Cities and Citizenship: Readings in Global Urbanism (IDSEM-UG 1880)

Cities have long been viewed as the crucible of citizenship. “But over the last few decades, the rapid urbanization of the global South has recalibrated Western derived models of cities and citizenship. “This course draws on interdisciplinary readings from urban studies, geography, anthropology, and history to grapple with this global “urban revolution.” Rejecting the language of crisis, chaos, and exception that is so often used to characterize cities in the global South, it will provide theoretically informed perspectives on social, cultural, and political life in rapidly urbanizing places throughout the postcolonial world. Attention will be paid to histories and legacies of colonialism alongside novel forms of governance and claims to the city. “Though focused primarily on cities in the global South, the class is intended to probe how these cities reconfigure conventional understandings of being a citizen in the city (anywhere), and will also examine the global South within the “North”. “Topics may include the rights to the city, infrastructure and planning, gentrification, political ecologies, technologies of rule, informality and slum upgrading, and urban social movements. “”Selected authors may include Ananya Roy, James Holston, Mamadou Diouf, Nikhil Anand, and AbdouMaliq Simone.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1880-000 (12439)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Thu
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Fredericks, Rosalind

Architecture as Narrative (IDSEM-UG 2003)

In this course, students explore the relationships between architecture and narrative-based cultural expressions such as film, novels and even games, analyzing current developments from a critical perspective. As part of their study, students will focus on space as medium for storytelling. The course is divided in two parts in order to progress from homo spectator to homo faber. In the first half students develop their theoretical framework through lectures, group discussions and workshops on different sources that may include films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Japanese Studio Ghilbi’s Spirited Away, architectural work from Rem Koolhaas and Toyo Ito, and cyberpunk texts from William Gibson, Lebbeus Woods, and others. Students’ newly-acquired conceptual background is summarized in a midterm essay. In the second part of the course, students apply their skills on a series of short projects for Manhattan, located at the intersection between architecture and narrative. For the production of their projects, students are expected to bring to the class their own set of interests and abilities —ranging, for example, from music to computer gaming, or from academic research to Internet literacy.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Digital Revolution: History of Media III (IDSEM-UG 1042)

We are in the midst of a revolution. Computers permeate nearly every aspect of our life, yet we understand relatively little about how they work, their historical development, and their impact on our thought and actions. As with previous technological and communications revolutions like the rise of print and the ascendency of the image, computing is transforming our economic and political landscape, bringing with it new possibilities as well as new problems. In this course, we explore this ever-changing and rapidly expanding terrain, paying special attention to how computers and the Internet are transforming how we experience and understand identity and community, control and liberation, simulation and authenticity, creation and collaboration, and the practice of politics. Authors whose works we read may include Donna Haraway, Jean Baudrillard, Jorge Luis Borges, Yochai Benkler, Nicholas Carr, the Critical Art Ensemble, Galileo, Lawrence Lessig, Sherry Turkle, Lewis Mumford, Plato, the RAND Corporation, and Ellen Ullman.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1042-000 (17140)
09/03/2024 – 12/12/2024 Mon,Wed
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Duncombe, Stephen

Berlin: Capital of Modernity (IDSEM-UG 9104)

Some of the most thrilling, momentous, and terrible events of the 1900s occurred in Berlin, which present tales of warning and inspiration to the present century. This four-week interdisciplinary seminar tracks these major events and traces change through the study of primary materials (literature, film, art, buildings, music, political discourse) and secondary readings drawn from a range of disciplines including history, sociology, philosophy, and critical theory. Berlin’s streets, buildings, memorials, and cultural monuments offer cautionary tales about the folly of nationalist ambition; inspiring sagas of intellectual and physical courage; cold testimonials of crime and retribution; lyrical ballads of brutal honesty; personal records of hope and despair. From one perspective, all of these narratives are episodes in an epic whose grand and central scene is World War II; this is the point of view to be adopted in this course. Students will take in many of the sights and sounds of old and contemporary Berlin but will focus on the involvement of twentieth-century, Berlin-based politicians, activists, artists, architects, bohemians, writers, and intellectuals with the causes, experience, and consequences of World War II. Our period of study begins just before the outbreak of World War I and ends during the astonishing building boom of the post-Wall 1990s and early 2000s.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 6 Weeks

