Current Course Offerings

Fall 2014 Course Offerings

Humanities classes often fulfill Core Requirements.  Check out the attirbutes below to see how you can walk through your Core with us!

Epiphanies of Beauty 

HUM 1975-001; T/Th 2:30‐3:15 

Dr. James M. Wilson

In his 1999 “Letter to Artists,” Pope John Paul II, himself a poet and avant-garde playwright, called the modern world into a deeper engagement with literary art on its own terms.  This critical endeavor, he argued, would realize new moments of recognition—“epiphanies of beauty”—that would shed light on the human condition and mystery of creation.  John Paul II’s call to artistic encounter animates this Humanities sophomore writing and literature seminar, which explores major formal, aesthetic, social, and ethical questions involved in the interpretation of literature.  The course addresses these questions through primary texts from Western Europe and North America in the modern period.  We shall study such authors as James Joyce, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Flannery O’Connor, Oscar Wilde, and T.S. Eliot.  Attributes: SWS, WRINT.


HUM 2001-001; W 7:30-9:30 pm

Dr. Jesse Couenhoven

The Christian tradition has long held that “God is love.” In this course we seek to understand what Christian claims about God mean, what they imply, and whether they are well founded. As we inquire into the nature of divine life, we will also consider what talking about God reveals about the nature of human life

The course begins by considering modern critiques of religion that help us understand our own uses and abuses of religion. We then inquire whether it is responsible to love and believe in a Christian God. In doing so, we must consider the possibility that God reveals Himself precisely to help us know and love God. After investigating claims about revelation, we turn to theological questions that arise out of the experience of having a relationship with God. We conclude with a dramatic investigation of the major themes of the course.  Attribute: CTHL

Human Person 

HUM 2002-001; M/W 1:30-2:45 pm

Dr. Helena Tomko

“Many the wonders, but nothing walks stranger than man.”

-Sophocles, Antigone

It has been said that a crisis in humanism--an insufficient understanding of the human person--underlay the manifold political, social, and historical tragedies of the twentieth century and their ongoing repercussions.  In this course, we will attempt to engage the major questions confronting us in the twentieth-first century by examining fundamental aspects of the human experience, from birth through death, and considering how to pursue the good in the dramatic unfolding of human life.  We will consider together the manifold strange wonders that make us human, including food, family, friendship, education, work, and love. 


HUM 2004-001; M/W 3:00‐4:15 pm

Dr. Mary Hirschfeld

We live in a time when political, economic, and family life compete to occupy our horizon of concerns.  Our culture is often cynical about the possibility of finding meaning in these fundamental aspects of human society.  But is that right?  How well does the modern view of society as a contract amongst consenting individuals really work?  What insights can we glean from a more ancient understanding of society as a fulfillment of human nature?  Does society help or impede our quest to find truth or to become our best selves?  To truly understand the human person, it is essential to think hard about our relationship to society.  To do so we will take up  Hobbes, Locke, Becker, Dostoyevsky, Adam Smith, Aristotle, de Tocqueville, Austen, Augustine, Nietzsche, and More. Attributes: PSC, P&J

Dante & Theology

HUM 2900-001; T/Th 10:00-11:15 am 

Dr. Kevin Hughes 

Dante’s Divine Comedy is one of the centerpieces of Catholic culture and world literature.  This course will center on close textual reading of Dante’s Divine Comedy in translation.  Following the lead of the poem, we will explore its theology. Attention will be given to Dante’s literary technique, but always in the service of illuminating the fundamental theological questions that the poem itself explores and elicits, in conversation with the wider Christian tradition. Questions will include: grace and freedom, hell, divine justice, sin, purgation and purgatory, human eros and divine eros, incarnation and sacrament, death, resurrection of the body, heaven, and the beatific vision. Evaluation will be in the form of three shorter papers (3-5 pp) and a take-home final (10-12 pp).  Attribute: CTHL 

Vocation of the Child

HUM 2900-002; T/Th 1:00‐2:15 

Dr. Michael Tomko

“The child is the father of the man” wrote the Romantic poet William Wordsworth.  The claim is that childhood experience crafts our adult selves, an insight that helps to explain the intensity of our contemporary debates about reforming education or improving parenting.  But do we know what type of adults we want our children to raise?  Exploring assumptions about the human person that frame our current approach to children, we will consider developments that either reduce the child’s intellect to a marketable utility or neglect to envision any form of the good life.  We will also gain a clearer understanding of what goods we seek in children and in ourselves and how best to pursue those goods, drawing on the philosophical insights of Josef Pieper and Abraham Heschel, the theologically-informed teaching theories of Sofia Cavelleti and Maria Montessori, and the classic work of children’s literature, The Secret Garden.

