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Humanities Program


Taking HUM 103/104 fulfills three course requirements, including the WRI 101 requirement. Learn more.

The Humanities program was established in 1962 as a synthetic, interdisciplinary approach to liberal education that combined formal lectures and smaller discussion groups in a survey of key texts. The current course offering, Connections and Conflicts in the Humanities I and II (HUM 103 and 104), engages critically key texts and artifacts from the Western tradition and beyond, reaching out to diverse cultures. For each year, there will be a particular theme that we will bring to bear for all the things we study. In 2017-18, the theme is revolution.

Why study the music, art, literature, philosophy, history, and sacred texts of cultures we know and inhabit as well as artifacts of cultures from distant chronological and geographical places that might be alien to our own? At Davidson, we believe that a liberal arts education requires a balance of courses from across the disciplines, including the humanities, in order for our graduates to have the greatest impact in their post-Davidson worlds. In the humanities, one can find a massive repository of ideas concerning the human experience. Some of the ideas will get expressed using words, others by using musical sounds, or dancers on a stage, or paint on a canvas, or celluloid flickers on a screen, or by objects in a space.

Using examples from long ago and also closer to the present, we will emphasize the ways ideas have persisted and changed over time. Some of these conflicts and connections will spark hope and optimism while others might signal exhaustion at our inability to solve certain problems of how best to exist and co-exist. By signing up for HUM 103/104, you will be signing up to:

  • understand and appreciate a wide array of humanistic texts, including things like music, novels, paintings, poetry, films, theater, sculptures, buildings, and digital media
  • observe patterns and create compelling connections between seemingly disparate texts
  • speak and write with precision and persuasion
  • read more carefully and critically

The course is collaborative and team-taught, with plenary lectures by both the humanities faculty teaching the course and by other scholars and artists from Davidson and beyond. Some visiting scholars and artists will also take part in discussions and workshops.

The course includes Davidson Humanities Fellows, ten veteran students dedicated specifically to the course as writing tutors, discussion leaders, project organizers, tech helpers, research advisors, van drivers, and activities conveners. They are trained writing tutors and have a tutors room (Carolina Inn 224) as their space for working with students in the course. The Humanities Fellows are the backbone of the Humes community of teaching and learning in the course. The Fellows immerse themselves fully in the course, attending all the course meetings and doing all the readings alongside the students in the course. Four second-year and third-year Fellows and two senior Fellows work in the course each semester.

Please contact Program Chair Scott Denham at with any questions.