Sections (Summer 2024)


IDSEM-UG 9104-000 (3987)
at NYU Berlin (Global)
Instructed by Hornick, Karen · Smoler, Fredric

Fashion, Culture & the Body (IDSEM-UG 9254)

This is a course that explores the relationship between ideas, the body and the way that fashion can be understood to mediate between the two. Through a range of disciplines and media this course considers the body as an aspect of not only medical and scientific exploration, but crucially as a vital element of culture and society. Bodies affect the ways in which the social world and power relations are organized, and they even arguably condition the way that we understand reality itself. Our physical form is constantly shaped according to both philosophies and fashions. Body ideals and broader ideals often interrelate strongly through bodily practices and with what we wear. There are meanings and fashions in all bodily forms (skinny, buxom, muscular, ideas of ’whiteness’) and body practices (dieting, hair management, cleansing rituals, plastic surgery and genital cutting). Over the sessions, we will take a conceptual approach to fashion, as a strident condition of modern life, that incorporates politics, science and aesthetics and we will closely read a number of cultural texts against a number of theoretical models. Attitudes towards the body can vary widely according to historical period, and this course will explore how, in different moments, and via different media, we have been preoccupied with the aesthetics of different body zones, with displaying identity (gender, class and ethnicity), and also with power. Different cultural forms (literary, visual, material etc) will provide the focus of our discussions as they all engage with the different ways that we make meaning out of our bodies. Students will be invited to investigate in their written work set texts from class in addition to primary material of their own choice.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Ruins, Fragments, and Archives (IDSEM-UG 1748)

Traces of time passing, ruins are time that has turned into space, duration ossified and broken up into fragments. Fragments are things we carry out of ruins, relics rescued from the abyss of lost time. We create archives to organize the rescued and the abandoned, compiling catalogs and designing systems that are often ruins themselves. Drawing on literature, painting, film, and installation art, this class will explore the entanglement of nature and history and of the recent and deep past in representations of architectural and social decay—in stories and images of ruined cottages, “picturesque” abbeys and castles, partially buried woodsheds. We will examine representations of objects redeemed from the ruins of history as well as the ruined sites in which such objects find refuge (arcades, museums, libraries). And we will consider what it means for something to outlive its usefulness, to survive itself and live on in its own afterlife. Students will write several analytic essays, building toward a research project in which they will explore and interpret a ruin of their choice. Texts may include essays by Uvedale Price, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Douglas Crimp, Robert Smithson, Marguerite Yourcenar, and Hal Foster; engravings, films, and installations by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Jacques Tourneur, Chantal Akerman, Ilya Kabakov, Tacita Dean, and Pat O’Neill; poetry and prose by William Cowper, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, H.D., Louis Aragon, Susan Howe, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Philosophy Through Film (IDSEM-UG 1943)

From Casablanca and A Clockwork Orange to Sophie’s Choice and The Matrix, popular films offer surprisingly perceptive insights into complex philosophical concepts. This course begins by exploring the nature of philosophical analysis, argument, and the relevance of thought experiments.It will then draw on a wide range of films – along with a diverse selection of historical and contemporary thinkers – in order to explore many of the central areas of philosophy.Some of the areas under consideration will include perception (the nature of perceptual experience and the status of perceptual data, in particular how they relate to beliefs about, or knowledge of, the world), philosophy of mind (the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, and their relationship to the physical body), determinism (the philosophical idea that every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the inevitable and necessary consequence of antecedent states of affairs), and the philosophy of religion (the area of philosophy which considers questions about the existence of God and the nature of evil). By merging the cinematic and philosophical worlds, debates will also arise around ethics, free will, and the nature of time.Readings will be drawn from Aristotle, Anselm, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Locke, Nagel, Pascal, Putnam, and Williams, among others.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Photography through the Lens of Magnum (IDSEM-UG 2930)

