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and in lectures students learn to study and to respond critically in written and spoken form to a variety of historical documents and secondary texts.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.

    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.

    3 credits


  • HUM 105

    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

  • HUM 242

    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

  • HUM 243

    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

  • HUM 250

    Shakespeare: Hamlet

    For Fall' 20 the topic will be: Hamlet -Who is Hamlet? What is Hamlet? Shakespeare’s most famous play has a complex history and an even more complex legacy. This semester’s Shakespeare course will focus on one play – but what a play. Hamlet has been a celebrated stage work, an inspiration for artists and writers, and a headache for scholars: Shakespeare didn’t leave us a manuscript, and we have two different versions of the text, so any performance of the play requires a lot of decisions. Hamlet’s story has become an international story, and the title role has been taken up both by male and female actors. The first half of the course will be an intensive, careful reading of the play and its historical context. In the second half, we will look at adaptations and disseminations – Hamlet in the visual and cinematic arts, in ballet, in famous stage interpretations, and as a means of connecting cultures: Hamlet off the coast of Sierra Leone, a Hamlet-figure in Indian cinema, Shakespeare’s play in contemporary China. For four centuries, Hamlet has been a figure of youth struggling against system, caught between identity and obligation. We will work together to understand what Hamlet – and Ophelia, Gertrude, Claudius, Polonius, Laertes, and Old Hamlet – are up against, why they do what they do, and why the world has given them so much attention. Course requirements: unfailing attendance to our class meetings, weekly response paper-ettes, two research papers, and a bit of memorization.

    3 credits

  • HUM 305

    Leonardo, Scientist and Engineer

    This course uses the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci (1453–1519) to explore science, medicine, engineering and art in Renaissance Europe. We will use Leonardo's notebooks, work of his contemporaries and writing about his interests across the centuries to examine the institutions and influences that served Leonardo’s imagination, his inventiveness, and his arts. Same as SS 305

    3 credits

  • HUM 307

    Theatre Collaborative

    An examination of theater-making both theoretical and practical, students will work together to explore the act of play from the various perspectives of the actor, writer, director, designer, and producer. The class will explore ensemble driven devised theater-making as well as more traditional methodologies in a study of process that will culminate in group projects inspired by the myth of Icarus. Throughout the semester students will be expected to attend several performances and subsequent in-class talkback sessions with guest artists.

    3 credits

  • HUM 308

    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

  • HUM 309

    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

  • HUM 315

    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

  • HUM 318

    Creative Nonfiction Writing

    This course will explore the creative possibilities of writing about reality. Students will read and produce many different genres, including the personal essay, cultural criticism, prose poetry, literary journalism, song lyrics, podcasts, even Twitter threads. By the end of this course, students should be able to write comfortably in a variety of forms, and to think critically about how each of those forms describes reality -what it includes and excludes, enables and disables. They should be able to find expressive possibilities in almost any subject, as well as to actively notice the world around them - natural, technological, social, intellectual - and then to articulate the things they notice.

    3 credits

  • HUM 323

    The 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 and Contemporary Poetry Vol. 2, third edition (Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O’Clair) but students are encouraged to look into other anthologies and studies of Poetry.

    3 credits

  • HUM 324

    Polar Imagination

    This course will explore our fascination with the ends of the earth: the Arctic and the Antarctic. What is the history of our engagement with these regions long thought to be uninhabitable? What's important about the search for the Northwest Passage and the landless "North Pole," first in the age of big ice and now in the era of polar melt? At the other end of the globe, what does the vast and forbidding Antarctic continent have to tell us? What are the polar regions to us now, in times of re-escalating political tensions and rising temperatures? To give shape to these questions we will look at literary works inspired by the planet's extreme regions (for example, Mary Shelley, Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne and other nineteenth-century authors as well as contemporary writers), histories of famous explorations (for example, Shackleton's voyage to Antarctica), and recent scholarship on climate change and polar history. Along the way we will look at questions of conflict between the technologies of developed nations and indigenous peoples' habits of sustainability; the geopolitics of research stations; art activism; documentary filmmaking; polar tourism; and the fate of polar species in an environment whose climate is rapidly shifting. In short, the course is an advanced introduction -- no prerequisites other than the HSS core sequence -- to an interdisciplinary subject that touches upon history, science, technology, politics, literature, and art.

    3 credits

  • HUM 325

    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, organic and 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, anthropology, and psychoanalysis to literature, popular culture, and art. Instead of separating the “scientific” from the “poetic,” this course will introduce and explore ways in which we can think about what we want from our “artificial life,” and how the boundaries between the living and the non-living require constant rethinking.

