Conference Program

25 Oct


9:30 – 9:45 am

Opening Remarks

Jane Tylus, Director, Humanities Initiative at NYU.

Elena Bellina, Department of Italian Studies, 2009-2010 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

John Melillo, Department of English, 2009-10 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

9:45 – 11:15 am

Roundtable #1: Urban Spaces

What do urban spaces do to sense? Georg Simmel talked of the alienating effects of city life—its deadening of the senses through over-stimulation—but in what ways does the city, broadly conceived as a space of dense social, cultural, and infrastructural relationships, generate new processes of making and new ways of redefining and appropriating space? What does the aesthetic condensation of the density of urban experience—especially in New York City—look, sound, and feel like?


Cyrus Patell, Department of English, Associate Dean of Humanities for NYU Abu Dhabi, 2007-2008 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Mosette Broderick, Department of Art History, NYU.

Ara Merjian, Department of Italian Studies, NYU.

Moderator: Peter Valenti, Liberal Studies, 2009-2010 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

11:15 – 11:30 am

Coffee Break

11:30am – 1:00 pm

Roundtable #2: Cinematic Vistas

At what point do images tell us we are out of place? What landscapes of imagination open up when we enter new imagistic territories? How do unknown and unexpected masses of ambient imagery affect the making of pictures? How, then, does ambience frame the vision of photographers and movie-makers before they themselves attempt to bring the world into frame? What happens when sudden shifts in culture, place, and external stimuli make these ways of seeing apparent? Where are our imaginations located?


Jessie Morgan Owens, Department of English, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore),2008-2009 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Zhen Zhang, Department of Cinema Studies, 2009-10 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

S.S. Sandhu, Asian/Pacific/American Studies Institute, Department of English, NYU.

Moderator: Hala Halim, Departments of Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 2008-2009 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

1:00 – 2:00 pm

Lunch Break

2:00 – 3:30pm

Roundtable #3: Ambient Poetics

Noises and voices surround us in every moment of our lives. What do poets and other sound artists do when these ambient waves of sound speak to them? And how, then, do they themselves speak these ambiences? How does the sound that is language describe or, rather, transcribe the background noise of life? How do different artists and thinkers rearrange their ways of making in relation to these floating atmospheres of experience?


Eugene Ostashevsky, Liberal Studies, 2010-2011 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Michael Quintero, Department of Music, Bowdoin College, 2007-2008 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Allen Weiss, Performance Studies and Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

Jacques Lezra, Department of Comparative Literature, NYU.

Moderator: Deborah Kapchan, Performance Studies, NYU.

4:00 – 5:30 pm

Keynote’s Address

Prof. Geoffrey Harpham

President and Director of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Discussant: Prof. John Guillory, Silver Professor of English, NYU

5:30 pm: Wine and Cheese Reception


10:00 – 11:30 am


Eugene Ostashevsky, Liberal Studies, 2010-2011 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Christian Hawkey, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn.

Lytle Shaw, Department of English, NYU.

11:30 – 11:45 am

Coffee Break

11:45 – 1:15 pm


Rob Fitterman, Liberal Studies, NYU.

Genya Turovskaya,

Brandon Downing

1:15 – 2:15 pm

Lunch Break

2:15 – 3:45 pm


Ellie Ga

Anna Moschovakis

Jen Bervin


Jen Bervin

Poet and visual artist Jen Bervin’s work brings together text and textile in a practice that encompasses large-scale art works, artist books, poetry, and archival research. Her books include The Dickinson Composites, The Silver Book, The Desert, Nets, A Non- Breaking Space, The Red Box, and Under What Is Not Under. Bervin’s work has been shown at The Walker Art Center and is in many special collections including The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. She has received fellowships in art and writing from The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, The New York Foundation for the Arts, Centrum, The MacDowell Colony, and The Camargo Foundation and is an editor-at-large for Jubilat. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Mosette Broderick, Department of Art History, NYU.

