Humanities 1-2 Course Outcomes


By the end of the two terms, students should be more conscious, self-critical readers.  They should have developed:

  • The ability to recognize and describe their own responses and their own interpretive strategies. 
  • The discipline and stamina to tackle long, complex texts on a tight reading schedule.
  • Techniques for reading closely (effective annotating, note-taking).
  • In particular, students should demonstrate the ability to:
  • Read closely with attention to rhetorical and expressive possibilities of literature.
  • Read for the big picture, appreciating the rhetorical structures and strategies of the entire work as a framework for more detailed observations.
  • Read in a historically informed way;  show a sense for seeing a work as a historical artifact that interacts complexly with the social, political, and cultural realities of its time; be accountable for the basic parameters of a work's historical contextualization (dates, places, languages, genres, intellectual traditions).
  • Read intertextually;  begin to see literary works in dialogue with other works and with a broader cultural tradition.


By the end of the two terms, student should be more conscious, deliberate writers; they should take control of their writing process, of their rhetorical goals and strategies.

In particular, students should demonstrate the ability to

  • Formulate a clear, nuanced thesis; frame and contextualize that thesis as a response to a particular critical question and/or reading strategy.
  • Argue a point in close reference to a text; balance specific observations and larger inferences.
  • Judge what constitutes a valid scholarly claim in literary and cultural studies, what standards of proof obtain, and how one may go about arguing a case.
  • Gather and deploy evidence from one's text.
  • Construct arguments that put two or more texts and dialogue with each other, while respecting their historical and rhetorical specificity.
  • Use critical literature in their own work as viewpoints to be contested, used, entered into dialogue with, rather than as a mine for "quotes."
  • Revise and edit their own work critically and effectively.
  • Observe accepted norms of scholarly discourse in matters of grammar, style, organization, tone, citation practice.
  • Work carefully and constructively with feedback by the instructor and/or peer editors.
  • Conduct basic library research; find their way around library resources, both online and physical; know where and when to obtain reference help.

Cultural competence

Over the two terms, students should begin to:

  • Explore and get to know outstandingly influential works of the Western canon.
  • Develop and reinforce reading habits that are ambitious, exploratory, and life-long; appreciate that "Great Books" are not a closed list to be mastered once and for all.
  • Become conscious of the history and problematics of canon formation.
  • Develop a rough timeline of European/American civilization; appreciate the uses and pitfalls of such timelines.
  • Develop a sense of the problematic position and history of the "Western" canon in global culture
  • Construct lines of influence, historical narratives of the fortunes of a genre, a motif, a literary technique; appreciate the uses and pitfalls of such narratives.

Scholarly community and collaboration

At the end of the two terms, students should demonstrate the ability to

  • Listen attentively and actively in lecture situations; take notes effectively; formulate questions and prompts for further discussion.
  • Develop arguments and scholarly readings collaboratively in class discussion. 
  • Listen to others, comprehend their contributions and their intellectual underpinnings; formulate their own contributions concisely, appropriately, in response to others' contributions and the trajectory of the discussion.
  • Query and challenge the contributions of others in an appropriate and respectful manner; adopt, incorporate and further develop the contributions of others.
  • Respect the basic etiquette of group discussion:  participating without dominating; feeling responsible and accountable for the success of the discussion; being willing to share; being able to wait. 
  • Respond to other students' writing; peer-edit, make critical and constructive suggestions; learn to accept and make use of such input from others. 
  • Share and defend their own critical insights and strategies vis-a-vis the group and the instructor.