Fall 2022 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.

Methods and Criticism I: Seminar in Cultural Activism

Professor Pato Hebert

ASPP-GT 2002-001

Mondays 10:45am - 2:45pm

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.


Creative Response: Performance Matters

Professor Karen Finley

Mondays 3:30-6:15 PM

ASPP-UT/GT 1028/2082

This is a dynamic, generative class that will be jubilant. 

We are creating and making. Although we are considering performance art, creatives or curators that work in related areas are invited that wish to expand their practice. Such as film, visual art, photography, creative writing, music, technology or if you just need to explore new ground!  The professor is a multi-disciplinary artist who is active in the field. This is a workshop atmosphere and the professor strives to have an educational space for trying things out and discovering together.

This class will look deeper into varying aspects of performance: concept, generating content, research and staging. We will consider the strategies of subversion of form, of interruption from normative expectations. We will consider everyday experience, randomness, abstraction and performance as a space for social change. We will create rituals, appreciate lists, timing, gathering and collecting.  Performing, embodiment and communicating the body: gender, race and identity.  Recovery, restoration and healing is made possible. Awareness of work in progress, process, hybrid media or site-specific. Humor and absurdity is appreciated. 

We will have a workshop on how we translate our performance into performance writing. We will look at performance scores such as with Fluxus. How do we construct a text, script, be online and considering improvisation will be utilized. The visual and prop aspect of performing:  such as objects, accessories, the archive, design and costume. Listening, finding voice, silence and giving and taking commands, and deviation from dominant forms of entertainment and product.  Hopefully with deeper understanding, we will seek to challenge and stimulate our own creative content to produce innovative, 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 the assignments and their areas of concentration. There will be guest artists, and we will attend performances and art events. Finley will update the description closer to the course with field trips. Plans for attending the exhibit Just Above Midtown at the Museum of Modern Art is planned for now. But in past classes we have attended Skirball, La Mama, the New Museum, The Grey Gallery, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art.  We will also visit the archives at NYU. 

Contemporary Art from the Americas: Aurality, Sound, and Music

Professor Luis Rincón Alba

Tuesdays 11-1:45 

ASPP-UT 1000 (juniors and seniors)
ASPP-GT 2000 (graduate students)

*This course counts as theory for Arts Politics majors.

In recent years, artists have been exploring the rich, multilayered, and ambiguous qualities of the sonic to challenge the predominance of the visual. These explorations have not only opened paths for new practices but also enabled renewed understandings of ancestral musical and aural practices: in these sonic assemblages, we will listen to Black, Indigenous, and Queer performance. In this course, we will establish a critical dialogue between disciplines such as sound studies, ethnomusicology, and performance studies and the practice of contemporary sound artists from Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America as a strategy to localize sonic convergences and divergences among their creative approaches and work. This class also takes advantage of the copious artistic offerings available in New York City. We will visit galleries, museums, and institutions exhibiting works that deploy aurality, sound, and music as part of their artistic assemblages. Students will learn strategies, methods, techniques, and approaches to the writing of/with/along sound. 

Some of the scholars that we will study/listen to include Daphne Brooks, Nathaniel Mackey, Alex Vazquez, Robin D.G. Kelley, Fred Moten, Theodor Adorno. Artists include Guadalupe Maravilla, Kara Walker, Jason Moran, Kevin Beasley, Lucrecia Martel, Wu Tsang, and more. 

