Humanities

Director of undergraduate studies: Norma Thompson, Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St., 432-1313, norma.thompson@yale.edu; chair: Bryan Garsten, 53 Wall St., 432-0670, bryan.garsten@yale.edu; humanities.yale.edu

The undergraduate program in Humanities provides students the opportunity to integrate courses from across the humanistic disciplines into intellectually coherent and personally meaningful courses of study. Works of literature, music, history, philosophy, and the visual arts are brought into conversation with one another and with the history of ideas. 

The major in Humanities asks students to begin with broad surveys of foundational works in at least two different cultural traditions, including at least one course on classical Western European texts. All majors take two specially-commissioned core seminars, each co-taught by two faculty members from different, but complementary fields of study. After taking these core seminars, students in the major share a broad grounding in several cultural traditions, the experience of having grappled with the question of what "modernity" is, and the experience of having spent a term interpreting a single work (or small corpus of works) in great depth. Students then craft an area of concentration according to their interests and with the help of appropriate faculty members. The major offers breadth and interdisciplinary scope even as it encourages depth and intellectual coherence.

Courses for Nonmajors

Students in all classes can find options in the varied course offerings, from special seminars for first-year students to the Franke and Shulman Seminars for seniors. Many courses are open to nonmajors.

Requirements of the Major 

Fourteen term courses are required for the major, including three “foundational works” surveys, two core seminars, one course in each of four areas of study in the humanities (which may include the Franke and Shulman Seminars), four additional electives selected to complement the student's area of concentration (with approval of the director of undergraduate studies), and a one- or two-term senior essay. Majors in Humanities are strongly encouraged to enroll in at least one term course in literature in a foreign language. 

Foundations Three broad surveys of foundational works in any cultural tradition are required, such as HIST 280, EALL 200, or RLST 189. One or two foundations courses must be in the classical tradition of Western Europe, such as Directed Studies, or ENGL 129 or CLCV 256.

Core seminars The major requires two core seminars, one in "Modernities" and one in "Interpretations.” Each core seminar is taught by a pair of faculty members from complementary disciplines. The two broad themes of the seminars remain consistent from year to year, but the material studied and the faculty members teaching change, allowing each class of students to explore the themes in different ways.

Areas of study in the humanities One course is required in each of four areas: literature; visual, musical, or dramatic arts; science in the humanities; and intellectual history and historical analysis. Courses may be drawn from any department or program in Yale College, with the approval of the DUS.

Senior Requirement

A one- or two-term senior essay is required of each Humanities major (HUMS 491).

Advising

Students are expected to declare their intent to major in Humanities in a meeting with the DUS before their junior year.

Unique to the Major

The Franke Seminar and the Shulman Seminar Sponsored by the Whitney Humanities Center and designed to speak across disciplinary lines to broad public and intellectual issues, the Franke Seminar and the Shulman Seminar each include a series of coordinated public lectures. The seminars are for enrolled students; the lecture series are open to the Yale and local communities. Humanities majors may enroll in a Franke or a Shulman Seminar with permission of the DUS and the instructor.

Summer program in Rome Humanities majors who take the spring-term course HUMS 444, The City of Rome, (or its equivalent, with instructor approval) and develop individual research topics to be pursued in Rome may apply for enrollment in a two-credit summer course offered by Yale Summer Session. Museums, archaeological sites, churches, piazzas, libraries, and the city itself are part of the classroom for the summer course. Further information is available on the Humanities program website and the Yale Summer Session Website.

REQUIREMENTS OF THE MAJOR

Prerequisites None

Number of courses 14 term courses (incl senior essay)

Distribution of courses 3 foundations courses; 2 core sems, as specified; 1 course in each of 4 disciplinary areas; 4 electives in concentration

Senior requirement Senior essay (HUMS 491)

The undergraduate program in Humanities is designed to integrate courses from across the humanistic disciplines into intellectually coherent and personally meaningful courses of study. Works of literature, music, history, philosophy, and the dramatic and visual arts are studied in conversation with one another and in relation to the history of ideas. All students can find options in the varied course offerings, from special seminars for first-year students to the Franke and Shulman Seminars for seniors. Many courses are open to nonmajors.

The major in Humanities asks that students begin with broad surveys of foundational works in at least two different cultural traditions, including at least one course on classical Western European texts. All majors should then take two specially commissioned core seminars, each co-taught by two faculty members who come from different, but complementary fields of study. Students then craft an area of concentration according to their interests and with the help of appropriate faculty members. The major offers breadth and interdisciplinary scope even as it encourages depth and intellectual coherence.

FACULTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROGRAM OF HUMANITIES

Professors Jeffrey Alexander (Sociology), R. Howard Bloch (French), Harold Bloom (Humanities), Edyta Bojanowska (Slavic Languages & Literatues), Leslie Brisman (English), David Bromwich (English), Rüdiger Campe (German), Hazel Carby (African American Studies, American Studies), Francesco Casetti (Humanities), Deborah Coen (History of Science and Medicine, History), Stephen Davis (Religious Studies, History), Wai Chee Dimock (English), Carlos Eire (History, Religious Studies), Benjamin Foster (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Paul Freedman (History), Kirk Freudenburg (Classics), Bryan Garsten (Political Science), Marie-Helen Girard (French), Phyllis Granoff (Religious Studies), Emily Greenwood (Classics), David Grewal (School of Law, Political Science), Inderpal Grewal (Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies), Frank Griffel (Religious Studies), Christine Hayes (Religious Studies, Judaic Studies), Edward Kamens (East Asian Languages & Literatures), Alice Kaplan (French), Anthony Kronman (School of Law), Tina Lu (East Asian Languages & Literatures), Ivan Marcus (History, Religious Studies), Stefanie Markovits (English), Giuseppe Mazzotta (Italian), Samuel Moyn (History, School of Law), Paul North (German), John Durham Peters (English, Film & Media Studies), Brigitte Peucker (German), Steven Pincus (History), Pierre Saint-Amand (French), Maurice Samuels (French), William Sledge (Psychiatry), Steven Smith (Political Science, Philosophy), Nicola Suthor (History of Art), Gary Tomlinson (Music, Humanities), Shawkat Toorawa (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), Francesca Trivellato (History), Katie Trumpener (Comparative Literature), Jing Tsu (East Asian Languages & Literatures), Miroslav Volf (Divinity School), Anders Winroth (History), Ruth Yeazell (English)

Associate Professors Paola Bertucci (History, History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health), Toni Dorfman (Adjunct) (Theater Studies), Moira Fradinger (Comparative Literature), Milette Gaifman (History of Art and Classics), Martin Hägglund (Comparative Literature, Humanities), Jacqueline Jung (History of Art), Pauline LeVen (Classics), Karuna Mantena (Political Science), Marci Shore (History), Kirk Wetters (German)

Assistant Professors Rebekah Ahrendt (Music), Marisa Bass (History of Art), Lucas Bender (East Asian Languages and Literatures, Humanities), Marijeta Bozovic (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Molly Brunson (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Thomas C. Connolly (French), Emily Erikson (Sociology), Marta Figlerowicz (Comparative Literature, English), Seth Jacobowitz (East Asian Languages and Literatures), Isaac Nakhimovsky (History), Joseph North (English), Christiana Purdy Moudarres (Italian), Ayesha Ramachandran (Comparative Literature), Katrin Truestedt (German)

Senior Lecturers Peter Cole (Judaic Studies), Charles Hill (Humanities), William Klein (Humanities), Pauline Lin (East Asian Languages & Literatures), Stuart Semmel (History, Humanities), Kathryn Slanski (Humanities, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Norma Thompson (Humanities)

Lecturers Maria Baffi (Humanities, Spanish & Portuguese), Karla Britton (Divinity School), Drew Collins (Divinity School), Matthew Croasmun (Divinity School), Igor De Souza (English), Jonathan Fine (Humanities), Karen Foster (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Johanna Fridriksdottir (Humanities), Joseph Gordon (English), Angela Gorrell (Center for Faith and Culture), Virginia Jewiss (Humanities), Katja Lindskog (English), Camille Lizarribar (Humanities), Judith Malafronte (Music), Giulia Oskian (Humanities), Karin Roffman (Humanities, English), Francey Russell (Humanities), Adam Stern (Humanities), George Syrimis (Hellenic Studies), Adam Van Doren 

Seminars for First Years

Directed Studies is an interdisciplinary introduction to influential texts that have shaped Western civilization.

