She-ba, 1970. Collage on paper, cloth and synthetic polymer paint on composition board, 48 x 35 7/8 in. (122 x 91.2 cm). Photography credit: Allen Phillips/Wadsworth Atheneum. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1971.12.
Join Mary Schmidt Campbell, PhD, President of Spelman College and artist Melvin Edwards for a reading and discussion of Schmidt Campbell's definitive biography of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, An American Odyssey:
The Life and Work of Romare Bearden (Oxford University Press)
As Dr. Campbell shows us in this immersive biography, the relationship between art and race was central to Bearden's life and work--a constant, driving creative tension. Dr. Campbell's book offers a full and vibrant account of Bearden's life: from his years in Harlem (his studio was above the Apollo theater) to his travels and commissions, along with illuminating analysis of his work and artistic career. Campbell, who met Bearden in the 1970s, was among the first to compile a catalogue of his works. An American Odyssey goes far beyond that, offering a living portrait of an artist and the impact he made upon the world he sought both to recreate and celebrate.
Co-sponsored by New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and Office of the Dean, NYU Tisch
For the last 2,500 years literature has been attacked, booed, and condemned, often for the wrong reasons and occasionally for very good ones. The Hatred of Literature, by William Marx, examines the evolving idea of literature as seen through the eyes of its adversaries: philosophers, theologians, scientists, pedagogues, and even leaders of modern liberal democracies. From Plato to C. P. Snow to Nicolas Sarkozy, literature’s haters have questioned the value of literature—its truthfulness, virtue, and usefulness—and have attempted to demonstrate its harmfulness.
Literature does not start with Homer or Gilgamesh, William Marx says, but with Plato driving the poets out of the city, like God casting Adam and Eve out of Paradise. That is its genesis. From Plato the poets learned for the first time that they served not truth but merely the Muses. It is no mere coincidence that the love of wisdom (philosophia) coincided with the hatred of poetry. Literature was born of scandal, and scandal has defined it ever since.
In the long rhetorical war against literature, Marx identifies four indictments—in the name of authority, truth, morality, and society. This typology allows him to move in an associative way through the centuries. In describing the misplaced ambitions, corruptible powers, and abysmal failures of literature, anti-literary discourses make explicit what a given society came to expect from literature. In this way, anti-literature paradoxically asserts the validity of what it wishes to deny. The only threat to literature’s continued existence, Marx writes, is not hatred but indifference.
After an initial presentation by William Marx, American writer Ben Lerner, who has engaged similar themes in his book The Hatred of Poetry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016), will respond and join Marx in discussion of their underlying convictions.
Writer, critic, professor of Comparative Literature, Université Paris Nanterre; author of La Haine de la littérature (The Hatred of Literature, Harvard University Press, 2018)
Ben Lerner, respondent
Poet, novelist, critic; MacArthur Fellow; author of No Art; Leaving the Atocha Station; 10:04; The Hatred of Poetry
Eric Banks, moderator
Director, New York Institute for the Humanities
Sponsored by La Maison Française and the New York Institute for the Humanities
In conjunction with the exhibition The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal
January 9–March 31, 2018
Lawrence Weschler, writer; Carl Schoonover, Postdoctoral Fellow, Axel Lab, Columbia University; and Beth Campbell, artist, will ponder the way branching patterns keep appearing at different scales and in different guises, from the dendrites of Cajal’s neurons to the decision trees in Campbell’s work.
Co-sponsored by NYU’s New York Institute for the Humanities and Grey Art Gallery.
Free of charge, capacity limited, and subject to change. Photo ID required for entrance to NYU buildings.
On Friday, December 8th please join us for “Svetlana Boym: Exile and Imagination”: A film by Judith Wechsler. The screening will be followed by a discussion between Wechsler and Anne Lounsbery, Associate Professor of Russian Literature and Chair of the Department of Russian & Slavic Studies at New York University. This event is co-sponsored by the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.
This one hour documentary film is about the life and work of Svetlana Boym, literary and cultural critic. In 1980, age 21, Svetlana left the USSR for the US. After graduate studies at Boston University and Harvard, she became the Carl Hugo Reisinger Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.
A brilliant writer of ambitious scope and great imagination, combining personal memoir with philosophical essay and historical analysis, she explored motifs of exile, nostalgia, the diasporic imagination and different forms of freedom in Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Mandelstahm, Akhmatova, Nabokov, Brodsky, and many others, in a total of six books, with two more about to appear.
Through videos of her lectures and interviews, together with photographs since her childhood, and her own photographs, and photomontages, we convey this remarkable person and her scholarly, critical, and artistic contributions. Interviews with family, teachers, colleagues, students and friends provide different perspectives. Much of the text of the film is drawn from Svetlana Boym’s writings and lectures.
Exuberant, ironic and witty, Boym was a charismatic critic and teacher until her untimely death from cancer, at age of 56.
