Gateway Courses in Arts & Humanities

Ancient Greek & Roman Studies

AGRS 10B: Introduction to Ancient Rome

Investigation of the main achievements and tensions in Roman culture from Romulus to the High Empire. Key sources for literature, history, and material culture are studied in order to reveal Roman civilization in its political and social context. All materials are read in English. Satisfies Arts & Literature, Historical Studies and Philosophy & Values Breadth. Course catalog link

AGRS 17B: Introduction to the Archaeology of the Roman World

This course provides a broad-based introduction to the archaeology of the ancient Romans from Rome’s origins in the Iron Age down to the disintegration of the Roman empire in the sixth century A.D. It aims to familiarize students with the more significant archaeological sites, monuments, artifact classes and works of art relating to the Roman world, and to introduce them to the important research questions in Roman archaeology and the methods that archaeologists employ to investigate these. Satisfies Arts & Literature or Historical Studies L&S Breadth. Course catalog link

AGRS 29: Introduction to Greco-Roman Magic

This course will focus on ideas about magic in the Greek and Roman worlds from about 750 BCE through 400 CE. Topics will include witches, holy men, love spells, necromancy, spirits, and mystery religions. We will examine how magic was represented in high literature (by authors like Homer, Ovid, Apuleius, and Lucian). as well as the more practical evidence of curse tablets and the Greek Magical Papyri. Consideration will be given to analyzing the relationship between magic, religion, and philosophy. Our goal will be to study the common threads that connect different Greek and Roman magical practices, as well as to understand them in their cultural contexts. Satisfies Historical Studies or Philosophy & Values Breadth. Course catalog link

Art Practice

Art 8: Introduction to Visual Thinking

*Seats are reserved for declared and intended Art Practice majors

A first course in the language, processes, and media of visual art. Course work will be organized around weekly lectures and studio problems that will introduce students to the nature of art making and visual thinking. This course is a prerequisite for applying to the Art Practice major. Satisfies Arts & Literatures Breadth. Course catalog link

Celtic Studies

CELTIC 168: Celtic Mythology and Oral Tradition

The course will introduce students to the pre-Christian beliefs of the Celtic and Indo-European worlds, to the historical narratives in which such beliefs are embedded, and to the methodology of investigating ancient and medieval belief systems. Satisfies Arts & Literature or Philosophy & Values Breadth. Course catalog link

Comparative Literature

COMLIT 60AC: Topics in the Literature of American Cultures - Buroughs and Barrios: Moving in and through New York and Los Angeles

Physically, New York and Los Angeles spread across the map and encompass multiple neighborhoods and communities, seemingly facilitating our ability to explore, access, and find new connections within the concrete jungle of the metropolis. Socially and economically, both cities have been figured as distinctly “American” dreamscapes—places of refuge and freedom, success, and self-invention—that hinge on the promise that the American city works like an open circuit, enabling unrestricted movement and mobility to and for everyone who visits or decides to make it home. But who comes to the American city and why? How do visitors, residents, and (im)migrants negotiate and move through “The Big Apple” and “The City of Angels,” reimagining urban life in the process? With these questions in mind, we'll spend the semester tracing the crises of (im)mobility that mark the histories of New York City and Los Angeles, as well as exploring the possibilities for place-making forged by marginalized communities in these two U.S. urban centers. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth and American Cultures requirement. Course catalog link

East Asian Languages and Cultures

EALANG C120: Buddhism on the Silk Road

This course will discuss the social, economic, and cultural aspects of Buddhism as it moved along the ancient Eurasian trading network referred to as the “Silk Road”. Instead of relying solely on textual sources, the course will focus on material culture as it offers evidence concerning the spread of Buddhism. Through an examination of the Buddhist archaeological remains of the Silk Road, the course will address specific topics, such as the symbiotic relationship between Buddhism and commerce; doctrinal divergence; ideological shifts in the iconography of the Buddha; patronage (royal, religious and lay); Buddhism and political power; and art and conversion. All readings will be in English. Satisfies Arts & Literature or Historical Studies L&S Breadth. Course catalog link

CHINESE 7B: Introduction to Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

The second of a two-semester sequence introducing students to Chinese literature in translation. In addition to literary sources, a wide range of philosophical and historical texts will be covered, as well as aspects of visual and material culture. 7B focuses on late imperial, modern, and contemporary China. The course will focus on the development of sound writing skills. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link