Art of Verse

HUM 2900-003; T/Th 4:00-5:15 pm 

Dr. James M. Wilson

In this course, you will be introduced to the elements of prosody, and will try your hand at composing poems in different meters, stanzaic forms, and genres.  We shall read exemplary poems in different forms from the English language tradition, from Shakespeare to Tennyson, Frost and Auden to Helen Pinkerton and Dana Gioia; consider the theoretical, cultural, and historical implications of versification; and become familiar with the conventions of verse craft.  Such readings will help you to become comfortable with the art of composition in rhyme and meter, so that the focus of the course may fall more productively on the writing of original poems, and on learning to perform poems with vitality and skill.  Attribute: FINE

American Architecture Since 1865 

HUM 3600-001; T/Th 11:30 am‐12:45 pm 

Dr. Margaret M. Grubiak

This course is a survey of architecture and urban planning in the United States from the nineteenth century to the present.  Themes of crafting of a specifically American identity, the emergence of modern design via foreign influences, and the continuity of traditional architecture shape this overview.  We will pay particular attention to social and cultural interpretations of the American landscape.  Architects Frank Furness, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Frank Gehry are some of the major figures we will study this semester.  Attribute: FINE

Jews, Christians, Muslims

HUM 4000-001; T/Th 2:30-3:45 pm 

Dr. Anna Moreland

Intellectual discourse in our modern world occurs within a cultural context of radical pluralism.  This pluralism takes shape in many forms, be it political, racial or religious.  Some even characterize the contemporary situation as a clash of cultures.  In this course we will examine one face of this situation, that of religious pluralism.  We will analyze the emerging traditions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in broad strokes.  We will learn how each faith came upon the world stage, how each came to define its beliefs and practices, and how these were defined by conversation, confrontation and conflict with each other.  This introduction to the three Abrahamic traditions will enable us to engage in inter-religious conversation from some knowledge of each tradition’s origins, beliefs, and practices.  Attributes: CTHL, DIV3, P&J

Greats: The Brothers Karamozov

HUM 6000-100; T 7:30-9:30 pm 

Dr. Mark Shiffman

Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is, quite simply, one of the greatest novels of all time.  Against the background of the tension in 19th century Russia between the influences of European enlightenment liberalism and the traditional religion and morals of the Russian people, a story unfolds of love, jealousy, murder, and the difficult relationships among a father and his sons by different mothers.  The novel explores the connections between profound moral, social and theological questions, including the tensions between faith and reason, and probes deeply into the psychology of love, self-loathing, belief, skepticism, and freedom and responsibility.  We will spend the semester reading and discussing the novel and occasional supporting materials.  Students will keep a journal and write a short midterm essay and a long final essay.

Peacemakers and Peacemaking

PJ 2007-001; M/W 3:00-4:15 pm

Dr. Eugene McCarraher

"Give peace a chance." That plea has been answered all too infrequently in history. Not only have tribes, empires, and nation-states resorted to warfare to settle their differences, but war itself has acquired a spiritual glamour that appears to outshine the humdrum pursuits of peace. Many if not most of our monuments commemorate the perpetrators of conquest, "defense," and genocide; very few statues celebrate the makers of peace. Why is this so? What attraction does war have for human beings? Why is it so often seen as a crucible of character and manhood? Why is peace so difficult to make, or sustain? Is peace an absolute good, or are there times when, however awful we may find it, warfare is legitimate, even mandatory? What is "war," and what is "peace," anyway? Can war be relegated to the past, just as chattel slavery was, or are we condemned to incessant warfare, "just" or not? Attributes: HUM, HON, CTHL, WRINT 

Department of Humanities 

St. Augustine Center Room 304
Villanova University 
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085 
Phone: 610.519.6165
Fax: 610.519.5307

Dr. Kevin Hughes 
Marie Kelly