This quarter, we explore how animal figures have been used to understand what it means to be human. By tracking beasts through ancient tales, medieval manuscripts, and Renaissance drama, what can we learn about the politics and belief systems of the premodern world? …
For fifty years, Humanities Core has examined how people across time and culture have interpreted their experiences and understood what it is to be human.
Through the study of literature, film, history, philosophy, popular culture, and visual art, students delve into how meaning is made and learn various forms of analysis to gain a greater understanding of social interaction and human creativity. Over the course of the year, lectures by nine prominent faculty present a variety of cultural artifacts and modes of understanding human experience. In small seminars, students engage closely with this complex material while developing visual, oral, electronic, and written communication skills that will serve them in every academic discipline and in public life. By addressing a wide range of topics and approaches to humanistic inquiry, Humanities Core meets seven General Education requirements in the categories of Lower-Division Writing, Arts and Humanities, Multicultural Studies, and International/Global issues.
In the 2019–2022 cycle, Humanities Core explores the theme of Animals, People, and Power under the course direction of Professor Nasrin Rahimieh. What is an animal? How much of what we know about the natural world actually comes from reality, and how much is a projection of human concerns onto other living things? When we represent animals in art, literature, or scientific discourse, what kinds of boundaries between “humanity” and “animality” are drawn? Why are those boundaries so often transgressed or transformed? What kind of cultural or political work is performed when we compare animals to people, or people to animals? How have human narratives about animals aided the interrelated forces of oppression, colonization, and ecological destruction? If representations of animals inform these practices, can they also help dismantle them?