New York Thought: Smart Things to Do in NYC This Week

The origin of dreams, mass media and Martin Luther, and Siri Hustvedt crossing the science/humanities divide highlight our picks for the best smart things to do in NYC this week.

Monday, December 5


Al Capone may be associated with Chicago, but the legendary gangster was Brooklyn born and bred. National Book Award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair fills in the story, drawing on exclusive access to Capone’s descendants. Brooklyn Historical Society.


Bruce Davidson’s latest photography book (a survey that runs from his famed social documentary work forward to recent projects in L.A. and Paris) will be celebrated in a combined book signing and discussion. The Strand.


Longtime Brooklyn resident Ellen Freudenheim comes to the New York Public Library—Mid-Manhattan Library to speak on her detailed look at a favored borough, The Brooklyn Experience: The Ultimate Guide to Neighborhoods & Noshes, Culture & the Cutting Edge.


In 1517 church doors and hammers subbed for Twitter feeds. A panel of scholars looks at the mass media of Martin Luther’s day, and its continuing relevance to activism and social media today.

Tuesday, December 6


“The psychic and social ramifications of being a question” will be addressed in a night dedicated to the fairer sex. Follow the evolving perceptions through democratic revolutions, Victorian reform, and market capitalism, and forward to American female suffrage. Coworkrs Gowanus.


Don’t blow your cover at this discussion of the history of espionage in New York City, including a gloss on “Bronx Man Leads Russian Revolution.Brooklyn Brainery.

Wednesday, December 7


Novelist Siri Hustvedt is back with a new book of essays that cross over the humanities/science divide. Sections cover neurobiology, mind/body dichotomies, and gender bias in art and literature. In addition to a reading and Q&A, there will be an interview with Hustvedt and philosopher Simon Critchley. BookCourt.


A psychologist, a dream researcher, and a sleep/dream medicine expert come together to look at where dreams originate and what they have the potential to tell us. New York Academy of Sciences.


Ethnographer and photographer Camilo José Vergara speaks on his new book, Detroit Is No Dry Bones, a look at 25 years of both decline and transformation in the Motor City. Book Culture.


“What is the artist’s relationship, and obligation, to society?” provides a starting point for musicologist Richard Taruskin’s takes on 21st-century classical music. In addition to cultural analysis, the evening will include a conversation and, of course, a musical interlude. Graduate Center, CUNY

Image: groucho/Flickr

Image: groucho/Flickr

A panel of five international architects and historians convene to celebrate Le Corsbusier (1887-1965), who had 17 buildings added to the World Heritage list this summer. Albertine.

Thursday, December 8


Start your midnight countdown early at this talk exploring the history of New Year’s Eve celebrations, from Babylon forward. Brooklyn Brainery.


Enigmatic novelist Elena Ferrante is examined in two talks at Columbia University, looking at Feminism/Realism.

Find our picks for the weekend here.

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