Humanities  {SF State Bulletin 2011 - 2012}

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College of Arts and Humanities

Dean: Paul Sherwin


Department of Humanities

HUM 410
Phone: 415-338-1830

Chair: Saul Steier
Graduate Coordinator: Mary Scott



Professors: Leonard, Luft, Scott
Emeritus Professors: Birt, Chandler, Knier, Lunine, Morrissey, Nathan
Associate Professors: Bertram, Garcia-Moreno, Ruotolo, Steier
Assistant Professors: Jacobowitz, Shobhi



B.A. in Humanities

Minor in Humanities

M.A. in Humanities



Program Scope

The program enables students to seek understanding of cultural experience through interdisciplinary study of the humanities. Undergraduate and graduate students study social conduct, cultural practices, values, and artistic insights reflecting many human communities. Humanities majors explore methods of bringing the various humanities, such as literature, music, visual forms, and architecture, into an integrative view of the world's cultural diversity.


Students who wish to base their careers on broad knowledge of American and world cultures will find this major applicable to posts in government, business, education, and the arts. Practical training in a specific professional field (TESOL, journalism, museum work, etc.) may well be taken in conjunction with the major or the minor in humanities. The B.A. in Humanities is also good preparation for entering a K-12 single subject or multiple subject teaching credential program. Those earning the M.A. are qualified to search for a position at a community college.


For the B.A. in Humanities, students must complete a core of five courses (including a senior seminar) in basic methods of understanding culture through the humanities, and then choose combinations of courses in European, American, Asian, and Cross-Cultural Studies (the cross-cultural studies area consists of courses in which the subject matter is from another geographic area than the Americas, Europe, or Asia, and courses that specifically include a number of different cultures). In one of these culture-study areas, additional courses will be chosen, making it the area of emphasis in the major. Up to three appropriate courses in related departments such as ethnic studies, English, art, and music may be included in the major with an adviser's approval.


Students minoring in humanities must complete four core courses and three additional courses in one or more of the culture-study areas, depending upon the emphasis desired.


The Master of Arts in Humanities is an interdisciplinary program which emphasizes the integrative study of culture, ideas, and the arts, with special concern for the questions of value—moral, intellectual, cultural, and aesthetic—that are inherent in major human expressions. It serves a variety of personal and career objectives, including preparation for and enrichment of K-12 and community college level teaching and preparation for advanced study in a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary degree programs in the humanities.


Bachelor of Arts in Humanities

The department's lower division General Education courses (HUM 130, 220, 225) or other lower division courses concerned with ideas, social conditions, and art forms are recommended for students planning to major or minor in humanities. They may not be counted toward the major. Study or practical experience toward mastery of a foreign language is strongly recommended along with the major or minor.


Humanities majors who successfully complete HUM 300 GW in spring 2010 or thereafter will have satisfied the University Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).


Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.



Course Title Units
HUM 300 GW Junior Seminar: Humanities Writing - (GWAR) 3
HUM 301 Style and Expressive Forms 3
HUM 303 Cultural Periods and Styles 3
HUM 425 Thought and Image 3
HUM 690 Senior Seminar 3


Cross-cultural Studies (3 units)

Units selected from the following, or other appropriate courses on advisement: HUM 320, 345, 360, 361, 366, 375 (cities outside Europe, the Americas, and Asia), 377, 390, 415, 496, 501, 510


European Culture Studies (6 units)

Units selected from the following, or other appropriate courses on advisement:
HUM 375 (European cities), 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 407, 410, 413, 415 (if European topics), 432, 434, 445, 550


American Culture Studies (6 units)

Units selected from the following, or other appropriate courses on advisement:
HUM 375 (North American and Latin American cities), 376 (San Francisco), 450, 455, 470, 480, 481, 485, 490, 495, 520


Asian Culture Studies (6 units)

Units selected from the following, or other appropriate courses on advisement:
HUM 366, 375 (Asian cities), 507, 510 (if Asian topic), 525, 526, 527, 530, 531, 532, 535, 536


Additional Courses (6 units)

Units selected from one of the above culture study areas, or other appropriate courses on advisement


Total units for the major: 42


Note: Up to three appropriate courses (9 units) in related departments or programs may be substituted for departmental course work in the culture-study areas. Core courses must be taken for a letter grade. No more than one elective course (3 units) may be taken CR/NC.


Minor in Humanities

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.



