A professor sits with students at a large round table

The Mandel Center for the Humanities sponsors several team-taught interdisciplinary courses each year. For 2019-2020, our course offerings are two rigorous first-year seminars. These seminars bridge multiple disciplines within the humanities and examine classical texts from fresh perspectives.

For more information, visit the Admissions website.

Fall 2019

Humanities Fellowship Seminar: Epic Literature

Professor Laura Quinney

This course zeroes in on the most foundational of “foundational” texts. It will study the evolution of the epic, beginning with its solemn ancient origins, in Gilgamesh and the Bible, following through with the panoramic martial epics of Greece and Rome, and then investigating how Dante, a Christian Medieval poet, adapts his “pagan” predecessors to tell the story of his voyage through Hell, in The Inferno. At the end we will turn to Milton’s engagement with the entire tradition - in his epic treatment of the story of the Fall - and then to the 18th-century “mock-heroics” that parodied them all. The course will necessarily touch on wide-ranging interdisciplinary aspects of history, anthropology, comparative religion, philosophy and myth. But it will focus on intertextuality: it will scrutinize the ways in which later authors reframed, reshaped, honored and challenged the work of their predecessors.

Humanities Fellowship Seminar (and studio): Drawing Upon Literature

Professors Robin Feuer Miller and Susan Lichtman

An interdisciplinary team-taught course bringing together the practice of studio art and the study of literature. Students use Russian fiction and poetry (and some critical theory) as source material for the creation of visual images: drawings in various media, watercolors, prints, and photographs. The nature of narrative, as it crosses disciplines, will be a focus of our curriculum. We will read works of fiction by such writers as Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Babel and Nabokov to consider the role of artists as major literary characters, and how works of art function as iconography.