Program in Humanistic Studies



  • Esther H. Schor

Executive Committee

  • William A. Gleason, English
  • Barbara Graziosi, Classics
  • Martin Kern, East Asian Studies
  • Rosina A. Lozano, History
  • Kinohi Nishikawa, English
  • Marina Rustow, Near Eastern Studies
  • Kim Lane Scheppele, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
  • Esther H. Schor, English

Associated Faculty

  • Denis Feeney, Classics
  • Yair Mintzker, History
  • Moulie Vidas, Religion
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Program Information

The Program in Humanistic Studies, under the auspices of the Council of the Humanities, hosts courses that take interdisciplinary, comparative, and cross-cultural approaches to the humanities. At the introductory level, we offer three year-long, team-taught "humanities sequences" exploring the events, ideas, texts, and artifacts of Western, Near Eastern, and East Asian cultures, respectively. These sequences attend closely to revolutions in thought and politics, human rights, racism, and social transformation. First- and second-year students study challenging texts in a supportive, communal setting, and are mentored by upper-level students in the program. At the advanced level, the program offers team-taught capstone seminars and a certificate in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities. 

The certificate in Humanistic Studies is open to students from all concentrations who wish to pursue their intellectual interests and commitments via interdisciplinary curriculum. Having acquired a strong grounding in an interdisciplinary study, juniors and seniors elect courses that reflect explicitly on the frontiers of disciplines, the bridges that connect them, and the insights gained from approaching one field with the questions and methods of another. Drawing on their experience in their home departments, humanistic studies students move across established disciplines and engage with emerging fields of study, such as medical, environmental, urban, and digital humanities. 


Candidates for the program must complete, during their first two years, two interdisciplinary courses that study history, literature, arts and/or culture over a span of historical time. 

Most students present as prerequisites one of the following pairs of courses: (1) Any two HUM-designated courses (e.g. HUM 346, Introduction to Digital Humanities); (2) HUM 216-217 or 218-219, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture; (3) HUM 233-234, East Asian Humanities; or (4) HUM 247-248, Near Eastern Humanities. While these are the usual ways to fulfill the prerequisite, any 200- or 300-level HUM designated course may serve as a prerequisite. If you seek to fulfill the prerequisites with other courses, please submit syllabi of the two courses you are proposing as prerequisites.

Plan of Study

In addition to the two prerequisites, students complete six additional courses, four of which must be explicitly interdisciplinary in intellectual focus. (In most cases, these courses may also be used to fulfill departmental requirements, please check with your director of studies for approval.) The remaining two courses are chosen in consultation with the program adviser and tailored to the student's individual plan of study. In these courses, students are expected to forge their own interdisciplinary connections and pursue them in written work. One of the six courses is a team-taught capstone seminar created specifically for certificate students. Program students must also complete either an interdisciplinary senior thesis in their home department or an interdisciplinary research paper written specifically for the program.

Students pursuing the certificate chart individualized pathways guided by their intellectual interests and commitments. In consultation with the program adviser, applicants to the program propose a curriculum for their junior and senior years that combines the requirements of their home departments with courses best suited to develop their interests. Here are five examples of pathways followed by students in humanistic studies; we invite you to invent your own.

1. Bridges within the humanities and arts

Students on this path have deepened their study of one particular partnership among the possible combinations of religion, philosophy, history, literature, and the arts.

2. Bridges between the humanities and related social sciences

Students on this path have focused on the intersections between a specific branch of the humanities and a neighboring field of anthropology, sociology, or politics.

3. Intercultural studies

Students have illuminated their study of one culture with comparative approaches to other areas of the world, for example, or have studied one or more regions through various methodologies. To enhance their intercultural studies, program students have benefited from participating in global seminars or other study abroad opportunities. 

4. Bridges between the humanities and the sciences

These students, while concentrating in the humanities or social sciences, have explored links to cognitive science, environmental studies, or other sciences.

5. Digital approaches to the humanities

Students in this group, with or without a background in computer science, have learned how new media and new technology empower us to ask new kinds of questions and forge new kinds of knowledge.

HUM 470, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities is the required capstone seminar. This team-taught course varies from year to year, depending on the focus of the faculty team. Typically these courses are a site of innovation and experimentation, offering cutting-edge, hands-on experience with new constellations of texts, objects and images.


