Spring 2017 PhD Course Offerings

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Title: PORT-GA 1104.001 – Portuguese for Spanish Speakers

Instructor: Carlos Veloso

Day/Time: Wednesday 6:00 – 8:00pm

Room: 223 (19 University Place)

Description: PORT-GA 1104 is an accelerated course for advanced Spanish speakers with a good command of Spanish grammar. It covers the fundamentals of the Portuguese language with a focus on Brazil. In this course, Spanish sentence patterns and vocabulary will be utilized as a basis for the study of similarities and differences between the two languages. Comparisons among sound systems (Spanish/English/Portuguese) will familiarize students with standard Portuguese pronunciation. Written responses to short readings (crônicas, poetry, essays and articles) or visuals will help to review and expand grammar points and to practice transferring common features of Spanish into Portuguese syntax. Brief presentations on topics related to the arts and society will promote essential speaking skills. By the end of the semester students will be prepared to read complex materials and will have acquired basic proficiency in speaking, writing and understanding standard Portuguese.

This is a zero credit course.  A limited number of spots are available for students from other departments/programs.  These spots will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.  Interested students should contact Edgardo Núñez at edgardo.nunez@nyu.edu for permission to enroll. 


Title: PORT-GA 2967.001 - Devouring and being:  anthropophagy and cannibalism through the “ontological turn”

Instructor: Dylon Robbins

Day/Time: Wednesday, 4:00 - 6:00pm

Room: 405 (19 University Place)


Description: This course sets out from contemporary critiques of being that have come from reassessments of Amerindian cosmologies, notably in the work of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro with concepts like “ontological predation,” as well as the satirical explorations of recent performance pieces like that of Grupo Indigestão.  It revisits snapshots from the rather long trajectory of ideas regarding people that eat people as related to the colonization of the Americas and through to the metaphorical re-appropriations of these practices in more recent periods.  Indeed, the relevance of anthropophagy and cannibalism stretches well beyond anthropology as is evidenced in the long and intricate history of these ideas in a range of fields and disciplines, which we, in turn, shall call upon in the interest of thinking through problems related to cultural theory, difference, the politicization of practices and corporality, post-colonial critiques of history, as well as the implications of consumption and waste.  Our discussions will grow from readings of texts by Columbus, Hans Staden, Jean de Léry, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Rubén Dario, Oswald de Andrade, Mário de Andrade, Aimé Césaire, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Rubem Fonseca, and Juan José Saer, and will involve, as well, interventions by Ania Loomba, Luis Madureira, Alfred Metraux, Joseph Roach, Suely Rolnik, Carlos Jáuregui, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Fernández Retamar, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Enrique Dussel, and Walter Mignolo.  Readings will be made available in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, and course papers may be carried out in any of the three languages according to student interest and ability.


Title: SPAN-GA 2968.001 - Histories of Race in the Iberian Atlantic

Instructor: Sibylle Fischer


Day/Time: Wednesday, 2:00 – 4:00pm


Room: 405 (19 University Place)


Description: What is “race”? We can now take for granted that from a scientific viewpoint the idea of human races does not make sense. But that does not help when we want to understand how race and racializations ended up shaping social and political realities across the Atlantic, and how they could remain virulent to this day.


In this seminar we will take a circuitously comparative approach to the question of race in the Iberian Atlantic. Proceeding by way of historical example, we will discuss how various forms of racialization operated in Spain, its colonies, and the states that emerged after the desintegration of the Spanish empire. Topics will include the expulsion of the Moors and Jews in late medieval Spain, the expansion of black slavery in the Spanish colonies, the emergence of “castas” and the figure of the “mestizo” in the colonies, the emergence of racial categories in the 1810 constitutional convention in Cádiz, and the racialized language that was endemic during the Cuban Wars of Independence. Naturally, in a seminar of such a vast scope we cannot hope to do more than open a few windows on a long and complex history. However, depending on student interest and expertise, we may add pertinent case studies to the syllabus.


Readings will be drawn in equal measure from cultural materials (fiction, film, visual materials), archival sources, and historical essays. We will also discuss in depth recent work in history, anthropology, and critical race theory. The class will be taught in English. Assessment: 7 response papers in the course of the semester and a research paper.



Title: SPAN-GA 2965.001 - Documentary as a weapon for recovering historical memory

Instructor: Montse Armengou

Day/Time: Thursday, 4:00 – 6:00pm


Room: 405 (19 University Place)


Description: When does a documentary exceed the limits of the audiovisual medium and become an instrument of reparation (one of the few that exist) for the silenced victims of a dictatorship? For over a decade, the documentaries produced for Catalan Public Television (TV3) by myself and a colleague have uncovered some of the most hidden aspects of the Franco regime: the stealing of babies, the existence of thousands of disappeared in mass graves, deportations to Nazi extermination camps, opponents of the regime buried together with the dictator in the mausoleum of the Valley of the Fallen, thousands of deaths and people left disabled because of the unwillingness to issue anti-polio vaccine, sexual abuse in boarding schools... The denunciation of such abuses has to combine journalistic rigor with commitment to the victims. 


