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Course Schedule



Please note that this schedule is subject to change.

In some cases, MALS core courses will be cross-listed with other programs. Students who would like to have these courses satisfy the core course requirement for their chosen concentration must register for the MALS course number. Please keep this in mind as you register.


MALS 70000 -- Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies (MALS students only)
Tuesdays, 4:15 -6:15 pm, Room 5383, 3 Credits, Prof. Lisa Rhody (

This course will introduce students to graduate level reading and research through an investigation of the term “text” and its material, conceptual, spoken, artistic, interdisciplinary, and scholarly traditions. What does it mean to be a reader today? How do the material conditions of texts construct cultures of reading? We’ll also consider how the creation, production, and distribution of texts animate or challenge our work as students and researchers. How might our practices need to adapt to meet the challenges presented by scale, accessibility, and reproduction? What happens when we consider “text” as “data”? We will consider text as both spatial and time-based, and the tensions created by texts that transgress the philosophical domain of images. 
The semester will be divided into three segments: text, reading, and writing. By the end of the course, students will be able to craft their own definition of “text” that is reflective of disciplinary interests, and historical and technical contexts. Students will be able to create connections among texts and forms of textual production in writing and spoken discourse. Students will create texts in multiple media for various audiences with an attention to changing perceptions of reading and writing as methodologies. Finally, students will also learn how to search for, evaluate, access, and use text in print, digital, and manuscript forms. 
Students should be prepared to take short field trips to local libraries and galleries during the semester (no more than four times). Readings will include but are not limited to work by Eve Sedgewick, M.H.Abrams, Johanna Drucker, Jerome McGann, Audre Lorde, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Alexander, Espen Aarseth, Kandice Chuh, Paul DeMan, and others. Assignments will include regular blog posts, participation in workshops across the Graduate Center, an annotated bibliography, an oral presentation, and a final portfolio that collects the semester’s work with a self-evaluative and reflective introduction. 

MALS 70100 --  Narratives of New York: Literature and the Visual Arts
Mondays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 4422, 3 Credits, Prof. Gemma Sharpe (

A “power city,” “world city,” even an “alpha city,” New York is at once a center of the world, the world in a city, and home to millions from elsewhere. This somewhat paradoxical narrative of New York has its own unique history that rests upon, among other things, patterns of national and international migration during the twentieth century and a shift of geopolitical power from Europe to North America after 1945. This course traces New York’s role in the development of an “internationalist” world order during the middle of the twentieth century, and via the institutions, artists, and writers that supported, intercepted, and challenged that process. Each seminar highlights a different institution or institutional case study—from the United Nations to the Rockefeller Foundation, and from the Museum of Modern Art and Andy Warhol’s Factory to Stonewall Inn. These case studies provide an anchor for a broader internationalist narrative of New York and varied sites of artistic, literary and cultural production. Along with artistic and literary narratives of New York, we will consider the archive as a site of narration. Students will have the opportunity to collect new and untold histories of New York through original archival research projects that we will evaluate both individually and as a group.  

MALS 70300  -- Foundations of Legal Thought: The Theory of Justice
Tuesdays, 4:15 - 6:15 pm, Room 5382, 3 Credits, Profs. Leslie Paik (LPAIK@CCNY.CUNY.EDU) and Julie Suk (
Cross-listed with SOC 85000 and WSCP 81000

This course introduces students to the basic methods of legal and social science analysis/research to study law and the legal system. It focuses on specific substantive topics (e.g., access to justice and reform in the civil, criminal and juvenile justice systems). As part of the course, we will do site visits to justice institutions, policy agencies and innovative programs; we also would have speakers present their work and agencies’ missions during class. The goal of the course is to provide students with the legal knowledge and real-world encounters to support their pursuit of jobs and careers in justice reform, in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and firms.

