Master of Arts Degree in Humanities

Department Affiliations: English, Cultural Studies, History, Political Science

The Master of Arts in Humanities is an interdisciplinary degree, which includes courses from three separate disciplines-- English, Cultural Studies, and History. Students may spread their courses among all three or choose a concentration in one area. Regardless of the choice the student makes, he or she will take three interdisciplinary core courses that dealing with the integration of ideas that go beyond the boundaries of a single discipline. Emphasis is placed on oral and written communication skills, on critical and analytical thinking, and on creative, interdisciplinary problem solving.

Students will have the opportunity to nurture the habit of life-long learning through the study of works by the great thinkers and imaginative artists of the past and present who have reflected on God and the universe, on nature and time, and on what it means to be human. They will learn how the study of the Humanities can enhance their professional lives as well as the personal and spiritual.

The Master of Arts in Humanities is a 31-unit program culminating with an original work which may take the form of a master's thesis or a creative project with an accompanying essay..

Admission Requirements

  • Completion of a Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education
  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • Entrance interview with an advisor

Core Courses (9 units): At the heart of the program is a series of three required courses, one in each of these areas: English, Cultural Studies, and History. Each of these interdisciplinary seminars features a research and writing component designed to help prepare students for their final thesis or project. Students may take these courses in any order as long as they complete one seminar in each of the three areas. Any of these courses may be repeated as the topic varies.

Students are also required to take HUM 298 Introduction to Humanities, a one-unit academic writing and research workshop in either their first or second semester in the program. This workshop meets on one "off" weekend.

Elective Courses (18 units): The remaining six courses may be chosen from interdisciplinary classes designed to offer students the opportunity to explore the interrelatedness of various disciplines of study.

Concentrations: With the guidance of a faculty advisor, a student may elect to earn a concentration by completing a total of four courses (12 units) in one of the core disciplines —English, history, or cultural studies. Another option would be a concentration in creative writing. To qualify for an emphasis in creative writing, students must complete four or more creative writing courses with a grade of B+ or better from the following classes: writing fiction, writing poetry, foundations of writing for screen and television, writing feature film, playwriting, and writing memoir. Students then submit a proposal and a writing sample along with a brief essay describing the final project. The creative writing committee will review the proposal and determine whether the student will be approved. If the student is approved, s/he will work with an advisor who is selected by the committee, and the sample work will become part of the final project. If the proposal is not approved, the student may continue to take creative writing classes but will write a traditional thesis and will not have an emphasis in creative writing.

Culmination Course (3 units): To complete the Masters degree, each student submits an original, graduate-level project or thesis. This work is done under the supervision of a faculty advisor. If a student chooses to do a project in place of a traditional thesis, a written component is required that places the project in a context that reflects the student's cumulative experience in the program. Application forms and guidelines are available from the Program Director.

Students are encouraged (but not required) to consider a project or thesis that draws upon the resources of the community surrounding the Doheny campus. Faculty as well are encouraged to draw upon this racially and culturally diverse neighborhood in designing the content and methodology of their courses.

Humanities Core Courses: Cultural Studies

Any of these may be repeated as the topic varies.

HUM 270CS People of Two Worlds (3)

Explores various perspectives on men and women who have left their homelands to live temporarily or permanently in new cultures.

HUM 271CS Landscapes and Timelines: The Development of Social Units Around the Globe (3)

Studies the chronological development of social units around the world from the beginning of time to the present with emphasis on the community and the individual.

HUM 272CS Sex and Gender (3)

Using the perspective of gender as a social construct, these courses explore how the roles of men and women differ with different societies, looking at rites of passage, attitudes and values around marriage, age-based and socio-economic perceptions of "other," as well as variance in attitudes toward sexual behavior.

HUM 273CS The Faces of Spirituality (3)

These courses look at how various cultural groups conceptualize spirituality and worship, and how such ideas determine people's perception of, and relationship to the cosmos.

HUM 274CS Theory and Practice of Culture (3)

Examines a range of theoretical approaches to the study of culture and cultural practice. The course focuses on different aspects of cultural life, including symbols, language, ritual, religion, gender, politics, globalization, race, ethnicity, and memory. Theoretical and methodological approaches to interpreting and portraying culture will be explored, using the cross-disciplinary genres of ethnography, cultural studies, fiction, and film.

