Humanities Course Descriptions
Humanities 11, 12 - Humanities in Perspective
Fall Semester: Individual and Community in Greece
The fall semester focuses on works of the classical period by Sophocles, Euripides, the lyric poets, Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle.
Spring Semester: Individual and Community: Majority Rule and Minority Rights
The spring semester examines works in American history and culture from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. Texts include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and works by Paine, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman, Douglass, Twain, Chesnutt, Dunbar, DuBois, Washington, King, Malcolm, and Morrison. Lecture-conference.
Humanities 110 - Introduction to Western Humanities
Fall Semester: Greece
The fall semester focuses on the development of culture in ancient Greece, beginning with Homer’s Iliad. It progresses through the rise and evolution of the polis as reflected in the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides as well as in Aeschylus's Oresteia and selected plays of Sophocles and other dramatists. The semester ends with the critiques made by Plato and Aristotle in the Republic and the Nicomachean Ethics of individual and polis virtues. Parallel developments in the heroic ideal and civic art are followed through a study of archaic and classical sculpture, vase painting, and architecture. The course concentrates on the Greeks' relation to the gods, to the state, to their fellows, and to their developing self-consciousness. The subject areas of art history, philosophy, political institutions, and myth are studied to understand how they and their interrelationships reveal distinctive features of Greek civilization.
Spring Semester: Rome
The second term is devoted to a consideration of imperial Rome and to the encounter between classical culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition. The course examines the background and ideology of the early Principate as developed and described by the major authors of the Augustan Age, including Livy, Virgil, and Ovid. The political, philosophical, and historical implications of this development are traced in the works of Seneca and Tacitus. The second half of the spring semester begins with a reading of Hebrew biblical materials and then examines both non-canonical texts of the Jewish and Christian traditions as well as New Testament materials. After a detailed investigation of the confrontation between Christianity and the Roman world, the course concludes with St. Augustine’s Confessions, in which the values and ambitions of classical antiquity are developed in the light of an emergent Christian orthodoxy.
Humanities 210 - Early Modern Europe
Humanities 220 - Modern European Humanities
Humanities 230 - Foundations of Chinese Civilization
Fall Semester: The Qin/Han Unification
In geography and cultural advances, the Qin and Han Dynasties surpassed their predecessors, and together they number among the world's greatest empires. This course examines their heritage through a selection of primary texts including the Confucian Analects, the enigmatic Dao de Jing, the cosmological Book of Changes, and the historical narrative tradition of Sima Qian's Shi Ji. It will sample cultural expression ranging from the poetic discourse of rhapsodies and pentasyllabic verse to the religious endeavors manifested in the emperor's own fengshan sacrifices. Alongside textual studies, this course will also explore the Han's physical remains, including the ruins of its capitals, the Wu Liang shrine, and its important tombs. The Qin/Han portrays itself as a territorial, political, and cultural unifier, and it sets the benchmark against which all later dynasties must measure themselves.
Spring Semester: The Great Song Transition
During the Song renaissance, China mentally realigned itself, first because it had to acknowledge other powers in the world such as the nomad states along its own northern borders, and second because those nomads would eventually occupy the northern half of China. Foreign religions such as Tiantai and Chan Buddhism flourished alongside the indigenous popular pantheon, all of which we will study through their primary texts. Furthermore, China was undergoing internal changes such as the emergence of a vibrant urban culture, a culture we will hear through Song storytelling and see through Song cityscape paintings. This realignment found other new expressions in intimate ci-poetry and monumental landscape art. The Qin/Han unification may have laid the basic foundation of China, but the Song gave modern China its true cultural heritage.