Program in Humanistic Studies



  • Eric S. Gregory

Executive Committee

  • William A. Gleason, English
  • Barbara Graziosi, Classics
  • Eric S. Gregory, Religion
  • Tera W. Hunter, History
  • Emmanuel H. Kreike, History
  • Lital Levy, Comparative Literature
  • Rosina A. Lozano, History
  • Federico Marcon, East Asian Studies
  • Laurence Ralph, Anthropology
  • Marina Rustow, Near Eastern Studies

Associated Faculty

  • Yelena Baraz, Classics
  • Denis Feeney, Classics
  • 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 introductory courses and advanced seminars that take explicitly interdisciplinary, comparative, and cross-cultural approaches to the humanities. Paying close attention to societal change, upheaval, and transformation, the team-taught year-long “humanities sequences” explore the interrelated events, ideas, texts, and artifacts of Western, Near Eastern, and East Asian cultures. In addition to offering broad interdisciplinary explorations for students in all divisions of the University, 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 design an interdisciplinary curriculum reflecting their specific interests. Students who have undertaken rigorous interdisciplinary study in their first two years may pursue further courses that reflect explicitly on the frontiers of disciplines, the bridges that connect them, and the insights that can be gained from approaching one field with the questions and methods of another. In addition to acquiring a strong base in their home departments, students in the program create links to one or more fields that can illuminate their work.

Students chart individualized pathways that can move across established disciplines and engage with emerging fields of study, such as film and visual studies, neuroscience, and medical, urban, and digital humanities.


Candidates for the program must complete, during their first two years, two interdisciplinary courses that provide a rigorous interdisciplinary approach to arts and culture over a span of historical time. Any 200- or 300-level HUM-designated course may serve as a prerequisite; applicants who seek to fulfill the prerequisites with other courses must submit syllabi of the two courses for which they are requesting approval.

Prerequisites might be: (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. Students are admitted to the program during the second semester of their sophomore year.

Plan of Study

In addition to the two prerequisites, students complete six additional courses, which may also be used to fulfill departmental requirements. Four of these six courses must be explicitly interdisciplinary in their approach and/or subject matter. The remaining two are chosen in consultation with the program adviser to coordinate with the student's individual plan of study. In these courses, students are expected to forge their own interdisciplinary connections and pursue them in their written work. One of the six courses is an interdisciplinary capstone seminar created specifically for certificate students. Students in the program must also complete either a senior thesis in their home departments with an interdisciplinary focus or an interdisciplinary research paper written specifically for the program.

Applicants to the program are encouraged to reflect on the meaningful connections they wish to forge and to propose a curriculum for their junior and senior years that combines the requirements of their home departments with the pursuits that best complement their interests. These individual paths are likely to group into five major trajectories:

1. Bridges within the humanities and arts

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

3. Intercultural studies

Students might illuminate their study of one culture with comparative approaches to other areas of the world, for example, or study one or more regions through different methodologies. In this pursuit, they might benefit from participating in global seminars or other opportunities for study abroad.

4. Bridges between the humanities and the sciences

These students, while concentrating in the humanities or social sciences, might explore links to cognitive science or other sciences.

5. Digital approaches to the humanities

Students in this group might create new kinds of knowledge by examining some area with the resources and insights of computer science.

Capstone Seminar

HUM 470 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

This team-taught seminar examines texts, objects, periods, and themes from an interdisciplinary perspective. The specific topic varies each year depending on the focus of the faculty team.