MALS 70500 -- Classical Culture--- CANCELLED
Thursdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room TBA, 3 Credits, Prof. Marie Marianetti (
The course will be a survey of selected pieces of ancient literature and legend that have subsequently influenced Western civilization.  The chosen literary works will be analyzed from an interdisciplinary perspective, combining literature, history, archaeology, religion, culture, politics and philosophy. Certain universal issues will be considered as they are conveyed through the literary genres. The class will concentrate upon a thorough examination and discussion of the following primary sources: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Hesiod's Theogony, Homer's Odyssey, Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles' Oedipus Cycle (the Theban plays), Euripides' Iphigeneia in Aulis, Aristophanes' The Clouds, Plato's Apology and Symposium and Virgil's Aeneid.
MALS 70700 -- The Shaping of Modernity, 1789-1914
Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 4422, 3 Credits, Prof. George Fragopoulos (

This section of the Shaping of Modernity will begin with an examination of what historian Eric Hobsbawm has called the dual revolutions: the French revolution of 1789 and the English industrial revolution of the 1800s. Readings from thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Fredric Jameson, Peter Osborne, Lisa Lowe, to name a few, will help us lay the ground work for that most vexing of term, “modernity.” Finally, a good portion of the class will focus on how these dual revolutions, and others like them, have come to shape our relationship with the natural world, considering, for example, that there is no story of modernity that occludes humanity’s shifting and changing relations with the natural world over the last three-hundred years or so. As such, we will also be reading authors such as William Wordsworth, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles Darwin, Fredrick Douglass, and others in an attempt to better understand our current geological age, one that some have come to call the Anthropocene. 

MALS 71300 -- Special Topics in Fashion Studies: Empower, Sustain, Change, Repeat
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 5383, 3 Credits, Prof. Eugenia Paulicelli (
Cross-listed with WSCP 81000

The course aims to critically understand global fashion as it bears on the environment, climate change and social justice. It aims at a deeper understanding of the relationship between craft and technology, at identifying the art of making and at mapping alternative modes of production.
The mechanization of the production of fashion has exploited and continues to exploit human beings through slavery, child labor, and prison labor. Human labor, especially women’s, is still an integral part of the supply chain and in the last few years, women, the driving force behind fashion, clothing and textile since classical antiquity, have come to the fore in disrupting the fashion industry in a variety of ways. They have also offered alternative modes of production and consumption based on new understandings of the process and the cost of labor. Through an exploration into rhythmanalysis and its philosophical underpinning (Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Henri Lefebvre) in fashion, craft, textile and material culture (Richard Sennett, Daniel Miller, Jane Schneider), the class will focus on temporality, geography and space,(David Harvey) climate change and how new modes of production are changing the landscape. The course will also focus on recent New York-based initiatives that highlight crafts and local traditions, through contact with organizations that work to integrate and requalify immigrant women. The class, as a further development of the Fabric of Cultures Project ( will include field trips, guest speakers and collaborative workshops with the founders of the Fashion in Process Lab from the Milan Politecnico.

MALS 71500 -- Critical Issues in International Studies
Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 3307, 3 Credits, Prof. Peter Bratsis (

Critical Issues in International Studies, is designed to broaden the student’s perspectives and deepen their understanding of international studies. The course will examine the production of global political order and the multiple ways that political power shapes the relations and hierarchies within and between political communities. Topics will include imperialism, human rights and ‘just’ wars, political corruption, race and ethnicity, social reproduction, libidinal economies, and the transnationalization of classes and states. Readings will include works by Etienne Balibar, Nikolai Bukharin, Norbert Elias, Sylvia Federici, Cindi Katz, Antonio Negri, Nicos Poulantzas, Carl Schmitt, Bernard Stiegler, and Immanuel Wallerstein.

MALS 72000 -- Thesis Writing Course (Department Permission Required)
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 4419, 3 Credits, Prof. Christopher Schmidt (

The Thesis Writing Course offers support to students hoping to move forward with their thesis or capstone projects, no matter the stage of development—beginning, nearing completion, or anywhere in between. Successful writing depends on creating a regular structure of writing and reading. At the beginning of the course, we will discuss how to create healthy writings habits. Twice throughout the term, students will share excerpts from their thesis or capstone writing-in-progress for workshopping. Students will also write weekly feedback on other students’ submissions. Aside from student submissions, the reading load will be light to give us plenty of time to work on our own writing. Taken together, these practices will create a sense of community in the classroom and help us become more productive and happier writers. 