Learn the history of some of the most widely known works of journalistic and documentary photography over the last seventy years through the lens of a globally preeminent photo collective, Magnum Agency. Photographers at this collective have created iconic documentary images and helped define the field of photojournalism as we know it today, setting an influential tone for style and content. Students will examine this in a variety of topics, including the documentation of war, social justice concerns, women’s issues, and sex work. Along the way, students study the business model of this agency to grasp how its differences, from other photographic enterprises, influence the work produced. We use this agency as a lens through which to address a recent history of photography, the trajectory of visual journalism, and the place of advocacy in documentary photography. We also ask critical questions of this visual documentation, assessing power imbalances, ethical complications, and more. Our studies take us through time and around the world via the medium of photography. Specific photographers we may explore include: Robert Capa, Susan Meiselas, Jonas Bendiksen, Nanna Heitmann, Bieke Depoorter, and Eli Reed. Readings include theory, journalistic accounts, history, and other critical literature. Naturally, we spend a lot of time looking at photos, and may have the opportunity to meet some of these photographers. Students visit NYC galleries, write academic papers, and produce a photo project.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
2 credits – 7 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 2930-000 (17099)
09/03/2024 – 10/22/2024 Fri
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Walsh, Lauren

In With The Old, Out With The New: Debates on “Tradition” in Western Music (IDSEM-UG 1823)

Contests between stalwart custodians of “tradition” and rebels searching for new, untested modes of expression pervade Western music history. This course surveys some of the most contentious debates on music’s past, present, and future waged between music theorists, critics, artists, and audiences, spanning the last five hundred years. Our focus is on the seemingly inevitable tension between what music is, what it should be, and what it can be. Starting with the Greek philosophers of antiquity, we explore debates on the music of Claudio Monteverdi, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Carmen Miranda, John Cage, Bob Dylan, and The Slits. We also examine the backlash against and subsequent defense of styles like jazz, rock and roll, punk rock, rap, and 2000s pop. Our goal is to better understand how culture is “made” precisely during these moments of charged debate, where a particular music’s perceived merits or transgressions serve as the pretext for larger often controversial ideological issues. Art in this sense–and music in particular–becomes a platform by which to observe how competing aesthetic value systems reveal deep social and cultural rifts. Each unit within this course has two parts. First, we scrutinize and discuss primary sources related to the debate: letters, scores, newspaper and magazine articles, journal entries, singles, albums, and films. Secondly, we read and discuss secondary sources by scholars, critics, and investigative journalists for context, using this new information as a way to think critically about the primary sources and our own aesthetic judgments. What we will see is that debating music in terms of what’s “good” and “bad,” classical and avant-garde, edifying and dangerous, traditional and innovative, is, in the Western world, a long-standing tradition in its own right.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1823-000 (12292)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Mon,Wed
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Coleman, Kwami

Sailors, Convicts, and Pilgrims: The Indian Ocean Since 1500 (IDSEM-UG 2067)

Can oceans be the subject of historical inquiry? Maritime spaces help in thinking beyond nations and national borders that dominate modern global histories, leading us into a world of connected pasts. This course investigates the Indian Ocean’s long expanse from the early modern to the modern period from 1500 to the early 20th century. What changed about movement and exchange across land and sea in the longer transition from empires to nation-states? In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, despite growing European presence in the Indian Ocean littoral, pre-existing networks between East Africa, the Persian Gulf, the Indian sub-continent, and Southeast Asia remained resilient. Yet, by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, new shipping technologies, the monitoring of movement across borders, and the introduction of travel documents like the passport became crucial in the formation of nation-states that emerged from colonial empires. From sailors, moneylenders, and pilgrims to convicts and indentured laborers, cultures of mobility connected vast geographies, often defying the logic of nation-states and colonialism. In examining this history, we will cover themes ranging from encounters in port-cities, commodities, smuggling, piracy, and pilgrimage to documents of identity and travel. Readings may include: Broeze’s Brides of the Seas, Ewald’s Motley Crews: Indian and African Seafarers, Tagliacozzo’s Secret trades, porous borders, and Torpey’s The Invention of the Passport, and translations from Samarqandi’s Account of Calicut and Vijayanagar, Afonso De Albuquerque’s Letter from Aden, Linschoten’s Itinerario, Munshi Rahman Khan’s Autobiography of an Indian Indentured Laborer, and Nawab Sikandar Begam’s A Pilgrimage to Mecca.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 2067-000 (12492)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Tue
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Dayal, Subah

