The humanities are the branches of learning that investigate what makes us essentially human; specifically, languages, the arts, and history. This discipline provides students special fields of concentration. Thus they might choose a particular historical period and view it from an interdisciplinary perspective, compare forms of artistic expression, or combine insights from distinct fields of research in the pursuit of a particular theme or interest.
The program encourages students to seek a broad background in the humanities and to recognize that all significant achievements of Western culture are closely interrelated. In the course of their studies, students will be required to develop disciplined thinking and writing skills in more than one academic field and will learn to transfer insights and methods from one area to another.
Recent majors have gone on to graduate studies in a variety of subjects, from philosophy and English to library science. Others have chosen careers that value interdisciplinary skills such as publishing, public relations work, or the legal profession.
Prospective majors should take introductory courses in at least three of the following areas: art history, drama, English, foreign languages, history, music history, philosophy, and world literature. Humanities majors must take at least one year of a foreign language or literature in translation. Students interested in the major are encouraged to discuss their ideas and plans with the director as early as possible in their college careers.
Majors in the Humanities Program must take a minimum of eight courses on the 300 and 400 level, selecting these courses from at least two, preferably three, of the areas mentioned above. The major, while offering students the opportunity of pursuing work in several academic disciplines, requires a distinct focus and careful planning.
Senior Capstone Experience
Students are strongly encouraged to write a thesis in fulfillment of their Senior Capstone Experience, but the option of comprehensives is also available.
The Humanities Program offers no minor.
While students generally select courses for the major from the humanities disciplines taught at Washington College, they are introduced to the history and development of the humanities in two courses specifically designed for them and taught in alternate years by the director of the Program. These two courses do not fulfill distribution.
305. The Humanist Tradition and the Humanities
Intended for students majoring in the humanities program, but open to all, this course is designed to focus on the historical context, educational intent, and social vision which shaped the study of the humanities from its beginnings in the fifteenth century to the present day. The course will emphasize the reading of primary sources in the humanist tradition, but will also include secondary analyses of its achievements. Required of all majors in the humanities program unless excused by the director.
400. The Humanities in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
An intensive exploration of major challenges which developments in modern life and thought have mounted against the traditional canons of the humanities. Topics will vary but will concentrate on such movements as feminism, pragmatism, radical political theories, and post-modernism in their impact on the identity and viability of the humanities today. Strongly recommended to all majors in the humanities program, open to all upperclass students or by permission of the instructor.
SCE. Senior Capstone Experience
The Senior Capstone Experience may be completed in either of two ways. A student may write a thesis which must include research in at least two humanities disciplines, or a student may take a Senior Comprehensive Examination which must include work in at least two humanities disciplines. Students are responsible to find Senior Capstone Experience advisors from the humanities division faculty.