Fall 2024 Courses

Notice to students: 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
Mondays 10:30am - 2:30pm
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

ASPP-UT 1028-001 (juniors, seniors only)

ASPP-GT 2028-001

Monday 3:30pm - 7:05pm

4 points

This is a dynamic, generative class where you will be able to engage in creative production. We are creating and making. We will reflect on performance art, installation, hybrid media, site-specific, text and experimental practice. Creatives or curators that work in related areas are invited 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 the theory 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, consider sacred space, and healing as possibility. We will observe, review and appreciate lists, timing, gathering and collecting.  Performing, embodiment, communicating the body: gender, race and identity.  Recovery, restoration and healing is made possible. Appreciating in-progress, process, or how do we give and receive feedback. 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. 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. 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.


Graduate Colloquium

Professor Karen Finley


Tuesdays, 11am - 1:45pm

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.


War: Aesthetic Approaches/Theoretical Retreats (Theory)

Professor Luis Rincon Alba

ASPP-UT 1006-001 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors with permission)

ASPP-GT 2006-001
Tuesdays, 4:45 - 8:10pm
4 points

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.


Issues in Arts Politics

Professor Ella Shohat
ASPP-GT 2001 (MA Arts Politics Students Only)
Wednesdays, 10:30am - 2:05pm
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.


Postcolonial Displacement: Memoir and Memory

Professor Ella Shohat

ASPP-UT 1049-001 (juniors, seniors only with permission)

ASPP-GT 2049-001 Graduate section

Wednesday 3:30 - 7:05pm

4 points

With the growing numbers of immigrants/refugees in cities such as London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, belonging no longer corresponds to one geography, simplistically imagined as “over there.” This seminar will study questions of displacement as represented, mediated and narrated in a wide variety of texts. It will focus especially on memoirs, whether in written or audiovisual form, which confront exclusionary and essentialist discourses with a rich cultural production that foregrounds a complex understanding of such issues as “home,” “homeland,” “exile,” “hybridity” and “minorities.” How are identity and history performed in these colonial, post­colonial and diasporic contexts? What is the status and significance of the oral, the visual and the performed within the context of memory? We will examine different narrative forms of memory­making, analyzing how post/colonial authors and media­makers perform “home,” “homeland,” “diaspora,” and “exile.” How does memory become a filter for constructing contemporary discourses of belonging, especially in the context of post­independence and transnational dislocations? We will also address questions of genre, and the socio­political ramifications of certain modes of writing and performances of memory that create new hybrid genres such as the

poetic documentary and experimental autobiography. We will analyze works where a fractured temporality is reassembled to form a usable past where the body serves as an icon of migratory meanings. We will also examine contemporary cyber diasporic practices, problematizing such issues as “nostalgia” and “return” in the context of new communication technologies.


Race and Speculation (Theory)

Professor Shanté Smalls

ASPP-GT 2040-001

Thursdays 10:30am - 2:05pm

4 points

Graduate Students Only

This course takes seriously the work that science fiction and speculative works do in relation to constructions of gender and sexuality, race, and imaginary worlds and temporalities. This course considers how dystopian science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative categories render race and gender in the afterlife of structured society. Are race and gender metrics that register after civilization has been destroyed or radically altered? We consider such questions as: Who gets to lead in dystopian society? Who gets to have family and kinship and how are those portrayed? How is gender racialized and race gendered in post-apocalyptic worlds? And finally, can dystopic future renderings aid in undoing long-standing structural oppressions?

