Pathway Electives

After completing Foundation and Core Courses, students may fulfill the requirements for the bachelor's degree with six semesters of Pathway Electives (at least one course in each pathway).


Europe and the Globe

HST 329; 3 s.h./term

Usually we’ve learned to recount the history of the world over the past 500 years with Europe as the main actor: European colonialism, the spread of European languages and culture, and Westernization are painted as the Big Story of the last centuries. Are there other ways that historians look at the last half of a millennium? What went on in the non-European world for those years? How did the global South help create Europe and the world we live in? How did Europe and its outposts come to be in the global position they are in now? And does our contemporary world look different if we imagine the history of this half millennium differently? 

Russia and the Globe

From 862 to early Mongol invaders, Tsars, serfs, Bolsheviks, and Federation builders, Russia is a land acquainted with revolution. Russian history is a story that parallels the vastness of its geography (6,592,848 sq. miles) and is as complex and varied as its topography. How do historians trace the past of a land both East and West, or of a people comprised of 160 nationalities? In this course we will study the founding of Russia through the Kievan and Appanage periods as well as the Imperial Age, the Soviet era and the post-Soviet society.

Introduction to Western Philosophy

An introductory course on the discipline of philosophy and a close look at the foundational texts of Western metaphysics, beginning with Classical Antiquity (Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Pyrrho), Medieval era and Scholasticism (St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas), Rationalism and its detractors (Descartes, Spinoza, Pascal), the transition from Enlightenment to Romanticism (Kant, Hegel), foundations of Continental Philosophy (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Bergson), and contemporary oppositions between structuralist and post-structuralist thought (de Saussure, Barthes, Derrida, Althusser, Lacan, and Deleuze). A central aim will be to understand how each of these developments involves a reconfiguration of the basic notions of "being" and "becoming" first formulated in Classical Antiquity, and how this is relevant to contemporary concerns about notions of change, subjectivity, and political life.


Art History: Paris as Magnet, Paris as Spark 1850–1925

ART 323; 3 s.h./term

This course will focus on Paris, both as a magnet for drawing artists to the city itself and as a source of making new images of city life. We will begin around 1851 when Louis Napoleon established himself as Emperor and employed Baron Haussman to begin an urban renewal project that transformed the physical appearance of much of Paris. In a parallel manner from the 1860s on, artists such as Manet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Caillebotte, Seurat, and Toulouse-Lautrec, using the most advanced techniques and styles, painted diverse aspects of the new Paris—from activities of leisure time to the world of work.

We will take our exploration of Paris as magnet/spark into the early 20th century with artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, Marc Chagall, and Fernand Leger. In that context we will visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition, “Fernand Leger and The City,” an exhibition which will present Leger’s monumental painting, The City, in an interdisciplinary context. We will examine the Paris-Russia connection, especially the role of two Russian art collectors, Ivan Morosov and Sergei Shchukin, who purchased and took back to Moscow stylistically radical paintings of artists such as Matisse and Picasso literally days or months after the works were finished, and then made their collections available to artists in Moscow. We will also explore the presence of the Ballets Russes in Paris, and the ways in which painters such as Picasso and Leger collaborated with Sergei Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky, and others in creating stage designs and costumes for several avant garde ballets.

There will be at least one trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Evaluation will be based on exams and papers.

Art History: Italian Renaissance Art

Beginning in the fifteenth century and extending into the sixteenth, Italy experienced an unprecedented activity of artistic creation. Florence, Rome, and Venice are the three major centers that we will consider. We will examine the emergence and development of a new visual mode of representation-one point perspective-and we will look at transformations in sculpture and architecture. Throughout, we will consider the role of the patron in relation to the artist and the work of art. We will also explore the renewed interest in Antiquity, particularly with regard to the representation of the human body and revived interest in mythology.

There will be at least one trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Evaluation will be based on exams and papers.


French 101/102

FRE 101; 3 s.h./term

French 101/102 is a First Year introductory college course for students who have had little or no previous instruction in French. The course will develop skills in hearing, speaking, reading and writing French, using French in Action, a video program developed at Yale University by Pierre Capretz. French in Action emphasizes modern, colloquial French and how it is used in everyday life in France. Students are encouraged to use their own creativity and originality in French.

Spanish 101/102

SPN 101; 3 s.h./term

This one-semester course will meet four days a week and cover the material traditionally completed in an academic year. Emphasis will be placed on communication and gaining cultural and historical insight on the language and the people who speak it. Students will work on communication through reading and writing and learning the grammatical structure of Spanish as well. There will be a mid-term, final, and paper.

Additional opportunities for conversation at a Spanish lunch table in the Lenfest Hall dining room may be available.

Course Text: ¡Trato Hecho! Spanish for Real Life, by McMinn and Garcia (Pearson, 3rd edition), with DVD.


