CUNY Courses

Spring 2017

ART 85000 – Material Culture and the Arts of the Early Modern Iberian World.
GC: Mondays, 2-4 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Amanda Wunder
Students in this seminar will explore methodologies from material culture studies and apply them to art objects made in and for the vast territories of the early modern Iberian world (ca. 1500-1700). This course is being offered in conjunction with a panel on the same topic at the College Art Association on Feb. 17 (5:30-7:00), which students are expected to attend. During the semester, we will read classic works on material culture and the most recent scholarship from Spanish/Latin American/global studies. Some classes will meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we will examine objects made from various materials (textiles, paintings, domestic furnishings, prints, and more). There we will be paying special attention to the relationship between the academic study of art history and museum-based conservation and scholarship. This is an interdisciplinary course that welcomes graduate students from different departments and programs–it is not restricted to art history students. Please email Prof. Wunder ( if you need permission to enroll.
Requirements: Active participation during classroom discussions and museum visits; oral presentation on one week’s readings. Written assignments: One catalogue entry based on a museum object due mid-semester; object-based final research paper and conference-style presentation at the end of the term.

C L. 87000-Recitar cantando:  Opera Librettos from their Origins to Gluck
GC: Th, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 2/4cr., Prof. Paolo Fasoli

C L. 89000-Masculinity and the Renaissance Man
GC: W, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 2/4 cr., Prof. Gerry Milligan

The course will examine representations of Renaissance masculinity by focusing on the Italian literary canon as well as some examples from European literary and artistic traditions. We will read fifteenth and sixteenth-century authors including Leon Battista Alberti, Baldassare Castiglione, Ludovico Ariosto, and Torquato Tasso and then consider how modes of masculinity, such as the refined courtier or the chivalric knight were adopted and refashioned when they were translated across linguistic, historic, or cultural lines. The course will spend a significant amount of time on prescriptive literature so that we might study both the construct of masculinity as well as how authors manipulated the rhetoric of masculinity and effeminacy to achieve their desired ends. Some important themes we will consider are the role of women in the construction of male identity, the implications of male sexuality, and the association of effeminacy with foreigners, homosexuals, and military defeat. Readings will include historical, sociological, and philosophical texts that help provide both historical context as well as a theoretical framework through which we can (re)-read the canon. We will begin by considering the notion of the “Renaissance Man” as presented by Jacob Burkhardt in his famous study Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy and move quickly to contemporary masculinity theories such as those by Connell (Masculinities), Frosh (Sexual Difference: Masculinity and Psychoanalysis), and Gillmore (Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity). Students are expected to complete brief reading response papers, one oral presentation, and a final research paper of 25 pages. The class will also participate in a site visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All texts read in the class are available in English translation.

ENGL 70000. Badiou and Milton
GC: Wednesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 2/4 credits. Prof. Feisal Mohamed

The title of this course creates an unlikely duet. What does the contemporary Maoist and philosopher have to do with the seventeenth-century poet and statesman? In considering them together, we will see how each has an abiding concern with the formation of an enlightened revolutionary subject. For both Badiou and Milton, that concern is necessarily a literary one. Each formulates at key moments the relationship between literary performance and truth, both from the perspective of writer and of audience. Each strongly resists a response to literature that is only aesthetic, arguing for a literary imaginary fundamental to the human experience of liberating universalism. In engaging in this inquiry, we will look not only at Badiou’s philosophical writings, but also his literary criticism and his recently translated tragedy, The Incident at Antioch. Along with Milton’s three major poems—Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes—we will read key works of his radical prose. As a bridge between these two writers, we will spend some time on philosophical treatments of the “event” and on the recent “religious turn,” exploring the work of Giorgio Agamben, Creston Davis, Gilles Deleuze, John Milbank, and Catherine Pickstock.