If you would like to sign up for the thesis writing course, permission of the department is required. To express your interest in taking this course, please fill in this form. This is a 3-credit course and it is not a substitute for MALS 79000.

MALS 72300 -- Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies
Mondays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 6494, 3 Credits, Prof. James Wilson (
Cross-listed with WSCP 81000
In Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us Kate Bornstein writes, “The first question we usually ask new parents is: ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’” Bornstein recommends the response, “We don’t know; it hasn’t told us yet.” This course explores the ways in which gender and sexuality are pronounced, embodied, and negotiated within specific historical and cultural contexts. Through a close reading of interdisciplinary, foundational, and recent scholarship the class will examine and theorize the ways in which categories of gender and sexuality inform and shape our understanding of the world. Investigating the intersections and collisions of gender and sexuality with race, class, ability, nationality, ethnicity, and age, the class will consider societal and institutional systems of power, privilege, oppression, and marginalization. Course requirements include an oral presentation, two 4-6 page response papers, and a 15-20 page, staged researched essay.

MALS 72600 -- Social Impacts of Science and Technology: Case Studies--- CANCELLED
Wednesdays, 4:15 - 6:15 pm, Room TBA, 3 Credits, Prof. Jason Tougaw (

The neurodiversity movement—and neurological difference more generally—will be our case study for this section of “Social Impacts of Science and Technology.”

“It must be difficult . . . to imagine a totally different way of perceiving the world,” writes autism advocate Temple Grandin. Similarly, Kay Redfield Jamison writes of bipolar disorder, “I have become fundamentally and deeply skeptical that anyone who does not have this illness can truly understand it.” Nonetheless, writers like Grandin and Jamison write about neurological difference with the intention of reaching readers with a wide variety of brains and minds. During the last two decades, the neurodiversity movement has emerged as a social and political response to developments in psychology, neuroscience, and education. Neurodiversity demands multidisciplinary conversations—and the consideration of various genres. We’ll read influential early works about neurological difference by Oliver Sacks, Temple Grandin, and Leslie Jameson alongside NeuroTribes, science journalist’s Steve Silberman’s recent book on the emergence and future of the movement. We’ll read contemporary studies in neuroscience, manifestos, and policy proposals. We’ll watch episodes of Amethyst Schaber’s YouTube show Neurowonderful and DJ Savarese’s documentary film DEEJ. We’ll listen episodes of Shankar Vedantam’s podcast Hidden Brain. We’ll read first-person accounts of neurological difference, including Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay’s How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move: Inside My Autistic Mind, Ellen Forney’s Marbles, Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman; or a History of My Nerves, and Bassey Ikbi’s I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying. Students will write in multiple genres, including critical and personal essays, blog posts, and reading responses. Those interested may also opt to compose in genres like the graphic narrative, podcast, or video.

MALS 72800 -- Topics in Environmental Social Science
Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00pm, Room 3212, 3 credits, Prof. Susan Saegert (
Cross-listed with PSYC 79102

MALS 73200 --  American Social Institutions
Thursdays, 4:15 – 6:15 pm, Room 5382, 3 Credits, Prof. David Humphries (DHUMPHRIES@QCC.CUNY.EDU)

In this course, we will examine how American Studies approaches social institutions and is in turned shaped by its own institutional settings. In order to present a broad range of questions, keywords, and topics for further inquiry, the course is organized around different units, each of which includes one or more prominent books as well as recent articles from American Quarterly and other contemporary journals that present a variety of methodologies and theoretical frameworks. We will begin by examining the relationship between nationalism and national borders, using Daniel Immerwahr’s recent book How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States as our starting point. Following Cornell West’s lead, we will read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness as a means of reexamining other efforts to shed light on institutionalized racism and promote racial justice. Following a similar approach, we will revisit Michael Harrington’s classic The Other America: Poverty in the United States as a way of reading J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, responses to it, and the continued media interest in “middle America” and those “left behind” following the 2016 elections. We will then consider how genre and questions of form often can be seen as being grounded in social institutions. After reviewing how popular musical genres grew out of conceptions of race and geography and considering how recent artists like k.d. lang, Janelle Monáe, and Lil Nas X have reimagined these genres through their music and performances, we will turn our attention to two spy novels by Asian American writers, Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Leonard Chang’s Over the Shoulder. Finally, we will look at how universities function as social institutions in relation to other cultural and economic trends, using John Marx and Mark Garrett Cooper’s Media U: How the Need to Win Audiences Has Shaped Higher Education and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. Writing for the course will take place throughout the term in a workshop setting and will include a book review, a conference proposal, an annotated bibliography, and a final paper and reflection piece; students more advanced in their research will have the opportunity to structure their writing in ways that contribute to their work on their thesis.

