Course Listings

Core Curriculum

  • HSS 1

    Freshman Seminar

    A literature course concentrating on poetry and drama. Selected texts from antiquity and the Renaissance are common to all sections, with works from other genres, periods and cultures chosen by individual instructors. The course develops aesthetic appreciation of literary texts and encourages a range of critical responses. Through close reading, and extended discussion, students learn to articulate their responses in written and spoken form.

    3 credits

  • HSS 2

    Texts and Contexts: Old Worlds and New

    A study of texts and topics from 1500 to 1800, with emphasis on literary expression and cultural context. Topics include the formation of states, exploration, the encounter with the New World, the crises in religious orthodoxy, the origins of modern science and the beginnings of political and economic individualism. This semester develops both cultural and political understanding through close reading, class discussion and careful writing.

    3 credits

  • HSS 3

    The Making of Modern Society

    A study of the key political, social and intellectual developments of modern Europe in global context. Thiscourse is organized chronologically, beginning with the Industrial and French Revolutions. Students develop an understanding of the political grammar and material bases of the present day by exploring the social origins of conservatism, liberalism, feminism, imperialism and totalitarianism. In discussions and in lectures students learn to study and to respond critically in written and spoken form to a variety of historical documents and secondary texts.

    3 credits

  • HSS 4

    The Modern Context: Figures and Topics

    A study of an important figure or topic from the modern period whose influence extends into contemporary culture. The figures and subjects are chosen from a broad range of disciplines (including literature, history, politics, technology and art history, among others). Through concentration on a single figure or focused topic students are encouraged to develop a deep awareness of works of great significance and to understand them in the context of modernity. Guided independent writing projects and oral presentations give students an appreciation for what constitutes research in the humanities and social sciences.

    3 credits. May be repeated for Free Elective credit in the Schools of Art and Engineering. May be repeated for Elective credit in the School of Architecture, provided the minimum requirement of six elective credits in Humanities and Social Sciences is fulfilled by elective-level courses. In both cases, permission of the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences is required.


  • HUM105

    Fundamentals of Music

    A study of the elements and forms of music and consideration of how they define the stylistic characteristics of the literature of music from the late Renaissance to the present. There will be extensive use of recordings, as well as attendance at concerts and recitals.

    3 credits

  • HUM107

    Creative Writing

    Starting with exercises and word games, then moving to, e.g., the objective poem, collage and concrete poetry, metrics, translations. As well as writing, students are expected to read widely in poetry and fiction. Attendance at a poetry or prose reading is obligatory. Grade based on class performance and portfolio of work.

    3 credits

  • HUM129

    Environmental Literature

    In this class, we will look at ways of imagining and approaching the natural environment through writing, ranging from travelogue to activism. Readings will include essays, poetry and fiction by Wordsworth, Thoreau, Carson, Abbey and others. Topics for reading and writing will center on such issues as encounters with nature, sustainability, species extinction and global warming.

    3 credits

  • HUM207

    Music Cultures of the World

    Examines music from a variety of musical cultures around the world, from Native American to Indonesian Gamelan music, including ethnic musical events in New York City.

    3 credits

  • HUM208


    Athenian Old Comedy is one of the timelessly funniest and widest-ranging forms of comedy every produced. In this course we will read, perform (selections), and examine four plays by Aristophanes, the greatest of ancient comic playwrights: Frogs, Clouds, Birds, and Wasps, each named for the characters assumed by its masked chorus. Aristophanes' irreverent portrait of the philosopher Socrates in Clouds will be weighed against Plato's more flattering, and ultimately more influential version in the Apology, which we will also read. Slides will be shown to recreate the stunning visual environment of Periclean Athens which literally and figuratively formed the backdrop to the original performances of the plays. This broadly based course will encompass a little military and political history, a little art history, a little social history, a little literary criticism, and a lot of fun.

    3 credits

  • HUM231


    An in-depth study of Milton's Paradise Lost, the greatest epic in English, a poem about devils and angels, small humans and immense immortals, appetite, food, lust, confusion, despair and courage. Our focus will be on close reading, often explaining the poem line by line, in order to get at the riches within Milton's creation. In addition to Paradise Lost in its entirety, we will study some of Milton's short poems, selections from Virgil, and, if time permits, Milton's dramatic poem Samson Agonistes.

    3 credits

  • HUM242

    Greek Mythology

    The course will concentrate not just on the endlessly fascinating stories of the gods drawn from the classic sources, but on a critical analysis of the question: How do the gods fare throughout the course of western history? Periods to be focused on include the time of Homer, Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns; the Archaic period (the time of the Lyric poets); the high Classical period (the golden age of Greek tragedy); the late Classical and Hellenistic periods (the age of the great philosophers and their schools); the Augustan era of the Roman Empire (the time of Virgil and Ovid); and the Renaissance.

    3 credits

  • HUM243

    The Fairy Tale

    This course introduces students to the development of fairy and folk tales through history, and across cultures and geographies. While we focus on these tales in their originary contexts, we will consider the work they perform in such diverse modern appropriations as Disney cartoons, gaming, and the men’s movement. Excerpts from the major collections of Western Europe, West Africa, the Middle East, South and East Asia will furnish our primary readings. We pay particular attention to the collected tales of the brothers Grimm, the Panchatantra, The Thousand and One Arabian Nights, The Tales of Anansi and Brer Rabbit, and Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang. Our investigation will be interdisciplinary, with our critical approach drawing from theorists such as Freud, Jung, and Frazer, and modern scholars such as Maria Tatar and Jack Zipes.

    3 credits.

  • HUM250


    Our course will be devoted to really reading Shakespeare – understanding how the plays work, what characters say and do, the imagery and thematics of Shakespeare’s dramas, and the performance practices of the Elizabethan and Jacobean era. We will also consider the cultural milieu of the plays—the historical, political, and religious world they inhabit—in order to deepen our access to Shakespeare’s language and to hear it with both his ears and our own. This semester we will study and explore six plays: Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, As You Like It, Hamlet, and The Winter’s Tale.

    3 credits

  • HUM306

    Native America

    An examination of Native American world views against a background of history. The stress will be on written literary texts drawn from oral cultures, including collections of traditional songs and stories, as well as contemporary writers. In addition, we will watch videos and listen to music.

    3 credits

  • HUM307

    Playwriting and Theater Practicum

    This course will introduce students to two disciplines essential to creating theater: acting and playwriting. To help guide the beginning of their practice in these disciplines, students will read and critique contemporary and master works, write plays of their own, perform monologues and scenes written by master playwrights and bring the work of their peers alive through in-class readings and a final staged reading performance open to the Cooper Union community.

    3 credits

  • HUM309

    Art and the Crisis of Modernity

    This course will develop a parallel reflection on the world in which the art of our time expresses itself, and which art, in turn, tries to shape. In the first part, we analyze different interpretations of the crisis of modernity, which aim to offer, through different historical and philosophical approaches, other meanings of the age of ‘postmodernity’. In the second part, we initially focus on some of the artistic revolutions that took place almost simultaneously in the early twentieth century, a time of enormous tension that led to radical changes of worldviews. Thereafter, the discourse develops around some of the avant-garde movements that staged an aesthetic explosion from mid-century onward, such as abstract expressionism, minimalism or post-minimalism; a choice, however, that does not imply the possibility of defining a unique direction in the artistic experience of our time. Yet, precisely the re-definition of time that emerges in the work of some of these artists can be seen as a metaphor of the art of our time. As T.W. Adorno observes in Aesthetic Theory, it is precisely through a fragmentary and ‘not closed’ form, through a ‘synthesis of the dispersed’ which renounces the idea of consonance, that art can express the reality of our time.

    3 credits

  • HUM311

    New Media

    This course considers what makes media "new" and why those characteristics are relevant in contemporary society. We will consider how older media have been adapted to incorporate new media technologies and strategies, how video games and the Internet have changed our expectations of media experiences, the impact of new media on artistic practice, the important of new media in contemporary cultural economy, and related topics.

    3 credits

  • HUM312

    Islamic Aesthetics

    This course is an introduction to Islamic aesthetics with emphasis on the nature and development of the arabesque and calligraphy as ornament in art and architecture. Lectures will ask and attempt to answer the question of why a pragmatic and down-to-earth philosophy chose to express itself in a most abstract visual language, how much of the vocabulary of that language was originally Arabic, and how much was inspired and/or acquired from the various lands conquered by Islam. Digital image lectures will be accompanied by some poetry, music, Qur’anic recitations and film viewings.

