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This crash course in World Religions traces religion back to its roots, and introduces students to some of the major belief systems: animism, totemism, ancient religions, Persian Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We use art as our gateway to better understanding these world views. We discuss the roles of gods, the representations (or lack of representation) of gods, how the religion “worked” and how it may have changed over time.
Interested? And do you want to know more about this little power shown here? Check the homeschool lists for more info, or email me!
Hello homeschoolers! I am working on the content for the fall classes, and homeschool class spaces are going very fast! If you’re interested in anything being offered, please reach out. I can provide you with more details and a preliminary syllabus. As always, more information may be found on Homeschoolny and NYCHEA email lists. Be sure to join them to keep up to date on homeschool happenings!
Medieval History! – using the Met and written primary sources as our guides
Medieval Literature! – starring Boethius, Augustine, Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the lost writers of the Tain, Mabinogion, Icelandic Sagas, Song of Roland and more!
The Universe! – Cosmology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, and the crossroads of science and culture!
Issues in the Ancient World! – Colonialism, Racism, Orientalism, Religion and all of the other ways in which we make assumptions about Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Andean peoples, Mesoamericans, and more!
Paranormal and History! – Studying world and US history through the lens of the “unexplained” – haunted castles, alien assumptions, vampires, ghosts and other examples of the otherworldly as our lens!
Governments! – using the AP Comparative Government exam as our guide to comparing the governments of China, Iran, Great Britain, Nigeria, and Mexico…as well as others, based on student interest! More US focus available, too!
AP styled courses in US History and Europe!, but with many additional twists and museum explorations!
I am also delighted to finish the fine-tuning on my Hunter College syllabi. Religious Experience, Ancient Near Eastern Religions, Religions of Mexico, Central and South America, and Astrology and World Religions are offered.
I’m looking forward to a great 2019-2020 year!
How Do We Look: Art and Image through the Ages will be offered next. This class is loosely based on Mary Beard’s book, How Do We Look, and applied to the Met’s collections on Egyptian, Greek, Mesoamerican, West African, Christian, Islamic, and Renaissance Art. How do the Met’s “masterpieces” convey meaning? How is the human figure shown? Why is this controversial in different historical periods? What does this tell us about culture and about ourselves?
Tuesday, July 2 11-1 pm Younger students (7ish and up)
2-4 pm Tweens and Teens
Thursday, July 11 1-3 Teens
Friday, July 19 5-7 pm High School
Shifting the Gaze: African Identities in Art begins with Titus Kaphar’s painting, “Shifting the Gaze” at the Brooklyn Museum and then examines other works of art, from antiquity to modern, that bring into question Eurocentric bias. It’s a bit of art history, a bit of colonialist history, and a walkthrough of one of the most spectacular museums in New York.
Thursday, July 11
5-7 pm High School
Wednesday, July 24
1-3 pm Tweens and Teens
The Empire of TIBET offers another perspective, as does the Rubin Museum. I will be holding a one day class on FRIDAY, JULY 12 from 6-8 pm for our teens who want to explore the Rubin, the concept of empire, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibet’s neighbors, and current political issues facing Tibet, China, and the region at large.
Interested? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
New Classes! New Exhibits! New Students! Most of the continuing classes are full, but I’m delighted to offer a few new spring and summer one days, including History and Science, Empires, and new museum based classes!
Image from the new ISAW exhibit, “Hymn to Apollo: The Ancient World and the Ballet Russes”
New Class! Science and History – High Schoolers!
Do you love science, but hate history? Do you love history, but hate science? Can we study science through the study of history, and study history through the study of science, walking away with a good sense of these disciplines?
I’m designing a course that helps to bridge the gap between these worlds, sort of like a SHTEAM instead of just STEM or STEAM. Topics include forensics (from ancient Egyptian and Peruvian mummies to bog bodies, and more), DNA (what can DNA tell us about genetics, migration, adaptability, and evolution), climate change (how can we determine climate change over time and is there ancient evidence for climate change), technology (early attempts at artificial intelligence, inventions, etc), epidemiology (what can we learn about diseases in the ancient and medieval world through modern methodology), botany (plant evolution, GMOs, mind alternating substances and their uses), astronomy (ancient understanding of the sky), physics (before and after Aristotle’s four elements), and medicine (surgeries, cures and more). We’ll meet at the Met, AMNH, and other locations throughout the city.
I will offer a few sections of an INTRO class, spanning different topics to gain a feel for what interested teens like and the days/times available, and then work on a syllabus reflecting their interests. The target age group is 16 up, as the course is primarily college prep, but if there is interest in a middle school or early high school group, please reach out.
Here are some proposed days/times for the trial:
The trial class will be $25, and will include museum admission (we will probably meet first at the AMNH)
If you’re interested for your teen, please message me:
-your student’s name and age
-the day(s) you are available for the trial
-special areas of interest
Happy New Year to All!
Teens! Swing by for some last minute December one day classes on Delacroix and the 19th century, Armenia and the Medieval World, and some Treasure Hoards! Email me at email@example.com for details!
The fall semester filled up quickly, and winter session is also filling up fast! Check offerings under “Classes Offered” or email me directly!
