HUMN 1110 Introduction to Humanities 1 Literature
The course provides an analytical and comparative study of works in literature from Antiquity to the 17th century. It includes works such as Homer’s Odyssey, Greek tragedy, Plato’s Symposium, Dante’s Inferno, Boccaccio’s Decameron, selections from Montaigne’s Essays, and Shakespeare’s King Lear.
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.
HUMN 1210 Introduction to Humanities 1 Art and Music
Humanities 1210 is a 3 credit hour course that meets three times a week . The course provides an analytical and comparative study of works in music, and visual arts from Antiquity to the 17th century.
Music: A chronological study of Western classical music from Classical Antiquity through the Renaissance, with primary focus upon developments in the art of Western musical composition in its natural context: the intellectual tradition of Western civilization. We will study significant individual Western classical compositions both as artistic structures and as expressions of human thought and experience, and will note similarities between early Western music and the music of other cultures, times, and places. No prior knowledge of music is necessary.
Art: The art lectures will begin by investigating examples of the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome and will then move onto Early Medieval, Romanesque, and Gothic architecture and architectural sculpture. The semester ends with a survey of major Renaissance, High Renaissance, and Reformation works in painting, sculpture, and architecture. Throughout all periods of study, we will consider the question – and problem – of context; attempting to better understand the political, religious, social, and philosophical trends underpinning each era we encounter. No prior experience with art or art history is necessary.
HUMN 1220 Introduction to Humanities II Art and Music
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 2000 Methods and Approaches to Humanities
Provides a transition from the introductory courses to the upper-division courses. Introduces the various technical methods and topics encountered in the department's comparative, interdisciplinary upper-division courses, including cultural studies, rhetoric, translation, hermeneutics, word/image studies.
HUMN 2100 Arts, Culture, and Media
Promotes a better understanding of fundamental aesthetic and cultural issues by exploring competing definitions of art and culture. Sharpens critical and analytical abilities by asking students to read and compare different theories about arts, culture, media, and identity, and then to apply and assess those theories in relation to a selection of visual and verbal texts from a range of cultural and linguistic traditions.
HUMN 3092 Studies in Humanities
See individual courses for descriptions
HUMN 3092 Studies in Humanities: Aesthetic Theory
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. Hutchesonâ€™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. Same as Phil 3700
HUMN 3092 Studies in Humanities: 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 in Humanities
See individual courses for descriptions
HUMN 3093 Topics in Humanities: Cinema, Landscape & Architecture
This topic is a multicultural investigation of the ways in which landscape and architecture are represented on film, focusing on issues such as margins and centers, political geography, exile, inner space, memory and time, the sublime, and transcendence. Course has strong intellectual content and draws exclusively on international cinema. Same as FILM 3043
HUMN 3093 Topics in Humanities: Game Studies
Game Studies introduces basic media literacy by exploring the aesthetic and cultural principles behind the use and creation of one of (if not the) largest cultural forms of modern media. As 60% of all Americans play video games daily, and the industry itself surpasses cinema as the global games market reached 148.8 billion, it is wise for us to be able to read and critique such a massive part of our culture. This class will explore the specific theories associated with the media of gaming as well as dive deeply into several aspects unique to gaming (the avatar, the Dungeons and Dragons live stream, etc.).
HUMN 3093 Topics in Humanities: Literature and Law
This course will examine how literature engages with how law (legal, scientific, aesthetic) is established and enforced and with how literature exposes contradiction and violence within law. The course will cover a wide range of material and forms each of which present a conflict between literature’s tendency to defer and suspend judgement and law’s desire to enforce it. Works and authors to be examined include Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Sophocles’ Antigone, selected stories from Boccaccio’s Decameron, The Return of Martin Guerre (book and film), Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kleist’s “The Earthquake in Chile,” “The Foundling” and “Improbably Veracities,” Kafka’s “Before the Law” and “The Problem of Our Laws,” Carl Schmitt on law and sovereign decision, and excerpts from Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence.”