The class will focus on a series of objects and performances across genre, including, graphic novels, literary novels, and visual culture (film, tv, art)

Possible sites of inquiry: NYC Comic Con Festival, Midtown Comics, Forbidden Planet Comics; authors: NK Jemison, Octavia E. Butler, Marjorie Liu; Samuel Delany; films: Train to Busan (2016), The Girl With All the Gifts (2016), Pumzi (2009)

Music, Race, and Ethnicity

Professor Luis Rincon Alba

ASPP-UT 1006-002(Undergraduate section - juniors and seniors  only)

ASPP-GT 2006-002
Thursdays, 3:15 - 6:50pm
4 points

This class explores the modes through which music has expanded understandings of race and ethnicity and how it has shaped the critical understanding of performance and the performative. It pays close attention to the participation of the colonial in the formation of the contemporary political and aesthetic landscape while also defining the forces that shape culture and art on a global scale. The class maintains the tension among multiple elements such as race and ethnicity but also class, gender, and sexuality to offer an intersectional perspective of the political role that ancestral and contemporary musical performance played in anti-racist activism. 

We will also practice simple but meaningful musical exercises aimed at giving students tools to listen in detail while also understanding how a sense of orientation and alignment resides at the heart of Black and Indigenous musical performance. Students will develop skills to write about musical performance in the broadest sense of the term. However, they will also have chances to seek, explore, and question for ethical and political modes to include music

in their own artistic practice. The class is structured in a way that allows students to gain tools to engage in detailed listening. Subsequently, these tools will foreground their capacity to richly and productively describe musical performance in their writing. No musical practice or previous knowledge is required.


Art and the Public Sphere: Other Architectures

Professor Laura Harris

ASPP-GT 2054-001 (graduate students only)

Thursdays, 3:15 - 6:50pm
4 points

What is a public sphere and how is it activated and delineated? By and for whom? And how is private domestic life structured? And what forms of social life cannot be accommodated in either? We will consider the way such social spaces are articulated by, among other things: physical architecture and infrastructure; media and communication

technologies; the economic instruments of colonial and racial capitalism; state policies and policing; and cis-heteropatriarchal and ableist moralisms. We will look at the ongoing reorganization of these spaces (through, for example, land appropriation, domicide, “slum” clearance, redlining, predatory loans, moral panics, rezoning, sacrifice zones, and the risks and restrictions accompanying the recent pandemic).

At the same time, we will look at alternative formations, some found in different building traditions, some created by artists or imagined by poets, and some defined through irregular forms of movement and/or gathering that the planners did not plan for.

Authors and artists studied may include Jürgen Habermas, Kristin Ross, Leon Battista Alberti, Angela Mitroupolous, Denise Ferreira da Silva and Paula Chakrabarty, Veronica Gago and Luci Cavallero, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Kengo Kuma, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, AbdouMaliq Simone, Michel de Certeau, Maria Lugones, Sara Ahmed, Fernand Deligny, Claudio Medeiros and Victor Galdino, Hélio Oiticica, Gordon Matta-Clark, Lygia Clark, Park MacArthur and Constantina Zavitsanos, Erica Gressman, Italo Calvino, Renee Gladman, Natalie Diaz and Zoe Leonard.

Hip Hop Aesthetics

Professor Shanté Smalls

ASPP-GT 2030-001 (graduate students and seniors with instructor’s permission)

Mondays 3:40 - 7:15pm

4 points

This graduate-level course examines aesthetics in hip hop culture and production from the 1970s to the present. Through studying hip hop film, music, visual art, dance, photography, and literature, we will think through what is so valuable about the aesthetic practices in the 50-year history of hip hop culture. This class is a rigorous attempt to think with critical and scholarly eyes and ears about a form many of us love. This course will concentrate on race, gender, region, generation,and sexuality as produced in hip hop culture. 


This course will center around performances, exhibits, and objects across NYC related to the celebration of hip hop at 50. We will also read and watch material that contextualized hip hop culture and performance in a broader Black Studies context. Possible site visits: Universal Hip Hop Museum, ongoing art exhibits; films: Wild Style (1983); “Hip Hop at 50” Instagram page; books: Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip Hop; Dark Matter in Breaking Cyphers; Graffiti Grrlz

Contact the Department:
Emily Bronson
Administrative Director, Department of Art and Public Policy
Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
715 Broadway, 12th floor New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212-992-8248
Email:  eb103@nyu.edu