Inquiry Seminar in the Humanities

Courses that introduce students to the subjects and methods of inquiry of the humanities by engaging in focused study of one or more particularly important historical or literature-based questions arising from a humanities discipline. These courses introduce students to key concepts, knowledge, and principles of the relevant discipline as they relate to the questions being studied in the individual section. They are not intended to be survey courses or broad introductions to the discipline, but should be content-rich, with the content revolving around and connected to the central questions being studied. Each section incorporates the interpretation of primary texts (prose fiction, poetry, drama, non-fiction essays and books, historical documents, works of art, film, digital media, speeches, etc.) in relation to their cultural and historical contexts; explores the relationships between language, narratives, thought, and culture; and examines the ways in which important texts and events relate to each other across time.

Essential goals include: Introducing students to an important question in the humanities, the relevant content necessary to study that question, and the ways in which the humanities pursue and generate knowledge; preparing students to read and evaluate primary texts in relationship to their contexts, and the use of those texts and interpretations as evidence to construct theses or arguments.

In addition, these courses teach the following skills: academic writing, argument construction/critical thinking, library research, critical reading, and oral presentations.

Sample Sections

Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

Faculty: William H. Kangas

This course will focus on an intellectual history of three of the primary critics of modern Western culture: Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud. We will be seeking to understand both the economic-social, philosophical and psychoanalytic critiques they developed of modern European culture and the historical contexts out of which these critiques emerged and to which they were responding.

Reading the Posthuman: Hybrids, Cyborgs, and the Marvelous in Literature

Faculty: Katherine Koppelman

Do we live in a posthuman (or transhuman) world? Is the category of the human no longer expansive enough to account for all the ways in which we live today? Virtual existences, scientific advancements, and philosophical investigations have pushed us to what some would consider the "limit" of a purely human existence. However, the category of the hybrid, the marvelous, the cybernetic has been a topic of literary investigation for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. This course reads some of those literary texts alongside the concepts of both humanism and posthumanism-interrogating the literary texts for the ways that they frame and respond to the category of the human.

Art & Place in the US West

Faculty: Kenneth Allan

This course asks how art objects can provide us access to the meaning of place in ways that reveal spaces, regions, landscapes, cities, and nations to be terrains of competing interests and complicated senses of belonging. We will focus on the role that the American West has played in the American popular imagination through a variety of forms of visual art, including: 19 c. landscape painting and survey photographs, Native American art and notions of place, 20th c. regional painters such as the ''Northwest Mystics," the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, 1970s land and environmental art, and contemporary practices that address the experience of the rural and the urban. We will read material from art history, literature, geography and urban theory in this course. There will be a take-home essay exam and students will be required to write papers that synthesize readings and the analysis of art works, and complete a research and writing project on a facet of the local Seattle environment.

Songs of Resistance

Faculty: Tara Roth

This inquiry seminar will focus on the questions: How does music act as a catalyst for social change? How does literature offer us a unique lens through which to explore the social and historical implications of this? In this course, we will explore the human condition by studying fiction, drama, and poetry in the context of countercultural music, that is, music that is both daring and modern to the time period in which it was created.