Core Seminars

This year’s seminars:

Every Humanities major must complete two core seminars - one on Interpretations and one on Modernities. The current year’s seminars are listed below. 

NOTE: For HUMS Majors, anticipated Spring Seminars include:  Claude McKay (Interpretations); Sainte Chapelle (Interpretations ), Film and Everyday life 1895-1930 (Modernities ), and Maimonides and Postmodernism (Modernities). This year we are experimenting with more courses than usual. 


  • A close reading (in English) of Marcel Proust’s 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.

    Fall 2021, Fall 2018
    MW 1pm-2:15pm
  • This course offers a close reading of his two major treatises, the Prince and the Discourses on Livy as well as important sections from Livy’s history of Rome. We then consider influential nineteenth and twentieth century interpreters from Hegel to Gramsci to Leo Strauss.

    Fall 2021
  • Working from a new translation, this seminar studies Hugo’s epic masterpiece in all its unabridged glory and uses it to explore the world of nineteenth-century France.  Attention is also paid to famous stage and screen adaptations of the novel. No French required. 

    Fall 2021
    T 1:30pm-3:20pm
  • HUMS 192. What happens when intellectuals enter into politics? Do they betray a higher spiritual calling, or merely practice what they preach?  We will use methods of intellectual history to measure the social power of ideas. 

    Fall 2020, Fall 2021
    T 9:25a-11:15a