Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Art and Love in Renaissance Italy : There is no other way to put it!


Oscar Wilde once wrote, “All art is useless, except that it is intensely admired”. If so, then what is the use of painting? Sculpting vases, panels or jewelry? What makes them so special that The Museum of Metropolitan Art would exert so much of their resources into obtaining almost over 150 pieces for an exhibit?

The answer lies quite simply in the title of the exhibit. “Love and Romance in Renaissance Italy. All these objects were created as everlasting symbols of status, piety and love. As I trembled in the slightly chilly marble hall where most of the exhibit was housed I could not help but embrace how aptly titled it was.

  The painting of a beautiful woman probably commissioned by a doting husband stared across a blue and white ceramic vase. Celestial cherubs and gods like Venus, commissioned by those who tried in every way to be closer to God were recurring motifs. It is difficult not to generalize or to be overly sentimental in analyzing Renaissance art because the artists themselves deliberately exaggerated the subjects. Immense oil paintings of partially nude women of impressive proportions gazed the viewer out of countenance. This was considered beauty! Past tense is used because standards of what stands for love or beauty has drastically changed in a society that is so insecure.

            Historically, the High Italian Renaissance was a period where the pursuit of perfection was channeled through the skill of artists and their craft. Looking at their preindustrial era surroundings they saw potential for beauty and divinity reminiscent of the grandeur that was Rome. One such man was Fra Fillipo Lippi. He was a painter and monk. I recognized his style instantly as I my eyes skipped across the room. He specialized in profile paintings of Italian nobility and mostly couples as seen in the painting “Portrait of a Woman and a Man at a Casement”. In his pursuit of idealization he focuses on the details of an elaborate headpiece and dress rather than the woman that wore it. Her exaggeratedly high forehead, lack of eyebrows, and wan pallor though disconcerting the viewer was considered beauty. On her right arm he wrote the word “Leal” in Italian. Understandably to further emphasize her perfection as a loyal wife. Lorenzo Lotto also undertook to paint in this time and his portayal of “Venus and Cupid” is awe inspiring. Venus as the godess of beauty reposed and completely at ease with cupid at her feet gives and indescribable sense of serenity and peace. This was art and love in renaissance Italy.

This romantic idealization went beyond the human form. In the artist’s eyes and in my minds eye it transcended into human nature itself.

December 29, 2008   Comments Off on Art and Love in Renaissance Italy : There is no other way to put it!

Sam Freedman



At an instant, when Sam Freedman visited our classroom, one could tell he was dedicated and humble. Barely late at all, he was apologetic of running a bit behind, despite countless valid excuses. What a busy man! I believe a lot of his energy and drive contribute to his successes as a writer, teacher, and human being. When he began speaking about his novel, one could tell he was kind, despite what could be considered mean about his nature towards his mother in “Who She Was.” He spoke as an author should, with words full of color. One thing that struck me as odd was the repetition of the word obscure to describe his mother. It is such an honest word, but I would have used it to negatively describe someone whose character I find to be slightly off, yet he used the word without remorse, as if it was in full of meaning, but dead in the way I am used to. [Read more →]

December 17, 2008   Comments Off on Sam Freedman

Susan Meiselas: Capturing real human nature

 Susan Meiselas’s decision to pursue photography has taken her around the world. From Nicaragua, El Salvador, small towns and even South Bronx Mieselas had focused on capturing the horror of war ravaged and impoverished nations. In her series “Carnival Strippers” she focused on following the itinerary of carnival strippers. She took pictures not only of their performances but their own personal moments when they stopped being entertainers on stage and started being human. [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Susan Meiselas: Capturing real human nature

Sam Freedman Explains “Who She Was”

             First and foremost Samuel Freedman is know to the world as a widely read New York Times columnist, author and professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. To our IDC class and to anyone who has read his book “Who She Was”, he is a penitent son.

            Courteous as befits a man of his intelligence he entered our class a few minutes late with an apology and a reminder to Professor Bernstein that he had sent her two messages to alert her to his lateness. Even with deadlines earlier that morning he still took the time to come speak to our class. Mr. Freedman showed us immense presence of mind.           

He confessed in our class, as he looked down at his black patent leather shoes and nondescript dark slacks, “He wasn’t a very good son”. This confession is the first part to an explanation as to why he would write a book about his mother. Mothers are very interesting I suppose because everyone has one it is a universal subject. It was not impulse that drove him as he realized at her burial that he did not know her, it was guilt.