Course Title Units
HUM 301 Style and Expressive Forms 3
HUM 302 Theories and Methods in the Humanities 3
(or upper division course on advisement)
HUM 303 Cultural Periods and Styles 3
HUM 425 Thought and Image 3


Units chosen on advisement in one or more of the culture study areas of the major. Up to 3 units may be taken outside the department. (9 units)

Total Units in the Minor: 21


Master of Arts in Humanities

Admission to the Program

Applications for admission should include a statement of the applicant's purpose in applying to the program, a writing sample, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants whose native language is not English and whose B.A. is from a university in which English is not the medium of instruction, must have a minimum TOEFL score of 570 (computer-based TOEFL 230). The GRE is not required.


Admission to classified standing in the program is given on evaluation of several factors in an applicant's education and experience. Of considerable importance are the subjects and range of undergraduate study; emphasis is given to courses in literature, history, languages, philosophy, the arts, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary humanities, but studies in the sciences or social sciences may also be valuable. Other factors bearing on admission may include work experience, personal interests, and proficiency in one of the arts.


Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One (entry):
The department admissions committee will evaluate Level One written English proficiency on the basis of the applicant’s 500-word statement of purpose, and eight to ten page writing sample on a humanities-related topic. Taken together these should show that the applicant understands the nature of the program, has thought carefully about her/his reasons for applying and can articulate them effectively, and can express clearly and thoughtfully in writing on ideas and materials appropriate to the program.

The admissions committee will evaluate the quality of these materials as either insufficient for admission, satisfactory for conditionally classified admission, or satisfactory for admission to classified status. This classification is based on (1) fluency and precision of expression, (2) clear organization and persuasive argument, and (3) appropriateness of the applicant’s interests and academic experience to the program.

Those who are admitted conditionally must receive a B or better in HUM 700 or 721 in their first semester in order to be advanced to classified status.

Level Two:
Level Two written English proficiency is demonstrated by the quality of the student’s work in HUM 898 (Master’s Thesis) or HUM 896 (Written Comprehensive Examination.) The criteria are the same for both:

  • Ability to articulate a critical framework that encompasses several kinds of primary texts.
  • Ability to express one’s own perspective in relation to the most significant secondary scholarship on those primary texts.
  • Ability to articulate and support an argument of substantial length and complexity.


Advancement to Candidacy

Besides meeting general requirements of the program, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in order to qualify for advancement to candidacy for the master's degree. Official advancement to candidacy comes about with acceptance of an Advancement to Candidacy by the Graduate Division.


With the graduate adviser's approval, most upper division Humanities Department courses may be used to satisfy a portion of the Master of Arts requirements.


Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.


Core Requirements

Course Title Units
HUM 700 Introduction to Integrative Study 3
HUM 721 Culture and Style 3


Integrative Study of Cultural Expression (6 units)

Units selected under advisement from the following (1 course must be non-Western):

Course Title
HUM 710 Seminar in European Forms and Culture
HUM 711 Seminar in American Forms and Culture
HUM 712 Seminar in African Forms and Culture
HUM 713 Seminar in Asian Forms and Culture


Disciplines of the Humanities (6 units)

Units selected under advisement from the following:

Course Title
HUM 701 Fine Arts in the Humanities
HUM 702 Literature in the Humanities
HUM 703 History in the Humanities
HUM 704 Philosophy in the Humanities


Issues in the Humanities (3 - 6 units)

Units selected under advisement from the following:

Course Title
HUM 720 Humanistic Themes
HUM 722 New Models in Humanistic Studies
HUM 723 Contemporary Humanistic Scholarship


Electives (3 - 6 units)

Units selected on advisement with the graduate coordinator and adviser


Culminating Experience (3 units)

One of the following:

Course Title
HUM 896
Directed Study in Selected Humanistic Works
and Comprehensive Written and Oral Examinations
HUM 898
Master's Thesis
and Oral Defense

Minimum total: 30


Culminating Experience. The candidate must present a proposal for his/her culminating project in writing to a Humanities faculty member to initiate it. In the semester preceding a student’s enrollment in HUM 898, he or she must enroll in HUM 899, Independent Study, with the faculty member who will chair the thesis committee, in order to develop an appropriate thesis topic and bibliography. The chosen culminating experience (896 or 898) should be integral with the candidate's larger M.A. plan and with his/her longer career objective. It will be carried out in the final semester of work for the degree, with the aid of a graduate faculty member acting as chair and first reader; at least one other faculty member will serve with the first reader on the student's M.A. committee and will join as second reader in evaluation of the culminating experience. Both HUM 896 and HUM 898 require an oral defense of the thesis.


Second Language. Reading proficiency in a second language is required. Under exceptional circumstances a candidate may petition to substitute demonstrable proficiency in an auxiliary skill that has a clear relationship to his/her M.A. program.


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