HUM 200 Writing Istanbul: City of Doubles (See HLS 200)

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 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: D. Feeney, D. Heller-Roazen, Y. Baraz

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: M. Reynolds, E. Reeves, B. Morison

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. Prerequisites: 216-217 or instructor Instructed by: Y. Baraz, D. Hogan, Y. Mintzker

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. Prerequisite: 216-217 or instructor's permission. All meetings are listed under 218. Instructed by: N. Prizel, S. Morrison, D. Feeney

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: E. Krakowski, D. Vischak

HUM 248 Near Eastern Humanities II: Medieval to Modern Thought and Culture (also
NES 248
) Spring EM

This course introduces students to Near Eastern societies and cultures over the last one thousand years. Students will explore the diverse cities and regions of the Near East and the equally diverse religious, ethnic, and ultimately national communities that populated them. Students will have the opportunity to study a variety of genres of sources from religious polemics to architecture, travelogues to hagiographies, philosophical treatises to imperial edicts, feminist critiques to nationalist and religious revivalist tracts, along with short stories, novels, and even graphic memoirs. Instructed by: M. Greene, L. Harb

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 Hispanic World (See SPA 250)

HUM 252 Narrating Pandemics Now (See SPA 252)

HUM 290 Jesus and Buddha (also
REL 282
) Fall EM

This course introduces the study of religion by juxtaposing the narratives, teachings, careers and legacies of the founders of Christianity and Buddhism. While respecting each tradition's unique and distinctive texts, rituals, philosophies, and histories, the course invites us to deepen our understanding of each tradition by looking through the lens of the other. Course readings will include accounts of the lives of Jesus and Buddha, what each taught about how to live and create society, and how each understood the meaning of life and death, suffering and salvation. Instructed by: J. Gold, E. Pagels

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 306 Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity (See AAS 303)

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 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 328 Language to Be Looked At (also
ENG 270
ART 396
) Fall LA

This seminar focuses on the intersection of language and visual art in the twentieth-century. We begin by examining modernist and avant-garde experiments in word and image and then investigate the global rise of concrete and visual poetry and text-based art movements after World War II. We compare and combine methods from literary studies and art history, as well as other disciplines, including history, sociology, and philosophy. We examine artworks from, and the networks that connect, Brazil, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Instructed by: J. Kotin, I. Small

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

HUM 342 Privacy, Publicity, and the Text Message (See AMS 343)

HUM 344 Music through Fiction (See MUS 343)

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

HUM 346 Introduction to Digital Humanities (also
HIS 347
) 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 349 The Artist at Work (See ART 349)

HUM 350 Battle Lab: The Battle of Princeton (also
ART 302
AMS 352
) Fall HA

Revolution! Espionage! Alexander Hamilton! George Washington! Cannon fire on Nassau Hall! This fall, think outside of the classroom and explore the past in your own backyard: Revolutionary-era Princeton and the physical remains of the legendary battle between American and British forces on January 3, 1777. What happened on that day? Who died? Where are their bones? Why are lawyers fighting over the land? In this new, interdisciplinary course, you will undertake to answer these questions and help solve the longstanding puzzle of the Battle of Princeton. In the process, you will explore how events of the past persistently shape the present day. Instructed by: R. DeLue, N. Arrington

HUM 351 Archive Writing (See COM 350)

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 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 375 Myth, History, and Contemporary Experience: Modern Greek Poetry in a Global Context (See HLS 375)

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 401 History of Neuroscience (See PSY 401)

HUM 402 Hope: A History (See CHV 401)

HUM 409 Topics in Drama (See ENG 409)

HUM 410 Inventing Photography (also
VIS 410
ART 496
) Fall HA

This class combines hands-on experience of nineteenth-century photographic processes with the study of surviving images and readings on cultural and scientific forces driving photographic inventions. The goal is to deconstruct the current black box that is digital photography by introducing students to do-it-yourself practices (chemistry and optics) behind multiple types of imagery that are often lumped together retrospectively as "photography." Students will make their own personal visual statements and may mix hand-made processes with modern intermediaries such as digitally produced negatives. Instructed by: A. McCauley, J. Whetstone

HUM 414 Fear and France (See FRE 414)

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

HUM 470 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (also
CLA 471
CWR 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: J. Lahiri, Y. Baraz

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

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