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Humanities Program

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College of Humanities

  • Coordinator: Michael Neubauer
  • Education (E) 100
  • (818) 677-3300

Interdisciplinary Programs


  • B.A., Humanities Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Minor in Humanities Interdisciplinary Studies
  • M.A., Humanities

The Major

The B.A. program in the Humanities offers students the opportunity to study diverse strands of human thought and culture. In devising their own plan of study, humanities majors, working in close consultation with faculty advisors, can prepare for graduate studies in the humanities, in specific humanities-related disciplines or cultural studies, train for a career where a broad humanistic understanding is appropriate and/or desirable, or acquire self cultivation through interdisciplinary study.

Mission Statement

The Humanities Interdisciplinary Program offers an individualized, interdisciplinary, and integrated course of study that prepares students to become engaged global citizens. The Humanities Interdisciplinary Program enables students to develop a critical understanding of cultural studies as the articulation between culture, political economy, discourse, and representation.


“Humanities graduates are much less likely to be victims of technological unemployment than someone who has learned only specific skills” (Northrop Frye). A humanities graduate is a college-educated individual who can analyze and solve problems, write and speak well, learn new information quickly and work well with others on a team. Employers value graduates with critical thinking skills, and those who have learned not what to think, but how to think.

The flexibility to adapt in the constantly evolving career marketplace and to work successfully in a multicultural environment is valued in a wide range of career fields, including advertising, banking, education, foreign service, insurance, international commerce, journalism, labor relations and social service fields, law, library science, literature, lobbying, public relations, publishing and editing, radio and TV journalism, sales, teaching, technical writing, tourism, and translation and interpretation. A humanities education also provides excellent preparation for graduate study in fields such as area studies, law, library science, literature, cultural studies, or journalism.

Academic Advisement

Humanities Majors are urged to consult with an advisor each semester. Please contact Shelly Thompson at (818) 677-4784 or Teresa Williams-Leon, Program Coordinator at (818) 677-6762. (Contact the Tseng College of Extended Learning (818) 677-2786 or Sharon Klein (818) 677-0912 for information about the M.A. program)

Student Learning Outcomes of the Undergraduate Program

At the end of their program of study, students should have achieved high levels of competence in the following areas:

  • 1. knowledge of the diversity of world cultures;
  • 2. ability to draw on the insights of various Humanities and Humanities-related disciplines;
  • 3. knowledge of and ability to apply cultural theory;
  • 4. ability to write effective analysis of multiple forms of cultural expression and creativity;
  • 5. ability to define a precise research project, choose an appropriate methodology, articulate clear analytical goals, and achieve those goals.

Requirements for the B.A. in Humanities

In the first semester of students’ junior year, they will draw up a proposed course of study. This document, prepared in consultation with an advisor and kept on file in the program office, will describe a student’s goals in the program and planned avenues for achieving them. This document will also represent the initial step toward the generation of a thesis proposal, which will be required during the first semester of the senior year. All humanities majors must write an interdisciplinary thesis or develop a senior project as part of their course of study, usually in their final semester before graduation.

1. Lower Division Required Courses (15 Units)

  • HUM 101 Forms and Ideas in Humanities (3)
  • HUM 105 Cultural Eras in Humanities I (3)
  • HUM 106 Cultural Eras in Humanities II (3)
  • MUS 105 Music Appreciation (3)
  • ART 112 Survey of Non-Western Arts (3)

2. Upper Division Required Courses (9 Units)

  • HUM 391 Junior Seminar in Humanities (3)
  • HUM 491 Senior Seminar in Humanities (3)
  • HUM 497 Interdisciplinary Thesis (3)

3. Upper Division Electives (21 Units)

A. History, Theory, and Methodologies Courses (6 Units)

Choose at least 2 of the following courses in intellectual history, cultural theory, and critical methodologies. (Check your catalog for prerequisites):

  • ART 315 Perspectives in Art History (3)
  • CHS 351 Survey of Mexican Philosophical Thought (3)
  • ENGL 436 Major Critical Theories (3)
  • ENGL 438 Critical Approaches to Literature (3)
  • HIST 303 Themes in Western Civilization Before 1500 (3)
  • HIST 304 Themes in Western Civilization After 1500 (3)
  • JS 300 Humanities in Jewish Society (3)
  • MUS 307 Music from a Global Perspective (3)
  • MUS 310 Understanding World Cultures Through Music (3)
  • PAS 386 African-American Philosophical Thought (3)
  • PHIL 301 Moral Problems in Contemporary Society (3)
  • PHIL 343 Indian Philosophy (3)
  • PHIL 344 Chinese Philosophy (3)
  • PHIL 345 Social Philosophy (3)
  • RS 356 Contemporary Religious Thought (3)
  • SPAN 307 Introduction to the Analysis of Hispanic
  • Literature (3)
  • COMS 301 Performance, Language, and Cultural Studies (3)
  • COMS 356 Intercultural Communication (3)
  • COMS 360 Communication and the Sexes (3)
  • GWS 301 Feminist Theories and Methods (3)

B. Individual Course of Study (15 Units): In fulfilling their proposed course of study and in consultation with an advisor, students must complete 15 upper division units, drawn from at least 3 of the following departments (at least 1 of which must be AAS, CHS, or PAS): Art, Asian American Studies, Chicano/a Studies, Cinema and Television Arts, English, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, History, Jewish Studies, Linguistics, Music, Pan African Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Communication Studies, Theatre, and Gender and Women’s Studies; up to 6 units of credit may be earned through Independent Study. HUM 391 and 491 may be repeated once each for credit. Only 1 upper division course used in fulfilling any aspect of the major may be double-counted for GE credit.

