Show The Graduate Center Menu

Possible Electives


This list is just a partial sample of courses; to view full course offerings, please visit the websites for the doctoral, master’s, and certificate programs at the Graduate Center. Please also visit the MALS website to view the Fall 2020 course schedule.
Please note that courses included in this list are subject to change; please contact the program or faculty members involved for additional details.

PSYC 80103 - The Politics and Psychology of Belonging and Exclusion in Contemporary Global Systems
Thursdays, 4:15 – 6:15 PM, 3 Credits, Prof. Colette Daiute (;
In spite of human rights laws and rhetoric, millions of people fleeing violence and injustice worldwide have been met with fences, detentions, travel bans, assimilation policies, and other control strategies. How do people affected by these forces cope, interpret, and act to make lives for themselves and their families? What kinds of interventions have emerged to mediate politics and humanity in the midst of such challenges? What can we learn from research on these issues for increased integration and justice? To address such questions, this course reviews and expands research on how individuals and collectives interact with, use, resist, and transform migration management strategies. In addition to a brief review of the causes and consequences of contemporary migrations, we focus on designing research to examine strategies and counter-strategies of governments, non-governmental organizations, education interventions, and racial/ethnic/gender/citizenship groups making sense of and trying to improve human life in this global era. For example, we review and extend research on international and national human rights projects, policies like DACA, education inclusion programs, and participatory legal and social welfare clinics. Course readings consider scholarship with such interventions in migration systems across the Americas, the Mediterranean region, and from the Middle East westward. The course involves reading, participating in class discussions, writing reflection papers, and designing research projects. Coursework can be applied and adapted to students’ research interests and projects.
CL 85500 - An Archipelago of Stories: Caribbean Fiction and Film Since 1945
Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 PM, 2 or 4 Credits, Prof. Jerry Carlson (
Cross-listed with FSCP 81000
*MALS Students should make sure to register for 4-credits of this course. Registering for 2-credits will not count towards the MALS degree.*
For the Caribbean the period since 1945 has been the most joyous, turbulent, and traumatic since the “discovery” by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Recent historical events include independence, decolonization, revolution, civil war, invasion, rapid modernization, and massive emigration to Europe and North America. It has also been 75 years of robust artistic activity in response to the region’s social, cultural, and political history. Our course will investigate how novels and feature films have contributed to that artistic wealth. We will study works from the three imperial language groups: English, French, Spanish. Our scope will consider the greater Caribbean that includes continental territories (for example, Cartagena. Colombia) and cities of diasporic concentration (most obviously, New York). We will examine how Caribbean storytelling has rendered three chapters common to the territories: plantation economies supported by slavery; agrarian post-abolition colonial societies; and urban cultures in the region and its diaspora. What makes these works Caribbean? We will not be looking for the one true story of origin. Eschewing essentialism, we will try to describe the many entangled aspects that exist as a dynamic system of relations. Prose fiction may include works by, among others, Alejo Carpentier, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jean Rhys, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Maryse Conde, V. S. Naipaul, and Leonardo Padura. Films may include, among others, The Other Francisco (Cuba), Sugar Cane Alley (Martinique), The Harder They Come (Jamaica), Strawberry and Chocolate (Cuba) and Cocoté (Dominican Republic). Critical writings will be drawn from theorists such as Paul Gilroy, Edouard Glissant, Sylvia Winter, and Antonio Benitez Rojo.
PSYC 80103 - Using Archives in Social Justice Research
Tuesdays, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM,  3 Credits , Prof. Susan Opotow (
Archives, research, and social justice is a course designed to develop students’ knowledge, skills, and strategies for using physical and digital archival material to study research questions of interest to them. Archives offer rich narrative, visual, & historical material and objects for understanding societal issues, activism, and collective efforts, lives lived in particular times and contexts, histories of groups and institutions, and justice-focused initiatives. The possible uses of archival data and material are boundless. We will visit archives and read deeply in the social sciences and humanities to sharpen students’ understanding of archives as a construct, as a rich empirical repository, and as a resource vulnerable to politicization. By the course's end, students will identify, design, and begin their own scholarly project utilizing archival material.

