Humanities

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Photo: Professor O’Donnell and students in the Humanities Honors Colloquium Study Abroad in Berlin 2019

The Humanities Honors Track provides an exploration of the interdisciplinary relations between literature, history, and philosophy. It is open to students from all majors in the University who wish to enrich their major field of study with this broader cultural context or who enjoy the life of the mind in reading, discussing and writing about ideas.

The Humanities Track provides a direction for the examination of human, social, and universal nature that connects with the social and natural science but that also has its own value. Drawing from the realms of literature, art, music, philosophy, history, languages, and religion, this track allows the student to examine a wide variety of human ideas, actions, values, and creative productions from Classical Greece to our current Modern and Post, Modern era.

Like other Tracks, the Humanities Honors Track functions like a minor in the student’s curriculum, providing a distinct set of courses to enrich the student’s major and the general university experience.

The initial work in the Track focuses upon foundational ideas and themes in Western culture, while the research projects encompass whatever culture(s) that suits the student’s interests. Many students have explored the culture of their ancestors, as others have looked at Greek poetry or modern jazz.

Students complete a year, long Seminar (Seminars 1 & 2) examining the connections between literature, history, and philosophy and then take one Colloquium focused on exploring a particular era, such as the Classical World, Medieval and Renaissance Movements, the Enlightenment, or the Contemporary period. The culmination of the study is the year, long research and thesis project usually in the senior year, offering the opportunity to work independently with the guidance of a selected faculty member.

Curriculum

The completion of this project provides not only a fitting expression of the student’s college accomplishments, but also a valuable representation of their abilities for graduate school and future employers. There are courses available for both daytime and evening students. 

All students take TWO of the following four Seminars:

Humanities Honors Seminar I: Representations of Humanity Past and Present (HUMH 1990)

Humanities Honors Seminar II: Representations of Humanity Past and Present  (HUMH 2000)

Humanities Honors Seminar III:  Humanities and Technology in Today’s World  (HUMH 2010)

Humanities Honors Seminar IV:  Representations of Humanities through Historical Perspectives  (HUMH 2020)

 Plus ONE of the following four Colloquia: 

The 20th Century and Its Discontents (HUMH 3000)

The Enlightenment: Origins of Modern Consciousness (HUMH 3010)

Medieval and Renaissance Culture (HUMH 3020)

Classical Tradition and Christian Civilization (HUMH 3030)

 Plus TWO semester to research and write their thesis: 

Humanities Honors Thesis Seminar I (HUMH 4010) Research

Humanities Honors Thesis Seminar II (HUMH 4020) Writing 

 The Track is Ideal For:

  • Students of all majors;
  • Students who enjoy reading, discussing, and writing about ideas;
  • Students with a particular interest in completing a thesis project centered on specific cultural works and/or authors from art, film, literature, television, sports, cartoons, music, etc. 

 

2018, 2019 Humanities Honors Thesis Titles

2018

Carley D'Auria, Is Bad Representation Better than No Representation?

Nia Hayes, The Adventures of Beatrix Potter: A Victorian Writer, Scientist, and Entrepreneur  

Matthew Norton, A Forgotten Generation: Hungarian Emigres from 1848, 1870

Nagyla Obien, DACA and the Dreamers' Struggle for Higher Education

Robert Spangler, Changing the World: Youth Political Activism

Erika Ureta, Hi Yank!: Soldier Shows and Morale during World War II

2019

Raymond Ackerman, The Free Will Helmet: Compatibilism Based on Ontology, Semantics, and Neurophysiology

Olivia Arcilla, Hamilton the Musical: Changing the Social Studies Classroom

Caroline Chambers, Collaborative Adversaries: Feminists and Conservatives Confront Porn in the Age of #MeToo

David Hunter, There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men: Plato and Shakespeare

Erik Lascano, Rethinking Criminal Responsibility: Evidence of Mitigating Culpability and its Implications for Reforming the Criminal Justice System

Alexandra Reale, Tearing Families Apart, Ripping the Country Apart: The Trump Administration's Immigration Enforcement and its Impact

Joseph Saulenas, American Romantic: David Byrne's Utopia

Morgan Theobald, The Origins of Wonder Woman: Comics as Psychological Propaganda, 1930s, 1940s

Jonathan Tobal, "More than an Athlete": LeBron James as an Athlete/Activist

 How do I enroll?

To enroll in the Humanities Honors Track, contact the Director, Dr. K. Molly O’Donnell, Atrium 231, (973) 720-2146, odonnellk@wpunj.edu). You must also complete the track application online.

 About the Track Director:

Dr. K. Molly O’Donnell is a modern German historian with broad teaching areas in European social history, women’s history, and the history of imperialism. Her courses train students to trace their family histories, research the everyday lives of ordinary people in the past, use role-playing, literature, and information technology to examine the past, and explore the intersections of class, race, and gender. Her research explores the impacts of German women’s colonization in Southwest Africa through the Nazi era, particularly on interracial rumors, gossip, and violence.