    3 credits

  • HUM 327

    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

  • HUM 330

    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

  • HUM 331

    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

  • HUM 332

    Lucretius, On the Nature of Things

    On the Nature of Things Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2011 book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, re-introduced Lucretius and his amazing philosophical epic poem, De Rerum Natura, to the modern world. Its title derived from the most famous theory associated with the Roman philosopher/poet, Greenblatt’s book features a fascinating chronicle of the discovery in 1417 by Poggio Bracciolini, in the library of a remote German monastery, of the only surviving manuscript of Lucretius’ Latin text. Greenblatt skillfully interweaves a real-life detective story with a comprehensive account of how this chance discovery caused the modern world itself to “swerve.” The Swerve (via Greenblatt’s energetic style and flair for story-telling, no doubt) has inspired a resurgence of interest in this relatively little known but highly influential Epicurean philosopher of the first century B.C.E., whose magnum opus, De Rerum Natura (best translated, “On the Nature of Things”), stands as the richest extant repository of our knowledge of ancient atomism and Epicurean philosophy, otherwise lost with the exception of a few fragments of Epicurus, himself. On the Nature of Things is hands-down the most important philosophical poem ever written (what a delightful way to get your philosophy!), and the single most important source for our knowledge of one of the most important and influential schools of Hellenistic philosophy, Epicureanism. But it is also an exquisitely beautiful work of poetic art and a gold mine of information and ideas on subjects as wide-ranging as mythology, religion, morality, science, sex, cosmology, geology, history, horticulture, agriculture, meteorology, astronomy, humanism, sociology, the senses, pleasure, life in the late Roman Republic, and much more besides. The course, which will be conducted seminar-style, focuses exclusively on a close-reading of the six books of De Rerum Natura in translation (the instructor has also read much of the text in the original Latin), ending with a reading of Greenblatt’s The Swerve and a discussion of the modern reception of Lucretius. Along with the text of Lucretius, we will read excerpts of many additional primary texts which either influenced or were influenced by De Rerum Nature.

    3 credits

  • HUM 333

    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

  • HUM 334

    Plato’s Republic

    A seminar devoted entirely to a close reading and critical analysis of Plato’s greatest dialogue, the Republic, and its reverberations down through the ages as a model of political theorizing, if not a template for an ideal society. As we work through the text book by book, we will create our own "Socratic dialogue," that is, a series of problems, questions, deliberations, and considerations that would run parallel to the text, with the ultimate aim of assessing what Plato means, and intends, with this enigmatic work. Comparative material in the form of historical and contemporary (to Socrates and Plato) influences, precedents, and references will be introduced where appropriate. We will then venture briefly into the analogous genre of “utopian” literature which the Republic inadvertently engendered, finishing with the most influential modern critique, that of Popper.

    3 credits

  • HUM 335

    Pythagoras: The Philosophy of Number

    This course explores the intense and extensive intellectual activity of the Pythagorean school, which extends from mathematics to philosophy, from cosmology to music, and whose legacy had a decisive influence from the Greek world to the Renaissance. For the Pythagoreans, in effect, those we now consider as separate disciplines were inseparable aspects of a unique inquiry, inspired by a mystical enthusiasm and carried out through a profound philosophical and mathematical search. In Pythagoreanism, then, sifted through Platonic philosophy, we may find the first historical antecedent of many of the components which contributed to the birth of the modern world. The course starts from such premises and explores the meaning and the implications of the mysticism of number in Pythagoreanism, with particular emphasis on its influence on mathematics, art, and philosophy. Advanced knowledge of mathematics is not expected of students taking the course.

    3 credits

  • HUM 337

    Philosophy & Contemporary Art

    It is not easy to express the ‘meaning’ of art. Even less, certainly, in the era of post-modernity, when not only the splintering of perspectives prevents from seeing a single line, but the artist, along with the search for meaning, definitively renounces the idea of defining what art should be, merely expressing the ‘appearance of an instant’. Hence that fragmented nature concerning both the works and the reading of the art of our time. As Adorno writes in his Aesthetic Theory, it is precisely through a fragmentary form, through a ‘synthesis of the diffuse’ which renounces the idea of consonance, that art can express the reality of our time. Still, it is not possible to escape this need to express the inexpressible, even knowing that thought can only approach the essence of things, never achieving it. But it is precisely through this, as a negative presentation, that such an invisible essence can sometimes be understood.

    3 credits

  • HUM 348

    Greek Tragedy

    An in-depth introduction to Greek tragedy, both as literature and performance. The methodology throughout will be close-reading, using comparative translations, with portions of the texts performed in class. The genre of tragedy will be presented against the background of its historical and cultural context, Athens of the fifth century, BCE. The most significant surviving ancient critical treatise on Greek tragedy, Aristotle’s Poetics, will be measured against the authority of surviving works. Some important secondary readings will be assigned, but the emphasis throughout will be on primary source materials.

    3 credits

  • HUM 352

    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, social issues, in short, our personal responses to any number of topics and situations, enlarging ourselves in the process.

