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Spring 2022

Spring 2022 registration begins November 30, 2021.
Due to the pandemic, in Spring 2022, courses will be either fully in-person or hybrid (in-person and online), For hybrid classes, students should be prepared to attend approximately at least five meetings in person, while the rest will be online. The in-person meetings will not be streamed or available via zoom. Please write directly to the professor for schedule updates.  


BAM 70300 - Approaches to Life-Writing
Annalyn Swan - 

Wednesdays, 6:30 -8:30 PM
Room 5382
Ever since Plutarch brought Alexander the Great blazingly to life in his seminal Lives (2nd century CE), people have loved to read—and write—biographies. Approaches to Life Writing will be an exploration of the art and craft of the genre. What do great biographies have in common—and how do they differ? How are scenes set, facts organized, context provided? How novelistic can a biography be? And is there, finally, such a thing as “truth” in biography or autobiography, or a “definitive” account?  From biography as gossipy inside edition (Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson), to biography as irreverent debunking (Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians), to contemporary biography and memoir, we will explore the many ways a writer can tease out the “figure under the carpet,” as Leon Edel, the great biographer of Henry James, put it. For those who wish to do so, this is also a course about practicing the art ourselves. For the final paper, in lieu of a more conventional essay, students will have the opportunity to write an autobiographical chapter, or else research and write a chapter of a biography.
BAM 70200 – Research and Methodology
Katherine Culkin -

Mondays, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Room 6421
This core course will teach students historical methodologies and basic research skills in the writing of biography or memoir. They will learn how biographers and autobiographers acquire information through interview techniques, oral history collections, research in government and private archives, or sophisticated use of databases and digital humanities sources.
BAM 70500 – Global Autobiography
Harold Veeser -
Thursdays, 6:30 -8:30 PM
Room 5417
Memoir and autobiography as practiced beyond U.S. and European borders often depart from the metropolitan norm. Like novels, memoirs can no longer be seen, myopically, as Western forms. But particular questions arise concerning global self-writing, including the issue of writing in the conqueror’s tongue, the relationship between memoir and less-familiar models for self-representation, and special problems of self-fashioning in a de-colonial situation. The author interview has mediated, to some extent, the shaping of autobiographical subjectivity and thus offers a convenient point of entry. We will read interviews with contemporary South Asian writers including Suneeta Peres da Costa, Sulari Gentill, Tabish Khair, Karthika Naïr, and Sehba Sarwar. Examples of memoir proper will be taken from Nigeria, East Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Cairo, Jerusalem, Goa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Calabria, and Iran. Displaced and hybrid autobiographical narratives also have their place in the syllabus: a Californian whose parents were interned Japanese, a Nigerian redeployed to London, an Egyptian displaced to Amherst, Mass., a Damascene relocated in Ramallah. Attention will be given to interventions by CUNY GC professors such as André Aciman, Ammiel Alcalay, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Nancy Miller. Other theories of autobiography to be discussed are those of Bart Moore-Gilbert, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Sidonie Smith, Michelle Hartman, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Una Chaudhuri, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Writing prompts will play a part in most class sessions and Zoom meetings. The final project can be either a critical essay or something more closely resembling memoir and autobiography.

BAM 70500 –  The Essay Film
Wayne Koestenbaum -
Wednesdays, 4:15 - 6:15 PM
Instructor permission is required to enroll in this course.
Room 6417
In this seminar, we will explore portraits and self-portraits that might be called “essay films.”  A perplexing category;  a fruitful category;  a pretext for flight, for immersion, and for an end to naysaying.  Critic Tim Corrigan argues that “although for many the notion of an essay film remains less than self-explanatory, this particular mode of filmmaking has become more and more recognized as not only a distinctive kind of filmmaking but also, I would insist, as the most vibrant and significant kind of filmmaking in the world today.”  (Corrigan, The Essay Film:  From Montaigne, After Marker, Oxford U. Press, 2011).  Some of the films we will study resemble paintings;  some resemble monologues, stand-up comedy, intimate encounters, documentaries, surveillance footage, collage.  All do the work that is historically the province of the literary genres of autobiography and biography, and the visual media of photography, drawing, and collage.  Artists studied may include such unclassifiables as Agnès Varda, Shirley Clarke, Isaac Julien, Werner Herzog, Jonas Mekas, Ja’Tovia Gary, Andy Warhol, Peggy Ahwesh, Tourmaline, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Su Friedrich, Kalup Linzy, Chantal Akerman, Barbara Hammer, Cheryl Dunye, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Sky Hopinka, William Greaves, Albert and David Maysles, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.  Suggestions welcome.  We will read some theoretical texts:  Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, André Bazin, Alexandre Astruc, Hito Steyerl, and others. For a final project, students may write a work of biography or autobiography, make a short film, or write a critical essay.  Instructor’s permission required to register. 

BAM 72000 – Writing Workshop for Thesis or Capstone Project
Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits
Sarah Covington -
Room 5114.01

This is a hands-on research and writing seminar open to  BAM students who are beginning to work on their thesis or capstone project. The course is designed to help students organize and analyze their material, formulate a research question and hypothesis, and design methodologies to structure their theses. Students will also be given a platform in which they can share with the professor and other students an outline and timeline, a critical review of the literature and a working bibliography, and an early draft of the project. In addition to sharing writing and research strategies, students will also sharpen their abilities to offer and receive feedback, and to navigate the sometimes-arduous process of revision. The goal is to offer a structure to students as they embark upon their thesis or capstone, and to position them on their way to working with an advisor and successfully bringing their project to completion. Students who enroll in this course are expected to be in their final or penultimate semester of coursework. Please note that this course can only be taken once. Students who hope to graduate in Spring 2022 should also register for BAM 79000: Thesis/Capstone Project Supervision., unless they have already taken it in a previous semester.