The film is distributed by the Circulating Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art, NY
Judith Wechsler is an art historian and filmmaker. She has written and directed 28 films, predominantly on art, for the Louvre, with the Comèdie francaise, for the Metropolitan Museum and others. Her most recent films include “The Passages of Walter Benjamin” and “Aby Warburg: Exile and Imagination”. Wechsler is the National Endowment for the Humanities Professor in art history Emerita at Tufts University, taught for many years at MIT and was visiting professor at Harvard, The Ecole normale supèrieure in Paris and The Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She is the author of A Human Comedy, Physiognomy and Caricature in 19th Century Paris, and books on Cézanne and Daumier as well as numerous articles and essays on 19th and 20th century art. Wechsler was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, at Bogliasco, and at the van Leer Foundation in Jerusalem. The French government named her a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres.
In his new book The Politics of Opera, Mitchell Cohen takes readers on a fascinating journey into the entwined development of opera and politics, from the Renaissance through the turn of the nineteenth century. What political backdrops have shaped opera? How has opera conveyed the political ideas of its times? Delving into European history and thought and an array of music by such greats as Lully, Rameau, and Mozart, Mitchell Cohen reveals how politics—through story lines, symbols, harmonies, and musical motifs—has played an operatic role both robust and sotto voce.
Join Cohen and respondents Katha Pollitt and Mark Anderson for a conversation about the intersections of music, the state, and politics.
Mitchell Cohen is professor of political science at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center and editor emeritus of Dissent.
Katha Pollitt is a columnist for The Nation
Mark Anderson is Professor of German at Columbia University
Cosponsored with La Maison Française & the NYU Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture
Join us for a panel discussion marking the appearance of new translations of the work of Michel Leiris: Phantom Africa, translated by Brent Hayes Edwards and Fibrils, Vol. 3 of The Rules of the Game, translated by Lydia Davis.
Books will be available for purchase at a discount.
Brent Hayes Edwards (Columbia University)
Lydia Davis (writer, translator)
Richard Sieburth (NYU)
Vincent Debaene (Université de Genève)
Moderated by Denis Hollier (NYU)
The New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU
the Institute for Public Knowledge present:
Franco Moretti in Conversation
with Leah Price
and Nicholas Dames
moderated by Virginia Heffernan
On Computer-Aided Criticism
& the Stanford Literary Lab
Franco Moretti is Permanent Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg Zu Berlin
Leah Price is Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature at Harvard
Nicholas Dames is Theodore Kahan Professor of Humanities at Columbia
Virginia Heffernan is a Contributing Editor at Politico and the author of Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art
NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge and the NYIH at NYU invite you to join us for a launch event for Rachel Sherman’s new book Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence (Princeton University Press, 2017). Sherman will be present in conversation with Ron Lieber.
From TV’s “real housewives” to The Wolf of Wall Street, our popular culture portrays the wealthy as materialistic and entitled. But what do we really know about those who live on “easy street”? In this penetrating book, Rachel Sherman draws on rare in-depth interviews that she conducted with fifty affluent New Yorkers—including hedge fund financiers and corporate lawyers, professors and artists, and stay-at-home mothers—to examine their lifestyle choices and their understanding of privilege. Sherman upends images of wealthy people as invested only in accruing and displaying social advantages for themselves and their children. Instead, these liberal elites, who believe in diversity and meritocracy, feel conflicted about their position in a highly unequal society. They wish to be “normal,” describing their consumption as reasonable and basic and comparing themselves to those who have more than they do rather than those with less. These New Yorkers also want to see themselves as hard workers who give back and raise children with good values, and they avoid talking about money.
Although their experiences differ depending on a range of factors, including whether their wealth was earned or inherited, these elites generally depict themselves as productive and prudent, and therefore morally worthy, while the undeserving rich are lazy, ostentatious, and snobbish. Sherman argues that this ethical distinction between “good” and “bad” wealthy people characterizes American culture more broadly, and that it perpetuates rather than challenges economic inequality.
As the distance between rich and poor widens, Uneasy Street not only explores the real lives of those at the top but also sheds light on how extreme inequality comes to seem ordinary and acceptable to the rest of us.
Rachel Sherman is associate professor of sociology at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College. Her first book, Class Acts: Service and Inequality in Luxury Hotels (University of California Press, 2007), analyzes how workers, guests, and managers in luxury hotels make sense of and negotiate class inequalities that marked their relationships.
Ron Lieber is a journalist and author of the “Your Money” column for The New York Times, which addresses a variety of personal finance issues, from investing to paying for college to mortgages and homes. He is also the author of The Opposite of Spoiled, a guide to teaching kids about money and values.
The Second Annual PUP/NYIH Lecture in the Humanities: Annette Gordon-Reed on Thomas Jefferson’s Imagined Black Nation
Princeton University Press and the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University are pleased to announce the second the Second Annual PUP/NYIH Lecture in the Humanities. With the aim of highlighting both the value and the relevance of the humanities, this new lecture will be given annually in New York by notable figures from a wide range of fields and will explore humanistic topics and themes.
