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Fall 2020

GEMS 72100 – Introduction to Global Early Modern Studies, GC: W, 4:15pm-6:15pm, Room TBA, 3 credits, Professor Anna Akasoy, Cross-listed with MALS 74600 and MALS 70500

This course focuses on two historical periods and phenomena which are considered key to the formation of the modern West: the Renaissance and the Reformation. The Renaissance has been considered the period in which Europe or the West more generally came into its own. Having recovered the classical Greek heritage from its Arab custodians after the ‘dark ages’, Europe, led by Italian humanists, prepared itself for Enlightenment, secularization and modernization. Complementing this, the Reformation is associated with the profound transformation of religious culture and the confining of religion to the private sphere, eventually allowing for the rise of the secular state. 

In this course, both Renaissance and Reformation will be analyzed critically as concepts considered unique to Western history and essential to modernity. To contrast these narratives, we will explore parallels primarily in Islamic history, especially against the backdrop of arguments that a ‘Renaissance’ or a ‘Reformation’ are ‘lacking’ in Islamic culture. Furthermore, we will consider both phenomena in larger geographical and diverse cultural settings and explore to what extent they developed in emerging global contexts. In particular we will be considering to what extent developments in western European intellectual and cultural history unfolded against the backdrop of a competition and exchanges with the Ottoman Empire and Morocco under the Saadi dynasty. 

Literature discussed in this class includes: 

Jack Goody, Renaissances. The One or the Many? 

Charles Homer Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century 

Joel Kraemer, Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam 

Margaret Meserve, Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought 

The Renaissance and the Ottoman World, edited by Anna Contadini and Claire Norton 

Natalie Zemon Davis, Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds 

María Antonia Garcés, Cervantes in Algiers. A Captive’s Tale 

Giancarlo Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration 

Natalie Rothman, Brokering Empire. Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul 

Deborah Howard, Venice and the East. The Impact of the Islamic World on Venetian Architecture 1100-1500 

Early Modern England and Islamic Worlds, edited by Linda McJannet and Bernadette Andrea 

Jerry Brotton, This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World 

Noel Malcolm, Useful Enemies: Islam and The Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought, 1450-1750 

Nabil Matar, Europe through Arab Eyes, 1578-1727 

Stephen Cory, Reviving the Islamic Caliphate in Early Modern Morocco 




CL 80900: The Past Viewed through the Binocular of the Present: 20th and 21st Century Narrative Perspectives of Early Modern Italy, GC; Wednesdays, 4:15pm-6:15pm, Room TBA, 2/4 credits, Monica Calabritto. 


CLAS 81900 Matter and Gender in Classical Antiquity 
Prof. Emanuela Bianchi, Wed. 4:55 PM-7:35 PM 
COLIT-GA 2502/CLASS-GA 2502 
19 University Place, 318 



CLAS 82500 Greek & Roman Pastoral Poetry. NYU, Silver Center, Room 503. Tuesdays, 6:30pm-8:30pm. 3 credits, John Van Sickle. 


FREN 83000/CL 80100: The Nation and Its Others: France and Frenchness in The Age of Louis XIV, GC: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m., (CL version of this course, 2/4 credits, FREN version of this course, 3 credits), Domna C. Stanton, T. 


ENGL 81500: Foreigners and Immigrants on Early Modern Stages, GC:  Thursdays, 2:00PM – 4:00PM. 2/4 Credits, Tanya Pollard. 


HIST 71100: Printing Belief, GC:  Thursdays, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM          
3 credits, Allison Kavey. 


THEA 86000; Festive and Ritual Performance, GC: Tuesdays, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits. Erika Lin. 



Spring 2020

GEMS 82100: Reading Folklore in the Early Modern World, GC: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15, Prof. Sarah A. Covington 
Folklore has traditionally been viewed as quaint and supplementary material illustrating “hidden” voices of “the people.” This seminar will question if not overturn virtually all of the previous statement, including the use of “folklore” as a term. Folklore, or more properly, vernacular expressions and practices, emerged wherever there existed a social group, of whatever status, which expressed its shared identity by calling on past traditions. It could also enter the most elite literature, move back and forth between oral culture and text, or be entirely invented as “fakelore.” This seminar will explore these enormously fertile vernacular worlds, including the often-overlooked discipline of folkloristics, which offers historians and literary scholars new insights and methodologies into reading pre-modern texts or interpreting often opaque stories from the deeper past. Extending across Europe and the Atlantic World (including colonial North America and the Americas more generally), from the late medieval period through the eighteenth century, we will study stories and the verbal arts (including jokes and ballads), material culture and landscape, rituals and performance; we will also learn to recognize the motifs and narrative structures of tales, their contribution to the formation of group identities, and their connection to larger political, economic, social and religious contexts across time.

In addition to extensive readings on this material and classic and current works of folkloristics, students will be expected to write a substantial research paper that ideally feeds into their own dissertation or thesis/capstone topics, providing possible new sources and perspectives on their work and fields of study. 