    3 credits

  • HUM 355

    Race & Gender in Literature

    In this course we will engage different contexts in which women have been and are communicating their responses to the social, political, religious, and engendered conditions of their respective nations. Our themes include the politics of canon formation, the challenges of language, “Third World” and Western feminism. Thus, we consider the larger traditions into which women’s writings have been absorbed, or which their writings resist, or change. We will explore the following questions: Can we probe the traditional value of mothers and wives with the gender roles and behavioral expectations that go with them, without banishing them from the realm of political resistance or without reifying them? What rhetorical or narrative methods are used to express gendered realities where acts of writing do not always equate with authority, truth, or stability? How are politics inscribed on the gendered and racialized body? What narrative styles are deployed to articulate gendered participation in the national fabric? While we engage primarily in literature, we will also consider music and visual art. The works we will explore include Sojourner Truth, Jamaica Kincaid, Assia Djebar, Betool Khedairi, among others.

    3 credits

  • HUM 356

    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

  • HUM 358

    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

  • HUM 363

    Caribbean Societies

    The Caribbean region is known for lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and iconic bits of culture such as reggae, Rastafarianism, salsa, calypso, and carnival. The beauty of these islands belies serious economic, political, and social issues of which visitors are generally unaware. However, the history and cultural practices of the region paint a different picture. In this course, we will examine how the earliest institutionalized and intertwined forms of violence and economics--including genocide of the indigenous population, slavery, the rise of the plantocracy, and the impact of globalization on the economies of the region—and their attendant/resultant forms of cultural production continue to shape present Caribbean life. We will examine the various systems of colonial and imperial power, past and ongoing, and their lasting impact in various ways across the region. Finally, we will consider the idea of the Caribbean as a haven for tourists that depends upon a sanitized representation of the region’s history of institutionalized violence and exploitation. We shall conduct our investigations through film, literature, history, sociology, and theory. Students will submit weekly 2-page analytical response papers before weekly meetings, and a final 10-page argument driven sourced essay grounded in questions, issues, problems and concepts arising during study.

    3 credits

  • HUM 373

    Seminar in Humanities

    Seminar giving close attention to special topics in the Humanities. The seminar may be repeated for credit with the permission of the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. For Fall' 20 topic will be HUM 373 H Seminar: Literature of Climate Change and Sustainability-Writing Climate Change

    3 credits

  • HUM 374

    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

  • HUM 375

    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

  • HUM 383


    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

  • HUM 392


    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

  • HUM 394

    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

  • HUM 99

    Independent Study (Humanities)

    Only juniors and seniors in good academic standing are eligible for independent study. Independent study may be taken for a maximum of two credits per semester. The student must obtain permission of both the instructor and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The major consideration in approving proposals for independent study is the educational value of the study project within the structure of degree requirements. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences insists on very high standards as a condition for approving any independent study project.

Social Sciences

  • SS 304

    Economic Growth and Innovation

    Economic growth is the oldest sub-discipline in economics. It is technically the core of economic policy because growth makes people better off in the long run. Economic growth is closely related to various other sub-disciplines, such as economic demography, human capital, productivity and technological advances, macro-economic policy, and public policy. In addition, studying economic growth calls for a survey of both economic and general. This may, therefore, be one of the most interdisciplinary courses you will take, where you get to see how economics interacts with other social sciences.

    In this course, emphasis will be placed on theoretical development, issue discussion, and policy formulation. In the first half of the course, we will go over the development of growth theory starting from Adam Smith's capital accumulation to Romer's endogenous growth theory. We will explore how modern growth theory relates to human capital accumulation and innovation. We will hold comparisons between developed and developing countries and try to think why fast-growing economies might end up stagnating. In the second half of the course, we will look at case studies in an attempt to link the theoretical models to countries’ experiences. This part of the course will mostly be led by students, based on their research and in-class presentations.

    Those with existing knowledge of Macroeconomics will be especially suited to this course. Student self-study groups will be established for the review of algebraic equations and basic concepts of macroeconomics to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    3 credits

  • SS 305

    Leonardo, Scientist and Engineer

    This course uses the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci (1453–1519) to explore science, medicine, engineering and art in Renaissance Europe. We will use Leonardo's notebooks, work of his contemporaries and writing about his interests across the centuries to examine the institutions and influences that served Leonardo’s imagination, his inventiveness, and his arts. Same as HUM 305

    3 credits

  • SS 308

    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

  • SS 318

    Seminar in Social Science

    Seminar giving close attention to special topics in the Social Sciences. Recent topics have included sustainability and the economy. The seminar may be repeated for credit with the permission of the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

    3 credits

  • SS 321

    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

  • SS 323

    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

  • SS 333

    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

  • SS 334


    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

  • SS 335

    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

  • SS 339

    African History: History of West Africa

    This course is an introduction to some of the major themes and debates in the study of West African history. Students will gain an appreciation for the diversity, depth, and dynamism of West African history. Students are encouraged to think broadly about historical processes, lasting changes, and the movement of people and ideas across geographic and intellectual space. The course is rooted in West Africa, but it places West Africa and West Africans at the center of dynamic global movements. We will study how Africa and Africans shaped many world orders, from Islam to the Atlantic World to the Third World. This course begins with the great West African empires and continuing through the eras of slave trades, the formation and consolidation of the Islamic and Atlantic worlds, and the end of colonization. We conclude with some post-colonial questions and debates with great bearing on independent Africa. Throughout the roughly 700 years this course spans, we will ask questions about long-term processes of change. How have states and state power changed over the course of the seven hundred years or so this course covers? Equally importantly, how have people’s relationships to states changed? How did Africans build new forms of power and authority? How did they resist others? How did different dividing lines—ethnic, gender, race, and class—change over time in African social, political, and cultural life?