Running his hand back against his prickly salt and pepper hair he admitted he was “complicit on the silence of that subject”. He sugar coated his confession with a lower more even tone as he shifted side to side at the edge of the table at the front of the classroom, that he was at times uncommunicative and condemning of his mother. As he smiled at our questions and raised his shaggy eyebrows at some of them it was clear that he hadn’t quite gotten over this guilt in writing this book. He was as he put it “filled with shame and remorse at not being a more attentive son and better to her when she was sick”.

            I believe his guilt motivated him to research the aspects of her life with a “fanatical” attention to detail. He “knew what she was” but not “how she got there” and in saying that he acknowledged that he unfairly cast judgment on her. According the Professor Freedman if you “write about your own specific experiences and if done right, readers bring own experiences with reading and find connections”. It is sad for a young, idealistic student such as myself to admit this but theme of a son unable to reconcile with a parent is universal. Any adult with that much influence and proximity to a young child is bound to create disputes and disagreements. He believes in the “Periodic table of human nature – everything in material world can be broken down to finite elements; no matter what happens in human existence, everything breaks down to love, hate, disappointment, human personality, as long as you’re true to those, people will find the points of connection”. These themes are not all sad but Samuel Freedman is correct in his assertion that human beings sometimes relate to each other less in aspects in happiness and more in aspects of suffering because the later is just so much more prevalent.

            His final piece of advice to a group of idealistic and high achieving students that compromise Professor Bernstein’s Art’s In New York class addressed the future. As young individuals we will all eventually become parents ourselves. He warned us to be careful of denying our children of their “hearts desire”. If it is not something that “will kill them like drugs or something be careful of denying them that”. His mother was denied a chance of a happy marriage based on her love for Charlie and that is how she changed. I still find it unsettling how he could write in such a detached manner about his mother, someone who was in his life for so long. Only in addressing her past and sharing it was he able to find some sort of redemption. In forgiving her for her he forgives himself for the lack of communication between them. The book is written and published and he can move on to the future now.

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Sam Freedman Explains “Who She Was”

With a Purpose

I’m always excited for dance performances.  They inspire me, send shivers down my spine and keep me stick straight in anticipation of what comes next.  That is unless they’re bad.  Then I get monumentally disappointed and feel ass though the life was drained out of me during the performance.  I went into the Bush Women performance kind of wary, trying not to get my hopes up too high and because of my fellow students doubt was permeating my usual enthusiasm.  As the performance started I was intrigued but nothing glued my eyes to the stage.  There was a lack of coherence, that new age “dance to the music you feel, not what you hear” style throwing me off. [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on With a Purpose

Samuel G. Freedman

Samuel G. Freedman

On November 25th, our IDC class had the honor of meeting a famous writer and journalist, Samuel G. Freedman. From the start, he approached the class in a comfortable and caring way. He had a newspaper deadline and was running late, but “decided to risk it” just to visit our class. [Read more →]

December 15, 2008   Comments Off on Samuel G. Freedman

Syllabus for Arts in New York City Fall 2008 IDC Seminar

CHC/IDC 1001H KM 24 Bernstein

Fall 2008–T/TH 11:10 AM–12:25 PM VC: 12-170

Professor Roslyn Bernstein:

Office Hours: Tuesday, 1 PM to 3:00 PM (By Appointment)

Room 7-270, Vertical Campus (1 Bernard Baruch Way)

Tech Fellow: Craig Willse

The Arts in New York City:

Cultural Encounters

This class will explore the theme of cultural encounters. How do works of art in theater, opera, film photography, and visual art depict, describe, and decode cultural encounters? How do the arts bridge differences and create cultural connections. How do diverse artistic genres, by relying on acting, singing, stage directions, editing, and visual techniques, engage audiences? Supported by the CUNY Honors College Cultural Passport, we will look at major artistic works, studying their components and reflecting on the ways that the arts contribute to the rich cultural landscape of New York City.

How does an artistic work define and illuminate a cultural encounter? How does a playwright, a composer, an artist mold materials to expose an audience to new and challenging ideas? How do different texts and media illuminate the human condition –the twisting and turning, the metamorphosis, which we all experience as we struggle to understand who we are and why we exist? How do artists bring together disparate elements to create magical creative collages?

