Core Seminars

This year’s seminars:

Every Humanities major must complete two core seminars - an Interpretations seminar that engages deeply with one particular work or author and a Modernities seminar that probes the question: what is modernity? 

The most recently-offered seminars are listed below. 


  • This seminar engages in the interpretation of a single great book, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Some attention is given to its historical and literary context, with readings in Emerson, Hawthorne, Webster, and Douglass, Shakespeare and Montaigne, and Melville’s other writings.

    Spring 2023
    TTh 1pm-2:15pm
  • An undergraduate seminar on the life and work of one the greatest poets of all time, and founder of modernity, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867). Readings include œuvre de jeunesse, his collection of poems in verse, Les fleurs du mal, his collection of poems in prose, Le spleen de Paris, and others.

    Spring 2023
    M 1:30pm-3:20pm
  • The seminar looks closely at the most influential poem of the 20th century, T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” as a radical modernist experiment and as carrying on a kaleidoscopic dialogue with world literature, including the Buddha’s Fire Sermon, the Upanishads, the Holy Grail myth, and others.

    Spring 2023
    TTh 2:30-3:45pm
  • In this course we will reflect on the relation between Galileo’s anti-Aristotelian physics and Hobbes’ system by reading key text that situate Hobbes in early modern currents of thought in science, religion and politics and in contemporary debates about the origins of modernity.  

    Spring 2023
    T 3:30-5:20pm
  • Debates about the meaning of freedom from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Authors to be studied include Smith, Montesquieu, Constant, Tocqueville, Mill, Marx and Schmitt on questions of progress, representation, constitutionalism, democracy and individuality.

    Spring 2023
    Th 9:25am-11:15am