Hum/H 1. American History. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Among the major events, trends, and problems of our country’s history are the American Revolution, the framing and development of the Constitution, wars, slavery and emancipation, ethnic and gender relations, immigration, urbanization, westward conquest, economic fluctuations, changes in the sizes and functions of governments, foreign relations, class conflicts, domestic violence, and social and political movements. Although no one course can treat all of these themes, each freshman American history course will deal with two or more of them. How have American historians approached them? What arguments and evidence have scholars offered for their interpretations and how can we choose between them? In a word, what can we know about our heritage? Instructor: Kousser.
Hum/H 2. Which Side Are You On? 20th Century African American History Through Debate. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. In this introductory course, we will discuss twentieth-century African American history by examining debates that have defined black politics, culture, and society. With a focus on analyzing primary sources and critiquing secondary literature, we will trace the contours of historical and historiographical debates in African American history and gain an understanding of the diversity of thought and experience among black Americans. Instructor: Wiggins.
Hum/H 3. The United States in the Twentieth Century. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Designed to introduce students to the academic study of history, this course examines key issues and events that shaped the political, social, and cultural history of the United States in the Twentieth Century. Through a wide variety of historical sources—including primary documents, fiction, and music—students will explore issues such as popular culture, immigration and labor, the civil rights movement, political realignment, and American intervention abroad. Instructor: Savage.
Hum/H 5. The History of the Chinese Empire. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. This class will explore several facets of how the concept of empire and its historical formation in China was defined, portrayed, and developed over time. It offers students a chance to reflect on the interaction of event, record, and remembrance as these components combine in the creation and contestation of history. This course will particularly emphasize how the making, writing, and remembering of history responds to the advent of different regimes of legitimacy in order to give students a new perspective on the relationship between action, authorship, and interpretation in history. Instructor: Dykstra.
Hum/H 8 a. Civilization, Science, and Archaeology: Before Greece: The Origins of Civilization in Mesopotamia. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. This course will introduce students to the early development of civilization in Mesopotamia and Egypt from 4000 B.C.E. through 1000 B.C.E. Origins of agriculture and writing, the evolution of the city, and the structures of the Mesopotamian economy and social order will be discussed. Comparison with contemporary developments in Egypt during the Old and Middle Kingdoms may include a reading of Gilgamesh from 3000 B.C.E. and of the Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe. The course concludes with a discussion of life during the late Bronze Age. Focus will be on life as it was lived and experienced by many groups in pre-classical antiquity rather than on kings and dynasties. Instructor: Buchwald. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/H 8 b. Civilization, Science, and Archaeology: The Development of Science from Babylon through the Renaissance. 9 units (3-0-6); second, third terms. Connections in antiquity between astrology and astronomy, early theories of light, Islamic science, new concepts of knowledge during the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, the early laboratory, the development of linear perspective, the origins of the Copernican and Keplerian systems of astronomy, and the science of Galileo. Instructors: Buchwald, J.
Hum/H 8 c. Civilization, Science, and Archaeology: The Nature of Religious Belief in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Israel. 9 units (3-0-6); offered by announcement. The civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia gave rise to complex forms of religious practices connected to the social order, moral behavior, and the afterlife. The course examines the origins of concepts of moral death and of sin as a violation of cosmic order in antiquity, the nature of polytheism, and the manner in which monotheism arose out of it. In addition to historical analyses the course includes readings by anthropologists who have studied cult structures as well as contemporary theories by evolutionary psychologists. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/H 9 a. European Civilization: The Classical and Medieval Worlds. 9 units (3-0-6); offered by announcement. Will survey the evolution of Mediterranean and European civilization from antiquity through the end of the Middle Ages. It will emphasize the reading and discussion of primary sources, especially but not exclusively literary works, against the backdrop of the broad historical narrative of the periods. The readings will present students with the essential characteristics of various ancient and medieval societies and give students access to those societies’ cultural assumptions and perceptions of change. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/H 9 b. European Civilization: Early Modern Europe. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. Will survey the evolution of European civilization from the 14th century to the early 19th century. The topics covered will depend on the individual instructor, but they will include some of the major changes that transformed Western civilization in the early modern period, such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the rise of sovereign states and the concomitant military revolution, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, and the French and industrial revolutions. Readings will include major works from the period, as well as studies by modern historians. Instructors: Hoffman, Wey-Gomez.