    3 credits

  • HUM315

    Science and Contemporary Thought

    The aim of this course is to reflect on the role of science in our society, with particular emphasis on the philosophical, political and social aspects of contemporary thought. Although the importance of science in our daily life is indisputably assumed―giving rise to a sort of myth of technology―it is important to analyze its influence on other aspects of contemporary thought, as well as on the very concept of knowledge. The essence of science, in fact, lies in the desire for searching, leading to a necessarily provisional knowledge which survives as a paradigm until it is eventually contradicted by new investigations. Moreover, it is important to acquire consciousness of the political, economic, and cultural constraints acting on both the methodology and the goals of contemporary science. Nowadays these constraints cannot be ignored, but few are really prepared to reflect free from political or philosophical bias.

    3 credits

  • HUM316

    United States Cultural History

    This course traces the development over time of "America" as place, idea, nation and culture. It is concerned with tracing the emergence and contours of a widely-shared, if indeterminate and contested, sense of American identity and culture by studying several enduring forces and themes in its formation. These include the encounters of Europeans and Indians, the institution of slavery, the West in myth and reality, modernization and metropolitan life and the United States in global culture.

    3 credits

  • HUM319

    Russian Art, Architecture and Literature

    Survey of Russian arts from 1703, the founding of St. Petersburg, to 1924, the death of Lenin. This course is a study of the history and ideology underlying the remarkable literary and artistic achievement of Russia and, in its early phase, the Soviet Union.

    3 credits

  • HUM321

    The Novel: Joyce’s "Ulysses"

    The title of James Joyce’s Ulysses raises a number of issues about the meaning and method of the text: by naming his novel about an Irish Everyman after the Latin version of the Greek hero Odysseus, Joyce sets up a complex web of cultural and political references that ramify throughout the work. Students in this course will learn to read Ulysses by paying close attention to the text itself and by making strategic associations to the political and cultural contexts that inform the novel. Along the way, we will ask ourselves such questions as these: What adjustments does the reader have to make to the practice of “normal” reading in order to understand and appreciate the novel? What makes Ulysses different from novels written before it? What makes it a modernist work? Or a proto-postmodernist work? What is the relationship of tradition and experimentation in the novel? And so on. Students should purchase the edition of Ulysses edited by Hans Walter Gabler and read the first chapter for the first class meeting.

    3 credits

  • HUM323

    Presence of Poetry

    This will be a class in which the center of attention is the poem itself. We will concentrate on modern English and American poetry. The common text will be The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, 2nd edition, edited by Richard Ellman and Robert O'Clair (Norton, 1998), but students are encouraged to look into other anthologies and into such studies as those of William Empson in Seven Types of Ambiguity and Martin Heidegger in Poetry, Language, Thought.

    3 credits

  • HUM325

    Puppet, Automaton, Robot

    They are us, and not us: puppets, automata, and robots are toys or machines that look like us (or parts of us). From antiquity to the present, we have imagined, and then invented, inorganic versions of ourselves, sometimes for entertainment, sometimes to perform essential tasks. This course will draw upon an interdisciplinary range of materials –from philosophy, the history of science, and psychoanalysis to drama, popular culture, and art. Instead of separating the “scientific” from the “poetic,” this course will introduce and explore ways in which we can thinkabout what we want from our “artificial life,” and how the boundaries between living/non-living require constant rethinking

    3 credits

  • HUM327

    The History of the Cinema

    A history of the motion picture from its origins until now, emphasizing the evolution of the language of cinematic representation—in feature, documentary, animated and experimental filmmaking. Canonical works and the major figures of the silent and sound cinema are treated, including Griffith, Chaplin, Eisenstein, Vertov, Renoir, Welles, Deren, Hitchcock and Godard.

    3 credits

  • HUM328

    History of the Cinema: 1895-1945

    This course surveys the history of the motion picture, along with some of the discourses it inspired, from the nickelodeon period through World War II, considering avant-garde, documentary and commercial films, with particular emphasis on the movie as urban entertainment, expression of modernity and cult enthusiasm. Important figures include D.W. Griffith, Fritz Lang, Dziga Vertov, Carl Th. Dreyer, Leni Riefenstahl, Orson Welles, and Maya Deren. The transition from silent to sound cinema and the surrealist theory of film spectatorship will be given particular attention.

    3 credits

  • HUM329

    The History of the Cinema: 1945 to the Present

    A history of the cinema from World War II through the present day, with particular attention to the development of neo-realist, new wave and third-world movements. Topics include the impact of television, the influence of Pop Art and the development of digital technology. Alfred Hitchcock, Jean-Luc Godard, and Andrei Tarkovsky are among the major figures treated.

    3 credits

  • HUM330

    Postmodernism and Technology

    This course will explore postmodern theory and practice and its relationship to the problems and solutions posed by technology in contemporary society.

    3 credits

  • HUM331

    Eros in Antiquity

    This course will study the theory and practice of love in the ancient world and its legacy in the modern. Working with primary textual sources, the course will consider Plato’s erotic dialogues and writings from the Neo-Platonic tradition extending up to Shelley’s poetry as well as Ovid’s Amores and the Art of Love. These major texts will be supplemented with examples of erotic poetry from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Archaic and Classical Greece, and Rome, as well as works of visual art.

    3 credits

  • HUM332

    Ut Pictura Poesis

    A study of ekphrasis and other interconnections between the visual and the verbal arts from antiquity to the present. Primary readings are drawn from Homer, Hesiod, Plato, Aristotle, lyric poetry, tragedy, Virgil, Horace, Lessing, Keats and Ashbery, among others.

    3 credits

  • HUM333

    The Age of Augustus

    Augustan Rome presents the only serious ancient contender for comparison with the "Golden Age" of Periclean Athens. In all categories of art, architecture, and literature, the age of the first Roman emperor, Augustus (27 BCE-14 CE), rivals that of high Classical Greece. The course thus combines the disciplines of history the visual arts, and literature, with the heaviest emphasis on literature to arrive at a comprehensive picture of a relatively short, but disproportionately consequential moment in the history of civilization.

    3 credits

  • HUM343

    Decadence and Modernity

    This course explores the relation of decadence to modernity in fin de siècle European and American culture, with some attention given to subsequent theoretical formulations and popular responses. Located historically in the transitional period between romanticism and modernism, decadent culture involves a paradoxical mixture of refinement and corruption. The transitional, in-between status of decadence includes many paradoxes, not the least of which is the dual allegiance of decadent artists and writers to both avant-garde culture and reactionary politics. Decadent culture also concerns a mixed response to the modern city, and decadents often express a wish to return—not to nature—but to some pre-modern model of urban society. In this course we will examine the hybrid culture of decadence within the context of the modern European city, notably Paris, London, Vienna, and Berlin. We will also consider the phenomenon of transatlantic decadence, and explore the culture as it was represented and understood in such key American cities as New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. The course draws on the work of poets and novelists (Charles Baudelaire, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, Andre Gide, Djuna Barnes); philosophers (Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche); psychoanalysts (Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud); artists (Gustave Moreau, Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt); and filmmakers (Alla Nazimova, Walter Ruttmann, Anthony Asquith, Ken Russell). 3 credits.

    3 credits

  • HUM345

    Readings in Aesthetics

    Key aesthetic concepts in relation to artistic practice and audience reception. This course includes a number of historical debates that remain ongoing and unresolved, and it concludes with contemporary attempts to reestablish beauty and pleasure as aesthetic categories.

    3 credits

  • HUM346

    Western Theories of Art

    This course examines the variety and development of Western theories of art from antiquity to the present, with special attention to theoretical constructs of the past century. Topics include connoisseurship and formalism; modernist criticism; iconology, Marxism and the social history of art; feminism; psychoanalytic theory; structuralism and post-structuralism; postmodern challenges to modernist theory; and museology and institutional critique.

    3 credits

  • HUM349

    Homer and the Tragic Vision

    An in-depth introduction to Homer's Iliad and to the major literary genre it spawned, Greek tragedy. The methodology throughout will be close reading, using comparative translations of select passages checked alongside the original Greek text, with the instructor’s guidance. This course is meant to “model” a particular approach to the study of literature in translation. It presents an opportunity for interested but "Greekless" students to experience some of the most important and influential works of classical literature in a manner that approximates as closely as possible the experience of those who do have knowledge of ancient Greek.