  • Total Units Required for the Major
  • 45

Minor in Humanities

1. Lower Division Required Courses (9 Units)

  • HUM 101 Forms and Ideas in Humanities (3)
  • HUM 105/106 Cultural Eras in Humanities (3/3)

2. Upper Division Required Courses (6 Units)

  • HUM 391 Junior Seminar in Humanities (3)
  • HUM 491 Seminar in Humanities (3)

3. Upper Division Electives (9 Units)

One intellectual history, theory, and methodologies course from the list above (3 Units).

Two other courses from the departments on the list above. HUM 391 and 491 may also be repeated once each for credit (6 Units).

  • Total Units in the Minor
  • 24

Requirements for the M.A. in Humanities

The purpose of the Masters Program in Humanities is to provide reflective mid-career adults with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the power and nature of the ideas that animate interaction between and among cultures in today’s world, including clashes and collaborations. The program focuses not only on the nature and construction of these ideas and on their play in the world, but also both on the methods and components of critical reflection and the practical implications of such reflection and on the deeper understanding it can lead to in the everyday social, political, and moral decisions of the participants. Importantly, this student cohort will discover and explicitly address the role(s) of language in representing and shaping our understanding of these ideas—even of the ideas themselves—and in representing and defining our individual and collective identities.

Student Learning Outcomes of the Graduate Program:

  • 1. Understand the origins and transformations of worldviews (“big ideas”) as they move through different social, historical, and cultural contexts.
  • 2. Discover how ideas and values from the past inform our present expectations, practices, and policies, both explicitly and implicitly.
  • 3. Analyze and develop the skills to “step out of” one’s worldview and question assumptions about self, society, and others.
  • 4. Refine skills in critical thinking, reading, speaking, and writing across a variety of disciplines in the liberal arts.
  • 5. Refine the skills of close, context-sensitive reading which makes visible the form, structure, and rhetorical function of texts and artifacts in a variety of genres and media.
  • 6. Develop the skills to apply the theory and methodology appropriate to the liberal arts.

Required Courses

  • HUMA 501 Gateway Seminar (3)
  • HUMA 510 The Sacred (3)
  • HUMA 520 The Self: Body and Mind (3)
  • HUMA 530 The Family and Ages of Life (3)
  • HUMA 600 Identity, Meaning, and Culture (3)
  • HUMA 610 Mental Mapping: Space, Place, and Geography (3)
  • HUMA 620 Science and Magic (3)
  • HUMA 630 Nation and Empire, Law, and Government (3)
  • HUMA 640 Norms and Knowledge (3)
  • HUMA 650 Capstone: The Good Life (3)
  • HUMA 697 Directed Comprehensive Studies (3)
  • Total Units Required for the Program
  • 33

Course List

HUM 101. Forms and Ideas in Humanities (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher or completion of the lower division writing requirement. Introductory course provides instruction in the interdisciplinary analysis and interpretation of meaning in art, music, and literature and in the understanding of philosophical ideas in their own right and as they influence styles and themes in works of art. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
HUM 105. Cultural Eras in Humanities I (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher or completion of the lower division writing requirement. Interdisciplinary study of major eras of humanistic development from the Ancient World to the 15th Century through representative works of visual art, architecture, music, philosophy, religion, and oral and written literature. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
HUM 106. Cultural Eras in Humanities II (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher or completion of the lower division writing requirement. Interdisciplinary study of major eras of humanistic development from the 16th Century to the 20th Century through representative works of visual art, architecture, film, music, philosophy, religion, and oral and written literature. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
HUM 296A-Z. Experimental Topics Courses in Humanities (1-3)

Upper Division

HUM 391. Cultural Theories and Methodologies (3-3)
Preparatory: HUM 105 or 106. Intensive inter-disciplinary study of an age, movement, problem, or theme, with emphasis on the practices and methodologies of interdisciplinary study. The topic of the seminar varies. (Crosslisted with FLIT 391)
HUM 396A-Z. Experimental Topics Courses in Humanities (3)
HUM 491. Capstone Seminar (3)
Preparatory: HUM 391 or FLIT 391 and at least one course in intellectual history, cultural theory, and critical methodologies. Intensive interdisciplinary study of an age, movement, problem, or theme, with emphasis on the application of cultural theory in interdisciplinary study. The topic of the seminar varies. (Crosslisted with FLIT 491 and LRS 491)
HUM 496A-Z. Experimental Topics Courses in Humanities (3)
HUM 497. Humanities Thesis (3)
Prerequisites: Senior standing and permission of Humanities advisor. Writing of an interdisciplinary thesis or Senior Project, on an approved topic, under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Consult with the Humanities advisor as to form, length, and other requirements.
HUM 498. Tutorial in Humanities (3-3)
Reading and discussion in a specific field or on a specific topic in a small group. May be repeated once for credit. Regular written assignments are required.
HUM 499ABC. Independent Study (1-3)