ENGL 72400. Romance and Rapture.
GC: Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits. Prof. Richard McCoy

From the middle ages through the Renaissance, audiences thrilled to the heroic exploits, ardent loves, and astonishing incidents in narrative, poetic, and dramatic romances. Nevertheless, a backlash began in the Enlightenment, with some, like William Congreve, contending that the “giddy delight” of romance is ultimately supplanted by the recognition that “‘tis all a lye.” Yet its attractions remain irresistible, and many argue, as Northrop Frye does, that its extravagant fabrications constitute the “structural core of all fiction.” This course will analyze the motifs and patterns of romance – quests and episodic detours, intimations of magic and miracle, disguise, duplicity, and discovery, multiple, androgynous identities, and recovery from recurrent loss – as well as the mixed reception of the genre’s blend of absurdity and wonder. We will explore the roots of romance in late antiquity through chivalric adventures of the middle ages to the hybrid creations of the Renaissance, blending allegory, pastoral, epic, and tragicomedy. Readings will include selections from the Homer’s Odyssey and Heliodorus’ Aethiopica, Chrétien de Troyes and Chaucer, Ariosto and Cervantes, Sidney and Spenser as well as plays by Shakespeare, Beaumont, and Fletcher. We will also consider ways in which romance continues to pervade the novel with selections from Austen and Nabokov as well as popular contemporary romance fiction and film. And we will review theoretical discussions of romance from the sixteenth century treatises through Mikhail Bakhtin, Patricia Parker, Margaret Doody, Barbara Fuchs, Janice Radway, and others. Course assignments are designed to fulfill several of the new Portfolio Examination requirements: an annotated bibliography will be required of each student, and every student has the option of submitting either a 15-page research essay, a syllabus with a 1500-word account of a pedagogical approach to assigned texts, or a 10-page conference paper. Each student will be required to make a brief oral presentation on one of the assigned readings.

Hist. 72100 The Protestant Reformation and Its Impact
GC: Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Sarah Covington
The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther unleashing onto the world the monumental religious revolution that came to be known as the Protestant reformation. But the story of the reformation—which was not one reformation but many, not simply “protestant” but multi-confessional and Catholic—was much more complex than the traditional narratives convey, and presents enormous challenges to scholars wishing to understand the shattering of western Christendom in the sixteenth century. Equally challenging is the attempt to understand the long-terms impact of the reformation, beyond the fact that it changed the history of Europe, the United States, and indeed the world. Weber, of course, attributed the spirit of capitalism to Protestantism, while Marx and Engels believed that it portended the proletarian revolution. Cultural critics discuss the transformation of literature and the arts under Protestant influence, while scholars still debate its role in the rise of modernity, however defined, more generally.

Such conclusions about influence are enriching, but they are too often based on a superficial and often sometimes error-prone understanding of what the reformation actually was. This seminar will therefore plunge students into the world of theological battles and religious wars, of persecutions and martyrdom, and not least the often ferocious debates between historians themselves, in order to understand the age on its own terms. Interdisciplinary in scope, the class will read the works of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, as well as literature; we will also extend ahead to later centuries, to discover what Americans or Europeans had to say about their forebears, or how interpretations of the reformation changed over time. The goal of the seminar is to therefore deepen students’ knowledge of this key period and the theological and political developments that propelled it, thereby illuminating its impact on states and empires, science and culture, economics and society in the centuries to come.

Renaissance Studies 83100: Dialogue: The Uses of Humanism
GC: W, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 3/4cr., Prof. Clare Carroll

Beginning with Plato’s Symposium and Renaissance translations and adaptations of it, we will explore dialogue as both genre and mode of discourse, with late 20th and early 21st century theoretical readings from Bakhtin (Problems of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics, Rabelais and His World), Habermas (Theory of Communicative Action), and Agamben (State of Exception).  Following the trajectory of classical dialogue through its diverse iterations in the work of Cicero and Lucian, we will then read some early modern translations of their work. With this necessary classical foundation, we will consider perhaps the most famous dialogue of the Renaissance Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano and its translations.  Examining what Walter Ong called “the decay of dialogue” in the late sixteenth century, we will consider such late Renaissance texts as Guazzo’s La civil conversatione and Spenser’s A View of the Present State of Ireland (a case of scribal publication) in relation to the emerging discipline of the self and the state. All texts will be read in original languages, but translations will be provided. There will be opportunities for work with digital manuscript versions of some texts for those who are so inclined.
Requirements: A seminar paper of at least 5,000 words, an oral presentation, and a visit to the NYPL Rare Books Room.


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