HIST 74300 - Gendered Justice in Europe and the Americas c.1350- 1750
Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00 pm, 3 credits
Prof. Sara McDougall - 

The course will explore the role of gender in the prosecution and punishment of crime in social and cultural context in Europe and the Americas c.1350-1750. We will examine gender and justice as it intersected with race, religion, and status, as found in the Atlantic World, and particularly the French and Iberian metropoles and colonies. Our main body of evidence will be trial records, including litigation, witness testimony, confessions, and sentences. In addition we will engage with a range of other source materials such as law codes, prison records and the writings of incarcerated persons, newspaper reports, true crime narratives, and images of alleged criminals and crime. Training in these subjects welcome but not a requirement, this will be an interdisciplinary inquiry open to graduate and professional students in the humanities and social sciences and related fields.

HIST 72800- Twentieth Century American Foundations
Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits 
Prof. Kathleen McCarthy -
Instructor permission is required to enroll in this course. 
This course is designed to teach students interested in Public History to do historically-based program reviews for institutional decision making, with a focus on grantmaking foundations. It will include scholarly and archival readings keyed to the students’ topics, discussions about their research, and presentations by foundation practioners to provide insights into how the big foundations work and the rationales behind their programs.The course requirement is a 10-15 page paper based on original research in the foundation collections at the Rockefeller Archive Center [RAC] in Pocantico, Hills, NY, which houses the historical records of the Rockefeller, Ford, Russell Sage, Henry Luce, William and Flora Hewlett, Near East and Markle Foundations, and the Commonwealth and Rockefeller Brothers Funds (among many other materials).  These materials cover a broad swath of U.S. and global history, from women’s, minority, and other social justice campaigns, to the colonial devolution; scientific, agricultural, and social science research; and public health, the arts and humanities in the United States and around the world.  Many of these collections have not previously been used, offering an important opportunity for original research. Information about the Archive Center’s holdings, including finding aids available at  Prospective students are strongly advised to consult the Archive Center’s online finding aids and to contact reference staff to ensure that the available manuscript collections are sufficiently rich for the topic they plan to study. They will also have an opportunity to apply for a limited number of grants to work with RAC staff  to disseminate their research findings to the general public through digital publishing and/or other RAC projects. Their papers may also be suitable for scholarly publications and presentations afterwards.
This course has been developed in collaboration with the Rockefeller Archive Center, which is providing up to eight $1,250 fellowships to cover related research costs, including travel to Pocantico Hills (although much of the research can be done online).Both doctoral and M.A. students are eligible to apply for the fellowships. The application deadline has been extended to November 22nd..  Questions about the fellowships should be sent to the Associate Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Barbara Leopold, at Class participation may be limited to the fellows.  Other students who wish to enroll should contact Professor Kathleen McCarthy at

SPAN 87100 - Transpacific Encounters
GC: Wednesday, 6:30 - 8:30 pm., Prof, Araceli Tinajero  
Hybrid - in person meeting dates are 2/2, 3/9, 3/23, 4/6, 5/4, 5/11

This course will analyze Oriental representations in Peninsular and Latin American literature and in the Portuguese-speaking world.  Students will read stories, poems, essays, book chapters, and travel stories to understand diverse approximations to the cultures of the Middle and Far East.  We will read full texts or passages from Cervantes, Balbuena, Fernández de Lizardi, Eça de Queirós, Machado, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Darío, Gómez Carrillo, Tablada Malba Tahan, Borges, Paz, Lolita Bosch, Roberto Bolaño and Alberto Olmos.  Students Will also benefit from the opportunity to see a movie and to appreciate Orientalist-themed artwork.  A wide bibliography will be available so that students can research and prepare a final paper or produce a creative piece (in Spanish, English or Portuguese) related to a work not read as part of the class.

ENGL 78000. 20th and 21st-century Women Writers and Intellectuals: Genre, Style, Nation. 
Thursdays, 4:15PM – 6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Nancy K. Miller (Cross-listed with WSCP 81000). 
Fully In-person

Virginia Woolf’s anti-war essay “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid” was published in 1940, months before the author’s death in 1941. Beginning here, and with the death of this author, we will explore the work of British, French, and American women writers who produced memoir, essays, novels, and poetry from the war years through the advent of second-wave feminism and into the 21st century. Cultural figures and icons, these writers also have played important roles in public debate: Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Julia Kristeva, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, Adrienne Rich, Jacqueline Rose, Susan Sontag, Simone Weil, and Virginia Woolf. Of critical interest to the seminar will be questions of gender, personality, and authority. Whose first-person matters, when, and how? 

Work for the course: one oral presentation, weekly responses, and one final exercise. 

MALS 73100 - American Culture and Values
Thursday, 6:30 – 8:30 PM, 3 Credits, Prof. David Humphries (
Fully In-Person

Using the Keywords in American Cultural Studies project as a way to introduce the histories, theories, and practices of the interdisciplinary field of American studies, this course will begin with an examination of the terms of the course title itself. We will trace the history of “American” as a national and imperial term situated within different contexts; question the extent to which “culture” is an expansive and perhaps exhausted approach for understanding different kinds of representations, identity formations, and collective practices; and consider how common “values” can be identified within existing narratives, power structures, and social institutions. To explore these topics, we will read Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals, Susan Hegeman’s The Cultural Return, Daniel Immerwahr’s How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, and Lisa Lowe’s The Intimacies of Four Continents. In addition, we will use American Quarterly as a resource for examining recent scholarship on topics related to social justice, the environment, technology, and representations of geography, class, race, gender, and sexuality. Students will have the opportunity to work on their own interests in American studies and related fields, producing writing in different genres, including a new or updated keyword, a review of a book or event, and proposals for a conference paper and a longer writing project.