Friday, November 18, 2011

Today: The Crisis of the Humanities and Prospects for Language Students in the US (MLA President Russell Berman)

You are cordially invited to a talk by MLA President Russell Berman at Deutsches Haus at NYU, Today 6:30 p.m.

42 Washington Mews, New York, NY, 10003

The Crisis of the Humanities and Prospects for Language Students in the US.

A talk by Russell Berman

Russell Berman's talk deals with the challenges to language study as a component of a wider crisis faced by the humanities in US higher education. This paper provides a historical frame to evaluate this crisis, while relating it to problems in student learning, especially with regard to language skills. The role of recent government education policy in contributing to the decline of language learning is discussed. The paper concludes with some specific proposals to expand second language learning in the US.

Carlos Alonso and Catherine Porter will act as respondents to the talk.

Biography: Russell A. Berman is the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, with appointments in the Departments of Comparative Literature and the Department of German Studies, which he now chairs.

Berman specializes in German literature and culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and on wider problems of European and trans-Atlantic culture. He is the author of numerous articles and books including Enlightenment or Empire: Colonial Discourse in German Culture (1998) and The Rise of the Modern German Novel: Crisis and Charisma (1986), both of which won the Outstanding Book Award of the German Studies Association. Other books include Anti-Americanism in Europe: A Cultural Problem (2004) and Fiction Sets You Free: Literature, Liberty and Western Culture ( 2007). At Stanford, he is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institutions and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and he is a recipient of the Bundesverdienstkreuz of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is also the 2011 President of the Modern Language Association, as which he has consistently advocated for expanded opportunities for second language learning.

DAAD sponsored event

Tonight (11/18): Film Screening @ NYU -- Community Activism and Environmental Justice in Post-Katrina New Orleans

A/P/A Institute at NYU presents
A story of community activism and environmental justice in post-Katrina New Orleans...
“A Village Called Versailles”
Film Screening and Talk with filmmaker Leo Chiang and Scholar Julie Sze, UC Davis

Friday, Nov 18th
Cantor Film Center
36 East 8th Street
Theater 101

RSVP: online at , tel: 212.992.9653

Talk and demonstration is FREE and open to the public.

Winner of the Audience Award at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and New Orleans Film Festival, “A Village Called Versailles” is filmmaker Leo Chiang’s feature documentary about Versailles, an isolated community in eastern New Orleans that has been settled by Vietnamese refugees since the late 1970s. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Versailles residents impressively rise to the challenges by returning and rebuilding before any other flooded neighborhood in New Orleans, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill just two miles away. The film recounts the empowering story of how this group of people, who have already suffered so much in their lifetime, turns a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.

Following the film, Julie Sze, Associate Professor of American Studies at University of California at Davis and author of Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice will be in conversation with Chiang about the broader issues of race and environmental justice covered in the film affecting Asian American communities.

Notes on the Recent Draper MA Thesis Writing Workshop

Our thanks to Scott Silsbe for providing the following notes!

On writing a thesis

It should be an original argument embedded within the current work on the subject.

When choosing a thesis topic think about the following: What have I done? Where am I going? Think broadly at first, then narrow the topic down. What are my 'key terms'? How will your thesis be formally organized, i.e. chapters, sections, etc.

Five hints for choosing a thesis-writing:

1: Pick something that motivates you, not something you think you ‘should’ do.
2: Pick something you can finish in the allotted time.
3: Write throughout the entire process. ('Writing' includes note-taking, graphing outlining, etc. in addition to drafting the essay itself.)
4: Be in communication with your adviser.
5: Throughout the process, think about your title as well as write and rewrite your abstract. Ask yourself, "What is my ‘elevator talk’?" How do you explain your thesis in 300 words or less? In 50 words or less? In ten words?

Three possible starting points are:

1: Methodology - how will you go about your research and analysis?
2: Data - what is the material you're working with (primary sources or literature on the subject you'll be analyzing)?
3: Theory - what ideas/system of ideas will you be using you make sense of your data?

Keep in mind: the time between when the thesis-approval document is due and when the thesis itself is due (about 3 months) is not enough time to write a thesis. Start working early.

Set early personal deadlines. Your personal ‘final draft’ deadline should be two weeks to one month before the actual final draft deadline. Work backwards to plan your schedule.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Don't Forget Advising for the Spring Semester!

If you have not already made your advisement appointment for spring 2012 classes, please call Draper (212.998.8070) to set up an appointment. Appointments can be held in person or over the phone, but all students who will be enrolling in courses during the coming semester *must* speak to Dr. Dimit for advising.

Next week will be the last week of advising until January--there will be no advising appointments made in December.
Appointments are still available on Monday, Nov. 21 and Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Call Draper at 212.998.8070 to schedule your appointment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One Month from Today...

Two Important Reminders for Friday, December 16!

Thesis Submission for January Graduates

Please be reminded that those of you who intend to graduate this coming January will need to submit your completed and approved Master's thesis to Draper no later than one month from today: Friday, December 16. Any theses received after 6:00 PM on December 16 will be held over for May graduation. There will be no exceptions.

For more information on thesis guidelines, please see Draper's Web site, here:

All thesis related forms--including a sample cover page and second reader sheets--can also be downloaded from the Draper website, here:

If you have any questions or concerns about the thesis submission or graduation processes, please feel free to email us at

Draper's Year-End Celebration Party

After you've turned in your thesis and/or had your last class for the semester, stop by Draper to celebrate the end of another busy year with food, wine, and general merriment. Feel free to bring your loved ones!