MALS 73500 -- Africana Studies: Global Perspectives Refugees and Forced Migration
Mondays, 4:15-6:15 pm, Room 6114, 3 credits, Prof. Juan Battle (
Cross-listed with SOC 82800
Over the past decade, the global population of forcibly displaced people – as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations – grew substantially from 43.3 million in 2009 to 70.8 million in 2018, reaching a record high. This course is designed to give students an understanding of the major causes of contemporary migration and population displacement. Global, regional, and national processes contributing to and driving refugee and migration flows will be examined. Students will consider a range of critical issues and factors contributing to displacement, particularly under conditions of poverty, uneven development, competition for resources, political instability, weak governance, violence, environmental degradation, and natural disasters. International challenges including human rights, human trafficking, citizenship, and statelessness will be addressed as well.

MALS 73800 --  Internship Course
3 credits, Prof. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis ( 

Whether you're seeking your first job or trying to explore a career change, internships can be a valuable way to gain experience and make career decisions. Internships enable students to earn credits while gaining valuable academic and/or professional experience. These internships provide you with the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in class in the working environment. They also help to build your professional network, and to expand your skill sets. Students can set up an appointment with the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development for guidance.

MALS students who wish to participate in an internship for credit must enroll in course MALS 73800. This course is run as an independent study course with Professor Macaulay-Lewis.

  • Students must apply for the internship the semester prior to enrolling.
  • The deadline for students to apply for the internship course is November 15 at 5PM for the Spring semester or May 15 at 5 PM for the Fall semester. If you miss this deadline please email Professor Macaulay-Lewis.
  • Students must submit the proposal form, and a formal letter or email of an internship offer from the proposed employer.
  • The entire application must be submitted via email to The proposals will then be reviewed by the department.
  • Candidates will be informed about the outcome of their application in a timely fashion. Successful applicants will then be permitted to enroll in the course, once the proper paperwork is completed and filed. 
  • A minimum of 140 hours of the internship must be completed within the semester that the student enrolls (i.e. if the student enrolls in the internship course during Spring, the internship must be completed during the semester). 
  • The internship must be unpaid.
  • The student must attend all classes (either in person or online, if the course runs as a hybrid course), and complete all assignments required for the course. 

MALS 74400 -- Special Topics in Archeology: Alexander to Mohammed
Wednesdays, 4:15 - 6:15 pm, Room 6494, 3 Credits, Prof. Anna Akasoy (
Cross-listed with MES 73500
Classical Greek culture is often seen as an exclusively Western European heritage, its legacy as one of the West’s defining features. This course, taught in English translation, offers an introduction to the profound impact of Greek civilization in the Middle East and Asia and the cultural, political and economic dynamics behind this development, focusing on Alexander the Great as a historical figure and as a legend. We will begin with the conquests of Alexander the Great and his successor states and explore Hellenistic settlements in Central Asia and the Graeco-Buddhist art of Gandhara as an early example. We will then focus on examples from the medieval Middle East such as Greek art in the Umayyad ‘desert castles’, the translation of Greek philosophy and science into Arabic and subsequent developments in both areas, the Alexander legend in the Qur’an and in Arabic and Persian biographies. Primary sources include visual as well as textual material. Recurrent themes in the scholarship we will be discussing include connected history, global or hemispheric history, cultural exchanges and encounters, the transmission of knowledge, and issues of cultural heritage. One of the aims of this class is to explore possibilities for alternative narratives beyond the binaries of East and West.