Mosette Broderick is the Director of Urban Design and Architecture Studies and the MA program in Historical and Sustainable Architecture in the Department of Art History at NYU.  She teaches courses on urban subjects, American and English architecture and the art in, and history of, New York City Museums.  She teaches a class on urbanism in London in the summers and has enjoyed many a January in Florence with the presidential Honors students.  Many of the classes she teaches take place on the streets of New York and London and in the museums of these cities. Her new book, TRIUMVIRATE: McKim, Mead & White – Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class In America’s Gilded Age, will appear this fall from Alfred A . Knopf.  She has written on architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including, among others, The Villard Houses: Life Story of a Landmark.  New York, 1980.  Her next book will be a saunter up Fifth Avenue from Washington Square North to 95th Street at the height of its importance, a century ago.  Although almost every house is long gone, readers will be able to examine each house, meet the owner/renter and revel in his/her collections.  It will be a fictive house tour of the homes immortalized in novels by Edith Wharton and Henry James.   She would then like to write about the German Americans who built the great department stores.

Brandon Downing

Brandon Downing is a poet and visual artist originally from California. His books of poetry include The Shirt Weapon (Germ Monographs, 2002) and Dark Brandon (Faux Press, 2005), while a monograph of his collages from1996-2008, Lake Antiquity, was released by Fence Books in 2010. In 2007 he released a feature-length collection of collaged digital shorts, Dark Brandon: Eternal Classics, with a 2nd volume forthcoming in 2011. He lives in New York City.

Rob Fitterman, Liberal Studies, NYU.

Robert Fitterman is the author of 12 books of poetry. He grew up in a small suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, called Creve Coeur. His street is still flanked by a Shell gas station on one side and a Mobile station on the other. His writing is kinda conceptual and sorta involves identity issues that are complicated by the web. And the Mall. Recent titles include: now we are friends (Truck Books), Rob the Plagiarist (Roof Books), and Notes On Conceptualisms, co-authored with Vanessa Place (Ugly Duckling Presse). He teaches writing and poetry at New York University and at the Bard College, Milton Avery School of Graduate Studies.

Ellie Ga

Combining genres such as the memoir, the travelogue and the documentary, Ellie Ga’s projects explore the limits of photographic documentation and span a variety of media, often incorporating her exploratory writing and culminating in performative lectures, videos and installations. Her work is research-intensive including residencies at The Newark Museum of Art, New York’s Explorer’s Club and a five-month residency in the Arctic on the scientific research vessel, Tara. Ellie Ga’s work been exhibited/performed at Galerie du Jour, Paris, the Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden as well as at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Sicily and in New York City at MOMA/PS1 Contemporary Art. Upcoming shows and performances: Betonsalon (Paris), Institute for Cultural Inquiry (Berlin) and Bureau, New York. Ellie Ga received her MFA from Hunter College, New York. She is a founding editor of Ugly Duckling Presse.

Hala Halim, Departments of Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 2008-2009 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Hala Halim’s research and teaching address a wide variety of issues, including contrasting accounts of heritage and urban spaces in relation to narratives of identity; translation studies and the practice of translation; questions of genre and “transculturation”; and comparative genealogies of cosmopolitanism. She has published on such subjects as the postcolonial redrawing of British educational policies in Egypt, the films of Youssef Chahine, E. M. Forster’s Egyptian texts, and the translation and reception of Constantine P. Cavafy’s poetry in Arabic. She is currently revising a manuscript entitled “The Alexandria Archive: An Archaeology of Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism” which identifies and critiques a Eurocentric, quasi-colonial paradigm of cosmopolitanism associated with Alexandria and seeks out alternative modes of inter-ethnic and inter-religious solidarity that speak to current postcolonial Middle Eastern imperatives. She has held an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA’s Humanities Consortium, and her translation of a novel by Mohamed El-Bisatie, Clamor of the Lake, received an Egyptian State Incentive Award in 2006.

Christian Hawkey, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn.

Christian Hawkey has written two full-length collections (The Book of Funnels, 2005; Citizen Of, 2007) and three chapbooks. A fourth chapbook, Ulf, has just been published by Factory Hollow Press, and his newest book, Ventrakl, is a mixed-genre exploration of the life and work of Georg Trakl (Ugly Duckling Presse, Fall 2010). He teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Deborah Kapchan, Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

Professor Kapchan was Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, directing the Center for Intercultural Studies in Folklore and Ethnomusicology. A recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fulbright Hays Fellowshipfor her project “Poetic Justice: Translating Art and Ideology in Morocco, her books include Gender on the Market: Moroccan Women and the Revoicing of Tradition (Pennsylvania, 1996), and a book on the Moroccan Gnawa

Jacques Lezra, Department of Comparative Literature, NYU.