HUM 205 The Classical Roots of Western Literature (See COM 205)

HUM 206 Masterworks of European Literature (See COM 206)

HUM 209 Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication (See TRA 200)

HUM 210 Foundations of Psychological Thought (See PSY 210)

HUM 212 Classical Mythology (See CLA 212)

HUM 213 The Lucid Black and Proud Musicology of Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka (See LCA 213)

HUM 215 Corruption, Conversion, Change: Philosophies and Fictions of Transformation (See CLA 215)

HUM 216 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: Literature and the Arts Fall LA

This course, taken simultaneously with 217, forms the first part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture. Part I extends from antiquity to the Middle Ages. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, guest lectures, and other special events. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. Three lectures, two discussion sessions. Instructed by: M. Vidas, D. Heller-Roazen, B. Kitzinger

HUM 217 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: History, Philosophy, and Religion Fall HA

In combination with 216, this is the first part of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence exploring Western culture. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. All meetings are listed under 216. Instructed by: J. Lahiri, B. Graziosi, M. Delvaux

HUM 218 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: Literature and the Arts Spring LA

This course, taken simultaneously with 219, forms the second part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture. Part II extends from the Renaissance to the modern period. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, and other special events. Students enroll in both 218 and 219. Instructed by: M. Vidas, M. Kronfeld, E. Schor

HUM 219 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: History, Philosophy, and Religion Spring EC

In combination with 218, this is the second half of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence exploring Western culture from the 15th to the 20th centuries. All meetings are listed under 218. Instructed by: Z. Chaudhary, Y. Mintzker, C. Mangone

HUM 222 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion (See REL 222)

HUM 227 The Worlds of the Middle Ages (See MED 227)

HUM 229 Great Books in Buddhism (See REL 229)

HUM 233 East Asian Humanities I: The Classical Foundations (also
EAS 233
COM 233
) Fall EM

An introduction to the literature, art, religion, and philosophy of China, Japan, and Korea from antiquity to ca. 1400. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation and complemented by museum visits, films, and other materials from the visual arts. The lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion. Students are encouraged to enroll in HUM 234 in the spring, which continues the course from ca. 1400 into the 20th century. Instructed by: B. Steininger, M. Kern

HUM 234 East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations (also
EAS 234
COM 234
) Spring EM

An introduction to the literary, philosophical, religious, and artistic traditions of East Asia. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation. Lectures and discussions are accompanied by films, concerts, and museum visits. Lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion. Instructed by: E. Huang, F. Prichard

HUM 236 The University: Its History and Purpose (See REL 233)

HUM 239 Introduction to African Literature and Film (See COM 239)

HUM 240 Medical Anthropology (See ANT 240)

HUM 242 Greek Tragedy from Ancient Athens to Ferguson (See CLA 242)

HUM 247 Near Eastern Humanities I: From Antiquity to Islam (also
NES 247
) Fall EM

This course focuses on the Near East from antiquity to the early centuries of Islam, introducing the most important works of literature, politics, ethics, aesthetics, religion, and science from the region. We ask how, why, and to what ends the Near East sustained such a long period of high humanistic achievement, from Pharaonic Egypt to Islamic Iran, which in turn formed the basis of the high culture of the following millennium. Instructed by: D. Sheffield, J. Haubold

HUM 249A The Science of Roman History (See CLA 247A)

HUM 249B The Science of Roman History (See CLA 247B)

HUM 251 Identity in the Spanish-Speaking World (See SPA 250)

HUM 252 Narrating Pandemics Now (See SPA 252)

HUM 253 Pompeii (See CLA 250)

HUM 297 Transformative Questions in Biology (See STC 297)

HUM 300 Urban Studies Research Seminar (See URB 300)

HUM 301 Topics in German Drama and Theater (See GER 301)

HUM 304 Plato's Republic (See PHI 305)

HUM 307 The Irish Oral Tradition (See MUS 307)

HUM 309 Political Philosophy (See PHI 309)

HUM 312 The Literature of Medieval Europe (See COM 310)

HUM 313 Christians and Incarceration (See REL 308)

HUM 314 Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity (See AAS 303)

HUM 316 Social Philosophy (See PHI 316)

HUM 317 Dance in Education: Dance/Theater Pedagogy (See DAN 316)

HUM 318 Environmental Conflicts and Indigenous Media (See ENV 318)

HUM 324 Topics in Ancient History (See CLA 326)

HUM 325 The Confessional Self (See FRE 325)

HUM 326 Philosophy of Art (See PHI 326)

HUM 330 Migration, Religion, and Literature: From Genesis to Toni Morrison (See REL 330)

HUM 332 Who Owns This Sentence? Copyright Culture from the Romantic Era to the Age of the Internet (See COM 332)

HUM 334 Race in France (See FRE 334)

HUM 335 A Global History of Monsters (also
EAS 376
HIS 334
) Fall CDHA

This class analyzes how different cultures imagine monsters and how these representations changed over time to perform different social functions. As negative objectifications of fundamental social structures and conceptions, monsters are a key to understand the culture that engendered them. This course has three goals: it familiarizes students with the semiotics of monsters worldwide; it teaches analytical techniques exportable to other topics and fields; it proposes interpretive strategies of "reading culture" comparatively beyond the stereotype of "the West and the Rest." Instructed by: F. Marcon

HUM 336 The Prado Museum: A Virtual Tour of Spain (See SPA 336)

HUM 337 Styles of Literature and Science in 18th- and 19th-Century Europe (See FRE 337)

HUM 338 Poetries of Resistance (See COM 335)

HUM 339 Topics in American Statesmanship (See POL 332)

HUM 341 What is Vernacular Filmmaking? - Rhetoric for Cinema Studies (See COM 341)

