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GUIDE Program Courses

GUIDE Program

GUIDE Program

GUIDE Program Courses: Fall 2023

At the start of the sophomore year, up to eight BMCC students will enter the GUIDE program as GUIDE Finalists. Each finalist will enroll in one NYU Gallatin course focused on social justice during the Fall semester.

A strong component of Gallatin’s curriculum is the study of social justice, which is understood broadly to include a variety of fields and approaches, including but not limited to: social movements, law and governance, urban democracy, economics, identity formation, political literature and art, arts activism, and environmental concerns.

The course will introduce GUIDE students to the nature of interdisciplinary study and make visible the array of academic fields that engage social justice.



Instructor:  Alejandro Velasco

Meeting Days:  Monday from 3:30 PM-6:10 PM


Equating Latin America and revolution seems almost a truism. From Zapata to "Ché" to Chávez, the region's modern history is a tale of one movement promising epic change to the next, each more dramatic than the last and collectively giving rise to an image of Latin America as a cradle of firebrand leaders and riotous masses leaving in their wake endless cycles of unrest. But to look deeper into this history is to find a world of complexity, of peoples pursuing radical change but also gradual reform, at times taking up ballots and at times taking up arms, at times in the factory and at times on the farm, at times from the left and at times from the right. All of it "revolución," yes, but what kind? And through what means? And for what ends? And at what cost? This course traces the evolution of revolution in twentieth century Latin America, from the final collapse of Spanish colonialism in 1898 to the rise of chavismo in 1998, and finally considers the impact of this history on Latin America today. Authors may include, among others, Mariano Azuela, Eva Perón, Gustavo Gutierrez, Subcomandante Marcos, and Raul Zibechi.


Feminism, Imperialism, Decolonization


Instructor: Marie Cruz Soto

Meeting Days: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 AM-12:15 PM


The modern world is in fundamental ways the product of imperial interventions. And the workings and legacies of empires continue to devastate the lives of people around the world. Among the most vulnerable to the violence are women. Yet, women have also long challenged the terms of oppression. And, in the process, they have defied, in generative and liberatory ways, common conceptions of what constitutes opposition, freedom, solidarity, politics and knowledge. This course delves into the particularities of women's experiences and feminist decolonizing imaginaries. It will be guided by the following questions. How have women from the broadly defined Global South been rendered vulnerable and unruly? How have contestations over gender, race, class and sexuality marked the histories of colonies, empires and the Global South? How have imperial interventions made evident the inextricably of the epistemic and material? And thus, what may be feminist decolonizing epistemologies? Readings may include texts from Christina Sharpe, Vandana Shiva, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Jamaica Kincaid, Gloria Anzaldúa and Audre Lorde.

Hearing Difference: The Commercial Music Industry and the American Racial Imaginary


Instructor: Kwami Coleman

Meeting Days: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 AM-12:15 PM


In 1903, at the dawn of the commercial music industry, sociologist W. E. B. DuBois famously proclaimed that the foremost problem in twentieth century American society is "the problem of the color line." Du Bois's prescience sets the stage for this course's exploration of racial identity in recorded, commercially available music. We will examine how racial performance has intermingled with music consumption in the United States since blackface minstrelsy in the 1830s. Our goal is to understand how deeply embedded race-both ascribed and claimed-is in American music culture, reverberating throughout the last century in debates on artists' authenticity, propriety, and popularity. This course is organized chronologically; each week is devoted to a particular era and its corresponding musical genres leading up to the present. With the rising importance of visual media since the mid-20th century, a historically informed understanding of the confluences of race and ethnicity in American music culture through music media and technologies will offer an enhanced understanding of the past and our contemporary, internet-driven musical landscape.