* HUMS 064a, Humanistic Considerations in the Doctor Patient RelationshipWilliam Sledge

This first-year seminar addresses considerations in the doctor/patient relationship as medicine itself faces the corporatization of health care and the need to develop clear approaches to the humanistic elements of health care. We address the history of the relationship between MDs and their patients as a prelude to a more in-depth account of medicine and patients in modern times. We use the work of notable sociologists (Parsons and Fox) as well as artists and humanist physicians. We also interrogate alternative to western medicine as we review the art and literature of the modern era to gain a humanistic perspective on medicine, illness, suffering, and the administration of care. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.  HU, SO
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 072b / ENGL 023b, Reading Recent North American Short FictionJoseph Gordon

The short story is generally considered to be North American in origin. As one of its goals, the course examines the ways in which the genre has developed in recent decades into a vehicle for storytelling from marginalized or subaltern voices such as those of people of color, women, LGBT people, immigrants and refugees, war veterans, students, and children. The course also explores how collections of stories gathered by a single author may resemble but yet be distinguishable from novels, and examines some very recent short stories that are influenced by nontraditional forms of imaginative writing, such as graphic fiction, self-help manuals, and social media. Authors are likely to include: Grace Paley, Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Rohinton Mistry, ZZ Packer, Sherman Alexie, Tao Lin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edward P. Jones, Elizabeth Strout, Junot Diaz, Phil Klay, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Alison Bechdel, Lorrie Moore, Jennifer Egan, and Teju Cole. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.   WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* HUMS 075a, Mastering the Art of WatercolorAdam Van Doren

An introductory course on the art of watercolor as a humanistic discipline within the liberal arts tradition. Readings, discussions, and studio work emphasize critical, creative thinking through a tactile, “learning by doing” study of the watercolor medium. Students analyze and imitate the classic techniques of J. M.W. Turner, John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Edward Hopper, among others. Studio components include painting en plein air to understand color, form, perspective, composition, and shade and shadow. Basic drawing skills recommended. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.   HURP
W 2:30pm-5:30pm

* HUMS 077a / NELC 003a, Medieval Travel and ExplorationShawkat Toorawa

Introduction to the motivations for travel and exploration in the Middle Ages. For adventure, for commerce, on pilgrimage, and for conquest, travelers include Christian, Jewish, and Muslim merchants, ambassadors, scholars, geographers, explorers, sailors, and soldiers. All material in English translation. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  HU
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 078b, Shakespeare and MusicJudith Malafronte

The use of music in Shakespeare's plays, from the original stagings and seventeenth-century adaptations to modern productions. Consideration of operatic versions of the plays from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Includes a field trip to New York City. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 080a, Transforming Literature into OperaJudith Malafronte

Examination of ten operatic masterpieces and their literary source material, with consideration of the roles of the composer and the librettist in fashioning poems, short stories, and plays into operatic works. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.  HU
MF 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 090b / HIST 089b, Thinking about HistoryStuart Semmel

An introduction to the discipline of history. Exploration of influential historical narratives; the philosophy of history; the emergence of historical subdisciplines including history from below, microhistory, the new cultural history, and Big History; and interdisciplinary engagement with anthropology, literary criticism, art history, and psychology. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.  WR, HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

* HUMS 092b / RLST 012b, Divine Law in Historical PerspectiveChristine Hayes

Exploration of the divergent notions of divine law in Greco-Roman antiquity and biblical Israel; the cognitive dissonance their historical encounter engendered and attempts by Jewish, Christian, and contemporary secular thinkers to negotiate competing claims. Topics include: debates over the attributes and nature of divine law versus human law; the grounds of divine law’s authority; law as a religious expression versus law as debasement of the divine-human relationship; the impact of divine law debates on secular legal theory. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

Core Seminars

* HUMS 409a / FREN 403a / LITR 224a, Proust Interpretations: Reading Remembrance of Things PastR. Howard Bloch and Pierre Saint-Amand

A close reading (in English) of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, Remembrance of Things Past, with emphasis upon major themes: time and memory, desire and jealousy, social life and artistic experience, sexual identity and personal authenticity, class and nation. Portions from Swann’s Way, Within a Budding Grove, Cities of the Plain, Time Regained considered from biographical, psychological/psychoanalytic, gender, sociological, historical, and philosophical perspectives.  WR, HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* HUMS 410a / ENGL 262a / HIST 262Ja, Modernities: Nineteenth-Century Historical NarrativesStefanie Markovits and Stuart Semmel

British historical narratives in the nineteenth century, an age often cited as the crucible of modern historical consciousness. How a period of industrialization and democratization grounded itself in imagined pasts—whether recent or distant, domestic or foreign—in both historical novels and works by historians who presented programmatic statements about the nature of historical development.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