Graduate Colloquium

Professor Karen Finley

Tuesdays 2-4:45 PM

ASPP-GT 2003

(MA Arts Politics Students Only - no exceptions)

Welcome! This is a required core course for the Arts Politics cohort. For our colloquium, we will be exploring New York City as our classroom. We will be on field trips –at first many will be outdoors. We will be visiting public art spaces, parks, memorials and installations such as the High Line. Environmental art and performance.  We will look at Community Gardens in the East Village, engage in a participatory walk at Columbus Circle and reimagine monuments, visit Seneca Village and retrace and conduct rituals at a pre-civil war settlement of mostly African American homeowners and Irish immigrants before it was destroyed for the construction of Central Park, We will visit Stonewall National Park and meet with a volunteer ranger. We will conduct research, visit NYU archives, collaborate and create our own presentations at Washington Square Park. We will consider protests, and sites of resistance. We will have visitors and guest artists, ( still in development) such as John Sims – who has worked for 20 years with reclaiming the confederate flag. and artist activists such as Viva Ruiz - Thank God for Abortion. We will hear from leaders in the field such as  indigenous land rights and anti-gun activist theater artists We will visit cultural exhibitions and institutions while considering representation, and activist art strategies.

We will be in the here and now, with current events and spontaneous responsive activism. And be mindful of the past 2 plus years – 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 a final reflection essay. I look forward to being your guide and starting our journey together! Please reach out if you have any questions. karen.finley@nyu.edu


Language as Action

Professor Kathy Engel

Wednesdays 11am - 1:45pm

ASPP-UTGT 1070/ 2070

In this class we will read closely and write, exploring the relationship between form and substance, intimate and universal, time and tense, singular and plural. We’ll think about collective literary inheritances, living archive, and endangered languages. We will discuss what makes a written work, and what makes a spoken work, visual and written languages, ways different forms collaborate to expand possibility; how rupture, space, inversion, erasure, play, and re vision affect work on the page. How does one listen for what is asking to be written and/or told? We will explore hybridity (visual work with word, movement with word, videopoetics and more). We will look at questions of translation, the untranslatable, and the political, sensuous, spiritual, power of writing. What does a written word do? What does oral tradition do? How are forms continually, excitingly evolving to do what they need to do? Who is included and who is left out of a work? How does the writer know? Who does one write for? What is eco justice writing? What is liberatory language? Participants will examine the fragment, the “hybrid,” the spaces between, stutters, erasures, re inventions, acrobatics, deep dives.  Works we will explore include Atang, Patrick Rosal; In Praise of Fragments, Meena Alexander; Yabo and a few new parables, Alexis De Veaux; Undrowned, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, the picto-poems of poet Kimberly Blaeser, works by Cecilia Vicuña, and more. Participants will write in relation to prompts that emerge from the readings, listen to one another’s writing, and will be invited to create across genres. When is a letter a poem a video an essay a painting? Students will be encouraged to create forms as well. 

The last four sessions will shift to include work with guest poet and memoirist Cheryl Boyce Taylor (Mama Phife Represents,2021;  We Are Not Wearing Helmets, 2022. We will study and write in conversation with specific works by the late poet, essayist, teacher, activist Audre Lorde, with whom Boyce Taylor studied, closing the semester with a reading/presentation of student work and Lorde’s poems.


This class is open to graduate students and undergraduate juniors and seniors with permission from the professor.


Issues in Arts Politics

Professor Laura Harris

ASPP-UT 2001 (MA Arts Politics Students Only)
Wednesdays, 3:30 - 6:15pm
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 anticolonial and critical race theory, transnational feminism, queer studies and disability discourse, we reimagine the issues of arts and politics in relation to questions of power and survival. Rather than perpetuating a dominant discourse of art merely being resistant to the state, we will expand other narratives and analytics that seek to complicate not only the political, but also the aesthetic. Through tracking shifts in visual art in relation to performance, social practice, and the intermedial, we will also find grounding in concepts from political economy. This course intends to introduce key analytics in critical theory to help students theorize and historicize their own practices and approaches.


