Great works of art, literature, and music, along with profound philosophical and religious thought, have the capacity to reach across ages, languages, and cultures. In an age when everything is easily available, the crucial questions become: What is worth exploring? What is worth preserving?
The Humanities curriculum at The New School combines reflection on the past with speculation on the visionary future, guiding students through the history of the arts, cultural studies, literary studies, philosophy, and religion.
New School students are known for their creativity and intellectual curiosity. Humanities courses bring together noncredit, credit, and degree students representing a wide range of ages, educational backgrounds, and experiences in an environment of intellectual rigor. You may find yourself next to a second-year undergraduate on one side and a mature professional with multiple degrees on the other side. Your classmates might be artists, secretaries, writers, carpenters, musicians, teachers, business owners, museum curators—the essential quality we seek in our students is humility and an eagerness to learn.
Learn more about the Humanities areas of study:
Visit the registration site for a list of current course offerings in the Humanities.
Art, Architecture, and Music History
The New School's courses in art, architecture, and music history cover a broad range of periods, concepts, mediums, and figures from a variety of historical, critical, and theoretical perspectives. This curriculum puts a great deal of emphasis on developing a strong visual or musical vocabulary, familiarity with genres, methods of analysis, and an understanding of the complex social and political contexts within which art is created. New York's art and music scenes, galleries, museums, and theaters serve as additional resources, supplementing class lectures and discussions.
Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary field which combines both a broad anthropological and a more narrowly humanistic conception of culture. While drawing on specific disciplines, it also aims to challenge and transform them. Most importantly, the project of cultural studies is to study all forms of cultural production in relation to other cultural practices and to social and historical forms of power. In our courses, students become active participants in contemporary culture, both as thoughtful critics and as creative producers. Cultural studies students may also wish to explore The New School's course offerings in Media Studies and Film, Anthropology and Sociology, Literature, and Philosophy.
According to Salman Rushdie, literature is a window on the world; it is a place to discover "the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit." The purpose of literary studies at The New School is to introduce students to the major historical periods and genres of world literature, and to enable students to think critically about the issues generated by a variety of literary texts. Our curriculum is diverse and cross-cultural, covering the genres of poetry, prose, drama, oral narration, and literary theory.
Philosophy and Religion
Philosophy at The New School challenges students to engage with a wide range of issues central to understanding the world and our place within it. Courses are offered at introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels and cover a variety of traditions and perspectives. Some are historical, some focus on individual thinkers, and others are organized thematically around particular philosophical issues. In addition, our curriculum includes a selection of Religion courses, from surveys of major religions and spiritual traditions to studies of religious texts.
Jewish Cultural Studies
Launched in Fall 2009, this program focuses on the histories and forms of Jewish cultural life. Each academic year, a group of core and elective courses in this subject area explore secular traditions in Jewish communities and among Jewish intellectuals.