Show The Graduate Center Menu

Spring 2016

MSCP 80500 - Contextualizing Dante - GC: M, 6:30-8:30 pm, 4 credits, Prof. Paola Ureni [30091] Cross-listed with C L. 88100 
This course will read Dante’s Commedia and highlight its interdisciplinarity through the consideration of different contexts, which frame – or reframe – Dante’s writing. We will consider the Commedia in its necessary relation to other works by Dante, such as the Convivio, the Monarchia, and the Vita Nuova. Furthermore, references to the philosophical and theological debates that crossed medieval Europe will be accompanied by the attention to discourses on – for instance – art, architecture, music, and medicine. Accordingly, we will select specific cantos for deeper analysis, while referencing to the entire corpus of the Commedia. By contextualizing Dante we will investigate the interrelations among different fields of knowledge, and we will explore how they exemplify the anagogical path conveyed by the Commedia, or – more broadly – the contemporary discussion about the definition of the human being and his/her epistemological experience. The relationship between body and soul, matter and intellect, inner and outer dimensions – entailed by the investigation of the individual’s path toward knowledge, and explored through Dante’s works – is crucial to medieval debates about human nature and faculties, and concerns a wide range of discourses, from theological, scientific – even medical – inquiries to theoretical approaches to music. In our analysis of these various contexts, we will consider how linguistic references allude to and connect different disciplines; for instance, a harmonic principle informs the medical notion of bodily balanced complexio, as well as Dante’s political thought through the idea of concordia, or the musicological and cosmological harmony discussed in medieval texts such as Boethius’ De institutione musica.  Some of the authors that we will read in dialogue with Dante’s writing include: Augustine, Aristotle, Pseudo-Dionysius, Suger, Boethius, Avicenna, Galen, Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great.


ART 73000 Art and Architecture of the Medieval Mediterranean GC: Mon. 4:15 – 6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Ball Rm 3421 [30029] Office Hours: TBA email:
The medieval Mediterranean was a lively hub of trade surrounded by varying cultures throughout the period: the Byzantines in the East, the Fatimids and later dynasties of Islam in Egypt, the Normans of Sicily, the Umayyads and later dynasties of Islam in Spain, and later the Italian kingdoms such as Venice and Genoa. Out of this mix came Christianity, the crucial introduction of books (as opposed to scrolls) and the progression toward literate society. In addition, many art forms, such as icons, whose impact went well beyond the Mediterranean, appeared. The Mediterranean also enabled the further spread of Islam itself along with its visual culture. This class will take a critical look at the idea of a pan-Mediterranean visual culture springing out of a time when the entire region from the Levant to Spain was under Byzantine control, through the beginnings of the Renaissance, when the Mediterranean hosted nearly ten different cultures. Portraiture, dress and textiles, icon painting, calligraphy are just a few art forms that become shared across the Mediterranean despite differences in religion, language, and government. The effects of the Crusades and also colonization, particularly by the Venetians, on Mediterranean visual culture will be discussed, as will the legacy of this culture in the Italian Renaissance. Assignments will include short responses and a final exam. Up to 2 auditors accepted

