Humanities Program

The Humanities Program at Saint Michael’s consists of six courses each exploring the history of ideas and artistic expression primarily of Western thought but not exclusively. The two foundation courses, HU 101 Ancient and Medieval Civilization, and HU 102 Modern Civilization are offered every semester. An additional four courses, each covering a particular historical period, are offered on a rotating basis. These courses fulfill the LSC requirements for Literary and Historical Studies.

HU 101: Ancient and Medieval Civilization
This course is a chronological and interdisciplinary study of significant texts from Antiquity and the Middle Ages Readings may include Virgil’s Aeneid, Saint Augustine’s Confessions, the Rule of Saint Benedict, the Lays of Marie de France, an Arthurian romance, and Dante’s Inferno.
Sample Syllabus:

HU 102: Modern Civilization
This course explores key texts from the Renaissance to the present. Readings may include Shakepeare’s The Tempest, Rousseau’s Second Discourse on Inequality, Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Course syllabus

HU 203 - Renaissance and Reformation
An interdisciplinary survey of some of the most important influential texts and works of art in European history from about 1350 to 1650. Authors studied may include Machiavelli, Christian humanists (Erasmus and/or More), Catholic and Protestant thinkers (Luther, Ignatius Loyola, Calvin), Marguerite of Navarre, Montaigne, Descartes, and Shakespeare.

Full course 
Liberal Studies Curriculum: Literary Studies or Historical Studies
HU 205 - Enlightenment and Revolution

Covers the years from the seventeenth century to 1815. The major areas of consideration are: the Industrial and French Revolutions, and the causes and effects of the Enlightenment through the Napoleonic Era. Readings may include The New Science (Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Locke, and/or Newton), and selections from the area of society and politics (Locke, Pope, Voltaire, and/or Rousseau). The second half of the course concerns the Romantic reaction against the Enlightenment and focuses on the poets Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Byron.

HU 207 - The Nineteenth Century
The Nineteenth Century is an interdisciplinary study of the main intellectual and literary currents in nineteenth century thought. Readings include Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche as well as representative
English, French and Russian novels.

HU 209 - The Twentieth Century
A cross-cultural, interdisciplinary course that draws on a wide variety of artistic manifestations in literature, art, music, and cinema.

Carol Begley, PhD

Adjunct Faculty

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Founders Hall Annex 259
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PhD (& MA), Classical Philology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1988
BA, Classics, Cornell College 1979

Areas of Expertise:

Greek language and literature


George Dameron, PhD

Professor of History
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Durick Library 306
Box 141
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Ph.D. Harvard University
M.A. Harvard University
B.A. Duke University

Areas of Expertise:

Medieval and Early Modern Europe; Medieval Italy, with particular focus on thirteenth and fourteenth century Tuscany (social, economic, cultural, political)

Courses I Teach:

  • Ancient and Medieval Civilization
  • The Black Death
  • Culture and Society in Medieval Italy
  • Early Modern Europe
  • The Franciscans
  • The Historian's Craft
  • Honors Colloquium
  • Joan of Arc (First Year Seminar)
  • Medieval Europe
  • Renaissance and Reformation
  • Senior Seminar
  • Topics in Medieval History: (topics vary and include "Women and Gender in the Middle Ages")

Joel Dando, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor of English
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B.A. University of Arizona
Ph.D. Harvard University

Areas of Expertise:

Romantic Poetry in general and the life, poetry, and letters of Lord Byron in particular, literature and the visual arts, fiction and film

Courses I Teach:

  • British Literature II
  • British Romantic Poets
  • Genres: Poetry
  • Introduction to Literary Studies
  • Modern Civilization (in Humanities)

Nicholas Kahm, PhD

Henry G. Fairbanks Visiting Scholar-in-Residence
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Ph.D. The Catholic University of America
M.A. L.A. St. John's College, Annapolis, MD
B.A. The Colorado College

Areas of Expertise

I am a specialist in medieval philosophy and the philosophy of Aquinas. My research interests focus on the ethics, anthropology, and metaphysics of Aquinas. I am also somewhat specialized as a generalist in the history of Western thought, if it is possible to say such a thing.