    3 credits

  • SS 340

    Cause and Effect

    Does providing social welfare benefits spoil the poor? Do Nike ads increase their shoes sales? Does having an Amazon Prime membership leads you to buy more from Amazon? Does health insurance improve people’s health? Does hiring a new professor improve the academic performance of Cooper students? Does giving aid to poor countries improve their economic performance? We can get data on all these variables and run regressions and come up with answers, but are they the right answers? Probably not. In all these questions, the direction of the causation can go both ways (For instance, with a Prime membership you are more likely to order from Amazon because it is easier, but also you probably got the Prime membership because you shop online a lot). Also in all these question, there is a potential that other factors can affect the relationship and in most cases we cannot control for all these factors. Therefore, simply running regressions does not necessarily give us the right answer. This course will help you think about how to answers these cause-and-effect questions. After taking this course, your attitude towards the world will change. You will doubt many claims that are being thrown at you by news reporters, President Trump (definitely), and even your professors! The course will teach you to think systematically about various types of cause-effect questions and use various types of datasets to try to answer them. You can apply the skills you learn in this course to questions in economics, psychology, business, politics, and even the sciences.

    3 credits

  • SS 342

    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

  • SS 345

    The Raymond G. Brown Seminar: Varying Topics

    A seminar in the Social Sciences on a topic central to the interests of the late Professor Raymond G. Brown. For the Fall' 20 semester, we will examine Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

    3 credits

  • SS 346

    Urban Sociology: Reading the City

    Over 75 percent of Americans and 40 percent of the world's population live in urban areas. These figures are growing. Consequently, the city has become one of the most important and powerful social phenomenon of modern times. It is therefore imperative that we come to understand its influence on our lives. This course will provide a basic introduction to urban life and culture from the framework of urban sociology. Classic and modern theories of urbanization and urbanism will be examined in order to understand the historical growth, decline and renewed growth of cities, along with the lifestyles they evoke. While the main frame is a sociological one, perspectives taken from urban planners, architects, landscape architects, artists, political economists, and writers will also be incorporated as will economic and political dynamics and their role in creating and resolving problems. Most importantly, we will consider the effect that urban environments have on our social interactions and daily lives.

    3 credits

  • SS 347


    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

  • SS 350

    Colonial Cities

    Colonial cities were major centers of trade, commerce and manufacturing, attracting money and immigrants from across the world. By focusing on the ways in which they shaped industrialization, urbanization and culture production, we will learn about technology and modern work practices, developments in housing, infrastructure and urban planning, new ideas of political resistance and artistic expressions of discontent that originated in these cities. In doing so, we will highlight the prominent role of colonial cities in shaping modern cosmopolitan life as well as the lasting legacies of colonial rule.

    3 credits

  • SS 351

    20th Century History “What we are talking about when we talk about Fascism”

    This is a transnational history course that seeks to sharpen our thinking about definitions and resonances of fascism; it examines the past and asks, how such investigation might help us to act in the present when we confront situations that seem to be, or are quickly termed, “fascist.” Using theoretical and historical sources, we will study the European origins of fascism beginning with the dramatic upheavals of World War 1 and the interwar years through World War II, the Holocaust, and its aftermath, and then turn our attention to the development of a new global authoritarian populism and right-wing nationalist xenophobic leaders and regimes in the 21rst century. We will examine historical roots and current appeal as well as efforts at resistance, in a variety of contexts from Britain, Western and Eastern Europe to Russia, India, the Middle East, and East Asia. All of our work will require close analysis of entangled categories and experiences of race, class, nation, and gender and reference to “current events’ in the United States as well as globally.

    General Course description: 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

  • SS 352

    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

  • SS 354

    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

  • SS 358

    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

  • SS 360

    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

  • SS 361

    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

  • SS 369

    Cognitive Pyschology: Conversations on Consciousness and Attention

    Consciousness is often called the main mystery in cognitive science. At the same time conscious experience seems to be trivial, we don't see changes in our awareness until we make a mistake in a simple cognitive task or someone tells us that we missed something salient. Consciousness studies is a multidisciplinary field in science that includes approaches and methods from neuroscience and physics, philosophy and anthropology, artificial intelligence and linguistics. We will try to learn more about the contribution of all these sciences, all aimed at answering one question: "What does it mean to have consciousness?" Some representative questions we will be discussing are: What is the function of consciousness? How intelligent is the unconscious? What is the relationship between consciousness and attention? Can a machine ever be conscious? Is consciousness fundamental in the universe (as Eastern philosophies argue) or did it emerge as matter became ever more complex (as Western science insists)? Is there a stream of consciousness or is this just an illusion? What could happen if we didn't have consciousness? The course brings together modern and historical ideas to give a perspective on how the problem of consciousness could be addressed. Each topic presents a question that we will try to answer, each topic includes reading part, demonstration of effects and experiments and a small written review task.

