HSP Core Courses

SHUM 2750 Introduction to Humanities

SHUM 2750 Introduction to Humanities (rotating topics) 
Fall, Spring. 4 credits. Limited to 15 students. 

These seminars offer an introduction to the humanities through the exploration of various historical, cultural, social and political topics. Students will engage with a range of texts and media drawn from the arts, humanities, and/or humanistic social sciences. Guest speakers, including Cornell faculty and Society for the Humanities Fellows, will present from different disciplines and points of view. Students will consider local sites including Cornell special collections and archives. Students enrolled in these seminars will have the opportunity to participate in additional programming related to the Society’s theme and the Humanities Scholars Program for undergraduate humanities research.

(SP22) SHUM 2750 Introduction to Humanities: Energy (SEM 101)
T/R 11:25am-12:40pm
Karen Pinkus 

Also COML 2750, ENGL 2950, GOVT 2755

Humans are all “children of the sun,” as Alfred Crosby notes. We are energetic beings and we consume energy (with various consequences, some that threaten our very existence). Yet for the most part “energy” has been a subject for scientists. Some social sciences and policy makers have also considered energy production, distribution and consumption as crucial to global geopolitics and economy. But it is only recently that the humanities has begun to study this phenomenon, interweaving a variety of issues from human evolution to history; from the arts to literature; from slavery to racial (in)justice to the very question of what it means to be human.  This course has two main goals: 1) To introduce students to the humanities, broadly speaking: methods, ideas, possibilities for thought and practice in literature, history, philosophy, art history, critical theory, anthropology, media studies; 2)  To focus on the question of energy in various senses. We will move back and forth between these two aims. We will make site visits to Cornell’s Combined heat and cooling plant and to the Cornell solar farm and hydropower facility and to the Kroch Rare Book and Manuscripts Library. We will view films and we will read several novels (Upton Sinclair’s Oil! and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl) as well as short stories, historical accounts of fossil fuels and philosophical essays on the nature of energy. We will also consider art works that engage with energy. This course is open to all students who are curious about thinking energy as a complex problem and want to learn why the humanities are crucial and timely.

(SP22) SHUM 2750 Introduction to Humanities: The Afterlife of the Roman Landscape (SEM 102) 
T/R 1:00-2:15pm 
Kaja Tally-Schumacher

Also ARTH 2750, CLASS 2750

This course investigates how the Romans understood the natural world, the ways in which they altered the landscape, and how those changes impacted later societies. Topics to be explored include: ancient pollution and deforestation; the entanglement between working the land and enslavement in the Roman era and the impact of this relationship on later cultures; the influence of Roman landscape design and horticulture on later cultures such as Islamic, Renaissance, and Colonial gardens; and the legacy of Roman methods of surveying land in the US and specifically in Upstate New York.  

(SP22) SHUM 2750 Introduction to Humanities: Environmental Justice in Upstate New York (SEM 103)
T/R 9:40-10:55am 
Maddie Reynolds

Also AMST 2751, ASRC 2750, ENGL 2950 

How might we work toward the intersection of environmental justice and racial justice locally in Ithaca? In this course, we will examine the voices of environmental activists of color working on sustainable farming and environmental issues right here in Upstate New York, such as Leah Penniman and Robin Wall Kimmerer. We will partner with the Ithaca-based nonprofit, Khuba International, to develop content for their Farming for Freedom Trail initiative, an app that promotes BIPOC farmers in Tompkins County.

SHUM 3750 Humanities Scholars Research Methods

SHUM 3750 Humanities Scholars Research Methods 
Spring. 4 credits. Limited to 20 students. 
Durba Ghosh

Also ANTHR 3950, ASIAN 3347, NES 3750

This course is a seminar studying the practice, theory, and methodology of humanities research, critical analysis, and communication through writing and oral presentation.  The goal of the seminar is to teach and refine research methods (library research, note taking, organizing material, bibliographies, citation methods, proposals, outlines, etc.) as well as to guide students through the initial stages of a research project of your own design.

We will be studying the work and impact of humanists, who we define very broadly as scholars of literature, history, theory, art, visual studies, film, anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, who are posing big questions about the human condition. By reading and analyzing the scholarship of humanists – critiquing them, engaging their ideas, and perhaps even being inspired by them – we will try to imagine how we might craft our own method and voice as we pose big questions for the humanities.  We hope that you see this course as a journey that helps you to consider how you might do a research project.

This course is open to all students interested in writing a longer research paper, whether for a semester or academic year, and to anyone interested in a major or minor in the humanities. Enrollment preference will be given to students in the Humanities Scholars Program. You do not need to apply to the program in order to sign up for this course, and taking this course does not represent a commitment to write a thesis.  If you are considering the Humanities Scholars Program and are also hoping to go abroad for your junior year, then we encourage you to take this course as a sophomore. 

SHUM 4750 Senior Capstone Seminar

SHUM 4750 Senior Capstone Seminar 

This 1-credit course is designed to support seniors in the Humanities Scholars Program. Seniors will meet for one hour per week with HSP mentors to work on their capstone projects. The course has three learning goals: creating a cohort of humanities researchers, sharing work in progress, and working collaboratively and in groups. 

HSP Elective Courses

Explore the slate of courses (using the SHUM prefix) that are cross-listed with the Humanities Scholars Program. Humanities Scholars must complete two electives before graduation. This list will be updated continually. 

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