Let us know if you're coming: RSVP to

Monday, November 14, 2011

Student Profile: Jennifer Celestin

Jennifer answers the Draper Dozen.

1. When did you start at Draper?
I started at Draper in the Fall 2010

2. Are you a full or part-time student?
I am a Full-Time student

3. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. My parents are Haitian immigrants so I spent many summers and winter holidays in Haiti.

4. What are your primary research interests?
I am interested in the construction of transnational identities and the mediation or expression of identity through language. I particularly look at the work of Haitian-American writer, Edwidge Danticat and her use of English, Haitian Creole, and French in a single text.

5. Why did you choose to pursue an interdisciplinary degree at Draper?
I had originally applied for an MFA in fiction where I would work on material that employed the use of code-switching (the use of more than one language in a single exchange). I was instead referred to Draper and found that this interdisciplinary degree provided me with more academic freedom to flesh out my burgeoning ideas on Haitian-American identities.

6. What do you plan to do after Draper?
I want to be working on a novel and teaching undergraduates as an instructor; acceptance into a fully funded MFA programs would allow me to do both.

7. Do you have any special activities or projects outside of your academic work?
I am a performance poet and have performed at the Brooklyn Museum, Brecht Forum, La Mama Experimental Theatre, the Bowery, and El Museo del Barrio. I was a featured storyteller at the Bridge Culture Summer series in 2010. I have done voice-over work for museums exhibits on Caribbean History and through the help of the Haiti Cultural Exchange I have been able to work as a teaching artist with bilingual children, encouraging them to write poems in their native language.

I am happy to share that I have been accepted into a delegation of artists, mental health specialists, and organizers for the Ayiti Resurrect Project. I will be going to Haiti in January 2012 to help victims of the 2010 earthquake find expression and healing through poetry.

8. How does living and studying in New York impact your educational experience?
I went to Wesleyan University located in Middletown, Ct for my bachelor’s degree. It was far from my family and there were few local distractions. It was an ideal place for serious study. Some of us on campus even called it a bubble. Now, as a graduate student I am living outside that bubble and feeling the pressures that ‘real’ life can impose upon you even when there’s an assignment due. It has helped to give me the perspective and discipline I will need if I plan on being a novelist in the future. I make the hard choices to stay in and work on my material even when tempted to unwind with family and friends.

Being home in New York also allows me to stay close to my Haitian community. New York has one of the largest Haitian immigrant populations in the US and staying close to my community keeps my work and my voice relevant and fresh.

9. Is there any one place (museum, library, shop, park, etc.) in New York that is your favorite? Why?
Peppa’s Jerk Chicken Spot on the corner of Woodruff and Flatbush Ave. It is open all night long! The food is amazing and I can count on it if I’m up late writing or coming in from a night out.

10. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. I love the bold, chocolaty flavor. I have to monitor my intake though because if not I will talk your ear off while attempting to do pushups.

11. Are you a fan and/or user of social media? Why or why not?
I am a user of social media but wouldn’t really call myself a fan. I’m happy we have ways of staying connected but find our dependence on them disconcerting. The entire way that we interact with each other (and ourselves) has changed. I find myself having a thought while walking to the train and thinking, “I’ll have to post that onto facebook.” No, I don’t have to do anything. It has weaved its way into our thought process and everyday life. I will say that I am a longtime fan of Beyonce and my friends might find my unwavering support for her more unsettling than facebook.

12. What was the last book you read for fun (not for class or research)?
I am in the unique position where most of the books I read now bring me pleasure and are related to my research. But I have a feeling that you really want me to tell you about the last book I devoured before entering grad school: Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn.

13. If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?
I would still be performing poems and facilitating creative writing workshops but my day job would be different. Before I entered NYU I was working as an advocate counselor at a transfer high school with a community-based organization. If I did not get into graduate school I would probably look into becoming a guidance counselor and work with the Department of Education.

"A Citizen's Guide to Plastic Pollution" Talk -- Tuesday 11/15

A citizen’s guide to plastic pollution

A presentation by Max Liboiron, brought to the NYU community by Earthmatters
Tuesday, November 15th 2011 from 8-9:30pm in Rosenthal Pavilion on the 10th floor of Kimmel.
Refreshments will be served.

How safe am I eating from plastic take out containers? Can I put them in the microwave? Can I reuse them? What’s this I hear about BPA? Am I at risk? What about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Does that affect me? How can I help stop the patch from growing?

First we will talk about how plastic pollutes your body and in the global environment. Then we will discuss how to be as healthy as possible in this Very Plastic world, and what sorts of things need to change to deal with plastic pollution effectively. Past participants of this presentation have reported that it was the most enthralling hour of education they've ever experienced, opening their eyes to a host of body mutations, early death and food chain disasters that they knew nothing about.

Max Liboiron is a PhD candidate at New York University and Co-Coordinator for the Plastic Pollution Coalition- East Coast. Her research focuses on models of pollution and how twenty-first century waste such as ocean plastics or plastic chemicals that accumulate in human bodies defy those models. The ultimate propose of her dissertation is to extend notions of pollution to include these cases so that future practices can be more environmentally viable. Max previously coordinated NYU’s Green Grants, a grassroots stakeholder granting program run by the Office of Sustainability to increase the university’s environmental performance and culture. She is also a trash artist. More information on this presentation and her other work is available at

Please email questions to See you Tuesday!