Spring 2017 Courses

Course Offerings Spring 2017

Artists, Social Change and the Role of Journalism

Professor Grace Aneiza Ali

ASPP-UT 1012 (Undergraduate section - sophomores, juniors, seniors)

ASPP-GT 2012 (Graduate section)

Mondays, 11am - 1:45pm

4 points

As the definitions of art activism continue to evolve and shift, how does journalism report, question, document, archive, and cull new language that thoughtfully and critically examines this intersection? This course explores the role and relationship of journalism to the field of arts and social change. Students will investigate several case studies of this brand of arts journalism in major publications. They will also examine the issues curated by OF NOTE magazine (the online magazine on art and activism), which illustrate how journalists have raised awareness for artists who are engaging with contemporary social justice issues such as mass incarceration, immigration, and women’s rights. A main objective of the course is to explore and define the relationship between scholarship, research, journalism and arts activism.

As a major component of the course throughout the semester, students will undertake a journalism project of their own and fully participate in the editorial process of creating an issue for OF NOTE magazine from start to finish. Students in the class will essentially work as an editorial team to conceive and carve out the editorial statement for the issue, select the artists to be featured, have opportunities for a byline by writing or co-writing a featured article, and serve as editors for their peers. Students will work towards the goal of launching the issue at the end of the semester.

Read “The Water Issue” produced by students from the Spring, 2016 class.

This course will count toward general education requirements for TSOA students (Social Science)

Art and/as Research

Professor Karen Finley

ASPP-UT 1023 (Undergraduate – Juniors, Seniors)

ASPP-GT 2023 (Graduate section)

Tuesdays, 10am – 12:45pm

4 points

This class will concentrate on research methods of art making.  It has been argued that creativity has seven stages: orientation, preparation, analysis, ideation, incubation, synthesis, and evaluation. Each of these steps will be explored and researched with complimentary writing assignments and individual or group creative problem solving exercises.  These seven steps of creativity will be a platform to structure the class and hopefully come to understand the mystery of inspiration, originality and invention.  We will examine other related theories such as trauma and creativity, spontaneity, chance, creativity as a voice for empowerment and the function of freedom and lack of freedom to heighten artistic movement.  How are we inspired?  Is there a method to our creativity?  Can the creative process have a formula?  How does research inform the creative process?  The class will utilize the archives, galleries and libraries as a research tool and NYU as research University.  We will visit the Fayles library, the Tainamont library, NYU Grey Art Gallery as well as visit with scholars and artists to consider the furthering of ideas into a series of stages to a final project and paper.  

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

Language as Action: Writing the World

Professor Nathalie Handal

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

OART-UT 1504 (Open Arts section)

ASPP-GT 2070 (Graduate section)

Tuesdays, 9:30 - 12:15pm

4 points

In this class we will study and engage language as a live organism, literature as a site for encounter and unearthing. We will read poems, plays and nonfiction by contemporary American and Anglophone writers globally whose works are changing culture, eradicating invisibility and building new languages. The works we read will put into question conventional labels and terminologies, enter new spaces of human and literary ecologies. This course will explore the self and the world; imagination, language, society and action. The works read and the creative writing assignments and exercises will provide the imaginative background for writing our words, our cultures and engaging in action through language bearing in mind that literature is “a key piece of democracy.” (Eileen Myles)

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

Queer & Disability Theory: The Then & Now of Crip

Professor Hentyle Yapp

ASPP-UT 1017 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors only with permission of instructor)

ASPP-GT 2017 (Graduate section)

Wednesdays, 11am – 1:45pm

4 points


This course provides an overview of the growing field of disability studies as it intersects with feminist theory and queer of color critique. Our discussions will focus heavily on how disability functions in relation to notions of sexuality, gender, race, and class. The first part of the semester will review the field’s foundations, analyzing investments in the notion of disability from a variety of fields and approaches. In particular, we will trace the field's foundations in relation to first person memoir that have shifted towards questions around biopolitics and populations. The second part of the course will give an introduction to some of the major directions within the field, such as the transnational/global, neoliberalism, war, transgendered body, posthumanism, aging, affect, invisible disabilities, biopower, prison abolition, animal studies, and technology.  Although we will certainly engage the history of disability along with the lived experiences of real people, this course is not meant to provide a full historical overview of disability or of specific disabilities. Rather, this course is meant to analyze the emergence of the field, along with its past and developing concerns.  We will engage texts and objects including but not limited to Mel Chen, Terry Galloway, Sins Invalid, Michel Foucault, Preciado, Eli Claire, Paul Longmore, Chris Bell, Robert McRuer, Sue Schweik, Susan Stryker, Jasbir Puar, Mara Mills, Georgina Kleege, and Anna Mollow.

