Students in Humanities 211/212 meet in conference to discuss Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. 

Students in Humanities 211/212 meet in conference to discuss Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. 

Varieties of Human Experience

Throughout Reed’s Humanities Program, a distinctive multidisciplinary approach prevails.

March 23, 2022

Humans make things. We make art, literature, philosophy, history, religion, music, science, and political and social order. Through these, we express ourselves, experience our lives, and find meaning and beauty in them. In studying the humanities, we delve into who we are and how we got here. We investigate the world and systems we have made for ourselves. And question them.

Reed’s curriculum is distinctive in its dedication to multidisciplinary inquiry that revolves around the humanities. From the first-year Introduction to Humanities to Senior Symposium, these courses exemplify the kind of inquiry at the heart of a liberal arts education, developing a multidisciplinary mindset and honing critical thinking. These courses emphasize the development of thought while also immersing students deeply in diverse cultural contexts. They range over swaths of human history, spark intellectual curiosity, and deepen students’ understanding of human histories, cultures, identities, and the texts and ideas that emerge from them. 

Hum 110: Introduction to the Humanities 

As the only course required of all first-year students at Reed, Hum 110 serves as the college’s foundational writing course and introduces students to the skills and habits of mind necessary for academic inquiry in their future work at Reed. The current first-year humanities curriculum ranges widely over time and space, from the diverse cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and a deep dive into classical Greece in the fall to close looks at two of the Western Hemisphere’s great urban centers in the spring, Tenochtitlan/Mexico City and Harlem. 

Hum 220: Modern European Humanities

Hum 220 studies transformations of ideas, political institutions, social structures, and artistic expression from the Enlightenment to the mid-20th century. It delves into the events that built the modern era, from the French Revolution to the Bolshevik Revolution, and covers topics like empire, colonialism, psychoanalysis, and modernist art.

Hum 231/232: Foundations of Chinese Civilizations

Covering the periods of the Qin and Han dynasties (Hum 231) and the Song dynasty (Hum 232), the interdisciplinary Chinese humanities program examines two of the most significant moments in Chinese history through the lenses of art, history, literature, philosophy, and religion, with emphasis placed on reading primary source materials, engaging in close analyses of artifacts, and examining the ways in which the distant past and a non-Western culture might help students navigate and nuance their contemporary moment.

Senior Symposium

In seminars led by small teams of faculty, this course turns the lens onto our own era, discussing how various authors and artists present and interrogate problems of our age, from the political to the personal. Selected works comprise a variety of genres, such as memoir, graphic novel, short fiction, poetry, sociological case study, film, and investigative journalism.

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Tags: Academics, Courses We’d Love To Take, Professors