To study the humanities is to study how humans make the world meaningful. It is to study the art, music, philosophy, literature, and languages with which cultures have contended with the challenges and approached the limits of human experience. At Harvard, fifteen departments and four undergraduate degree programs offer courses in the humanities.
The breadth of these offerings is exhilarating, but also potentially daunting. Fortunately, there are Harvard courses in the humanities designed especially for freshmen. They are taught by faculty members with a superb track record in teaching undergraduates. For students wishing to dive into the humanities, these courses are a great option.
Humanities 10a: A Humanities Colloquium: From Homer to García Márquez
Louis Menand, Stephen Greenblatt, Jill Lepore, Davíd L. Carrasco, Melissa M. McCormick, Jonathan Walton
Fall 2018, Tuesdays, 10:30-11:45am, plus section
2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10a includes works by Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Sappho, Murasaki, Bernal Díaz, Shakespeare, Douglass, Du Bois, Woolf and García Márquez, as well as the Declaration of Independence and The Federalist Papers. One 75-minute lecture plus a 75-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students also receive instruction in critical writing one hour a week, in writing labs and individual conferences. Students also have opportunities to visit cultural venues and attend musical and theatrical events in Cambridge or Boston.
The course is open only to freshmen. Students who take both semesters of Humanities 10 fulfill the College Writing Requirement. No auditors. The course may not be taken Pass/Fail.
This course has a two-step lottery and application process. Enrollment is limited to 90.
Humanities 10b: A Humanities Colloquium: From Joyce to Homer
Stephen Greenblatt, Louis Menand, Jay Harris, Sean Kelly, Deidre Lynch, Leah Whittington
Spring 2019: Tuesdays, 10-11:30am, plus section
2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10b is open only to students who completed Humanities 10a in Fall 2018. Humanities 10b includes works by Joyce, Nietzsche, Mary Shelley, Austen, Pascal, Marguerite de Navarre, Dante, Augustine, Sophocles, and Homer, as well as the Arabian Nights. One 75-minute lecture plus a 75-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students continue to receive instruction in critical writing one hour a week, in writing labs and individual conferences. Students also have opportunities to visit cultural venues and attend musical and theatrical events in Cambridge or Boston.
Only students who have satisfactorily completed the Fall 2018 term of Hum 10a are eligible to enroll in Hum 10b.
Humanities 11b: The Art of Listening
Alexander Rehding, John T. Hamilton
Fall 2018, Tuesdays, 12 - 1:30 pm plus section
Our world is steeped in sound, but we must learn to pay attention to listening. Sounds produce emotions, mark out spaces, call up memories; silence can be deafening; voice is a marker of identity. This course will sharpen our ears. We explore the sonic world through diverse readings and creative projects with sound. Discussions and assignments will open our minds (and ears) to listening practices, what the arts teach us about listening, and how we describe our experiences as listeners. We examine the relationships between sound and time, community, responsibility and attentiveness, and explore the soundscape in which we live.
Students are expected to attend a weekly two-hour section.
Humanities 12: Essential Works in World Literature
David Damrosch, Martin Puchner
Fall 2018, Monday 3-5:45 pm plus section
With readings from Gilgamesh and The Odyssey to Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk, this course explores how great writers refract their world and how their works are transformed when they intervene in our global cultural landscape today.