Monthly Archives: December 2010

Message from Draper Student Emily Colucci Re: David Wojnarowicz and NYU

Draper student Emily Colucci has shared the following email with us in response to the recent censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s piece “A Fire in My Belly” at the National Portrait Gallery. Emily would like to see this situation addressed directly within the NYU community (the artist’s papers are housed in the Fales Collection in Bobst) and is seeking suggestions and feedback from the Draper community. Any suggestions and/or comments should be sent to Emily directly at esc255[at]nyu[dot]edu. Her message is below.


“To place an object or writing that contains what it invisible because of legislation or social taboo into an environment outside myself makes me feel not so alone; it keeps me company by virtue of its existence. It is kind of like a ventriloquist’s dummy—the only difference is that the work can speak for itself or act like that ‘magnet’ to attract others who carried this enforced silence. It also could act as a magnet for those with opposing frames of reference…”—David Wojnarowicz

On the night before World AIDS Day, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. removed a video entitled “A Fire in My Belly” by New York artist David Wojnarowicz from their exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” an exhibition on sexual difference in modern America, after pressure from the Catholic League and House Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor. The Catholic League and the House members took offense to an 11 second clip in the video, which depicts a small crucifix being crawled on by ants. Catholic League president William Donohue called the video “hate speech” and Rep. John Boehner decried it as a misuse of taxpayer money. Bowing to these criticisms and the threatening of their taxpayer funds, the National Portrait Gallery removed the film from their exhibition, closely mirroring the Robert Mapplethorpe controversy in 1989.

David Wojnarowicz created “A Fire in My Belly” in 1987 in response to his lover and artistic mentor Peter Hujar’s death from AIDS-related illnesses and his own rage at the silence surrounding the AIDS crisis. Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS-related illnesses five years later in 1992, often worked with difficult or challenging images as a means to articulate his invisibility and the invisibility of other people with AIDS during the late 1980s and 1990s.

David Wojnarowicz’s archives are housed at Fales Library and Special Collections on the Third floor of Bobst Library at NYU and the full-length video, which the National Portrait Gallery cut for exhibition was on loan from Fales. With this connection to NYU and the issues it raises for queer politics, art history and other fields, I feel that something should be done at NYU to address these issues whether it be a reading of Wojnarowicz’s work, a lecture or a discussion about the issues such as freedom of expression, hate speech, and the memory and history of the AIDS crisis, raised by the censoring of this video.

Please let me know any suggestions you may have. I know it is a bad time coming at the end of the Fall semester but with the issues raised by this controversy, a discussion of David Wojnarowicz’s artistic and literary output seems necessary.

Some important links on the Wojnarowicz/National Portrait Gallery controversy:

-PPOW Gallery holds Wojnarowicz’s Estate and has provided the uncut “A Fire in My Belly” film:

-Articles on the National Portrait Gallery’s removal of “A Fire in My Belly”:

-Support Hide/Seek, a Facebook group with frequent updates and news about responses to this controversy:!/

-David Wojnarowicz himself discussing art funding:

Thanks and I look forward to hearing your suggestions.


Emily Colucci


Library of Congress Photo Finds of the Week: December

As we near the end of 2010, here are some photos that were found in the LoC Flickr page in a keyword search for ‘December.’

These first three are by photographer Jack Delano:

Robin Nagle, Talk at NYU (Dec 8): The Twist-Ties that Bind: Garbage, New York City and You

Draper’s Director, Robin Nagle, will be giving a talk entitled “The Twist-Ties that Bind: Garbage, New York City and You” next Wednesday, December 8th. The talk will be right around the corner from Draper’s office at 5 Washington Place. More information is below.


Freshkills Park Talks
The Twist-Ties that Bind: Garbage, New York City and You
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.

Join Dr. Robin Nagle to learn (almost) everything you ever wanted to know about garbage in New York. Discover how profoundly it connects us to each other, to history, to politics, to infrastructure and technology. Hear stories and reflections from people who shoulder its burdens. Glimpse some of its surprising secrets. Consider why we need to ignore it, and ponder the consequences of its invisibility. The insights you glean might just change forever the way you see your city.

Dr. Nagle is the anthropologist-in-residence for the Department of Sanitation. She is also director of the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University, where she teaches anthropology and urban studies. Her book Picking Up, about what it is to be a sanitation worker in New York and why you should care, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the New York City Department of Sanitation and the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University.

NYU 5 Washington Place, Room 101

Location Details:
Enter on the corner of Mercer St & Washington Pl.
Nearest trains: R to 8th Street, 6 to Astor Place

For more information — 212-788-8277 and/or

New MA in Literary Translation (French-English), NYU

A Message from NYU’s French Department:

Dear Colleague:

We wish to call your attention to our new M.A. Program in Literary Translation (fiction, non-fiction, literary analysis, humanities and social science texts). Starting in Fall 2011, this one-year program (two semesters in New York, the following summer in Paris) will both train students in literary translation and put them in touch with representatives of the publishing industry in New York and Paris. Students will take courses in the theory of translation, in French literature and culture, as well as participating in workshops focusing on specific translating challenges (for example theatre or poetry). They will be encouraged to develop their own translating style. The final exercise for the M.A. degree will be an original translation, supervised by professionals in the field.

Housed in the Department of French at NYU, students will also benefit from the myriad lectures, conferences, visiting professors, and French- and Francophone-focused activities of the Department. The Paris component at New York University in Paris will feature encounters with French and Francophone writers and a course in creative writing taught by well-known Anglophone writers.

We hope you will bring this program to the attention of your colleagues and to those students who might be interested in learning more about translation, in translation as a career, and in enhancing their knowledge of the intricacies of the French language and the imbrication of language and culture.

For more details and contact addresses, please visit our website at:

Sincerely yours,

Denis Hollier, Chair

Emmanuelle Ertel, Director, M.A. in Literary Translation

We would, of course, also be most happy to have your students apply to our other graduate programs: the PhD in French Literature; the M.A. in Literature; the M.A. in Language and Culture; the M.A. in Teaching French. Please visit our website for specifics of these programs:

Department of French

New York University

13-19 University Place

New York, NY 10003

Tel: 212 998 8700

Don’t Forget! This Friday, Dec 3: DSO Fall Colloquium on Practice

DSO Fall Colloquium
Friday, December 3rd
7:00 PM in the Draper Map Room

with presentations by:

Greg Wersching
“A Discipline Divided: How Can Creative Writing Programs (Re)inform Literary Criticism?”

Lee Benjamin Huttner
“Theater in Praxis: On the Practical Turn in Understanding Dramatic Literature”

Benjamin Kampler
“De-structing Space: Anti-Gay Violence in Gay Bars”