    3 credits

  • HUM352

    The Personal Essay

    In this course we will study and discuss essays in Philip Lopate, ed., The Art of the Personal Essay, and we will also write our own, on any topics we choose, on all manner of subjects—the daily round, pleasures and pains, taking a walk, solitude, friendship, in short, our personal responses to any number of objects and situations, multiplying ourselves in the process.

    3 credits

  • HUM353

    Public Speaking: Contemporary Issues

    Develops skills in persuasive and expository speech-making— extemporaneous, written and memorized—on contemporary issues and topics. Students learn how to research a speech, marshal arguments and use language effectively by speaking clearly and eloquently.

    3 credits

  • HUM356

    Issues in Contemporary Fiction

    Study of literary topics including particular genres, themes, sensibilities and critical approaches. The focus of this course will change in individual semesters.

    3 credits

  • HUM357

    Philosophy of Science

    What, exactly, is science? What is scientific inquiry and explanation, and how might it differ from other forms of inquiry and explanation? In the course, we will investigate the nature and status of scientific knowledge. Along the way, we shall ask such questions as: What are scientific theories? What relations obtain between scientific theories and observed facts? How are scientific theories confirmed or disconfirmed? Do scientific theories represent the true nature of the world, or are they merely convenient tools for making predictions and developing technology? Is scientific inquiry a purely rational process? Is it influenced by social and cultural factors? What makes science successful?

    3 credits

  • HUM358

    Studies in Cinema

    A seminar based on a special topic in the study of cinema. The seminar may be repeated for credit with the permission of the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

    3 credits

  • HUM359

    Intention, Action and Self-Knowledge

    Studies the problem of defining the philosophical nature of action by investigating the nature of intention and coherent self-knowledge. The course seeks to distinguish various forms of action — involuntary, intentional, teleological (goal directed) — by examining relationships among levels of agency, conditions of freedom and states of awareness.

    3 credits

  • HUM360

    Mind and Morals

    Examines the philosophical dichotomy of moral realism and moral naturalism, with emphasis on three types of new moral naturalism: normative moral naturalism, meta-ethical moral naturalism and cognitive moral naturalism. Authors include Bratman, Churchland, Descartes, Flanagan, Goldman, Hume, Johnson, Kant, Longino, Mill, Millikan, Moore and Streba.

    3 credits

  • HUM361

    Modern Philosophy: Knowledge and the Mind

    The course considers questions at the intersection of epistemology and the philosophy of mind. Throughout the course, we will think about what knowledge is, how practical knowledge differs from theoretical knowledge, the epistemic scope and limits of scientific investigation, how we know about our own actions and mental states, why we should believe that there are other minds, and whether we can know that we are not in something like The Matrix. A principal consideration is the extent to which advances in cognitive science can inform our philosophical theories of knowledge.

    3 credits

  • HUM362

    Black Literature in a World Perspective

    An examination of black literature from South America to Papua New Guinea, chiefly in the 20th century. Stress is placed on the connections between various literatures and how they form a world culture. The course considers oral literature, the Harlem Renaissance, Negritude poetry, the African novel and Indian Ocean poets.

    3 credits

  • HUM369

    History of the Book

    An introduction to the creation, use and meaning of "the book" over its long history from the clay tablet to the digital download. Readings and discussions will bring together literary and cultural history, as well as aspects of politics, art history and the history of technology. Topics will include the moves from oral to written cultures,from the scroll to the codex, and from public reading to reading as a private experience; the emergence of printers and publishers; the invention of the library; censorship and the spread of reading publics; the rise of the novel and "popular reading"; the comic book; the paperback; and the movement through digital technologies to non-print books.

    3 credits

  • HUM373

    Seminar in Humanities (variable topics)

    This course introduces South Korean cinema from the late-1980s to the present,addressing the concept of New Korean Cinema, the rise of the domestic film industry and auteurs, the emergence of blockbusters, and their growing regional and international recognition, popularity and dependence. Among the selected commercial and independent features, consideration will be given to how they reclaim and redefine South Korea and its history across film genres, including the divided nation, the Korean War, the military regimes, and the process of democratization and globalization. Other topics include the role of censorship, quota systems, and international film festivals in the development of the local film industry.

    3 credits

  • HUM374

    Contemporary Culture and Criticism

    A survey of the cultural climate since the 1950s, including the influence of works by such writers as Benjamin and Bakhtin and the concern with contemporary life in terms of fundamental shifts in community, representation, identity and power.

    3 credits

  • HUM375

    Critical Theory

    This course begins with the post World War II generation of social thinkers and critics, such as Barthes, de Beauvoir, Foucault, Adorno, Horkheimer, Lacan, in the development of what later became known of as the critical theory of culture. We then proceed to more recent critics, each time taking our clues from real life examples. This course emphasizing learning how to "see" and think in "cultural practices." It offers a chance to have our understanding extended into everyday life and its ways of making us cultural beings.

    3 credits

  • HUM377

    General Linguistics

    Survey of two major types of linguistic study: diachronic or historical linguistics and synchronic or structural linguistics. The course concludes with presentation of recent linguistic theory, with emphasis on cognitive grammar and biolinguistics.

    3 credits

  • HUM379

    Visual Culture

    An historical account of the developing wealth and intensity of visual experience in the United States in the last century and study of the circulation of images as a cultural sign system shaping class, gender, race and sexual subjectivities.

    3 credits

  • HUM381

    Post-Colonial Studies

    This course engages with the legacy of colonialism in literature and theory. Topics include the relationship between colonizer and colonized, independence, apartheid and immigration in novels from South Asia, the Caribbean and Africa. Works by Rudyard Kipling, E.M. Forster, Aime Cesaire, Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer, Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith will be addressed.

    3 credits

  • HUM382

    African-American Literature

    Under this rubric, courses may address a range of issues, periods, themes or questions in African-American literature. Specific topics and descriptions will be detailed in the relevant course bulletin each time the course is offered.

    3 credits

  • HUM383


    This course will examine the history, materials and structures of opera, a rich and complicated art that is both musical and theatrical. We will address such topics as the origins of opera in 17th-century Italy, the Baroque style, the art of bel canto, opera and politics, Wagner's revolutionary ideas, realism and impressionism in music, experiments in tonality, and opera in English. Several works will be considered in detail. Classes will combine lecture-discussion and screenings of performance on DVDs. An interest in music is essential, but no ability to read scores or play an instrument is required.

    3 credits

  • HUM386

    The Romantic Movement

    Beginning with an examination of Romantic aesthetic theory and its application to some of the major poems of the period, the course will explore writing by Goethe, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats. Philosophical and critical readings will be drawn from Kant, Lessing, Burke, DeQuincey, Wollstonecraft and others.

    3 credits

  • HUM387

    The Life and Death of Socrates

    Socrates, the son of a humble stonemason, Sophroniskos, was one of the most remarkable, controversial and influential human beings who ever lived. Though he left behind no written testimonial of his peculiar, singular genius, we know quite a bit about him through the accounts and recollections of his contemporaries, critics and followers, primary among them, Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes. Based almost exclusively on readings of the major ancient texts, the course focuses less on the philosophy of Socrates, as filtered through the great and not unbiased lens of his most famous student, Plato, than on the man, his physical demeanor, his way of life, his loves, his friendships and especially his trial and death in 399 B.C.E.

    3 credits

  • HUM389

    Love in Western Art and Literature

    This course address the representation of love in Western art, with specific attention to the body, gender, and identity. The course will be grounded across two crucial poles: the so-called Greek revolution as a founding moment in the West, with its idea of Eros and the ideally beautiful body, and the rise of the individual in the Renaissance/Baroque period, with its concepts of subjectivity, self and vision (including Shakespeare's provocative formulation of "a perjured eye." Readings will include Plato's Symposium, poetry in the troubadour and Petrarchan traditions, Ficino and the Neoplatonists, Shakespeare, Keats, Shelley, Austen, Foucault, Derrida, Anne Carson and others.

    3 credits

  • HUM392


    Did human beings invent ideas of right and wrong? Are there such things as moral facts, that is, facts that dictate how we ought to live and what sorts of actions are worth pursuing? This course surveys three central traditions in ethical theory in the West as typified by the works of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and J. S. Mill, together with a radical critique by Friedrich Nietzsche and ending with selections from 20th-century philosophy.