Humanities Electives

* HUMS 130a / LITR 130a, How to ReadKatie Trumpener

Introduction to techniques, strategies, and practices of reading through study of lyric poems, narrative texts, plays and performances, films, new and old, from a range of times and places. Emphasis on practical strategies of discerning and making meaning, as well as theories of literature, and contextualizing particular readings. Topics include form and genre, literary voice and the book as a material object, evaluating translations, and how literary strategies can be extended to read film, mass media, and popular culture. Junior seminar; preference given to juniors and majors.   HU
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* HUMS 139a, Norse MythologyJohanna Fridriksdottir

The Norse mythological world from creation to its terrifying end in Ragnarök. This course explores the myths, religious beliefs, and social values of the Vikings and other people in pre-Christian Scandinavia, as well as the image and reception of this mythology in later times. The properties and functions of Odin, Thor, Loki, Freyja, and other deities studied through written and visual sources.   HU
MW 9am-10:15am

* HUMS 142b / LITR 184b / WGSS 146b, Women and the Supernatural in Medieval LiteratureJohanna Fridriksdottir

Study of medieval texts from a wide geographic and chronological range, all of which prominently feature female characters that exhibit supernatural features or practice magic. Narratives about fairies, witches, hags, and monstrous women analyzed in order to explore intersections of gender and sexuality, Otherness, ethics, violence, fantasy, and related themes in medieval culture.  HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 143a / CLCV 205a / HIST 205a, Introduction to Ancient Greek HistoryFrançois Gerardin

An introductory course in Greek history tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Students read original sources in translation as well as the works of modern scholars.  HU
MW 10:30am-11:20am

HUMS 144a / CLCV 206a / HIST 217a, The Roman RepublicFrançois Gerardin

The origins, development, and expansion of Rome from the earliest times to the deaths of Caesar and Cicero. Cultural identity and interaction; slavery, class, and the family; politics, rhetoric, and propaganda; religion; imperialism; monumentality and memory; and the perception and writing of history. Application of literary and archaeological evidence.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 150a, Shakespeare and the Canon: Histories, Comedies, and PoemsHarold Bloom

A reading of Shakespeare's histories, comedies, and poems, with an emphasis on their originality in regard to tradition and their influence on Western representation since the seventeenth century. Secondary readings included.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 151b, Shakespeare and the Canon: Tragedies and RomancesHarold Bloom

A reading of Shakespeare's tragedies and romances, with an emphasis on their originality in regard to tradition: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 152a, Poetic Influence from Shakespeare to KeatsHarold Bloom

The complexities of poetic influence in the traditions of the English language, from Shakespeare to Keats.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 153b, Poetic Influence from Shakespeare to Hart CraneHarold Bloom

The complexities of poetic influence in the tradition of the English language. Works by Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Yeats, followed by an American sequence of Whitman, Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and Hart Crane.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 178b / THST 388b, Revenge Tragedy and Moral AmbiguityToni Dorfman

A study of plays and films variously construed as revenge tragedy that raise aesthetic and ethical issues, including genre, retribution, "just wars," public vs. private justice, and the possibility of resolution. How questions of crime, punishment, and justice have been posed in drama, from classical Greece through the twentieth century.   HU
M 10:30am-12:20pm

HUMS 180a / ITAL 310a / LITR 183a, Dante in TranslationChristiana Purdy Moudarres

A critical reading of Dante's Divine Comedy and selections from the minor works, with an attempt to place Dante's work in the intellectual and social context of the late Middle Ages by relating literature to philosophical, theological, and political concerns. No knowledge of Italian required. Course conducted in English.  HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

* HUMS 184b, Experiments in Twentieth-Century Literary BiographyKarin Roffman

The history and practice of literary biography explored through groundbreaking experiments in form and theory. Ethics and responsibilities in the shifting relationship between biographer and subject. Complexities in research and writing, including multiple perspectives on the same event, contradictory archival evidence, and conflicting narrative truth. Focus on modern biographies and recent novels that examine the process of writing a life.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* HUMS 193b / HIST 265Jb, Screening the PastStuart Semmel

An interdisciplinary study of cinematic representations of the historical past. Films that treat historical events realistically; others that deliberately present history as it did not happen. Standards that can be applied to judge history on the screen; lessons for evaluating history on the page.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

HUMS 201a / FREN 240a / LITR 214a, The Modern French NovelMaurice Samuels and Alice Kaplan

A survey of major French novels, considering style and story, literary and intellectual movements, and historical contexts. Writers include Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, Camus, and Sartre. Readings in translation. One section conducted in French.  HUTr
TTh 1:30pm-2:20pm