    3 credits

  • SS 371

    "Am I That Name?” Topics in Gender and Sexuality

    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

  • SS 372

    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

  • SS 374

    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

  • SS 382

    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, Kenneth 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

  • SS 384

    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

  • SS 390

    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

  • SS 391

    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

  • SS 99

    Independent Study (Social Sciences)

    Only juniors and seniors in good academic standing are eligible for independent study. Independent study may be taken for a maximum of two credits per semester. The student must obtain permission of both the instructor and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The major consideration in approving proposals for independent study is the educational value of the study project within the structure of degree requirements. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences insists on very high standards as a condition for approving any independent study project.

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 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.

    2 credits

  • 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: Origins to Modernity

    As a part of the ongoing discourse on the tripartite interrelation among art, religion and modernity, this class investigates "Buddhist art,” the visual culture of one the world religions, rooted in the premodern societies of India, Central, South East and East Asia and Tibet, from which its distinctive material forms, visual principles and ritual practices developed. More recently, the presence of Asian Buddhist material/visual cultures has asserted itself anew through transnational exchanges and confrontations, particularly between Asia and the modern and contemporary West. This course attempts to historicize this phenomenon by taking a macro approach to Buddhist art (without sacrificing specifics related to individual cases) by investigating two possible constituents of modern/contemporary Buddhist art: its core historical principles carried over from its origins, which have been considered “timeless,” and its uniquely “timely” complication of or deviation from its original systems.

    We will spend half of the course studying some original principles of historical Buddhist art in areas such as visuality, representation, copy, agency, function and performativity, while quickly tracing the geo-historical spread of the religion throughout Asia over a period of more than 2,400 years. In this section, we will visit selected works and sites that represent some typologies of premodern Buddhist art, such as relics, icons, mandala, pagoda, gardens and “Zen art,” and examine them in “context,” i.e., concerning their relations to the ritualistic/symbolic practices and fundamental philosophy of the religion. The latter half of the class will explore the issue of collisions in modernity between two claims: an insistence on the immutability and authenticity of persistent premodern systems of Buddhist art and experimentations reflecting the ever changing globalizing identities of the religion and regions in Asia, corresponding to recent social, political and cultural landscapes, including museum displays, temple politics, Orientalizing commodification and appropriation by avant-garde artists.

    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 232

    Is Painting like Poetry?

    Inspired by the famous dictum, “ut pictura poesis” (literally, ‘as painting, poetry,’ or more loosely, ‘poetry is like painting’), from Horace’s Art of Poetry, the course examines the interconnections between literature and the visual arts, whether as rivals or as allies, from antiquity through the present. A diverse group of topics will be considered, within a specific historical time frame and context, with the goal of seeking a common ground for a discourse with which to evaluate the nature, significance, and aesthetic parameters of each of the two modes of expression in the shared enterprise of the representation of reality and/or the world of ideas.

    2 credits

  • HTA 240

    Asian Contemporary Art

    Chinese Contemporary art for Spring 2018. Over the past three decades, modern and contemporary art scenes have spanned the globe and thus had a great impact on Chinese art. A greater number of Chinese artists have emerged and addressed in their work the issues of modernity contemporaneity in China in terms of political tensions, cultural conflicts, globalization, changing social and family conditions, as well as gender issues within their own cultural context. Topics of the course will cover political Pop, installation art, New Literati Paintings, experimental ink paintings, conceptual art, performance art and feminist art. We will attempt to investigate the phenomena of social-political transition in contemporary China as the background of its contemporary art, the impact of western ideas on the Chinese contemporary art world and their various interpretations, as well as the struggle to maintain tradition and cultural identity.

    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

    Contemporary Artists of the Black Atlantic (1960’s-Present)

    This course explores the contemporary work of artists of African descent based in Africa, Europe and the Americas from the Black Power Movement in the United States and the Independence era of Africa to the present day. This course will probe the assertion of “black Atlantic identities” and will include photography, installation art, as well as internet based work.