P SC 72001 - American Politics
Thursdays, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM,  3 Credits, Prof. Ruth O'Brien (
The American Presidency 
This course is divided into four parts. First, it highlights and analyzes the American Presidency using a diverse array of methods and approaches.
Second, it underscores the leadership dilemma of the only national leader in the United States, at home and abroad. How does being the only leader with a national and international constituency shape the role that s/he/they plays in public policy, from law-and-order, social welfare, education, economic and labor regulation to foreign policy broadly cast? How does the national constituency affect the six roles the president plays, whether it is on the state, local, national, or federal level or on the global stage? How have these roles changed over time at the White House and in the executive branch, given the transformation of federalism, sectionalism, and regionalism along with the separation of powers, and the growth of the executive branch as well as the president’s and the federal courts’ agenda-setting capacity? Is there a leadership dilemma within the context of constitutional design that now privileges the executive-judicial branches rather than the legislative-executive branches? It is not three branches sharing powers but rather two branches versus one, depending upon their different functional capacities and the 21st-century increase in overall state capacity.
Third, how has the president’s relationship with different state, local, and national institutions waxed and waned in modern and contemporary times and in terms of the leadership dilemma? To that end, this course focuses on the leadership dilemma in terms of masculinity, under bounded constraints, given political historical institutionalism (PHI). PHI is not restricted to American politics but is comparative in nature, and it rejects the term “development,” which is imbued with teleology. It also modifies the generic “historical institutionalism” or, worse, “politics and history.”
In addition, it examines and modifies the generic creation of the modern nation-state and showcases contemporary institutionalism. Are presidents bound to create public policies that specifically harm and/or hinder women, children, and other vulnerable populations in the United States in this era of political, economic, social, and cultural polarization? And how do we account for the force of formal and informal political, economic, and social institutions outside the state?

Fourth, should the national political institutions that set agendas (e.g. interest groups, social movements, and political parties) be better served to work with at least two or more presidents who identify as women? They (singular or plural) could come from either political party, be promoted by a vast array of interest groups and buoyed by many social movements on the right and the left, and succeed in diminishing the backlash against the United States. To this end, we will finish the seminar by focusing on three scenarios.
1. They could undo the presidential-leadership agenda-setting paradox, given the xenophobia, racism, sexism, and nativism that are tucked into many public policies.
2. They would lessen political institutional forms of racism, sexism, and nativism that harm and hinder members of national political institutions from both political parties, or harbor bipartisan policies, depending upon their spatial location and where they are on the "left/right spectrum."
3. They could/would/should reduce the president’s effectiveness in stirring up a social-movement base that drives and gets satiated by Trump’s policies. Trump’s base, being a coalition of social movements that he leads effectively when he arouses them with calls for nationalism that is inclusive of white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, and xenophobia, should be called "New Nationalism,”* which puts the United States in a less precarious position. 
Is Trump one of many leaders in the rise of an increasingly repressive type of populism that has cropped up in many nations, not just wealthy or European ones? Or is he recreating American exceptionalism, given Trump's notion of what "New Nationalism” is?
* This is not to be mistaken with Theodore Roosevelt's version of New Nationalism. 

SOC 85600 - Social Movements in Latin America 
Thursdays, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM , 3 Credits, Prof. Jack Hammond (

This course will examine social movements in Latin America since the wave of democratization following the authoritarian period of the 1970s and 1980s. We will highlight the period of democratization, neoliberalism and austerity and the following period a return to developmental populism in the 21st century, emphasizing the Pink Tide, horizontalism, resistance movements, digital organizing, globalization and transnational movements. In studying these movements, we will examine the applicability of North- based theories of social movements and the alternatives which have been proposed or may be needed. 

