The Re:Enlightenment Project“What forms might Enlightenment take now? The basic premise of The Re:Enlightenment Project is straightforward. The Enlightenment of the
eighteenth century—the revolution in tools, methods, and institutions that recast inquiry and enterprise in the
West—still shapes the ways in which knowledge is produced and disseminated today. It was from the Enlightenment
that we have inherited our modern universities and schools, libraries and galleries, learned societies, journals,
academic structures, and procedures. Over two centuries later, however, gradual and sudden changes in technology,
finance, and society have put that inheritance and its heirs under pressure—pressure not only to understand those
changes but to participate actively in shaping them. The institutions and individuals of The Re:Enlightenment Project
have joined together to pursue a historic opportunity: the transformation of our Enlightenment inheritance.
Individuals from the English Department include faculty and graduate students: Tom Augst, Yohei Igarashi, Lisa
Gitelman, Mary Poovey, Seth Rudy, Robert Young, and others. Read
The Postcolonial Studies Project at New York UniversityThe Postcolonial Studies Project at New York University is based in the Department of English with strong links to the Departments of Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Media, Culture and Communications, Social and Cultural Analysis. The project aims to foster vital investigation into areas that include the legacies of imperialism; anti-colonial and postcolonial thought; literature, film and cultural production emerging from the postcolonial condition; problematics surrounding issues of gender, translation, diaspora, migration and indigeneity; vernacular literary traditions; interrogations of transnationalism, globalization, secularism and nationalism, as well as critiques of the field itself. Located in one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic cities, the Postcolonial Studies Project aims to become the New York City area hub for the field, connecting a variety of researchers, students and visiting scholars, and acting as a forum where they can share their work.
Inaugurated with the appointment of Robert J.C. Young as NYU Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature in 2005, the project draws on its core faculty in the English Department—Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Toral Gajarawala and Jini Kim Watson—other faculty with interests in various aspects of the field—Patrick Deer, Elaine Freedgood, Crystal Parikh, Sukhdev Sandhu, Jeff Spear, John Waters—as well as the many renowned academics with related interests from across the university. In the past few years, the project has grown to become a vibrant site for intellectual exchange and innovative work in postcolonial studies, broadly conceived. Activities and events organized by those involved in the project include:
- a monthly colloquium with invited speakers, co-ordinated by the graduate students in the department
- a monthly seminar held in conjunction with CNRS (Paris)/NYU on the topic of ‘Postcolonialism and Enlightenment: An Experiment in Reconstituting Knowledge’
- a major international conference in 2008 on ‘Postcolonialism and the Hit of the Real’
- a lecture series on translation studies
- student panels and workshops
- a teach-in on the international dimensions of the economic crisis
- a thriving graduate reading group
- a pilot project of an archive of the global South, The Tricontinental Archive
- funding for an NYU graduate student in English to attend the inaugural 2009 session of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, held at the Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa
- participation in a collaborate research project with five universities around the world, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, on ‘Commodities and Culture, 1851-1914’. The program will include major three-day international workshops that will be hosted in London(2010), Kolkata (2010/11) and New York (2011)
- editing of the journal Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, whose office is in the English Department. Opportunities exist for graduate students to work as editorial assistants in the production of the journal.
Speakers at our conference and colloquia have included: Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Pheng Cheah, Nicholas Dirks, Simon Gikandi, David Lloyd, Achille Mbembe, Alok Rai, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and many others. Drawing on the expertise of over twenty faculty in other departments at NYU whose interests affiliate with those of postcolonial studies, other related NYU institutions and centers, as well as primary research materials available in the Bobst Library, particularly in Caribbean Studies, and elsewhere in New York, the project offers unique opportunities for collaborative work and cross-disciplinary dialogue as we attempt to further our understanding of the flows and forces of people, cultures, goods and institutions that make up our complex world - a world that is excitingly visible in the New York City where we work.
The Project on New York Writing The Project on New York Writing seeks to generate significant
new research and teaching about New York’s relationship to American and global literatures and cultures. We adopt a
broad definition of “New York writing” to include writing by New Yorkers, writing that takes New York to be its subject
or setting, or simply even writing produced in New York. We use the term “writing” in contradistinction to the term
“literature,” because the Project’s purview will extend beyond the genres of poetry, fiction, drama, and literary
nonfiction to embrace such other textual forms as music, journalism, and nonfiction of all kinds.
Interdisciplinary in its approach to literary and cultural studies, the Project examines the evolution of New York City as a literary construct, as well as the city’s emergence and continual reinvention as one of the country’s—and the world’s—premier sites of literary and cultural production. Seeking to understand how New York’s cultures, its history, and even its physical spaces might be understood to function as texts that respond to modes of literary analysis, the Project aims to demonstrate that literary scholarship can provide vital contributions to urban studies within a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
New York University is already a significant location for scholars and teachers who work on New York writing. The University’s Fales Library, with its Downtown Collection, has become the leading site for the study of New York’s mid-to-late-twentieth century avant-garde culture. NYU offers courses in a variety of departments related to New York literature and culture, and it currently reaches out both to high school students (through initiatives that originate in the Steinhardt School of Education) and to professors at teaching colleges in the area and around the country (through the efforts of the Faculty Resource Network). Reaching beyond the University, the Project aims to collaborate across academic and archival institutions in the greater metropolitan region and to disseminate new scholarship widely, both throughout New York City and around the country.
The Project will offer students of New York literature and culture resources with which to interpret the palimpsest that is New York, to help them make sense of the myriad narratives that the city generates. One of the Project’s chief aims is conservancy: we hope to preserve the history of New York writing for future generations. But another aim is the promotion of innovation: we hope to encourage all whom the Initiative serves to add to the living culture of city, reading and rewriting its narratives, enlarging the literary construct that is New York.
The Project’s founding event, a conference and Fales Library exhibition on the theme “Lost New York,” was held at NYU in the fall of 2009, with support from the Department of English, the NYU Humanities Initiative, and Fales Library and Special Collections. The Project also co-sponsored a follow-up conference, “Kiss Me Again: The Life and Legacy of Arthur Russell,” directed by Sukhdev Sandhu.
Current publications include a volume of essays that accompanied that “Lost New York” exhibition (click here to download a PDF version of the book) and The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York, edited by Project co-directors Cyrus R. K. Patell and Bryan Waterman. The co-directors also edit the blog Patell and Waterman’s History of New York.
Future Project activities include an expansion of undergraduate and graduate course offerings devoted to the history and culture of the city, building on the success of the department’s signature undergraduate course, Writing New York; a publication series that will include both new scholarship and annotated editions of classic New York literary texts; and additional conferences, including a major event in 2014 to mark the fortieth anniversary of the birth of the New York City punk scene.
Affiliated faculty within the English department include Thomas Augst, Jacqueline Goldsby, Cyrus R. K. Patell (co-director), Sukhdev Sandhu, Lytle Shaw, and Bryan Waterman (co-director).
For more information, see the page dedicated to the project at PWHNY.
Resources and Affiliations
Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
Certificate in Poetics and Theory Program
Department of Dramatic Literature
Expository Writing Program
Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge
Journals and Series
NYU In London, Professor Ernest Gilman, Director
The Early Book Society (NYU)
The Medieval and Renaissance Center
PALA 2004--Poetics and Linguistics Association International Conference at NYU, July 25-28
English Department Home Pages Worldwide (More than 1300 links).