Hum/H 9 c. European Civilization: Modern Europe. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Will introduce students to major aspects of the politics and culture of modernity that have profoundly transformed Western society and consciousness from the French Revolution to the contemporary era. A variety of historical, literary, and artistic works will be used to illuminate major social, intellectual, and cultural movements. The focus will be on significant and wide-ranging historical change (e.g., the industrial revolution, imperialism, socialism, fascism); on cultural innovation (e.g., modernism, impressionism, cubism); and on the work of significant thinkers. Instructors: Kormos-Buchwald.
Hum/H 10. Medieval Europe: The Problem of Violence. 9 units (3-0-6); second, third terms. This course will explore how people understood violence in Europe between ca. 500 and ca. 1400 AD. It will focus on the various norms that governed the use of violence in a period when the right of free people to carry and use weapons was considered self-evident. Working through primary sources, students will explore the relationship between violence and vengeance, the law, central authority and public order, religion, emotions, public ritual, and economics. As they go along students will consider whether violence can coexist with or even promote stable, ordered societies, or whether it by definition creates disorder. Instructor: Brown.
Hum/H 11. Love and Death: Using Demography to Study the History of Europe from 1700. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second terms. Demographic events—births, marriages, deaths—have always been highly responsive to changes in the local environment. Decisions about when to marry, how many children to have, or what kind of household to live in have always been closely correlated to decisions people take in other areas of their lives and, as a result, can tell us a great deal about the economic, social, and cultural worlds people inhabit. This course examines differences in demographic trends in Europe across space and time, from 1700 to the present, as well as existing explanations for these differences, including political economic factors, social and cultural norms, biology and disease environments. Some topics include: the demographic effects of war, industrialization, and urbanization; changes related to the emergence of reliable contraceptive technologies; changes related to the expansion of economic opportunities for women; the effects of government policies on demographic decisions. Instructor: Dennison.
Hum 15. Special Topics in Humanities. 9 units (3-0-6); offered by announcement. This course will count as a freshman humanities course in either English, history, philosophy, or visual culture, as announced. It is usually taught by new or visiting faculty. The course may be re-taken once if the second class is offered in a different discipline (from among English, history, philosophy, and visual culture). Limited to 15 students. See registrar’s announcement for details. Instructor: Staff.
Hum/H/HPS 18. Introduction to the History of Science. 9 units (3-0-6); second, third terms. Major topics include the following: What are the origins of modern Western science, when did it emerge as distinct from philosophy and other cultural and intellectual productions, and what are its distinguishing features? When and how did observation, experiment, quantification, and precision enter the practice of science? What were some of the major turning points in the history of science? What is the changing role of science and technology? Using primary and secondary sources, students will take up significant topics in the history of science, from ancient Greek science to the 20th-century revolution in physics, biology, and technology. Hum/H/HPS 10 may be taken for credit toward the additional 36-unit HSS requirement by HPS majors and minors who have already fulfilled their freshman humanities requirement and counts as a history course in satisfying the freshman humanities breadth requirement. Instructor: Feingold.
Hum/En 20. Greek Epic and Drama. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second terms. The epic poems attributed to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Athenian drama of the fifth and early fourth centuries BCE have been masterpieces of the western literary tradition for thousands of years. We will study one or both epics, tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and comedies by Aristophanes. Instructor: Pigman.