ENGL 76000 - Aestheticism, Decadence, Modernism, 1880-1930
Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 2 or 4 Credits. Prof. Richard Kaye (
*MALS Students should make sure to register for 4-credits of this course. Registering for 2-credits will not count towards the MALS degree.*
This class explores the relation between the aestheticist and decadent movements as well as their determination of modernist aesthetics. We will begin with late-nineteenth-century British, American, and French works by Hardy, Wilde, James, and Huysmans. The fin de siècle was a time of pervasive fears and fantasies dominated by such figures as the New Woman, the urban detective, the homosexual bachelor, the Anarchist, the Oriental, the overreaching colonialist, the self-preening aesthete, the vampire, and the femme fatale, the latter reaching an apotheosis in Wilde’s "Salome." In the diverse writings of Pater, Olive Schreiner, Vernon Lee, and Wilde, aestheticism emerged as a theoretically coherent and varied movement absorbed in exquisite surfaces, tantalizing ambiguities, and useless artifice. For decadent writers and artists, scientific theories of “degeneration” could be recalibrated as erotically charged, non-teleological experiments, while Freud drew on “decadent” scenarios for his proto-modernist narratives dealing with hysteria and sexual disorder, preeminently in Dora: Fragment of a Case of Hysteria, Women writers, meanwhile, struggled to find a place within the male-defined coteries of aestheticism and decadence, a theme dramatized in Henry James’ tale “The Author of Beltraffio,,” narrated by a decadent acolyte, in which the aestheticist project must be sequestered from female readers, who can only misconstrue its aims as immoral. Yet there were also alliances between male decadents and feminist writers (Wilde promoted Schreiner’s novel The Story of an African Farm because of its bold challenge to realist conventions and depiction of colonialist malaise.)  In France, the woman writer Rachilde publishes "Monsieur Venus" (1884), a symbolist/decadent novella concerning a dominatrix noblewoman, Raoule, who gradually transforms her working-class lover Jacques into hermistress by emptying him of all his “masculine” traits.
In the class’s second part we will explore how the fin outlasted the siècle, maintaining an intense afterlife in the Anglo-American modernist writing of Yeats, James, Eliot, Conrad, Joyce, Lawrence, and Djuna Barnes.  The morbidity, subjectivism, sexual experimentalism, and excesses of literary technique characteristic of 1890s sensibility foment modernist revisions that seek to repress their origins in decadent poetics. Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray," with its hero who cannot "develop," inspires modernist counter-bildungsromanae. We consider Joyce’s "Stephen Hero", an early version of "Portrait of the Artist as Young Man," arguably a satire of aestheticism as well as a novel with an explicitly Paterian protagonist. The keenly observing, detached bachelor familiar from James also narrates Rilke’s lyrical "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge" (arguably the first modernist novel) and that helps to form the paralyzed solitary consciousness of Eliot’s “Prufrock.” Arguably the narrator of Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness" adopts decadent techniques for his coiled narrative of colonial tragedy.  We will consider, too, Eliot’s absorption in the figure of the Jew as an emblem of a malevolent decadent cosmopolitanism versus Djuna Barnes’ depiction of the decadent Jew in her novel "Nightwood" as a more positively transformative cultural agent. Our class concludes with James’ The Golden Bowl, a novel of twinned adulteries that is one of James’ most topical, aesthetically difficult, and decadent works of fiction. Among the works we will read: Hardy, Jude the Obscure, Huysmans, Against Nature; Wilde,The Picture of Dorian Gray, Salome; Schreiner, "Story of an African Farm"; Freud, "Dora: Analysis of a Fragment of a Case of Hysteria"; Conrad, "Heart of Darkness," Joyce, "Stephen Hero," Yeats, Selected Poems; Lawrence, Selected Short Fiction; Eliot, Selected Poetry; James, "The Golden Bowl"; Barnes, "Nightwood"; Showalter, Elaine, ed., "Daughters of Decadence."  We will read relevant critical and theoretical texts, including Walter Pater, “Conclusion” to The Renaissance; Arthur Symons, “The Decadent Movement in Literature”; Mario Praz, from "The Romantic Agony"; George Bataille, from "Literature and Evil"; Richard Ellmann, “The Uses of Decadence”; Richard Gilman, from "Decadence: The Strange Life of an Epithet"; Linda Dowling, “The Decadent and The New Woman”; Michael Riffaterre, “Decadent Paradoxes,” Leo Bersani, from "The Culture of Redemption"; Regenia Gagnier, “Individualism, Decadence, and Globalization,” Vincent Sherrry, from "Decadence and the Reinvention of Modernism”; Matthew Potolsky, from "The Decadent Republic of Letters."  A mid-term paper as well as a final paper that may be drawn from the mid-term essay. This class can be adapted to parts of the New Portfolio Examination.