MALS 74700 -- Topics in Material History: Reading Folklore in the Early Modern World
Tuesdays, 4:15 – 6:15 pm, Room 6421, 3 Credits, Prof. Sarah Covington (
Folklore has traditionally been viewed as quaint and supplementary material illustrating “hidden” voices of “the people.” This seminar will question if not overturn virtually all of the previous statement, including the use of “folklore” as a term. Folklore, or more properly, vernacular expressions and practices, emerged wherever there existed a social group, of whatever status, which expressed its shared identity by calling on past traditions. It could also enter the most elite literature, move back and forth between oral culture and text, or be entirely invented as “fakelore.” This seminar will explore these enormously fertile vernacular worlds, including the often-overlooked discipline of folkloristics, which offers historians and literary scholars new insights and methodologies into reading pre-modern texts or interpreting often opaque stories from the deeper past. Extending across Europe and the Atlantic World (including colonial North America and the Americas more generally), from the late medieval period through the eighteenth century, we will study stories and the verbal arts (including jokes and ballads), material culture and landscape, rituals and performance; we will also learn to recognize the motifs and narrative structures of tales, their contribution to the formation of group identities, and their connection to larger political, economic, social and religious contexts across time. In addition to extensive readings on this material and classic and current works of folkloristics, students will be expected to write a substantial research paper that ideally feeds into their own dissertation or thesis/capstone topics, providing possible new sources and perspectives on their work and fields of study. 
MALS 77100 --  Aesthetics of Film: Narrative Theory Goes to the Movies
Wednesdays, 4:15 - 8:15 pm, Room 3416, 3 Credits, Prof. Jerry Carlson (
Cross-listed with FSCP 8100

The movies – that is, narrative feature films – have always been recognized as a powerful medium for storytelling. Indeed, a century of censorship attests to the fears provoked by film’s seductive spell. FSCP 81000 will explore how that spell is created by the many strategies and tactics of storytelling, some shared with other media, others unique to cinema. To do so, we will engage with the history of narrative theory (or, narratology, as Tzvetan Todorov coined it in 1969). What explanatory powers do different theories offer? Our survey will move from Aristotle’s foundational Poetics to pre-cinematic theories of fiction (for example, Henry James), from the Russian Formalists to French high theory (Barthes, Genette, et al.), and from Neo-Formalist explanations (Bordwell) to ideologically positioned interventions from Marxism, psychoanalysis, queer theory or other approaches. We will put each theory in conversation with a pertinent feature film. The range of screenings will be global and diverse in narrative forms. Filmmakers may include, among others, Buster Keaton, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Agnes Varda, Alain Resnais, Nicolas Roeg, Raul Ruiz, Chantal Akerman, Wong Kar-wai, and Tomas Gutierrez Alea. A number of questions will recur as we explore different theories. What is plot? How can the effects of plotting be explained? What are the options for cinematic narration? What is in common with other media? What is medium specific? How can narratology explain the nature of cinematic authorship? How does cinema create characters? How can it place them in social context or explore their subjectivity as they journey through the plot. The precision of our answers will help explain the spell of the movies in their social, cultural, historical, and emotional impact.
MALS 77200 -- History of the Cinema I, 1895-1930---CANCELLED
Tuesdays, 4:15 – 8:15 pm, Room 6495, 3 Credits, Prof. Leah Anderst (
Cross-listed with FSCP 81000
History of Cinema I is an intensive examination of film history before 1930 that introduces students to international silent cinema, to the scholarly literature on early cinema, and to the practices of researching and writing film history. Subjects covered will include the emergence of cinema, the cinema of attractions, the narrativization of cinema, theater and early film, sound, color, and the “silent” image, the industrialization of film production, national cinemas of the 1910s, the Hollywood mode of filmmaking, women and African-American filmmakers, and film movements of the 1920s. Students will study the work of such filmmakers as Lumière, Méliès, Porter, Paul, Bauer, Christensen, Feuillade, Weber, Micheaux, Murnau, Dulac, Eisenstein, and others while considering the ways that silent films were exhibited and received in diverse contexts.

