HUMS 305, Sages of the Ancient World

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

Course Description:

This course is a comparative survey of wisdom literature from around the ancient world. The primary skills you’ll be working on are reading primary sources and then writing analytically (or creatively!) about them. The main theme of the course is “wisdom,” a crucially important concept in the ancient context that has somehow become much less important in the modern world. What is wisdom? How is it acquired? Who has it? And how do we see it represented in ancient sources?

I created this course because I wanted an excuse to read beyond my own area of expertise (ancient China) and learn about other ancient cultures. It’s been so much fun that I’m now planning a book about reading ancient wisdom literature.

Led by:

Professor Mick Hunter

My teaching and research interests cover various aspects of early Chinese culture but with a heavy emphasis on early thought and literature. Having earned my B.A. in Western classics and philosophy from Swarthmore College, I am keenly interested in comparing early Chinese intellectuals with their counterparts across the ancient world, for example, in my “Sages of the Ancient World” course. I am also an enthusiastic proponent of the use of digital research tools for the study of early Chinese texts. I have given a number of workshops (at Yale, Princeton, Penn, and elsewhere) on the use of digital texts and regular expressions, and I am always happy to be invited to share those experiences with students and scholars at other institutions. Together with Tina Lu, I am also a PI for the Ten Thousand Rooms Project, a digital initiative hosted by Yale University with support from the Mellon Foundation.