What is Technology (IDSEM-UG 9353)

It would be a misnomer to assume that technology is something we “use.” Rather, the human appears as embedded in a matrix of the socio-techno-material. In this sense, there is something quite non-technical about technology which has an intrinsically social nature and can take the form of bodily and socializing techniques, the canalization of creative powers, becomings of all sorts, and of course the mechanical and material manipulation of ourselves and our life-worlds. We must thus speak of a biological and technical habitus of dependency and over-coming, one constituted by everything from creating art, to language, to ideological persuasion, to human enhancement and post-humanism, and various forms of convergence. What is the relationship between these various techniques and technologies and their respective effects (ethical, cultural, aesthetic) on the category of the human? Social transformation and technology cannot be theorized in isolation. The technological, mediological, and digital have to be unearthed as constitutive of our shared “material culture” and milieu. Within such a milieu, which is both internal and external to actors and agents implicated within it, the “essence” of the human is not only potentially redefined, but indeed dissolved. In such a potential redefinition and dissolution, one finds a radically new ethical and political threshold that has yet to be adequately theorized. This course attempts to reveal this threshold through developing a critical heuristic which maps the topoi of the socio-eco-techno system. Drawing on mediology, ethics, and the French school of the anthropology of techniques, we explore such topoi in terms as both “deep” historical sediment and also futurology with a view to illuminating how our values are negotiated and transformed in our rapport with the technological.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 9353-000 (3672)
at NYU Paris (Global)
Instructed by

The Western History of Madness from the Bible to DSM-5 (IDSEM-UG 1961)

Viewed as a natural kind or socially constructed, “madness” was defined and treated, examined and controlled, diagnosed and cured according to the spirit of the time. This course follows the varied social imageries of “madness” throughout Western history, from the Hebrew Bible to the contemporary and controversial Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), also known as “the bible of psychiatry”, in its most recent 5th edition. Students read primary and secondary texts by philosophers, physicians, theologians, jurists, tragedians, novelists, psychologists, social reformers, policy makers, journalists, historians and individuals who suffered madness, known as “experts by experience.” They also observe art and watch films that portray different aspects of madness. Reading includes: the Bible, Plato, Hippocrates, Ibn Sina, Maimonides, Margery Kempe, Erasmus, Robert Burton, Freud, George Canguilhem, Foucault, Ian Hacking, Elaine Showalter among others. The course explores the interaction between the social, cultural, scientific, political as well as economic factors that have shaped the views of “madness” and its treatment while paying ample attention to the history of ideas that informed and, often, framed them.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1961-000 (17014)
09/03/2024 – 12/12/2024 Fri
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Ophir, Orna

The Poetics and Politics of Mourning (IDSEM-UG 1835)

If “the past is never dead,” as Faulkner wrote, how does it continue to live on? How do its ghosts continue to haunt the political present? Can these ghosts be exorcised or does one have to learn to live with them? These questions become especially urgent and consequential in the aftermath of war and catastrophe, as writers and artists confront the legacy of violence and try to memorialize annihilated bodies and spaces. The aesthetic modes they choose to address both the dead and the living and the ways in which they narrate the past have political consequences for the future. We will explore and try to answer these questions by reading a selection of texts (fiction, poetry, film, and visual art) as sites and acts of mourning. We will read and view works from and about Armenia, South Africa, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and the US. Readings will include Benjamin, Boulus, Butler, Darwish, Derrida, Freud, Khoury, Morrison, and Youssef.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2022)


IDSEM-UG 1835-000 (19459)
09/01/2022 – 12/14/2022 Tue
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM (Late afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Antoon, Sinan

Classic Texts and Contemporary Life (IDSEM-UG 1239)

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.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 6 Weeks

Sections (Summer 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1239-000 (3086)
05/20/2024 – 07/02/2024 Tue,Thu
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Late afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Rutigliano, Antonio

The Sublime (IDSEM-UG 1788)

