Arts & Human Courses

Prof. Sarah Lewis lectures in front of a screen

Courses designated ARTS or HUMAN in the course catalogue have been specifically designed to incorporate the very best of our disciplines, from boundary-pushing arts practice, to close interpretation of textual readings, to encounters with works of art and history.

Spring 2022

ARTS 27R: How to be a Tool: Storytelling Across Disciplines 

Davone Tynes and Isaac Winokur

Presenting data, advocating policies, and offering personal or historical narratives — is storytelling. Compelling storytelling requires tools. No matter the story, whether it be a personal narrative, a math problem, or political demands, how one tells a story is crucial to move ideas toward action. This course gives you a tool kit to do so.

How to be a Tool is co-taught by visiting lecturer-mentors, Davóne Tines and Zack Winokur, who work in music-theater, opera and dance, along with guest performers, thinkers, scholars, and creators. This course is for students interested in these performative fields, especially those in the social sciences and fields outside the humanities, and engages capacious cross-disciplinary exchange. Each student will work on an independent project of their own initiation that pushes the boundaries of critical and scholarly presentation, performance and messaging. Project development will be bolstered by lively collective conversation, in-class studio time, and sustained one-on-one dialogue with the faculty mentors.

Note:  Enrollment capped at 10 and open to all students; no art or performance experience necessary. To request enrollment, add the course to your Crimson Cart and submit a brief google form response via the link on the Canvas course website. 

HUMAN 10B: A Humanities Colloquium: From Ellison to Homer

Jay Harris, Jill Lepore, Wai-yee Li, Deidre Lynch, Jesse McCarthy, Leah Whittington

2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10b is open only to students who completed Humanities 10a in Fall 2021. Humanities 10b will likely include works by Ellison, Woolf, Douglass, Wollstonecraft, Cao Xueqin, Shakespeare, Virgil, Sophocles and Homer, as well as the Arabian Nights, The Federalist Papers and the Book of Job. 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 participate online or in person, depending on public health conditions, in a range of cultural experiences, ranging from plays and musical events to museum and library collections.

Note: The course is open only to first-year students. Students who complete Humanities 10a meet the General Education distribution requirement for Arts & Humanities. Students who take both Humanities 10a and Humanities 10b fulfill the College Writing requirement. This is the only course outside of Expository Writing that satisfies the College Writing requirement. No auditors. The course may not be taken Pass/Fail.

HUMAN 93: Place and Planet: Mahindra Scholars Lab

Joyce Chaplin and Sarah Dimick

Nature changes, nature persists, and in this recurrence of variety and predictability, we humans can find meaning and value for ourselves. This course is your opportunity to think about these natural patterns. We will examine how phenological observations—of recurring environmental phenomena like harvests, frosts, blooming dates, and migratory arrivals—have been recorded, understood, and used. We will generate our own phenological records in and around Harvard in early 2022, and we will collaborate on a projection mapping project to share our knowledge with the larger community. Phenology is now a scientific practice, but phenological observations used to be common among ordinary people, who used those natural occurrences to make practical decisions, as when to plant crops and when to harvest them. Many people have lost that awareness, or they are only regaining it with a sense of helpless alarm, as climate change and loss of biodiversity drastically alter seasonal shifts. Within this crisis, and ability to find “strength in what remains behind” is something that the humanities can help with, perhaps at least as much as the sciences.

Note: This course has limited enrollment. Preference will be given to students previously enrolled in HUM 90: Making It.

 

Fall 2021

HUMAN 10A: A Humanities Colloquium: From Homer to Valeria Luiselli

Jay Harris, David Atherton, Glenda Carpio, Ambrogio Camozzi Pistoja, David Elmer, Justine Landau

2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10a will likely include works by Homer, Plato, Sappho, Augustine, Ferdowsi, Murasaki, Dante, Boccaccio, Hafez, Basho, Dickinson, Nietzsche and Luiselli. One 75-minute lecture plus a 75-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students will receive instruction in critical writing one hour a week, in writing labs and individual conferences. Students also have opportunities to participate online or in person, depending on public health conditions, in a range of cultural experiences, ranging from plays and musical events to museum and library collections.

Note:  The course is open only to first-year students. Students who complete Humanities 10a meet the Harvard College Curriculum divisional distribution requirement for Arts & Humanities. Students who take both Humanities 10a and Humanities 10b fulfill the College Writing requirement. This is the only course outside of Expository Writing that satisfies 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. 

HUMAN 20: A Colloquium in the Visual Arts

David Roxburgh, Jinah Kim, Joseph Koerner, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Jennifer L. Roberts

An introduction to major works of art and architecture from around the world, co-taught by a team of professors. Subjects include Eadweard Mybridge and photography, Hokusai, the Parthenon and Persepolis, Albrecht Dürer, women artists, Zen Buddhist art, Max Beckmann, the illustrated Bhagavata Purana, Mughal painting, Edouard Manet, and Robert Hooke. Consists of one 75-minute lecture plus a 60-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students will also participate in weekly looking labs and special lectures, workshops, and screenings outside the class. 

Note: The course is open to all undergraduate students. Students who complete Humanities 20 meet the General Education distribution requirement for Arts & Humanities. No auditors are allowed, and the course may not be taken Pass/Fail. Enrollment is limited to 72.

HUMAN 90: Making It: Mahindra Scholars Seminar

Robin Kelsey and Jennifer L. Roberts

"Making It: Mahindra Scholars Seminar" is a new course for sophomores, regardless of intended Concentration, who wish to deepen their engagement in the humanities. Each week in the seminar, guided by a distinguished guest, we will focus on a particular creative form – the novel, for example – with the aim of refining our powers of observation, interpretation, and articulation. In this way, we will learn new ways to approach the meaning of poems, speeches, paintings, sculptures, plays, arguments, and songs. The course will not only give us insight into these creative forms; it will also enhance our relationship to the world.

Note: The course is designed for sophomores, who will receive preference through an application process. However, students from all class years are welcome to apply. Students who enroll in both HUM 90 in the fall and HUM 93: Place and Planet: Mahindra Scholars Lab in the spring will earn the distinction of being named Mahindra Scholars, an honor conferred by the Mahindra Humanities Center through the Undergraduate Scholars Initiative and the Intergenerational Humanities Project (I-HUM). Students in HUM 90 are encouraged but not required to enroll in HUM 93 in the spring. Preference for admission to HUM 93 will be given to those students who have completed HUM 90.

Applications are due on August 24 and the first introductory course meeting will be September 1. For more information, visit the course website. Students who complete Humanities 90 meet the Harvard College Curriculum divisional distribution for Arts & Humanities. No auditors are allowed, and the course may not be taken Pass/Fail. Enrollment is limited to 12. One two-hour guest lecture (Fridays), and one two-hour seminar led by the professors and a TF (Mondays).