    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

    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 275

    Twentieth-Century Art History

    Considers the flourishing "isms" of the 20th century, as well as historical events, intellectual currents and conflicting aesthetic views. For Fall' 20 semester we will examine: Multiculturalism and Identity Politics through the Lens of Curatorial Practice

    2 credits

  • HTA 278

    Modernism in Latin America

    This course examines the emergence and development of Latin American modernisms in their so-called first and second waves. The first one, which unfolded from the 1920s to the 1940s in Brazil, Mexico and Cuba, witnessed the artists’ combination of imported European avant-garde tendencies—such as post-impressionism and Cubism—with local motifs to produce an art that could reflect a national identity. The second wave pertains to the post World War II raise of abstract tendencies in South America, specifically, concrete abstraction in Argentina and Brazil, and op and kinetic art in Venezuela. Artistic modernisms in the region will be studied in connection with the political and cultural context in Latin American countries, specifically, the process of nation-state building, the rise of populist ideologies, and the incidence of developmentalism in the Southern Cone during the 1950s and 1960s. We will analyze a range of artists, such as Tarsila do Amaral, Candido Portinari, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, Wifredo Lam, Mario Carreño, Pedro Figari, group MADÍ, Lygia Clark, Helio Oiticica, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesús Rafael Soto. Topics might include: the strategies of modernity in Latin America, the new concept of “inverted utopia,” the role of the avant-garde group manifestos, the post-colonial, and the meaning of abstraction within a turbulent political milieu. We discuss crucial concepts that define cultural modernism in Latin America; among them, identity, indigenismo, costumbrismo, transculturation, syncretism, hybridization, and race politics.

    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 281

    Ancient Mediterranean World

    This course is intended to address selected topics concerning the reciprocal relationships among the fascinating and diverse civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean littoral and their neighbors to the East. The primary focus this semester will be on the Bronze Age-- the “Age of Heroes,” to the beginning of the Classical era, and the setting of the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey--with special emphasis on the interrelationships between Egypt, the Near East and the Greek Aegean during the time period ca. 3000 – 1100 B. C. We will look at the art, architecture, archaeology and a sampling of the literature of the periods and places under consideration.

    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

    The Portrait: Re-examining Portraiture and the New Subject

    This course will re-examine the genre of portraiture beginning in the mid-19th century when photography enters discourse as an alternate medium to painting and sculpture. Starting with Nadar’s studio practice we will trace new subjects that emerge during modernity. Likewise, we will investigate marginalized subjects that are newly represented during the 20th century in the works by James Van der Zee, Dorethea Lange, Gordon Parks and the social documentary movement. Contemporary figures in both photography and painting such as Andy Warhol, Alice Neel, Robert Mapplethorpe and Cindy Sherman will be examined. The course will question the reemergence of painting in contemporary practices by figures such as Kehinde Wiley, Martin Wong, Jordan Casteel and Kerry James Marshall. We will conduct a case study of the recent acclaimed exhibition “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today” at the Wallach Gallery.

    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 important avant-garde and graphic design movements starting with the Industrial Revolution through the 20th century including: Futurism, Dada, Constructivism, De Stijl, the influence of the Bauhaus and the New Typography, the rise of the modern movement in America, pre and post-war design in Switzerland and Italy, the International Typographic Style, the New York School, corporate identity, postmodernism and more. We’ll examine the evolving design styles and the role of the pioneer designer in society, with an emphasis on notable works, subjects and themes; and their cultural, political and social connections. Course includes slide lectures, readings, discussions, looking at original materials (posters, advertisements, booklets, etc.), individual research assignments and written essays.

    2 credits

  • HTA 299

    Ceramics Within and Beyond Categories

    Ceramics, or fired clay, in its intrinsically multifaceted and global nature, resists a straightforward categorization, such as “crafts.” It signifies a medium-defined genre of visual art, that of material culture as well as socio-political practices which have been prized around the world throughout human history. Due to the absence of a core mega-narrative and central theories, investigating ceramics across the globe can be flexible and exploratory, dealing with various identities and cross culturally-connected and disconnected diverse lineages within its world history. This course will experiment with one scenario of the world history of the medium by unpacking ceramics as thing (material, technologies and objects), value (symbols, identities, aesthetics and concepts) and ritual (display, performance, community and daily life) through time and space. The class will proceed in two parts: reviewing selected historical episodes telling stories of contacts and exchanges; and introducing some major critical discourses and issues over the multivalent status of ceramics in relation to modern/contemporary art and society. As a point of entry to history, our global, chronological mapping will start with East Asia, one of the hubs of world ceramic cultures, examining its prehistoric and later enshrinement of the medium, and moving through the Ages of Exploration, Empires and colonial/postcolonial periods in Europe, Africa, Middle East. We will then return to an Asia in contact and conflict with 20th and 21st century Euro-America, where some artists/designers exploring ceramics’ new potential as a distinctive material/medium have emerged as cultural celebrities.

