6:30 PM18:30

This Land Is Our Land: Nature and Nationalism in the Age of Trump

  • NYU Law School / Tishman Auditorium (map)
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Mining Exploration Near Carson City, Nevada, 1988, Emmet Gowin. Copyright Emmet and Edith Gowin. Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Mining Exploration Near Carson City, Nevada, 1988, Emmet Gowin. Copyright Emmet and Edith Gowin. Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

The Third Annual Humanities Lecture


This Land Is Our Land: Nature and Nationalism in the Age of Trump


Jedediah Purdy

Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law,

Duke University Law School


How did a 'War on Coal' come to stand for an existential fight among Americans, and between different ideas of the country? How did we move from a band of self-styled 'patriots' occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2015 to the President stripping protection from national monuments in 2017 - with support from those same 'patriots'? How does denial of climate change hold together various other denials - of interdependence, ecological limits, and global justice? What images of the natural world, and the human place in it, are entangled in the politics of Donald Trump's presidency and the nationalist right?


Co-sponsored by The New York Institute for the Humanities / Princeton University Press

This event is free and open to the public


RSVP at:

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6:30 PM18:30

Decision Trees and Branching Dendrites : A Conversation

  • 20 Cooper Square New York, NY, 10003 United States (map)
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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.

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6:00 PM18:00

Svetlana Boym: Exile and Imagination : A film by Judith Wechsler

  • New York Insitute for the Humanities (map)
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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.

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7:00 PM19:00

The Politics of Opera: From Montiverdi to Mozart


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

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6:30 PM18:30

The Ethnographer's I: Michel Leiris in Translation



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)




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6:00 PM18:00

Canon / Archive : Franco Moretti in Conversation with Leah Price and Nicholas Dames

  • 20 Cooper Square, 5th floor New York, NY, 10003 United States (map)
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The New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU

n+1 Magazine


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

and Beyond


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



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6:00 PM18:00

Uneasy Street : The Anxieties of Affluence

  • 20 Cooper Square, 5th floor New York, NY, 10003 United States (map)
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Book Launch | Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence


RSVP if you plan to attend

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites 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.

Co-sponsored with the Institute for Public Knowledge


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7:00 PM19:00

The Second Annual PUP/NYIH Lecture in the Humanities: Annette Gordon-Reed on Thomas Jefferson’s Imagined Black Nation

  • Tishman Auditorium. NYU School of Law (map)
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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?

About Princeton University Press

Princeton University Press is an independent publisher with close connections, both formal and informal, to Princeton University. As such it has overlapping responsibilities to the University, the academic community, and the reading public and a fundamental mission to disseminate scholarship both within academia and to society at large. Founded in 1905, it has offices in Princeton, Oxford, and Beijing.

About the New York Institute for the Humanities

Established in 1976, the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University is a leading forum for promoting the exchange of ideas between academics, professionals, politicians, diplomats, writers, journalists, musicians, painters, and other artists in New York City. Comprising more than two hundred distinguished fellows, the NYIH serves to facilitate conversations about the role of the humanities in public life.

The event is free and open to the public, but please register here.


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6:30 PM18:30

Unwanted Advances: Laura Kipnis in Conversation with Shamus Khan

  • New York Institute for the Humanities (map)
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Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus is Laura Kipnis' 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 is co-sponsored by the Institute for Public Knowledge and Public Books, and is free and open to the public.

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6:30 PM18:30

We’ll Always Have Casablanca—Noah Isenberg and J. Hoberman

  • Leo Baeck Institute / Center for Jewish History (map)
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Casablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in The New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” In the new history, We’ll Always Have Casablanca, film historian Noah Isenberg gives a rich account of this beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production, focusing in particular on the central role of refugees—nearly all the actors were immigrants from Hitler’s Europe. Isenberg will present his book in conversation with film critic, journalist and author James L. Hoberman.

This event is co-sponsored by Deutsches Haus at NYU and the Leo Baeck Institute. For more information, please click the photo.

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