Humanities Electives

HUMS 140b / NELC 121b
The Hero in the Ancient Near East

Kathryn Slanski

Exploration of the interaction of religion, history, and literature in the ancient Near East through study of its heroes, including comparison with heroes, heroic narratives, and hero cults in the Bible and from classical Greece.  WR, HU
TTh 9am-10:15am

HUMS 145b / CLCV 212b
Ancient Greek and Roman Novels in Context

Pauline LeVen

A thorough examination of ancient novels as ancestors to the modern novel. Focus on seven surviving Greek and Roman novels, with particular emphasis on questions of interpretation, literary criticism, and literary theory, as well as cultural issues raised by the novels, including questions of gender and sexuality, ethnicity, cultural identity, religion, and intellectual culture of the first centuries A.D.  WR, HU
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

HUMS 150a
Shakespeare and the Canon: Histories, Comedies, and Poems

Harold 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 Romances

Harold Bloom

A reading of Shakespeare’s tragedies and romances, 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 152a
Poetic Influence from Shakespeare to Keats

Harold 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 Tennyson and Whitman to the Present

Harold Bloom

The complexities of poetic influence in the tradition of the English language, from Tennyson and Whitman to the present.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 154a / ENGL 254a
Defenses of Poetry

Paul Fry

Defenses of poetry’s “ancient quarrel” with philosophy, science, and history. Readings in Plato, Aristotle, Sidney, Rousseau, Kant, Wordsworth, Peacock and Shelley, Arnold, Benjamin and Adorno, Heidegger, Cleanth Brooks, Jakobson, Kristeva, De Man; defenses in verse by Donne, Keats, Stevens, Moore and Bishop.  WR, HU
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

HUMS 161b / ENGL 203b / FREN 300b
Medieval Shorts

Ardis Butterfield and R. Howard Bloch

Study of the medieval verse tales that are at the root core of humorous, realistic, and idealist literature in English, French, Italian, and Spanish. Readings include a wide range of short works such as French fabliaux, fables and lais, novella from Boccaccio’s Decameron, English short tales and lyrics. English translations will be available for all texts, which will also be studied alongside their original languages.  WR, HU
TTh 9am-10:15am

HUMS 162a / FREN 388a
Feminine Voices in French Literature

R. Howard Bloch

An exploration of women’s voices in French literature from the Middle Ages to the mid-twentieth century. The specificity of the feminine voice, the plurality of feminine voices, love and sexuality, and social and professional identity. Authors include Marie de France, Marguerite de Navarre, George Sand, Maryse Condé, and Marguerite Duras.   Readings and discussion in English.  WR, HU

HUMS 163a
The House and the Writer’s Life

Karin Roffman

The study of seven American writers’ houses from the mid-nineteenth century to today. Authors include Stowe, Twain, James, Wharton, Stein, Merrill, and Ashbery. Focus is on the creation of the house, including issues of location, architecture, and design and on the literary works that emerged during each writer’s process of setting up the house. Trips to local houses and museums.
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

HUMS 178a / THST 388a
Revenge Tragedy and Moral Ambiguity

Toni 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 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 179a / ENGL 217a
Shakespeare’s Political Plays

David Bromwich

Reading and interpretation of selected histories and tragedies from Richard II to Coriolanus with emphasis on the tension between individual freedom and political obligation.  WR, HU
MW 1pm-2:15pm

HUMS 192b / HIST 299Jb
Intellectuals and Power in Europe

Terence Renaud

The role of intellectuals in politics, with a focus on social, cultural, and political upheavals in Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Whether intellectuals betray a higher spiritual calling when they enter politics or merely strive to put their own theories into practice. Modern answers to the question of why ideas and intellectuals matter.  HU
W 9:25am-11:15am

HUMS 205a
Boundaries of the Body in Law and Literature

Camille 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
W 2:30pm-4:20pm

HUMS 226a / ARCG 241a / CLCV 241a / HSAR 241a
The Greek Nude and Ideals in Art

Milette Gaifman

Survey of ancient Greek art, in particular, representation of the nude body from the seventh century B.C. through modernity. Masterpieces such as Discus Thrower and Venus de Milo, and Michelangelo’s David or Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, present fundamental distinctions between naturalism, realism, and idealism and the lasting impact of the Greek nude beyond antiquity. Focus on heroic nudity, the relationship between athleticism and visual arts, how male and female bodies are treated differently, and what constitutes ideal beauty. Use of collections in the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

