Since Winter 2020, Humanities at Hertog has been devoted to a rigorous and exemplary educational experience that transcends the deficiencies of online learning. Our virtual seminars demonstrate that reading great books with others is compelling on its own terms and needs no promise of credentials, no threat of grades, no gimmicks, and no pandering.

You can expect small classes of 10-15 peers who share your love of ideas, guided by a passionate teacher. The courses offered through the Humanities program provide an opportunity not only to reflect on what great texts bring to bear on enduring questions, but also how to begin a community in conversation.

Dr. Halper on Humanities at Hertog

Summer Seminars

Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear & Trembling

Inquire into the ultimacy of faith, the limits of rationality, & their implications for understanding the good life.

Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday

Read a poignant elegy for a culture destroyed by the two world wars.

John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Read an epic poem of cosmic scope–from the rebellion against heaven to the creation of the world & man’s expulsion from Eden.

Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek & Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

Reflect on man’s relation to the wilderness & the beauty that can be found in solitude.

Spring Seminars

Politics & Policy Writing as Literature

Study classics in political writing & learn how to do what the authors do.

Emily Wilson’s Iliad

Should a poem both beautiful & barbaric be easy to read?

Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country

Follow the transatlantic adventures of a social-climbing American in this classic novel.

Winter Seminars

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Explore the fundamental human question of the nature and existence of God with Melville's great American novel.

Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth

Study one of literature's great heroines—Lily Bart—and her quest for love and freedom.

Revolution, Reaction, & Reform: Romantic British Poetry

Explore the political and social turmoil of the Romantic Period with Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, and more.

Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment

Study Dostoyevsky’s first great novel, an astonishing prophecy of ideological terror & social insanity.

Past Seminars

Dostoevsky’s Demons

Study Dostoevsky's great novel on the nature, logic, and social origins of revolutionary politics.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

Revisit the quarrel between "the ancients and the moderns" and reflect on human nature with Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Study this monumental work on race, identity, and citizenship in America.

Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein

Reflect on a novel rich with themes of politics, philosophy, religion, love, friendship, and death.

Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

Meditate on Dostoevsky’s final – and greatest – novel.

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart & No Longer at Ease

Reflect on two great novels from the father of modern African literature.

Shakespeare’s Henry V

Explore Shakespeare’s insights into the exercise of power.

Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities

Read Tom Wolfe’s devastating, irresistible satire of urban and racial politics.

Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground

Reflect on the human consequence of modern thought with Doestovesky's 1864 novella.

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice

Study Jane Austen's beloved novel of marriage and manners.

Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence

Compare America and Europe, aristocracy and democracy, in Wharton's classic novel.

Richard A. Florsheim, Sleeping City, 1965, color lithograph, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Utopia & Dystopia

Explore visions of utopian & dystopian societies in three short novels.

Deadlines & Eligibility


Who Should Apply? Undergraduates, gap-year students, young professionals, and graduate students are all eligible to apply. Applicants may apply for multiple seminars and will be able to rank their choices.

Dates & Times: All seminars meet via Zoom, and are scheduled in the afternoons, evenings, and on weekends to allow students from across time zones to come together. See the individual course pages for more details.

Stipend & Course Materials: All course materials will be provided. Fellows are eligible for a small stipend contingent upon participation in their course and completion of a brief response paper and evaluation.

Deadline: The application deadline for our Spring seminars is Monday, January 15, 2024. Admission decisions will be made on a rolling basis so apply now!




    Please provide a brief account of your interest in your selected seminars.


    Unofficial; required only for currently enrolled students & recent graduates.


    12 pages maximum; double-spaced. Please send academic writing that best showcases your ability to invent and sustain a persuasive argument, no matter the subject-matter.


    Provide the name and contact information of a professor, mentor, or supervisor.

Other Courses You Might Be Interested In

Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Meditate on the nature of political authority with one of Shakespeare's greatest plays.

Sophocles’ Antigone

Consider the conflicting understandings of the familial, the divine, and the political, and their proper relationships through Antigone.

Shakespeare’s Prince & Tyrant

Explore the political and religious contexts of Shakespeare's plays.

The Limits of Politics

Explore the boundaries of politics from the perspective of the household and the divine.

The American Character

Explore issues of American identity, character, and citizenship with classic short stories.