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Current and Upcoming Forums at the Gotham Center

The History Forums are still FREE, but you are now required to register. Please follow the link at the specific forum you wish to attend. Seating is limited.

Unless otherwise noted, all forums take place at the CUNY GRADUATE CENTER - 365 5th Avenue at 34th Street.




3Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Order of Nature
Tuesday, October 7, 2008, 6:30 p.m. – Recital Hall - to register click here


D. Graham Burnett, Associate Professor of History, Princeton University, recovers the strange story of Maurice v. Judd, an 1818 trial that pitted the new sciences of taxonomy against the then-popular--and biblically sanctioned--view that the whale was a fish. The trial fueled a sensational public debate in which nothing less than the order of nature--and how we know it--was at stake. Falling in the middle of the century between Linnaeus and Darwin, the trial dramatized a revolutionary period that saw radical   transformations in the understanding of the natural world. Book signing to follow. Recipient of The New York Society Library’s 2007 New York City Book Award




Italian-Americans, Hell’s Kitchen and Mario Puzo’s The Fortunate Pilgrim
Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 6:30 p.m. – Recital Hall - to register click here

 Co-Sponsored with

2This forum is the first in our series on the history of 34th Street. One of the cornerstones of Italian American literature and set between the Wars, on the westernmost edge of 34th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, scholars will examine Mario Puzo’s classic novel of the Italian-American experience, The Fortunate Pilgrim (1964). Panelists Robert Viscusi, Professor of English, Brooklyn College; Anthony Julian Tamburri, Professor and Dean, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, and Fred Gardaphé, Distinguished Professor of History, Queens College will discuss issues of ethnicity, class, assimilation as well as resistance to it. Award-winning actor John Turturro, who starred in the 1988 mini-series, is also scheduled to appear. 













The City's End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York's Destruction
Monday, November 24, 2008, 6:30 p.m. -- Recital Hall - to register click here

At each stage of New York’s development over the past century, visions of how the city would be demolished, blown up, swallowed by the sea, or toppled by monsters have proliferated in films and science fiction novels, photography, painting, graphic arts, television advertisements, postcards, cartoons, and computer software. In a project begun well before September 11, but given a new importance in its wake Max Page, Professor of Art History, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, seeks to offer a critical historical perspective to our understanding of the recent disaster.  Book signing to follow




Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War

Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 6:30 p.m. – Rooms 9204 – 9206 - to register click here


Over 20,000-plus Americans were held by the British in New York during the Revolution, under conditions so atrocious that the mortality rate often reached 70 percent or more.  Edwin G. Burrows, Distinguished Professor of History, Brooklyn College and Pulitzer Prize winning author, raises questions about how this aspect of the war has been remembered, forgotten, and remembered again since the Revolution.







6The Corner of 34th and Fifth
Wednesday, December 10, 2008 – Recital Hall - to register click here

Co-Sponsored with

The second forum on 34th Street will focus on a geographical and historical look at one corner over time -- the corner of 34th and Fifth Avenue. This one corner can serve as a synecdoche for much of New York City’s elite history. It was home to farm land, two Astor Mansions (1850s), the A.T. Stewart mansion (1867), the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels (1893 and 1897), B. Altman’s (1906) and the Empire State Building (1931).  2008 marks the 75th anniversary of King Kong (1933). This panel will focus on the experience of elites and examine the layers of change that reveal much about the history of power, real estate and tourism. Join panelists David M. Scobey, Professor of History, Bates College; Clifton Hood, Professor of History, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and author John Tauranac.








View Spring 2008 Forums



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