HUM 275CS Culture through Film (3)

Films as visual literature afford direct access to the hidden world of culture. This course analyzes through film a selected number of cultures from different parts of the world. Using a comparative approach to understand these films as texts, we parallel the traditional study of literature, but with the specific intent of studying culture.

HUM 276CS Aesthetics and Taste (3)

The objective of this course is to understand the many different criteria for, and conceptions of, what is perceived to be "beautiful" and "good" across global cultures. A wide selection of topics will be explored, such as fashion and taste; inner and outer beauty; and creative representations of beauty in music, dance, architecture, and art.

HUM 277CS Culture of Time and Space (3)

These two universal and all-encompassing dimensions are conceived of and understood with considerable variation in different societies. The issue of time as duration, of monochronic and polychronic time will be explored, as well as the field of proxemics which is the study of how people conceive and use space—social, visual, auditory, and architectural space among others.

HUM 278CS The Silk Road: A Cultural Mosaic (3)

This course will study the historic Silk Road, its historical evolution and the cultural geographical aspects of cultural regions along the road, cultural diffusion especially of art and religious ideas, cultural integration, human landscapes, and human ecology.

HUM 279CS Biography, Autobiography and Anthology (3)

Personal accounts of men and women who have had a global impact across cultures and time. Topic will be determined by the instructor.

HUM 280CS Contemporary Russian Women’s Writing: Text and Context (3)

Traces the ways in which Russian society's concept of womanhood has changed and remained the same; explores the varied and dynamic literary production by Russian women authors from various literary periods. Focus determined by instructor.

HUM 281CS Myths Across Cultures (3)

Studies significant patterns of world myths and theories of mythology as both a reflection of culture and of universal human themes.

HUM 282CS The Early Modern Experience (3)

This course will focus on the era that gave rise to Humanism, printing, the Renaissance, and the European encounter with the Americas. Particular emphasis on the interaction of cultures, languages, and religions.

HUM 283CS Healing Body and Soul (3)

The concern for healing is shared equally by all cultures. It has a metaphysical dimension among certain people and less so in others. This course will focus on the philosophies that underlie the process of healing and their manifestations in certain cultures.

HUM 284 CS Cultural Studies Through Travel (3)

These thematic courses explores special topics in cultural studies in an on-site setting. Courses include traditional lecture and class discussion as well as field experiences related to the subject under study. For TS courses offered by departments other than Humanities, students will register for HUM 295 and submit the proper IS form with stipulates that students will plan a series of readings, papers, journals, etc. focused on a specific topic or area of interest and will enlist an instructor to oversee the project. Together, student and instructor will establish a timeline, goals, and requirements for completion. These must comply with the MSMC requirements stated on the form.

HUM 289CS Special Topics in Cultural Studies: (1-3)

Explores areas of special interest in cultural studies. May be repeated as topics vary.

Humanities: English Courses

HUM 203E Literature through Travel Study (1-3)

These thematic courses explores special topics in literature in an on-site setting. Courses include traditional lecture and class discussion as well as field experiences related to the subject under study. For TS courses offered by departments other than Humanities, students will register for HUM 295 and submit the proper IS form which stipulates that students will plan a series of readings, papers, journals, etc. focused on a specific topic or area of interest and will enlist an instructor to oversee the project. Together, student and instructor will establish a timeline, goals, and requirements for completion. These must comply with the MSMC requirements stated on the form.

HUM 205E Shakespeare and His World (3)

Examines Shakespeare's drama in the social, political, and historical context of the Renaissance period.

HUM 212E Epic, Community, and Identity (3)

A culture studies-focused literature course that looks at the Homeric texts, Virgil, Beowulf, and Arthuriana, and their cultural progeny. Examines what these texts (including their retellings, especially through film) say about cultural and individual self-concepts and how those self-concepts connect to empire. Instructor will determine focus.

HUM 234E Science & the Victorians (3)

Looks at how literature of the Victorian Period responded to contemporary scientific theories, how it borrowed from and gave emotional substance to scientific concepts, and how Victorian scientists conveyed their theories in the language, metaphors, and analogies usually reserved for literature. In exploring the works of writers like Tennyson, Dickens, and Hardy, and scientists like Darwin, Koch, Pasteur, Doyle, and others, students will consider how these two seemingly antithetical disciplines are actually closely interrelated cultural practices that reflect the social, political, and economic hopes and fears of the period.

