Courses in the Humanities

A selection of courses offered. Visit the UB Course Catalog for a full listing of courses.

Asian Studies

AS317 Japanophilia
Did you know that the oldest novel in the world was written in Japan over a millennium ago?  This course examines Japanese literature from the dawn of literature to the development of today’s cell phone novels and manga.       

AS338 Islam and Literature (cross-listed with ENG445)
The purpose of this course is to expose students to the wide variety of poetic and prose literary forms associated with Islam, including contemporary English-language novels and translations from Arabic, Bengali, Persian, Tamil, and Urdu originals. This will serve to frame larger questions central to the study of Islamicate literatures.

AS376 Buddhist Philosophy (cross-listed with PHI376)
Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, claimed to have discovered the key to eliminating suffering. Suffering, he thought, arises because our most basic experiences of the world are mistaken. In the thousands of years that followed, his philosophical and psychological insights have been developed by thinkers around the world. This course will present an introduction to the basic philosophical positions of Buddhist philosophy and their development.

AS492: Poisons, Drugs, and Panaceas (cross-listed with HIS492)
This course examines the history of poisons in Asia through twelve case studies. We will explore the complexity of poison materiality by contemplating the intimate relations between poisons, medicines, and foods.


CL151 Medical Terminology
This popular course explains the etymology of many modern medical terms, while also exploring the contexts within which the original terms were created.

CL250 Roman Religion
Students will learn to think critically about ancient Mediterranean paganism and the remarkable rise of Christianity. 

CL340 Classical Origins of Western Literature
Considers the various continuities and discontinuities between Greco-Roman literature and literature composed in the modern Western world.

Comparative Literature

COL112 Cross-Cultural Explorations: Encounters with Western, East Asian, and African Cultures
In this course you will the study of the diversity of Western, East Asian, and African cultures from the Renaissance to the Modern Age. Although we will explore cultural diversity in its various expressions—in politics, religion, science—our primary focus will be art and big ideas.


ENG204 Writing About the Environment
This course will explore writings related to environmentalist expression and action. Students will develop a rhetorical understanding of what makes various forms of communication effective, to be able to produce their own environmentalist communication and respond to that of others.

ENG257 Tolkien in Text & Film
This course discusses major works by Tolkien, including The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, along with Peter Jackson’s films of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” How, we will ask, can the nerdy philological creation of a Professor of Anglo-Saxon culture captivate multi-lingual, international literary and film audiences of all ages worldwide?

ENG258 Mysteries
This course surveys a selection of both the most important examples of mystery writing and recent attempts to update the genre. It focuses on the narrative techniques used by these writers to create character, structure plot, and maintain suspense.

ENG263 Environmentalist Writings
This course surveys environmentalist writings, from 19th-century touchstone works like Thoreau's Walden through contemporary essays, articles, fiction, and poetry. Students will investigate how evolving conceptions of the environment have shaped the formal properties and thematic concerns of literary writing, and then place this writing in the context of debates surrounding climate change, natural disasters, endangered/invasive species, genetic science, and wilderness preservation.

ENG264 Young Adult Literature 
This course surveys popular young adult literature, both contemporary (e.g. The Hunger Games) and historical (Alice in Wonderland). Students will learn how YA fiction raises questions of gender definition, sexuality, race and ethnicity, body image, shaming practices, generational conflicts, and social pressure.

ENG285 Writing in the Health Sciences
This course introduces students to the rhetorical practices of technical and professional communication in the health sciences, including technical reporting, communicating with the public, and visual and oral presentations.

ENG429 James Joyce
This course offers concentrated study of James Joyce, the novelists responsible for such landmark works as UlyssesPortrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and Finnegan's Wake.

Global Gender and Sexuality Studies

AMS301 Introduction to Native American Women (cross-Listed with GGS 301)
Traces historical periods that affected Indigenous women’s lives; emphasizes current laws and policies that have impacted their families and communities.


HIS244 American Business History
This course analyzes the historical development of business in the United States from the time of the country’s founding until the present, with a particular focus on the twentieth century. In addition to tracking important changes in the American business growth and activity, the course also explores impact of technological change, the relationship between business culture and society, race, class, and gender, consumerism and the role of the worker.

HIS274 Bodies at War
War creates the perfect setting for health crises. This course explores the many ways that health, disability, and war have intersected across history. From the Peloponnesian War, to the Hundred Years War, to Operation Iraqi Freedom, we will discuss topics including physical and mental war wounds, sexuality, public health, the rise of military medical authority, eugenics, and chemical and biological weapons.

HIS374: Food in Asia (cross-listed with AS374)
What is food for? This simple question invites us to ponder myriad ways that food connects to our lives, from cooking to eating, from spice to medicine, from the expression of the self to the mediation of social relationship. This course probes the history of food in Asia, exploring both the rich culture of food within Asia and its fast spread to the rest of the world in recent past.

