Featured Courses

The Humanities Program began in the mid-twentieth century as a set of “special programs” enabling more interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching than would easily fit into the academic departments. Today the Program continues to produce new experiments in curricular coherence that draw upon cutting-edge expertise without becoming disciplinarily constrained. The Humanities Program offers both a traditional education in classic works of Western culture and evolving course offerings reflecting new cultural diversity and new theoretical approaches to fundamental human issues. 

NOTE: Course-numbering does not indicate anything of significance. 

Recent Experiments

This course explores the innovative narrative strategies that have ushered in a new Golden Age of TV. Careful visual and textual analysis of episodes is complemented by critical readings and comparisons to literature and cinema.

Fall 2019
TTh 11.35-12.50

Do visual representations of political principles have a peculiar power to produce, reproduce, and disturb political relations? An examination of art and metaphorical thinking in the socio-political realm from Plato to the modern state.

Fall 2019
W 3:30-5:20pm

Why does the state kill its own? Why did “barbaric” practices not end with enlightenment? Answers come from texts in political theory, philosophy, history, and the social sciences. 

Spring 2020
M 3:30-6:30pm

This course will immerse students in the theory and practice of valuing. Affirming the quest for authentic value as the defining practice of the humanities and the source of their value for our lives. WR

Spring 2020
HTBA

Aristotle called statecraft one of the practical arts and cited athletics as a case in point: if you can grasp the interesting complexities of a sport, you’ll be prepared to live life at its best. Baseball stands out in this quest.

Spring 2020
F 9:25-11:15

Poetry and song run through the heart of both Judaism and Islam, and mystical verse plays a vital role in both traditions. This class looks at key works from both of these bodies of verse and examines the cultural and historical matrices that gave rise to poetry.

Spring 2020
W 1:30-3:20

War has supplied humanity’s symbols and similes, and figures in all of the liberal arts. Wars of Athens and Rome, Thirty Years’ War, Louis XIV to Napoleon, and exceptional American wartime experiences.

Spring 2020
W 9:25-11:15

How does beauty matter to who we aspire to be and how we desire to live together?  We read several dialogues of Plato—including the Symposium and Phaedrus, Aristotle, Stoics, virtue ethics, feminist aesthetics, and critical race theory. 

Spring 2020
W 9:25-11:15am

Highlights

    A close examination of key works by three of the art’s greatest directors: Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Ingmar Bergman. Analysis of cinema’s relation to social history and other arts and the theory and practice of film criticism.

    Fall 2019
    W 1:30-3:20; M: 6:30 (screenings)

    The representation of the human body in law and literature. Bodies as physical structures that inhabit multiple realms, including material, cultural, historical, and symbolic. Sources include film, television, and journalism.

    Fall 2019
    Th 1:30-3:20

    Is the demise of the trial at hand? The trial as cultural achievement, considered as the epitome of humanistic inquiry, where all is brought to bear on a crucial matter in an uncertain context. Inquires into character, doubt, and diagnosis.

    Fall 2019
    MW 2:30-3:45

    The role of intellectuals in politics, with a focus on social, cultural, and political upheavals in Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Modern answers to the question of why ideas and intellectuals matter.

    Fall 2019
    T 9:25-11:15am

    Examination of the origins of human modernity in the light of evolutionary and archaeological evidence; merging evolutionary reasoning with humanistic theory to understand the impact of human culture on natural selection across the last 250,000 years.

    Spring 2020
    M 1:30-3:20

    International security as humanity’s primary problem. America’s unique place for and against world order seen in classical literature and intellectual forays into Japan, Africa, Palestine, Persia, etc. Kissinger Papers at Yale provide case studies.

    Spring 2020
    M 9:25-11:15

    The non-symbolic use of familiar objects in 20th and 21st century poetry. Alternating weeks in the Beinecke library archives and the Yale Art Gallery and scheduled readings and discussions with contemporary poets. 

    Spring 2020
    W 1:30-3:20

    Exploration of the histories and theories of resistance in the modern world. How liberation movements, guerrillas, and oppressed groups appeal to resistance as an organizational strategy and as moral justification. 

    Spring 2020
    T 9:25-11:15

    This course analyzes antisemitism in the United States between the colonial period and the present. 

    Spring 2020
    HTBA