Jacques Lezra, a specialist in the literary, visual and philosophical culture of the early modern period, also studies and publishes on contemporary political philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the theory andpractices of translation.  Lezra received his PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 1990. He has taught at theUniversity of Wisconsin at Madison, at Yale, Harvard, and at the BreadLoaf School of English.  Lezra’s books include Wild Materialism: The Ethic of Terror and the Modern Republic (2010; Spanish translationforthcoming in Spring 2011), Unspeakable Subjects: The Genealogy ofthe Event in Early Modern Europe (1997) and (as editor) Spanish Republic (2005) and Depositions: Althusser, Balibar, Macherey and the Labor of Reading (1988). With Georgina Dopico (NYU), he co-edited Sebastian de Covarrubias’s 1613 Suplemento al ‘Tesoro de la lengua’. His 1992 translation into Spanish of Paul de Man’s Blindness and Insight won the PEN Critical Editions Award. Economía política del alma: El suceso cervantino, a collection of Jacques Lezra’s essays on Cervantes, will appear in Spanish in Fall 2011

Ara Merjian, Department of Italian Studies, NYU.

Ara H. Merjian is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies and Art History at NYU.  He has completed a book on Giorgio de Chirico’s early cityscapes in the light of Nietzschean philosophy, and is co-curator of the upcoming exhibition, ‘Giorgio de Chirico in Ferrara’, at the Jewish Museum in 2012.  He has taught at Stanford and Harvard Universities, and is a regular critic for Modern Painters, Art in America, and Artforum.

Jessie Morgan Owens, Department of English, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), 2008-2009 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Jessie Morgan-Owens earned her doctorate in American literature at New York University in September of 2009. Her dissertation, ‘Black and White: Photographic Writing in the Literature of Abolition,’ studied the influence of photography in the campaign to abolish slavery. Upon graduation, she joined the faculty at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore as an Assistant Professor of English where she teaches courses in both American literature and photography theory. Jessie Morgan-Owens is also a professional photographer; with her partner, she shoots internationally for travel magazines under the by-line Morgan & Owens.

Anna Moschovakis

Anna Moschovakis is the author of a book of poems, I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone, and several chapbooks, as well as a translator of novels from the French (most recently The Jokers by Albert Cossery). A longtime editor at the publishing collective Ugly Duckling Presse, she is the founder of its Dossier series, which publishes investigative prose, poetry and poetics. Her second book of poems, You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake, is forthcoming next year. She teaches at Pratt and in Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts.

Eugene Ostashevsky, Liberal Studies, 2010-2011 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Eugene Ostashevsky is a Russian-American poet, translator, and scholar from New York City. His poetry titles include Enter Morris Imposternak, Pursued by Ironies, which may be seen here: <;. He also edited _OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism_, containing the work of Alexander Vvedensky, Daniil Kharms and other Russian underground writers of the 1930s. A Humanities Initiative Fellow for 2010-2011, he teaches at the Liberal Studies Program.

Cyrus R.K. Patell, Department of English, NYU.

Cyrus R. K. Patell is Associate Professor of English at New York University and Associate Dean of Humanities for NYU Abu Dhabi. A former Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Undergraduate Honors for the English Department, he regularly teaches the undergraduate courses “Conversations of the West,” “American Literature I,” and “Writing New York.” Recent graduate courses include “Why Moby-Dick Matters,” “U.S. Fiction after 1940,” and “Contemporary Emergent U.S. Fiction.” This January he will be teaching a three-week course on “New York and Modernity” for NYU Abu Dhabi. His 2009 lecture for the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, “Cosmopolitanism, Multiculturalism, and the Promise of Literature” can be seen on the Institute’s website. He regularly blogs on two sites: and Patell and Waterman’s History of New York.

Michael Birenbaum Quintero, Department of Music, Bowdoin College.