Jewish Thought

JDS235 American Jewish Experience: History, Social Justice and the Counterculture (cross-listed with HIS235)
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many Jews who fled persecution in Europe immigrated to America. By the 1950s, the United States became home to the largest Jewish community in modern history. In this course, we will explore the ways in which life in a liberal political and capitalist economic order shaped the Jewish experience in America, and how Jews, in turn, came to influence American culture, politics, and society. 

JDS267: Ancient Western Wisdom
Reawakening ancient debates surrounding science, ethics, aesthetics, skepticism, epicureanism, myth, stoicism, poetry, prophecy, polytheism and monotheism, this course will examine the meaning of the good, the true and the beautiful.

JDS284: Justice in Bibles, Law and Philosophy (cross-listed with RSP284 and LAW284)
A comparative study of the relationship between justice, law, and society in pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Thought.

RSP213: World Religions
This course introduces the world's religious systems and their cultural bases, including Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. In this course we will examine the expression of some primary characteristics of religion in primary sources from a variety of religious traditions. We will focus specifically on the ways in which ideas about the sacred are formed and how they are used to order experience, with a focus on space, time, and story.


PHI105 Contemporary Moral Problems
This course will philosophically examine contentious moral issues of the day. Among the topics that may be discussed are abortion, capital punishment, affirmative action, obligations of wealthy nations to poor nations, duties to non-human animals, vegetarianism, sex workers, pornography, legalized gambling and lotteries, gun control, drone warfare, human enhancements through drugs and prostheses, homosexual marriage, racial profiling, and legalization of currently illegal drugs.

PHI162 Law, Authority and Morality (cross-listed with PSC218)
Addresses the relationship between morality and the law, especially for large and diverse countries: why we think we and others should follow the law, even if we disagree about morality. 

PHI237 Social and Ethical Values in Medicine (cross-listed with SSC237)
Explores ethical issues in birth, life, death, what counts as biologically “normal,” and a variety of other complex issues that arise from modern medical practice.

PHI252 Eastern Philosophy (cross-listed with AS252)
Explores key ideas and concepts from Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Buddhism and other Asian intellectual traditions.

PHI356: Special Topics: Feminist Philosophy of the Body
Explains the nature and ethics of embodied existence from a feminist perspective, exploring objectification, the ethics of interaction, the place of male bodies in generating conceptions of masculinity, and the (female) body as locus of medical intervention. 

PHI367 Political Philosophy (cross-listed with PHI342)
Considers how to deal with disagreement, justify political power, and think about citizenship. Surveys political theories in a systematic or historical way.

Romance Languages and Literatures

FR305 Reading French Historians​
Writings of selected French historians (e.g., Michelet, Thierry, Voltaire) or memorialists (e.g. Saint-Simon) in order to highlight rhetorical strategies to explore the linguistic context of historical writing. Taught in French.

FR483 Introduction to Kreyol (taught in English)

ITA403 Dante
Considers medieval literature in Provence and France, including the works of Dante, beginning with Vita Nuova through the Divine Comedy. Explores the main personalities and works representing Italian civilization.

RLL496 Tutoring Language and Narrative in Immigrant Communities (taught in English)
Hands-on experience in language and cultural studies at institutions and community organizations in the Western New York area.

SPA311 Survey of Spanish-American Literature
Reviews Spanish American literature from the earliest times to the present.

SPA324 Medical and Health Spanish

SPA407 Contemporary Literature of Spain
This course studies main trends and analyzes some of the most significant works written in Spain after 1936. Includes all genres (poetry, novel, and drama).

SPA408 History of Spanish Cinema
This course introduces Spanish film history, including renowned directors, the current scene, and the principles of film theory. Accompanying readings deal with cinema as an integral part of Spanish cultural heritage. Class discussions are conducted in Spanish.

Transnational Studies

AMS179 Introduction to Native American History
This course offers a contemporary and cultural history of indigenous people of the North American continent that develops a new perspective on Native American History as it explores various oral traditions and written accounts of Native history.

AMS301 Introduction to Native American Women (cross-Listed with GGS 301)
Traces historical periods that affected Indigenous women’s lives; emphasizes current laws and policies that have impacted their families and communities.

AAS324 Black Writers
This course focuses on a small number of iconic Black Writers to examine how their work relates to African American Identity formation.

AAS414 Health Problems in the Black Community
Address the range of public health issues affecting people of color, and health disparities both within the black community and between racial and ethnic groups. Class discussions, videos, and class readings will help us seek to interpret how various conditions such as housing and homicide present behavioral and mental health issues among black people in the black community, especially children.