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Program in Humanistic Studies

Director

Gideon A. Rosen

Executive Committee

Angela N. H. Creager, History 

Denis C. Feeney, Classics 

Diana J. Fuss, English 

Elizabeth Anne McCauley, Art and Archaeology 

Gabriela Nouzeilles, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures 

Nikolaus Wegmann, German 

Judith L. Weisenfeld, Religion 

 


The Program in Humanistic Studies, under the auspices of the Council of the Humanities, sponsors two kinds of offerings. HUM courses explore interrelated events, ideas, texts, and artifacts of Western and Asian cultures. Students in these courses may work toward a certificate in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities. Journalism courses (subject area JRN) examine topics related to writing and the media, from creative nonfiction to relations between the media and society. Both kinds of courses are described below.

Journalism

These seminars are taught by distinguished writers and journalists from different media who spend a term at Princeton as Ferris, McGraw, and Robbins Professors. Students work closely with these journalists and often visit their news organizations. The program provides grants to undergraduates who undertake summer internships in the media.

The seminars were inaugurated in 1957 by the bequest of former New York Herald journalist Edwin F. Ferris of the Class of 1899. In 1984 publisher Harold W. McGraw Jr. '40 created the McGraw Professorship in Writing and Publishing in recognition of the importance of writing in all disciplines. Other seminars have been sponsored by a gift from the E. Franklin Robbins Trust in honor of the late William G. Michaelson '59 and his daughter Robin L. Michaelson '89. The program committee consists of the chairs of the English and Politics departments, the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the director of the Creative Writing program, and the chair of the Council of the Humanities.

Humanistic Studies

Humanistic Studies courses offer broad interdisciplinary exploration to students in all fields. Those who wish to pursue this approach beyond their first two years may design a curriculum reflecting their specific interests. The Interdisciplinary Program in Humanistic Studies is appropriate for students who are concentrating in a humanities or related social science department and who wish to reflect on the frontiers of disciplines, the bridges that connect them, and the insights that can be gained from approaching one field with the questions and methods of another. In addition to acquiring a strong base in their home departments, students in the program create links to one or more fields that can illuminate their work.

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

Prerequisites for the certificate in Humanistic Studies

Candidates for the program must complete two interdisciplinary courses during their first two years. These might be: (1) HUM 216-217 or 218-219, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture; or (2) HUM 233-234, East Asian Humanities; or (3) two other, equivalent courses that provide a rigorous interdisciplinary approach to the arts and culture over a span of historical time. (Applicants who seek to fulfill the prerequisites through this third option must submit syllabi of the two courses for which they are requesting approval.) Students are admitted to the program during the second semester of their sophomore year.

Plan of Study

In addition to the two prerequisites, students complete six additional courses, which may also be used to fulfill departmental requirements. Four of these six courses must be explicitly interdisciplinary in their approach and/or subject matter. The remaining two are chosen in consultation with the program adviser to coordinate with the student's individual plan of study. In these courses, students are expected to forge their own interdisciplinary connections and pursue them in their written work. One of the six courses is an interdisciplinary capstone seminar created specifically for certificate students. Students in the program must also complete either a senior thesis in their home departments with an interdisciplinary focus or an interdisciplinary research paper written specifically for the program.

Applicants to the program are encouraged to reflect on the meaningful connections they wish to forge and to propose a curriculum for their junior and senior years that combines the requirements of their home departments with the pursuits that best complement their interests. These individual paths are likely to group into five major trajectories:

1. Bridges among the humanities and arts

Students on this path deepen their study of one particular partnership among the possible combinations of religion, philosophy, history, literature, and the arts.

2. Bridges between the humanities and related social sciences

Students on this path focus on the intersections between a specific branch of the humanities and a neighboring field of anthropology, sociology, or politics.

3. Intercultural studies

Students might illuminate their study of Western culture with comparative approaches to other areas of the world, for example, or study one or more regions through different methodologies. In this pursuit, they might benefit from participating in global seminars or other opportunities for study abroad.

4. Bridges between the humanities and the sciences

These students, while concentrating in the humanities or social sciences, might explore links to cognitive science or other sciences.

5. Digital approaches to the humanities

Students in this group might create new kinds of knowledge by examining some area with the resources and insights of computer science.

Capstone Seminar

HUM 470 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

This team-taught seminar examines texts, objects, periods, and themes from an interdisciplinary perspective. The specific topic varies each year depending on the focus of the faculty team.


