Spring 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.

Art in/as Politics

Professor Laura Harris

ASPP-UT 1010-001 (undergraduates only)

Monday 3:30pm - 6:15pm

4 points

This seminar aims to give students both a conceptual and practical grounding in the range of issues and approaches by which arts politics can be understood.  The course will be framed by the following considerations: What are the institutional, discursive, and ideological contexts that shape the objects, images, sounds or texts we call “art?” What are the links between cultural spaces-- the museum, the movie-theater, the gallery, the music/dance hall, the bookstore, the fashion runway, the public street, television, cyber space-- and the larger realm of politics? And how do these relationships impact, implicitly or explicitly, the ways we create, curate, or study the arts? How do consumers play an active role in the reception of cultural products?  What is the relation between formally promulgated cultural policy and the tacit knowledge that artists call upon to get their work into the world? What dimensions of the broader cultural terrain are made legible through artistic practice? What are the means through which art intervenes in the political arena? “Art” will be studied as a site of contested representations and visions, embedded in power formations-- themselves shaped by specific historical moments and geographical locations. Given contemporary global technologies, cultural practices will also be studied within the transnational transit of people and ideas. Such issues as the legal and constitutional dimensions of censorship, the social formation of taste, the consumption of stars, the bio-politics of the body, transnational copyrights law-- will all necessarily entail intersectional analyses incorporating the insights of critical race, postcolonial, feminist, queer, disability and ecological studies. We will read texts that offer theoretical formulations of key concepts and consider case studies that give us an opportunity to revise and/or extend these concepts.  Students will also be invited to explore the questions raised in this class in the context of their own artistic and political practices.

Comics, Disability and Illness

Professor Pato Hebert 

ASPP-UT 1003-001 (sophomores, juniors, seniors only) counts as Humanities General Education credit for Tisch students

Monday 12pm - 3pm

4 points

This course explores the use of comics and graphic novels to tell stories about disability and illness. Students will be introduced to both recent and historically significant comics about disability and illness.

Our goals are to gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between image and text in sequential art, to explore and utilize the core elements of graphic novels (such as image and text, panels and pages, language and rhythm, character, plot, point of view), and develop the ability to critically analyze graphic novels that deal with complex and sometimes challenging subject matter. What are the ethical and methodological issues that arise when constructing sequential narratives of disability and illness? What are the comparative strengths and differences between such narratives that are autobiographical, documentary or fictional? Is there something unique about the format of graphic novels that enables artists to tell a different kind of story than filmmakers, musicians or performers? How do comic books circulate culturally, and how might this expand or limit their ability to inform our understandings of disability and illness?

We will explore these questions through close readings, robust discussions and careful written analysis of well-known graphic novels by Ellen Forney, David Small and David. B, as well as comics by Kimiko Tobimatsu, Christian Ryan, Thersa Wong, Kristen Radtke, Mikaël Ross, Matt Freedman, Sarah Leavitt, Nate Powell, Takehiko Inoue, Laura Lee Gulledge and Peter Dunlap-Shohl.

Methods and Criticism II (MA Arts Politics students only)

Professor Kathy Engel


Tuesday 11am - 1:45pm

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.

Language as Action: reading & writing water

Professor Kathy Engel

ASPP-UT 1070 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors with instructor’s permission) counts as Humanities General Education credit for Tisch students

ASPP-GT 2070 Graduate section

Wednesdays, 11am - 1:45pm

4 points

In this class we will read & write in relation to water -- as essential, as movement, as nourishment, as power, as danger and endangered, as uncertain and constant, as beauty, as connector, as politicized, as mysterious, in relation to land, ownership, liberation, libation, and constructs of time; as body, as metaphor and more. Materials will include writings, film, visual art, movement: Artist Gideon Mendel’s work “Floodlines” and “Watermarks; poet Cheryl Boyce Taylor’s poem, “Water”, created for and performed with Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence Dance Company; “Flow: For Love of Water,” a film; The Lake Rises, a poetry anthology; After the Storm, a concert; “Even the Rain,” a film, “Blessing the Boats,” poem by Lucille Clifton; “Undrowned,” writing by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, “Membrane,” poem by Alexis De Veaux, and more.


Art and the Public Sphere

Professor Karen Finley

ASPP-UT 1054-001 (juniors, seniors only)

ASPP-GT 2054-001

Wednesday 3:30pm - 6:15pm

4 points

How can we direct our creative process and implementation to challenge, inspire and disrupt the status quo? Can art be an intervention? This is an opportunity to expand strategies in creating cultural production. We will develop our art practice and its public. How do we envision a project and follow up on the various versions that are possible? We will consider purpose, research, process and mission. How do we create an installation? How can we create a meaningful conceptual practice? How do we reimagine memorials? How do we reclaim and research space and place? What is our research process? How do we consider an archive? How can our art transform society? Can we consider healing in our art? For creatives working in a variety of media – from video to performance, from object making to sound works, from movement and photography to poetics, you will find an environment that will be experimental and engaging. We will work solo but also in collaboration, create collectives and awaken cooperation. What is the community we are engaged in? What is the purpose, humanity and message of our creativity?

