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HUMN 1120 Introduction to Humanities II Literature

Introduces students to works from the major Western literary periods (Baroque, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, Post-Modernism) from the 17th- through the 21st-centuries outside their national literary boundaries. Theorizes interdisciplnarity, genre studies, periodization, comparativism, thematology, hermeneutics, criticism, etc.

Credit not granted for this course and HUMN 1020. Approved for Literature and the Arts


HUMN 1220 Introduction to Humanities II Art and Music

Giulia Bernardini/Alexandra Eddy
The lectures for the Introduction to the Humanities 1220 course present students with an inter-disciplinary survey of the production of art and music from the Baroque period to the present. As a result of situating major works in their economic, historical, and cultural contexts, students develop the ability to consider visual and musical works not only in terms of their formal or stylistic qualities but most importantly to ponder how these characteristics emphasize the political, religious, and philosophical trends of the periods of production being analyzed. Selected primary and secondary texts from the fields of art history, musicology, art theory, music theory, philosophy, history, science, cultural studies and sociology help to reinforce students’ understanding of the trends under investigation and the methodologies that have been used in the scholarly and ‘mainstream’ discourses around them. The ultimate goal of the course is to familiarize students with the Western humanistic legacy in order to become articulate and analytical cultural critics of the world they inhabit.


HUMN 3092 Phil 3700 Aesthetic Theory

Graham Oddie

The primary focus of this course is to explore the philosophy of art. Creating, enjoying and appreciating art is one of the most distinctive features of human beings. Artworks are among the most valued entities in our culture, but also in most human cultures. But what is art, and why do we, or why should we, value it so highly? These are the core questions that we will address in this course. We will explore a variety of answers that philosophers have given to these basic questions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out to be difficult to formulate a coherent and consistent theory of art and of its value. One aim of the course is to become familiar with the main answers to these questions, and the arguments for and against them. The range of theories we will explore include: the representational theory, the expression theory, formalism, neo-Wittgensteinianism, and the institutional theory. But aesthetic theory encompasses more than the domain of art. A secondary aim of the course will be to locate art within the wider domain of aesthetic objects, aesthetic properties, and aesthetic experiences. We will examine a general account of aesthetic value, one that resurfaces from time to time, and was most explicitly expounded by Francis Hutcheson in An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725). The concept of beauty, which was once thought to be central to the understanding of art, was pretty much sent into exile in twentieth century philosophy of art, but recently some philosophers of art have begun to pay attention to it again. Hutcheson’s thesis is that beauty is unified complexity. We will explore how far this idea can give us a general theory of art and its value, and how that might fit in to a general theory of value.


HUMN 3092 Reading Culture: Meanings and Metaphors

Cathy Comstock (Honors section)

Because metaphors structure our interpretations of experience, they are “metaphors we live by”: metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. In this class, we will view cultural and literary texts through the lens of critical theory in order to come to more understanding of how we are making meaning, how those meanings make us, and how we might use that awareness to open new fields of possibility.

Central to this consideration will be what Jacques Derrida has described as “violent hierarchies.” This concept refers to our cultural tendency to make meaning through binaries such as up and down, male and female, human and animal, black and white. Since we also tend to privilege one term over the other, in ways which can have impact on all concerned, learning how to analyze these processes can provide a powerful lens through which to read and respond to our culture.

Texts: Metaphors We Live By, Lakoff and Johnson; “A Report to the Academy,” Kafka; Discipline and Punish, Foucault; Thinking Animals, Weil; Literary Critical Theory,Eagleton; and other intriguing texts


HUMN 3093 Topics: Dramatic Deception

Shirley Carnahan

This course is an interdisciplinary one, intended to explore and compare various types of dramatic deception as they manifest themselves in play texts and films. We will begin by defining dramatic irony in its more official form and comparing it with the looser usage of irony as paradox. The course will continue with close readings of plays by such authors as Shakespeare, Pirandello, Wilde, Shaffer, and Stoppard. Topics of discussion will include how characters deceive others, how they deceive themselves, how the audience is deceived by the characters, how it is deceived by the author, and many more. Usually the class is required to attend one live dramatic performance. This course is reading and writing intensive.


HUMN 3093 Narrating the City:Literary Mappings of the Urban Landscape

H. Bahoora

Uses literary narratives and urban theory to understand and chronicle the development and transformations of cities and urban spaces in the modern period. Begins with readings of 19th century European authors (Dickens, Balzac) that chronicle the changing space of the modern European city (London, Paris) followed by urban narratives from the Arabic literary tradition (Mahfouz, Munif) in order to comparatively examine how "universal" processes of modernization, development, and globalization in the modern world have been narrated. Writers include Engels, Simmel, Benjamin, Jameson, Mahfouz, Munif, al-Takarli, al-Aswani, Celik. Taught in English.


