Program in Humanistic Studies
Scott G. Burnham, Music
Esther da Costa Meyer, Art and Archaeology
Denis Feeney, Classics
Meredith A. Martin, English
Philip G. Nord, History
Esther H. Schor, English
Keith A. Wailoo, History, Woodrow Wilson School
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 (see ENG 390)
HUM 209 Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication (see TRA 200)
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. Part I extends 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. Y. Baraz, L. Barkan, S. Marchesi
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. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. All meetings are listed under 216. H. Reimitz, A. Rigolio, B. Morison
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. Part II extends 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 D. Feeney, S. Morrison, B. Alsdorf
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. E. Schor, M. Siegelberg, E. Rentzou
HUM 222 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion (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. A. Shields, H. Wakabayashi
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. Staff
HUM 300 Urban Studies Research Seminar (see URB 300)
HUM 301 Topics in German Drama and Theater (see GER 301)
HUM 309 Political Philosophy (see PHI 309)
HUM 322 Ethnicity and History (also CLA 322/HIS 447) Spring HA
We live in the age of ethnicity. The surge of ethnic conflicts after the collapse of the Soviet Union has brought dramatically to the fore the importance of ethnicity as a motive for social action, often violent. Ethnic difference is a key factor employed to explain social inequality in the Global North. In the United States, ethnicity and race are official categories applied by governmental agencies in dealing with discrimination and poverty. In this course, students will look at ethnicity as a historical phenomenon that happens in different times and places, and become familiar with theories and methods as well as case-studies. H. Reimitz, N. Luraghi
HUM 326 Philosophy of Art (see PHI 326)
HUM 355 Art & Nationalism in Modern Italy (see ECS 355)
HUM 365 Freud on the Psychological Foundations of the Mind (also PSY 365) Fall 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
HUM 370 The Age of Discovery: History and Literature from the Renaissance to the French Revolution (also HIS 302/ECS 371/COM 366) Fall LA
The early modern period is often called the "Age of Discovery" because of European encounters with the New World. In fact, the period was one of multiple discoveries: not just of different parts of the globe but of ancient texts, of human biology and psychology, of the science of politics, and even of the ways to classify human knowledge. Co-taught by a historian and a literary scholar with shared interests in theater, visual arts, and the natural sciences, this course provides an introduction to European culture from the Renaissance to the French Revolution by focusing on different forms of "discovery" in historical and literary texts. C. Lee, A. Beaver
HUM 385 Mapping Gentrification (see URB 385)
HUM 470 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (also ART 470/HIS 489) Spring LA
This team-taught seminar examines texts, objects, periods and themes from an interdisciplinary perspective. Although designed to be the capstone course for students pursuing a certificate in Humanistic Studies, it is open to other students if space is available. The specific topic varies each year depending on the focus of the faculty team. J. Rampling, T. Kaufmann
JRN 240 Creative Non-Fiction (also CWR 240) Spring LA
This is a course in factual writing and what has become known as literary nonfiction, emphasizing writing assignments and including several reading assignments from the work of John McPhee and others. Enrollment is limited to 16 second-year students, by application only. One three-hour seminar. J. McPhee
JRN 334 Media and Public Policy (see WWS 334)
JRN 400 The Media in America Spring 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. J. Stephens
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. D. Max, A. Waldman
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 Fall 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. Stephens
JRN 447 Politics and the Media Fall SA
Examination of political journalism and the role of the press in society. The content and approach vary from year to year, depending on the interests of the professor. One three-hour seminar. K. Kay
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. J. Kahn
JRN 449 International News 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. D. Amos
JRN 450 Audio Journalism Not offered this year SA
Students will learn to combine precise writing, compelling interviews, sound, scene, and narrative to produce thoughtful, compelling broadcast quality news and features. Readings, listening sessions and guest speakers will explore style, ethical issues and innovative models of audio storytelling in this digital landscape. Specific content and approach vary from year to year depending on the expertise of the professor. One three-hour seminar. Staff
JRN 452 Digital Journalism Spring 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. D. Kushner
JRN 454 Writing about Ideas Fall LA
Journalists play a crucial role in intellectual life. They popularize and challenge the work of scholars and scientists, probe the world views that motivate political actors, and bring philosophical debates to the surface of public life, making the case for their relevance and even their urgency. In this course we will read and study works of intellectual narrative journalism. We will look at writerly strategies for conveying and distilling complexity within storytelling, and we will produce our own journalism. L. Secor