Advanced Seminar: New York, New York: The Empire City from Stuyvesant to Trump


This research seminar engages the long history of greater New York City: from the place Native Americans called Manna-hata to the largest city in the United States and the world political, financial, and cultural capital that it is today. The course explores New York City's ambivalent relationship with America, with the world, and with itself. It focuses on matters of power - how, in different moments of the city's history, it was defined, who held it, and how various groups managed to contest for it; matters of exchange and extraction - political, cultural, and economic; and matters of belonging - whether a city of immigrants, exiles and refugees succeeded in becoming a home for the homeless. It pays close attention to both the micro - the street corner and the political ward; the bridge and the tunnel; the gentrifying neighborhood; the mosaic of the city's foodways; the theater, financial, slaughterhouse, brothel, and other districts - and the macro - the banks and the stock exchange; the port and transit authorities; the instrumentalities of knowledge and cultural production in the city's universities, print media, clubs, and salons; the sports empires; and the political machines, organized crime, grassroots labor and political movements, insurgencies, and undergrounds. Above all, the course will foreground the city's massive and unbearable contradictions, as a city of skyscrapers and of basement dives, lures, and snares; as a symbol of the future and freedom bound to traumatic, slave, and unfree pasts; as a symbol of modern independence bound to modern interdependence; and as a place of renaissances and ruinations, where the world either comes together or spectacularly falls apart. Sites of potential investigation, in a list that is suggestive rather than exhaustive, range from the African Burial Ground to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, from Hamilton to Hamilton, from Boss Tweed to Robert Moses, from the Five Points to Chinatown, from Delmonico's to Sylvia's, fro
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM