Humanities

The Humanities program offers students understanding of cultural experience through interdisciplinary study of the humanities. Undergraduate and graduate students study creative practices, cultural values and insights of diverse human communities, past and present. Humanities majors explore methods of bringing the various humanities, such as literature, music, visual forms and architecture, into an integrative view of the world's cultural diversity.

With this integrative approach to American and world cultures, the humanities major provides an excellent foundation for jobs in government, business, law, education and the arts. Practical training in a specific professional field (TESOL, journalism, museum work, etc.) may well be taken in conjunction with the major or the minor in humanities. The Bachelor of Arts in Humanities program is also good preparation for entering a K–12 single subject or multiple subject teaching credential programs. Those earning the M.A. are qualified to search for a position at a community college.

The B.A. in Humanities (42 units) includes a core of five courses (including a senior seminar) in basic methods of understanding culture through the humanities, and nine electives of courses spanning European, American, Asian and Middle Eastern/African, and Cross-Cultural Studies. Up to three appropriate courses in related departments such as ethnic studies, English, comparative and world literature, philosophy, art, and music may be included in the major with an advisor's approval.

The Minor in Humanities (21 units) includes three core courses and four additional courses in one or more of the culture-study areas, depending upon the emphasis desired.

The M.A. in Humanities (30 units) includes four core courses that offer a firm grounding in the major concerns of contemporary interdisciplinary humanities scholarship, and five electives that can be taken in the Humanities program or in a related M.A. program at the university. All M.A. students complete either a Masters thesis or exam as their culminating experience.

The Humanities major is an interdisciplinary program dedicated to the study of arts and ideas in their cultural contexts. 

The Humanities Major (42 units)

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). 

Core courses (15 units)

  • 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 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 may 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.

Electives (27 units)

You have considerable flexibility in choosing the nine elective courses, although 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). Please see the bulletin or advising worksheets (linked to above) to see the full list of courses for each category. 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 Humanities minor is an interdisciplinary program dedicated to the study of arts and ideas in their cultural contexts. 

The Humanities Minor (21 units)

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 & 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: 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.

Students choose four additional upper division courses with a HUM prefix in consultation with a faculty advisor. 

Welcome to the Humanities M.A. program. We are a small, friendly, dedicated group of scholar-teachers who offer a flexible M.A. degree program and a unique range of interdisciplinary courses in the global humanities.

In Fall 2017, the Humanities program sponsored a symposium in honor of Sandra Luft, who retired that semester after 55 years on the faculty at SF State. Fourteen of Professor Luft's former students, most of them now university professors themselves, returned to San Francisco to celebrate their mentor as well as to share their thoughts about the value of the interdisciplinary education they received in our Humanities program. We were able to record those thoughts and are pleased to share them.

Sue Ellen Case (B.A. Humanities '64; Professor Emerita and Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television)

Tom Leddy (M.A. Humanities '74; Professor of Philosopohy, San Jose State University)

Bruno Gulli (M.A. Philosophy '92; Faculty of History, Philosophy, and Political Science, Kingsboroguh Community College, CUNY)

Laikwan Pang (B.A. Cinema '92; Professor, Department of Cultural and Religioius Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez (B.A. '94 Cinema '94; Associate Professor, Sociology, Whittier College)

Ed Cameron (M.A. Humanities '94, Professor, Literatures and Cultural Studies, University of Texas, Rio Grande)

Kevin Fellezs (B.A. Music '98, M.A. Humanities '00; Assistant Professor, Music and African American Studies, Columbia)

Richard Ackerman (B.A. German and Philosophy '99)

Robin Chang (B.A. Political Economy and Philosophy '04, M.A. Social Science '10; Ph.D Candidate York University)

Lisa Arellano (M.A. Humanities '97, Associate Professor of American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Colby College)

Troy Dujardin (M.A. Philosophy '10; Ph.D candidate in Department of Religion, Boston University)

Spencer Horne (B.A., Philosophy '12)

Dan Schifrin (Creative Writing)

Sandra Luft (with introduction by Cristina Ruotolo)