HUMN 3093 Topics in Humanities: Avatars: Narratives of Self
This course seeks to introduce students to the analysis of posthuman thought via the concept of the avatar within our digital cultures. Through an interdisciplinary approach to theory, art, and culture, students will become familiar with the discourse of both humanism and posthumanism as it relates to games, virtual spaces, and digital embodiments. Students will read selected theories on defining avatars and posthumanism and engage with these texts in a critical fashion in order to develop skills in close-reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Our primary creative texts will span different modes and genres of media from video games to poetry from around the world. The final grade will be assessed based on tests, papers, quizzes, and participation. It is my desire that students gain a foundational knowledge of human complexity. These skills will be integral to the further study of cultural texts that shape society within any given class or within your everyday reality where the borders of the human self are measured or tested.
HUMN 3093 Topics in Humanities: Making Meaning: Language, Myths, and Dreams
How is meaning produced? How does it circulate? How is it consumed and interiorized? “Making meaning: Language, Myths, and Dreams” will consider how meaning works, how it configures our experience of the world, and our understanding of the self. As students are introduced to various theories concerned with signification, communication, and meaning, they will discover by what processes our chaotic world remains intelligible, and inhabitable.
The course will focus on the legacy of Ferdinand de Saussure’s study of the sign, known as semiology or semiotics. We will examine how Saussure’s insights have been put to work in a variety of intellectual contexts from literary analysis, to cultural anthropology, and psychoanalysis. Key readings will include Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics, Barthes’ Mythologies, Levi-Strauss’ Myth and Meaning, and Freud’s On Dreams. With each theoretical introduction, we will analyze and interpret texts, myths, and images from fine arts to popular culture.
HUMN 3093 Topics in Humanities: The Arabic Novel
Description to come.
HUMN 3104 Film Criticism
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 3200 Fictions of Illness: Modern Medicine and the Literary Imagination
Examines the ways in which the rise of modern medicine fueled the literary imagination with a new focus, new patterns of perception and potent metaphors. Through a study of various works of fiction, critical theory and medical history, the course traces how medical discoveries and the increasing professionalization of medicine manifested itself in modern literature.
HUMN 3210 Narrative
This course will examine narrative as a central form of representation in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries by analyzing the effects of form on how we understand and represent our world. Two questions will guide this examination: “what kind of relation (if any) is there between narratives and reality (or ‘life’)?” (posed by Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan); and, “what kind of notion of reality authorizes construction of a narrative account of reality?” (posed by Hayden White). With the aid of different theories of narrative, we will attempt to answer these questions by closely analyzing how narrative form represents and informs perception and experience as well as how this has changed throughout the past century.
Over the course of the semester we will analyze works of fiction to see how narrative functions and we will look at narrative as a way of organizing thought that applies to interdisciplinary contexts including pop culture, art, identity studies, medicine, and law.
HUMN 3240 Tragedy
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).
HUMN 3500 Literatures of Consciousness
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 3660 Postmodern
This course will examine the event of the Postmodern and its effect within literature, film, architecture, culture, and critical theory. Beginning with works that signal and examine the onset of modernity, the consequences of postmodernity for our understanding of the modern as a sign of our intellectual, cultural, and social progress will be presented. Once defined in relation to the modern, our attention will turn to the problems and issues posed by the postmodern with respect to history, perception, and the concept of an era that is also our present. We will also examine various recent attempts to think beyond the postmodern. The course will include a broad selection of works from architectural theory to performance art.
HUMN 3702 Dada and Surrealist Literature
Surveys the major theoretical concepts and literary genres of the Dada and Surrealist movements. Topics include Dada performance and cabaret, the manifesto, montage, the ready made, the Surrealist novel, colonialism and the avant-garde, and literary and philosophical precursors to the avant-garde.
HUMN 3800 Paris, Modernity, and the Avant-Garde
Investigates the development of the concept of the 'avant-garde' in late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century Paris against a backdrop of political and social revolution. Analyzes the innovative nature of certain works of art, theater, photography, music and literature as well as the influence of the city. Probes and problematizes the concept of the artist as social outsider and cultural critic.
HUMN 3850 The Mediterranean: Religion before Modernity
Offers an innovative approach to the multifaceted history of Christian-Muslim-Jewish interaction in the Mediterranean. It eschews established paradigms (e.g., Europe, Islamic world) that distort our understanding of these and pushes students to reconsider the accepted paradigms of Western history. Students will reappraise assumptions regarding the nature of ethnic, religious, national and cultural identity, and their role in human history. Same as RLST 3850.
