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Home / College Catalog / 2016-18 / Academic Programs / School of Lib. Arts & Sci. / Humanities

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School of Humanities

Conceptualizing, interpreting, and imagining the worlds of human experience in words, in images, and through historical time are the central activities of students and scholars in the humanities. These activities define the core of our intellectual and moral selves.

The programs of the School of Humanities are designed to help students develop the critical skills and substantive knowledge needed to participate fully and effectively in today’s complex world.

Overview of Programs
The School of Humanities offers majors in art history, creative writing, history, journalism, language and culture, literature, and philosophy, each leading to the Bachelor of Arts (BA). A Master of Arts (MA) program is also offered in 20th-century art history. Within the language and culture major, a full program is offered in French and Spanish, with opportunities to study Chinese, German, Hausa, Hebrew, Italian, linguistics, and Portuguese. Minors are also offered in most of the humanities disciplines.

Faculty members in the humanities also collaborate across the disciplines in such areas as Asian studies, gender studies, and Latin American studies (Interdisciplinary Studies); theatre and performance (in the Conservatory of Theatre Arts); and cinema studies (in the School of Film and Media Studies).

Humanities students may choose to major in a particular discipline, emphasizing mastery of the field of knowledge and its methodology, or they may treat the field as a focus for an integrated liberal arts education that combines studies across disciplines. For example, a student could decide to major in philosophy with substantial work in the natural sciences or to major in history with substantial work in literature.

The School of Humanities also coordinates the college writing program and participates in the college’s interdisciplinary study abroad programs.

Purchase Writers Center
The Purchase Writers Center, coordinated by the School of Humanities, is a focus for the college’s many activities involving writers and writing. Each year, the Writers Center hosts a group of fellows, local writers who have offices and access to the resources of the library and the college. Fellows conduct workshops at the college and in the community, lead writing groups, and, along with other Purchase writers, give readings.

The Purchase Writers Center is supported by an advisory board composed of distinguished writers: Kate Buford, Benjamin Cheever, Laura Shaine Cunningham, Thulani Davis, Al Filreis, Aminatta Forna, Jeremy Gerard, Sheila Kohler, Donald Margulies, Caryl Phillips, Marie Ponsot, Esmeralda Santiago, and David Shields.

For additional information and updates on the Purchase Writers Center, please visit

Members of the School of Humanities faculty are distinguished scholars and dedicated teachers. They have published numerous books and articles in their fields of interest and expertise, and many are active on the editorial boards of professional journals. They are also affiliated with professional societies in all of the disciplines, as well as with museums and art galleries.

Among the many honors accorded to the faculty are the following fellowships: National Endowment for the Humanities, Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Ford Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, Newberry, and Shakespeare Library. Widely recognized awards include: the George Jean Nathan Award for Drama Criticism, the Anisfield Wolf Prize for the best book on race, the Gilbert Chinard Literary Prize, the MLA Mina Shaughnessy Award, the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, and the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching, in Scholarship and Creative Activities, and in Faculty Service.

The School of Humanities occupies its own facility, a 92,000-square-foot building completely renovated according to designs by Kliment Halsband Architects and reopened in the fall of 2015. It is the college’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)–accredited building. Among the many resources available to students are the Humanities Theatre, a 220-seat space used for a wide range of activities and events; a lecture hall that seats 110; 14 classrooms equipped with “smart” technology; three multimedia computer labs; a variety of seminar/conference rooms; a TV studio and control room for journalism; specialized areas for art history and creative writing; and informal lounge spaces.

Ross Daly, MS, Chair, School of Humanities

For updates during 2016–2018, please visit

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School of Humanities:


Undergraduate Majors:
Art History, BA
Creative Writing, BA
History, BA
Journalism, BA
Language & Culture, BA
Literature, BA
Philosophy, BA

Undergraduate Minors:
Art History
Jewish Studies
Philosophy & the Arts

Graduate Majors:
Art History, MA

Expository & College Writing Program

English as an Additional Language (Courses)