Texts: South Pacific

Who She Was by Samuel Freedman

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Arts Section New York Times (daily and weekends)

Additional materials will be distributed in the course of the semester, including articles and background material on Dr. Atomic and background reading on photography and the visual arts. Please read The Arts section of The New York Times daily.

Assignments in the syllabus are always due on the date for which they are listed.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thursday, 21. Aug. Performance of South Pacific. Lincoln Center

UNIT 1: Theater in the city: The Audience as Critic.

Thursday, 28 Aug. Introduction to the course theme: Cultural Encounters

In-class writing sample on South Pacific.“You’ve Got

to be Carefully Taught” says that racism is learned.

Do you agree?

Tuesday, 2 Sept. Musical Theater: Rogers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific and

James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.

Assignment: Read James Michener, Tales of the South Pacific

Fo’ Dolla pp. 165-226

Thursday, 4. Sept. Theatrical Genres: The ingredients of a review

Building a theatrical vocabulary

Bring in New York Times Theater Review for Discussion

and five words with definitions.

Tuesday, 9. Sept. Contemporary Theater:

Irena’s Vow by Dan Gordon

Wednesday 10 Sept. Baruch Performing Arts Center

Irena’s Vow: 8 PM

Thursday 11 Sept. Social Commentary as Drama: Irena’s Vow

Tuesday, 16 Sept. Artistic Interpretations of Lives on the Edge:

The Immigrant Experience in NYC:

Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (Chapter 1-4)

Thursday, 18 Sept. Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (Chapter 5,10, 14)

Tuesday, 23 Sept. Contrasting Two Worlds: Desai (Chapters 15-end)

Thursday, 25 Sept. Lahiri and Desai: The Namesake and The Inheritance of Loss

Assignment: Paragraph Describing your Collage Theme.

Due Oct. 2.

Thursday, 25 Sept. Culture Project: In Conflict

27 Barrow Street 8 PM

Macaulay HC Lincoln Center Programming

Sunday, 28 Sept. Meet the Artists

10:00AM-11:30 AM

Tuesday, Sept 30 No Class

Thursday, 2 Oct. Collage Project Theme Presentations/Viewing Old Sites

Discussion of Collage Assignment: Design a one page (8 ½ x 11) collage on the theme of a cultural encounter.. You may use any materials—paper, cloth, found objects. Give the collage a name and write a paragraph or paragraphs describing your creation. (Text and collage must be input and scanned in by Nov. 21 for our weblog.)

Reading Assignment for Oct. 7: See URL for Dr. Atomic

Thursday, 2. Oct. Waltz with Bashir 6PM

Ziegfeld Theater, 141 West 54th Street.

UNIT 2: Opera in the City: Dr. Atomic

Tuesday, 7 Oct. Dr. Atomic

Macaulay HC Meet the Directors

Tuesday, 7 Oct. 6:00 PM-8:30 PM

Thursday, 9 Oct. No Classes. College Closed

Tuesday, 14 Oct. No Class. Follow Monday Schedule

Thursday, 16 Oct. Francine Prose: Reading Like a Writer

Tuesday, 21 Oct. Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer

Tuesday, 21Oct. Francine Prose, Sidney Writer-in-Residence Reading

5:45 PM Newman Conference Center

151 East 25th Street/7th floor.

Reception from 5:00 to 5:45 PM. Reading at 5:45 PM.

Writing Assignment: 250-500 word mini-review of event, 10/28.

UNIT 3 Photography in New York City

Thursday, 23 Oct. Establishing a critical vocabulary: photography

Open City: Street Photographers Since 1950

The Street Photography Project

Tuesday, 28 October Reading Assignment: Photography Articles

Thursday 30 Oct. MET OPERA: Dr. Atomic



Thursday 30 Oct. Class Discussion of Dr. Atomic


Tuesday 4. Nov. Class Visit by Photographer Jeff Mermelstein

Street Photography: Conveying Cultural Encounters

Wednesday, 5 Nov. Performance of CLAY 8 PM

Thursday 6, Nov. Photo Gallery Visit: International Center of Photography

1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street 11:45 AM

Tuesday 11 Nov. New York: Capital of Photography

Team Oral PowerPoint Presentations on New York Photographers:

. (10/12 minutes maximum)

Walker Evans

Berenice Abbott

Lewis Hine

James Van Der Zee (Alix Dejean)

Diane Arbus

Lisette Modell

Philip-Lorca DiCorcia


Thursday 13 Nov. Team Presentations Continue

Reading Assignment for November 20: Who She Was (Freedman)

Tuesday 18 Nov. Street Photography Project Presentations I

Street Photography Project

Show and Tell: Present your album/CD of street images (approx. 12)

Do include a one-line photo caption for each image.