    3 credits

  • HUM394

    World Religions

    An introduction to the five major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The course considers ancient and contemporary religious practices as it examines faith and belief, ritual, scripture and scriptural interpretation, religious art, orthodoxy and heresy, mysticism, and pilgrimage through a comparative lens. Focus is on origins, textual traditions and central doctrines with further attention to religion "on the ground" as a living and evolving phenomenon.

    3 credits

  • HUM395

    Hip Hop and Culture

    In this class, we will trace the roots of rap music to West Africa rhythms, Jamaican sound systems, and oral expressive cultures in the American South; analyze some of the most influential and iconic rap recordings across the decades; study the techniques and technologies that are used to create DJ-based music; consider other pillars of hip hop culture (e.g. graffiti and break dancing); and examine the controversies that swirl around hip hop culture and rap music.

    3 credits

  • HUM99

    Independent Study (Humanities)

    3 credits

Social Sciences

  • SS220

    Environmentalism in the Urban Context

    The recent work of environmental activists and scholars has produced a new urbanism in which the city form and function is intimately connected with natural processes. This rethinking of the city has opened several new possibilities for looking at human-environment interactions. In particular, the everyday environment of the city may be examined as a site for identifying the hidden geographies of raw materials, energy and waste flows. This course looks at three central issues: (1) identification of the material and ecological processes that make possible city form and function possible; (2) interpretation of the city as a constellation of economic institutions and social practices that transform nature over different temporal and spatial scales; and (3) the examination of the environmental and health impacts stemming from a city's role in production and consumption. Students will work on projects using the principles of ecological design in the redevelopment of urban sites.

    3 credits

  • SS221

    History of the Modern Middle East

    This course considers topics in Middle Eastern history from the First World War to the present. We examine a century of political unrest that included two world wars, colonialism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the rise of authoritarian state structures, the Iranian Islamic revolution, and the American war on terror.

    3 credits

  • SS305

    Leonardo, Scientist and Engineer

    This course uses the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci (1453–1519) to explore science, medicine, and engineering in Renaissance Europe. We will look at the social and economic life of the era and examine the institutions and influences that served Leonardo’s imagination, his inventiveness, and his arts.

    3 credits

  • SS308

    Public Policy in Contemporary America

    Issues such as conservation, environmental law and policy, mass transportation, transfer of development rights, incentive zoning and historic preservation, beginning with an introduction to and general analysis of the policy process.

    3 credits

  • SS315

    Human Rights, Law, and Society (variable topics)

    In the aftermath of the second world and the genocide directed against European Jewry, a new language of human rights and international law developed to address the consequences of total war and the Holocaust: trials and tribunals sought to mete out justice for crimes against humanity and international agencies worked to provide relief and rehabilitation for survivors and displaced refugees. The postwar discourse of international law, human rights, and commemoration has not prevented further outbreaks of extreme racial and ethnic violence and the trans-generational legacies of collective trauma, but it has provided us with a framework for analyzing historical origins, the gendered experiences of both victims and perpetrators, and the possibilities and limits of resistance, as well as redress and reconciliation efforts and multiple forms of memorialization. With the Holocaust as the limit case,and using a wide variety of sources including historical accounts, eyewitness reports, contemporary reportage, archival records, memoirs, oral and written testimonies, and visual representations in photography, film, and art, we will examine cases of genocide and mass violence incomparative global context, ranging from German East Africa at the beginning of the century to Armenia during World War I, and Bangladesh, Cambodia, former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda in the post-World War II era.

    3 credits

  • SS318D

    Seminar in Political Theory: Global Justice

    This course digs deeply into the philosophical and political issues surrounding global justice. We pursue this project by engaging several profound thinkers of global justice, beginning with Immanuel Kant, whose essay on perpetual peace continues to shape modern conceptions of cosmopolitanism. Then, we consider John Rawls’s vision of an overlapping consensus of decent peoples, Martha Nussbaum’s defense of cultural universals, Samuel Huntington’s diagnosis of a clash of civilizations, Diego von Vacano’s vision of a post-racial world, Tariq Ramadan’s reform of Islamic ethics,and Pema Chödrön’s call for practicing peace in times of war. The course thus aims to construct a Socratic dialogue about global justice between profound representatives of diverse schools of thought: Enlightenment, liberalism, political liberalism, cosmopolitanism, realism, Hispanic political thought, Islam, and Buddhism. Throughout, we test each author’s ideas by how well they help us grasp contemporary issues of global justice, including human rights, American foreign policy, international trade agreements, war, non-governmental organizations, media, and theOlympics. Students are encouraged to form a mental map of the world and the flows across by it by reading the New York Times, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and other international journals and newspapers. The hope is that by weighing contending theories in the light of world events,we may clarify our own thinking and practice of global justice.

    3 credits

  • SS320

    Comparative Politics

    Comparing political systems is at least as old as Aristotle, whose library contained more than 135 studies of constitutions of the ancient world. This course will compare contemporary political systems and consider some of the main challenges they face: forging a common identity and sense of community; meeting social and economic needs; and securing civil and political liberties and human rights. Recognizing that political societies of today's worlds can differ dramatically, the course will begin by introducing concepts and approaches that make it possible to compare systems as different as those of China and Great Britain. In addition to the broader paradigms of system, structure and function, we will also consider forms of political culture and socialization, interest articulation and aggregation, party systems and policymaking. Several distinct systems will be studied; these will be chosen not only for their geographical, but also for their political diversity, representing first-world nations such as the United States, Britain and France, as well as post-communist and post-colonial states such as Russia, China and Nigeria.

    3 credits

  • SS321

    The American Presidency

    The nature and sources of the power of the American presidency, the ways in which it is wielded and the Constitutional restraints upon its exercise.

    3 credits

  • SS323

    Politics and Collective Memory

    The political uses of collective memory can range from defining national and social identities to shaping public opinion. In exploring the interactions between memory and politics, this course will focus on the nature and forms of collective memory, its development and reconstruction and its relationship to structures of authority. Emphasis will be placed on examples from recent political history.

    3 credits

  • SS333

    Politics of Ethnonational Conflict

    An examination of the movements for national liberation and independence that have become an increasingly important phenomenon in the second half of the 20th century. Among the movements considered are those of Algeria, Nigeria, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, Quebec, Lebanon and the PLO.

    3 credits

  • SS334


    This course presents an overview of the principles of theeconomics of scarcity and choice; supply and demand; output and price. It utilizes marginal analysis as well as theories of the firm. It considers the market system in terms of both its virtues and vices. It focuses especially on the distribution of income and the labor market of the United States but also includes a section on the stock and bond markets. In addition, it covers the role of government in the economy.

    3 credits

  • SS335

    Science and Technology in the Long 18th Century (1687-1839)

    This course will examine the changing roles of science and technology in the West during the 18th and early 19th centuries. We will use a case-study approach to consider such topics as color in theories (light and optics) and color in practice (painting, dyeing and glassmaking); geology mineralogy and the development of ceramic industries in Europe; the invention, use (and misuse) of the natural classifications; and automation and automatons: Vaucanson's duck, Jacquard's loom, Babbage's Difference Engine.

    3 credits

  • SS337

    American Foreign Policy

    In the 20th century, challenges to Western liberalism came from fascism and communism, while more recent challenges have come from terrorist movements on the one hand and the European Union on the other. This course examines American foreign policy since the collapse of communism in the context of these changing challenges.

    3 credits

  • SS342

    Anthropology of Ritual

    The study of ritual takes us to the heart of anthropological approaches to experience, performance, symbolism and association. Once thought to be "vestigial" organs of archaic societies, rituals are now seen as arenas through which social change may emerge and are recognized to be present in all societies. Throughout the course we will explore varying definitions of ritual and its universal and particular aspects, while surveying ethnographic case studies from around the world.

    3 credits

  • SS345

    The Ray Brown Seminar (variable topics)

    In the 1930s, philosopher (of phenomenology) Edmund Husserl coined the term “life-world” to express his concerns that modern science structurally could not find its way back to lived experience. Hence, the “life-world” would be misunderstood. We are at a wonderful juncture where biology, neuroscience, ethics, branches of politics and humanities have new ways of speaking together. This course explores these new perspectives. No science Background is required. Readings include such figures as Husserl (philosopher),Gaston Bachelard (mathematician, thinker), Diane Ackerman (poet, essayist),Frans de Waal (primatologist, ethicist) and Antonio Damasio (physician and brain theorist of emotions).

