Modernities Seminars


Modernities seminars will seek to introduce students to the question: What is modernity? Nietzsche might say it begins with Socrates, while Weber might say it begins with rationalization. Is it is one phenomenon or many? When does modernity begin? Students should be exposed to an array of different ways of posing and understanding the question.

The course is a broad survey meant to build on the sort of material covered in foundational courses, with more thematic coherence, historical context, and theoretical self-consciousness.

  • HUMS 313. A seminar in the field of European intellectual history, based on primary sources. How philosophers, novelists, sociologists, and other thinkers developed and articulated a philosophy of dissent under communism. 

    Spring 2021
    M 1:30p-3:20p
  • HUMS 349This class explores the complexities of identity through  modern literature, philosophy and social theory, from psychoanalysis to critical race theory, romanticism to postmodernism, autobiography to autofiction. 

    Spring 2021
    T 3:30p-5:20p
  • HUMS 352: Survey of major ideas, writings, and cultural movements that have shaped American life and thought from 1880 to 1990. Assignments encompass works of fiction, philosophy, social and political thought, and film.  Part II of a year-long sequence. HURP

    Spring 2020
    TTH 11:30am-12:50pm
  • HUMS 288: What makes one thing better than another? How can we make judgments of value? What does it mean to “get it right” in the humanities as opposed to the sciences? This course will expose students to the theory and practice of valuing.

    Spring 2020
    W 3:30-5:20
  • Political writing of the mid-20th century with emphasis on ideologies, including communism, fascism and democracy. Emphasis on British, French, and American authors such as Orwell, Camus, Sartre, Greene, Duras, and Arendt. 

    Spring 2018
    T 9.25-11.15
  • 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
  • HUMS 290: Brazilian and Japanese novels from the late nineteenth century to the present. Texts from major authors are read in pairs to explore commonalities and divergences.  HU  Tr

    Fall 2019
    M 1:30-3:20
  • British historical narratives in the 19th century, the crucible of modern historical consciousness. How a period of industrialization and democratization grounded itself in imagined pasts— recent, distant, domestic, foreign—in historical novels and works by historians.

    Fall 2018
    MW 11.35-12.50
  • An extended inquiry into the political implications of theorizing emotions and sensibilities in different ways. Broad engagement with key thinkers from a number of different traditions, including European philosophy, British literary criticism, and contemporary poetry.

    Fall 2017
    T 1.30-3.20