Cinnamon raisin bagel with lox

New York City’s Relationship with the Bagel? It’s Complicated

Gallatin School of Individualized Study

When Cynthia Nixon ordered lox on a cinnamon raisin bagel during 2018’s New York gubernatorial race, some viewed it as a politically disastrous faux pas. Gallatin clinical assistant professor and historian Jacob Remes believes that no one’s eaten a “real” New York bagel since 1967, with the busting of the Bagel Bakers union and the rise of the mechanized bagel. It’s a suggestion so provocative that Jewish Currents invited Remes to expand upon the subject in a roughly 7,000-word article to be published later this year (the Wall Street Journal has aired his ideas as well). His position on the beloved carb? That there’s no way to grasp the legacy and legitimacy of bagels without examining the suburbanization and cultural assimilation of Jews in North America. How does this affect the search for that authentic bagel? “The actual product itself is always changing,” says Remes. “There is no original authentic bagel you can get back to. Authenticity is make-believe.”
—Abhimanyu Das (GSAS ’13)
(Photo by Emily Schultz)

Silver-and-gold bowl with a medallion

Three exquisite finds, all Roman, all dating between 1 and 100 AD, and all from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. Above: silver-and-gold bowl with a medallion depicting the Greek mythological queen Omphale (photo © Tahnee Cracchiola/Getty/BNF)

1,200 Seconds to Antiquity Enlightenment

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
The Gallo-Roman artifacts of the Berthouville Treasure—showcased this past fall at ISAW—have survived for about two millennia. This, despite the fact that the (mostly) silver statuettes and vessels were buried for centuries, accidentally dug up by a 19th-century farmer, and almost melted down for cash. Every Wednesday for a two-month period, visitors to the institute had a unique opportunity to do an approximately 20-minute dive into a single object’s history and significance, thanks to the midday Object Talks series with associate director for exhibitions Clare Fitzgerald and curatorial assistant Rachel Herschman. Guests “often feel overwhelmed by the amount of material and information in an exhibition,” Fitzgerald says. These quick-yet-intense discussions let people engage with the gallery as a respite during their day, in a way that Fitzgerald deems “energizing, not something that feels like a chore.” Tea, sandwich, bite-sized art history talk? Perfect lunch break.
—Abhimanyu Das (GSAS ’13)

silver-and-gold cup featuring centaurs and cupids

Silver-and-gold cup featuring centaurs and cupids (photo © Tahnee Cracchiola/Getty/BNF)

cameo of Jupiter

Sardonyx cameo of Jupiter set in a 14th-century gold-and-enamel mount (photo © BNF)

Been to Bobst? You’ve Made Music!

Faculty of Arts and Science / Libraries
The atrium of Bobst Library is one of NYU’s most vibrant communal areas, alive with activity, sound, and ideas. A new layer is being added to the hubbub: a permanent electroacoustic installation by Elizabeth Hoffman and J. Martin Daughtry, professor and associate professor of music, respectively, in the Faculty of Arts and Science, and Kent Underwood, head of NYU’s Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media and a music librarian. Hoffman was struck by what she calls the library’s “latent aesthetic potential as an acoustic being” and set out to create a piece that would merge with and encompass the sounds of footsteps, elevator chimes, and conversations. Every day, a new one-minute succession of tones, generated from the data from the entry turnstiles, is played at sunset. “It’s making all of this silent labor—thinking, writing, sweeping, cleaning, reading, etc.—audible,” says Daughtry. And since students, maintenance staff, professors, and visitors pass through the turnstiles, Daughtry notes, “everyone’s presence is equally registered in the installation’s sounds.”
—Abhimanyu Das (GSAS ’13)
(Photo by Kate Lord)




Bobst Library interior with sound waves superimposed over the image

IFA graduate student hard at work preserving a painting at La Pietra

Students Help Preserve Masterpieces

Institute of Fine Arts / NYU Florence
At a sprawling 15th-century Florentine estate, IFA graduate students can be found hard at work preserving an astounding collection of Italian art. Villa La Pietra, bequeathed to NYU in 1994 by British writer and scholar Sir Harold Acton, came with more than 6,000 works, including paintings, tapestries, and sculptures—most of which have not been recently restored or digitally cataloged. Now, every year, up to 16 IFA attendees visit the villa, where they are trained by conservators to ensure that the Acton collection is protected (by those in the conservation department) and inventoried (by others studying art history). They receive hands-on training in cutting-edge conservation techniques, along with the savvy to improvise without a formal lab. Michele Marincola, IFA professor of conservation at Villa La Pietra, says with a laugh of her resourceful students, “They didn’t have a large tub to wash a tapestry in, so they bought a kiddie wading pool.” And the trainees benefit just as much as the artworks. “The teaching component literally changes these students’ lives,” says Marincola. “I’ve never seen an institution as thoughtful and dedicated to preservation as this one.”
—Abhimanyu Das (GSAS ’13)
(Photo courtesy of IFA)