Hum/En 21. The Marvelous and the Monstrous: Literature at the Boundaries of the Real. 9 units (3-0-6); second, third terms. Marvels flourish at the boundaries of literary invention, religious belief, and scientific inquiry, challenging assumptions about natural processes and expected outcomes. From Grendel, the monstrous foe of Beowulf, to Satan, Milton’s charismatic antihero, this seminar examines the uses of the marvelous in a variety of texts and genres, including Shakespearian drama, medieval romance, and early travel-writing. Readings may include Beowulf, Marie de France, Chaucer, John Mandeville, Shakespeare, Milton. Instructor: Jahner. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/En 22. Inequality. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Throughout the history of Europe, America, and beyond, poets and philosophers have asked hard questions about unequal relationships, whether between kings and subjects, gods and humans, men and women, rich and poor, or machines and people. Our authors take no single point of view; our goal is to analyze sophisticated and often surprising arguments and to enter new cultural worlds. Readings may include Ovid, Milton, Sei Shonagon, Machiavelli, Rousseau, and Alexievich. Instructor: Haugen.
Hum/En 23. Literature and Medicine. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. The relationship between patients and doctors, the ill and the well, involves a constant exchange of stories. In this course we will look more closely at the relationship between medicine and narrative through a selection of fiction, essays and poems that investigate the interplay between doubt and diagnosis, the idea of the case study, the problem of medical responsibility, and the language of pain and illness. Authors covered may include Sontag, Mantel, Conan Doyle, Freud, Woolf, Dickinson, Ishiguro and Shelley. Instructor: Gilmore. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/En 24. The Scientific Imagination in English Literature. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. This course considers three periods of major scientific development—the Renaissance, the nineteenth century, and the modern period— to explore the influence new ideas, discoveries, and theories had on the imagination of English writers. We will look at the early modern interplay between magic and science, Romantic and Victorian debates about evolution, and the twentieth-century advent of modern physics as we confront consistent tropes like the mad scientist, the scientist-hero, and the problem of uncertainty. Authors covered may include Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, Shelley, Darwin, Conan Doyle, Stevenson, Auden, McEwan, and Stoppard. Instructor: Gilmore.
Hum/En 25. The Human Animal. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. European literature has long been a testing ground for radical new ideas which have come to shape our basic understanding of what it means to be a thinking, speaking and perhaps even autonomous human being. The question of what - if anything - makes us different from animals was debated from numerous points of view: including talking dogs, philosophizing women, bestial men, humanlike beasts, and other creatures that defied the conventions of the time. This course explores some of the key literary texts that shaped this debate and pays careful attention to their cultural environments. Selected readings from Cervantes, La Fontaine, Swift, Rousseau, Buffon, Aikin, and Wollstonecraft, among others. Instructor: Holland.
Hum/En 29. Dream Narratives. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Dream narratives reveal as much about cultural beliefs and superstitions as they do about techniques of narration and interpretation. This course investigates key developments in the literature on dreams and dream interpretations with examples drawn from the Renaissance through the beginning of the nineteenth century. Selected readings from Boccaccio, Descartes, Calderón, Shakespeare, and Diderot, among others. Instructor: Holland.