Imagination & Change

Professor Kathy Engel

Wednesday 7-9 PM

ASPP-UTGT 1048/ 2048

Artists and cultural workers have always engaged in critical, integral ways in advocacy, organization, resistance & re-imagining the world. Art, the imaginary, the engagement of culture; have informed, supported, translated, transformed, and uplifted movements for social change/ justice/rights. This is true throughout the world. In many places, it is understood and assumed that art and politics are intertwined and that art offers ways of understanding, connecting, dreaming, grieving, playing, and building that make even the idea of change possible, make existing conditions survivable.   At the same time, when the story is told, or the “leaders” gather to challenge or make policy, artists and art in the broadest sense are still, often considered extra, even if valuable. And, where, in many places, artists have perhaps longer been recognized as central to social change, much has changed in the U.S. in the last 40 years regarding this question. New generations of activists integrate art and imagination into their work at every level, in breathtaking ways. This class will explore models of how artists and cultural workers have worked and continue to work in relation to movements, pressing social challenges,  community and policy initiatives, envisioning possibility. We will study examples to understand creative forms of intervention, invention, invitation; looking also at how different initiatives emerged, were evaluated (if they were), what is to be learned, and ways of creative resistance and world building today. Students will be invited to develop a plan for a project that engages art in relation to a social, community, political reality with which they’re seeking to engage. This work will be based on a broad interpretation of the terms “art” and “politics,” opening the possibility for exploration of definitions, methodologies, and collaboration, border crossings and re shapings. We will read works by organizers, cultural workers, artists, dreamers, theorists and educators who’ve engaged in this wide field, and look at films, exhibitions and performances in relation to the work. 

This class is open to graduate students and undergraduate seniors and juniors with permission from the professor.



War: Aesthetic Approaches/Theoretical Retreats

Professor Luis Rincón Alba

ASPP-UT 1006 (juniors and seniors)
ASPP-GT 2006 (graduate students)

Thursdays 3:30-6:15 p.m.

*This course counts as theory for Arts Politics majors.

In her book “The Unwomanly Face of War,” journalist and Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich questions the grandiose and male-centered manners historians have approached war. Alexievich’s response to the omissions committed by such an attitude considers the senses in conjunction with the memories of women whose stories have been neglected, erased, and suppressed for being a menace to the status of this very grandiosity. In this class, we will follow a similar approach and interrogate the forms in which artists from war-affected regions and populations recuperate and redeem the traces, memories, lessons, and scars left by armed conflicts. In conjunction with this, we will critically read philosophical, historical, and other texts from the humanistic tradition to understand how war overflows, challenges, and redefine the theoretical understanding of violence, brutality, race, gender, sex, and the human. The class will also pay attention to how war and its traces remain in audio-visual archives, theater plays, choreographies, music, literature, and performance art. 

Some of the authors and artists we will pay attention to include Doris Salcedo, Claudia Rankine, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Teresa Margolles, Svetlana Alexievich, Eiko & Koma, Nidia Góngora, An-My Lê, Joe Arroyo, Walter Benjamin, Francisco Goya, Ariella Azoulay, Robert Mosse, Arthur Jafa, Ariella Azoulay, John Akomfrah, and Raoul Peck.



Professor Sheril Antonio

Thursdays, 2pm - 5:30pm

ASPP-UT 1020/ GT 2020

4 points– will count toward Humanities General Education credits for TISCH undergraduates

*This course counts as theory for Arts Politics majors.

Prerequisite: One introductory film history/ criticism class. 

This course looks at how difference is constructed in film through reading assignments, short and full length features, and critical analysis of the visual form and content seen in mainstream Hollywood, independent, and international films. This inquiry takes note that while some of these films may be conventional in form, in content they challenge accepted notions of differences or stereotypes. Our goal is to catalog films and other media that resist accepted notions of the “other.” To accomplish our goals, we deal primarily with textual analysis that focuses on story and character, as well as cinematic space and time. With the help of articles and texts, we examine socially accepted notions of the “other” and see how they are derived and/or challenged in and by films, thus looking at how an art form can interact with socially accepted forms of “othering.” The objective of the course is to train emerging artists and scholars to engage in critical analysis that can make profound contributions to the individual’s unique creative or analytical process. Another intention of the course is to delineate and occupy the space left for debate between authorship as expressed from a directorial perspective from authorship from the spectator’s point of view.