Program Director: Karen Erickson

The Humanities major offers students an interdisciplinary program of study in classical, medieval and Renaissance, or modern European studies. The major serves students whose interests in these areas extend beyond the scope of the standard curriculum of a single humanities department by offering students the opportunity to choose an interdisciplinary course of study. Students in this major acquire a broad-based understanding of a specified historical period or theme in classical, medieval and Renaissance, or modern European culture by integrating course work from at least three different areas within the Humanities Division: history, philosophy, literature, theology, and the fine arts (art, music, or theater). The humanities major builds on the skills emphasized in the core curriculum. This major supports the coordinate mission by fostering a unified liberal arts curriculum, leading students to a better understanding of the complexities of the human condition. The major provides a strong basis for graduate work in any area of the humanities, and is a useful preparation for careers in public affairs, foreign service, international business, the media and the arts.

A student who intends to major in the humanities should confer with a member of the Humanities Council as early as possible. See Humanities website for list of current faculty serving as Humanities council members. Students must choose a faculty advisor in a humanities department.

Assessment of Student Learning

Each student accepted to the Humanities major will establish a dossier with the Humanities Major Advisor in order to measure achievement of learning goals, progress in writing about Humanities topics, and ability to integrate knowledge gained from the study of various areas within the Humanities. The dossier will contain the following items: a) the student’s statement of application to the major; b) an essay or another written project from a 300-level course in the Humanities major completed during the student’s fifth or sixth semester of study; c) an essay of at least 5 pages in length or other significant written project from a 300-level course in the major completed during the student’s seventh or eighth semester of study; d) a self-evaluative statement which the student will compose during her or his final semester of study.


The humanities major offers concentrations in classical studies, medieval and Renaissance studies, and in modern European studies.

Basic Requirements (12 credits)
Required Courses:
(1) Four credits from the relevant Fine Arts area. Consult with Dr. Karen Erickson for possible courses.
(2) HIST 130 or 135
(3) ENGL 221 or 385 if topic is relevant (consult with Dr. Erickson) or MCLT 221 or 222

Special Requirements:
International studies courses, literature courses in foreign languages, the history research seminar and other suitable courses can be substituted with approval of a member of the Humanities Council. Up to three courses may be outside the chronological/thematic period of concentration.
Language study is important for the student of the humanities. Each student is required to take a foreign language through the fourth semester or its equivalent.

Concentration I in Classical Studies (28-44 additional credits)
Required Courses:
(4) HIST 330 or 331
(5) PHIL 331
(6-10) Five additional courses from the following, to be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor: four credits from the relevant Fine Arts area, in consultation with Dr. Karen Erickson; GREK 327, 332; HIST 330, 331; LATN 327, 331; MCLT 221; MUSC 335; THEA 337; THEO 303, 305, 319.
(11-14) Four semesters (or the equivalent) of Greek or Latin.
(Note: Any 300-level course in Greek or Latin which is beyond the fourth semester, or its equivalent, can be substituted for any of the courses 6-10.)

Concentration II in Medieval/Renaissance Studies (28-44 additional credits)
Required Courses:
(4) HIST 335 or 336
(5) PHIL 331 or 333
(6-10) Five additional courses from the following, to be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor: four credits from the relevant Fine Arts area, in consultation with Dr. Karen Erickson; ENGL 352; FREN 330, 340; GERM 330; HISP 341; HIST 335, 336; MCLT 367; MUSC 335; PHIL 331, 333; THEO 319, 331; and any relevant MCL 300-level topics course.
(11-14) Four semesters (or the equivalent) of French, German, Greek, or Latin.

Concentration III in Modern European Studies (28-44 additional credits)
Required Courses:
(4) HIST 336 or 337
(5) PHIL 331 or 334
(6) ENGL 352 or appropriate topics course (consult with Dr. Karen Erickson)
(7-10) Four additional courses from among the following, to be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor: ENGL 352; FREN 331, 332, 340, 351 or 352 (if topic is relevant); GERM 325, 337, 349, 350, 355 (if topic is relevant); HISP 344, 349; HIST 329, 333, 336, 337, 341, 344, 346, 347, 348, 349; MCLT 368; MUSC 336; PHIL 331, 334, 336, 341; THEA 338, 368, and any relevant MCL 300-level topics course;
(11-14) Four semesters (or the equivalent) of French, German, Greek, Latin, or Spanish.

Minor (None)

Courses (HUMN)

221 The Golden Age of Athens. (4)
Great works of Greek literature, history, and philosophy from the 5th and early 4th centuries B.C., one of the most remarkable periods of intellectual, artistic, and political activity. Authors read include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristophanes, and Plato. All works read in English.

222 Literature of the Western World: Medieval to Modern. (4)
Great books of the post-classical Western tradition which have had a lasting influence on Western literature and thought, covering a variety of genres (epic, drama, poetry, prose fiction) and several nationalities and historical periods. All works read in English, but qualified students may do some reading in the original language.

223 Literary Traditions. (4)
Reading of major representative works from the literatures of three or four contrasting cultures, with specific reference to the societies that produced them. The individual units, which may vary greatly according to the instructor's areas of interest and expertise, are chosen to ensure that students come into contact with traditions both past and present, of both Western and non-Western provenance, and of both dominant and minority groups, and will touch on a variety of literary genres. Some background readings in anthropology and sociology as needed.

300 Topics in Humanities

300a Reading Biblical Women. (4)
An exploration of the Bible as sacred text, cultural document and literary masterpiece, with special attention to the women of scripture. In addition to close readings of texts such as Genesis, Exodus, The Song of Songs, the Gospels and Revelation, class members will become acquainted with a range of techniques of biblical and literary analysis, from historical and textual criticism to mysticism and feminist theory. In the final unit of the course, students will explore, as interpreters and creators, artistic responses to scripture (the study or creation of translation, stained-glass, theatre, poetry, mystical writings, prose fiction, etc., based on the biblical text). Cross-listed with THEO 309C.

300b Biblical Exegesis and Literary Criticism. (4)
Study of the exegetical traditions of the Jewish and Christian faiths, concentrating on narrative concerns such as voice, form, quotation, and authority. Readings in critical theory, concentrating on essays which interpret the nature of language or which interpret works in which sacred stories, themes, or forms appear. Exploration of how these traditions of interpretation respond to important stories in our cultures, and how they help shape the ways we understand human experience.

300c Medieval Literature in Translation. (4)
Introduction to medieval European culture and society through the reading of major literary masterpieces in translation. Emphasis on the vernacular literature of continental Europe.

327 Classical Mythology. (4)
A study of the myths of the classical world through ancient literature and modern retellings, with particular emphasis on the ordering of the natural world, the relations between humans and divinities, and the nature of heroic life. Authors include Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and selected modern authors such as John Updike, Mary Renault, Margaret Atwood, and Woody Allen.

371 Independent Study

376 Topics: European Civilization. (4)
An in-depth study of a particular theme, region, or time period in European Civilization. The precise subject to be studied will be announced prior to registration.

397 Internship