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    Samuel Yelton

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    6 East 16th Street, room 711A
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    Tel: 212.229.2747 x3026
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    Paul Kottman

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    Aaron Neber

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    Quinn Mason

    Liberal Studies Student Handbook

  • Admission

  • Courses in the Department of Liberal Studies survey modern society through groundbreaking thinkers and significant developments in the arts, social history, cultural theory, politics, and philosophy. Students will enhance their own ideas through nonfiction writing and criticism, improving the clarity of their thinking and analytical construction.

  • Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Spring 2023 courses include:

    20th-Century World History, GLIB 5004
    Eli Zaretsky, Professor of History 

    In this course, we explore the broad outlines of the history of the 20th century, which Eric Hobsbawm termed “the age of extremes.” Our main theme will be the interplay of war and revolution. World War I (1914–1919) released unprecedented mass political forms including fascism, communism, ultranationalism, and movements for national independence. World War II (1939–1945) and the Cold War (1945–1989) produced an era of tenuous American hegemony that barely contained the revolutionary forces released by World War I. Throughout the entire era, the center of gravity of the world economy and politics shifted gradually toward Asia and especially China, to which we devote special attention. Works to be studied include those of Mark Mazower, Adam Tooze, Giovanni Arrighi, John Dower, Timothy Snyder, and Masao Maruyama. 

    Posthuman Eros,GLIB 5023
    Dominic Pettman, University Professor of Media and New Humanities

    We tend to think of erotic desire as one of the most important elements that make us human. However, writers, artists, scientists, and thinkers have all challenged—or at least complicated—this assumption. This course explores the possibility that love (or "eros," to use one of Freud's key terms) is an essentially technological phenomenon. We therefore consider different theories of love that emphasize automaticity, algorithm, code, contract, instrumentality, connectivity, and so on. After glossing the traditional models of love, skewed by the masculinist imaginary, we explore new iterations of intimacy in the digital age, which reject or refine the established protocols of love. To what extent, we ask, does eros also belong to the world of machines and/or animals? Students should complete this course with a very different view of not only love but also technology. Readings will likely include Plato, Ovid, Anne Carson, Charles Fourier, Sigmund Freud, Georges Bataille, Wilhelm Reich, Shulamith Firestone, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Alphonso Lingis, Anna-Marie Jagose, Lauren Berlant, and others. 

    Studies in Radical Aesthetics: The Ideas and Practice of Political Theater, GLIB 5133
    Inessa Medzhibovskaya, Professor of Liberal Studies and Literary Studies

    This course focuses on the history and programs of the Dramatic Workshop at the New School (1939), overseen for a decade by Erwin Piscator (1893–1966), one of the most influential radical artists of the 20th century. In addition to studying Piscator’s many influential political interventions in the arts, especially in relationship to the parallel (and far better known) career of Bertolt Brecht, the course also serves as an introduction to the era’s Marxist aesthetic debates and criticism in the first half of the 20th century—an especially fertile period in Western Marxist thought. This course also focuses on the aesthetic ideas and practice of political theater in the 20th century more broadly, tracing the development of modern political theater from its origins in the didactic humanism of the Enlightenment to the formation of proletarian and popular theaters in Germany, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and America. Special attention is given to Marxist, avant-garde, and liberal-democratic theories of the stage in their responses to and artistic resolutions f, historical catastrophes and political and ideological differences during the two World Wars, the Cold War, and the era of McCarthyism. For example, Piscator staged Lessing’s drama Nathan the Wise on Broadway. Despite their emphasis on proletarian art, Piscator and Brecht were versatile masters, and it is important to appreciate their range by reading the original plays. In addition to surveying the work of Piscator and Brecht and reading their creative work and criticism, we also read plays by Lessing, Schiller, Büchner, Hauptmann, Shaw, Gorky, Witkacy, Weiss, and others.