How can we use museum collections and popular culture to better understand themes in history and the humanities? We will be exploring heroes such as Hercules, considering cultural appropriation and Chinese-Tibet relations, World War II, the Cold War, the mythic Hero’s Journey of Joseph Campbell, and African colonialism and imperialism — all through the lens of the Marvel Universe (plus a little DC, too). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
ANCIENT AMERICAS (Wednesday afternoons/Friday afternoons)
APPROACHES TO LITERATURE takes on Ursula Le Guin and issues of gender in science fiction. Tuesdays early afternoon
Close reading of PLATO’S REPUBLIC on Tuesday afternoons
Interested? Email Wendy at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Classes begin during the first week of May, and extend to the second week of June
Wishing you all joy for the holiday season and upcoming year, no matter how you bring in the light!
I would like to believe that the current museum exhibits at the New-York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art would keep World War I in our minds, but, sadly, we’ve forgotten. Its veterans are dead. Monuments ignored. Other wars, especially World War II, loom larger in our imaginations and on screen. The tragedy of forgetting World War I affects our understanding of world events today, as so many are inextricably linked to events we struggle to understand today.
When we forget World War I, we forget that we stand on its corpses today.
Why should we remember this war from a hundred years ago? If you are Turkish, Greek or Armenian, the first answer may be in the fact that the Ottoman Empire existed. The Ottoman Empire grew out of the Seljuk Empire, which dazzled the world with its art and arms just after Year 1000. Turks received the blame for causing the First Crusade. They invaded the city that could never be taken, Constantinople, and, well, took it. They invaded and administered Greece and the Balkans. While leaders such as Suleiman hammered out treaties with the King of France, other Europeans reacted with fear and indignation, as the Ottomans were quite literally at the gates of Western Europe.
In the nineteenth century, they provided Orientalists with endless fantasies of opulent harims and exotic Grand Tour destinations, some of which were relatively close to their European homes. The “East” began in Eastern Europe and while Greece won its independence, many of the provinces we call Greece today were still Ottoman. My grandmother, who died in 1986, was born under the age of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman supremacy also provided another issue still with us today: where does Europe begin and end? Is Constantinople, now Istanbul, considered “West” as it clearly sits on the European continent? Who speaks for the “Western” religions in an Ottoman world? When they revolt (and they certainly did, with Greece leading the way), do other countries support them? What does it mean, exactly, to be “Western” and “European”?
And the Jews? Jews were subjects of Ottoman rule, and the territory we now call Israel was Ottoman controlled. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the British Mandate took on rule of the area, the question of Israel came to the table. Ask most pro-Palestine supporters about the Ottoman Empire’s breakup, and most likely, they will stare back in ignorance. The co-existence of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Ottoman world, the loose control over the Palestine-Israel territory before the war, the loss of the Ottoman Empire after the war, and the British Mandate are key to understanding the current situations, and yet, they are left out of discussion.
And Armenians? Adolf Hitler issued this now-famous statement just before his Poland invasion: ”
It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command – and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad – that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
Turkey doesn’t speak for the Armenians, as an estimated 1.5 million were exterminated during the War and Turkey denies its action. The Armenian Genocide, like the Scottish ethnic cleansing at British hands in the 18th century, set the stage for not only the Holocaust, but for the genocides that still exist today. That Turkey can escape without recrimination for its actions against Armenians, and later, Greeks, opens the door to all countries hell bent on ethnic cleansing and genocide.
We’ve forgotten the Ottomans, but we’ve also forgotten pandemic. We create doomsday scenarios regarding the anti-vax movement, but forget the effect that the flu had on the world. The estimates are staggering: 20 to 50 million people dead worldwide in 1918. The number of those sickened by the flu reaches 500 million by some estimates. The trenches became incubators for the spread of this deadly disease, so the soldier who survive the horrors of war now had to face the horrors of illness.
We’ve forgotten horror. We’ve forgotten suffering. World War I means redrawn maps, destruction of Empire (not just the Ottoman but the Russian, Qing, and Austro-Hungarian bit the dust during its years), the humiliation of Germany, reevaluation of gender and race, the rise of the Big Three (England, France USA), new technology in warfare, rise of Communism, and — who could forget?— the mystique of the Red Baron, Mata Hari, and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. But have we forgotten, in our age of drones and battles that never reach the television screens, the horror of war? John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields after the funeral of a friend. In part:
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
This poem was used later for propaganda and recruitment, whereas its original intent was to not bring more young men to die but to commemorate those who lost their youth. No one used Wilfred Owen’s work for recruitment:
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.
Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. How right and sweet it is to die for the Fatherland. Ottoman Turks died for their fatherland. Armenians, Greeks and Jews died for theirs. Soldiers who survived the horror Owen described ended up dying of the flu in overcrowded and unsanitary hospitals.
Horace wrote these lines during the birth of another Empire doomed to fall: the Roman. We may not have forgotten the Roman Empire, but we’ve certainly forgotten the reasons for its decline.
And do we remember Wilfred Owen? What happened to him? He was 22 when he enlisted in the armed forces during the War. He died in battle at age 25. Forgotten today, but remembered here…only to be forgotten once more.