The class has the opportunity to exhibit in the Kimmel Windows for a performance, installation, exhibit, or public event. We will decide on this opportunity with the class and the curator at Kimmel galleries. We will also visit the NYU special collection archive. Other themes are: altars, imaginary beings, homages, tableaux vivant, hybrid media, scores, projection, time-based art will be studied. The professor is a multidisciplinary artist and activist who looks forward to sharing and inspiring artmaking with you. And we will discover the energy of joy within our practice, being together with support and encouragement. Guest artists and field trips are part of the class. Selected historical, theoretical readings, artist writings and case studies accompany our studies. Please feel free to contact the professor with any questions karen.finley@nyu.edu.


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 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.

This course will count toward elective credit for undergraduate students.

Anatomy of Difference

Professor Sheril Antonio

ASPP-UT 1020 (Undergraduate –  Juniors and Seniors) 

ASPP-GT 2020 Graduate Section

Thursdays, 2pm - 5:30pm

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

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.


Postcolonial Displacement: Memoir and Memory

Professor Ella Shohat

ASPP-UT 1049-001 (seniors only)

ASPP-GT 2049-001 Graduate section

Wednesday 11am - 1:45pm

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.

The Dilemma of the Non-Profit Theater

Professor Oskar Eustis

ASPP-GT 2000

Fridays, 9:30 - 11:55am

4 points

What is the function of theater in American society, and how can it fulfill the democratic promise of the art form?

Theater is the most democratic art form. Born in Athens in the same decade that democracy was born, the theater fosters inclusion, empathy, multiple points of view, dialectical arguments that lead to surprising conclusions. It embodies and models all the virtues that are necessary for citizens of a democracy.

But how has theater actually functioned in America? What are the alternative models, the forgotten pathways, that could be re-examined to better unleash the power of the theater?

Through studying historical examples from Uncle Tom's Cabin to the pageant movement of the late 19-early twentieth century, from Shakespeare at Valley Forge to the Cesar Chavez's farmworkers creating El Teatro Campesino, we will examine alternative histories, new paradigms, to create the necessary critical distance on our own theater that is required to imagine different futures for the art form. 

We will also examine some of the inherent contradictions of our current model of theater, from non-profit institutions to Broadway. We'll be looking at some theory, but we'll also be examining exciting artistic texts that dream forward.

One Person Shows

Professor Anna Deavere Smith

Sundays, 12pm - 5pm (meets 1/30, 2/13, 2/27, 3/6, 3/13, 3/27, 4/3, 4/10)

Graduate Students Only (with instructor’s permission)

4 points

Performance techniques for making compelling one person shows will be taught.  The class is structured to become a community of artistic and intellectual support.  Ideas around extending hospitality and experimenting with audience relations will be explored. The term will conclude with a performance to which you may invite guests.

Admission to the class requires a one minute video explaining why you want to take the class, and a resume. Materials must be submitted to Professor Smith at ads2@nyu.edu no later than December 1, 2021. Students may enroll in another course while awaiting word on their registration status for “One Person Shows,” and can drop their alternate choice should they be given a permission code for this class. 

Festive Politics: Gatherings, Crowds, Movements, and Parties

Professor: Luis Rincón Alba

ASPP-GT 2000 - 003 (graduate students only)

Wednesdays 3:30 - 6:15pm

In many political movements, the festive emerges as a major force shaping alternative social practices, forms of gathering, being together, and moving together. These alternative modes of being in collectivity are actively redefining the political. This becomes particularly evident in the aesthetics of the Global South and its Diasporas. However, the current global crisis, in both the health and economic levels, has forced us to reconceive the social in terms of physical distance and digital creativity. Consequently, this course explores the role of the festive in the formation of political movements beyond the traditional scope that reduces it to a simple byproduct of social life. It also explores how the pandemic has forced us to reimagine what coming together means. Taking Latin American and Caribbean aesthetics as an initial case, this seminar engages in detailed interpretation of performances that challenge traditional definitions of both the festive and the political. A wide range of performance practices, such as carnival parties, sound systems, cabaret shows, popular dance styles, artworks, organized slave riots, and indigenous uprisings, shape the modes students will engage theory and practice.

Music Is the Weapon: Sonic Theoretical Assemblages

Professor: Luis Rincón Alba

ASPP-UT 1006 (juniors and seniors only)

ASPP-GT 2006 (graduate section)

Thursdays 3:30 - 6:15pm

This course explores the political potential of music produced by BIPOC communities. The course experiments with two approaches to music; it engages in close listening exercises that focus on providing students with the tools to critically approach the joy that music brings into the world while at the same time discovering forms of theorizing that reside in musical performance. Listening exercises will take place in tension with critical texts that engage in the aesthetic, political, historical, and artistic potential that resides in music as it is understood from various fields: critical race theory, musicology, philosophy, performance studies, art theory/practice, as well as Black and Indigenous studies.


Contact the Department:

Emily Brown
Administrative Director
Department of Art and Public Policy
Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
715 Broadway, Room 1201
New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212-992-8248
Email: eb103@nyu.edu