HUMN 3104 Film Criticism

Jennifer Peterson
Surveys the range and function of film criticism, introduces major positions and concepts of film theory, and focuses on students’ abilities to write about film. Prerequisite FILM 1502. Same as FILM 3104.


Humn 3240 Tragedy

Paul Gordon
In this course we will examine theories of tragedy (Aristotle, Hegel, Nietzsche) and apply those theories, in order to examine their potential efficacy, to various works of art. After a careful examination of Greek tragedy, beginning with Aeschylus and Sophocles and concluding with Euripides’ last play on The Bacchae, the only extant tragedy which deals with Dionysus and the “birth of tragedy,” we will examine the survival of tragedy in 19-th and 20th century works of art—specifically, the works of the William Butler Yeats, Ibsen (Hedda Gabler), Chekhov (The Cherry Orchard), and Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire). Restricted to Sophs/Jrs/Srs


HUMN 3500 Literatures of Consciousness

Annje Wiese
This course is an interdisciplinary study of human consciousness and its representation. We will analyze a variety of works, including literature, film, cognitive theory, philosophy, and scientific studies in order to see what we can learn by synthesizing the different perspectives each has to offer. More specifically, we will analyze the representation of thought in fiction (both literature and film) alongside the information more theoretical and scientific approaches bring to bear on the following key questions: What is consciousness? How do we think and perceive? What does it mean to be “neurotypical” or, by contrast, to be cognitively impaired? And what does all of this have to do with who we are? Our goal is to see how such an interdisciplinary approach can facilitate a complex and productive understanding of consciousness and its implications.


HUMN 4000 Question of Romanticism

Stephanie Rowe

This course focuses on the Romantic ideal of art as both a spiritual and social force.  Through close attention to the painting, poetry, drama, prose fiction, and aesthetic theory of the period we will examine some of Romanticism’s central aesthetic issues, including its tropes of inspiration and alienation; the idea of nature as a source of art and its object; and the roles of exoticism, the supernatural, and the imagination. Course requirements: informal writing assignments on the readings; two exams; and a final paper. Prerequisite HUMN 2000 or Jr/Sr standing. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: critical thinking.

Prerequisite HUMN 2000 or Jr/Sr standing.  Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: critical thinking.


HUMN 4004 Topics in Film Theory: National and Transnational Cinema

Reece Auguiste
This course will explore through lectures, film screenings, and seminars the diverse film making practices grouped under the category of national and transnational cinema. Because notions of national cinema and transnational cinema are inextricably linked the course will examine the multiple contexts of film production, distribution, exhibition, film festival circuits, Art cinema and film reception practices. In doing so, students will be introduced to a broad range of debates pertaining to national cinema in Russia, China, Africa, Iran, Europe and their symbiotic relationships to the global circulation of cinematic images and film cultures.


HUMN 4135 Art and Psychoanalysis

Paul Gordon
Explores psychoanalytic theory as it relates to our understanding of literature, film, and other arts. After becoming familiar with some essential Freudian notions (repression, narcissism, ego/libido, dream work, etc.), students apply these ideas to works by several artists (e.g., Flaubert, James, Kafka, Hoffmann, and Hitchcock).Same as FILM 4135. Prerequisite, HUMN 2000 or junior/senior standing. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.


Humn 4150 Decameron: Age of Realism

Valerio Ferme
Analyzes the rise of realism in 13th and 14th century Italian literature and parallel manifestations in the visual arts. Focuses on Boccaccio’s Decameron and contemporary realistic prose and poetry with emphasis on gender issues and medieval cultural diversity. Taught in English. Prerequisite, junior standing or instructor consent. Same as ITAL 4150. Approved for arts and science core curriculum: literature and the arts, or cultural and gender diversity.


HUMN 4170 Fiction and Reality

Annjeanette Wiese
Reality television, fiction, meta-fiction, virtual reality, magical realism, documentary, propaganda, autobiography, testimonial, digital manipulation of images, robotics—all are popular today for their ability to explore and question the line between fiction and reality. This issue is not a new phenomenon; throughout history humans have tried to understand the distinction between fiction and reality. But our contemporary culture seems particularly interested in both the differences and similarities between the two concepts. In this course we will explore the ramifications of the assumption that a recognizable distinction between reality and fiction exists or that there is no objective way to distinguish the two. With the aid of diverse theoretical sources, we will analyze a selection of literary, scientific, and cultural works in order to see how they define reality and fiction. At the same time, we will think deeply about the nuances involved in and the consequences of these definitions. The goal of this approach is twofold: 1) to arrive at an idea of what these often ambiguous concepts mean in our culture and 2) to be able to critically apply this idea to the problems posed by the questionable status of the separation between reality and fiction.Approved for arts and science core curriculum: literature and the arts.