ART 74000 The Islamic City From the Pre-Modern to the Globalization: Current Debates,Theories and the Art and Architecture of the Cities in the Middle East GC: Mon. 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Avcioglu Rm TBA [30041]Office Hours: TBA email: The concept of the city is as important as it is difficult to define. A rigorous definition of the Islamic city has also proven uneasy to establish among historians and theoreticians, since it elides any essentialist characterization, even that of the reductive “non-western” city proposed bythe Orientalists. Yet, the legacy of the early twentieth century orientalist discourse about the Middle Eastern cities is still around us. From disillusioned architects and urban planners to tourism branding agencies and exhibition trends the concept of “the Islamic City” is mobilized to deal with the anomie caused by industrialization and globalization. This course proposes a critical historical review of the concept of the city pointing to the debates, theories and controversies that have framed and interpret it. We will probe essentialist tendencies and study social processes and cultural forces through art, architecture, biennials, literature and legal documents to understand the city in its own terms. Proceeding in a chronological order, we will discuss early urban developments under Muslim rule, whether in pre-existing cities or newly established settlements, exploring what cultural, political, social and religious elements shaped them. By focusing on specific city types such as the classical city, traditional city, imperial city,modern city, (post)colonial city and global city, we will examine a variety of interpretiveparadigms employed by scholars, artists and architects in order to reify or reject the validity of the category of the Islamic City. Looking at specific sites – from Baghdad, Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, to Istanbul, Medina, Tehran and Dubai, among others – we will try to understand the workings of cities and what have come to define their historical and contemporary character and narrative. Structured along these lines, the course will consider relevance of the concept of the Islamic City for the study of cities in the Muslim world today.
CLAS    72600    Latin Paleography, Walsh, Rose Hill, Bronx Campus, R, 6:30-8:30, 3 credits Prof. Clark  [30082]"From Script to Print": A study of the development of Latin handwriting from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Includes a study of the manuscript as book (codicology) and as cultural artifact. Some consideration of textual transmission and critical editing. There will be hands-on practice in reading the various scripts. Weekly transcriptions, some outside reading, a final examination, and a final palaeographical project are course requirements. The final project will involve transcribing and identifying an original manuscript leaf from the Fordham collection, although advanced students, with specific needs, may, with permission, develop their own final palaeographical projects.
ENGL 70700. Medieval Literature in Britain: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. Steven Kruger. Thursdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. [30300] Looking back at the later Middle Ages in Britain, the figure of Chaucer, especially as the author of the Canterbury Tales, looms large. But for the centuries immediately following Chaucer, his importance lay as much in what we now consider his “minor” works as in the Canterbury project. And a number of other poets now largely ignored by non-medievalists – Gower, Langland, Lydgate, among others – were important and influential figures. In this course, we will work at reconstructing a broad sense of the literary culture of the late-fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Britain, looking at Chaucer’s contemporaries and his followers, some working with a strong awareness of Chaucer’s work, others writing in modes very different from his. We will consider parts of several late-fourteenth century works, Gower’s Confessio Amantis, Langland’s Piers Plowman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, alongside one or two of Chaucer’s shorter works. We will read a number of fifteenth-century writers working specifically in response to Chaucer, but also to Gower and to each other: Lydgate, Hoccleve, Usk, and the Scots “Chaucerians,” James I, Henryson, Douglass, and Dunbar. And we will look at several works that are not particularly Chaucerian: The Book of Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich’s Showings, Malory’s Morte Darthur, some of the cycle drama, and Mankind. We will end with a glance toward the early modern and writers like Hawes and Skelton.Each student will give an oral presentation that focuses on how a particular theoretical approach, chosen by the student, illuminates the course material. Students will write twenty-page seminar papers, and non-medievalists are encouraged to work on topics that, while in conversation with the texts on the syllabus, connect to their other research interests.

ENGL 81500. Send in the Clowns: Fools and Jokers from Medieval and Early Modern Drama to Contemporary Standup. Richard McCoy. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. [30310] In his instructions to the players, Hamlet inveighs against actors who improvise for vulgar laughs and insists that, “clowns speak no more than is set down for them.” And Shakespeare’s noble contemporary, Sir Philip Sidney, objected vehemently to “mongrel tragicomedies” for “mingling kings and clowns.” Yet despite the desire to send off the clowns, fools still proved to be essential dramatis personae in the gravest tragedies. Hamlet himself sometimes plays the fool and “put[s] an antic disposition on.” This course will explore the intense synergy of comedy and tragedy, focusing on theories of humor from antiquity to the present. We will also discuss the clown’s role in drama, noting the diabolical affinities of clowns with Vice figures like Titivillus in Mankind and Robin and Rafe in Doctor Faustus. Their efforts to attack and engage the audience are rooted in a connection between comedy and aggression. This in turn can be linked to the clown’s tendency to break the fourth wall and directly address spectators, suggesting that, in some ways, fools can function as mouthpieces for authors. The clown’s paradoxical combination of stupidity and smarts also allows this figure to become both the joke’s butt and the wily joker – or what one critic calls “the clowning object and the laughing subject of his own mirth.” This paradox enables clowns to resist the condescension and attack the complacency of their presumed betters on stage and off, challenging class barriers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and gender barriers in The Roaring Girl. We’ll also explore comparably paradoxical reinforcement and transgression of class, gender, and racial stereotypes in popular performance from commedia dell’ arte and Punch-and-Judy through nineteenth-century minstrel shows. The clown’s edgy blend of improvisation and shtick as well as the unsettling tendency of humor to go “too far” will be topics for discussion. And we’ll examine the metatheatrical self-consciousness and complex artifice of comic plays within plays like The Knight of the Burning Pestle. Finally, we’ll discuss the fundamental and recurrent features of comic performance up through the present day (Amy Schumer, Key and Peele), including the challenge to dramatic decorum, good taste, and plausibility, jokes’ value as a “weapon of the weak” against social, racial, and gender norms, and humor’s ambiguous blend of aggression and self-abasement. Research paper on topic of your choice + oral presentation.