    3 credits

  • SS346

    Urban Sociology: Reading the City

    Focuses on the relationship between the built environment and human behavior, the design of public, urban spaces as a reflection of and impetus for certain types of human interactions and reactions. Another interest of the course will be to onsider the notion of community as it plays out in the disciplines of sociology and architecture—how they intersect, and how they are changing in our postmodern, post-industrial terrain. Some of the broad areas of interest of urban sociologists will also be considered.

    3 credits

  • SS347


    The development of modern macroeconomic theory as it evolves in response to a succession of economic problems and crises. Emphasis on the recent Keynesian/monetarist debates and the role of the Federal Reserve Bank.

    3 credits

  • SS348

    Global Cities

    Considers specific and general factors that contribute to the rise of global cities—New York, London, Tokyo—and how such cities impact other city-types, existing and emerging. This course examines the forces underpinning globalization, including the shift from industrial to informational economies, the development of new technologies and the emergence of new patterns of immigration, in order to understand the complexities of global processes in urban terrains.

    3 credits

  • SS349

    American Cities

    Examination of the crisis of urban America seen through the lens of New York City. Individual topics will include urban poverty, relocation of manufacturing and foreign competition, but students will be encouraged to examine closely a particular aspect of New York City's problems.

    3 credits

  • SS351

    History of 20th-Century Europe

    A study of the dramatic ruptures of Europe's 20th century, haunted by imperialism, war and genocide. Topics include the First World War; modernity and modernism in interwar culture; fascism, National Socialism and the Holocaust; postwar displacements and migrations; decolonization, the cold war and the postwar economic miracle; 1968 and 1989 in both East and West; and the ongoing challenges of integration and multiculturalism.

    3 credits

  • SS352

    Environmental Sustainability

    This course will be a dialogue on sustainability, the concept of a society that flourishes by living within the limits of, and in harmony with, the natural environment. Taking an integrative approach to all aspects of sustainable development, the course will stress the ecological character of human life and human history, how both have been shaped by the natural environment and have shaped it in return, and how issues of environmental sustainability shape our lives and careers

    3 credits

  • SS353

    American Social History

    This course offers an introduction to the major themes in American Social History from the Late Colonial Period to World War Two. Over the last few decades, social historians have introduced a broader cast of characters into the making of American society; workers, immigrants, minorities and native Americans are now seen more as active participants in the story of the United States rather than as passive victims or marginal figures. This course examines the changing role of such significant groups and considers how they may have changed the shape of the dominant political culture.

  • SS354

    New York, 1820-1920: An Urban and Cultural History

    A presentation of two "maps" to the city. The first is a history of the built environment, focusing on the changing systems of transportation, the development of building forms and the way the city's population and functions have been distributed in that space. The second historical map is made up from people's imaginative responses to those changes, especially as seen in literature and visual iconography. Among the areas singled out for special examination are the Bowery and the Lower East Side, Central Park and the "downtown" of amusement and vice, wherever it happened to be at the time.

    3 credits

  • SS358

    Social History of Food

    A study of the transformations in food production and consumption, 1492 to the present. The course examines the passage of "new world" foods into Europe and Asia, the rise of commercial agriculture in the colonies, especially sugar, the rise of national cuisines, the advent of restaurant culture and the perils of fast and industrial food.

    3 credits

  • SS360

    American Intellectual History

    A study of major works in intellectual and literary history written from 1780 to the present, focusing on changing notions of the self, character and community and the ways these concepts have gained intellectual and literary expression in the United States.

    3 credits

  • SS361

    Urban Archaeology

    New York City will serve as our model for exploring how the history of urban land use is illuminated through archaeology, and what archaeological excavation in an urban context entails. In class lectures and field trips, we will look at the geography and physical history of the city as preserved both in documents and in the archaeological remains of sites and artifacts characteristic of its successive culture periods from the prehistoric era to the early 20th century.

    3 credits

  • SS362

    Popular Culture

    This course studies popular culture in a primarily 20th-century context. Using both creative and theoretical texts, it considers developments in contemporary popular culture including the rise of mass media and consumerism, the elaboration of pop-cultural theory and the trend toward multiculturalism. We will sharpen our critical perspective on our cultural surroundings by questioning boundaries between the popular and other cultural categories, notions of creativity in the high and popular arts and the bases of our own preferences.

    3 credits

  • SS367

    Acting Globally

    This course introduces students to the developments sometimes called the post-postmodern era of globalization, with a particular focus on the study of cultural impact. Our approach will entail both the macro level discussion of conditions and possibilities for effecting a decent global future and the micro level of actual sites of responses to (1) technology transfer; (2) cultural preservation, resistance, modernization and integration; and (3) the new dialogues around ecological sustainability. We study analytical texts, autobiographies, films and proposals on how to humanize the New World Order.

    3 credits

  • SS368

    History of Modern Asia

    This course seeks to explore the history of Asia from the later imperial eras of China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia into the modern era. The course examines a wide variety of political, social, economic and cultural issues that predominated during this period. While emphasizing the distinctive nature of the region, the course will stress the wide diversity and interconnectedness of ideas, technologies, and religions of modern East Asia.

    3 credits

  • SS369

    Psychoanalytic Theory

    An introduction to forms of psychoanalytic thinking and theory making, with special attention paid to the ways in which different theorists conceptualize and invoke psychoanalysis as a theory of mind, research tool, therapeutic process and utopian vision. Readings include foundational texts by Freud, Ferenczi and Klein, as well as responses to classical theory by Horney, Winnicott, Lacan and others.

    3 credits

  • SS371

    Women and Men: Power and Politics

    This course offers an introduction to the fields of inquiry that have come to be known as women’s, gender, and/or queer studies, and to the feminist theory that informs those studies. Students will engage in an interdisciplinary examination of the ways in which gender (that is, feminity and masculinity) has been constructed by visual media, literature, political theory, and social, political, and economic institutions; the historical bases for these constructions; and the activism that challenges some of these gender constructs. We will pay particular attention to the interlocking of gender with other forms of hierarchy, including race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality. We will read current scholarship in works of literature, film, history, social science, and theory, but above all, we will work our way through some of the “canonical” texts which inform that current scholarship, theory, and indeed popular culture (and our own ideas about women and men, gender and sexuality)

    3 credits

  • SS372

    Global Issues

    This course will examine current issues of global significance and their implications for policy and decision-making. Among the trends we will consider are the tensions between resource competition and authority; the emergence of a global economy; the environment and sustainable development; demographic change; and the emergence of new security issues, including societal and environmental stress.

    3 credits

  • SS373

    Modernity and Modernism: Culture and Society in the Weimar Republic

    This course explores the turbulent and innovative interwar years 1918-1933 in Weimar Germany, paying particular attention to cultural and social politics. We will study the difficult establishment of the "republic that nobody wanted" in the wake of a lost war, a collapsed empire and a failed revolution; the chaotic period of rebellion and inflation until 1923; the brief "Golden Twenties" of relative stabilization and Neue Sachlichkeit (New Sobriety) with its burst of social welfare initiatives, architectural and engineering innovations and efflorescence of art, music, theater and literature; and finally the crises of economic depression and political polarization that culminated with Adolf Hitler's appointment as chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

    3 credits

  • SS374

    Contemporary Social Psychology

    Utilizing a variety of social psychological perspectives, general issues such as human nature, socialization, attitude formation and change, verbal and non-verbal language, interpersonal behavior and the art of persuasion will be explored with interest in cross-cultural comparisons. The core questions we will explore include: What does it mean to be human? How is the self defined and determined? What impact do social groups, culture and the (built) environment have on the development of the self and on our everyday behavior?

    3 credits

  • SS378

    Time, Travel and Communication in Early Modern Europe

    This course is a history of early modern European technology with a strong focus on design technologies and material culture. It will cover the time period extending approximately from the Age of Exploration through the French Revolution (about 1500-1800).We will examine early modern ideas about three critical aspects of modern life: time, communication and travel. (Interpretation of these themes will be broad and may include not only carriages and bridges but also carriage upholstery and passports; not only letters, newspapers and books but also songs and emblems; not only the shift from public to personal time but also calendar reform.) In addition to readings (both primary and secondary) and discussions (in-class and online), students will choose to study three artifacts that are relevant to the themes of time, communication and travel, research them and present their findings to the class.