    Faith in Modern Literature: Supreme Fictions and Gods That Failed, GHIS 5829
    Melissa Monroe, Part-Time Assistant Professor

    Reports of the death of God may or may not be exaggerated, but issues of faith and doubt, both religious and secular, have figured prominently in modern literature, from Samuel Beckett’s godforsaken seekers to Graham Greene’s tormented whiskey priests; from Flannery O’Connor’s “Christ-haunted South” to Cynthia Ozick's secular New York Jews, struggling to define their relationship to the tradition they've inherited. In this course, we look at works of modern fiction, poetry ,and drama that address either Judeo-Christian belief or the secular creeds that have been proposed as replacements for conventional religion. We read brief selections from philosophers and theologians (Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Buber, Jaspers, Maritain), but our principal focus is on literary authors such as (in addition to those mentioned above) T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Albert Camus, Arthur Koestler, James Baldwin, Paul Celan, and Anne Carson. We consider not only the religious (or anti-religious) views expressed in the work but also how the literary form of each text contributes to its meaning. Our discussion of style extends to student work; four essays are assigned over the course of the semester, and we look at effective examples of student writing. 

    Gender and Its Discontents, GLIB 5406 
    McKenzie Wark, Professor, Culture and Media; Program Director, Gender Studies

    This is the required core course for the university-wide graduate certificate in Gender and Sexualities Studies; it is open to all graduate students who are interested in sexuality and gender studies. Our starting point is the acknowledgment that sex- and gender-based modes of social organization are pervasive and, further, that their prominence and persistence are reflected in sex- and gender-conscious research across the humanities, the arts, the social sciences, design, and studies dedicated to social policies and innovative strategies for social intervention. We expand on this starting point by conducting an in-depth survey of influential theoretical approaches to sex, gender, and sexuality such as Marxist feminism, transgender studies, queer theory, and postcolonial/decolonial feminism and by paying attention to the significance of different approaches. Topics to be explored include but are not limited to equality and rights, exploitation and division of labor, the construction of gender, performativity, gender images, and narrative and identity. 

    The Body: Aesthetics, Culture and Politics in the 20th CenturyGLIB 5841
    Terri Gordon, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

    “You do not realize how the headlines that make daily history affect the muscles of the human body,” the dancer Martha Graham once noted. This course examines the relationship between politics, social tensions, and cultural values and muscles, movement and skin, a relationship that has made the body one of the most visible signs of 20th-century culture. We study deployments of the body in Europe and the United States, covering the historical and contemporary avant-garde; body culture and life reform movements; war and propaganda; and cabaret, dance, and performance art. How can we “read” the body? How do representations of the body reflect and support prevalent notions of race, gender, and nation? In what ways do images of the body critique and subvert cultural norms? We study literature, history, art and cultural documents, including articles in the press and political manifestoes; fictional works by Hawthorne, Kafka, and Audre Lorde; artworks by Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, and Orlan; and theoretical texts by Butler, Freud, Foucault, Sontag, and others. We also spend class time viewing painting, photography, and performance art. 

    Master’s Seminar in Critical and Creative WritingGLIB 6301 
    Melissa Monroe, Part-time Assistant Professor

    An intensive workshop for students working on major writing projects such as an MA thesis, a piece of long-form journalism, or an integrated writing portfolio for professional use. The course is organized as an ongoing process of peer review supervised by the faculty. The aim is to create a collective setting that can help students improve their own writing and hone their critical skills though constructive engagement with others’ work. 

    Critique of Aesthetic ReasonGLIB 6755
    Gregg Horowitz

    This course is a critical history of modern aesthetics. We begin by exploring how aesthetics emerged as a philosophical discourse in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to respond to a unique pressure on cognition and recognition that was conceptualized as "aesthetic experience." Our key texts here are Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, and Hegel’s Lectures on Fine Art. We then examine criticisms of the idea that it is in the power of philosophy to circumscribe such experience. The key texts here are Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and essays by Emerson and Freud. Finally, to investigate what remains of the task of aesthetic theory in the wake of the criticisms of Nietzsche, Emerson, and Freud, we read texts by Adorno, Cavell, Kristeva, and Danto. 

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