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History and Culture

  • Explores Varying Interpretations of Historic Events
  • Identifies Patterns and Trends
  • Provides Lively Discussion and Debate

To understand the present, we first must know the past. These courses focus on the origins of civilization, explore the causes and effects of world events, and debate conflicting interpretations of past events. From the world stage to New York City’s five boroughs, examine how history impacts our lives today.

A History of Rome: From the Founding of the City to the Death of Emperor Justinian

Explore ancient Roman history and trace its evolution from a city-state monarchy to a republic and then to an empire.

2017 Fall
1 section

Art and Writing of the Harlem Renaissance

Explore the works of great artists, musicians, and writers of the Harlem Renaissance.

2017 Fall
1 section

Australia in Fact and Imagination

Explore the key role of Australia in 21st-century current affairs by examining the social and cultural landscape of the country.

2017 Fall
1 section

Bohemian Greenwich Village and NYC Culture in the 1910s and '20s

Explore the culture of New York City in the 20th century prior to the Crash of ’29 and the Great Depression.

2017 Fall
1 section

Detroit: Past, Present, and Future

Explore the key issues—including race, labor, urban politics, and law—at the heart of the urban decline of Detroit.

2017 Summer
+ 1 more semester
2 sections

Manhattan History: Pre-European to Post-Revolutionary War

Discover how New York City’s fascinating past illuminates its vibrant life today.

2017 Fall
1 section

New York Behind the Scenes

Gain valuable insights from New York’s movers and shakers, who will help you to take full advantage of the City’s cultural resources.

2017 Fall
1 section

New York City in the '30s

Experience the culture of New York City in the 1930s, including WPA mural art, Federal Theatre projects, the Ziegfeld Follies.

2017 Fall
1 section

Robert Moses and the Making of Modern New York

Explore the legacy of the man known as the “master builder” of mid-20th-century New York City.

2017 Fall
1 section

The American White Working Class and Modern Conservatism

Gain a historical perspective on the white working class, a demographic whose members and political power have seen great change since WWII.

2017 Fall
1 section

The Art Deco Years: Britain in the '20s and '30s

Study the cultural and sociopolitical history of Britain in the art deco era, from art and architecture to political upheavals and royal scandals.

2017 Fall
1 section

The Evolution of the Universe: From the Big Bang to the Death of Galaxies

Unravel the greatest mysteries of the universe, including the Big Bang, supernovae, and black holes, in this introductory astronomy course.

2017 Fall
1 section

The Rise of Italian Fascism

Explore how socioeconomic conditions, fear of communism, and the use of violence led to the rise of fascism in Italy after World War I.

2017 Fall
1 section

The Thousand-Year Legacy of Medieval Britain

Explore Britain’s medieval legacy, from architecture and decorative arts to illuminated manuscripts and literature.

2017 Fall
1 section

US Foreign Relations, 1890s to 1970s

Trace the development of the United States as a superpower, from the 19th century to the Vietnam War.

2017 Fall
1 section

US Religion and Politics

Examine the historical narratives necessary to understanding the relationship between religion and politics in the United States.

2017 Fall
1 section

Olmsted, Vaux, Central Park, and 19th-Century New York

Explore the legacy of Central Park—one of the greatest works of art of the 19th century—in the context of the history of New York City.

2017 Fall
2 sections

Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs: Two Versions of Modernity

Explore the contrasting legacies of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs on the fabric of New York City.

2017 Fall
1 section

Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the New York of Their Time

Learn the stories of both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, told against the rich background of a fast-growing mercantile city with global reach.

2017 Summer
2 sections

An Afternoon with Gilgamesh

Spend an afternoon discussing key passages from the 4,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh, a work at the headwaters of written literature.

2017 Summer
1 section

An Afternoon with the Goddess Ishtar

Read and discuss Sumerian and Babylonian poems and hymns to the goddess Ishtar, while comparing them to the Bible’s Song of Songs.

2017 Summer
1 section

Manhattan's Great Neighborhoods

Join us for an introductory illustrated lecture about and then five walks through some of Manhattan’s great neighborhoods.

2017 Summer
1 section

Race, Criminal Justice, and the Constitution

Explore the major constitutional issues that are involved in the administration of criminal justice, and examine how race pervades them.

2017 Summer
1 section

The English Village: A Chronicle of History

Uncover the varied and remarkable history of English villages, including Yorkshire, Devon, Finchingfield, Grantchester, Bampton, and Cornwall.

2017 Summer
1 section

Walking and Talking New York

Gain familiarity with major events and figures in New York City history through four walking tours and four lively slide-illustrated talks.

2017 Summer
3 sections

Discovering the Architecture of New York City's Parks, Squares, and Scenic Landmarks

Study the architecture of New York City’s public spaces and examine how their designs help New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy the great outdoors.

2017 Summer
1 section

One Hundred Years of Activism: Radical NYC from the Progressive Era to Today

Explore NYC’s rich history of political activism, including the fight for workers’ rights, racial justice, and gender and sexual equality.