    3 credits

  • SS381

    Developmental Psychology

    The course will follow the unfolding of human development from conception through adolescence by means of an array of analytic perspectives. We will examine and critique cognitive, psychoanalytic, information processing, and psychosocial models of brain/body/mind growth. Reading assignments will be from a textbook on child development as well as primary sources, which will include academic writing, memoir, and fiction. We will also view educational and fictional films, and may also include family video chronicles.

    3 credits

  • SS382

    Game Theory

    Since its introduction in 1943 by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, the general theory of games has been instrumental to our understanding of various social behaviors. With key contributions of such renowned scholars as John Nash, Robert Arrow, Thomas Schelling and John Harsanyi, among other Nobel Laureates, game theory has quickly gained a large following among students of economics, evolutionary biology and even political science. Though at times seemingly abstract, game theory has shown us that it has practical value with applications in firm-level management and strategic decisions making in military campaigns. The course has two dimensions: the first is to explore the theoretical basis of games; the second is to consider the application of these concepts in economics and political science.

    3 credits

  • SS384

    Anthropology and the Other

    This course provides an introduction to concepts in social-cultural anthropology. Students will rethink such concepts as culture, race, ethnicity, nationalism, transnationalism, gentrification, power and memory. We will use these concepts to address the questions of human universals and the origins of cultural differences. At the bases of these inquiries will be the question of the "Other." Who are the "Others" in culture or society?

    3 credits

  • SS385

    Science and Technology in the Modern World

    This course will explore the social, intellectual and economic relationships of science and technology in the modern world (approximately 1845 to the present day). We will use a modified case-study approach to create “snapshots” of topics that incorporate such factors as who participates in scientific and technological endeavors, where work is conducted, and the supports (social, financial, emotional) necessary to individual and collective pursuits. Class members will have some input into the topics we study, which may include: Technology and science in everyday things, Darwin and his aftermath, Communication technologies, Science and technology in war, Transportation, Health and Medicine. Sub-themes that will be incorporated into all topics include: Objects and physical spaces of science and technology, Attitudes about the immediate and larger environment, Changing ideas of improvement and progress.

    3 credits. Sarah Lowengard

  • SS386

    The Early Modern Atlantic World

    This course examines the history of the Atlantic world from the mid-fifteenth century through the end of the eighteenth century. Incorporating the histories of Europe, North America, South America, and Africa, the course will explore social, cultural, economic, and political developments of the early modern era as men and women came together to form the societies in the Americas. Topics will include European-Amerindian relations, European-African relations, the slave trade, gender structures, the development of an Atlantic economy, and the maturation of colonial societies.

    3 credits

  • SS388

    Comparative Cities: New York/Berlin, 1848-1948

    A comparative, team-taught urban history seminar on Berlin and New York from 1848 to 1948. The course examines the differing causes of urban growth and the way it was accommodated in novel forms of urban space, highlighting the differences between a city that became a capital of empire and one given over to commercial and residential development, as well as the very different ways that both cities experienced periods of rebellion and war.

    3 credits

  • SS390

    The Rise of the Modern City in the European Middle Ages

    Explores how early medieval landscapes with castles and small villages became wider communities—the first modern cities. Focuses on the major debates of the Middle Ages: the tensions between country and city life; the role of the church; Scholasticism; the debate between reason and faith; the role of the French cathedral in medieval life; the lay reaction to ecclesiastical control and the rise of communal Italian cities such as Florence, Venice and Siena centered around the civic palace; and the early requirements for city beautification. We will “visit” (virtually) the first hospital, universities and prototypical housing. Everyday life will be illustrated from the material remains of art and architecture through a cross section of different social environments.

    3 credits

  • SS391

    Introduction to Mind and Brain

    The goal of this is to introduce the student to the basic principles of psychology, to guide the student through the brain and to provide a basic understanding of the relationship between the brain and mind addressing issues of consciousness. The first third of the course will examine the brain and underlying theories in psychology. The majority of the course will be focused on the relationship between the brain and consciousness including self-awareness, theory of mind, deception, abstract reasoning, art, music, spatial abilities and language. Steeped in recent findings in both psychology and neuroscience, the goal of this class will be to provide a modern foundation in the mind and the brain.

    3 credits

  • SS393

    Darwin and His Times

    This course will use the work and life of Charles Darwin (12 February-1809-19 April 1882) to examine the nature of scientific practices during the nineteenth century and their changing, often revolutionary, role in life—then and now. Our study will look at Darwin’s life, and conduct close readings of Darwin's writing on geology and evolutionary biology. We will consider and discuss both interpretations and implications of “Darwinism,” and opposition to Darwin’s ideas.

    3 credits

  • SS394

    American Radicalism

    This course will examine cultural radicalism in American thought from the Young Americans of the 1910s and the New York Intellectuals of the 1930s to the Beat poets of the 1950s and the Neo-Conservatives of the 1970s. Through figures such as Randolph Bourne, John Dewey, Meyer Schapiro, Lewis Mumford, C. Wright Mills and Dorothy Day, we will trace the rise and fall of the American avant-garde, the quest for an indigenous theory of culture, the social sources of counterculture, and the shifting meanings of the concepts "mass culture," "consumer culture," "kitsch," and highbrow/middlebrow/lowbrow. Among the questions we will address are: Can one be a political radical and a cultural conservative? A political conservative and a cultural radical?

    3 credits

  • SS395


    The course focuses on how the city of Rome changes through time and the way its idea of eternity reflects on its culture and urban changes. Monumental Imperial Rome will be compared to the recent results from excavations and research of the poorly preserved archaic and Medieval Rome. Fifteenth-century Rome, with its powerful popes, initiated a radical urban transformation by attracting the best architects and artists for the next 300 years. With the monarchy of the end of the 19th century and then Mussolini, the city undergoes radical changes once again.

    3 credits

  • SS396

    North American Environmental History

    This course examines recent historical work that makes claims for the "environment" being the major determinant in the development of the North American continent. We will look at land use in pre-colonial times, the spread of slave-based extensive agriculture in the South, wood lot management in the north, mid-western farming, western mining, the parameters of nineteenth century urban growth as well as the consequences of the arrival of the automobile. We will also look at the growth of the environmental movement over the last two centuries.

    3 credits

  • SS397

    History of Industrial Design

    In tracing the history of industrial design from its emergence at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the present, this will course will not only examine aesthetics (of furniture and the decorative arts, typography, advertising, machinery, toys, etc.) but also the social and political forces that have shaped the many styles. Throughout, we will also demonstrate how movements in industrial design relate to parallel developments in the history of painting, sculpture and architecture.

    3 credits

  • SS398

    Gender Studies

    Study of the "first wave" of feminism, including Mary Wollstonecraft and Abigail Adams, through the achievement of suffrage in 1920 and then study of the more radical claims of "second wave" feminists in the 1970s, with Marxist and Freudian analysis. This course will conclude with contemporary post-feminisms" and changing gender relationships.

    3 credits

  • SS99

    Independent Study (Social Sciences)

    3 credits

History and Theory of Art, Core

  • HTA 101, 102

    Modern to Contemporary: An Introduction to Art History

    This two-semester art history core course, developed as part of the Foundation year for students in the School of Art but open to all students, is organized around a set of themes running through the history of modernity from the 18th century to the present. Within specific themes, significant works, figures and movements in art/design will be presented chronologically. Students will be able to identify and critically evaluate significant works, figures and movements in art/design in the modern period; be able to describe the main social and political contexts for the changes in art/design over the last two hundred years; and engage, in writing and class discussion, with theoretical perspectives on art/design production. The course will involve museum visits. Grading will be based on class participation, papers, and exams.

    2 credits each semester

History and Theory of Art, Electives

  • HTA 209

    Medieval Art and Architecture

    Investigates the art, architecture and archaeology of medieval Europe from Constantine (fourth century) to approximately 1450, a period when different cultures clashed and mixed together to shape the eclectic Western medieval world that rose from Roman imperial ruins and ideals. This course will follow a chronological sequence, but use recent data from medieval excavations to challenge traditional art historical statements. Early Christian, Byzantine, Barbarian, Islamic, Romanesque and Gothic periods are examined.

    2 credits

  • HTA 210

    The Art and Culture of Fifteenth-Century Florence

    This course examines the unique historical circumstances and artistic personalities that brought about a new kind of art. Special focus will be placed on the role of the Medici family as patrons. Painters, sculptors and architects to be considered include Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Ghiberti, Donatello, the Pollaiuolo brothers, Brunelleschi and Alberti. Monuments such as Orsanmichele, the Baptistry, the Cathedral and the Medici Palace will be placed in their social context and discussed in detail.