* HUMS 203b / JDST 358b / WGSS 210b, Feminism and JudaismIgor De Souza

The impact of feminism in three key areas of contemporary Jewish life: religion, Zionism, and identity. The critique of Zionism, in a trend known as post-Zionism, from feminist lenses. Feminism and Zionism in the construction of sexualized and racialized Jewish identities (LGBT Jews/Jews of color).
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 205a, Boundaries of the Body in Law and LiteratureCamille Lizarríbar

The representation of the human body in law and literature. Bodies as physical structures that inhabit multiple realms, including material, cultural, historical, and symbolic. Ways in which humans think about and give meaning to their bodies in relationship to themselves and to others. Additional sources include film, television, and journalism.  WR, HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 228a / EVST 228a / HIST 459Ja / LITR 345a, Climate Change and the HumanitiesKatja Lindskog

What can the Humanities tell us about climate change? The Humanities help us to better understand the relationship between everyday individual experience, and our rapidly changing natural world. To that end, students read literary, political, historical, and religious texts to better understand how individuals both depend on, and struggle against, the natural environment in order to survive.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* HUMS 229a / LAST 431a / LITR 431a, 1968@50 Latin American Languages of LiberationMoira Fradinger

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the upheavals of 1968, this seminar looks at the Latin American cultural and political discourses of liberation throughout the sixties, with an eye at assessing their aftermath and their legacy today. While the language that characterized the foundation of the nation-states in the 19th century was emancipation, in the second part of the twentieth century, and particularly around 1968, Latin America embraced the world discourse of liberation. This seminar examines languages of liberation in an array of disciplines and artistic practices from South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. We explore regional debates that were also inserted in the larger discourse of the anti-colonial struggles of the global South. Topics include Philosophy of liberation (Dussel), Theology of liberation (the 1968 Council of Bishops in Medellin, Colombia), Theater of the oppressed (Boal), Pedagogy of the oppressed (Freire), Cinema of liberation (manifestos of third cinema), the New Song protest movements across the region (from Violeta Parra in Chile to Tropicalismo in Brazil), anti-colonialism in the Caribbean (Fanon), anti-neocolonialism (dependency theory, internal colonialism), Indigenous liberation (from the Barbados declarations to the Lacandon jungle declarations), experimental “boom” literature (Cortázar) etc.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

HUMS 230a / GMAN 311a / LITR 215a, The Age of GoetheKirk Wetters

Introduction to Germany's classical period, from the 1780s to the 1810s, with attention to the varied forms of literature, philosophy, art, music, and culture. The close connection between literature and philosophy; the theoretical foundations of European Romanticism. Some attention to twentieth‐century theory.   HU
TTh 9am-10:15am

* HUMS 238a / HSAR 431a, Portraiture and Selfhood in the RenaissanceMarisa Bass

Long before “the age of the selfie,” portraiture and identity construction were closely intertwined. The rise of portraiture during the Renaissance is often said to coincide with the moment when the notion of the individual emerged for the first time. This course reconsiders the relationship between portraits and concepts of selfhood as they developed from the late Middle Ages through early modernity. Looking across media, we explore examples of portraiture in painting, sculpture, and print and address how works within the genre speak to both individual and communal identity, to issues of gender, race, and class, and reflect the exploration of social mobility from the late fourteenth to the late sixteenth century. Close reading of biographies, autobiographies, and other literary genres of self-fashioning are also considered, alongside artists including Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Hans Holbein, and Titian. Several class sessions include visits to collections on campus.  HUTr
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 246a / JDST 222a / PHIL 308a, Philosophy of LoveAsaf Angermann

This course explores various modes of thinking philosophically about love. It provides an overview of historical and analytic perspectives on the metaphysics, theology, ethics, and politics of love. It examines questions about the nature of love and its meaning in human and social life, focusing on different kinds of love, their multiplicity and diversity. The historical and conceptual survey covers diverse philosophical traditions: from ancient and medieval philosophy to existentialism, analytic philosophy, Jewish philosophy, and black feminist thought. Authors include Plato, St. Augustine, Descartes, Conway, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Buber, Arendt, de Beauvoir, Murdoch, Levinas, Foucault, Irigaray, Nussbaum, Nozick, Frankfurt, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Sara Ahmed, and James Baldwin.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 247b / SOCY 352b, Material Culture and Iconic ConsciousnessJeffrey Alexander

