Interdisciplinary courses in the humanities have been created to foster the growth of a general, liberal education outside the confines of particular disciplines or departments. These courses, taught by faculty both within the Comparative Humanities program as well as from different departments in the humanities, are designed to introduce students to major writers, thinkers, and artists of various cultural traditions. Classes are limited in size so that students may share through discussion their reactions to the works studied, relate them to their own lives, and attempt to judge their relevance to the contemporary "globalized" world.

Comparative Humanities Major

Program Director: Katherine M. Faull

Professors: Katherine M. Faull, Slava I. Yastremski

Associate Professor: John C. Hunter, James M. Shields

Assistant Professor: Nicholas Kupensky (visting)

The program in comparative humanities approaches global traditions of ideas, history, literature, and art in an interdisciplinary fashion. Designed to reflect contemporary trends in humanistic scholarship, it examines issues and perspectives that conventional undergraduate disciplinary boundaries often preclude. These include the various ways in which, for example, the categories "Asia" and the "West" have been constructed and represented, and the historical and cultural shifts in the way knowledge has been classified. Inasmuch as language and culture are central to this interdisciplinary project, students who declare a major in the comparative humanities are required to satisfy a language requirement.

The major consists of eight courses, a pass/fail oral examination and a demonstration of reading proficiency in a foreign language. The courses include:

A) three period courses in humanities (HUMN 128, HUMN 150, and HUMN 250), which ground students in the broad outlines of world intellectual traditions. As W2 courses, HUMN 150 and HUMN 250 teach analytical writing skills. All three courses teach information literacy skills through mandatory research assignments in close consultation with the instructor and library staff. Public-speaking skills are taught through the preparation for oral reports in HUMN 128 and HUMN 150 and an oral exam following the completion of HUMN 150 (see below).

B) two interdisciplinary humanities seminars at the 300 level, which encourage comparative studies across cultural, historical, and formal boundaries.

C) two courses in comparative humanities or related humanities disciplines at the 200 level or above (approved by the student's major adviser or program director).

D) a thesis workshop or independent study for a senior thesis (HUMN 350 or HUMN 351), which gives students a chance to pursue focused research on a subject of particular interest to them. Discussion of the thesis topic must begin in the spring of the student's junior year and the topic must have attained final approval by the faculty adviser by the end of September of the senior year. The thesis project may be submitted to the Honors Council for consideration as an honors thesis but this is not required in order to complete the major. Successful completion of the thesis requirement (including an oral defense) counts as the Culminating Experience in comparative humanities.

E) the oral examination, intended as an integrative discussion covering all of the material in HUMN 128 and HUMN 150, which must be taken after completing both of these courses. It is graded on a pass/fail basis and offered at the end of every spring semester. Students who fail the exam may re-take it when it is next offered.

In keeping with the program's goal of exposing student to different modes of thought, the program asks students to demonstrate work in a foreign language in addition to the eight courses required for the major. Such competency can be attained by passing a one-credit course at the level of the fourth course or higher in a particular language sequence. Students also are encouraged to develop language competency elsewhere, as in summer school or abroad; however, all such programs must first be approved by the comparative humanities program director. Students whose native language is not English, or who are bilingual, are exempted from the language requirement.

A minor in comparative humanities consists of five courses: at least two must be from the core course sequence (HUMN 128, HUMN 150, and HUMN 250); at least one must be a 300-level HUMN seminar; any remaining courses may be selected from HUMN courses.

The major is especially suitable for students interested in broad study of the humanities and comparative studies, e.g., individuals otherwise focusing their education in the sciences and other non-humanities disciplines or students interested in advanced study of the humanities in graduate programs and seeking a balance of disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies for this purpose.

Students interested in the major are encouraged to contact the program director listed above as soon as possible to begin the advising process.



Myth, Reason, Faith (I and II; 3, 0)

An introduction to the most significant works in the Western and Asian intellectual traditions, extending from ancient Mesopotamia through late medieval Europe and/or East Asia. Not open to students who have completed RESC 098 or a crosslisted equivalent. Seniors by permission only.