MALS 78500– Arabian Nights- GC:  M, 4:15pm - 6:15pm, 3 credits, Prof. Professor Anna Akasoy [30711] Crosslisted with CL 87000 / MES 78000 This course offers an introduction to the history and literary features of the example of the Arabian Nights as well as to its literary and visual adaptations. For the purposes of this course, the Arabian Nights will be treated as an open corpus which continues to expand and transform in a variety of cultural contexts and formats. We will be reading stories from the Arabian Nights in different English translations and discuss a variety of academic publications, but also take into consideration modern artistic interpretations, including examples from literature, the visual arts, film and theater. These comparative exercises will shed light on the continuing appeal of the Arabian Nights and assist us in contextualizing specific developments of the Nights within their respective historical environments. We will begin by tracking the development of the text and its visual adaptations, beginning with the earliest stories and compilations in India and Persia, continuing with the first Arabic compilation in Iraq and expansions in Syria in the medieval period, proceeding with the introduction to western Europe by way of Galland’s early eighteenth-century French translation, and concluding with the Arabian Nights as a global phenomenon. We will discuss the institutional, intellectual and cultural circumstances which allowed for this transmission as well as account for different interpretations and adaptations. After exploring formal elements of the Arabian Nights (such as the story within a story, the significance of poetry, the classification as fairy tales, and the element of performance and story-telling), we will focus on major themes in the Arabian Nights and their adaptations in modern literature (morality, religion, magic, and power). We will discuss the appeal of the character of Shahrazad, paying attention to psychoanalytical and feminist interpretations and conclude with a discussion of the Arabian Nights in film and on stage and the impact of different media on the manner the stories are told.

FREN    81000    Materiaux/Materialite du genre au Moyen Age, GC, T, 4:15-6:16pm, 3 credits, Prof. Sautman [30139] La construction du genre [gender]—la mise en place de l’ordre sexe/genre—ne s’effectue pas dans un texte médiéval par le seul moyen de déclarations sur le sujet, ni même par les actions des protagonistes dans un récit. Objets et substances participent dynamiquement à cette construction et constituent en quelque sorte les matériaux du genre, ou sa base matérielle—sa matérialité. La peau, le parchemin, le sang, les larmes; les armes et les outils ; les objets domestiques, y compris les ustensiles de cuisine ; les textiles et les techniques qui  les produisent, d’autres objets encore sont autant de supports à la fabrication du genre et à son expression textuelle. En combinant les enseignements des études du genre et la théorisation de la culture matérielle et de la circulation des biens de consommation—en particulier, le concept que tout objet, et même tout matériau, a une/son histoire-- le cours envisage les lieux textuels ou genre et matérialité se rejoignent. Nos textes du Moyen Age comprennent des textes canoniques et d’autres moins : plusieurs lais de Marie de France, Perceval (le Conte du Graal)  de Chrétien de Troyes, les textes composant la légende de Tristan et Yseut (il n’en existe aucun texte unique complet), quelques fabliaux et contes, les Jeux à vendre de Christine de Pizan et la tradition des Adevineaux amoureux, des textes de Villon, puis de Coquillart et Molinet pour les rhétoriqueurs... Les approches critiques réunissent, entre autres, les travaux de Judith Butler, E. Jane Burns, Peggy McCracken, Karma Lochrie, avec ceux d’Arjun Appadurai et Igor Kopytoff. Le cours est donné en français mais la plupart des lectures critiques sont en anglais.  [Course is given in French but students in Programs other than French are absolutely welcome :  as long as they can follow discussions in class in French, they can participate, present orally, and do all written work in English. Most critical and theoretical works assigned are in English.]
MUS 87000 - Hermeneutics Reception Theory, GC, M, 2:00-5:00pm, 3 credits, Room 3389, Prof. Anne Stone [30195]