    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. For Fall' 20 the topic will be: HTA 300/ARCH 225.02 Single Artist: John Hejduk

    2 credits

  • HTA 303

    Global Renaissance

    This course seeks to reframe the Renaissance in a global context by analyzing the migration of visual culture via conditions of reception and cross-cultural contact. In doing so, it revisits the euro-centric humanist model of the Renaissance and seeks instead to offer a new paradigm based on an analysis of global exchange. Themes covered include art, empire and propaganda, colonial identities, hybridity, rituals of devotion and the translation of sacred space. In addition to an understanding of post-colonial theory, and the cultural mediation of images, the course considers hybrid objects in the words of Homi Bhabha as not having a single fixed meaning, but as incorporating “slippages,” that are part of the conditions of colonialism. It also offers up a critique of any analysis based on a simplistic framework of cultural parallelism, and seeks to present hybrids as having multiple and at times contradictory meanings evolving from cross-cultural exchange. In addition to lectures and readings, students will participate in one museum field trip. Attendance on this field trip is mandatory. Although the format of this class is a lecture, student participation in weekly discussions is encouraged and expected.

    2 credits

  • HTA 306

    Ephemeral Art

    This course will examine the notion of the ephemeral, in other words, objects and materials of short duration, and how they raise questions of time, materiality, and matter that relate to changing political, social, and cultural contexts. Art historians have long focused their attention on the singular masterpiece and their attendant notions of enduring value, aesthetic perfection, and the ideal. Yet recent scholarship in fields such as media studies have demonstrated that the ephemeral and obsolescence or the outdated have played an equal role in our understanding of the work of art and its materials. What if a work of art was meant to last for just 15 minutes? What would it mean to make a work of art that lasted the span of a snapchat? We will explore the notion of the ephemeral through a series of readings organized around conceptual terms such as dust, the archive, the monumental, celebrity, and happenings. Theoretical readings and class discussions will be anchored in the study of works of art ranging from paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, film, and performance art, from antiquity to the present. These discussions will be supplemented by visits to museum collections and conservation labs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library and Museum, and other institutions in the New York area. The aim of the course is to demonstrate that artworks are not only the object of an artist’s intentionality, but subject to changing cultural perceptions of time.

    2 credits

  • HTA 312

    Art Beyond Sight

    This course develops from recent developments in museum education regarding the inclusion of a larger diversity of audience, namely visitors with disabilities. While this course will focus on the visual arts and its access to the visual impaired, it will also address various current initiatives beyond vision. Students will become familiar with the canonical and often rare literature on the subjects, including references in: access to art, museum education, blindness, sensorial perception, etc. Students become aware and evaluate the relevance and challenges presented by verbal description, conversation, sensory experiences, and creative practice as educational tools for in those programs. Along with the course, students will have the opportunity to meet professionals in the field of museum education as well as participants in museum programs for visually impaired visitor. They will also be given opportunities to work on tangible projects that could improve access to art. Then, one of the goals for this course is to give students firsthand opportunities to contribute to bridging the existing gaps between visual arts and the visually impaired audience.

    2 credits

  • HTA 313

    Seminar in Art History

    A seminar based on a special topic in the study of Art History. The seminar may be repeated for credit with the permission of the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. For Fall' 20 topics include: HTA 313 A1 Seminar: Oral Art History; HTA 313 B1 Seminar: Rembrandt and Representation: Social Histories and Current Approaches; HTA 313 C1 Seminar: Holocaust Representation in Art; HTA 313 D1 Materials and Meanings in the Global History of Art; HTA 313 X Seminar: The Harlem Renaissance

    2 credits

  • HTA 314

    Art Exchange Across National Boundaries

    The course focuses on the exportation and promotion of contemporary art across national boundaries, from the mid-20th century to the present. Exhibitions, publications, and artists’ global mobility can function as vehicles of cultural dialogue and mutual understanding, but also as means of propaganda or cultural imperialism. We will study the exportation of art as a translation process and we will raise questions about the transformative effect of this process on both ends of the dialogue.

    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 316

    Monuments, Artist Interventions and the Struggle for Memory

    On August 12, 2017 white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups converged on Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the city’s planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. In the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, citizens in Durham, North Carolina took matters into their own hands, felling a Confederate soldier monument. This course considers the contentious debates involved in erecting and removing such artworks. We will ask: What visual strategies have artists used to commemorate controversial histories in the 20th-century Americas? How have subsequent generations questioned, reimagined, and subverted these strategies? The course centers on debates over racial justice and monuments to the US Civil War and slavery, but will also consider memorials to other violent histories across the Americas. Students will gain an understanding of public sculpture since the late 19th century, while also exploring embodied and ephemeral practices such as parades, reenactments, performance, and graffiti.

    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 319

    Reading Surfaces: painting techniques over time

    The course will consider the histories of artists’ materials, tools and techniques as they play out on the surfaces of primarily Western paintings c.1300-1800. Close and long looks will be given to paintings inside local museum collections. These sensory experiences will provide a tactile overview of past strategies to represent aspects of the world in two dimensions, from light to dark grounds, from direct to indirect application of color, and from egg to oil. Mechanisms by which paintings deteriorate, and the methods used to stall or quiet that deterioration, to restore the image, will also be observed and discussed. We will begin with 14th century Italian paintings and move forward in time with alternating focus on paintings from northern and southern Europe, and with connections and contrasts drawn to contemporary Ethiopian, Persian, and Latin American paintings. The relative sparseness of research focused on non-Western painting traditions will be critically engaged. Attention will be given to how technique can interact with content, how duration of gaze can manipulate perception, how mutability persists within every apparently static physical object, and how past methods of making can inspire those of today.

