Fall 2021 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.

Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics

Professor Laura Harris

ASPP-UT 1031 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors,  sophomores with permission)

ASPP-UT 2031 (Graduate section)

Thursdays, 2pm - 4:45pm

4 points 

Cedric J. Robinson argues that “…the political seems to have as a characteristic the quality of arranging the relationship of things and of people within some form of society. It is an ordering principle, distinguishing the lawful or authorized order of things while itself being the origin of the regulation.  We associate, then, the political with power, authority, order, law, the state, force, and violence— all of these are phenomena which restrict the outcome, deflect the extraneous, limit the relevant forces."  If the notion of the political is rooted in the idea of a polis, as bounded territory and restricted polity, how else might we imagine the organization of social life?  What other formations can emerge within and against this idea of the political which has been brutally imposed and maintained through colonial and postcolonial states across the globe?  Taking some recent feminist, queer, anticolonial art works as our starting point, we will consider the ways in which art works might register, accommodate or set off other, irregular or unruly formations, other ways of living and thriving together.  We will also consider, in conversations with guests and with one another in class, the relays and convergences between the aesthetic practices out of which these works emerge and the kinds of critical reading, viewing and listening practices that inform and extend them.   Potential artists and critics include Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman, Natalie Diaz, Sky Hopinka and Kengo Kuma, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Ronald Rose-Antoinette, Youmna Chlala, Sandra Ruiz and Hypatia Vourloumis, Constantina Zavitsanos, Park McArthur and Carolyn Lazard, among others.


All School Seminar: What's Love Got to Do With It?

Professor Kathy Engel

ASPP-UT 1000 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors,  sophomores with permission)

ASPP-UT 2000 (Graduate section with permission)

Mondays, 3:30 - 6:15pm

4 points

“Love and compassion make us unstoppable. They keep us connected. They remind us, as we navigate these machinations designed to sever our solidarity, that we, are. Family. – Makani Themba

The word “love” is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb.                          — Bell Hooks

It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times: there is no

               freedom without justice and this means economic

               justice and love justice… Grace Paley, from “Responsibility”

I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black; it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect. ― June Jordan

What do any of us mean when we say love? One of the most used words and themes in any language. This course will explore love as a verb, as a social and liberatory practice as well as a personal experience and expression – the connection between. We will engage the premise that all work for social change, for equity and liberation is (or must be?) rooted in an active engagement with love as practice, theory, discipline. The poet Ross Gay talks about be loving.  We will explore the notion that everything in life has to do with relationships, beginning with oneself, and with another, an idea, a work, a practice, a place, an object, and on and on. We will explore love as complexity, in relation to wholeness, theories of love, politics of love, expressions (i.e. art, food, gifting, listening etc.) and also taboos and denials of love as a verb and social practice. We will look at questions of invitation, translation, embrace, spirituality, desire in relation to love, in relation to what community is and might be, what a third way might be, and what, for example, Grace Paley called love justice.

What is a pedagogy of love? We’ll read essays, poems, letters, fragments, prayers, explore different creative forms, and create our own, and study projects of community, resistance, world building grounded in what the late Grace Lee Boggs called “growing our souls,” including connectedness, beyond those identified as human. We will look at what indigenous teacher Sherri Mitchell in Sacred Instructions calls the myth of separation.

Biologist philosopher Andreas Weber writes in Matter and Desire:

My conviction is that being alive in an empathetic way is always a practice   of love. And only be relearning to understand our existence as a practice of love will we grasp anew the overwhelming ecological and human dilemma that we face in the middle of the second decade of the twenty-first century and find the means to deal with them differently than we have thus far.

How do the myth of scarcity, the enactments of social constructs and contracts interrupt the possibility of a love economy, for example? We will look at current and past practices, the threads between, and engage theoretical and lyrical dives into what love might be in the fullest, most complex, even contradictory sense, and what love as a verb, an enormous universe of a verb, can be in relation to liberatory imagination and practice. Readings will include works by adrienne maree brown, Paolo Freire, Carol Gilligan, bell hooks, Ocean Vuong, James Baldwin, Danez Smith, Peggy and Lizzy Cooper Davis, Cecilia Vicua, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Joy Harjo, June Jordan, Patrick Rosal, Sappho, Andreas Weber, and more. We will co create a syllabus of love.