HUM 235E Los Angeles Literature (4)

This course explores the way myths have ruled L.A. and its literature, including the numerous ways—for instance noir, realism, multiculturalism, postmodernism—that L.A. authors have responded to and deconstructed the so-called "sunshine mythology" of the city's "disneyfied " boosters.

HUM 236E Southern Exposure: The Fiction of William Faulkner (3)

Investigates Faulkner's exposure of the "Southern facade" by focusing on the social and psychological themes of his fiction, including issues of gender, race, and class. Also examines the "fiction" of the author's own life. Includes selected short stories and novels by Faulkner along with biographical works.

HUM 237E The American Dream and its Literary Legacy (3)

Much of American literature results from an attempt to deal with the problematic intersection between the promise of the American dream and the reality of America's historical legacy, which includes a good deal of individual failure as well as racism, discrimination, and the destruction of Native American cultures. Some recent American writers have tried to redefine the American dream in order to reaffirm its validity while others pursue alternative visions. This course examines 19th and 20th Century American literature with an eye towards this problematic dream.

HUM 239E The Romantic Heritage (3)

Romanticism as a literary movement was born in the spirit of revolution and shaped by the turbulent events of change—end of oppressive aristocracy, emergence of modern individualism, erosion of imperialism, etc. It found expression in England in the poetry of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly, Byron, and others. The major proponents in America were Whitman and the "Transcendentalists"—Emerson and Thoreau, etc. But the spirit of Romanticism continued through the Victorian period and into "modernist" poets like Cummings and Eliot. Students will trace Romanticism from its beginnings through the 20th Century.

HUM 240E “Story Painters and Picture Writers”: Poetry and the Visual Arts (3)

Artists such as William Blake, Dante G. Rosetti, E. E. Cummings, and William Faulkner (yes, Faulkner) worked in more than one medium—written text and visual art. In some instances, poets were inspired by objects of art; in other cases, poems become the subject of visual art. This interdisciplinary course uses a variety perspectives and critical approaches to explore the relationships between these media.

HUM 241E Sports in Literature (3)

This course examines sport as subject, symbol, and motif in a variety of texts, including journalism, fiction, and autobiography. By looking at the intersection of text and sport, students examine what sports mean to our society and what they reveal about our culture.

HUM 242E The Gothic Tradition (3)

The Gothic novel came into its own in the mid-eighteenth century but had its heyday in the nineteenth century. This course offers a variety of approaches to the topic, ranging from vampire literature to female Gothic, to race, gender and imperialism in Victorian Gothic and/or American Gothic, depending on the instructor.

HUM 243E Voices From the Margins: A Search for Identity (3)

Students have the opportunity to explore what gives voice to marginalized groups in such works as Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior, Leslie Marmon Silko's stories and novels, and plays by David Henry Hwang and August Wilson. Readings will be determined by instructor.

HUM 244E World Literature (3)

Interdisciplinary study of works in world literature representing a variety of periods, themes, and genres. Topics may include: "The Changing Face of Evil"; "The International Folk Tale"; "Love in World Literature"; "Exploring World Theatre," etc. Topic determined by the instructor.

HUM 245E Single Author Seminar (3)

HUM 249E Special Topics in Literature: (3)

May be repeated as topics vary.

Humanities: History Courses

HUM 250H Political Theory (3)

This course examines political theory as an organizing principle of governance and its influence on social, political, and economic structures in society. The instructor may focus on any one, or several, major political theories and theorists.

HUM 251H The Survival of Democracy in America: Alexis De Tocqueville and His Critics (3)

This course examines the fragile nature of democracy, and the political and social institutions that can serve to strengthen it through an examination of Tocqueville's classic work, Democracy in America. Students will consider Tocqueville's critics, the relevance of Tocqueville's analysis under current political conditions, and assess his predictions for the survival of democracy in America.

HUM 252H Great Historical Figures (3)

Looks at the achievements and contributions (or crimes) of great men and women from all historical periods and how they made a lasting impact on the world. Specific subject and era to be chosen by the instructor.