    2 credits

  • HTA 211

    The Renaissance in Italy

    An investigation of the art produced during the 15th and 16th centuries in Italy, where a revival of classical learning led to an unprecedented artistic flowering. In painting, the course deals with the period from Fra Angelico to Titian; in architecture, from Brunelleschi to Palladio; and in sculpture, from Ghiberti to Michelangelo and Benvenuto Cellini. The course will touch on such themes as the classical ideal, town planning, country villas, fresco painting, patronage, the development of perspective, and the rise of the portrait.

  • HTA 220

    Japanese Art

    An introduction to the art of Edo period Japan (1603-1867), covering painting, printmaking, and the allied arts.

    2 credits

  • HTA 221

    Buddhist Art in Asia

    An historical survey of the visual culture of Buddhism in its chronological, geographical, material and conceptual development from its origin in India, following the death of Siddhārtha in the fifth century B.C.E., through various parts of the world, such as South East Asia, Central Asia, the Himalayan Mountain regions, and East Asia up to contemporary society in and beyond Asia. The class introduces the basic conventions and traditional visual strategies of Buddhist art in various media through focusing on selected examples of representative images, objects and monuments from historical Buddhist art, while investigating Buddhism as both a philosophy and a religion that has been continuously reinterpreted.

    2 credits

  • HTA 222

    Asian Painting

    A chronological survey of Chinese and Japanese painting and an exploration of the aesthetic and spiritual values that shaped the arts of the brush in the Far East.

    2 credits

  • HTA 224

    Printmaking in New York

    Beginning in the 19th-century, New York; became; a destination for immigrating European printmakers. They quickly established the city as one of the leading printmaking centers in the United States, a status which continues until today. ;This course will survey the history of printmaking in New York from its early beginnings until the present day. ;Through a combination of lectures and visits to prominent collections and printshops, we will consider how the vibrant commercial and collaborative art scene of New York has created a thriving printmaking community.

    2 credits

  • HTA 231

    History of Industrial Design

    In tracing the history of industrial design from its emergence at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the present, this course will examine not only aesthetics (of furniture and the decorative arts, typography, advertising, machinery, toys, etc.) but also the social and political forces that have shaped the many styles. Throughout, we will also demonstrate how movements in industrial design relate to parallel developments in the history of painting, sculpture, and architecture.

    2 credits

  • HTA 233

    History of Drawing

    Our class will examine the changing character and purpose of drawings, from prehistory and antiquity through the Italian Renaissance, Northern Europe, impressionism, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, and others from the modern and post-modern periods. Topics will include formal accounts, connoisseurship (particularly controversies around Michelangelo and Rembrandt’s drawings), technology (camera obscura, camera lucida), figuration and abstraction, and actual practice at a place like Cooper Union today.

    2 credits

  • HTA 240

    Issues in Asian Contemporary Art

    In this course, students will build a foundation in critical theory revolving around issues of race, nationality, sexuality and gender as they relate to the formation of an artist's identity, and how that identity in turn is reflected in the artist's output. Attention will be paid to Asian contemporary artists working outside of their own cultures and to Asian-American artists, in an attempt to analyze the role of the Asian diaspora and its connection to contemporary art production in Asia proper. Special focus will be paid to the contemporary art of India, China, Korea and Japan, although other nations and regions will also be discussed.

    2 credits

  • HTA 261

    Special Topics in Nineteenth-Century Art

    Recent topics have included Charles Darwin’s writings, the “Darwin effect,” and the relationship between evolutionary theory and modern art, and the history of the bather in European art, with particular attention to the work of Courbet, Manet, Daumier, Cézanne and Seurat.

    2 credits

  • HTA 263

    African Art

    An introduction to the stylistic, conceptual, functional and historical aspects of sub-Saharan African sculpture and architecture, the place of these arts in the traditional context of black African life and their relationship to the worldview of the African.

    2 credits

  • HTA 264

    Black Artists of the Americas

    Studies the influence of African art and culture on black painters and sculptors in North and South America. Symbols, myths, religious rituals and deities will be explicated in terms of the correspondence they develop between distant antiquity and the present, allowing, in some cases, for new creative possibilities.

    2 credits

  • HTA 270

    The Art of Greece and Rome

    An introduction to the sculpture, painting, and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome with attention to the impact of the classical imagination on the art of succeeding ages.

    2 credits

  • HTA 273

    Topics in the History of Photography

    Writing by the critics, historians and photographers that have influenced creation and reception of photography throughout its history. Issues include definitions and redefinitions of art, documentary debates and revisionist canons and histories.

    2 credits

  • HTA 274

    History of Photography (1835-1965)

    There is no one history of photography. It is constantly evolving and changing.The course is designed to touch on photographic innovations that pushed the medium forward; photographers whose vision broke new ground; and looking at images that connect us powerfully to past worlds. The course is focused on the development of photographic vision in the 19th and early 20thcenturies with reference to major photographers up to the 1960s. Two or three class trips to view vintage photographs will be arranged.

    2 credits

  • HTA 275, 276

    Twentieth-Century Art History

    Considers the flourishing "isms" of the 20th century, as well as historical events, intellectual currents and conflicting aesthetic views, explored in relation to such enduring artists as Picasso, Matisse, Malevich, Kandinsky, Miro, Klee, Dubuffet, Giacometti, Pollock, Smith, Calder and others.

    2 credits each semester

  • HTA 277

    Contemporary Art

    Survey of the development of contemporary art after Minimalism and Pop Art of the 1960s. Chronological treatment includes canonical texts of critical theory and issues such as genre, multiculturism and site specificity crucial to the current practice of art. Recent topics: German painting.

    2 credits

  • HTA 280

    International Futurism

    Futurism (1909-1944) was the first avant-garde movement to emerge from the peripheries of modernity. Founded by Italian and Egyptian artists, Futurism embraced a problematic ideology. Yet the movement has functioned ever since as a strategic model for several groups of artists fighting against dynamics of exclusion. The first part of the course focuses on Futurism and its international network. The second part discusses more recent artistic movements from Russia, Argentina, Japan, Italy, and the US, which have adopted Futurism’s guerrilla-like methods to strike an attack on the hegemonic center.

    2 credits

  • HTA 282

    Public Sculpture in New York City

    This course will examine trends that have informed the history of public sculpture in New York City, including commemoration of historical events, artistic and civic education for the masses, natural history in the service of the nation, and the cult of great men and women. We will also examine individual monuments such as Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Farragut Monument (1880), Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty (1886), the sculptural programs of Central Park, Prospect Park, and Green-Wood Cemetery, the decorations of Rockefeller Center (including Paul Manship’s 1934 Prometheus and Lee Lawrie’s 1937 Atlas), Isamu Noguchi’s News (1940) and the sculpture garden he created at his Long Island City studio, and Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc (1978). Emphasis will be placed on reading works or art as primary texts; viewing sculpture, in local museums or in situ, will be a key component of the course.

    2 credits

  • HTA 283

    The "Genius" of the Baroque

    This course examines the genius of European Baroque art as distilled in the work of its greatest exemplars. We will also address the ideology of the counter-reformation church, the emergence of Protestant capitalism and a pluralist, bourgeois society in the north, patronage and social identity, propaganda, religious faith, skepticism, sexual identity and the family, all focused through the position of the artist in society. In no other period were body and spirit, sensual and sublime, so closely intermeshed. Art history resides precisely in the relation between our present interest in these artists and the past conditions in which they worked.

    2 credits

  • HTA 285

    Single-Work Seminar

    A seminar devoted entirely to a single monument or work of art that had a particularly profound and wide resonance in the socio-political, economic, and cultural milieu in which it was created and whose range of influence extended well beyond its historical time frame. The focused nature of the course material allows for both a breadth and a depth of analysis to a greater degree than is possible in other elective art history courses. Past topics have included Duccio's "Maesta."

    2 credits

  • HTA 296


    This seminar centers on the idea of "synartesis" – the act of fastening or knitting together to produce union even among disparate kinds of knowledge and materials. Drawing on what has often been pejoratively referred to as anachronistic or philosophical art history, this course will explore new potentials for understanding works of art outside the bounds of traditional linear narrative by experimenting with how inter-chronological and thematic comparisons of artworks might allow us to develop a more personal relationship to the past as it intersects with the constantly unfolding future.