JAPANESE 7B: Introduction to Modern Japanese Literature and Culture

An introduction to Japanese literature in translation in a two-semester sequence. 7B provides a survey of important works of 19th- and 20th-century Japanese fiction, poetry, and cultural criticism. The course will explore the manner in which writers responded to the challenges of industrialization, internationalization, and war. Topics include the shifting notions of tradition and modernity, the impact of Westernization on the constructions of the self and gender, writers and the wartime state, literature of the atomic bomb, and postmodern fantasies and aesthetics. All readings are in English translation. Techniques of critical reading and writing will be introduced as an integral part of the course. Course catalog link

Korean 7B: Introduction to Modern Korean Literature and Culture

A survey of modern Korean literature and culture in the 20th century, focusing on the development of nationalist aesthetics in both North and South Korea. Topics include "new woman" narratives, urban culture, colonial modernity, war and trauma, and diaspora. Texts to be examined include works of fiction, poetry, art, and film. All readings are in English. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link


ENGLISH 45A: Literature in English: Through Milton

Historical survey of literature in English: Beginnings through Milton. Satisfies Arts & Literature, L&S Breadth. Course catalog link

ENGLISH 45B: Literature in English: The Late-17th through the Mid-19th Century

In a world of expanding global commerce (imports like tea suddenly becoming commonplace in England), political revolution (English, American, French), and changing conceptions of what it means to be a man or woman (a new medical discourse viewing them as categorically distinct), increasingly available printed texts become sites of contestation—including debates about what constitutes "proper" language and Literature itself. Satisfies Arts & Literature, L&S Breadth. Course catalog link

ENGLISH 45C: Literature in English: The Mid-19th through the Mid-20th Century

This course will examine different examples of British, Irish, American, and global Anglophone literature from the middle of the 19th century through the middle of the 20th. Moving across a number of genres and movements, we will focus on the ways novelists, poets, and dramatists have used literary form to represent, question, and even produce different aspects of modernity (broadly construed). Satisfies Arts & Literature, L&S Breadth. Course catalog link

Film and Media

FILM 20: Film and Media Theory

This course is intended to introduce undergraduates to the study of a range of media, including photography, film, television, video, and print and digital media. The course will focus on questions of medium "specificity" or the key technological/material, formal and aesthetic features of different media and modes of address and representation that define them. Satisfies Arts & Literature L&S Breadth. Course catalog link


FRENCH 140D: History of French Cinema: Politics and Aesthetics

Taught in English. Cinema is often said to begin in the Grand Café in Paris in 1895, with the Lumière brothers’ projection of Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory. Since then, French-language cinema has played a key role in defining the artistic possibilities of the medium. In this course, we will watch and analyze a range of films, both well-known and less known, from within France and the larger French-speaking world, spanning narrative, experimental, and documentary forms, as well as films that challenge these distinctions. Each screening will be accompanied by critical and theoretical readings that explore the relation between film form, the production of meaning, the circulation of cultural fantasy, and the politics of representation. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link.


GERMAN 160C: Politics and Culture in 20th-Century Germany

This course offers an introduction to the history and culture of divided Germany in the era of the Cold War. It will look at the different ways the two states dealt with the country's pre-1945 history, the relations to the Allied Powers, and the major cultural shifts which eventually created a watershed in the history of German mentalities. We will look at various kinds of sources, including literature and film. Major national debates will be touched upon, such as breaks and continuities within the national elites, re-armament and pacifism, the student movement, opposition and conformity under Socialism, and the rise of environmentalism. We will also discuss the problems and opportunities of re-unification. Satisfies Historical Studies or Social & Behavioral Sciences Breadth. Course catalog link

History of Art

HISTART C11: Introduction to Western Art: Renaissance to the Present

An introduction to the historical circumstances and visual character of Western art from the Renaissance to the present. Not a chronological survey, but an exploration of topics and themes central to this period. For example: What tasks did painting and sculpture perform in the past? For whom, at whose expense? How do the rise of landscape painting, the cult of the artist, and the new emphasis on the nude relate to the emergence of modern society? Do stylistic labels like Classicism, Realism, Impressionism, and Modernism help us answer such questions? This course is recommended for potential majors and for students in other disciplines, both humanities and sciences. Satisfies Arts & Literature or Historical Studies Breadth. Course catalog link