Literature and/of Human Rights


Instructor: Sara Murphy

Meeting Days: Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:30 PM-1:45 PM


The extent and the manner in which we can think of literary or cinematic genres as linked with human rights raises many questions. The historian Lynn Hunt has argued that the emergence of the novel as a genre in the eighteenth century is the site of the emergence of human rights: the novel invited its readers to engage with an individual's story, to sympathize and empathize with a character whose situation might be quite different from the reader's own. Literary works might even be understood as participating in the construction of the rights-bearing individual and designating the boundaries of the human. However, as Samuel Moyn points out, human rights, as a concept associated with legal frameworks and political claims, is a product of the mid-twentieth century. Testimony, autobiography, plays, essays, and film have been recruited to expose violations of what we might call human rights, inciting awareness and sympathy--and sometimes "action. We will begin by sketching a microhistory of the emergence of human rights, testing--and complicating--Hunt's claims for the novel. Then we will move on to look at specific sites and issues. What are some different ways in which literary genres and discourses represent, render visible, and perhaps even constitute human rights violations? How do the "echniques of representation associated with the literary communicate? What are the stakes of these forms of representation? How have writers negotiated the limits of genre and language to engage with that which cannot be readily represented? To what extent do the norms of some forms of literary representation serve, paradoxically, to silence or occlude certain voices? Do certain kinds of literary discourse implicitly sustain a problematic opposition between the humanitarian and the political? Authors and texts discussed may include Mary Hays, Olympe De Gouges, anti-gallows literature, Hannah Arendt, Costas Douzinas, Jane Taylor, J. M. Coetzee, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Rigoberta Menchu, among others.


NYC Coastlines: Past, Present, and Future


Instructor:  Karen Holmberg

Meeting Days: Fridays from 11:00 AM-1:45 PM


*This course requires travel to Governor's Island. Students should not schedule courses before or after this course to accommodate travel time as well as field trips to offsite locations.*

In this course, we will examine the past, present, and future of NYC waterways. The course entwines archaeology, geomorphology, climate change considerations, urban ecology, citizen science, and science fiction to think about the changing coastlines of NYC and the impact of urbanism on the natural environment. In addition to scientific publications, we will draw from historic representations such as The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlansky, the futuristic imaginations of Kim Stanley Robinson's NY 2140 , and contemporary efforts such as the Billion Oyster Project to regenerate the waterways in order to envision the relationship between the historical, contemporary, and post- 21 st century material culture and coastlines of New York City.

Discard Studies: Exploring the Abject, Discarded, and Disposable


Instructor: Rosalind Fredericks

Meeting Days: Thursdays from 2:00 PM-4:45 PM


Waste is a dynamic cultural phenomenon, a language of power, and a material object. Discard studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines the politics of production, consumption, and disposability by beginning with objects such as household garbage, sewage, hazardous waste, and e-waste. In times of planned obsolesce, infrastructural disrepair, austerity, and urban divestment, scholars have turned to waste, in its many material and symbolic forms, to shed light onto topics as diverse as urban ecology, labor, justice and inequality, governance, informality, development, abjection, and protest. This course serves as an introduction to discard studies by delving into the foundational texts and contemporary scholarship in the field. In the first section of the course, we will explore different disciplinary and conceptual approaches to studying waste. We will then ground these frameworks with place-based readings and exercises in New York City. In order to identify and explore global connections and divergences in the politics of waste, we will move to international and transnational studies of waste and uneven geographies of disposability. The final section will involve projects aimed at training students to become discardians. Readings may include the work of Robin Nagle, Sarah Moore, Vinay Gidwani, and Adriana Petryna.

Coming Out Stories


Instructor: Patrick McCreery

Meeting Days: Wednesdays 3:30-6:10 PM


In this course, we study "coming out" as a historical concept and interrogate what the practice now means given the increased acceptance that queer people in the United States have won in recent years. We do this through a close and contextualized study of coming-out narratives that include memoirs, oral histories, and online videos. Gay-rights advocates celebrate coming out as a radical transformation of self-loathing into self-liberation, of shame into pride, of a private characteristic into a public political statement. In the 1970s, activists urged all lesbians and gay men to acknowledge their queer identities publicly. Coming out, they said, would provide role models for closeted people, naturalize a pariah identity, and generate a powerful social movement. When AIDS emerged in the 1980s, many queer people framed coming out as an overtly political act that would instigate action against the disease. More recently, many activists and scholars have argued that coming out and the accrual of civil rights exist symbiotically-the more queer people who come out, the more rights and benefits that queer people achieve. But was coming out ever really straightforward? How do race, religion, education, and gender presentation influence an individual's decision to come out? Does coming out paradoxically represent a form of assimilation? Is it ever fair to out someone else? And what does it mean to come out today, when even young children may feel supported in proclaiming themselves queer? Works we may encounter include Alison Bechdel's "tragicomic" Fun Home, Saeed Jones's memoir How We Fight for Our Lives, Michael Warner's work of social theory Publics and Counterpublics, and Kenji Yoshino's memoir-cum-legal analysis Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights.