HUM 345 Art and Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century (See ART 345)

HUM 346 Introduction to Digital Humanities (also
ENG 256
) Spring LA

Have you ever wondered how to measure the complexity of a literary text? What if you could map the personal connections in a Jane Austen novel or a Shakespeare play? Have you had an intuition that you haven't been able to follow because processing the information was too intimidating? If so, the digital humanities can help you. This course will explore the large and exciting field of digital humanities. You'll learn how to read and understand texts using DH methods and will start your own DH project. Instructed by: Staff

HUM 348 Race and the Inhumanities (See CLA 342)

HUM 349 The Artist at Work (See ART 349)

HUM 351 Archive Writing (See COM 350)

HUM 353 Uyghur History: A Survey (See EAS 353)

HUM 356 Folk Music Revival (See MUS 355)

HUM 357 The Human Comedy of Anton Chekhov Off and On Stage (In English Translation) (See SLA 357)

HUM 358 Democracy and Education (See FRE 348)

HUM 359 Sappho: Her Work and Influence from 600 BCE to the Present (See CLA 357)

HUM 360 The Eagle and the Dragon: Comparing Ancient Rome and Han Empire (See CLA 360)

HUM 364 Love and Justice (See REL 364)

HUM 365 Freud on the Psychological Foundations of the Mind (also
PSY 365
) Fall EC

Freud is approached as a systematic thinker dedicated to discovering the basic principles of human mental life. For Freud, these basic principles concern what impels human thought and behavior. What moves us to think and act? What is it to think and act? Emphasis is placed on the close study and critical analysis of texts, with particular attention to the underlying structure of the arguments. Two 90-minute classes. Instructed by: S. Sugarman

HUM 367 Kierkegaard Everywhere (See PHI 367)

HUM 368 Literature and Medicine (See SLA 368)

HUM 369 Beyond Crisis Contemporary Greece in Context (See COM 369)

HUM 371 Topics in Comparative Literature (See COM 370)

HUM 372 Love and Violence through Words: Modern Chinese Literature in the Age of Revolution (See EAS 371)

HUM 373 Modern China (See EAS 373)

HUM 374 Afterlives of the Iliad (See COM 374)

HUM 378 South Asian Migrations (See URB 378)

HUM 383 The Black Metropolis (See FRE 383)

HUM 384 Museums, Archives, and Audiences in Modern Spain (See SPA 382)

HUM 385 Mapping Gentrification (See URB 385)

HUM 390 The Bible as Literature (See ENG 390)

HUM 400 Translation, Migration, Culture (See TRA 400)

HUM 406 Ethics in Archaeology (See ART 402)

HUM 409 Topics in Drama (See ENG 409)

HUM 414 Fear and France (See FRE 414)

HUM 416 Reading the Landscapes of Colonial Latin America (See LAS 416)

HUM 421 Venice and the Mediterranean World (See HIS 421)

HUM 426 Exposure: The Storied Landscape of Bears Ears National Monument and America's Public Lands (See ENV 426)

HUM 432 Art and Music in the Middle Ages (See MUS 432)

HUM 433 Fashioning the Self, Rendering Others: Literary and Visual Portraiture, 18th C to the Present (See ENG 432)

HUM 437 Law After Rome (See HIS 437)

HUM 445 Between Desire and Disgust: Victorian Beauty in the Pre-Raphaelite and Aestheticist Traditions (See ENG 445)

HUM 448 Early Modern Amsterdam: Tolerant Eminence and the Arts (See ENG 448)

HUM 449 Making Sense of the City (See ARC 449)

HUM 450 Empathy and Alienation: Aesthetics, Politics, Culture (also
ART 482
ARC 450
ECS 450
) Fall HALA

In 19- and 20-c. debates that crossed borders among disciplines including psychology, sociology, anthropology, art history, philosophy, and political theory, empathy and alienation emerged as key terms to describe relations among human beings, works of art, and commodities. This seminar addresses the dynamics of empathy and alienation across a range of discourses and artifacts in European culture. Our explorations of how relationships between empathy and alienation were variously conceptualized in psychological aesthetics, psychoanalysis, and critical theory will aim to open up new perspectives on recent debates about identity and affect. Instructed by: B. Doherty, S. Papapetros

HUM 452 Global Publishing: Translation, Media, Migration (See COM 450)

HUM 456 New Orleans at 300: Invention & Reinvention in an American City (See HIS 456)

HUM 457 Ways of Knowing: Philosophy and Literature (See COM 457)

HUM 470 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (also
MUS 470
CLA 470
) Fall/Spring LA

This team-taught seminar examines texts, objects, periods and themes from an interdisciplinary perspective. Although designed to be the capstone course for students pursuing a certificate in Humanistic Studies, it is open to other students if space is available. The specific topic varies each year depending on the focus of the faculty team. Instructed by: D. Feeney, W. Heller

HUM 471 Abraham Lincoln and America, 1809-1865 (See HIS 470)

HUM 476 The Vikings: History and Archaeology (See ART 478)