HUM 253H Critical Eras in US History (3)

This course will examine historical, social, economic, and cultural issues during a specific era in US history chosen by the instructor.

HUM 254H Critical Eras in Asian History (3)

This course will examine historical, social, economic, and cultural issues during a specific era in Asian history chosen by the instructor.

HUM 255H Critical Eras in African History (3)

This course will examine historical, social, economic, and cultural issues during a specific era in African history chosen by the instructor.

HUM 256H Critical Eras in Latin American/Caribbean History (3)

This course will examine historical, social, economic, and cultural issues during a specific era in Latin American or Caribbean history chosen by the instructor.

HUM 257H Critical Eras in European History (3)

This course will examine historical, social, economic, and cultural issues during a specific era in European history chosen by the instructor.

HUM 258H Critical Eras in Middle Eastern History (3)

This course will examine historical, social, economic, and cultural issues during a specific era in Middle Eastern history chosen by the instructor.

HUM 259H Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Genocide in the Modern Age (3)

This course will examine issues of racism, anti-semitism, and genocide during a specific era in history chosen by the instructor.

HUM 260H Roots of the Holocaust in Western Culture: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Shoah (3)

This course will study the origins of anti-semitism in Western culture, from its roots in the first century of the common era through the Middle Ages. The course will further examine the connection between the roots of anti-semitism and the Nazi Holocaust of the twentieth century.

HUM 261H African American History: Seeking Liberation (3)

A series of thematic courses that explore the African American experience from slavery through contemporary times, studying such issues as legal, social, and political struggles for equality, civil rights, Black nationalism, and Black political movements.

HUM 262H African American History: Culture and Image (3)

A series of thematic courses that explores the Black image in American culture through time, including Black imagery in literature, film, advertising, music, and myth. The course will also explore what role the popular image had on the status of Blacks in American society.

HUM 263H African American History: Building Community (3)

A series of thematic courses that explore the African American experience of community building in the United States in all its manifestations, including religious, social, professional, and utopian communities.

HUM 264H Culture and History (3)

A series of thematic courses that explores history from the perspective of popular culture, including literature, art, film, television, and other cultural expressions of the time period studied.

HUM 265H Gender and History (3)

A series of thematic courses that explores history from the perspective of gender, including all expressions of feminine and masculine societal relations. The course may also explore issues of sexuality and sexual identity.

HUM 266H Religion and History (3)

A series of thematic courses that explores religion as an organizing principle or driving force in history.

HUM 267H Commerce and History (3)

A series of thematic courses that explores history through the perspective of business, technology, economics, and wealth.

HUM 268H History through Travel/Study (3)

These thematic courses explore special topics in history in an on-site setting. Courses include traditional lecture and class discussion as well as field experiences related to the subject under study. For TS courses offered by departments other than Humanities, students will register for HUM 295 and submit the proper IS form with stipulates that students will plan a series of readings, papers, journals, etc. focused on a specific topic or area of interest and will enlist an instructor to oversee the project. Together, student and instructor will establish a timeline, goals, and requirements for completion. These must comply with the MSMC requirements stated on the form.

HUM 269H Special Topics in History (1-3)

Individually designed courses that explore historical questions or topics related to the instructor's special expertise.

Humanities Electives

HUM 201 The Humanities Through Art (3)

Offers interdisciplinary topics in the study of visual art. Subject, era, and focus to be determined by the instructor.

HUM 202 The Humanities through Philosophy (3)

Courses examine interdisciplinary topics in the study of philosophy. Subject, era, and focus to be determined by the instructor.

HUM 207 Contemporary Political Philosophy (3)

Does the political subject still exist, or are we merely the demographically determined targets of political campaigns? Do we still need the "state"? Or is this 19th Century concept no longer valid in an era when global capital, trans-national corporations, NGOs and other "non-state actors" (e.g., "terrorists") all wield power? Does this complex concept articulate the relations between political subjects and the political community? We will investigate these questions in works by Derrida, Foucault, Zizek, and others.

HUM 211 Explorations of Non-Western Ideas (3)

Interdisciplinary exploration of non-Western ideas—expressions and perspectives of India, China, Japan, Africa, and Southeast Asia—focusing on the broad themes of individual, society, creativity, and cosmos.

