The Humanities Sequence

The Humanities Sequence at Princeton: An Overview
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Religion Major, Creative Writing

Politics Major, SINSI Scholar

Policy Major, Varsity Athlete


An intensive year-long introduction to the landmark achievements of the Western intellectual tradition, the Humanities Sequence is a team-taught, double-credit, supercourse that examines Western history, philosophy, and literature from antiquity to the 20th century. Lectures and discussions investigate a wide range of issues and stimulate plural perspectives. They are enhanced by trips to museums, plays, concerts and art galleries both on campus and in New York City. Our distinguished faculty represents a wide variety of humanities departments, ranging across literature, history, religion, music, philosophy, archaeology, and art history. This intellectually stimulating and highly demanding sequence fulfills four distribution requirements (two courses in literature and the arts; one in historical analysis; one in epistemology and cognition).

Students in the sequence enroll in both HUM 216 and HUM 217, which together constitute a single course covering classical antiquity to the middle ages. In the spring, students may continue on to HUM 218-219, which covers the Renaissance through the modern period. Each course is comprised of three 50-minute lectures and two 80-minute seminars a week.


The Humanities Sequence in The Daily Princetonian:

October 2015: "As Program Increases in Size, Humanities Sequence adds Mentors"
October 2014: Prince Editorial Board:  "Expand the Humanities Sequence"




HUM 216-217  (Fall 2015)
Approaches to Western Culture from Antiquity to the Middle Ages (LA, HA)

Our Fall 2015 Faculty:
Yelena Baraz (Classics), course coordinator
Leonard Barkan (Comparative Literature), Class of 1943 University Professor
Simone Marchesi (French and Italian)
Benjamin Morison (Philosophy), Director, Classical Philosophy
Helmut Reimitz (History), Acting Chair, Study of Late Antiquity
Alberto Rigolio (Classics), Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts

Guest lecturers will include Denis Feeney and Esther Schor. 

HUM 218-219 (Spring 2016)
Approaches to Western Culture from the Renaissance to the Modern Period (LA, EC)

Our Spring 2016 Faculty:
Denis Feeney (Classics), Giger Professor of Latin; Chair, Council of the Humanities; course coordinator
Bridget Alsdorf (Art and Archaeology)
Simon Morrison (Music)
Effie Rentzou (French and Italian), Acting Director, European Cultural Studies
Esther Schor (English), Behrman Professor in the Humanities
Mira Siegelberg (History), Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts

Students visiting Delphi Humanistic Studies Class Photo 2014

Interdisciplinary at the individual
course level

A Daily Princetonian column by first-year HUM student, Erica Choi, April 12, 2015
Humanistic Studies Class Photo 2014

Sample Fall Readings  (book list for fall 2015 is now available here)

Homer, Iliad 
Homer, Odyssey 
Herodotus, Histories 
Aeschylus, Oresteia 
The Presocratics 
Sophocles (Guest Lecture: Andrew Ford)
Euripides and Aristophanes  
Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 
Plato, Symposium 
Greek Art  
Plato, Republic I 
Plato, Republic II 
Aristotle, Practical Philosophy 
Aristotle, Theoretical Philosophy  
Plautus, Amphitryo and Pseudolus 
Roman Art 
Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe 
Virgil, Aeneid 
Livy, History of Rome 
Ovid, Metamorphoses  
Tacitus, Annals 
Hebrew Bible I 
Hebrew Bible II 
The New Testament 
Ancient & Medieval Music 
Augustine, Confessions 
Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy 
Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire (Guest Lecture: Helmut Reimitz)
Early Christian and Carolingian Art 
Medieval Thought and God’s Existence 
Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval 
Romanesque and Gothic Art and Architecture 
Medieval Thought and the Question of the Universals 
Dante’s Commedia
Dante’s Commedia II (Guest Lecture: P. Adams Sitney)

Spring Lectures will span the 14th to 19th centuries.  Readings vary widely and have included:

Petrarch, The Secretum
Boccaccio, Decameron
Alberti, The Art of Painting, and Renaissance Art 
Renaissance Music
Machiavelli, The Prince
Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier
Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
Luther, Three Treatises
Montaigne, Selected Essays
Cervantes, Don Quixote
Shakespeare, The Tempest
Hobbes, Leviathan
Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy
Milton, Paradise Lost
Spinoza, Theologico-Political Treatise
Racine, Phédre
Leibniz, Monadology
Baroque Art
Voltaire, Candide
Baroque Music
Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion
Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality
Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
Goethe, Faust, Part 1
Austen, Persuasion
Shelley, Frankenstein
Classical Music
Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History
Schopenhauer, World as Will and Idea
Romantic Music
Romantic Poetry (Byron, Wordsworth, Keats)
Pushkin, Bronze Horseman, Mozart and Salieri, The Shot, The Moor of Peter the Great
Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts
Mill, On Liberty
Tolstoy, Master and Man, Father Sergius, After the Ball
French Impressionist Art
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


Fall 2014 Faculty

Daniel Heller-Roazen (Comparative Literature)
Susanna Berger (Art History and Society of Fellows)
Denis Feeney (Classics)
Melissa Lane (Politics)
Benjamin Morison (Philosophy)
Jonny Thakkar (Philosophy and Society of Fellows)

Spring 2015 Faculty

Scott Burnham (Music)
Daniel Cloud (Philosophy)
Anthony Grafton (History)
Mira Siegelberg (History and Society of Fellows)
Michael Wachtel (Slavic and Comparative Literature)


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