinship bonds provide a model for those of community or must they be superseded in the interest of a more enlightened state? To what degree do contemporary aspirations for gender equality entail a radical renovation of our understanding of the family? We consider these questions through a close reading of ancient texts, from the Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, which we read in conjunction with some contemporary thinkers on kinship and the state. Primary readings include: Aeschylus  Oresteia , Homeric  Hymn to Demeter , Sophocles  Oedipus Tyrannus  and  Antigone , Euripides  Ion , Plato  Republic , Aristophanes  Ecclesiazusae , Longus  Daphnis and Chloe , Genesis and Exodus, Paul  Romans  and  Galatians ,  Martyrdom of Perpetua , Shakespeare  Measure for Measure , Kushner  Angels in America ; theoretical texts include: Freud  Totem and Taboo  and  Moses and Monotheism , and selections from Engels, Lévi-Strauss, G. Rubin, P. Clastres, A. Rich, and J. Butler.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1609 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2016

Dante's World

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Antonio Rutigliano

Description

This course will explore the social, political, intellectual and religious evolution of the late medieval dantesque world, by focusing on Dante’s  Divine Comedy . A close reading of  The Divine Comedy  will serve as a forum to discuss and analyze Dante's writings and those important works that helped to shape the thirteenth-century Florentine society that ultimately served as a stepping stone for the humanist movement that paved the way for the Italian Renaissance. But Dante’s  Divine Comedy  is not just a text of and for its own time. It has left readers fascinated and shuddering for over 700 years because its poetical and literary tropes enable them to confront their experience of the human condition and transform what and how they desire. During the class, therefore, students will conduct research projects on more historical and more enduring aspects of Dante’s Commedia. As well, field trips to museums, cinematic recreations, documentaries, music and other visual and auditory aids will be used to enrich our sense of the text’s meaning and context. Readings include:  The Divine Comedy, The Confessions, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Aeneid , and  The Book of the Zohar. 

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1899 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2016

Ancient Reflections in a Time of Modern War

4 units Wed
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Laura Slatkin

Description

In this class we explore ancient Greek attitudes toward war, as represented in epic, drama, and historiography. Among the topics we consider are: rhetoric and rationales for and against war; war and social cohesion; war and empire; the stakes of civil war; war and gender; the social costs of war; the implications for our contemporary situation. Readings may include, Homer, Iliad; Sophocles, Ajax; Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes; Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulis and Trojan Women; Aristophanes, Peace; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War; and twentieth century mediations on the problematic of war, such as Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain; Jonathan Shay, Achilles in Vietnam; Simone Weil, The Iliad, or the poem of force.

Notes

Same as COLIT-UA 866.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1705 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2016

Antigone(s): Ancient Greece/Performance Now

4 units Tue
3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Kristin Horton, Laura Slatkin

Description

A production of  Antigone  is taking place somewhere in the world every day—right now, as you are reading this. What was  Antigone ? What is  Antigone ? What might  Antigone  yet be? Our course—a collaboration between a stage director and a classicist—begins with an immersion in Sophocles' prize-winning play (441 BCE), with close attention to the history, politics, aesthetics, performance conditions, and production features of ancient Athenian drama more generally. The second half of our course turns to contemporary renditions of  Antigone  and will consider the dramatic and cultural configurations each new production activates.  Antigone's  exploration of the complexities of gender, kinship, citizenship, law, resistance to authority, family vs. the state, and religion (among other issues) has been compelling for modern thought, and especially galvanizing to theaters of resistance and dissent. Our classes will combine critical inquiry into the plays and surrounding discourse as well as experiments in interpretation—including acting workshops and staging exercises. Students need no background in acting, theater, or ancient literature, but do need critical energy and discipline. Among the modern plays we might address, in the second half of the semester, are reimaginings of  Antigone  by Brecht, Fugard, McLaughlin, and Miyagawa. To help us place antiquity and modernity in a productive conversation, we will also read secondary literature from several fields (classics, political theory, anthropology, theory of sexuality/gender).

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1562 Lib Arts
HUM
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2016

Reading the Faces of Ancient Cultures

4 units Mon Wed
12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Hallie Franks

Description

In this class, we will investigate the form, development, and role of images of people in ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. Using visual and literary sources, we will focus on how we define a portrait and will confront the variety of problems that the representation of the individual in the ancient world entails. How essential are the concepts of “likeness” and “realism” to the definition of a portrait, and to its function? How are ancient portraits manipulated to serve specific public or private roles? Who does the manipulating, and who is the audience? Does there exist, in pre-modern cultures, a correlation between the portrait of an individual and that individual’s character? We will address these questions and others, concentrating on the use of portraiture in shaping personal, political, and cultural identities. Texts may include the Stele of Naram-Sin; Aristophanes, Clouds; Pseudo-Aristotle, Physiognomics; images of Alexander the Great and his Successors; the Prima Porta Augustus; and Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

IDSEM-UG1809 Lib Arts
SCI
Hist & Cult
PREMOD
FA 2016

Achilles' Shield: Mapping the Ancient Cosmos

4 units Mon Wed
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Matthew Stanley, Hallie Franks

Description

In Book 18 of the  Iliad , Homer describes the shield made for the hero Achilles. On the shield, the god Hephaestos represented the whole earth, the sun and moon, the constellations, the Ocean that encircles the world, the cities of men, and their farms, festivals, and wars. Achilles’ shield introduces questions about the ways in which the world and the cosmos were understood in the ancient world and the contexts that produced these understandings. How did different ancient sources represent the world and the relationship of the world to the heavenly bodies? What were the organizational principles and goals that governed these representations? As scientific knowledge expands, how do popular conceptions of the world adapt to this new information? And in the absence of maps, which have largely not survived from antiquity, how might other kinds of visual and textual evidence reveal how people thought about geographical relationships, as well as related relationships between centers and frontiers, peoples familiar and foreign, and the earth and heavens? This course investigates ancient scientific and mathematical theories on the extent and shape of the world alongside other kinds of representations—poetic, political, religious, material, and visual. Primary sources may include: Homer  Iliad , Alcman, Plato  Timaeus , Aristotle  De Caelo , Herodotus, Hanno’s Periplous, Ptolemy, Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Gallileo.

Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)