    2 credits

  • HTA 322

    Global Mediterranean Culture (391 – 1492)

    The focus of this course will be the Mediterranean Sea, between the late antique and modern period (ca. 391 and 1492), in a number of its distinctive manifestations, political, religious, social, cultural, and economic. Once upon a time, the Mediterranean Sea was possessively defined as the mare nostrum (our sea), and claimed by the Roman Empire or some other superpower. As a result, the Mediterranean, since then, has been viewed almost exclusively with a Euro centricity, founded on colonialism and exploitation.

    Current historiography, the social sciences, has broken away from that single local, and ultimately incomplete narrative for the Mediterranean. The primary goal for this course is to provide a “wider and more humane history” that is more inclusive of “invisible people and cultures” and provides alternate narratives to the ones currently in the history books. The conception of the ‘Great Sea’ as a boundary-less space allows us to address the many lacunae in its history that are now being acknowledged.

    2 credits

  • HTA 324

    Museum as Frame: Art in New York

    Through class meetings and museum visits we will investigate the idea of the museum, its history, cultural significance, meaning and societal influence. In particular, we will consider how the museum experience affects the attitudes and assumptions of museum visitors. We will explore the intellectual under-pinnings of the modern museum since the Enlightenment, with special attention to issues of nationalism and eurocentrism; the complexities of museum sponsorship (public, private, and corporate), and how they shape cultural presentation; and the emergence, since the 1960s, of community-oriented museums alongside the growing importance in society of multi-culturalism and ethnic identity. We will also consider standard art-historical issues of style and society as they relate to the various artworks we see.

    2 credits

  • HTA 325

    Native American Art

    This course presents a broad overview of the visual arts of Native America in their historical and contemporary contexts. For the majority of the lectures, we will proceed geographically, examining artworks produced by peoples of the Southwest (Anasazi, Mimbres, Hohokam, Pueblo, Navajo, Apache), East (Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian, Chitimacha, Seminole, Miccosukee, Cherokee), West (Mandan, Cheyenne, Crow, Kiowa, Metis), Far West (Chumash, Pomo, Wiyot, Washoe), North (Beothuk, Innu, Cree, Dene, Inuit), and Northwest Coast (Proto-Salish, Makeh, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Kwakwaka’wakw).

    During our last lecture, we will look to art produced after 1900, when a pan-Indian identity began to develop, resulting in works that are not always easily categorized by specific tribal communities or geographic areas. The works that we will consider over the course of the semester span a wide spectrum of media: pottery, basketry, textiles, architecture, sculpture, painting, performance, installation, photography, etc. We will grapple with complex questions regarding whether or not all of the objects under review should be deemed “art” in the Euro-American sense of the term, which in many cases has been retroactively accorded these objects. We will also be attendant to the effects that new economies, markets, materials, technologies, and patronage have had upon the circulation of these works, as well as the production/reception of newer works.

    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 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 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 342

    Exhibition as Medium

    This course explores key moments in the history and theory of art exhibitions, from the experimental shows organized by Futurist and Dada artists in the early twentieth century to the present. Rather than focusing on the objects on display, as in an art history survey, we will discuss how the mode of display, the venue, the language, and other curatorial choices help shape the experience of an art exhibition. We will also explore the economy, politics, geography, and institutional framework of art shows as an integral part in the construction of meaning. Special emphasis will be placed on artists who, starting in the 1960s, have used exhibitions as their medium.

    2 credits

  • HTA 343

    Expanded Curatorial Practice

    The recent “decolonial” and “global” turn in museums and curatorial practice often ignores the fact that art history provides the disciplinary foundation for the museum as a colonial institution. What would it mean to curate against Euro-American narratives of art history? How do you curate artists and exhibition histories that aren’t found in institutional archives? How does curatorial practice offer alternate art historical evidence? This course thinks through such questions by engaging with theories and activist practices of decolonization, postcolonial theory, Black studies and Asian studies to move towards other epistemologies and methods of curatorial practice. It will foreground minoritized artists and transnational exhibition histories across Western Europe and North America, and the global South, while considering alternate epistemologies, aesthetics and collections beyond the hold of both art history and the museum. We will study texts, artists, artifacts, art objects, embodied practices, museum collections, exhibition histories, and modes of display and their relationship to questions of history, temporality, translation, untranslatability, spectatorship, provenance, stewardship and the life of objects.

    2 credits

  • HTA 99

    Independent Study (History and Theory of Art)

    Only juniors and seniors in good academic standing are eligible for independent study. Independent study may be taken for a maximum of two credits per semester. The student must obtain permission of both the instructor and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The major consideration in approving proposals for independent study is the educational value of the study project within the structure of degree requirements. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences insists on very high standards as a condition for approving any independent study project.

  • 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.