The “sublime” evades simple definition. In everyday conversation, it is often synonymous with the wonderful or the excellent. But, in the arts, humanities and aesthetic theory, the “sublime” is a topic of deep and extensive writing and reflection amongst poets, artists, theorists, and philosophers. The sublime, in this context, goes back to classical times and forward to the present. Common examples of the sublime included natural or artistic representations mountains, avalanches, waterfalls, stormy seas, human ruins, or the infinite vault of the starry sky. This course examines theoretical and creative representations of the sublime in writers and artists from ancient to postmodern, including Aristotle, Longinus, Sappho, Kant, Schiller, Wordsworth, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Newman, Rosenblum, Du Bois, Lyotard, Battersby, Chopin, Freeman, Malick, Wagner, Viola, and von Trier.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2023)


IDSEM-UG 1788-000 (22039)
01/23/2023 – 05/08/2023 Tue
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Late afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Lewis, Bradley

Theories of Memory and the Art of Autobiography (IDSEM-UG 2150)

How can we write about our past when memory can be so unreliable? Furthermore, to whom do we write when we write about ourselves and why? This course will investigate the variety of stylistic and formal choices that authors make when representing subjective experience, specifically past experience. We will examine a range of autobiographies and memoirs written in Europe, primarily Britain, and America from eras as diverse as the fourth century, the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, and today, and in forms as various as verse, prose, avant-garde language experiments, and graphic novels. We inquire into different ways in which authors understood memory and its relationship to language, with the support of theoretical texts on memory, including writings on trauma, confession, neuroscience, psychoanalysis, dreams, mnemonics and repetition, selective memory, somatic memory, marginalized identity, and the relationship between selfhood and narrative. Authors include St. Augustine, William Wordsworth, Thomas De Quincey, W.E.B Du Bois, Lyn Hejinian, and Alison Bechdel. Students will have a chance to practice both analytical and creative writing that responds to and draws inspiration from our course texts.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Art and Archaeology of Race in Ancient Mediterranean (IDSEM-UG 2132)

The goals of this course are twofold. First, students will learn about conceptions of race and ethnicity in the ancient Mediterranean world (inclusive of North Africa and West Asia) through select examples of ancient art and texts. The course examines how racial and ethnic differences were conceptualized in the ancient world, while also considering the processes of racial formation in the context of ancient empires and kingdoms. Second, students will examine the ways that the study of the art, archaeology, and culture of the ancient Mediterranean has impacted modern/contemporary formations of race. Archaeological and historical disciplines centering around the ancient Mediterranean world (e.g. Classics, Egyptology, ‘Near Eastern’ Studies) have developed alongside western imperial projects and the construction of monuments to white supremacy in the United States. Redressing these histories, artists and writers of color (e.g. Edmonia Lewis, Yayoi Kusama, Kandis Williams, Fred Wilson) have likewise engaged with ancient art and myth in order to problematize and resist such racist legacies. In this seminar, students will become familiar with a range of primary source material alongside secondary sources that theorize and engage with race from different disciplines. The course will provide students with premodern, historical perspectives on race, illuminating the aesthetic, cultural, and political strategies by which power was distributed and administered along racial lines. Furthermore, students will learn about the stakes of studying the ancient world for contemporary debates around race.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2023)


IDSEM-UG 2132-000 (13563)
01/23/2023 – 05/08/2023 Tue,Thu
11:00 AM – 12:00 AM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Kim, Patricia

Environmental Racism and Environmental Injustice: Rights, Citizenship, and Activism (IDSEM-UG 2114)