This year's lecture will be given by Annette Gordon-Reed, who is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. Gordon-Reed won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2009). Her most recently published book (with Peter S. Onuf) is “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing, 2016). Gordon-Reed's lecture, "Thomas Jefferson’s Imagined Black Nation," draws on her research from this book. Thomas Jefferson had a vision of enslaved African Americans as a "captive nation," a nation that could not coexist peacefully with the American nation. How did Jefferson come to this view? What are we to make of him in light of his pessimism about the possibility of a multiracial, multicultural society?
Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, A Conversation with Laura Kipnis and Shamus Khan
Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus is Laura Kipnis's provocative argument for how the “recent upheavals in sexual culture on American campuses” are symptomatic of “officially sanctioned” sexual paranoia and hysteria. She will be joined in conversation by the cultural critical Shamus Khan, of Columbia University.
Laura Kipnis is a cultural critic/essayist whose work focuses on sexual politics, emotion, acting out, bad behavior, and various other crevices of the American psyche. She is the author of MEN: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation (November 2014/ Metropolitan), and her latest book is Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus; her previous books, which include How To Become a Scandal and Against Love, have been translated into over fifteen languages. She teaches in the filmmaking program at Northwestern University.
Shamus Khan is associate professor of sociology at Columbia University, where he is the director of the graduate program. He is also an editor at Public Culture and writes on culture, inequality, and elites.
This event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Public Knowledge and Public Books.
**for an audio recording of this event, please go to our Audio Archives in the main navigation bar of the NYIH home page.
Noah Isenberg will present his book in conversation with film critic, journalist and author James L. Hoberman.
Leonard Barkan presents his new book in conversation with Ben Kafka.
Damion Searls presents his new translation of Alfred Döblin’s Bright Magic: Stories in conversation with Eric Banks
Florence Noiville in conversation with Norman Manea
Charles Musser presents his new book in conversation with Thomas Beard
Salman Rushdie is interviewed by Lila Azam Zanganeh.
With Evelyn Barish, George Prochnik, Michael Scammell, and Richard Wolin.
An evening of eclectic readings with Negar Azimi and Michael C. Vazquez, senior editors, Bidoun.
Join us for a conversation about this vibrant narrative history of three hallowed Manhattan blocks. St. Marks native Ada Calhoun will talk with Ginia Bellafante about the iconic characters and infamous anecdotes that have long made St. Marks the epicenter of American cool.
Thomas Laqueur, the Helen Fawcett Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, will talk about his forthcoming book, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains.
Deutsches Haus at NYU and the New York Institute of the Humanities at NYU present a conversation between novelist Daniel Kehlmann and magician Mark Mitton on "Consciousness and the Art of Illusion." Kehlmann and Mitton, who is a working magician and an expert on physical misdirection, will discuss illusion in literature and magic.
Please join the New York Institute for the Humanities for a discussion of Michel Houellebecq's novel Submission with translator Lorin Stein, Emily Apter, Eric Banks, Tom Bishop, and Adam Shatz.
Emily Apter, NYU
Eric Banks, New York Institute for the Humanities
Tom Bishop, NYU
Adam Shatz, London Review of Books
Lorin Stein, The Paris Review
Free and open to the public with RSVP.
Please join us for a presentation and roundtable discussion of Noise Uprising, a new book by Michael Denning.
Award-winning authors Tim Weiner and Greg Grandin will discuss their new books on two of America's most controversial public figures. Weiner's One Man Against the World and Grandin's Kissinger's Shadow examine the ongoing legacy of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. The authors will discuss how Nixon's and Kissinger's actions and policies led first to the collapse of America's Cold War national security warfare state and then its restoration in new form, a restored imperial presidency (based on evermore spectacular displays of violence, more intense secrecy, and an increasing use of war and militarism to leverage domestic dissent and polarization for political advantage) capable of moving forward into a post-Vietnam world. The event will be moderated by Professor Marilyn Young and is cosponsored by the NYU Center for the Humanities.
About the Participants
GREG GRANDIN is professor of history at NYU and is the author of a number of prize-winning books, including The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World, which won the Bancroft Prize in American History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in the UK. His book Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History, as well as for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Grandin has contributed to The New York Times, Harper’s, The London Review of Books, The Nation, The Boston Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The American Historical Review. His latest book, Kissinger’s Shadow, was published in August.
TIM WEINER is the author of five books. Legacy of Ashes, his history of the CIA, won the National Book Award. His journalism on secret government programs received the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. As a correspondent for The New York Times, he covered war and terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, and other nations. He directs the Carey Institute's nonfiction residency program in upstate New York and teaches as an Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton. His most recent book, One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon, was published this spring.
MARILYN YOUNG is one of the most eminent authorities on the history of American foreign relations and the war in Vietnam. A professor of history at NYU, she is the author of numerous award-winning books on the history of the conflict, including, most notably, The Vietnam Wars: 1945–1990.
Please join us for a panel discussion of Andrew Scull's new book, Madness in Civilization: A History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, and the Madhouse to Modern Medicine, with Andrew Scull, George Makari, Patrick McGrath, and Sylvia Nasar.