HUMS 231b / MUSI 435b
Music in European Thought: Three Moments in the Modern Era

Leon Plantinga

An inquiry into the role of music and thought about music at three critical junctures in the intellectual and cultural history of modern Europe: the birth of modernity and opera; the Enlightenment and the classical style; and German romanticism and Beethoven.  HU
Th 2:30pm-3:45pm

HUMS 235b / FREN 335b
Orientalism in French Literature and Art

Marie-Hélène Girard and Maryam Sanjabi

Examination of Oriental influences in French prose, theater, poetry, travel literature, and art from the seventeenth century to the twentieth. Topics include the problems of Orientalism; encounters with peoples, monuments, and cultures of the Muslim Middle East; social and political critique; and the popular lure of Oriental exoticism. Readings in English.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

HUMS 236a / GMAN 248a / LITR 240a
Goethe’s Faust

Kirk Wetters

Goethe’s Faust, with special attention to Faust II and to the genesis of Faust in its various versions throughout Goethe’s lifetime. Emphasis on the work in context of Goethe’s time and in the later reception and criticism. Reading knowledge of German beneficial but not required. HU  Tr
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

HUMS 239a / GMAN 375a / LITR 436a
Reading Late Capitalism

Henry Sussman

The fate of Marxian literature in view of sociocultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Exploration of the parameters and dimensions of Marx’s core texts, and pursuit of the fate of such major constructs as the commodity, alienation, class-conflict, and assembly-line manufacture, in the literature, cinema, and theoretical oversight of both centuries. Authors include Flaubert, Zola, Kafka, Lukács, Benjamin, Derrida, Jameson, and Piketty. Previous coursework analyzing elaborate arguments and recognizing different methodological frameworks.  WR, HU  Tr
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

HUMS 240a / GMAN 337a / LITR 341a
Literature of Travel and Tourism

Kirk Wetters

A critical, historical introduction to the functions of travel narratives from the late eighteenth century to the present. Topics include travel and autobiography, fiction versus non-fiction, cosmopolitanism, travel as a means of individual experience and education, anthropology, and the contemporary culture of tourism. Focus will be on four works: Ransmayr’s Atlas of an Anxious Man (2012), Sebald’s ​The Rings of Saturn (1995), Goethe’s Italian Journey (1813/1817) and Georg Forster’s account of the Cook voyage (1772-1775). readings and discussion in English.  WR, HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 242b / GMAN 376b / LITR 246b
Twentieth-Century German Fiction
 Henry Sussman

Introduction to twentieth-century German fiction. Selected readings range from experimental (Walser, Kafka, Roth, Wolf) to classical (Mann, Musil) and from Austrians (Musil), Germans (Mann, Döblin, Wolf), Swiss (Walser), and Austro-Hungarians (Roth). Topics include: modernist improvisation and the turn to language; undercurrents of mystification and superstition in German thought; and radical political instability and cultural exploration under the Weimar Republic  WR, HU
MW 4pm-5:15pm

HUMS 243b / GMAN 315b / LITR 431b / PHIL 482b
Systems and Their Theory

Henry Sussman

Conceptual systems that have, since the outset of modernity, furnished a format and platform for rigorous thinking at the same time that they have imposed on language the attributes of self-reflexivity, consistency, repetition, purity, and dependability. Texts by Kant, Hegel, Bergson, Kafka, Proust, and Borges.  HU

HUMS 247a / SOCY 352a
Material Culture and Iconic Consciousness

Jeffrey 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
Th 2:30pm-4:20pm

HUMS 257a / LITR 315a
The Concept of Independence

Lukas Moe and Edward King

Beginning with The Declaration of Independence, this course moves through the history of independence in both American and postcolonial contexts. It will situate the political meanings of the term alongside its history in art and aesthetics, asking how the concept of independence became central to definitions of art, politics, and identity. Authors include Virginia Woolf, Frantz Fanon, Emily Dickinson, Immanuel Kant, and Nina Simone.  WR, HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

HUMS 259b / PLSC 289b

Bryan Garsten

A close reading of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, along with major influences, such as Rousseau, Pascal, and Montesquieu, and near contemporaries, including Constant, Guizot, and Marx. one course in political theory, philosophy, or intellectual history.   HU, SO

