Let’s hear the faculty tell it: how do you engage the city in your studies?
Dr. Peter Naccarato:
In my Global Modernisms class, we explore the influence of modern art on the writers of the period. From Impressionism to Post-Impressionism, Cubism to Dadaism, modern artists had profound impact on the writers of the time. While we can read about this influence, there is nothing better than having my students visit the Museum of Modern Art to actually experience these masterpieces. I ask students to select several paintings and to think about how the techniques and goals of the visual artists parallel those of modernist writers. As students study these canvases, they experience the critical connections between the visual and the literary that are the hallmark of Modernism.
Dr. Jennifer Brown
I take my students to the Cloisters almost every semester. This unbelievable museum in upper Manhattan is the product of Rockefeller interest in things medieval. Brick by brick, two monasteries and several cloisters and chapels were taken down throughout Europe and then reconstituted in Fort Tryon Park, New York, at John D. Rockefeller’s expense. In addition, he bought the land across the river in New Jersey, so that the view from the Cloisters would be devoid of urban expansion and feel medieval too. My students can read Chaucer in the morning and be sitting in a 14th century Chapter House by the afternoon looking at the very bricks his readers might have gazed upon. There is no other opportunity to experience the medieval in such a visceral way in the rest of the U.S.
Dr. Martha Sledge
When we study immigration narratives in classes on the literature of the United States, I ask my students to visit the Tenement Museum in lower Manhattan. By going on tenement tours, students can experience the living conditions of early 19th century immigrants to the U.S. and hear stories of immigrant families that connect to the novels we are reading and discussing in class. Because so many immigrant narratives at least partially take place in this part of Manhattan, students can physically experience the setting of the novels. Students always return to the classroom with a stronger sense of what living conditions were like for some immigrants and a deeper appreciation for how writers put that experience into words.
Dr. Michael Colvin
In my Hispanic Civilization course, I always take my students to the Hispanic Society of America in Washington Heights right before our mid-term exam so they can see art and artifacts from the Iberian Peninsula from the Punic Wars through the 20th century. After our final exam, I take them to El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem where we see exhibits from Latin America and from Hispanic communities in the United States.
Dr. Magdalena Maczynska
I love taking my students to literary evenings at 92Y, where the world’s best living authors come together to read and discuss their work. Over the years, my students and I had the privilege of hearing such literary giants as Tony Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Amy Tan, Martin Amis, Jamaica Kincaid, Orhan Pamuk, and many others. When I teach my Reading Contemporary India class, I also like to take students to see relevant exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rubin Museum (featuring the art of the Himalayas) and the nearby Asia Society.