Graduate Courses

HUMA 501. Gateway to the Humanities (3)
This first course in the Humanities Masters Degree Program introduces students to the interdisciplinary area referred to as “the humanities.” Students will read and work in subfields, developing knowledge and overall understanding about the range of subject matter in the humanities—as well as the conversations about its traditions and evolution—and about the methods of inquiry that characterize it.
HUMA 510. The Sacred (3)
An examination and critique of the idea that there is a “sacred.” Exploring influential concepts of the sacred, the course analyzes some representative historical efforts to institutionalize the sacred in symbols, myths, rituals, and spaces that influence people’s lives and choices. Finally, the course analyzes two conflicting trends of the present day: on the one hand, efforts to recover a more authentic sacred by cutting loose from institutional religion and, on the other hand, efforts to use institutional religion as a base for revolutionary social change.
HUMA 520. The Self: Body and Mind (3)
This is a course introducing students in the Humanities Master’s Program to the history of ideas focusing fundamentally on the study of ourselves, our bodies and our minds from a variety of perspectives. Students will consider conceptualizations of the body, conceptualizations of the mind (psyche, spirit, soul, animus/a), and conceptualizations of the relationship between body and mind.
HUMA 530. Family and Life Cycle (3)
Through the lenses of literature, art, philosophy, and history, the fourth course explores the nature and place of family and the life cycle in a human’s sense of self, identity, values, and understanding of life’s purpose, understanding these in part as cultural constructions that vary according to historical time and geographic place.
HUMA 600. Identity, Meaning, and Culture (3)
This course will address the manner in which culture creates meaning by examining texts from literature, film, philosophy, cultural studies and ethnic studies. The starting will be that culture produces ideas, and that ideas are linked to power struggles. Culture is a field of contending ideas and historical contingencies; and the task will be to examine it in the arenas of its historical expression.
HUMA 610. Space, Place, and Geography: Mental Mapping (3)
This course examines how the conceptualization of space and place have contributed to a variety of different cultural understandings of the human condition. The course looks at the conceptions underlying the creation and representation of space and the role of landscape in determining the human condition. The course attempts to assess why differing conceptions of space have led to changes and conflicts in and between societies, whether through internal diachronic change or through contact between different cultures.
HUMA 620. Science and Magic (3)
In this course, the focus of the Humanities lens is on the putative divisions between what is defined as “science” and what is seen as “magic” in studies of human inquiry and discovery. The present course foregrounds the old and continuing tensions between ideas referred to as magical on the one hand, and scientific on the other, and of how such divisions originate and operate both within and across cultures. At stake is our understanding of the question of how epistemic authority creates these categories—whether or not it favors such binary oppositions in general, and why—and of how such boundaries shift both in individual and cultural realms. Because each contributes to the shaping of our inquiries and understanding about the world(s) around us, it seems critical to examine how the very categories themselves develop and what the function of such divisions are, within and across cultures.
HUMA 630. Nation and Empire, Law and Government (3)
This course examines the formation of the modern nation-state in 17th and 18th-century Europe. Exploring the origins of nation-states in ethnic, linguistic, cultural , and other identities, and the principles which hold them together (e.g. moral, religious, and legal systems), the course will focus in particular on how they are constructed or problematised textually through art, literature, and philosophical critique. The course will include extensive analysis and critical evaluation of the impact of the modern state on other societies, with particular attention to colonialism, imperialism, and globalization. The course will end with a discussion of precursors, successors, and alternatives to the nation-state as a form of political organization.
HUMA 640. Norms and Knowledge (3)
This course will examine questions of knowledge, norms, and values as they are represented in philosophy, literature, religion and cultural studies. It traces the development and transformation of these norms, and considers the manner in which ideas and ways of knowing change with time and across cultures and different forms of representation. It examines how knowledge is defined and constructed by particular societies and cultures, as well as knowledge is characterized, configured and reconfigured by social groups, institutions and individual thinkers and artists.
HUMA 650. Capstone: The Good Life (3)
The final course reflects on the programmatic theme, captured in Socrates’ dictum that “The unexamined life is not worth living.” HUMA 650 is an examination of, and reflection on, that which may matter in order to live a good life, with special emphasis on how particular worldviews (specially those the participants’ might identify as their own) may contribute to shape both what we perceive to be the good life and the means we should adopt in order to attain it. This is the Capstone course for the MA in the Humanities program.
HUMA 697. Directed Comprehensive Studies (3)
Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Comprehensives are completed during or following the semester in which students complete all of the requirements for the degree. Here, students will work toward the completion of the comprehensive experience, which will be developed with the teaching faculty. (Credit/No Credit)
HUMA 699. Graduate Independent Study (3)
Prerequisites: Consent of Instructor, Director of the Graduate Program, and Department Chair. Maximum of 3 units may be applied to the student’s program. May be substituted for one course with Program Director’s permission.