HUM 222 Charles Darwin: His Life and His Legacy (3)

Biology, sociology, psychology, even theology, literature, and the arts have all been shaped by the Darwinian paradigm. Politicians struggle with the impact of his theories, which continue to drive the most fundamental questions: "Who are we, and where did we come from?" This course looks at the historical Darwin and the contemporary understanding of Darwinism on post-modern life.

HUM 224 20th Century World Views (3)

Surveys contemporary worldviews, including some that profoundly shaped the world in the 20th Century, and now define the 21st Century. Includes such modes of thought as idealism, phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, Marxism, critical theory, psychoanalysis, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, postmodernism, and feminism. Thematically, our interdisciplinary concern will be with such issues as the rise of Humanism and the reaction against it, the flirtation with Marxism, the rise of the women's movement, the loss of colonial empires, etc

HUM 225 Special Topics in Humanities (1-3)

May be repeated as topic varies.

HUM 295 Directed Individual Study (1-3)

May be repeated for credit. Must comply with the MSMC requirements stated on the DS form.

HUM 296A Capstone Project Proposal Workshop (1)

Workshop prepares students for their final project. Required.

HUM 296B Capstone Project (2)

Students may elect to do a Masters thesis or a creative project under the direction of a faculty advisor. Before registering for the project, students must complete HUM 296A and must have their proposals approved by their advisors, the Humanities Committee, and the Director of the Program. Forms and guidelines are available from the Program Director. Required.

HUM 297ABC Capstone Project Continuation (1,1,1)

HUM 298 Introduction to the Humanities (1)

This 1-unit workshop, taken in the student's first or second semester, explores the concept and interdisciplinary nature of the Humanities and provides an introduction/review of research methods and academic writing. Required.

Humanities: Creative Writing

Note: Creative Writing Courses may not be used for English credit

HUM 229CW Creative Writing: Children’s Literature (3)

This class studies and produces literature for children, ranging from writing texts for picture books to drafting short stories and longer fiction for young adult readers. Focus will be determined by the instructor. May be repeated as topic varies.

HUM 230CW Creative Writing: Fiction (3)

Through both reading and writing, this class delves into considerations of elements of "style," and "voice," exploring character development, plot, dialogue, time, place, stream of consciousness, and suspension of disbelief. Type of writing ranges from short pieces of fiction to chapters for novels. Method of instruction also varies with the instructor and may include "workshop" in which each student's writing is read by the rest of the class for constructive criticism.

HUM 231CW Creative Writing: Poetry (3)

In this workshop students will write their own poems with guidance, prompts and forms given by the instructor. They will share their work with classmates for constructive criticism. Expect wondrous things to happen!

HUM 232CW Creative Writing: Writing for Screen and Television (3)

An introduction to the craft of script writing for an original motion-picture screenplay or teleplay, with emphasis on story structure, character, and the language of film. Students study produced screenplays and pilots; write exercises in character development, scene construction, dialogue, and description. Expected to complete first act of an original screenplay or a treatment and two acts of an original television pilot.

HUM 238CW Creative Writing: Feature Film (3)

An introduction to the craft of script writing for an original motion-picture screenplay or teleplay, with emphasis on story structure, character, and the language of film. Students study produced screenplays and pilots; write exercises I character development, scene construction, dialogue, and description. Expected to complete first act of an original screenplay or a treatment and two acts of an original television pilot. Prerequisite: HUM 232CW or permission of the instructor

HUM 233CW Creative Writing: Non-Fiction Writing (3)

A form of non-fiction, essay writing, was considered high art in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, it's nearly a lost art. Students are re-introduced to the essay and other non-fiction for that include memoirs, journals, and letters.

HUM 246CW Playwriting (3)

An introduction to the craft of writing for the stage, based on the elements of the traditional stage. Students will draw upon classical forms to create plays that are suitable for the modern theatre of today.

HUM 247CW Advanced Playwriting (3)

Students are expected to have some knowledge of the history and elements of classical and traditional drama. They will draw upon those forms to create plays that are marketable in today's more open and flexible theatre.

Prerequisite: HUM246CW or permission of the instructor.

HUM 248CW Special Topics in Creative Writing (3)

May be repeated as topic varies.