Doctoral Humanities Seminar

All doctoral students complete three hours of Doctoral Humanities Seminar. These are year-long, 1-credit courses that address the broad themes of the humanities and draw upon the breadth of the Western tradition.

The purpose of these seminars is to emphasize to students the place of the study of politics within the humanities and liberal arts as a whole, and to help prepare them for future employment in teaching positions which will often be found at liberal arts institutions. The texts studied will be drawn from the great books of the Western canon. The seminar meets five times per academic year and each session is guided by a different Hillsdale College faculty member or an outside scholar.

The disciplines drawn from normally include, but are not limited to: Classics, English, History, Philosophy, and Politics. Sessions are normally scheduled for three hours in the evening and consist of a public lecture followed by a private seminar led by the faculty member in which questions and discussions occur among the enrolled doctoral students.

Students write a paper for each year of the seminar, based upon a particular session from that year, under the direction of the faculty member who conducted the session. Students present their papers, often in a panel format. Session themes and faculty are organized by the Graduate Dean.

Recent Seminar Topics

Antiquity - Politics 801

Dr. Kenneth Calvert
Professor of History


Did the Teacher Kill His Student? Thoughts on Alexander’s faithfulness to Aristotle and to Greek ideals in his invasion of Persia

Dr. Khalil Habib
Associate Professor of Politics


Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Aristophanes’ Birds

Dr. Benjamin Beier
Assistant Professor of Education


What does Athens have to do with Rome? Ciceronian Syntheses in De Oratore

Dr. Eric Hutchinson
Associate Professor of Classics


“Into the Region of the Happy Life”: Augustine’s De beata vita and the Christian Reception of a Classical Topos

Middle Ages and the Renaissance - Politics 802

Dr. Richard Dougherty
Associate Professor of Politics, University of Dallas


Augustine’s Roman Heroes: The Contest of Classical and Christian Virtue

Dr. Stephen Smith
Professor of English


Dante’s Divine Comedy

Dr. Matthew Gaetano
Associate Professor of History


Rivaling Angels: Platonism, Christianity, and the Source of Human Dignity in Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

Dr. Mark Kremer
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Politics


Love and Marriage in Machiavelli’s Mandragola

Modernity - Politics 803

Dr. Dutton Kearney
Associate Professor of English


The Annoying Persistence of Tradition: Modernity and Joyce’s Ulysses

Dr. David Davies
Associate Professor of English, University of Dallas


Milton’s Socratic Rationalism in Paradise Lost

Dr. Matthew Gaetano
Associate Professor of History


“The genuine idealism”: Platonism and the Middle Ages in Early Romanticism

Dr. Matthew Young
Associate Professor of Chemistry


Fides Quaerens Intellectum: The Role of Personal Beliefs in the Natural Sciences

Doctoral Workshop

This course is designed to guide the fourth-year doctoral student in preparation for comprehensive exams and in crafting and securing approval for a dissertation proposal. It involves regular meetings with the Graduate Dean and, when appropriate, the prospective Dissertation Chair.

Meetings will normally be bi-weekly, and students must be in residence in the vicinity of the College while taking this course. POL 865 is 2 credit hours, normally taken in the fall of the fourth year. POL 866 is 1 credit hour, is a continuation of POL 865, and is normally taken in the spring of the fourth year.