Program in Humanistic Studies
- Esther H. Schor
- William A. Gleason, English
- Barbara Graziosi, Classics
- Tera W. Hunter, History
- Martin Kern, East Asian Studies
- Lital Levy, Comparative Literature
- Rosina A. Lozano, History
- Kinohi Nishikawa, English
- Laurence Ralph, Anthropology
- Marina Rustow, Near Eastern Studies
- Kim Lane Scheppele, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
- Esther H. Schor, English
- Denis Feeney, Classics
- Yair Mintzker, History
- Moulie Vidas, Religion
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.