The 19th-Century Novel in France and Russia

LIT 359; 3 s.h./term

This class follows the development of the novelistic form as well as important links between Russian and French literary traditions during the 19th century. Our aim is to understand the emergence and implications of literary romanticism, romantic realism, and realism, as well as the philosophical attitudes towards life, society, aesthetics, morality and technology that these movements represent. Of key importance will be the various ways in which the 19th-century novel engages a tension between individual and collective points of view, one that repeatedly emerges in a tendency to configure and reconfigure the “real world” through narrative fiction. Readings for the class include novels by Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chateaubriand, Balzac, George Sand, Flaubert and Zola. 

Russian Drama: Which Comes First, Art or Life?

LIT 355; 3 s.h/term

This seminar will be concerned with making some sense of the large-scale theoretical and practical shift in early 20th-century Russia drama, a shift in and by means of the working theater. This shift both mimics and generates the complex social dynamic entailed in the overthrow of monarchy (an essentially hyper-conservative institution) and the adoption of Marxism-Leninism (a radically revolutionary power) in its place.

Of course, theater is simply the realization, the staging, of the drama, but drama is not simply a literary expression, whether of a single playwright or a certain kind of writer, one who makes a little world out of words, and then sees to its realizing (its materialization) in the, so to speak, big world. Questions of the relationship of art to society, of artist to non-artist, and of ideal to real will form part of our doings.

First, we will be reading a bit of Gogol (The Inspector General), then a bit of Chekhov (Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard); and finally, once some groundwork is done, we will take up a Soviet play (or two) to treat as a rehearsal script, with character and scene study, blocking, and the rest of the business of beginning to stage a play. Stanislavski (creator of 'Method' acting, long-time Head of the Moscow Art Theatre) and Meyerhold (a most ingenious set designer and director) will, of necessity, be not unwilling to help us.

Russian Poetry in Translation: Akhmatova & the 20th Century

LIT 357; 3 s.h./term

The influence of Anna Akhmatova and her fellow Russian writers on 20th-century poetry remains incalculable. And yet, we will take its measure and explore the extraordinary gifts, even in translation, of these poets. In this course we will have three goals: to gain an understanding of the history of Russian poetry, to wrestle with translation theory, and to trace the work and influence of Akhmatova and her circle on 20th-century poetry. We will begin with a taste of Pushkin and then read the poetry of Blok, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Brodsky, and Ratushinskaya, among others. We will respond to the work with poems of our own as well as essays that offer analysis of the poems and the act of translation.

Fiction Workshop

The fiction writing workshop is designed to offer students the opportunity to write numerous stories and to read great works of short fiction. We will attend to the traditional elements of storytelling (plot, setting, characterization, and dialogue) while analyzing the work of Joyce, Porter, Hemingway, Munro, Chekhov, and Proulx, among others. In the process, we will discover the importance of technique and voice, and we will work to master the craft of writing a fine story while discovering and shaping our individual voices. E.B. White said that he occasionally had “the exquisite thrill of putting a finger on a little capsule of truth” (The Bedford Reader, 461) when he wrote. Participants in the fiction workshop may find themselves doing the same. Each student will be required to write short stories, read and evaluate short fiction, and produce a final portfolio of work.

Introduction to Film Studies

This course surveys the history of cinema from the first films of the 1890s to current developments in the medium. We will develop methods for analyzing film while examining the growth of film as an art, an industry, a technology, and a political instrument. In the first half of the course, we will examine the emergence of film technology and early film audiences, the rise of Hollywood and the European avant-garde (French Impressionism, German Expressionism, and Soviet montage), and the introduction of synchronized sound technologies. In the second half of the course, we will follow the evolution of postwar cinema from Italian neo-realism through the French New Wave, the U.S. film industry from "movie brats" of the 1970s to the independent film movement, and the emergence of a global cinema culture. There will be precise attention paid to formal and stylistic techniques in editing, mise-en-scene, and sound, as well as to the narrative, non-narrative, and generic organizations of film, as well as an overview of film theory and analysis.



An introduction to the physics of sound: auditory perception, acoustical properties of musical instruments, architectural design, tuning and temperaments, and sound production. The emphasis is on students understanding the acoustics of their own instruments.

Nature in America

In this survey of American environmental history, we’ll discuss topics as diverse as historical ecology, the evolution of ideas of nature, and the history of environmental movements. We’ll graze over archaeology and the Paleolithic, city dwellers and farmers, wilderness parks and empty city lots. We’ll sample some of the wide array of writing in this field (which is over 40 years old now), to help us think about how our understandings of history and the natural world shape our understanding of the environmental problems of today, and how our ideas of the past shape our ideas of what the future might hold.

Introduction to Psychology

HUM 109; 3 s.h/term

Introduction to Psychology offers a broad overview of the basic concepts and noted figures in the field, and such topics as the brain and emotions, child development, human behavior, learning, creativity and play, perception and attitudes. The varying aspects of music, from infant research to the psychological aspects of performing are woven throughout the course. During the term we will be studying well-known Russian composers. The early family, and cultural backgrounds of these famous artists will be discussed. Psychological speculations will be drawn as to how these influences may have affected their life choices and the music they created. Evaluation will be based upon essays, a research paper, and other projects.