How and why contemporary societies continue to symbolize sacred and profane meanings, investing these meanings with materiality and shaping them aesthetically. Exploration of "iconic consciousness" in theoretical terms (philosophy, sociology, semiotics) and further exploration of compelling empirical studies about food and bodies, nature, fashion, celebrities, popular culture, art, architecture, branding, and politics.  HU, SO
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HUMS 248b, Monuments and Memorials: Shaping Historical MemoriesVirginia Jewiss

Monuments, from the Latin monere, are intended to admonish and advise the viewer. Memorials–placeholders of memory–invite us to remember and reflect. Simultaneously commemorative and cautionary, monuments and memorials aim to speak both to their own moment and to posterity. Yet what they say changes, and the memories they honor are often contested, as recent controversies at Yale and beyond have underlined. Drawing on examples from antiquity to the present, from ancient Egypt to the Elm City, this interdisciplinary seminar explores monuments and memorials as political, cultural, social, and aesthetic expressions, and the ways they operate within and beyond the historical moment in which they were created. Physical manifestations of memory are considered together with literary and historical works that complement and challenge notions of permanence, perpetuity, and power of expression. Current debates about monuments are set alongside the practice of damnatio memoriae in ancient Rome; iconoclasm; and alternative or counter-monuments that subvert the traditional commemorative lexicon. Particular attention is given to monuments at Yale and the New Haven area, with on-site classes.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 250b / CPLT 562b / GMAN 422b / GMAN 654b / LITR 439b / PHIL 476b, Living Form: Organicism in Society and AestheticsKirk Wetters

Starting with Kant, the organic is defined as a processual relation of the part and the whole, thereby providing a new model of the individual as a self-contained totality. Students explore the implications of this conception in Goethe's writings on morphology (The Metamorphosis of Plants, "Orphic Primal Words"), the Romantics' Atheneum, Hanslick's On the Beautiful in Music, Oswald Spengler's cultural morphology, the concept of autopoeisis in Maturana and Varela, Luhmann's systems theory, and Canguilheim's critique of the analogy of organic life and society.  HUTr
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 252a / AMST 346a / ENGL 235a, Poetry and ObjectsKarin Roffman

This course on 20th and 21st century poetry studies the non-symbolic use of familiar objects in poems. We meet alternating weeks in the Beinecke library archives and the Yale Art Gallery objects study classroom to discover literary, material, and biographical histories of poems and objects. Additionally, there are scheduled readings and discussions with contemporary poets. Assignments include both analytical essays and the creation of online exhibitions.  WR, HU
F 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 253a / ENGL 346a / RLST 233a, Poetry and FaithChristian Wiman

Issues of faith examined through poetry, with a focus on modern Christian poems from 1850 to the present. Some attention to poems from other faith traditions, as well as to secular and antireligious poetry.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 268a / PLSC 300a / RLST 274a, Analyzing AntisemitismAdam Stern

Analysis of the “longest hatred" from a historical as well as theoretical point of view; and the development of antisemitism and key manifestations from the ancient world to the present moment. Topics include how hatred of Jews relates to other forms of bigotry and prejudice; how antisemitism mutates in different times and places; antisemitism before the modern period; why antisemitism exists in countries that have no Jews; why antisemitism is once again on the rise around the world and how it can be combated.
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HUMS 269a / EALL 230a / EAST 242, Poetry and Ethics Amidst Imperial CollapseLucas Bender

Du Fu has for the last millennium been considered China’s greatest poet. Close study of nearly one-sixth of his complete works, contextualized by selections from the tradition that defined the art in his age. Exploration of the roles literature plays in interpreting human lives and the ways different traditional forms shape different ethical orientation. Poetry as a vehicle for moral reflection. All readings are in English.  WR, HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 270a / CHNS 200a / EALL 200a / EAST 240a, The Chinese TraditionTina Lu and Yongtao Zhang

An introduction to the literature, culture, and thought of premodern China, from the beginnings of the written record to the turn of the twentieth century. Close study of textual and visual primary sources, with attention to their historical and cultural backdrops. Students enrolled in CHNS 200 join a weekly Mandarin-language discussion section. No knowledge of Chinese required for students enrolled in EALL 200. Students enrolled in CHNS 200 must have L5 proficiency in Mandarin or permission of the course instructor.  HUTr
MW 10:30am-11:20am

* HUMS 272b / EALL 256b / EAST 358b / GLBL 251b / LITR 265b, China in the WorldJing Tsu

