Sex in the Archives
Spring 2017

Marvin J. Taylor
Director, Fales Library

Zeb Tortorici
Asstistant Professor, Spanish & Portuguese

How, and why, do certain archives and institutions collect what they do, and what are the politics behind such acquisitions? How might we define the “archive” (as a concept, metaphor, place, institution, etc.), and how does that influence what bodies are remembered, and why? How do we know (or think we know) what we do about sex and desire in the past, and how do technologies of documentation and conservation alter these limits? With generous support from the NYU Center for the Humanities, this graduate seminar will be co-taught by Marvin Taylor (Director of the Fales Library & Special Collections at NYU, trained as an archivist and literary scholar) and Zeb Tortorici (Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, trained as a historian of sexuality in colonial Latin America). Weekly seminars will be held in the Fales Library & Special Collections, providing a unique opportunity for graduate students in the humanities to get to know the content and evolution of the archival collections. Among our many goals are to analyze how sex intersects with (and is excised from) colonial archivespublic libraries, museums, university and institutional archives, private collections, and digital repositories. Together, we will visit the New York Public Library(Gay and Lesbian Collections & AIDS/HIV Collections), the Museum of Sex, and the Lesbian Herstory Archives to meet with archivists and curators, and to examine the collections and the politics of display.

The World of King Arthur
Spring 2017

Martha Rust
Associate Professor, English

Kathryn Smith
Professor, Art History

The world of King Arthur: words enough to evoke an image in the mind of almost any undergraduate, be that picture akin to Disneyland’s Fantasyland, Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School, a Medieval Times dinner, or the mounted knight on a sack of King Arthur flour. This very list exemplifies the way stories of King Arthur–and by extension, of the Middle Ages–continue to function as cultural currency: this, some fifteen hundred years after Arthur, a sixth-century Celtic warlord (if he existed at all) inhabited a world vastly different from the one evoked today by the words, “the world of King Arthur.” The World of King Arthur will explore the development of the multifaceted idea and image of Arthur and his world in literature and art spanning the sixth to twentieth centuries as a means of introducing students to the even more multifaceted Middle Ages and to the interdisciplinary methodology that is the essence of Medieval Studies. The course will unfold chronologically and thematically, focusing on key literary and historical texts, sites, monuments and artifacts, characters, and themes in the Arthurian tradition.  Students will have the opportunity to engage with the full range of medieval and post-medieval Arthurian cultural production, and at the same time, they will investigate the politics and reception of this production and will acquire a model for recognizing and querying the effects of all manner of creative recycling of the Middle Ages.

The Culture of the Renaissance: A Re-translation
Spring 2017

Juliet Fleming
Associate Professor and MA Director, English

Christopher Wood
Professor and Chair, German

This class will provide an introduction to the past and the future of Renaissance Studies.  It is designed for graduate students across the disciplines.  Our broad aim is to ‘translate’ — that is, carry forward into the future and so reactivate — the Renaissance as an object of study, first by sketching the historiographical and disciplinary fortunes that produced it; and then by assessing opportunities for new approaches and research paths.

Our title invokes the work of Jacob Burckhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien (1860), the pioneering work of cultural history that is responsible in large part for what we mean when we use the term ‘Renaissance’.   We will follow the development of this period concept as it was consolidated and re-inflected in the early 20th century by the scholars associated with the Warburg library.

The course is interdisciplinary to a high degree but does not pretend to survey the entirety of European experience in this period.  Rather the focus will be on symbolic expression and its medial and rhetorical formats, including painting, poetry, prose, architecture, theater, dance, music and their various codings, inscriptions, and archivings.  But the concept of the symbol is broad, and we mean it to unfold eventually into an anthropology of meaning that can potentially embrace all aspects of life.

Philosophy of Technology: Thinking Machines
Fall 2016, NYU Shanghai

Brad Weslake
Associate Professor, Philosophy
NYU Shanghai

Anna Greenspan
Assistant Professor, Interactive Media Arts
NYU Shanghai

This course aims to train students to think philosophically about our rapidly changing—and ever more intimate—relationship with machines. We focus in particular on the following subjects: artificial intelligence, robots, cyborgs, automation and science fiction speculation. View course website here.