HISTART 27: Visual Cultures of Africa

Rather than follow a master chronology that would attempt to contain Africa’s multiple cultural formations in a single narrative, this course will introduce students to African art through an investigation of a range of aesthetic traditions and movements across sub-Saharan Africa that are meaningfully reinvigorated in contemporary artistic production and popular visual culture. Our continual return to the cultural politics of the present will provide an anchor and roadmap for our inquiry; we will see contemporary visual culture as staging interventions that push at Western ideas of “primitive African tradition,” while bringing to the fore conventions that, when tracked, reveal alternative traditions legible within an art historical context. Satisfies Arts & Literature or International Studies Breadth. Course catalog link

Italian Studies

ITALIAN 30: Dante (in English)

This course will survey the full range of Dante’s Divine Comedy, from the depths of hell to the heights of paradise. We will consider Dante’s 14th-century poem in its historical and cultural context, delving into the political, social, and philosophical aspects of his afterlife vision. We will also explore what it is to read a 700 year old text in the stormy present, probing how Dante responds to and remains rooted in his moment and sometimes reaches out beyond to speak to our own. Satisfies Arts & Literature or Philosophy & Values Breadth. Course catalog link

Jewish Studies

JEWISH 100: Introduction to Jewish Religion, Culture, and People

The course is intended to give Jewish studies minors a general introduction to the field through a survey of religious and cultural expressions of Jews across time and geographies. No previous knowledge of Judaism or Jewish Studies is necessary. Satisfies Historical Studies or Philosophy & Values Breadth. Course catalog link

Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

MELC 11: Middle Eastern Worlds: The Modern Middle East

This course provides a multidisciplinary introduction to the Middle East, an area that has long dominated the news but remains relatively unknown to most Americans. In a broad sense, the Middle East refers to “Arab” countries in general as well as Israel, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and the region of Kurdistan. The course aims to help students expand their knowledge and understanding of the social, economic, and cultural complexities that underlie current events and politics in the Middle East. We will examine the interplay of cultures, societies, and economies of various regional communities that remain central to the dynamics of Middle Eastern identities. Satisfies Historical Studies or International Studies Breadth. Course catalog link

MELC 18: Introduction to Ancient Egypt

A general introduction to ancient Egypt, providing overview coverage of ancient Egyptian culture and society (history, art, religion, literature, language, social structure), Egyptian archaeology (pyramids, tombs, mummies, temples, cities, monuments, daily life), and the history and development of the modern discipline of Egyptology. Assumes no prior knowledge of subject. Almost all lectures are illustrated extensively by ​power point presentation. Discussion sections ​include meetings in the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which has the best collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts west of Chicago. Satisfies Arts & Humanities Breadth or Historical Studies Breadth or Social and Behavioral Sciences Breadth. Course catalog link


MUSIC 25: Introduction to Music Theory, Analysis, and Notation

A writing course based on traditional harmony. Beginning linear and vertical analysis. For general students. Emphasis on written exercises. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link

MUSIC 27: Introduction to Western Music

Devoted to the development of listening skills, and a survey of major forms and types of Western art music. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link

MUSIC 29: Music Now

This course explores the basic materials and models that set the boundaries for various present-day musical experiences. Students are exposed to terminology and modes of engagement with the aim of inspiring new paradigms of listening (e.g., listening to silence, noise, space, and timbre). Composers and musicians of today continue to explore new ways of defining and organizing sounds into music. The course focuses on the most adventurous music of our time, but the concepts learned can be applied to any style of music. The course is designed to enrich and deepen the students' musical abilities through direct involvement with musical materials. Direct engagement through listening and participatory learning is accomplished in part with software created at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies. The course does not require students to be able to read music nor to own a personal computer. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link


PHILOS 2: Individual Morality and Social Justice

Introduction to ethical and political philosophy. Satisfies Philosophy & Values or Social & Behavioral Sciences Breadth. Course catalog link

PHILOS 4: Knowledge and Its Limits

Introduction to the theory of knowledge. Satisfies Philosophy & Values Breadth. Course catalog link


RHETOR 20: Rhetorical Interpretation

"Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar," the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said. This semester we will explore the "justness" of Freud's and similar claims. We will consider how meanings are not given, but rather collaboratively constructed and subject to change through processes of interpretation, which this course introduces as a rhetorical activity—one that is based in communication and is mediated by all of the available structures and forms of knowledge and power, direct and indirect. Using the literary theorist Stanley Fish's concept of an "interpretive community" as our starting point, we will develop our understanding of interpretation as a communicative act, and explore its cultural, social, physical, and cognitive dimensions. Satisfies Arts & Literature or Philosophy & Values Breadth. Course catalog link