The following courses will fulfill the elective course requirements for the Certificate.

ENGL 82100. Feisal Mohamed. Death to Tyrants!. Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits.
“There can be slain no sacrifice to God,” Seneca’s Hercules declares, “more acceptable than an unjust and wicked king.” The statement epitomizes much classical thought on the subject. Aristotle in the Politics praises the killing of a tyrants, and emphasizes the right of citizens to seek a public life leading to the good. Cicero is more emphatic still. Tyrants show the exact opposite of the spirit of fraternity that should govern human interactions, and so, as he puts it in De officiis, “that pestilent and abominable race should be exterminated from human society.” The Reformation’s white-hot religious controversies, and humanist re-engagement of classical thought, lead the question of tyrannicide to bubble to the surface of early modern thought. Philipp Melanchthon quoted Seneca in expressing a hope that “some strong man” would kill King Henry VIII to avenge the death of Thomas Cromwell. John Milton quotes the passage in his vigorous defense of the execution of King Charles I, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. Melanchthon and Milton thus help to forge a Protestant tradition of thought on tyrannicide that includes François Hotman, John Knox, and George Buchanan, a tradition finding 20th-century expression in the thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pacifist Lutheran minister who conspired against Hitler. We must also recognize, however, that immediately after killing the tyrant Lycus, Seneca’s Hercules is visited by a madness that leads him to kill his wife and children. Noble and necessary as it might be, tyrannicide is also symptom and expression of a deep wrench in right order. So it is in especially in early modern tragedy, that genre obsessed with ills spanning human and cosmic realms, that we see tyrannicide explored in all of its complexity.
At bottom, early modern engagements of tyrannicide are also engagements of the foundations of political society, and meditations on the proper relationship between subject and sovereign. Here we find leitmotifs of early modern political thought that continue to be revolutionary in late modernity: sovereignty is delegated from the people, not transferred to the sovereign, and so can be revoked when the people so choose; citizenship must include the right of resistance, otherwise political life is a form of slavery. We will explore the engagement of these ideas across English and Continental, Protestant and Catholic thinkers, in literary and non-literary texts.
Students will be expected to deliver a conference-style presentation that will form the basis of a ten-page paper, and to develop that paper into a final research essay of 16 pages.
Preliminary list of readings: Seneca, Hercules furens; George Buchanan, Jephtha; John Ponet, A Short Treatise of Politike Power; François Hotman, Francogallia (selections); Brutus, Vindiciae, contra tyrannos; Christopher Marlowe, The Massacre at Paris; Juan de Mariana, De rege; William Shakespeare, The Rape of LucreceHamlet, and Macbeth; John Milton, The Tenure of Kings and MagistratesParadise Lost, and Samson Agonistes.
ENGL 82100. Mario DiGangi. Early Modern Embodiment: Race, Gender, and Sexuality. Wednesdays 11:45AM-1:45PM. 2/4 credits
In this seminar we will explore race, gender, and sexuality as overlapping and intersecting modes of embodiment in the literature and culture of premodern England. While our focus will be sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, we will consider continuities and differences between medieval and early modern European discourses of race/gender/sexuality. Drama will be at the center of our investigations, but we will also examine a variety of texts from multiple genres, including love poetry, visual art, prose romance, court masque, and travel narrative, in an effort to understand the tropes and formal conventions through which racial, gender, and sexual differences were made to signify. Readings will cluster around five major topics: 1) Race/Gender/Sex and the Color of Beauty; 2) Race/Gender/Sex and Courtly Culture; 3) Race/Gender/Sex and Travel; 4) Race/Gender/Sex and Religion; 5) Race/Gender/Sex and the Global Circulation of English Honor. Readings will include Shakespeare, Titus AndronicusThe Merchant of VeniceOthello, and Sonnets; Jonson, The Masque of Blackness; Lanyer, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum; Massinger, The Renegado; Fletcher, The Island Princess; Dekker, Lust’s Dominion; Heywood, The Fair Maid of the West; and Day, Rowley, and Wilkins, The Travels of the Three English Brothers. Through the work of scholars such as Abdulhamit Arvas, Dennis Britton, Kim Hall, Geraldine Heng, Carol Mejia LaPerle, Arthur Little, Ania Loomba, Joyce Green Macdonald, Jeffrey Masten, Jennifer Morgan, Carmen Nocentelli, Melissa Sanchez, Ian Smith, and Valerie Traub, we will also consider how different theoretical and historical approaches have produced varying accounts of race/gender/sex as objects of inquiry in the premodern and contemporary eras.​

Fall 2019

GEMS 72100 - Introduction to Renaissance Studies: The Problem of Race in Early Modern Studies, GC: T, 4:15pm-6:15pm. Room TBA, 3 credits, Professor Miles Grier, Crosslisted with MALS 78500.

