Fall 2020 Courses

We welcome students from other departments and programs to enroll in our classes when space allows. Some of our courses are open to both graduate and undergraduate students, and other courses are graduate only. Please be sure to register for the appropriate course based on your level of studies (ASPP – GT is graduate and ASPP – UT is undergraduate). Non-Tisch students should check with their advisers regarding course allocation.

Creative Response: Performance Matters, Between Imagination and Experience

Professor Karen Finley

ASPP – UT 1028 (Undergraduate – Open to Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors) 

ASPP – GT 2028 (Graduate only) 

Fridays, 2:15 - 5:15pm

4 points– will count toward elective credits for Tisch undergraduates

Performance Matters will consider what influences private and public performance, to consider what is performing, what we perform and how we perform. This class will look deeper into varying aspects of staging such as everyday experience, lists, menus, rituals, timing, gathering and collecting.  Performing and communicating the body: gender, race and identification. Awareness of work in progress, process, such as text, script, online and improvisation will be utilized. The visual aspect of performing: such as accessories, design and costume. Listening, finding voice and giving and taking commands, and deviation from dominant norms of entertainment and product.  Hopefully with deeper understanding, we will seek to challenge and stimulate our own creative content to produce original, thought provoking performance. Students will present their own work either individually or in groups, write about the theory and content of their production and have assigned readings to supplement their areas of concentration.


Special Topics: Curatorial Activism

Professor Grace Aneiza Ali

ASPP-UT 1006 (Undergraduate – Sophomores,  Juniors, and Seniors) 

ASPP-GT 2006 Graduate Section

Mondays, 3:30 - 6:15pm

4 points 

Case Studies on Curatorial Activism examines key formative exhibitions that give voice to those who have been historically silenced or omitted altogether from master narratives of art — curatorial projects centering women, artists of color, indigenous communities and/or queer artists. Through several Case Studies — pioneering examples of exhibitions mounted in the past decade — the course explores how these curatorial projects (within the museum space as well as non-profit arts institutions, university galleries, and public sites) have countered institutional erasure, broken down boundaries and been enriched and provoked through a curatorial activism lens. Geared towards students invested in the intersection of museum studies, curatorial activism and arts politics, the seminar examines how these curatorial projects are critical to counter issues of visibility and invisibility. The seminar will also directly engage with global curators via a series of Guest Speakers and site visits throughout the semester. 

Feminist Practices in the Americas

Professor Laura Harris

ASPP-UT 1076 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors)

ASPP-GT 2076 (Graduate section)

Tuesdays, 11am – 1:45pm

4 points

This course will offer neither a linear, developmental history nor a comprehensive survey of feminism but a look at various dissident creative practices--sometimes disjunctive, sometimes conflicting, sometimes interlinked--from a range of contexts in the Americas.  The focus will be primarily on practices that resist the modes of gendering and the gender-based relations of domination that underpin settler colonialism, racial capitalism and cis-heteropatriarchy and work to sustain or invent alternative ways to live. We will think about the social and aesthetic aspects of the various forms such practices take, including writing, image-making and performing, but also organizing, assembling, caring, etc. and what those forms make possible.  The practices we consider can and will necessarily expand beyond the geographical frame loosely specified here to account for transnational or inter-local connections. Students will also contribute to a collective archive of feminist practices in order to further elaborate our sense of what feminist practices might be and do.


Language as Action

Professor Kathy Engel

ASPP-UT 1070 (Undergraduate section - sophomores, juniors, seniors with permission)

ASPP-GT 2070 (Graduate section with permission) 

Fridays, 11am - 1:45pm

4 points - will count toward Humanities General Education requirements for Tisch undergraduates

James Baldwin said that the job of writers is to work to change the language. And that it takes a long time to do that. Writer/activist/educator 

June Jordan said: "We worry words. That's what poets do."

In her poem "Belarusian 1, Valzyna Mort wrote: "...when we discovered we ourselves were the language..."

Poet Adrienne Rich wrote : "...the moment of change is the only poem."

In this class we will study and engage language as a live organism, poetry as a site for discovery. We will read poems and prose and question genre distinctions, open up possibility for fusion and invention of form. The works we will discuss often disrupt conventional labels and terminologies, dare to re-define, open up new spaces of poetic and linguistic ecologies. We will think about the role of poetry “as survival,” referencing the title of Gregory Orr’s book of essays “Poetry As Survival.”