The course will analyze the procedures and issues involved in making reparative documentaries. These will include: selection of the topic; the difficulties posed by conducting research in closed archives or archives where the evidence has been destroyed; the "casting" of interviewees; the continued reluctance and fear of victims for whom "democracy has not done its democratic work," as one victim of reprisals put it; and the ethical issues posed by oral history work with victims. How does one create the trust that enables victims of traumatic events to speak for the first time about what they have suffered? How does one edit the huge amount of footage recorded down to fit a 70 minute television slot? How does one handle rhythm and pace? How do particular television channels condition what can be produced? Can one make the same film for prime time as for non-peak viewing? How does one deal with historians' scepticism about the validity of oral history as a methodology? We will also consider the organization of audiovisual testimony banks, drawing comparisons between what has been done in the US, Argentina, Israel, Spain, and other countries.


Classes will be given in Spanish, though much of the audiovisual material studied is available with English subtitles. Students will need a passive knowledge of written and spoken Spanish, but they may participate in class and write their coursework in English.

Title: SPAN-GA 2966.001 - Introduction to Andalusi Studies


Instructor:  Sarah Pearce


Day/Time: Thursday, 6:00-8:00pm


Room: 405 (19 University Place)


Description: This course will provide an overview of key Islamic and Islamicate literary texts written in Spain between 711 and 1615 as well as the historiographic framework that has shaped our understanding of these texts and their role in the cultural history of al-Andalus. Particular attention will be paid to historical chronicles, literary rhymed prose, and poetry, but will also include a brief overview of philosophical and religious texts as they bear upon those other modes of writing. The course will be particularly attuned to the conception of fiction within Islamicate literary writing in al-Andalus.  Reading knowledge of both Arabic and Spanish required; knowledge of Hebrew and/or Latin desirable.



Title: SPAN-GA 2967.001 - Dos Alas:  Puerto Rico and Cuba in the Present Conjuncture  


(This course originates in CLACS)


Instructor: Jill Lane / Ana Dopico:


Day/Time: Thursday 2:00 – 4:00pm


Room: 404 (King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, 53 Washington Square South)


Description: TBA



Title: SPAN-GA 2975.001 – Discourses of Medievalism in Spanish Literature


Day/Time: Monday, 6:00 – 8:00pm


Room: 405 (19 University Place)


Description: In recent years, the idea of “the three cultures” of medieval Spain — Christianity, Islam and Judaism — has become a popular ideal and model for modernity among a wide variety of thinkers and writers; and both utopian and dystopian visions of Sefarad and Andalus (the Hebrew and Arabic terms that refer to the Iberian Peninsula) permeate discourses on politics, religion and even education. One of the important ways in which this trope has become useful and popular is through modern medievalism, that is, the interest in and appropriation of elements of medieval literature and culture in contemporary art, literature, and general discourse. This course will offer a two-pronged approach to the presence of medieval Spain in modern and contemporary writing in Spain, Latin America, and the Middle East: First, it will offer an introduction to the medieval texts and sources that are the raw material for reuse in later periods. Second, it will aim to interrogate the discourses of medievalism in light of a range of critical theoretical approaches.



Title: SPAN-GA 2978.001 - High and Low: The Cultures of Latin American Modernismo


Instructor: Laura Torres-Rodríguez


Day/Time: Tuesday 6:00 - 8:00pm


Room: 405 (19 University Place)


Description: This class is an introduction to the debates around turn-of-the-nineteenth-century aesthetic production in Latin America. Recent academic contributions have interrogated the traditional understandings of modernista period, opening the field to more interdisciplinary methodologies. We will map this academic corpus and revisit key texts in the construction of a Latin American aesthetic culture and its contemporary influences. Modernismo is generally recognized as the epitome of high literary expression in Latin America because of its discourses on artistic autonomy. However, we will explore its relations to popular and material culture, consumption economies, and sexual politics. In addition to the study of canonical works for Latin America continental definition, we will examine the margins of the movement, known as bad modernism in order to propose other aesthetic categories for understanding modernista forms. This includes, among other approaches, affect and performance theory, political economy, and gender and postcolonial studies. This course will be conducted in Spanish.

Title: SPAN-GA 3435.001 – Dissertation Proposal Workshop


Instructor: Jordana Mendelson


Day/Time: Monday, 10:00 – 12:00pm


Room: 405 (19 University Place)


Description: Workshop to direct students toward the basic approaches and structure of the future

dissertation, with the goal of writing a finished proposal.