Courses


HUM 205 The Classical Roots of Western Literature (see COM 205)

HUM 206 Masterworks of European Literature (see COM 206)

HUM 207 The Bible as Literature (also COM 207/ENG 390)   Not offered this year LA

The Bible will be read closely in its own right and as an enduring resource for literature and commentary. The course will cover its forms and genres, including historical narrative, uncanny tales, prophecy, lyric, lament, commandment, sacred biography, and apocalypse; its pageant of weird and extraordinary characters; and its brooding intertextuality. Students will become familiar with a wide variety of biblical interpretations, from the Rabbis to Augustine, Kafka and Kierkegaard. Cinematic commentary will be included--Bible films, from the campy to the sublime. One 90-minute lecture, one 90-minute preceptorial. E. Schor

HUM 212 Classical Mythology (see CLA 212)

HUM 216 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: Literature and the Arts   Fall LA

This course, taken simultaneously with 217, forms the first part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture from antiquity to the Middle Ages. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, guest lectures, and other special events. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. Three lectures, two discussion sessions. J. Lande, P. Sitney, M. Brownlee

HUM 217 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: History, Philosophy, and Religion   Fall HA

In combination with 216, this is the first part of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence, exploring Western culture from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. All meetings are listed under 216. Y. Baraz, D. Heller-Roazen, M. McCarty

HUM 218 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: Literature and the Arts   Spring LA

This course, taken simultaneously with 219, forms the second part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture from the Renaissance to the modern period. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, and other special events. Students enroll in both 218 and 219. Prerequisites: 216-217 or instructor's permission. Three lectures, two discussion sessions. J. Lande, H. Freed-Thall, R. Leo

HUM 219 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: History, Philosophy, and Religion   Spring EC

In combination with 218, this is the second half of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence exploring Western culture from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Prerequisite: 216-217 or instructor's permission. All meetings are listed under 218. D. Hogan, A. Ryan, Y. Ryzhik

HUM 222 Visions of Transformation: Religious and Secular (see REL 222)

HUM 227 The World of the Middle Ages (see MED 227)

HUM 229 Great Books in Buddhism (see REL 229)

HUM 233 East Asian Humanities I: The Classical Foundations (also EAS 233/COM 233)   Fall EM

An introduction to the literature, art, religion, and philosophy of China, Japan, and Korea from antiquity to ca. 1400. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation and complemented by museum visits, films, and other materials from the visual arts. The lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion. Students are encouraged to enroll in HUM 234 in the spring, which continues the course from ca. 1400 into the 20th century. T. Hare

HUM 234 East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations (also EAS 234/COM 234)   Spring EM

An introduction to the literary, philosophical, religious, and artistic traditions of East Asia. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation. Lectures and discussions are accompanied by films, concerts, and museum visits. Lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion. J. Li

HUM 318 Medieval Manuscript Illumination (see ART 318)

HUM 321 Cultural Systems (see ECS 321)

HUM 326 Philosophy of Art (see PHI 326)

HUM 365 Freud on the Psychological Foundations of the Mind (also PSY 365)   Not offered this year EC

Freud is approached as a systematic thinker dedicated to discovering the basic principles of human mental life. For Freud, these basic principles concern what impels human thought and behavior. What moves us to think and act? What is it to think and act? Emphasis is placed on the close study and critical analysis of texts, with particular attention to the underlying structure of the arguments. Two 90-minute classes. S. Sugarman

JRN 349 Science Journalism (see STC 349)

JRN 400 The Media in America   Fall LA

This seminar will discuss such topics as secrecy, national security and a free press; reputation, privacy and the public's right to know; muckraking and the "establishment" press; spin and manipulation; the rise of blogging; the economic impact of technological change on the news business. E. Thomas

JRN 440 The Literature of Fact   Fall, Spring LA

This seminar offers a chance to think about and practice different kinds of writing. Students will strive to identify and emulate the best--the smartest, the most vivid, the most humane--in a variety of journalistic genres, from news analysis to arts criticism to foreign correspondence. E. Thomas, A. Guillermoprieto

JRN 441 The McGraw Seminar in Writing   Not offered this year LA

Each year a different kind of writing is featured, depending on the specialty of the Harold W. McGraw Professor of Writing and Publishing. One three-hour seminar. Staff

JRN 445 Investigative Journalism   Spring SA

This course looks at investigative reporting both as a practice, with its own methods of research, and as a force in society. Specific content and approach vary from year to year, depending on the expertise of the professor. One three-hour seminar. J. Becker

JRN 447 Politics and the Media   Not offered this year SA

Examination of political journalism and the role of the press in American society. The content and approach vary from year to year, depending on the interests of the professor. One three-hour seminar. Staff

JRN 448 The Media and Social Issues   Fall SA

An examination of the ways in which the media both cover and influence social issues. Specific content and approach vary from year to year, depending on the expertise of the professor. One three-hour seminar. P. Sainath

JRN 449 International News   Fall, Spring SA

This seminar explores the particular challenges of writing about other cultures, as well as the powers and limits of foreign reporting in shaping American public opinion. Specific content and approach vary from year to year, depending on the expertise of the professor. One three-hour seminar. O. Bennett-Jones, G. Witte

JRN 452 Journalism on the Screen   Not offered this year SA

Readers increasingly follow the news on television and the Internet. This seminar explores the potential as well as the limitations and dangers of on-screen journalism. Specific content and approach vary from year to year, depending on the expertise of the professor. One three-hour seminar. Staff