In preparing for the class I am asking a few who are writing today to choose a writer from an earlier generation with whom they feel they are in literary, artistic conversation. We will engage, then, work in intergenerational, connected pairs. 

This is also a writing class. We will write in response to prompts as useful, in conversation with the work we’re reading and each others’ writing. We will decide as a group how we will share the work produced in the class, which will all be considered writing/making in progress.

Writers whose work we will likely delve into (subject to change) will include, but not limited to Ross Gay. Donika Kelly, Aracelis Girmay, Alexis DeVeaux, Gregory Orr (Poetry as Survival, essays), Tina Chang, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sonia Sanchez, June Jordan, Ilya Kaminsky, Ocean Vuong, Natalie Diaz, Yesenia Montilla.


One Person Shows: A Way to Begin

Professor Anna Deavere Smith

ASPP-GT 2000

Sundays, 1-5pm, remote

4 credits (graduate only)

The coronavirus is making a lot of things impossible but a few things possible. For example, there’s bound to be a major leap forward in terms of technique and creativity for the genre of one-person shows. In this class, you will hit the ground running with a brief one-person performance for the very first class meeting. This will give the professor and the class a sense of what interests you and what technique you already have. From that point forward, the class becomes custom-made to improve your technique and refine your content. Basic performance techniques will be taught and refined as building blocks for making compelling one-person shows. Although this class will not meet in person, the professor will be experimenting with ways to create a supportive community.
This course meets on Sundays beginning September 13th. Core class hours are Sundays from 1-5pm ET. The class may occasionally meet for extended hours. Attendance at each session is required.
Admission is by application only. To apply for this course, please send an email expressing your interest to Stephanie Schneider in Professor Smith’s office.
stephanie.iacd@nyu.edu Please include two attachments with your email: a resume, and a short video (~1 minute in length) in which you introduce yourself and say why you wish to take this class. The application deadline is Friday, August 14th , at 5pm ET.







The Transnational Turn: History, Ethics, Method

Professor Hentyle Yapp

ASPP – GT 2026 (Graduate only) 

Crosslisted with COLIT-GA 2978 and PERF-GT 2219.002 (22291)

Wednesdays, 3:30 - 6:15pm

4 points

Many fields have taken a transnational turn to examine locations outside of their normative purview. Although this shift could be imagined as a multicultural expansion towards the inclusion of others across the globe, this course aims to historicize this shift in relation to power, particularly formations like race, sexuality, class, gender, and ability and legacies surrounding settler colonialism, Eurocentrism, colonization, US empire, and the Cold War. Put differently, instead of imagining the world as “a small world after all,” how might we attend to the fractures and differences that continue to maintain a world order involving the biopolitical death, debilitization, and militarized policing of racialized, gendered, and sexualized populations? This course thus historicizes, questions the ethics, and tracks the methods and fields available for the emergence and future of transnational analysis. Rather than accepting the liberal consideration of other spaces as simply better for intellectual fields and artistic practice, the main goal is to more critically understand how turns to the non-West are informed by the lingering problematics yet possibilities provided by anthropology, philosophy, area studies, and cultural studies as they can be contextualized in relation to the Cold War, neoliberalism, post-socialism, and culture wars, amongst other contexts. Further, the transnational must also be situated in relation to the medial forms available for tracking and considering the non-West, such as world cinema, literature, and performance. This course ultimately situates the historical alongside medial forms to help us consider the available methods (representation, cognitive mapping, and affect) for imagining nation states and the world. Rather than focusing on a single region, this course takes the admittedly difficult task of pondering the transnational turn as a broader concern across fields and analytics. This course will examine theorists like Frantz Fanon, Jasbir Puar, Edouard Glissant, Sylvia Wynter, Ella Shohat, Pheng Cheah, Trinh Minh-ha, Mel Chen, Fredric Jameson, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Andrea Smith, Naoki Sakai, and David Harvey. We will also situate theoretical discourse in relation to cultural production by artists like Jacolby Satterwhite, Cao Fei, Kapwani Kiwanga, Candice Lin, Bert Bernally, Isaac Julien, Xandra Ibarra, and Shirin Neshat


Theory I: Issues in Arts Politics

Professor Hentyle Yapp

ASPP – GT 2001 (Graduate only) 

Crosslisted with PERF – GT 2312 

Wednesdays, 11:30am - 2:15pm

4 points

This course expands the methodological, theoretical, and discursive possibilities of situating culture and the arts in relation to the political, tracking this relationship in a transnational world. By privileging analytics from transnational feminism, critical race theory, disability discourse, and queer studies, this course specifically reimagines the issues of arts and politics in relation to questions of power and survival. However, rather than perpetuating a dominant discourse of art as resisting the state, we aim to expand other narratives and analytics that complicate not only the political, but also the aesthetic.

