Spring 2024 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.

Play Story Analysis: Theater of the Moment

Professor Oskar Eustis

ASPP-GT 2116

Monday 3:30pm - 6:15pm, 721 Broadway, Room 759

4 points

This course uses some historical examples of how theater has responded to the great events of the world around them, and then examine a range of contemporary theater practices that have arisen to respond to specific issues or challenges. We will read plays, analysis, history, theory, and journalism.

Content and Meaning: Grief, Loss, Love, Hope, and Creative Transformation

Professor Karen Finley

ASPP-GT 2045

Monday 3:30pm - 6:15pm, 181 Mercer room 565

4 points


The class is to consider the depth of grief and loss within artistic responses and to inspire love and hope with our creative transformation. How does the artist process or respond to the emotions and events of loss? What are cultural heritage examples? What are ways we were taught in our families? What traditions do we wish to reimagine? Who needs to be commemorated? Is creative transformation possible? Is there a space for hope, love and joy within the complexity of these emotions?

The course will have creative exercises and conceptual prompts that can be developed in the medium of your choice.  We will consider creative texts such as visual, film, music, media, performance, installation, and poetic examples to broaden and inspire our understanding of ways to respond. There are other forms of expression to contemplate such as fashion, outsider art, architecture, archives, memorials, gardening, and cultural movements. We will have discussion, guests, field trips, and presentations. Is there a way to create an archive? How do we document or forget? Together we will be a collective of considering, contemplating and creating.

Some of the strategies we will be considering are: metaphor, expression within nature, fairy tales, abstraction, fragments, love, celebration and the space of silence for restoration. Some of the artists /writers will be Maya Angelou, Dunbar, David Wognarowicz, Krishnamurti, Pamela Sneed, Barthes, Rilke and bell hooks. We will look at films such as the 1926 silent film, Page of Madness by Kunsuga, Let me Come in by Bill Morrison, or News From Home by Chantal Ackerman. I look forward to being your guide for the seminar, Grief, Loss , Love, Hope and Creative Transformation. Feel free to contact me with any questions  karen.finley@nyu.edu


Art and Race: Black Genders & Sexualities

Professor Shanté Smalls

ASPP-GT 2015

Monday 7pm - 9:45pm, 181 Mercer room 565

4 points

This course thinks through the relationship of art and Blackness to feminism, womanism, sex, gender, sexuality. How is Blackness rendered through gender, sex, and sexuality, and how are gender, sex, and sexuality informed by Blackness? How does art in its most expansive terms engage, depict, and reformulate Blackness? How are Black artists reconfiguring and exploring gender, sex, and sexuality and their fraught tensions? The course methods will include engagement with visual art, music, performance, film, tv, everyday life, and critical theory.

Some of our course interlocutors will include: art from the 2024 Whitney Museum Biennial, other gallery and museum exhibitions; texts such as The Invention of Women (1997), Race and Performance After Repetition (2020), Frottage (2019), Black Sound (2024); videos and music from Janelle Monáe, Rihanna, Durand Bernarr, Chika, Kelela, and Tems; and films such as The Stroll (2023), Little Richard: I am Everything (2023), and Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013).


Students will be encouraged to create, write, perform, collaborate, make, and think alongside, against, and around these issues, methods, and objects.

For PhD Students: a final seminar-length paper is expected. For MA students: the final is a small group or individual presentation/performance/project and an annotated bibliography.


All School Seminar: Festive Politics: Carnival, Mutual Aid, and Communal Practices

Professor Luis Rincón Alba

ASPP-UT 1000 / ASPP-GT 2000-004

Tuesday 11am - 1:45 pm, 181 Mercer room 565

4 points

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 sense of collectivity becomes particularly evident in the aesthetics of the Global South and its Diasporas. Consequently, this course explores the festive’s role in forming 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 a 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 in theory and practice.