Art, Nature, Knowledge (I or II; 4, 0)

An interdisciplinary study of selected works in art, music, literature, science and philosophy from European Renaissance through the early 20th century. Crosslisted as ENGL 150.


Hebrew Bible and Modern Literature (AI or AII; 3, 0)

The course examines how materials from the Hebrew Bible are reworked in modern literature and culture, focusing on Hebrew and American traditions. Crosslisted as HEBR 215.


Nihilism, Modernism, Uncertainty (I; 3, 0)

An interdisciplinary study of major texts, figures, and concepts of the 20th century. Designed to follow HUMN 128 and HUMN 150. May be crosslisted as ENGL 230.


Introduction to Translation Studies (II; 3, 0)

An introduction to the history, theories, and development of the field of Translation Studies. Facility in one language other than English is strongly recommended. Crosslisted as EAST 205.


Chinese Philosophy (AI or AII; 3, 0)

Major philosophical schools of the classical age, Buddhist philosophy, Neo-Confucianism. Crosslisted as EAST 266 and PHIL 266. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.


Methods of Interdisciplinary Study (II; 3, 0)

An introduction to the techniques and issues of interdisciplinary and comparative study, using both theoretical study and concrete examples. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (AI; 3, 0)

Comparative study investigating different cultures, historical epochs, narrative forms, media and traditions. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


Greece and Turkey: East and West (S)

This course is based around a three-week summer study abroad experience in Greece and Turkey. Themes and materials will vary from year to year. Prerequisite: interview prior to admission. Crosslisted as CLAS 275 and ENGL 275.


Susquehanna Country (AI or AII; 2, 3)

Interdisciplinary studies in environment, philosophy, literature and communities of the Susquehanna region. Crosslisted as ENGL 225 and ENST 225.


Brain, Mind, Culture (I or II; 3, 0)

An interdisciplinary study of the intersections between the humanities and neuroscience in the history of thought and contemporary culture.


Buddhism in American Culture (I or II; 3, 0)

An examination of the transmission of Buddhism to the U.S., with focus on the literature and cultural impact of the writers of the Beat Generation. Prerequisite: RELI 200.


Narrative and Media (II; R; 3, 0)

A seminar featuring narrative in several forms and contexts of representation.


US: Fever/Fantasy/Desire (I; 3, 0)

Seminar on American literature between 1770-1861 with an emphasis on psychoanalytic approaches to literary and cultural study. Authors may include Brown, Sansay, Poe, and Melville. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as ENGL 306.


Dante and Milton (AI; 3, 0)

An intensive comparative study of Dante's Comedy and Milton's Paradise Lost as exemplars of medieval and late Renaissance understanding of human experience. May be crosslisted as ENGL 350.


Independent Study (I or II; R)

Individual project of study supervised by instructor. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.


History of Sexuality (I or II; 3, 0)

A cross-cultural and interdisciplinary examination of the signification of sexuality in literature, philosophy, scientific discourse, and the visual arts. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as ENGL 394 and WMST 325.


Dostoevsky and Tolstoy: Literary Philosophy (AI or AII; 3, 0)

An introduction to the major philosophical ideas of the great Russian writers Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. In English. Crosslisted as RUSS 325.


Studies in Autobiography (AII; 3, 0)

A critical, cross-cultural, and transhistorical examination of the "writing of the self." Readings from Augustine, Descartes, Nietzsche, Derrida, among others.


Seminar in Translation Studies (II; 3, 0)

Advanced seminar in the history, theory, and practice of translation, including investigation of the role of translation in intercultural communication and comparative studies. Prerequisite: facility in a language other than English.


Senior Thesis Workshop (I and II; R; 3, 0)

A colloquium on issues arising from the writing of a scholarly thesis. Prerequisites: senior status and permission of the instructor.


Honors Tutorial and Senior Thesis (I and II; 3, 0)

Independent study and research leading to the writing of a thesis as approved by the Honors Council.


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