MALS 78200 -- The Politics of Contemporary Urban Education
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 5382, 3 Credits, Prof. Molly Makris (

This course provides an overview of major issues and controversies in the politics of urban education. Through a historical, sociological, and political analysis of educational issues, the course explores a variety of policy initiatives and reforms, including the areas of desegregation, curriculum, standardized testing, school choice, and privatization. Students will develop a deep understanding of the ways in which urban political realities impact experiences within schools.

MALS 78900 -- Childhood and Youth Studies: Approaches and Methods
Thursdays, 4:15 - 6:15 pm, Room 3308, 3 Credits, Prof. Colette Daiute (CDaiute@gc.cuny.edu

This course in Childhood and Youth Studies involves in-depth focus on the interaction of problem, theory and method, with sustained attention to the ways in which researchers frame their investigations, develop research questions, design, implement, and report findings. Students engage with the history and contemporary study of children, childhood and adolescence as defined and supported in organizations and other collectives of human cultural development (education, family, social welfare, community organizations, children’s rights projects, museums), public media (broadcast, digital media), and research settings.  The course encompasses sociocultural approaches to childhood/youth in field-based settings with young people growing up amidst contemporary challenges to human thriving, normative circumstances, and in relation to educational opportunities, community interventions, and policies. Methods addressed in this survey course, include ethnography/participant observation, activity-meaning system design, narrative analysis, conversation analysis, archival studies, surveys, and participatory-action research. The course is, in brief, an inductive approach to research methods, which we study in the context of exemplary contemporary research. Course activities involve reading research articles, discussing the articles with a focus on method, applying practices and insights to students’ research interests, and writing scholarly essays.

MALS 78500 --  Economics for Everyone
Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Room 3212, 3 Credits, Prof. Miles Corak (
This may, or it may not be, your first economics course, but it can reasonably be your last. “Economics for Everyone” is specially designed to meet the needs of students in all disciplines who may have had only limited exposure to economics. You will learn the fundamental vocabulary and grammar of a subject central to many public policy debates—the big issues ranging from globalization to climate change, from inequality to unemployment—but also the smaller concerns central to everyday life, like why does my cappuccino cost so much? Upon completion you will have the skills and knowledge to be a more informed and engaged citizen.
Our study of the subject moves through three themes. The first examines the method and scope of economics, introducing some fundamental principles, and by appealing to some important historical examples illustrates how the definition and methods of the subject have evolved. The second focuses on the “theory of value,” the micro-economics of perfectly competitive markets to illustrate the efficiency of markets and how economists think about the role of public policy when markets “fail.” The third theme introduces national income accounting and macroeconomics, the revolution in thinking in the aftermath of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and how this remains useful in understanding the Great Recession of the last decade. Syllabus

MALS 78500 --  Introduction to Engaged Teaching for Transformative Learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Thursdays, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Room 3309, 3 Credits, Profs. Cathy Davidson ( and Eduardo Vianna (
Cross-listed with IDS 81670

What does it mean to “introduce” a student to a field? This course is intended for any graduate student in the humanities or social sciences who is thinking seriously about the deepest “why” and “how” questions about their discipline and how those apply to their own research and teaching. We will begin with theoretical questions about disciplines, fields, foundations, pedagogy, research, aesthetics, and institutional structures alongside issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, social justice, engagement, and transformation. In each class and in final projects, we will encourage students to transform critique into engaged practice. Students will work collaboratively on analyzing and then designing: (1) a standard anthology or textbook in their field; (2) key articles or critical texts in their field; (3) standard syllabi of introductory or “core” courses in their field; (4) keywords in their field. Students will leave the course with a deeper understanding of the assumptions of their field and new methods for transformative learning that support diversity, inclusion, and a more equitable form of higher education. Our aim is to work toward “research with a transformative activist agenda” and teaching and mentoring as a “collaborative learning community project” that, in the end, contributes to education as a public good and a more just and equitable society.