Language as Action

Professor Kathy Engel

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

ASPP-UT 2070 (Graduate section)

Tuesdays, 11am - 1:45pm

4 points

The moment of change is the only poem …

-  Adrienne Rich

I didn’t become a writer because I had something to say. I     

became a writer because I had so much to ask…                                                       

-     Patrick Rosal

When we discovered we ourselves were the language…

                         Valzyna Mort

The class will be a co- lab in reading, listening, writing, making, dreaming, imagining & thinking together. We will study & engage language as a live organism, writing as a site for discovery & transformation. We will look at writing (with an emphasis on poetry) mostly by those whose work, in my estimation, shifts culture, disrupts & invents form, "becomes the language." We will look at questions of translation, censorship & self-censorship, identifications and liberations, language disappearance & preservation, borders & crossing borders, & collaborative poetics. We will think together about memory, look into questions of voice, accountability, the relationship between author & reader/audience, between economic/social system & writing. The works we will engage disrupt conventional labels and terminologies, dare to re- define, open up new spaces of human & poetic ecologies. The writers whose work we will explore will likely include Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Michaela Moscaliuc, Yesenia Montilla, Tina Chang, Li Young Lee, Natalie Diaz, Patrick Rosal, John Murillo, Alexis De Veaux, James Baldwin, Cecilia Vicua, Nazim Hikmet, Ocean Vuong, Mahmoud Darwish, Naomi Shihab Nye, Edouard Glissant & more. There will be some guest writers. 

We will, as possible, explore the relationship between contemporary writers, including those in the class, with past influences.

Students will write and share work, focusing both on generative writing using prompts while also practicing revision (re vision as poet Adrienne Rich described). towards a final project.

The class will be a co lab in reading, listening, writing, imagining & thinking together. 

This course will count toward general education requirements for TSOA students (Humanities).

The Transnational Turn: History, Ethics, Method

Professor Hentyle Yapp

ASPP – GT 2026 (Graduate only) 

Crosslisted with PERF – GT 2002 

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.


Methods and Criticism I: Seminar in Cultural Activism

Professor Pato Hebert


Mondays 12-3pm

4 points

Methods & Criticism I supports you to identify and strengthen the methodologies operating in your practice while developing a critical framework for diverse modes of creative and political action. Weekly presentations and discussions will allow for robust engagement with one another’s work, which may include but not be limited to artmaking, scholarship, activism, curation and pedagogy. Over several weeks, we’ll also do slow, careful readings of two primary texts: Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, and Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Kimmerer will guide us in considering the power of place and the more than human. What vitalities might be cultivated by holding multiple worldviews and ways of being? Butler will help us to consider how fiction – and the novel in particular – offers a space for considering what lessons lie in coalition and the multi-generational. How does science fiction envision new worlds and forms of collectivity amidst dystopian futures? Operating beyond more 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 might critical readings and contextualization of these works impel us into new possibilities for thinking more critically about the terms and forms of our own 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? In addition to our critique sessions, analytical readings and discussions, we’ll also conduct weekly writing reflections, complete individual final essays articulating your relationship to arts politics, and undertake a group exercise to map resources, challenges, synergies and pathways. This course helps to prepare students for the research, creativity, collaboration and convening that will continue in the core Methods and Criticism II course in the Spring Semester, and across your chosen elective courses. 

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 merely being resistant to the state, we aim to expand other narratives and analytics that seek to 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.


Graduate Colloquium

Professor Karen Finley


Tuesdays, 3:30 - 6:15pm

2-3.5 points

This class is a core course required for all Arts Politics students. In our class we will engage in conversation while getting to know each other as a cohort. We will have field trips and guest visits with leaders in the field. We will meet with alumni on their research, practice and hear from faculty. There will be generative engagement and space for fielding questions, incubation of process, activating content and meaning, considering arts activism, and community collaboration.  


Since we have had a year of the pandemic, we will engage in-person at site visits in New York City as a classroom. Some events that will be planned are a tour of Stonewall Monument with Stonewall National Parks volunteers, visit the recent Maya Lin outdoor environmental installation “Ghost Trees.”We will engage in participatory walks – such as rethinking memorials – with the Columbus Monument, and retracing the remains, removal and landmarks of Seneca Village with alumni Kimiyo Bremer. Artists in the field will speak about their work such as John Sims with reclaiming and burying the Confederate flag. We will also be in the here and now, with current events and spontaneous responsive activism. And be mindful of the past year – of events, loss, trauma and regeneration, recuperation, restoration and commemoration.


We will work individually but also engage in projects in cooperation and collaboration. We will consider celebration as a space for engagement and activism and we will challenge our comfort zones to consider inspiration, reimagining and possibility. As part of our process, we will delineate the increments of identifying prompts to deepen and awaken our practice. There will be readings and research alongside each unit, a presentation and final reflection essay.


Contact the Department:

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