Bachelor of Arts and Minor in Humanities

The Humanities major is an interdisciplinary B.A. program dedicated to the study of arts and ideas in their cultural contexts. The Humanities minor program introduces students to an interdisciplinary integrative approach to human experience and the world's cultural diversity.

The Humanities Major

The program is global in its reach, comparative in its intent and theoretical in its foundation. It is for students who love literature, philosophy, history, art, music, theatre, film and all the creative dimensions of human consciousness. Students who complete this course of study will have a grasp of basic methods and approaches to the study of cultural expression, and an acquaintance with many specific forms of cultural expression.

General Requirements for the Humanities Major

You need 14 courses (42 units) to complete the major.* All but one must be upper-division courses (numbered 300 or above). Of these, five are required core courses. Although you have considerable flexibility in choosing the other nine courses, at least two must be in the American category of the major, at least two in the European category, at least two in the Asian category, and at least two in the Cross-Cultural category. The remaining course may be in any of these four categories (American, Asian, European, Cross-Cultural).

Note: Up to three appropriate courses (nine units) in related departments or programs may be substituted for departmental course work in the culture-study areas.

The purpose of the core courses is to acquaint you with interpretive techniques for working with various kinds of written texts and materials in the visual, musical and performing arts. All of the four introductory core courses use materials from a wide variety of places and times, and each has a somewhat different emphasis. See the Bulletin for exact course descriptions, and current course descriptions on the website for more detailed accounts of the materials and approaches of these courses as currently taught. The following is intended only as a thumbnail sketch of the core as a whole.

  • HUM 300 GW: Junior Seminar Humanities Writing GWAR.** Introduction to the practices of observation, comparison and expression characteristic of interdisciplinary humanities as a field; development of skills in interpreting and writing essays on various expressive forms. ABC/NC grading only.
  • HUM 301: Form and Culture deals with the commonplace — and as you will learn, misleading — distinction between form and content in the arts.
  • HUM 303: History and Culture helps you to understand the commonplace — and as you will learn, oversimplified — distinction between historical fact and historical interpretation.
  • HUM 425: Thought and Image is about the relationship between ideas and their representation, or — as you will learn — the indistinguishability of ideas from their representation.
  • HUM 690: Senior Seminar is an opportunity for you to build on what you have learned in your other courses and put your interpretive skills to work on materials that interest you.

The Senior Seminar is offered at least once a year in the spring. You should plan ahead to take it some time in your last year before graduation. It is a small class (about 15 – 18 students), which makes it a wonderful opportunity for active discussion and presentation of your work and for friendship with your fellow Humanities majors. The faculty member responsible for the course sets a broad theme for it, within which you write a long paper —15 pages or so — on materials of interest to you that fall within the seminar’s theme. Since the paper goes through several drafts, with corrections and suggestions from classmates and faculty, you should graduate with a polished piece of work that can serve as a sample of your writing and analytical ability.

* The department's lower division General Education courses (HUM 130, 220, 225) or other lower-division courses concerned with ideas, social conditions and art forms are recommended for students planning to major or minor in Humanities. Only one be counted toward the major (in the Cross-cultural or American categories). Study or practical experience toward mastery of a foreign language is strongly recommended along with the major or minor.

** Humanities majors who successfully complete HUM 300 GW in spring 2010 or thereafter will have satisfied the University Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).

The Humanities Minor

The core curriculum focuses on contextual study of texts belonging to all art forms, such as literature, music, visual forms and architecture. Students will be trained in close reading of texts, critical analysis, sound historical scholarship, conceptual thinking and the writing of academic prose, which History, Journalism, Liberal Studies, Philosophy, and Business majors in particular may find useful.

We recommend that students considering the Humanities minor take lower division General Education classes (such as HUM 130, 220, 225 and 250 concerned with ideas, social conditions, values and art forms) offered by the School of Humanities and Liberal Studies.

General Requirements for the Humanities Minor

Students minoring in Humanities must complete three core courses and four additional courses (in total 21 units) in one or more of the culture-study areas, depending upon the emphasis desired.

The three core courses are:

  • HUM 301: Style and Expressive Form deals with the commonplace — and as you will learn, misleading — distinction between form and content in the arts.
  • HUM 303: Cultural Periods and Styles helps you to understand the commonplace — and as you will learn, oversimplified — distinction between historical fact and historical interpretation.
  • HUM 425: Thought and Image is about the relationship between ideas and their representation, or — as you will learn — the indistinguishability of ideas from their representation.

Students choose four additional courses in consultation with a faculty adviser in one or more of the following culture-study areas. These culture study areas include European Cultural Studies, American Cultural Studies, Asian Cultural Studies and Cross Cultural Studies. One of these optional courses (up to three units) may be taken outside the department.