2017 Summer
1 section

A Guide to the 21st-Century Universe: Particles, Quarks, and Strings

Explore the groundbreaking scientific discoveries of the 21st century that have extended and complicated our understanding of nature.

A Savvy New Yorker's Guide to the City

Explore lesser known NYC attractions and opportunities, and spend two class sessions touring some of the City’s hidden gems.

A Tale of Two Palaces: Versailles and Hampton Court

Explore the lives of Louis XIV of France and William III of England through an exploration of the two monarchs’ lavish palaces and royal courts.

American Jews and Liberalism

Explore how scholars and community leaders try to answer the question posed by neoconservative Norman Podhoretz: “Why are Jews liberal?”

Ancient Near East: Religion and Culture

Explore the history and culture of the ancient Near East, including its cultural legacy as birthplace of the Judeo-Christian religious traditions.

Belle Epoque Paris

Learn about the architecture, music, and art that fostered the Belle Époque in Paris.

Elena Ferrante's Naples

Discover the history and culture of Naples, Italy, through Elena Ferrante’s bestselling Neapolitan novels.

Gilded Age New York and "The Other Half"

Gain an understanding of how the artistic and industrial advances of the Gilded Age helped to usher in modern New York.

Great Medieval Cathedrals of Europe

Explore the cathedrals—extraordinary masterpieces in stone—that reflect the unique splendors of the medieval period in Europe.

How the Other Half Lived

Learn about economic and social disparity in New York City at the turn of the 20th century.

Imperial London

Examine London around 1900—a period of time whose implications resounded around the world and throughout the 20th century.

Jane Austen's Regency England

Using Jane Austen’s letters and novels as inspiration, learn about Regency England, from its rigid social protocols to its fashion and culture.

Manhattan History: Post-Revolutionary War to World War I

Catch the excitement of 19th-century New York City in this course, which features four illustrated lectures and four walking tours.

Mannahatta: Native Ground to Federal City

Learn more about the early history of New York City, from its native people to explorers and settlers.

Museum Without Walls: Public Art in New York

Explore the legacy of public art, from murals to statues and fountains, in New York City throughout the city’s history.

NYUSPS Curated Lectures

Sample from a breadth of interesting topics that will be showcased, over the course of a day, by featured faculty and other renowned guest lecturers.

New York Architecture: The Last 100 Years

Survey the last century of New York architecture, from the City Beautiful era to the current trend of “starchitects.”

New York's Great Structures: Buildings, Bridges, Tunnels, and More

Through lectures and at least two walking tours, take a look at the best—and worst—of some quintessentially New York structures.

Rediscovering New York City's Forgotten Memorials and Monuments

Examine the contemporary issues associated with memorials and monuments in New York City, and investigate their historic significance.

Sicily: A Cultural and Historical Guide

Explore Sicily and its contributions to the arts, its cuisine, and the unique characteristics that distinguish it from the rest of Italy.

Significant and Controversial Presidential Elections and Campaigns in American History

Analyze the electoral process, including the anger and venom that have been part of US presidential elections since 1796.

Stars, Planets, and Cosmology

Learn about the new era of astronomy that includes discovering thousands of planets, finding water on Mars, and landing space probes on comets.

The "Greening" of NYC: Irish Immigration, Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and the Olmsted Parks

Delve into three hallmarks of 19th-century NYC: Central Park, the tides of immigration, and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

The Design and Architecture of New York City's Public Transportation System

Join us for an eight-part lecture series to discover the aesthetic treasures of NYC’s public transportation system, both present and past.

The Empire City: Art, Architecture, and Social Geography in New York, 1825-1861

This course will depict how modern New York came into being.

The English Country House: Residents, Reminiscences, and Memoirs

Trace the history of the English country house by drawing on the wealth of written perspectives by owners, visitors, and residents.

The European Balance of Power: Diplomacy of the Modern Age, 1789-1900

Learn about the major diplomatic events in this period that changed Europe and the world—and that continue to influence us today.

The Gilded Age of New York

Gain an understanding of how the artistic and industrial advances of the Gilded Age helped to usher in modern New York.

The History of the United States Supreme Court

Examine American economic, political, religious, and social history through the prism of influential and controversial Supreme Court cases.

The Italian Response to the Holocaust

Explore the complexities of Italian history before and during the Holocaust, and examine why so many Italians risked their lives to help Jews.

The Italians: Shapers of Western Civilization

Explore Italians’ cultural heritage, which stretches from ancient Rome to present day and from science and architecture to art and writing.

Travels in France with Henry James

Using his book A Little Tour in France as a guide, follow Henry James’s footsteps during his travels from Versailles to Avignon.

Vienna Fin-de-Siecle

Learn about turn-of-the-century Vienna, birthplace to one of the most dramatic cultural moments in modern history.

Women as Creators of Culture

Discuss female artists, writers, scientists, and architects and their contributions to culture that have changed the world.