How are environmental racism and environmental injustice related to belonging in—and exclusion from—local, national, and international communities? How do questions about citizenship, rights, and rightlessness relate to environmental racism and environmental injustice? This course addresses questions about how numerous forms of environmental racism and environmental injustice impact people’s access to their human rights—universally guaranteed in principle but so frequently inaccessible in reality. These questions have newfound urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as marginalized communities already subjected to environmental repression have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Drawing on works from the realms of political theory, international law, literature, activism, and others, we will address relationships between race, class, gender, and environmental injustice. We will discuss fence-line communities. There are powerful connections between so-called “local” environmental injustice and the climate crisis—how are these connections overlooked by international law? We will focus on how communities of color, Indigenous communities, and stateless people are affected by and resist pollution inequity and differential access to healthcare. Historical and contemporary cases include denial of water access (e.g. Flint and Detroit, Michigan; the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza; and Cape Town, South Africa); forced exposure to toxins in armed conflict zones (ranging from the WWII bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War); poisoning from industrial pollution (such as in Minamata, Japan in the 20th century); and international examples of lead poisoning. Scholars, novelists, poets, theorists, and practitioners whose work will be read and discussed may include: Robert D. Bullard, Rachel Carson, Steve Lerner, Harriet A. Washington, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Seyla Benhabib, Benedict Anderson, Antony Anghie, Tōge Sankichi, Ghassan Kanafani, and Yoko Tawada.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 2114-000 (12502)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Tue
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Late afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Krakow, Carly

Novels of Youth In and After Colonialism (IDSEM-UG 2040)

This seminar takes as its central topic the relationship between youth and empire. What does it mean to come of age in a world-system when the key decisions that shape your life might be made in far-off countries that you have never seen? And conversely, why have writers in societies that have recently achieved political independence been drawn to narrate that political transformation through the lens of stories about growing up? We will read a range of different texts and genres, including realist novels, modernist fiction and autobiographical narratives by formerly enslaved people. We will think together about the strengths and limits of these various forms, considering the ways that authors have attempted to reckon with the existential uncertainty of living in a global society. Likely readings will include Chinua Achebe, No Longer at Ease; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; Charles Dickens, Great Expectations; Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm; and Indra Sinha, Animal’s People.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 2040-000 (21100)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Mon,Wed
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Vargo, Gregory

Sexualities of the Middle East: A Cultural History (IDSEM-UG 9550)

The course will tackle questions of sexuality in the Middle East from a historical perspective. Applying methodologies of queer theory, it will discuss the complex history of sexuality in the Middle East, and sketch the genealogy of Western attitudes towards both Arab and Jewish sexuality. Relying on theorists and historians like Michel Foucault, Robert Aldrich, Khaled El-Rouayheb, Samar Habib, and Joseph Massad, we will explore the essential role that the queer issue plays in the contemporary politics of the region.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 9550-000 (4247)
01/23/2024 – 05/06/2024 Wed
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Late afternoon)
at NYU Tel Aviv (Global)
Instructed by Ilani, Ofri

History of British Fashion (IDSEM-UG 9252)

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-LONDON. This course offers a survey of key aspects of British fashion from 1500 to the present day, including womenswear, menswear, accessories, and more. We will examine selected features of producing, consuming, and representing dress, relating important shifts in fashion to historical developments in areas such as trade, economics, politics, and visual culture. Students will study examples of historical clothing as well as depictions of it, and become familiar with a variety of methodological approaches to its study. The majority of classes will take place in Bedford Square, London, and be formed of illustrative lectures, class activities, discussion of set readings, and student presentations. Each lecture is described in the syllabus and includes discussion questions, required as well as recommended readings, and recommended films. Several classes will take place on location, at museums and archives, and will explore important collections of British dress and of British everyday life and fashionable consumption.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 9252-000 (2740)
09/02/2024 – 12/06/2024 Tue
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at NYU London (Global)
Instructed by Li, Leren

History of Italian Fashion (IDSEM-UG 9200)

THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-FLORENCE. The aim of this course is to explore the history of Italian fashion with an interdisciplinary approach focused on social, cultural, economic and political aspects. By focusing on select topics of key interest students will acquire a basic knowledge of the history of Italian fashion from the Renaissance to the present, understand the complex and multivalent clothing codes that help to order social interaction and learn to decode it. These abilities will provide students with a useful basis for understanding the capital role of the fashion of the past both as the origin of a ‘language’ of clothes still in use and as a boundless source of inspiration for contemporary designers. Conducted in English.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 9200-000 (2458)
08/29/2024 – 12/05/2024 Tue
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM (Late afternoon)
at NYU Florence (Global)
Instructed by Lurati, Patricia


IDSEM-UG 9200-000 (19675)
08/29/2024 – 12/05/2024 Thu
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (Morning)
at NYU Florence (Global)
Instructed by Lurati, Patricia

