New York Uncovered: A Five-Part City Course with E.Y. Zipris

New York Uncovered: A Five-Part City Course with E.Y. Zipris


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New York City is as ever-changing as its history. This course will cover four hundred years using artifacts, maps, photographs, art, and primary source documents to resurface hidden voices and stories. It’s a course that is open to die-hard NYC fans and new travelers alike.

Following in the footsteps of well-known citizens and change-makers, the course will highlight hidden voices who fought for equality and representation. Beginning in Manhatta, home to Lenape Native Americans for thousands of years, the course will begin with an introduction to the Lenape people, cultures, and traditions still in existence today. The arrival of Europeans introduced not just upheaval and destruction but a cascade of urban legends and mythologies that New York is still grappling with today.

This course is museological in nature – making use of things left behind to illustrate and populate our discussions. Loosely based on the Museum of the City of New York’s groundbreaking exhibition, ‘New York at Its Core’, participants will be encouraged to analyze artifacts, maps, paintings, photographs, and assorted ephemera to challenge what we think we know about the city that never sleeps.

In its essence, New York City is a plein-air museum, and its histories, stories, mythologies, and legends will come to life before our eyes. Led by museologist and historian, E.Y. Zipris, this course will engage participants with the history, art, and culture of New York. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will traverse four hundred years of history to discover an astounding array of facts, meet fascinating figures, and become conversant on the narratives that come together to make New York, New York.

 

Lecture 1: What Makes New York New York? Four Hundred Years in Four Maps

The first session will overview great changes and transformations in New York City’s history beginning with the Lenape and concluding in the present day. During the journey, participants will discuss what makes New York City unique, setting the stage for the upcoming sessions.

Lecture 2 From the Lenape to the Revolutionary War: 1608 – 1775

To many, contemporary New York begins with an entirely mythological real estate deal between the Native Americans and Europeans. In truth, little is known about this 17th century moment. Analyzing New York's seal, a Lenape Ceremonial club, and a document known as the Schagen Letter, participants will collectively reconstruct the pathways leading to this moment.

Lecture 3 Streets Paved With… 1800 – 1898

From the laying of the cornerstone of the new City Hall in 1803 to the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898, the 19th century was rife with challenges. Centering slavery and the role of New York in the civil war, this session will highlight places: Seneca Village and Central Park, Five Points, and the Lower East Side, and the Statue of Liberty. Lecture three will revisit these iconic places to learn the backstory of their creation and the mythologies remaining.

Lecture 4: Up and Out: 1898 – 1980

In this lecture, we will consider how major innovations transformed the city from all directions. Massive physical developments such as the stretch of subways below ground and the glittering rise of skyscrapers above, these massive developments were accompanied by social changes and upheavals. From the Great Depression to the emergence of New York as cultural capital during WWII, and concluding with New York’s dramatic financial decline in the seventies, this session will highlight the major economic shifts of the twentieth century and the effect on the city’s landscape.

Lecture 5: Activist New York–Past to Present

Bringing the conversation to the present day, this session will close out the 20th century and enter the 21st, by asking if New York City’s seemingly endless ability to rise and transform is inevitable. Revisiting what makes New York, New York, participants will meet the city’s change-makers, past and present, and will conclude with a conversation to consider current challenges rooted in past ideals.

For over two decades, E.Y. Zipris has studied, worked in, lectured and written about museums and history. Formerly the Director of Education at the Museum of the City of New York, E.Y. played a leading role in the development of its groundbreaking exhibition, New York at Its Core – the city’s first ever comprehensive exhibition. Currently on faculty at the City University of New York and Teachers College, Columbia University, E.Y. brings her passion for storytelling to audiences of all ages. E.Y. has an EdM in Art Education and Museum Studies from Teachers College and an MA in Museum Anthropology from Columbia University, and lives in the Upper West Side with her husband and daughter.

 

How does it work?

This is a five-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on NYC history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $175 for five lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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