This course will first establish working definitions of aesthetic theory and practice and political discourse. While tracking shifts in visual art in relation to performance, social practice, and the intermedial, we will also find grounding in concepts from political economy like neoliberalism, biopolitics, and Marxism. By doing so, we will establish methodological approaches to how we analyze legal texts, policy documents, art objects, and moving bodies. From this theoretical and practical grounding in arts and politics, we then engage different legal, “material” sites – including but not limited to native sovereignty, immigration, citizenship/personhood, “War on Terror,” intellectual property, and labor. We will ask what analyses of culture and art reveal about such sites. In offering multiple texts, the goal is for us to track intellectual conversations that are occurring across disciplines and fields. In situating art in relation to theory and legal cases, we will examine and destabilize the disciplinary boundaries around what we take/privilege to be fact, truth, ephemera, and merely interesting. By looking at legal cases and theory, critical theory, and cultural production, our meetings will study what it means to critique the law from a “left/progressive” standpoint(s), seeking to challenge the liberal frames that inform many of our normative claims. What are the limits of both politics and art in describing and addressing bodily injury, pain, and power?  The artworks we will draw from come from the Global South, along with Europe and the US. Theorists include Hortense Spillers, Sylvia Wynter, Saba Mahmood, Sue Schweik, Mel Chen, Saidiya Hartman, Michel Foucault, Shannon Jackson, Giorgia Agamben, Jasbir Puar, Dean Spade, Hannah Arendt, and Mark Rifkin, amongst others.


Methods and Criticism I: Seminar in Cultural Activism

Professor Karen Finley


Tuesdays, 2 - 4:45pm

4 points

This seminar will focus on developing our work, theory, and art into a realized production.  Each student will start with presenting his or her ideas and goals of creating a public project.  This may take the form of public art, exhibition, performance, narrative but bringing it to a goal of actualizing the work out of the school student world.  But the class is more than just bringing the art into the public light. We will scrutinize and examine intent and where to bring a production. Media, reviews, current events, intent, audience, controversy, economics, politics and other issues and challenges that is vital to a successful professional life.  These connections and awareness of the outside world out of school will be a reality check of all the responsibilities of participating in culture.

The class is interested in original and dynamic thought, provoking associative thinking and awareness.  The class is designed to transform and consider challenging your process and opinion. You are encouraged to bring awareness of different approaches to create new and borrowed strategies in cultural activism.  The class is considered process oriented and the professor is encouraging conceptual principles. Process is encouraging original thought over guaranteed knowns.

Graduate Colloquium

Professor Pato Hebert


Mondays, 12pm - 2:45pm

2-3 points

The Graduate Colloquium helps students to prepare for the collaboration, research, creativity and convening that will continue in the Spring Semester in the core Methods and Criticism II course, and across students’ chosen elective courses. Fiction and the political dimensions of imagination will be central to our work together this semester. We will focus our reading and analytical skills on three novels: Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms, Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. We will consider how fiction, and the novel in particular, offers a space for contending with deep historical fissures caused by colonialism and embodied in gendered violence. What lessons lie in coalition and the multi-generational? How does science fiction envision new worlds and forms of collectivity amidst dystopian futures? Operating outside of conventional notions of activism, agitprop or the contemporary, how might such texts help us to reimagine the political and creative dimensions of our practices? Additionally, how do critical readings and contextualization of these novels guide us into new possibilities for thinking more critically about the terms and forms of our work? Our goal will then be to apply these lessons to the professional pauses and pivots that unfold for you over the course of this one-year program. How is this current historical moment calling you to reflect, shift or lead? What are the frameworks, methodologies, tools, connections and experiences you need in order to evolve and sustain your practice? The Graduate Colloquium helps students to prepare for the collaboration, research, creativity and convening that will continue in the Spring Semester in the core Methods and Criticism II course, and across students’ chosen elective courses.


Contact the Department:

Emily Brown
Administrative Director
email: eb103@nyu.edu
phone: 212.992.8248