SCANDIN 60: Heroic Legends of the North

Exploration of the heroic narratives of the Northern Middle Ages with a focus on both the hero and the heroic ethos in a period of radical cultural, social and religious change and on a particular body of literature, the Scandinavian versions of Germanic heroic narrative. Required of majors. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link

Slavic Languages and Literatures

SLAVIC 46: Twentieth-Century Russian Literature

Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet literature from the 1900 to the present viewed in a socio-cultural and political context. The class is taught in English, on the basis of English translations; students with knowledge of Russian are encouraged to do at least some of the reading in the original. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth. Course catalog link

SLAVIC 49AC: Children's Literature in the Context of American Cultures

Books written for children emerge from specific and complicated social and historical contexts, as do the children (and adults) who read these books. In recent years, the world of children's books has been rocked by productive debates about the kinds of stories told and the identities of the voices telling those stories. In this class, we will read a wide assortment of books written (both long ago and very recently) for children, with particular attention paid to books addressing the experiences of Native, Latinx and African American children in the United States. We will also read scholarly, critical, and theoretical articles as we engage with our texts. Assessment will be based on class participation, written papers, and exams. Satisfies American Cultures requirement. Course catalog link

SLAVIC 50: Introduction to Russian/East European/Eurasian Cultures

This course introduces students to the cultures of the peoples of the former Soviet bloc (Russia and other areas of the former Soviet Union, including Central Asia and the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe), from early times to the present, with the emphasis on cultural identity. Readings in history, fiction, folklore, viewing of films, and art. Thematic units include formation of the Russian civilization, Slavic nationalism in the Romantic era, empire and identity in Eastern/Central Europe; Soviet and post-Soviet daily life, Jews in Slavic lands, the former Yugoslavia; multi ethnic lands. Required of majors in Russian/East European/Eurasian cultures, the course is also aimed at a broad audience. Knowledge of the areas' languages not required. Satisfies Arts & Literature or International Studies or Social & Behavioral Sciences Breadth. Course catalog link

South and Southeast Asian Studies

SASIAN 125: Screening India: Bollywood Cinema

This course provides an overview of one of the world's largest and most beloved film industries, the popular Hindi cinema produced in Bombay (Mumbai) and consumed around the world under the label "Bollywood." The films and readings range from the post- Independence era to the present, with introduction to key films, directors, stars, genres, formal techniques, and themes. Our readings and viewings allow us to question and discuss the ways these films reflect and influence the cultures and society from which they emerge. We shall reflect on our own practices of spectatorship and how we consume and label non-western cultures and culture industries. Together we'll develop a critical vocabulary to help us analyze and critique Hindi cinema. Satisfies Arts & Literature or International Studies L&S Breadth. Course catalog link

SEASIAN 29: Mainland Southeast Asian Literature

Readings and lectures focus on Thailand, Vietnam and Burma; Cambodian and Laotian materials as available. After brief attention to the influence of oral tradition, classical poetry, and dance drama, emphasis will be on modern novels, short stories, film, and television in their cultural/historical context. Satisfies Arts & Literature L&S Breadth. Course catalog link

Spanish and Portuguese

SPANISH 25: Reading and Analysis of Literary Texts

This is the bridge course between lower and upper division coursework in Spanish. In addition to exposing you to the principles and techniques of literary analysis, this course will continue to develop your speaking, aural comprehension, writing, and reading comprehension skills. Course catalog link

Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

THEATER 25AC: The Drama of American Cultures

This course provides an introduction to theater through the study of values and issues fundamental to cultural identity, the comparison of selected cultural groups and their relationship to American society as a whole, and the study of drama as an instrument for understanding and expressing cultural identity. Theater of specific cultural groups to be included will be determined by the availability of live theater productions offered on campus and in the Bay Area. Satisfies Arts & Literature Breadth and American Cultures requirement. Course catalog link

THEATER 40: Beginning Modern Dance Techniques

Introduction to dance techniques. Study of foundational concepts of movement such as: principles of alignment, locomotion, dance terminology, and musicality. Course catalog link.

Divisional Courses

Divisional Humanities (HUM) courses encourage you to reach across disciplines and collaborate with professors and students from a variety of arts and humanities departments.