All the Rage: Black Feminists on Anger


Instructor: Sybil Cooksey

Meeting Days: Thursdays from 3:30 PM-6:10 PM


Anger is a formidable emotion with a complex social life. In this course, we examine black feminist writings that ask us to think critically about anger, and develop cultural analyses regarding the work that it can and cannot do. Among the questions we consider are: How do race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender identity determine who is allowed to be angry and whose anger will be attended to? In what ways are we as black women encouraged to think of our anger as unreasonable or unjustified, taught to deny it, squash it, or be afraid it will kill us? What is the relationship of anger to demands for justice? Or, put another way, how is this emotion, long stereotyped and stigmatized, reworked by black feminist scholars, artists and activists who see in it the potential for personal and political empowerment? What do they see as the particular promises and possible pitfalls of angry power? Our inquiry is shaped by contributions from Brittney Cooper, Audre Lorde, Staceyann Chin, bell hooks, CeCe McDonald, Maria Stewart, Claudia Rankine, Roxane Gay, Sara Ahmed, June Jordan and Solange Knowles. Along the way we will note that these authors' and artists' contributions are varied and inconsistent. Rather than come away with a monolithic understanding of black feminist thinking about anger, students will learn to be alive to the differences in approaches and strategies represented by the materials under study here.


The Colonial Invention of Race


Instructor: Duncan Yoon

Meeting Days: Mondays from 2:00 PM-4:45 PM


Where did the idea of race come from? In this course, we will examine the history of race and racism as it emerged and manifested through European imperialism beginning in the early modern period. We will also analyze how these race theories intersected with, and were informed by, constructions of gender, sexuality, and class. To do so, we will examine works ranging from legal documents, colonial policies, travelogues, anthropological accounts, visual representations, critical essays, philosophy, and literature. Particular attention will be paid to how theories of race functioned in English and French imperialism in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. We will interrogate how these policies mapped phenotypical difference onto hierarchies of the human and civilization in order to justify dehumanization and enslavement. In the second half of the class, we will turn to works that resist and refute the colonial invention of race. We will home in on networks of anti-imperialism and their requisite discourses, which gave rise to movements for decolonization and national self-determination across the "Third World." While race theory as it emerged within the U.S. is crucial to many of the works we will examine, we will focus on how race manifested in relations between colony and European metropole, and specifically how anti-racism is fundamental to postcolonialism.

The Genealogical Imagination


Instructor: Kimberly DaCosta

Meeting Days: Wednesdays from 8:00 AM-10:45 AM


For most of US history, why was it possible for a white woman to give birth to a black child, but impossible for a black woman to give birth to a white child? Why does the grandchild of an Irish citizen who has never been to Ireland have more citizenship rights than a child born and raised in Ireland to immigrant parents? Why do some indigenous groups use DNA tests to legitimize membership while others explicitly reject them? This course examines the "genealogical imagination"-the social, cultural and cognitive underpinnings of descent-and its manifestation in notions of kinship, ancestry, race and nation. We explore how genealogy as a logic and practice links together ideas about who we are as members of families with "what" we are ethnically or racially. The genealogies we use to record family relationships are the same ones we use to establish our belonging in ethnic groups. And use them we do! Genealogical research is the second most popular hobby in the US, interest in which has skyrocketed with the advent of commercial genealogical research sites. Yet genealogies are never a simple cataloging of our ancestors or our ancestry. Which ancestors we remember or forget, and what forms of relatedness we recognize or deny, are shaped by culture and politics. We examine queer and indigenous kinship and group logics and practices, and how developments in assisted reproductive technologies and "genetic genealogy" are disrupting conventional reckonings of family and ethnoracial relatedness.


Marxism since Marx: Race, Gender, Class


Instructor: Lisa Daily

Meeting Days:  Fridays from 11:00 AM-1:45 PM


In the 1970s, the Combahee River Collective issued a statement noting that the major systems of oppression are interlocking and that these oppressions create the conditions of our lives. So, how is it that global capitalism and its modes of production, accumulation, and oppression have come to dominate our lives and what can we do about it? This course considers the contemporary significance of Marxism as well as the tremendous work produced since Marx with a focus on the intersections of race, gender, class, and geopolitics. We analyze how the historical and theoretical framework of Marxism becomes situated in particular material and ideological realities, such as decolonization movements, civil rights struggles, and those for worker protections. Our readings primarily focus on black Marxism and black feminist/feminist Marxisms with themes including: the role of racial and gendered differentiation in capitalist development and underdevelopment, processes of accumulation and dispossession, credit and debt, social reproduction, and relations between capital and labor. Readings may include works by: Karl Marx, Cedric Robinson, Walter Rodney, the Combahee River Collective, Claudia Jones, Silvia Federici, Nancy Fraser, Amílcar Cabral, Frantz Fanon, and Che Guevara, among others.