Recent headlines about China in the world, deciphered in both modern and historical contexts. Interpretation of new events and diverse texts through transnational connections. Topics include China and Africa, Mandarinization, labor and migration, Chinese America, nationalism and humiliation, and art and counterfeit. Readings and discussion in English.  HU
HTBA

* HUMS 276b / PHIL 366b, The Concept of RecognitionFrancey Russell

This course introduces students to canonical figures in the history of philosophy as well as ongoing contemporary philosophical debates. Students analyze the moral, political, and existential significance of recognition. What is the normative difference between cognizing an object and recognizing another subject? What is the ethical and political significance of being recognized as a moral subject by a moral equal? What are the ethical and political risks of this kind of relationship? We study Enlightenment figures Rousseau, Kant, Fichte, and Hegel, before turning to the contemporary reception of this tradition of thought, including critic, to include Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, and Judith Butler. To conclude, we may explore the idea of "aesthetic recognition:" is the way we relate to works of art anything like the way we relate to persons? Prerequisite: one philosophy course.  WR, HUTr
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 290a / EALL 286a / EAST 261 / LITR 285a / PORT 360a, The Modern Novel in Brazil and JapanSeth Jacobowitz

Brazilian and Japanese novels from the late nineteenth century to the present. Representative texts from major authors are read in pairs to explore their commonalities and divergences. Topics include nineteenth-century realism and naturalism, the rise of mass culture and the avant-garde, and existentialism and postmodernism. No knowledge of Portuguese or Japanese required.  HUTr
MW 4pm-5:15pm

* HUMS 295b, Trials of UncertaintyNorma Thompson

Is the demise of the trial at hand? The trial as cultural achievement, considered as the epitome of humanistic inquiry, where all is brought to bear on a crucial matter in an uncertain context. Truth may be hammered out or remain elusive, but the expectation in the court case has been that the adversarial mode works best for sorting out evidentiary conundrums. Inquiries into issues of meaning of the trial, its impartiality, and challenges to its endurability. The role of character, doubt, and diagnosis explored in Sophocles, Plato, Cicero, Burke, Jane Austen, Tocqueville, and Kafka, as well as in twentieth-century trials, films, documentaries, and twenty-first-century medical narratives.  HUTr
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 310b, Aristotelian StatecraftCharles Hill

Connections between working practices and governance from Aristotle to Aquinas to Arendt. Statecraft as a practical art to be understood and informed by the structures and methods of agriculture, navigation, fishing, hunting, cooking, mountaineering, flying, athletics, and shipbuilding. Ways in which actions produce ideas transferable to such matters of statecraft as law and diplomacy.  HU
W 9:25am-11:15am

* HUMS 316b, World Order in Liberal ArtsCharles Hill

International security as humanity's primary problem beyond policy methodologies. America's unique place for and against world order seen in classical literature and intellectual forays into Japan, Africa, Palestine, Persia, etc. Kissinger Papers at Yale provide case studies.  HU
F 9:25am-11:15am

* HUMS 325a / EP&E 401a / RLST 370a, Law, Morality, and ReligionAndrew Forsyth

The relationship—if any—between law, morality, and religion. Topics include the twentieth-century jurisprudential debate on law and morality; debates on law’s relationship to reason and will, flourishing and restraint, in the “Western” tradition from antiquity to early modernity; and the U.S. Constitution and debates over free exercise and establishment of religion.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 336b / E&EB 336b / HSHM 453b, Culture and Human EvolutionGary Tomlinson

Examination of the origins of human modernity in the light of evolutionary and archaeological evidence. Understanding, through a merger of evolutionary reasoning with humanistic theory, the impact of human culture on natural selection across the last 250,000 years.  HU, SC
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 353a / GMAN 371a / LITR 442a, Kafka and the PhilosophersRüdiger Campe

The notion of the “Kafkaesque” is testimony to the exceptional place and impact of Kafka’s work and writing in world literature. In fact, Kafka has not only been extensively imitated by other writers and read by literary critics but his narratives and novels became the place of intense engagement by philosophers. More often than not, Kafka is not just another example for a theoretical concept but offers the possibility for new concepts or even requires new ways of thinking. An introduction into Kafka’s world of writing is offered by the reading of pieces form his early work (Description of a Struggle), the novel The Trial (with Orson Welles’s movie), and the late narrative Josephine, the Singer. The philosophers to read on Kafka (and in their own context) are Albert Camus, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Maurice Blanchot, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Claudio Agamben, and, in conjunction with Kafka, Stanley Cavell and Richard Rorty.  HUTr
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 411b, Life Worth LivingStaff