In a 2016 issue of the Journal of the Early Republic , historian of slavery Jennifer Morgan asserted that a chronological period demarcated by the founding of the United States could never account for the history of enslaved women "whose presence in the nation-state is predicated on producing them as absent." To study the social and cultural work of race--in its necessary involvement with the production and regulation of sexuality, labor, property, and performance--would seem necessarily to put conventional means of historical periodization under pressure. How have those who study the early modern period addressed this problem? This course is designed to give us a firmer grasp on early modernity by asking for what past subjects a term such as early modern might be a meaningful epoch. Readings will come from multiple disciplines and theoretical approaches, helping us consider that fundamental question from the vantage point of Arabs, black Africans, Native Americans, as well as the French, Spanish, and English. 

Likely readings will include: 

Bennett, Herman L. African Kings and Black Slaves: Sovereignty and Dispossession in the Early Modern Atlantic. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. 

Derrida, Jacques. “But, beyond... (Open Letter to Anne McClintock and Rob Nixon).” Translated by Peggy Kamuf. Critical Inquiry13, no. 1 (Autumn 1986): 155–70. 

Fields, Karen E., and Barbara J. Fields. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life. New York: Verso, 2012. 

Hall, Kim F. Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996. 

Heng, Geraldine. The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, 2018. 

Holt, Thomas C. The Problem of Race in the Twenty-First Century. New Ed. Harvard University Press, 2002. 

Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean 1492-1797. Routledge, 1992. 

Jones, Nicholas R. Staging Habla de Negros: Radical Performances of the African Diaspora in Early Modern Spain. 1 edition. University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 2019. 

Korda, Natasha. Shakespeare’s Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. 

Loomba, Ania. “Early Modern or Early Colonial?” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies14, no. 1 (2014): 143–148. 

Matar, Nabil I. Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.  

Pietz, William. “The Problem of the Fetish, II: The Origin of the Fetish.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 13 (April 1, 1987): 23–45. 

Porter, Carolyn. “History and Literature: ‘After the New Historicism.’” New Literary History21, no. 2 (January 1, 1990): 253–72.

Rappaport, Joanne, and Tom Cummins. Beyond the Lettered City: Indigenous Literacies in the Andes. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011.  

Shoemaker, Nancy. A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 

Smith, Cassander L. Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016. 

Smith, Ian. Race and Rhetoric in the Renaissance: Barbarian Errors. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 

Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics17, no. 2 (July 1, 1987): 65–81. 


Students will be expected to produce a weekly response, to lead one class discussion, and to produce a seminar paper or its equivalent. 


The following courses will count towards certificate program requirements

ART 72000 - Topics in Ancient Art and Architecture: Art, Materials, and Mobility in the Ancient Mediterranean, GC: R, 11:45am-1:45pm, 3 credits, Prof. Rachel Kousser
CLAS 70100 - Greek Rhetoric and Stylistics, GC: W, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 3 credits, Prof. David Petrain
CLAS 71200 - Aeschylus: Poetry, Democracy and War, R, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 3 credits, Prof. Peter Meineck, NYU, Silver Center, Room 503A
CLAS 71400 - Homer’s Odyssey, GC: W, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 3 credits, Prof. David Schur.
CLAS 72100 - Lucan's Bellum Civile, T, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 3 credits, Matthew McGowan, NYU, Silver Center, Room 503A

CLAS 73200 - Sovereignty in Roman Law, T, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 3 credits, Prof. Michael Peachin and Prof. Andrew Monson,  NYU, Silver Center, Room 503A

CLAS 81100 - Aristotle’s Rhetoric, R: 4:15pm-6:15pm, 3 credits, Prof. Laura Viidebaum, NYU, Silver Center, Room 503A

CLAS 71800 - Thucydides, Politics, Philosophy, GC: M, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 3 credits, Prof. Jennifer Roberts

CL 80100 - Cervantes's Don Quixote, GC: R, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 2/4 credits, Prof. Lía Schwartz. 

CL 88400-Machiavelli and the Problem of Evil, GC: T, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 2,4 credits, Prof. Paul Oppenheimer.

CL 89100 - History of Literary Theory & Criticism I, GC: W, 4:15-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Paola Ureni.
ENGL 80700 - Books of Marvels and Travels: The Middle Ages and Beyond. T, 4:15pm - 6:15pm, 2/4 Credits.  Prof. Steven F. Kruger.
ENGL 81100 - Actors, Bodies, and Performance in Early Modern England. R, 2:00PM - 4:00PM. 2/4 Credits. Prof. Tanya Pollard.

FREN 70500 - Writing the Self: From Augustine to Selfies. T, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 2/4 credits. Prof. Domna Stanton. 

HIST 75000 - The Age of Empires, 1492-1750. R, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 3 credits.  Prof. David Waldstreicher.
THEA 80300 - Seminar in Theatre Theory & Criticism: Theorizing the Oceanic from Antony and Cleopatra to John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea.  W, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 3 credits, Prof. Maurya Wickstrom.