    2 credits

  • HTA 297

    History of Printmaking

    Explores the history of printmaking and its various processes from the 15th century to the present with an eye to the unique contribution of this graphic art to the history of visual language in both popular and fine art. While major printmakers (e.g., Durer, Rembrandt, Daumier, the Nabis, the German Expressionists, Jasper Johns) will be addressed, attention will also be given to the practical and popular use of prints through the centuries.

    2 credits

  • HTA 298

    History of Graphic Design

    A study of the history of graphic design work arising out of the important cultural, political and social configurations in Europe, Asia and the United States from the time of the industrial revolution to the present day. Points of reference include posters, publications and promotional pieces being drawn from an unusual collection.

    2 credits

  • HTA 300

    Single-Artist Seminar

    A course devoted entirely to the life and work of one important artist, selected anew from across the spectrum of world art each time it is offered. The seminar is designed to allow for an in-depth experience in the discipline of art history that extends well beyond what is possible in period survey courses. Recent topics: Leonardo; Rembrandt; Degas.

    2 credits

  • HTA 313

    The Anatomy of Painting

    This class introduces students topainting as a medium, concept,and phenomenon through around 150 of the greatest examples we possess, based on fourteen fundamental issues: Line;Color; Light; Texture; Material; Shape; Scale; Composition; Realism; Abstraction; Symbolism; Style; Viewing; Meaning. By way of diverse examples from across the history of art, primarily but not exclusively from the Western tradition before 1700—we will of course consider other examples and visit private and public collections in New York; the principles continue to apply today— students will be brought into the flesh, blood, and central nervous system of paintings. The idea for the course is to introduce students of art to some of the great works in the history of painting as painting, that is, the history of art, rather than the history of art. We will also reconsider what painting is, what painting can do, how painting has changed and remained the same, why painting is important, what there is new to say about painting, and why saying or writing anything about painting matters (the relation betweenwriting, thinking, seeing, and understanding).

    2 credits

  • HTA 315

    Mysteries of Northern Renaissance Art

    This course examines some of the most hauntingly beautiful and enigmatic works in the history of art, from a period of deep religiosity and aristocratic ideals, emerging contrary middle-class values and exceptional artistic ambition and self-consciousness. We will begin with a solution for the still unsolved riddle of the Ghent Altarpiece and the birth of modern painting in the north, move through debates about disguised symbolism and new conceptions of the artwork in Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden, the crisis of modernity in Hieronymus Bosch and the emergence of a new (sublime) order in the art of Pieter Bruegel, among others.

    2 credits

  • HTA 317

    Art and Architecture of Ancient Peru

    Introduction to the ancient cultures of Peru from about 3000 B.C.E. to the Spanish conquest, as seen in architecture, stone sculpture, ceramics, metalwork and textiles.

    2 credits

  • HTA 318

    Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture in Mesoamerica

    A survey of the arts and architecture of the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mexico and Central America from the earliest times through the Spanish conquest. Visits to museums and private collections are an integral part of the course.

    2 credits

  • HTA 323, 333

    Islamic Art and Architecture

    A chronological study of Islamic art and architecture, including an introduction to Islamic aesthetics, history and philosophy. The course will examine samples from religious and literary texts, architectural monuments, painting, ceramics, metal works and calligraphy from Spain, North Africa, the Levant, Iraq, Central Asia and India.

    2 credits

  • HTA 324

    Arts of the Islamic Book

    This course looks at the elements that contributed to the evolution of Islamic book illustration from the 10th century to the 17th century, such as materials, styles, patronage, administration, choice of text and the relationship between text and image, with special concentration on the Persian book.

    2 credits

  • HTA 327

    The New York Art Collector

    This course investigates the history of art collecting as it unfolded in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. Beginning in colonial times with Governor Morris' acquisition of 18th-century French furniture and ending in the mid-20th century with the formation of such public institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the course will focus on both the men and women instrumental in the establishment of these collections and the specific objects they collected.

    2 credits

  • HTA 328

    Dada and Surrealism

    Since their appearance early in the 20th century, Dada and Surrealism have had a profound and lasting influence on the arts. This course explores the art and ideas of these two movements within the social, political, intellectual and art historical context of the years 1914–1947.

    2 credits

  • HTA 329

    Nineteenth-Century Printmaking

    The 19th century witnessed an explosion of imagery, in part led by the technical developments in commercial printmaking and the advent of photography. This course will survey the major themes of the period, including the changing cityscape, the iconography of peasants and local landscapes, the influence of caricature and the popular press and the development of Japonism. Classes will be based on the hands-on viewing of original prints in the New York Public Library by artists including Eugene Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Charles Meryon, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt and James McNeill Whistler.

    2 credits

  • HTA 331

    The Arts of China

    This course is a chronological survey of the arts of China from the pottery-making and jade-carving cultures of the Neolithic up to contemporary works of art. A brief discussion of historical events as well as background in Chinese philosophy, political systems and religious practices will be presented in order to allow students to recontextualize selected works within their originating culture. The course is designed to provide students with a foundation in visual literacy of China, facilitate written expression and familiarize them with New York City's cultural institutions exhibiting Chinese art.

    2 credits

  • HTA 333

    Islamic Art and Architecture

    See HTA 323

    2 credits

  • HTA 334

    Art and Architecture of Islamic India

    A chronological study from the 16th century to the 19th century of the development of the art and architecture of the Mughals; and an examination of the Arab, Persian, Indian and European influences that shaped that culture.

    2 credits

  • HTA 335

    Art and Architecture of the Ancient Near East

    From the temples of the land of Sumer to the tower of Babylon, this course provides an overview of the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and Iran, as well as surrounding regions, from the Neolithic period to the 1st millennium B.C.E. --- some 10,000 years. We will study the architecture and artifacts excavated at major sites in the fertile crescent including Jericho, Uruk, Ur, Nineveh and many others. In addition, we will discuss major landmarks in the history of civilization such as the development of agriculture, the beginning of urban settlement, the invention of writing, and the discovery of metallurgy, and their impact on the manufacture of art and artifacts and their iconography.

    2 credits

  • HTA 336

    Site-Specific Art

    This course will introduce students to major issues surrounding site-specific art, including Earth art, out-door sited art and installation art within an architectural space. The range of artistic interpretation of site-specificity will be examined, from works that are conceived for and inseparable from a particular site, to works created in response to one site, but subsequently reconceived in response to another. We will place special emphasis on the relationship, both physical and conceptual, that site-specific artworks have with their site. While the primary focus of the course will be on temporarily sited artworks, some relevant examples of permanent public art will also be investigated. Through readings, discussion and looking at images, the course will provide an opportunity to approach and understand an important development in post war and contemporary art. Field trips will be integral to the course.

    2 credits

  • HTA 337

    Russian Art and Culture

    The class will survey the history of Russian art, reaching back to its pre-modern origins. It will address Russian arts and culture in their specific political and ideological context(s). Special attention will be paid to examining the interdisciplinary character (art, architecture, design, film and theater) of Constructivism and Suprematism of the early 20th century. The course will also address the impact of the historical (or revolutionary) avant-garde on contemporary art practices. Students will be required to prepare short in-class presentation on a specific modern or contemporary artist, architect, or designer, who uses or used the constructivist vocabulary in his or her work, and, as a final project, write a ten page research paper.

    2 credits

  • HTA 340

    The Artist in Renaissance Italy

    This course will focus on artists working in the Italian peninsula between ca 1400 and ca 1600, with the goal of learning how and why they created the paintings, tapestries, sculpture, prints and decorative art that we now think as "Renaissance." In addition to studying materials, techniques and iconography, we shall consider the important role of patronage, both sacred and secular.

    2 credits

  • HTA 341

    Body Politics in Art Since 1945

    This elective will examine the multiple and dynamic ways in which art since the Second World War has constructed understandings of the body. Over the course of the semester, we will meet a strange and motley assortment of bodies: the diseased body, the heroic body, the queer body, the abject body, the body-as-machine. Not primarily concerned with images of the human figure—although they will certainly make appearances from time to time—the course will instead ask, “How does art think the body? What kind of body made this work? What kind of body does this work address as spectator.

    2 credits

  • HTA 99

    Independent Study (History and Theory of Art)

    2 credits

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.