Spring 2020 Courses

All School Seminar: Environmental Entanglements

Professor Laura Harris

ASPP – UT 1049 (Undergraduate – Juniors and Seniors Only)

ASPP- GT 2049 (Graduate)

Wednesdays, 11am - 1:45pm

4 points– will count toward Social Science credit for Tisch undergraduates

We will focus, in this class, on various theories of the “environment," the forms these theories take and the kinds of futures they envision for life on earth.  We will consider liberal humanist formulations that have been imposed all over the world, the division they establish between man and environment, the way that is interlinked with the division between man and racialized other, woman, deviant, animal, inert matter, etc. and the forms of development, extraction and exploitation such division has structured and justified.  We will also consider different ways of theorizing life, habitation, sociality, entanglement and reproduction offered in divergent theoretical traditions that precede, exceed and/or critique liberal humanism, including indigenous, black, Marxist, feminist, queer, disability and poststructuralist studies, among others. In the context of climate crisis and widespread extinctions, what kind of future do these different formulations suggest?  We will look for such theories in work by authors and visual artists such as Glen Coulthard, Silvia Federici, Jorge Furtado, Louise Erdrich, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ana Mendieta, Steven Feld, Zhang Huan, Li Binyuan, Macarena Gómez-Barris, Ala Plástica, Eduardo Castro, Gregory Cajete, Nicholas J. Reo, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Annalee Davis, Kamau Brathwaite, Sylvia Wynter, Édouard Glissant, Vandana Shiva, Arhundhati Roy, Aarthe Vadde, Rachel Carson, Octavia Butler, Kathryn Yusoff, Heather Davis, Anna Tsing, Lynn Margulis, Donna Haraway, Mel Chen, Jane Bennet, Karen Barad, Denise Ferreira da Silva as well as environmental justice movements around the world.


Creative Response: Performance Matters, Between Imagination and Experience

Professor Karen Finley

ASPP – UT 1028 (Undergraduate – Juniors & Seniors only)

ASPP – GT 2028 (Graduate only) 

Tuesdays, 4:45 - 7:45pm

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.

Imagination and Change: Arts, Culture, and Public Policy

Professors Caron Atlas and Gonzalo Casals

ASPP-UT 1048 (Undergraduate section - juniors and seniors)

ASPP-GT 2048 Graduate section

Fridays, 11am - 1:45pm

4 points– will count toward general education requirements (Humanities)

The course will explore arts and culture as part of public policy, public space, and public participation in decision making.  It will consider the values and relationships that underlie cultural policy: Who makes it? How is it made? How does it intersect with other public policy areas? How is it changed? The course will consider what it means to advance equity—both by operationalizing cultural equity and by incorporating arts and culture into equity efforts across other sectors. It will also address the relationship between activism and policy, including cultural methodologies for civic participation and community change. It will draw on timely examples from New York, nationally, and internationally and a diverse group of guests - policymakers, advocates, and cultural practitioners - will bring the pressing issues of the day into the classroom. Dialogue, inquiry, and on-the-ground experience will be emphasized. Students will gain access to the diverse networks of the instructors and guests to build relationships in the field.



Professor Scott Barton

ASPP-UT 1006 (Undergraduate section - sophomores, juniors, seniors)

ASPP-GT 2006 Graduate section

Tuesdays, 12:30 - 3:15pm

4 points

In this class we will explore “difference” through food. We will investigate food as a practice for engagement, activism and nurture that is necessary for sustained growth. If an army runs on its stomach, so does a peace movement. Often there are shared foods, ingredients or dishes, named or prepared differently, yet in close proximity to each other. Using food as a practice for engagement, activism and nurture is necessary for sustained growth. Commensality growing, cooking, sharing and celebrating food and lives is an applied way to practice theories of inclusivity. Who belongs? Where is the table, (home, prison, care facility, work)? Who cooks and is there equity for their work? Are we eating as a reflection of ourselves, our histories, our health and healing?
Using food, land, access and agency to explore questions of inclusivity across difference, resistance and resilience, this course will look at current and historic food movements, culinary interventions, rites and ceremonies including shared meals to build an agenda of collaboration and community. We will look theoretically, critically historically as well as concurrently studying makers, events and movements including: A Festa da Boa Morte, (The Festival of the Good Death) in Brazil, Cacerolazos (pot and pan rebellions), Fannie Lou Hamer’s Civil Rights Era, “Pig Bank”, Vandana Shiva, Blondell Cummings, Chicken Soup, recently featured in Brooklyn Museum’s Radical Black Women exhibition, TheMalaga Island Project, Rachel Harding’s Welcome Table, and a variety of food art projects as a means to create our own interventions.


