Humanistic Studies

  • Classics of Scientific Communication: Lucretius, Galileo, and Darwin

    How does revolutionary science happen? Why do some scientific texts have staying power? Do scientific concepts follow particular trajectories through social sciences, the arts, and popular culture? We will address such questions in this interdisciplinary course for students interested in the peculiar dynamics of scientific cognition, theoretical elaboration and system-building, and strengths and limits of representation.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities: How Literatures Begin

    The course examines the problem of the origins of literary traditions. There will be some comparative material from different cultural and literary traditions, though the main focus will be on the European context from antiquity through modernity. Why do literatures come into existence at certain times and places? Is this something we should take for granted? What are the circumstances that lead to the development of a literature?
  • East Asian Humanities I: The Classical Foundations

    An introduction to the literature, art, religion and philosophy of China, Japan and Korea from antiquity to ca. 1400. Readings focus on primary texts in translation, complemented by museum visits and supplementary materials on the course website. The course aims to allow students to explore the unique aspects of East Asian civilizations and the connections between them through an interactive web-based platform, in which assignments are integrated with the texts and media on the website. No prior knowledge of working with digital media is required.

  • Humanistic Perspectives on Literature: Case Histories, Life Stories

    The seminar reflects on the role of exemplary stories - ones that seem to want to offer a lesson in the understanding of life and character, even of personhood as such - in fiction and non-fiction. What do authors intend when writing factual "case histories" or fictional variants on the genre? What are readers supposed to learn from such texts? What is at stake for the subjects of case histories? How do modalities of narration and literary figuration variously shape the presentation of life stories in autobiography, psychoanalysis, art criticism?

  • East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations

    This course begins roughly around the fourteenth century and covers the arts, history, music, literature, popular culture, film and media in transnational China, Japan, and Korea up to the contemporary period. Special focus will be given to the question of modernity in East Asia. Lectures are given by specialists in the departments of East Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, Music, and Art and Archaeology. This is the second half of a two-semester sequence introducing the humanities in East Asia.


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