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

Law, Culture, & the Lure of Resistance: Lessons on Institutional Critique

Professor Hentyle Yapp

ASPP-UT 1016 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors only with permission of instructor)

ASPP-GT 2016 (Graduate section)

Wednesdays, 3:30– 6:15pm

4 points

This course examines how and why the arts and humanities engage the law. What notions of social justice are achieved through artistic, cultural, and theoretical engagements with the law? What ideas of institutional critique can such engagements produce beyond merely being resistant to the law or “against” the institution? This course analyzes what it means to critique institutions, considering how many minoritarian populations are challenging yet simultaneously reliant on the state. Take for example critical race theory's demand for rights alongside its critique of rights; or disability activism's demand for deinstitutionalization alongside its reliance on the state and medical industrial complex. What narratives beyond countering and resisting institutions exist? This course will not only study areas of the law that intersect with culture, but also and more importantly reflect on the theoretical, methodological, and political ramifications of these intersections. Thus, for example, we will both study and move beyond asking how artists deal with issues around free speech or copyright in order to more forcefully reflect upon why and how the first amendment and intellectual property are critical to engage as a larger political project. What are the stakes in placing law, culture, and institutional critique together?


We will first begin by defining law, culture, and notions of resistance and institutional critique. In addition, our first few classes will offer grounding in legal analysis and methodologies. After this, we will then work through different legal arenas where culture, theory, and politics intersect, privileging the question of the stakes in this intersection: including but not limited to the transnational, settler colonialism, slavery, racial and gender categorization, disability activism, "war" on terror, human rights, the right to choose, intellectual property, and free speech. We will engage political theory, aesthetics, queer and feminist analysis, critical race studies, and artistic production. Some theorists and artists include Dean Spade, Mark Rifkin, Sue Schweik, Saidiya Hartman, Karl Marx, Eli Claire, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Karen Finley, Lisa Duggan, Moustafa Bayoumi, Shannon Jackson, Janet Halley, Drucilla Cornell, Wendy Brown, Karen Shimakawa, Giorgio Agamben, Lisa Lowe, Cheryl Harris, Michel Foucault, Angela Davis, Pope L., William Forsythe, Rick Lowe, Shoshana Felman, and others.

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

Writing the Artist Statement: Representing your Work for Funding and Beyond

Professor Elizabeth Mikesell

ASPP-UT 1009 (Undergraduate section - sophomores, juniors, seniors)

ASPP-GT 2009 (Graduate section)

Thursdays, 11am – 1:45pm

4 points

In this course, you will develop the skills you need to write about your own work. A series of guided reading, research, and writing exercises will help you think about what your work is, what it means, and why it matters, so that you will be able to craft language that accurately and effectively represent you as an artist and thinker. We will study a variety of personal statements, project descriptions, manifestos, and other artist writings, examining them for their relative strengths and weaknesses with an eye towards the most effective expressive strategies.


You will use the writing you’ve generated as the groundwork for your final projects: After we explore the variety of public and private sources of funding, fellowships, and residency opportunities in the US, you will use search resources (such as the Foundation Center and various philanthropic databases) to research and identify several opportunities that would be appropriate for your work. You will prepare applications for two opportunities of your choosing (three for graduate students).  After we examine a range of artist websites,you will learn to make your own artist website (using WordPress). You will also prepare an elevator pitch for the project of your choice.You will exit the course with writing that you might revise and reuse for many different purposes in your professional creative life.

This course will count toward elective credit for undergraduate TSOA students.

Special Topics: Documentation and Curatorial Practice as Political Engagement

Professor Adonis Volanakis

ASPP-UT 1006 (Undergraduate Section- juniors and seniors only)

ASPP-GT 2006 (Graduate section)

Fridays, 11am – 1:45pm

4 points

How are contemporary artists and curators documenting in ways that are politically engaged? In the context of global socio-economic rapid changes and urgent political conditions, what is the relationship between: 1) developing effective documentation methodologies; 2) curating projects that produce audio-visual archives and dialogical forums for dialogue, debate and other forms of exchange and 3) addressing the needs of undocumented/ underrepresented populations?


Can artistic documentation and curatorial practice be generated so that they become ethical forms of cultural/political activism and frame the ephemeral and the ineffable? In what ways do such projects support precarious, "undocumented" groups such as immigrants and refugees, and how might they unintentionally exploit, damage or endanger them through the act of artistic and curatorial documentation? This class aims to develop students' practical documentation skills and expand their notions of curatorial practice while simultaneously raising consciousness around what it means to make images, amass artistic archives, and provoke curatorial dialogues that politically matters.


We will explore the temporal space of documenting with active reading, drafting, sketching, improvising, experimenting, and journaling in order to find intersecting tools for preservation, recording and crystallization of the ephemeral. We will invite international visiting artists, activists and curators present (in person and via skype) to share their methodologies and their documentary archives.


We will investigate current case studies of artistic / activist models such as the 2016 Documenta Exhibition in Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece, Tania Brugera's "Immigrant International" Project sponsored by The Queens Museum, The Vera List Center for Art and Politics Award programming focused on Syrian film collective Abounaddara, among others--seen in response to world events such as US/Latin American and European Union xenophobia and economic instability, and the refugee issues. Students will research examples of "engaging" curatorial and documentation practices to consider how they might critically inform their own work or their desire to create dialogue and response. This class will benefit artists, curators and cultural producers who are actively generating, subverting or intersecting forms of documentation, the archive and curating in their practice and also those who wish to work within educational/cultural institutions, participate in community organizing or serve within civic or non-governmental organizations.

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

Seminar in Cultural Activism


Professor Karen Finley

ASPP-GT 2002-001

Tuesdays, 3:30 – 6:30pm

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.