First-Year Offerings

The Humanities Program is proud to sponsor several exceptional courses of study exclusively for first years. Apart from Directed Studies, an intensive introduction to the Western tradition of arts and letters, and Six Pretty Good Ideas, a less conventional introduction to the humanities at Yale, we also offer a range of more specialized first year seminars.

All first year courses require preregistrationThis year preregistration opens August 9 and closes August 15.

Directed Studies

The Directed Studies program consists of three integrated full-year courses in Western Philosophy, Literature, and Historical and Political Thought. Each of the three courses meets weekly for one lecture and two discussion seminars, where small groups of students work closely with a professor to texts in depth. Regular classes are complemented by a series of colloquia, in addition to sessions at the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Interested students must apply or petition for interest before the beginning of the Fall Semester of freshman year.

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Six Pretty Good Ideas

Six Pretty Good Ideas (6PGX) is a suite of courses that introduces first-year students to the study of humanities at Yale. Each course examines cultural objects from various times and places around the globe. By viewing these highly significant objects as “pretty good,” we promote a spirit of play as we encourage students to ask: who has valued these objects? What makes them good? Why do they matter?

Participants in the program will also join a vibrant intellectual and social community. All students will meet together for a weekly Friday lab, where their writing will receive personalized attention. They will be introduced to the expansive archives, libraries, and special collections of Yale—including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Yale Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, and specialist world-class holdings such as the Babylonian collection, and they will also participate in a variety of social events.

6PGX offers an excellent foundation for studying any subject at Yale and a path into several humanities majors. Seminar and lab, 1.5 credits (HU, WR). Fall semester only.

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  • Instructor: Maria del Mar Galindo

    Fall 2023
    MW 11:35a-12:50p, F 1-4p
  • Instructor: Simona Lorenzini

    We all have heard the phrase “Dogs are man’s best friends.” For thousands and thousands of years there has been an indissoluble friendship between man and dog, an unwritten covenant, a symbiotic relationship that has no equal in the animal world. Why do we consider them our ‘best friends’? And is this always true? 

    Fall 2023
    MW 9-10:15a, F1-4p
  • This course is anchored around six transcultural models of the hero that similarly transcend boundaries of time and place: the warrior, the sage, the political leader, the proponent of justice, the poet/singer, and the unsung. 

    Fall 2024
    TTh 9am-10:15am, F 1:00pm-4:00pm
  • This course provides first-year students with an intensive introduction to studying the humanities at Yale. The course focuses on six trans-historical objects (or modes) of visionary experience: God(s), Paradise, Cosmos, Self, Text, and Future.

    Fall 2022
    TTh 1pm-2:15pm, F 1:00pm-4:00pm
  • Through the prism of thinking about the self, anchored around six trans-historical models of selfhood, this course provides first-year students with an intensive introduction to studying the humanities at Yale, ranging widely across genres, media, periods, and geographies. 

    Fall 2021
    MW 9am-10:15am, F 1:00pm-4:00pm
  • Instructor: Alessandro Giammei

    What do Batman (the Dark Knight) and Orlando (Charlemagne’s wise paladin) have in common? What is the thread that connects the Jedi knights of Star Wars and those that sat around king Arthur’s round table? How did medieval history and Renaissance poetry inform the expanded universes of superhero movies and fantasy literature, along with the inexhaustible fan-fiction that further extends and queers them?

    Fall 2023
    TTh 4-5:15p, F 1-4p
  • Instructor: Jane Mikkelson

    Fall 2024
    TTh 9-10:15a, F 1-4p

First Year Seminars

    An introduction to college-level study of the humanities through intensive exploration of the songs of Bob Dylan.

    Fall 2023
    Tu/Th 2:30-3:45