The Novel and Society: Victorian Secrets (IDSEM-UG 1726)

In the twenty-first century, the Internet arguably makes secrecy impossible, but the exposure of secrets is already an important theme in many 19th-century British novels. In part, this reflects a society in which identity seems increasingly malleable through greater social class mobility, the questioning of traditional gender roles, and imperialist opportunities. In these novels, fake identities conceal a murderer and a madwoman, among others. And the societal constraints inspiring the fictional secrets also led the authors to keep secrets of their own. Beloved author Charles Dickens, the father of 10, had a 13-year love affair with a woman who was 18 when they met. But does the novel genre, particularly the “realist” Victorian novel, with its emphasis on an omniscient narrator and intersecting plots, have a special relationship to secrets? We attempt to uncover the answer by studying Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Bronte (1847), Great Expectations (1861), by Charles Dickens, George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-2), and Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet (1887). Theory and criticism include selections from Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s “Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism.”

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1726-000 (12277)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Wed
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Foley, June

The Modern Arabic Novel (IDSEM-UG 1478)

Colonialism left indelible marks on the cultures and societies of its colonized subjects. While nation-states have emerged, the colonial legacy and its various effects continue to haunt post-colonial societies and the modes in which they represent their history and subjectivity. The novel is a particularly privileged site to explore this problem. This course will focus on the post-colonial Arabic novel. After a brief historical introduction to the context and specific conditions of its emergence as a genre, we will read a number of representative novels. Discussions will focus on the following questions: How do writers problematize the perceived tension between tradition and modernity? Can form itself become an expression of sociopolitical resistance? How is the imaginary boundary between “West” and “East” blurred and/or solidified? How is the nation troped and can novels become sites for rewriting official history? What role do gender and sexuality play in all of the above? In addition to films, readings (all in English) may include Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Naguib Mahfuz, al-Tayyib Salih, Abdelrahman Munif, Ghassan Kanafani, Elias Khoury, Sun`allah Ibrahim, Huda Barakat, Assia Djebbar, and Muhammad Shukri.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1478-000 (17143)
09/03/2024 – 12/12/2024 Wed
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Antoon, Sinan

Narrative Investigations II: Realism to Postmodernism (IDSEM-UG 1289)

In this class we will continue to explore the concept of narrative and the way writers interrogate literary and social conventions. As we consider how stories shape our notions of history, love, social class, and sexual identity, we will examine how the thinking of readers, and stories, changed from the nineteenth century to the twentieth. We will follow the emergence of a new form of narration, whose protagonists include not only characters, but also time, place, the city, the reader, and language itself. We will read Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, James Joyce’s Ulysses, as well as essays on film and narrative theory.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2022)


IDSEM-UG 1289-000 (20665)
01/24/2022 – 05/09/2022 Tue,Thu
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Pies, Stacy

The Cultural Poltics of Bad Taste (IDSEM-UG 1738)

This seminar investigates the ideological, political and historical parameters of ‘taste’ in popular culture. Through examination of media artifacts that exemplify ‘trash,’ the course examines how ‘taste’ is constituted as a cultural category that reflects, produces and maintains the social structures of American society. What is meant by designations such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ media, ‘high and ‘low’ art, ‘offensive’ or ‘artistic’ and who is empowered to make these distinctions? How do ‘bad objects’ reveal the ideological basis of ‘taste,’ and what is their relationship to ‘legitimate’ art forms? Does ‘trash’ pose a challenge to cultural standards of taste and ‘the mainstream?’ What is the relationship between ‘bad’ art and spectatorship and why might audiences find ‘trash’ so enthralling? Readings are drawn from Bourdieu’s Distinction, Glynn’s Tabloid Culture, Ross’ No Respect, and the anthology Trash Culture, while screenings include cult films such as Freaks, Pink Flamingos, Plan 9 From Outer Space,South Park, and The Room, and a selection of reality TV programs, music and viral videos.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1738-000 (12282)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Fri
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Cornell, Julian

Hearing Difference: The Commercial Music Industry and the American Racial Imaginary (IDSEM-UG 1802)

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.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2023)


IDSEM-UG 1802-000 (23278)
09/05/2023 – 12/15/2023 Tue,Thu
11:00 AM – 12:00 AM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Coleman, Kwami

Hearing Difference: The Commercial Music Industry and the American Racial Imaginary (IDSEM-UG 1802)

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.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

The Western History of Madness from the Bible to DSM-V (IDSEM-UG 1961)

Viewed as a natural kind or socially constructed, “madness” was defined and treated, examined and controlled, diagnosed and cured according to the spirit of the time. This course follows the varied social imageries of “madness” throughout Western history, from the Hebrew Bible to the contemporary and controversial Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), also known as “the bible of psychiatry”, in its most recent 5th edition. Students read primary and secondary texts by philosophers, physicians, theologians, jurists, tragedians, novelists, psychologists, social reformers, policy makers, journalists, historians and individuals who suffered madness, also known as “experts from experience.” They also observe art and watch films that portray different aspects of madness. Reading includes: the Bible, Plato, Hippocrates, Ibn Sina, Margery Kempe, Erasmus, Robert Burton, Freud, George Canguilhem, Foucault, Ian Hacking, Elaine Showalter, Ruth Leys among others. The course explores the interaction between the social, cultural, scientific, political as well as economic factors that have shaped the views of “madness” and its treatment while paying ample attention to the history of ideas that informed and, often, framed them.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2021)


IDSEM-UG 1961-000 (14205)
09/02/2021 – 12/14/2021 Fri
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Ophir, Orna

Hearing Difference: The Commercial Music Industry and the American Racial Imaginary (IDSEM-UG 1802)

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.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Media and Fashion (IDSEM-UG 1618)

This course will examine the roles fashion plays in film, television and digital media and their cultural and economic significance. As a signifying system in its own right, fashion contributes to the semiotics of popular forms. It can also operate as a means of authentication (especially in period films and TV) or reveal a variety of ways in which media plays with space and time, purposeful or not. Besides evoking specific temporalities and narrative tone, fashion plays an important role in the construction of gender, both in terms of representation and address. This course will examine the history of the intersection of the fashion and media industries from the free distribution of film-related dress patterns in movie theaters of the 1910s to the current trend for make-over TV, networks like the Style network, the increasing proliferation of fashion blogs and the construction of specifically feminine video games. How does fashion’s specific configuration of consumerism, signification and visual pleasure lend itself to the articulation of modern/postmodern cultures and their presentation of the self? Texts will include Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson, Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explanations and Analysis ; selections from Roland Barthes, The Fashion System ; Elizabeth Wilson, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity ; assorted articles and selected clips from films and television shows including Marie Antoinette , What Not To Wear , The New York Hat, Fashions of 1934, Now, Voyager and Sex and the City .

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1618-000 (16948)
09/03/2024 – 12/12/2024 Fri
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Luckett, Moya

Consumerism in Comparative Perspective (IDSEM-UG 1586)

Consumerism—the linking of happiness, freedom, and economic prosperity with the purchase and consumption of goods—has long been taken for granted as constitutive of the “good life” in Western societies. Increasingly, global economic shifts have made it possible for some developing countries to engage in patterns of consumption similar to those in the West, such that one quarter of humanity now belongs to the “global consumer class.” At the same time, however, nearly three billion people struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. This course takes an international and interdisciplinary approach to examine consumption in different societies, and we do so by asking several central questions: What are the key determinants of patterns of consumption, and how are they changed or reshaped over time? In turn, how do patterns of consumption shape class formation, racial inequality, identity, aesthetic sensibility, and international boundaries? How do practices of consumption inform the ways in which people understand their values and individuality, imagine success and failure, or conceive happiness? By reading widely in sociology, anthropology, and history we will develop a framework for analyzing the ethical, environmental and social justice implications of consumerism. Readings include case studies from the US, China, India, Europe and Africa Some likely authors include: Keynes, Marx, Marcuse, Benjamin, Mary Douglas, Bill McKibben; Arlie Hochschild, Lizabeth Cohen.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 14 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2024)


IDSEM-UG 1586-000 (16693)
09/03/2024 – 12/12/2024 Wed
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM (Morning)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Dacosta, Kimberly