MALS 78500 -- Critical University Studies
Mondays, 4:15 – 6:15 pm, Room 3212, 3 credits, Prof. Stephen Brier (
Cross-listed with UED 71200
This seminar on Critical University Studies (CUS), offered in the Urban Education program and cross-listed in MALS, will explore the role of higher education, especially public universities, at the intersection of issues of race, class, gender, culture, political economy, and politics, with a particular emphasis on the City University of New York. CUS is a relatively new field of interdisciplinary inquiry, drawing theoretical inspiration from the fields of Cultural Studies and Critical Legal Studies. It focuses on the critical examination of the institutional structures, ideologies, histories, and changing curricular forms and methods of scholarly inquiry and teaching in higher education institutions in the United States and beyond. It analyzes the neoliberal attacks over the past four decades on public universities by politicians and business interests and the oppositional responses of college faculty and staff as well as undergraduate and graduate students and the larger communities they serve to the savage funding cuts and ideological and intellectual critiques faced by public higher education systems around the country. We will read deeply in recent and landmark literature on CUS and seminar members will conduct scholarly research and writing on relevant CUS topics or areas of interest in public higher education, with a special emphasis on the historical development and contemporary situation of the City University of New York.
The seminar will:

  • explore the history of public university systems (especially, though not exclusively, CUNY);

  •  analyze recent and current efforts to transform public higher education institutions and systems across the country.
  • hypothesize about where the public university is headed in the coming decades in the midst of austerity and neoliberal politics and policies as well the unrelenting impact of new technologies and the rise of contingent forms of academic labor.

We will read both classic and contemporary studies of public universities, explore available physical and digital university archives (including the CUNY Digital History Archive [CDHA] currently being developed at the Graduate Center), and undertake new research and scholarly and public publication projects on CUS. Graduate student participants will be expected over the course of the semester to conceive and launch individual and/or collaborative research and publication projects in CUS, with a special focus on CUNY.
The seminar is open to all GC PhD students in social science and humanities disciplines, as well as MALS and other Master’s students interested in exploring the changing nature and role of public higher education in contemporary society. The course is taught by Professor Stephen Brier, faculty member in the PhD program in Urban Education and in the MALS and M.A. in Digital Humanities programs and the certificate programs in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy and American Studies. Brier recently co-authored (with Michael Fabricant) a CUS-themed book, Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2016). The seminar sessions will include presentations by several GC and outside presenters active in the CUS field.

We will make full use of the digital affordances of the CUNY Academic Commons to extend the reach of the seminar, including developing our own public-facing blog on CUS- and CUNY-related issues (similar to the “Remaking the University” blog developed by faculty in the University of California system, which everyone in the seminar should subscribe to and read).
The course focuses on a series of key questions that have roiled American society over the last century and a half (and especially since the end of World War II) about the nature and meaning of public education:

  • What is the purpose/role of public higher education in a democratic society?
  • Is the role of public higher education solely practical (i.e., job training to assure national economic progress and individual social mobility)?
  • Or is the role of education broadly political and/or ideological (educating students for their role in a democracy and teaching them how to be critical thinkers vs. providing students with tools to help them become productive members of and advanced capitalist society)?
  • How should those who work and learn in institutions of higher education respond to efforts to transform the mission of the public university in the face of increasing uses of technology and contingent labor?

MALS 78500 -- Key Concepts in the Western Tradition
Mondays, 4:15 – 6:15 pm, Room 3308, 3 credits, Prof. Helena Rosenblatt (
Cross-listed with HIST 72100
In recent decades there has been a new development in the academic study of political and social thought. Much attention is now being paid to “key concepts” and their historicity. The so-called “linguistic turn” has played an important role in this process.
By “key concepts” we mean the big ideas and indispensable terms without which it would be virtually impossible to engage in any meaningful political discussion. We use such concepts daily to make sense of our world and communicate with others. And yet, as scholars today are increasingly realizing, the meanings of these concepts are not static or timeless. They are constantly evolving and being contested. Key concepts can be seen as tools and weapons wielded at specific times for specific political purposes.
In this course we will examine the meaning and evolution of a number of key concepts essential to our current vocabulary, among which “democracy”, “populism” and “liberalism,” as well as “happiness,” “fear,” “genius” and “woman”. We will consider questions such as the following: What did “democracy” mean to the ancient Greeks and what does it mean to us today? How does our notion of “genius” compare to that of the Renaissance? When and why was the word “liberalism” coined and how has its meaning changed over time? Has our understanding of “woman” remained the same across the centuries?