Courses I Teach

  • Ancient and Medieval Humanities
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Arabic/Islamic Philosophy
  • Aquinas

John Kenney, PhD

Professor of Religious Studies
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Durick Library 302
Box 375
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Ph.D. Brown University
A.B. Bowdoin College

I studied ancient philosophy at Bowdoin, majoring in Classics and Philosophy. I did graduate work in Philosophy at the University Pennsylvania, and then completed my Ph.D. at Brown in Religious Studies. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard, I taught for 15 years at Reed as Professor of Religion and Humanities. I came to Saint Michael's to be Dean of the College in 1995. Since 2006 I have been teaching full-time as Professor of Religious Studies. I also offer courses in the Humanities Program

Areas of Expertise:

Philosophy of Religion, Ancient Christianity

Courses I Teach:

  • Ancient and Medieval Civilization
  • Catholic Christianity
  • Medieval Christianity
  • Understandings of God
  • The Problem of Evil
  • Christian Mysticism

Nathaniel Lew, PhD

Department Chair, Professor of Fine Arts: Music
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McCarthy Arts Center 201
Box 377
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M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
B.A., M.A. Cambridge University
B.A. Yale University

Areas of Expertise:

Twentieth-century British music, particularly opera, and its relationship to institutions and the broader culture. The music of English 20th-century composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. Choral conducting. The music of Richard Stoehr (1874-1967).

Courses I Teach:

  • Medieval and Renaissance Music
  • Classical and Romantic Music
  • American Music Theater
  • Opera
  • Advanced Music Theory
  • Instrumentation and Orchestration
  • Techniques of Contemporary Composition
  • Chorale
  • Humanities: Modern Civilization
  • Honors Colloquium

My Saint Michael's:

I teach music history, music theory and humanities, and direct the College Chorale. I enjoy the creative freedom to teach a wide variety of subjects in a department where faculty and students are open to experimenting with new topics, materials and methods. In all of my courses on musical repertory I take the entire class to live performances. I love working closely with my students, and I love it when they respectfully disagree with one another in really productive ways. The music department also works hard to facilitate all our students' performance projects, some of which are ambitious and impressive.

Tim Mackin, PhD

Director of the Writing Program, Instructor of English

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Klein Hall 116
Box 379
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Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University
B.A. Colgate University

Areas of Expertise:

Writing, Modernist Literature, Literature and Philosophy

Courses I Teach:


  • Advanced Academic Writing
  • The Art of Memory
  • College Writing
  • Modernist Poetry


  • Modern Civilization
  • The 20th Century

Shefali Misra, PhD

Assistant Professor of Political Science

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Saint Edmund's Hall 351
Box 151
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Ph.D. Brandeis University
M.A. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
B.A. University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India; ;

I joined Saint Michael's as an assistant professor of political science beginning with the Fall 2009 semester. I was formerly a financial and political journalist for four English-language national dailies in New Delhi, India, for 11 years. In that role I covered several ministerial meetings of the World Trade Organization in Singapore, Geneva and Seattle, and spent two years reporting for home newspapers from London, Brussels, Geneva, Berlin, Bonn, Paris, and Singapore.

I was visiting assistant professor of political theory at Oberlin College for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to Politics
  • Senior Seminar on Multiculturalism in Theory and Practice
  • Western Political Thought

Christina Root, PhD

Professor of English; Coordinator, Humanities Program

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Saint Edmund's Hall 336
Box 385
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M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Columbia University
A.B. Bryn Mawr College

Courses I Teach:

In the English Department:

  • British Romanticism
  • 19th and 20th Century British and European Literature

In the Humanities Program:

  • Enlightenment and Revolution
  • Modern Civilization

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