This seminar, designed for incoming M.A. students, provides a broad introduction to theories and methods that have shaped research in the humanities. We will read and analyze classic and modern works in fields ranging from philosophy and religion to literature and visual art, representative literary and dramatic works as well as works of theory and historiography. Early weeks of the course will be organized around texts and images representative of the major historical periods used to organize Western humanities research—the ancient world, the early modern period (“Renaissance”), and Enlightenment and Modernity. After that initial period, the syllabus will focus on major questions, themes, methods, and terms that recur frequently in contemporary humanities research: language, value and taste, form and content, interpretation and criticism, close reading, the uses of history, theorizing, cross-cultural influence and exchange, and the relationship between the disciplines of the humanities and those of the social sciences. In the last phase of the semester, we will apply everything discussed so far to a number of readings representative of the “big” preoccupations of the moment. Students in the class will have a strong voice in determining what those issues are, but they might include the study of affect, cross-cultural exchange in the globalized present, the humanities in modern education and public policy, post-humanism, or the digital humanities. In addition to short response postings and a midterm paper, students will conduct a research / critical project on a relevant topic of their own choosing that will culminate in a 15 – 20 page final paper. Guest lectures by Gallatin faculty will introduce students to a range of methodologies and interdisciplinary research frameworks.