HUMN 4000 Question of Romanticism
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.
HUMN 4004 Topics in Film Theory
See individual courses for descriptions
HUMN 4011 Criminal Hero
Studies various theories of literary transgression by Aristotle, Nietzsche, Freud, Bataille and others to understand the many works, beginning with Genesis and the Iliad and including contemporary works such as Norman Mailer's The Executioners Song and the films of Herzog (Aguirre, Nosferatu) and Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Cape Fear) which feature this paradoxical figure.
HUMN 4030 The Art of Travel
Examines the art of travel: not where to go and what to do, but rather philosophical concepts about why people travel. Areas of discussion will include exploration, discovery, escape, pilgrimage, the grand tour, expatriotism, exile, nomadism, armchair travel, and the sense of home. Materials will include books by travel writers, novels, films, essays, short stories, art, music, and historical documents.
HUMN 4050 Representations of People with Disabilities
Introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of disability studies by investigating key concepts in disability theory, disability history and culture, media representations of people with disabilities, and pertinent bioethical issues.
HUMN 4135 Art and Psychoanalysis
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.
Humn 4150 Boccaccio's Decameron: Tales of Sex and Death in the Middle Ages
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. Same as ITAL 4150.
HUMN 4155 Philosophy, Art, and the Sublime
“Perhaps the most sublime utterance is that inscribed on the temple of Isis: “I am all that is, that was, and that will ever be; no mortal has lifted my veil.” (Kant) In this course we will examine theories of the sublime and apply those same theories to various works of art. Beginning with Longinus, we will then move to the beginning of modern discussions of the sublime in Burke and Kant before proceeding to the “golden age” of sublimity, 18-19th century German and English romanticism. After a study of sublimity in Goethe’s Faust we will then turn our attention to the writings of the English romantic poets (Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge), as well to the early 19th-century novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After an examination of the sublime paintings of Turner (and his predecessors) we will move, in the final section of the course, to an examination of the survival of the sublime in the 20th century paintings and films of Barnett Newman, Georgia O’Keefe, Werner Herzog, and John Carpenter.
HUMN 4170 Fiction and Reality
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.
HUMN 4502 Nietzsche: Literature and Values
Emphasis is placed on Nietzsche's major writings spanning the years 1872-1888, with particular attention to the critique of Western values. A systematic exploration of doctrines, concepts and ideas leading to the values of creativity. Same as GRMN 4502.
HUMN 4730 Italian Feminisms: Culture, Theory, and Narratives of Difference
Studies Italian women writers, artists and filmmakers. Literary and visual texts are analyzed in dialogue with readings of leading Italian gender theorists. Italian history and culture is reread by following the development of a discourse about women. Taught in English; readings in Italian for Italian majors. Same as ITAL 4730.
HUMN 4811 19th Century Russian Literature
Surveys background of Russian literature from 1800 to 1900. Russian writers and literary problems in the 19th century emphasizing major authors: Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Chekhov. Same as RUSS 4811.
HUMN 4821 20th Century Russian Literature and Art
Interdisciplinary course emphasizing the influence of literature and art in 20th century Russian literature. Follows the changing cultural landscape from the time when Russia was in the vanguard of modern European literature to the period of Stalinism. Same as RUSS 4821.
HUMN 4835 Literature and Social Violence
This honors seminar focuses on both literary and non-fictional texts about social violence, so that we can compare the understanding and effects made possible through different media, including film in some cases. We’ll study gang culture, homophobia and AIDS, the effects of racism and poverty on gutted-out neighborhoods and school systems, and the politics of hunger. We’ll also look at sources of great hope and positive action, such as Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Freedom Writers’ Diary, Angels in America and other ways in which both art and social action can make a transformative difference. All this is combined with the option to get extra credit by doing volunteer work in community agencies, since the personal experience with the effects of social violence helps us to understand the class materials—and our culture overall—more deeply.
As a means of approaching works from across the disciplines and beyond, we will be learning how to do discourse analysis of the language of both the texts and our society. In this way the class will focus especially on our methods of making meaning and how those meanings act to maintain or transform our cultural structures. The class texts include Do or Die, Angels in America, The Bluest Eye, Freedom Writers’ Diary, Savage Inequalities, Gandhi the Man and Tortilla Curtain.