Comparative exploration of the shape of the life advocated by several of the world's normative traditions, both religious and nonreligious. Concrete instantiations of these traditions explored through contemporary exemplars drawn from outside the professional religious or philosophical spheres. Readings from the founding texts of Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Marxism, and utilitarianism. Admission by application.  HU
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* HUMS 427a / ENGL 456a / LITR 348a, The Practice of Literary TranslationRobyn Creswell

Intensive readings in the history and theory of translation paired with practice in translating. Case studies from ancient languages (the Bible, Greek and Latin classics), medieval languages (classical Arabic literature), and modern languages (poetic texts).  HU
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* HUMS 443a / HIST 232Ja / JDST 270a / MMES 342a / RLST 201a, Medieval Jews, Christians, and Muslims In ConversationIvan Marcus

How members of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities thought of and interacted with members of the other two cultures during the Middle Ages. Cultural grids and expectations each imposed on the other; the rhetoric of otherness—humans or devils, purity or impurity, and animal imagery; and models of religious community and power in dealing with the other when confronted with cultural differences. Counts toward either European or Middle Eastern distributional credit within the History major, upon application to the director of undergraduate studies.  WR, HURP
W 9:25am-11:15am

* HUMS 444b, The City of RomeVirginia Jewiss

An interdisciplinary study of Rome from its legendary origins through its evolving presence at the crossroads of Europe and the world. Exploration of the city's rich interweaving of history, theology, literature, philosophy, and the arts in significant moments of Roman and world history.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

The Franke Seminars

* HUMS 445a / GMAN 227a / LITR 330a or b / PHIL 402a, Heidegger's Being and TimeMartin Hägglund

Systematic, chapter by chapter study of Heidegger’s Being and Time, arguably the most important work of philosophy in the twentieth-century. All major themes addressed in detail, with particular emphasis on care, time, death, and the meaning of being.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HUMS 448b / AFAM 476b / WGSS 480b, Race & CasteHazel Carby and Inderpal Grewal

The seminar, as an interdisciplinary course in cultural studies, puts into conversation the fields of African American studies; South Asian Studies; Ethnicity, Race & Migration Studies; and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. It draws from the social sciences, sciences, and humanities. Ideas of race and caste and the social practices that have evolved from these forms of differentiation are seen as disconnected, belonging to divergent spaces and times. This course examines how race and caste are intimately related and, indeed, co-constitutive within British colonial and imperial regimes of power. Drawing on examples from the Caribbean, India, North America, South Africa, and the UK, we examine the production of knowledge and systems of classification through political theory, political economy, representational practices, and the history of science. The course focuses on the consequences of economic, political, and social differentiation not only in terms of oppression and exploitation, but also through understanding how race and caste have been foundations for mobilizing and organizing for rights, resistance, and liberation.  HU, SO
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

The Shulman Seminar

Individual Research and Senior Essay Courses

* HUMS 470a and HUMS 471b, Special Studies in the HumanitiesNorma Thompson

For students who wish to pursue a topic in Humanities not otherwise covered. May be used for research or for directed reading under the guidance of one or more faculty advisers. In either case a term paper or its equivalent is required, as are regular meetings with the adviser or advisers. To apply, a student should present a prospectus and a bibliography signed by the adviser or advisers to the director of undergraduate studies. Enrollment limited to juniors and seniors majoring in Humanities.
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* HUMS 471b, Special Studies in the HumanitiesNorma Thompson

For students who wish to pursue a topic in Humanities not otherwise covered. May be used for research or for directed reading under the guidance of one or more faculty advisers. In either case a term paper or its equivalent is required, as are regular meetings with the adviser or advisers. To apply, a student should present a prospectus and a bibliography signed by the adviser or advisers to the director of undergraduate studies. Enrollment limited to juniors and seniors majoring in Humanities.
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* HUMS 491a or b, The Senior EssayNorma Thompson

Independent library-based research under faculty supervision. To register, students must consult the director of undergraduate studies no later than the end of registration period in the previous term. A written plan of study approved by a faculty adviser must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies by November 16, 2018, if the essay is to be submitted during the spring term, by May 1, 2019, for yearlong or fall-term essays. A rough draft of the essay is due at noon on March 25, 2019 for spring-term essays or on October 29, 2018 for fall-term essays. The final essay is due at noon on April 8, 2019 for spring-term essays or on December 3, 2018 for fall-term essays; late essays will be penalized by a lower grade.  RP
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