Hum/En 33. Modern Metamorphoses. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Narratives of metamorphosis have traditionally used their dramatic subject matter—a radical change of form—as a vehicle for social criticism. This course explores the ways in which twentieth-century writers experiment with the concept of metamorphosis to take on the most pressing political and social issues of their day, including slavery, women’s rights, and critiques of capitalist excess. Readings to include Kafka, Garnett, Orwell, Tawada, and Erpenbeck. Instructor: Holland. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/En 35. Major British Authors. 9 units (3-0-6); offered by announcement. This course will introduce students to one or more of the genres of English literature, including poetry, drama, and prose fiction, by studying major authors from different periods. Sometimes the course will cover a wide range of authors, while at others it will concentrate on a few. Authors might include Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Austen, George Eliot, or Joyce. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/En 36. American Literature and Culture. 9 units (3-0-6); offered by announcement. Studies of American aesthetics, genres, and ideas from the birth of the nation to the present. Students will be introduced to the techniques of formal analysis. We will consider what constitutes evidence in relation to texts and how to develop a persuasive interpretation. Topics may include Nature’s Nation, slavery and its aftermath, individualism and the marketplace, the “New Woman,” and the relation between word and image. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/En 37. Modern European Literature. 9 units (3-0-6); offered by announcement. An introduction to literary analysis through a sustained exploration of the rise and aftermath of modernism. What was the modernist revolt of the early 20th century, how did it challenge literary tradition and existing social forms, and to what extent have we inherited a world remade by modernism? While the course will focus on British and Continental literature, writers from other parts of the world whose work closely engages the European tradition may also be considered. Authors may include Flaubert, James, Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Borges, Yeats, and Eliot. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/En 38. Telling Time in American Modernism. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. This course will explore modern American literature’s interest in time. We will identify the narrative methods that modernist texts use to characterize the experience of lived time, or temporality, such as streams of consciousness, non-linear storytelling, and narrative omissions. What challenges do such methods pose to clock time and, more broadly, historical time? Students will learn about key literary movements within American modernism, and they will consider modernist literature’s relationships to other genres and media, including music and visual culture. The course will emphasize modernism’s engagements with shifting social norms related to race, class, gender, and sexuality during the first half of the twentieth century. Instructor: Sherazi.
Hum/En 39. Contemporary American Fiction. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. This course will engage works of contemporary American fiction, with particular attention paid to experimental narrative strategies and their effects, including non-chronological storytelling, metafictionality, and narrative omissions. Notably, the literature we will read is set during and/or in the aftermath of World War II and/or the Vietnam War. How do the novel’s central characters understand their roles in American society before, during, and beyond wartime? We will consider the ways in which social movements, including the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, informed these works of fiction and how such literature resonates in our current moment. Authors/texts studied will include John Okada’s No-No Boy (1957), Joan Didion’s Democracy (1984), and Susan Choi’s American Woman (2003). Instructor: Sherazi. Not offered 2019–20.
Hum/Pl 40. Right and Wrong. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second terms. This course addresses questions such as: Where do our moral ideas come from? What justifies them? How should they guide our conduct, as individuals and as a society? What kind of person should one aspire to be? Topics the course may deal with include meta-ethical issues (e.g., What makes an action right or wrong? When is one morally responsible for one’s actions? How should society be organized?) and normative questions (e.g., Is eating meat morally acceptable? What should we tolerate and why? What are society’s obligations toward the poor?). In addition, the psychological and neural substrates of moral judgment and decision making may be explored. The course draws on a variety of sources, including selections from the great works of moral and political philosophy (e.g., Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Hobbes’s Leviathan, Kant’s Groundings for a Metaphysics of Morals, and Rawls’s A Theory of Justice), contemporary discussions of particular moral issues, and the science of moral thought. Instructor: Hay
Hum/Pl 41. Knowledge and Reality. 9 units (3-0-6); first, third terms. The theme of this course is the scope and limitations of rational belief and knowledge. Students will examine the nature of reality, the nature of the self, the nature of knowledge, and how we learn about the natural world. Students will be introduced to these issues through selections from some of the world’s greatest philosophical works, including Descartes’s Meditations, Pascal’s Pensées, Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Berkeley’s Principles of Human Knowledge, and Kant’s Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics. A variety of more contemporary readings will also be assigned. Instructors: Hitchcock, Hubert.
Hum/Pl 43. Meaning in Life. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second terms. Experiencing one’s life as meaningful is important for most people. Yet, what is it for a life to be meaningful? This course explores philosophical inquiries into meaning in life, examining such questions as, How does meaning in life relate to moral, epistemic, aesthetic, and hedonic final values in life? What does meaning in life imply regarding the metaphysics of value? What is the relation between meaning and welfare, achievement, and goal-directedness? What sort of activities, from work to leisure, can be sources of meaning in life? Drawing principally on recent work in analytic philosophy, the course will also examine whether scientific approaches, principally neuroscience and psychology, can illuminate the nature of meaning in life and will examine recent nihilistic challenges to meaning in life. Instructors: Quartz.