Writing Component: A journalistic /1st person account

describing your theme and the challenges you faced in shooting this street photography project (750 Words).

Wednesday, 19 Nov. BAM: 7:30 PM Gilman Opera House

Les ecailles de la memoire

Thursday, 20 Nov. Street Photography Presentations II

Tuesday, 25 Nov. Guest Speaker: Author/NYT columnist Sam Freedman

Who She Was

Thursday, 27 Nov. No Classes. Thanksgiving

UNIT 4. The Visual Arts in the City

Tuesday, Dec. 2

Who She Was/Who He Was Projects

Class on the Art of Interviewing.

Weaving in quotes and background research

Assignment: All reviews to be submitted

in Cultural Passport Portfolio due: December 16, 2008

Thursday, Dec. 4 Visit to MET MUSEUM:

Meet at Entrance 11:45 AM SHARP

Fifth Avenue and 83rd Street

Tuesday, Dec. 9 Critical Discussion of MET Exhibits

Thursday, Dec. 11 Who He Was/ Who She Was Presentations I

Read Excerpt from your paper and talk about the person and the project.

Tuesday, Dec. 16 Who She Was/ Who He Was Presentations II

Looking Forward and Backward: Evaluating the CHC/IDC course




Reviews of South Pacific, Irena’s Vow, Dr. Atomic, ICP Exhibit, MET exhibits, and talks by Prose, Mermelstein, and Freedman

[All reviews are to be included in your Cultural Passport Portfolio due 12/16]



WHO SHE WAS/WHO HE WAS PAPER: 20 % [Due 12/11]

Baruch Policy on Academic Integrity:

I fully support Baruch College’s policy on Academic Honesty which states, in part:

“Academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Cheating, forgery, plagiarism and collusion in dishonest acts undermine the college’s educational mission and the students’ personal and intellectual growth. Baruch students are expected to bear individual responsibility for their work, to learn the rules and definitions that underlie the practice of academic integrity, and to uphold its ideals. Ignorance of the rules is not an acceptable excuse for disobeying them. Any student who attempts to compromise or devalue the academic process will be sanctioned.”

Academic sanctions in this class will range from an F on the assignment to an F in this course. A report of suspected academic dishonesty will be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students. Additional information and definitions can be found at

Please see the discussion of this subject The Little Brown Handbook, 10th Edition (Longman/Person) See Chapter 45, Avoiding Plagiarism and Documenting Sources, pp. 629-638.

November 20, 2008   No Comments

Dr. Atomic Lacks a BANG!

The explosion of an atomic bomb or any bomb for that matter should have opened with a resounding “BAM”! Or at least a “BANG” some form of explosion because no adjective would rightly do it justice. Regrettably, this was most not the case at John Adam’s and Peter Sellers new contemporary opera “Dr. Atomic”.
The beauty of Met opera house overshadowed the poker stiff soldiers and officials at either wings of the stage and officials that compromised the introduction of the opera. Straight spined, they were as appealing to the viewer as ordinary school choir and just as simple. An atomic bomb releases a massive amount of energy but it was not the case with the singers and this led to their less than convincing performances. The singers were stationary and according to one viewer the beginning could simply be categorized as “flat”. [Read more →]

November 13, 2008   1 Comment

About: Cultural Encounters

This class will explore the theme of cultural encounters. How do works of art in theater, opera, film, photography, and visual art depict, describe, and decode cultural encounters? How do the arts bridge differences and create cultural connections? How do diverse artistic genres, by relying on acting, singing, stage directions, editing, and visual techniques, engage audiences? Supported by the Macaulay Honors College Cultural Passport, we will look at major artistic works, studying their components and reflecting on the ways that the arts contribute to the rich cultural landscape of New York City.

October 15, 2008   No Comments

Hello world!

Welcome to Macaulay Eportfolio Collection. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then get started!

August 28, 2008   Comments Off on Hello world!