Female Cultural Rebels in Modern Times

Professor Karen Finley

ASPP – UT 1034 (Undergraduate –Juniors and Seniors only) 

ASPP – GT 2034 (Graduate only) 

Mondays, 12pm - 2:45pm

4 points– will count toward Social Science general education credits for TISCH undergraduates

This class will reflect on feminism, gender and sexuality themes. Some of the topics will be preliminary such as the gaze, the documenting and managing of stereotypes such as the madwoman, as in the documentary “Grey Gardens”. Current events and issues will be part of our conversation such as in popular culture, policy, reproductive rights, and Me2. Other units may be on gossip, the soap opera, hysteria, horror films, beyond female-masculinity, abjection, objectification, domesticity, anger, outrage, ambiguity and invisibility.  Students will also be able to concentrate on a particular subject for research. For this particular spring 2020 semester Finley plans the class to visit current exhibits such at MOMA PS1 Theater of Operations, The Gulf Wars 1991- 2011 ( which she is in) for a closer looking at feminist response in times of war and look at the work of international artists. We will read selections from the recent anthology– Last Days of Hot Slit by Andrea Dworkin. And we will visit Audre Lorde, Jose Munoz and Annie Sprinkle and other writers who reflect on gender. Class visits with scholars, artists and activists will move the conversation to those active in the field. Creative projects are encouraged in the class to strengthen your own research and arts practice. A midterm presentation and final project with companion paper is required.

Memoir and Memory: Reading and Writing

Professors Kathy Engel and Ella Shohat

Wednesdays, 2 - 5pm

4 points– will count toward general education requirements (Humanities)

This seminar will focus on memoirs, whether in written or audiovisual form, which foreground a complex understanding of such issues as “home,” “homeland,” “exile,” and “hybridity.” We will examine different narrative forms of memory-making, analyzing how post/colonial authors and media-makers perform “home,” “homeland,” “diaspora,” and “exile.” We will also address questions of genre, and the socio-political ramifications of certain modes of writing and performances of memory that create new hybrid genres such as the poetic documentary and experimental autobiography.

While examining texts and audiovisual forms of memoir, we will create our own, with particular focus on language, narrative, multilateral expression of story through time, place, and context. We will look at multilingualism, and memoir as a form of resistance and survival, giving students the opportunity to write their own versions of such narratives. Through writing exercises, we will explore the relationships between ways of seeing, knowing, recording and transforming experience. As co-teachers of the class, a poet and a scholar, we will have the unique opportunity to study side by side the reading and the writing of cultural memory.

Course requirements will include readings, screenings, presentations, and writings.  

Play Story Analysis: Shakespeare, Politics, and Contemporary Drama

Professor Oskar Eustis

ASPP-GT 2119 Graduate section (MA Arts Politics Students Only)

Fridays, 9:30 - 11:55am

4 points

A class in which the intersection between the political world around us and our theatrical heritage collide. We’ll look at the politics that informed Shakespeare when he wrote plays like Julius Caesar and Richard II as well as how those plays reflect and augment our understanding of politics today. We’ll also examine how Shakespeare helps us as contemporary dramatists through an examination of such Shakespearean modern works as Angels in America and Junk.

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

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 represents 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 gathering effective expressive strategies. You will use the writing you’ve generated in your assignments as the groundwork for several final artist statements that approach and represent your work from different perspectives.  

After we explore a variety of public and private sources of funding, fellowships, and residency opportunities in the US, you will identify several opportunities that would be appropriate for your work. You will then prepare applications for two opportunities of your choosing (three for graduate students). You will exit the course with writing that you might revise and reuse for many different purposes in your professional creative life.


Professors Grace Aneiza Ali and Kathy Engel


Mondays, 3:30 - 6:15pm

2 - 3.5 points 

This is the second course in the Methods and Criticism track and an important space of synthesis. The course encourages students to work in self-selected clusters based on shared interests and modes of working. For example, students interested in curating might organize themselves around developing an exhibition. Artists can assemble a critique group for giving in-depth feedback on works in progress. Scholars interested in pursuing publishing or a Ph.D. could workshop chapters and organize panels. These peer-based practice clusters are not mutually exclusive; rather they hold open curricular space for students to further focus and tailor their work together. Students will also develop pathways for their practices after graduation, networking with potential partners, organizations, employers and support systems. Our graduates go on to work as artists and scholars, curators and community organizers, arts administrators, educators and cultural innovators. Our alumni are actively connected to the pulse of social justice, forming a global network of engaged thinkers and doers across six different continents. Methods and Criticism II gives current students the opportunity to tap into the alumni network’s experiences, while crafting their own creative, research and activist projects.