Hum/Pl 44. Philosophy Through Science Fiction. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. This course will provide a broad introduction to philosophy using examples from science fiction to make abstract philosophical problems vivid. Topics may include: time travel and the reality of the past and future; teleportation and what makes someone the same person over time; fictional tales of extended deception and Cartesian skepticism; futuristic utopias and the question of what make a life good; the moral status of aliens and animals; intelligent robots and the relation between mind and body; parallel universes and the philosophical foundations of quantum physics. Instructor: Sebens.
Hum/Pl 45. Ethics & AI. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. How do we reconcile the possibilities of modern machine learning with ethical and moral demands of fairness, accountability and transparency? This course will take a case study based approach to the challenges at the interface of algorithms and human values. By exploring existing debates on algorithmic bias, explainable AI and data ownership, students will be exposed to the relevance of ethical systems of thought to modern social questions. Instructor: Eberhardt.
Hum/VC 49. Consuming Victorian Media. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Proliferating communication and entertainment media technologies in 19th-century England vexed the imagined boundaries between humans and machines while catalyzing social anxieties about aesthetics, attention, and distraction. We will explore both “old” (novels, paintings, sculptures) and “new” forms of 19th-century media (telegraphs, magic lanterns, and photography) as we analyze overly stimulating Gothic print media in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Wordsworth’s contempt for popular entertainments in The Prelude, and the inversion of imperial consumption in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a novel mediated through characters’ telegrams, diary entries, and phonographic recordings. Authors studied also may include: Dickens, Christina Rossetti, Doyle, Kipling, and Vernon Lee. Instructor: Sullivan.
Hum/VC 50. Introduction to Film. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. This course examines film as a technology, entertainment medium, and commercial art with an emphasis on American and European contexts. Students will acquire the basic vocabulary and techniques of film analysis, with an emphasis on style and structure, and develop an understanding of the historical development of film as both an art form and an industry from 1895 through the twentieth century. Topics covered include actualities and the birth of narrative film, silent film comedy, German expressionism, the Hollywood star system, Italian neo-realism, and the French New Wave. Instructor: Jurca.
Hum 75. Selected Topics in Humanities. variable units; offered by announcement. A course on a specialized topic in some area of the humanities, usually taught by new or visiting faculty. Recent offerings have included courses on film-making, poetry writing, speculative fiction, and the difference between humans and other animals. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. Class size is normally limited to 8 - 15 students. See registrar’s announcement for details. Instructors: Staff, visitors.
Hum 80. Frontiers in the Humanities. 1 unit (1-0-0); third term. Weekly seminar by a member of the Caltech humanities faculty or a visitor to discuss a topic of his or her current research at an introductory level. The course can be used to learn more about different areas of study within the humanities. For those interested in (or who become interested) in pursuing a second option in the humanities, the course will introduce students to the kinds of research carried out by members of the humanities faculty and help them find faculty advisors. Instructors: Staff.
Hum 105 ab. Topics in French Culture and Literature. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see L 105 ab.
Hum 114 abc. Spanish and Latin American Literature. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see L 114 abc.
Hum 119. Selected Topics in Humanities. variable; offered by announcement. This is an advanced humanities course on a specialized topic in some area of the humanities. It is usually taught by new or visiting faculty. The course may be re-taken for credit except as noted in the course announcement. Limited to 15 students. See registrar’s announcement for details. Instructors: Staff, visitors.
L/Hum 150 a. Japanese Literature in Translation. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Languages.
L/Hum 150 b. Japanese Literature in Translation. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Languages.
L/Hum 152 ab. French Literature in Translation: Classical and Modern. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Languages.
L/Hum 162. Spanish and Latin American Literature in Translation. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Languages.
Hum 174. Advanced Chinese II: Topics in Chinese Literature. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see L 174.
HPS/H 180. Forbidden Knowledge. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. For course description, see History and Philosophy of Science.