Michael Birenbaum Quintero is an ethnomusicologist. His research focuses on the musical practices of the black inhabitants of Colombia’s Pacific Coast. He has published and presented his work in the US, Colombia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe, and is the recipient of the Charles Seeger Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Fulbright IIE Fellowship, a NYU Humanities Initiative Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, among others. He has collaborated extensively with musicians, culture workers, the Afro-Colombian social movement, and cultural policy entities including the Colombian Ministry of Culture. He was the lead researcher for the Association for Cultural Investigation of Chocó (ASINCH) in Colombia, for which he also designed and implemented a community-based music archive. He has taught classes at NYU, Johns Hopkins University, and Peabody Conservatory, and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at Bowdoin College in Maine, where he also directs the only Afro-Colombian marimba ensemble outside Colombia. He is currently working on his monograph, tentatively entitled “Rites, Rights, and Rhythms: A Genealogy of Musical Meaning in Colombia’s Black Pacific.”

S.S. Sandhu, Department of English; Asian/Pacific/American Studies Institute, NYU.

S.S Sandhu is the author of London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined A City (2003), I’ll Get My Coat (2005), and Night Haunts: A Journey Through The London Night (2007), the latter subsequently developed as a series of site-specific performances and soundworks.  He has also edited the essay collection Leaving The Factory: Wang Bing’s ‘West of the Tracks’ (2009).  He is the chief film critic of the London Daily Telegraph and Director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies at NYU.

Lytle Shaw, Department of English, NYU.

Lytle Shaw’s books include Cable Factory 20 (1999), The Lobe (2002), Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie (2006), Nineteen Lines: A Drawing Center Writing Anthology (2007), and The Chadwick Family Papers: A Brief Public Glimpse (2008).  He is associate professor of English at NYU. With sculptor Jimbo Blachly, he is represented in New York by Winkleman Gallery, where their next exhibition will be in March 2010.

Genya Turovskaya

Genya Turovskaya is the author of Calendar (UDP 2002), and The Tides (Octopus Books 2007). Her poetry and translations of contemporary Russian poets have appeared in Chicago Review, Conjunctions, A Public Space, Octopus, jubilat, Supermachine and other publications. Her translation of Aleksandr Skidan’s Red Shifting was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2008. She is the co-translator (with Stephanie-Sandler) of Elena Fanailova’s Russian Version (UDP 2010) which won the University of Rochester’s Three Percent 2010 award for Best Translated Book of Poetry. She holds an MFA from Bard College and lives in New York City, where she is a practicing psychotherapist.

Peter Valenti, Liberal Studies, 2009-2010 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU.

Peter C. Valenti is a Master Teacher in NYU’s Liberal Studies Program.  His academic background is in History and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies.  He has specialized in the social and political history of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, with secondary interests in state-formation in Iraq, Islamist movements, and Arabic literature.  In addition to his academic work, Valenti has worked in a variety of editorial and media positions, contributing to the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR and World Press Review.

Allen Weiss, Performance Studies and Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

Allen S. Weiss has authored and edited over 40 books, including Phantasmic Radio; Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia; and Varieties of Audio Mimesis: Musical Evocations of Landscape. He directed Theater of the Ears (a play for electronic marionette and taped voice) as well as a Danse macabre (for the dolls of Michel Nedjar). He recently published his first novel, Le livre bouffon, and has just completed a Hörspiel for the Klangkunst program on Deutschlandradio Kultur entitled Glissando.

Zhen Zhang, Department of Cinema Studies, 2009-10 Humanities Initiative Fellow, NYU

Zhang Zhen is Associate Professor in Cinema Studies (TSOA) and History (FAS) at NYU.  Her books include An Amorous History of the Silver Screen: Shanghai Cinema 1896-1937 ( U of Chicago , 2005; MLA’s Honorary Mention for Best First Book) and 
The Urban Generation: Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (Duke UP, 2007).  She is now writing a new book on the melodramatic articulation in Sinophone film history and co-editing a volume on digital media’s impact on film practice and everyday life in post-socialist China.

One Response to “Conference Program”

  1. dragonflyshine November 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    I look forward to accessing those bits that make it onto the web.

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