University of Central Florida

HUM 5803

Theories and Methods of the Humanities

Instructor: Bruce Janz

Term: Fall 2006

Time: Tuesday 7:30 - 10:20

Room: VAB 0109 (Visual Arts Building)

Phone: 407-823-2273

Credits: 3

Section: 0001 Code: 83201 Final Exam: None

Course Page & Resource Page: http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~janzb/courses/

Office: Department of Philosophy, Colbourn Hall 411E

Office Hours: Click here

 Email: janzb@mail.ucf.edu

This seminar serves as an introduction to graduate-level work in the humanities. Students will be expected to be familiar with current theoretical approaches to textual and social analysis. We will consider the place of humanities in the university, and the nature of knowledge production; develop theories of textuality and visuality; and consider examples of research in humanities.


  1. Bal, Meike. Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. Green College Lecture Series. University of Toronto Press, 2002.
  2. Blonsky, Marshall. On Signs. University of Johns Hopkins Press, 1985.
  3. Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction. Vintage Books, 1990
  4. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.
  5. Mirzoeff, Nicholas. An Introduction to Visual Culture. Routledge, 1999.
  6. Ricoeur, Paul. Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning. Fort Worth, TX: Texas Christian University Press, 1976.


1. Annotated Bibliography (20%): Ideally this will be connected with the topic of the final paper. I would like to see at least 25 entries on a specific topic or question. These should be from published academic books or peer reviewed journal papers; other types might be permitted as well, but check with me. The purpose of this is to provide a basis for the final research paper. Due date: late October (exact date determined in class)

2 position papers, with class discussions (2 x 15%): You will need to identify an issue raised by the text for the week, and take a position on that issue. The issue could be historical, textual, cultural, philosophical, or representational (or, perhaps some other kind of issue). The paper should be about 1000 words long, and you will also present it in class. These are due before the day of presentation, because someone else in class will need to read your paper and prepare a response to it. Please bring a copy to hand in when you present the paper. The position you take on an issue is up to you, but I am looking to see that you have an understanding of the scholarship that has been done on the issue, a clear argument for a viable and interesting position. For a good description of a position paper, see: http://homepages.uhwo.hawaii.edu/~writing/position.htm

2 responses to position papers. (2 x 5%): As mentioned above, each position paper will have a respondent. We will set up a schedule early in the course. The purpose of the response is not to tear apart the other person's argument, but rather to assess the other person's depiction of the text and assessment of it. You may decide the other person has done a good job - in that case, how might his/her argument be extended? How does it relate to other relevant literature? If you think the person has not understood the text, how can you constructively suggest improvements? Please hand in a copy of your response when it is presented.

Final Paper (40%): The intention of this paper is to develop and demonstrate analytic, theoretical, and research abilities in the humanities. It should be ~15 pages long. The paper may take one of a couple of forms. It could be the examination of a concept in the humanities, in a manner that exhibits these abilities. Or, it could be directed at some issue related to the nature of humanities research itself. It will be important to start thinking about this early, and keep me apprised of your ideas. Coming to the question that will form the basis of your paper is part of the research process we will work together on it. The class will also know what each person is working on, so that there can be mutual support in this process.

Grade Distribution: I will record the assignment grades based on the percentage of the course grade during the term (that is, the midterm will be recorded as a grade out of 20, although it may be marked out of another number). The letter grade will be calculated only at the end of the course, based on full course grade. The distribution will be as follows:

A: 93-100

B: 83-86

C: 73-76

D: 63-66

A-: 90-92

B-: 80-82

C-: 70-72

D-: 60-62

B+: 87-89

C+: 77-79

D+: 67-69

F: 0-59

Schedule: Theory and Methods of the Humanities

1. What Are the Humanities? 2 weeks

a. Disciplinarity and the History of the University
b. Humanities and Humanism
c. Research in the Humanities

Readings: Lyotard

2. Human Experience as Textuality: Theory and Practice. How to Read 6 weeks

a. The Theory of Textual Interpretation

b. The Practice of Textual Interpretation

Readings: Blonsky, Foucault, Ricoeur

3. Human Experience as Visuality: Theory and Practice. How to See 2 weeks

a. The Theory of Visual Understanding

b. The Practice of Visual Understanding

Readings: Mirzoeff

4. Research Applications and Examples: How to Think Clearly 4 weeks

a. Modernism and Postmodernism
b. The University and the Production of Knowledge
c. Interdisciplinarity
e. Science and Humanities

Readings: Bal

The Fine (but Important) Print