For this course iteration, we will focus on questions around Black and Indigenous relations to carnival performance, structures of mutual aid as festive practice, and how they enact utopian modes of communal life, and how these modes of communal life redefine current understandings of art and politics. The class involves field trips, visits to several performance events, and conversations with artists and organizers who use the festive as a political tool to engage in political action in NYC. 


Questions regarding race, gender, and class will be directed to the philosophical, anthropological, and historical texts paying close attention to their involvement in the formation of colonial oppression. Performance studies’ methodologies will serve as the guiding mode to articulate these questions.


Language as Action: The Writings and Teachings of Sonia Sanchez

Professor Kathy Engel

ASPP-UT 1070 (Undergraduate section - juniors, seniors with instructor’s permission)

ASPP-GT 2070 (Graduate section)

Tuesday 3:30 pm - 6:15 pm, 181 Mercer room 565

4 points

Sometimes called the grandmother of Hip Hop, Sonia Sanchez is one of the most significant and prolific poet/scholar/activists of our time. In her poetry, plays, essays, teachings and activism she has been unswerving in her commitment to engaging in struggles for a more just world. The number of writers she's taught, who are now renowned in their fields, is countless. She continues to serve as mentor and inspiration for countless students. We will explore Sonia Sanchez's poetry, plays, performances, and essays, reading closely, and writing in conversation with her work. We will research her life as an activist and educator, from the Black Arts Movement to work for peace and disarmament, environmental justice, women's rights, prisoner's rights and more. She played a key role in the creation of Ethnic and Black Studies in the academy and has continuously worked directly with peace and justice campaigns and organizations. Her poetic performance is matched by her deep attention to craft and form. Sanchez is known and admired worldwide for her extraordinary contributions to literature and a more civil society, having won numerous awards in recent years. We will delve into her book, Morning Haiku, and her Peace Haiku project and invitation. The semester will include at least one zoom or in person conversation with "Sister Sonia" as she is lovingly known. Closing the semester, in late April (National Poetry Month), students will, joined by others, create an outdoor installation of Peace Haiku, with Sanchez's poems and their own, inviting others to join.


Fieldwork Methods and Criticism II

Professor Shanté Smalls


Wednesday 11am - 1:45pm,  181 Mercer room 565

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. 

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, 181 Mercer room 565

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, 721 Broadway 944

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

Prerequisite for undergraduates: 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.


Imagination and Change: Arts, Culture, and Public Policy

Professor Caron Atlas and Professor Gonzalo Casals

ASPP-GT 2048

Friday, 10am - 12:45pm, 181 Mercer room 565

4 points


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.


Performing Personal Narratives

Professor Anna Deavere Smith

ASPP-GT 2013-001

Sundays, 12pm - 5pm, location TBA

Graduate Students Only (with instructor’s permission)

4 points

(If you are interested in taking Anna Deavere Smith's class, please submit a 1 minute video on why you want to take the course and your bio to her assistant, Daniel Rattner at daniel@annadeaveresmith.org 

This is a studio course. Students will perform throughout the term, and the class will end with a performance for invited guests. The class focuses through practice on how to make your personal narrative powerful. Additionally, Smith posits ‘performance as a way of knowing.’ Performing the narrative will illuminate the narrative and, possibly, the self and other related stories. This work will have practical applications, whether you plan to enter the arts, business, medicine, advertising, law, or activism. Experience in performance is useful but not required. All are welcome. Students will learn to identify elements that make stories compelling. Through practice, students will develop listening skills and observation skills and will gain enhanced understanding of how the body can be a more effective tool for communicating to large groups and/or engaging intimately with others. Guest artists – dance and music professionals – will conduct sessions alongside Professor Smith. Everyone in the class is responsible for creating a community where risk-taking can thrive. This is an intensive which meets on Sundays from January 28 – April 21 excluding Sundays that are a part of University-declared holidays. Attendance at each session is required. For more information, contact Anna Deavere Smith – ads2@nyu.edu