L&S Curricular Connections

Big Ideas Courses

Letters and Science 23


Historical Studies; Philosophy and Values

“The Humanities” were once considered the core of a liberal arts education, but today they often find themselves forced to justify their very existence. Some fifty years ago, Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, described “liberal education” as “certain intellectual luxuries that we could do without for a year or two.” How did this sort of thinking come about, and is it valid? What does it mean for the university and for the kind of education it offers? In response to such challenges, the humanities have increasingly endeavored to make themselves more professional and more “scientific.” What has been lost and what has been gained in this process? Can we still think of the humanities as aiming at the self-examination of the human by the human? We will address these questions through the lens of six representative disciplines (History, Art History, Anthropology, Archaeology, Religion, and Rhetoric).

Michael Nylan faculty profile
Michael Nylan (History)
Daniel Boyarin faculty profile
Daniel Boyarin (Rhetoric)

Terms Offered

  • Fall 2015