HUMS 275b / PLSC 298b / SAST 328b
Gandhi and His Critics


A survey of Gandhi’s social and political thought and the writings of his key critics and interlocutors such as Tagore, Savarkar, Nehru, Ambedkar. Through these exchanges, students explore the main currents of political thought in modern India. Topics include: modernity, the state, and violence; individual and collective swaraj; nationalism, diversity, and community; social reform and the critique of caste; religion, secularism, and toleration; democratic politics and the challenge of equality.  HU

HUMS 290b / EALL 286b / LITR 285b / PORT 360b
The Modern Novel in Brazil and Japan

Seth 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.  HU  Tr
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 300b
Oratory in Statecraft

Charles Hill

A seminar and practicum in oratory, the first tool of leadership. A study of oratory as it provides direction, builds support, and drives action on a strategic agenda. Analysis of speeches in antiquity, the early modern era, and the unique American voice: Edwards to Lincoln to King.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

HUMS 307b / EP&E 263b / PLSC 329b
Émigré Social Theory

Daniel Luban

Major works of social thought written in the wake of World War II by Central European émigrés and refugees. Theories of capitalism and socialism, interpretations of modern politics and history, critiques and defenses of Western intellectual traditions. Central texts include works by Arendt, Hayek, Horkheimer and Adorno, Polanyi, and Schumpeter.  HU

HUMS 311a / PHIL 321a / PLSC 285a
Political Theology

Steven Smith

Discussion of political theology as the foundation of political authority. The question of whether authority derives from reason or revelation, or from secular or religious sources. Examination of the dialectic of secularization and religious belief in some of the writings of Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, Maistre, Schmitt, and Strauss. a course in political philosophy or intellectual history.  HU, SO
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 314a
Philosophy as a Way of Life

Thomas Miller

Examination of the idea that philosophy in the ancient Greek and Roman world was not just an academic discipline, but an entire of way of life. Close study of texts by Plato, Xenophon, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Porphyry, Confucius, Zhuangzi, Montaigne, and others.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

HUMS 316b
World Order in Liberal Arts

Charles Hill

International peace and security as humanity’s primary philosophical problem, reflected in works beyond policy methodologies. Confucius to the Elizabethan “world picture,” to Kant, Grass, Calasso, Wittgenstein, and Samuel Beckett. Early writings of Kissinger and his diplomatic papers now at the Yale University Library provide modern case studies.  HU
F 9:25am-11:15am

HUMS 353b
The World of Augustine’s Confessions

Thomas Miller

A close study of the Confessions of Augustine. Additional readings by Vergil, Cicero, Paul, Plotinus, Tertullian, and Apuleius place Augustine’s work in the intellectual context of the waning of the Roman empire and the rise of Christianity.  HU  Tr
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

HUMS 370b / GMAN 415b / LITR 233b
Büchner: Between Romantic Comedy and Modern Science

Rüdiger Campe

Close reading of works by Georg Büchner, romantic poet and founder of the anticlassical tradition in German literature. The range of Büchner?s writings in terms of discourse and performative style, including comedy, tragedy, psychological case study, political pamphlet, philosophical lecture, and scientific paper. Attention to the interrelation between literary and nonliterary semantics. Readings in English and German. Discussion in English.  HU

HUMS 411b
Life Worth Living

Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasmun

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.  HU
TTh 9am-10:15am; MW 1pm-2:15pm; MW 9am-10:15am

HUMS 427b / ENGL 456b / JDST 316b / LITR 348b
The Practice of Literary Translation

Peter Cole

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
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

HUMS 438b / NELC 101b
Origins of Western Civilization: The Near East from Alexander to Muhammad

Benjamin Foster

Cultural and historical survey of Hellenistic, eastern Roman, Parthian, Byzantine, and Sassanian empires in the Near East. Emphasis on mutual influences of Near Eastern and classical worlds, the rise of Christianity and Islam in Near Eastern contexts, and the division of East and West between conflicting ideas of unity.  HU
MW 9am-10:15am

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

Ivan 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, HU  RP
Th 9:25am-11:15am

HUMS 444b
The City of Rome

Virginia 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

HUMS 472a / FILM 443a / GMAN 272a

Paul North and Francesco Casetti

Examination of fear, as the pivotal passion in late modernity, through literature, philosophy, and film. Special emphasis on the twentieth century and the way cinema represents, causes, and reflects on fear. None.  HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

HUMS 473b

Norma Thompson

Humanities as the body of knowledge uniquely capable of comprehending the realm of uncertainty where humanity’s greatest questions are found. Consideration of how history, literature, philosophy, and art vitally inform the professions of medicine, law, diplomacy, commerce, and science itself.  HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm