Arts and Humanities

Students complete two sections of HONR 2053 between their second and fourth years. HONR 2053 courses offer a thematic, multidisciplinary, and cross-cultural analysis of the arts and artistic expression. 

Fall 2023 Courses

Cross-listed Honors courses

NOTE: Students must be registered in the HONR section in order to receive UHP credit. 

A cross-listed course is a course that is shared with another department, please pay careful attention to the GPAC attributes associated with each cross-listed course.

Upper-Level Course Substitution Option

On occasion, a UHP student may have a particular interest in a certain course or topic outside of their major which we are not able to offer formally through the UHP but which may nonetheless conform to some or all of the ideals of an Honors course. If a UHP student can demonstrate that they will benefit personally and intellectually from that course, they may be granted an exception to count one non-UHP course toward the UHP upper-level course requirements. Please review the upper-level course substitution option webpage for more information.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A History

Professor Christopher Brick

HONR 2053:10 - 3 Credits

CRN 44658

TR 12:45-2:00PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Humanities

Course Description: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the world’s most recognizable documents, “the foundation of international human rights law,” according to the United Nations, and one of the most widely-reprinted texts in human history. While its framers theorized the UDHR as a “Magna Carta for all,” opponents and detractors have routinely cast it instead as an empty vessel, at best, and at worst a dangerous tool of oppression. Is it either of these things, neither, or something else entirely? This course will invite students to consider these questions anew as it examines the Declaration’s conceptual origins in the ancient past, the historical context that led the UN General Assembly to formalize and promulgate a human rights coda in 1948, and the UDHR’s colorful evolution into a flashpoint of controversy for activists, policymakers, intellectuals, and the international community writ large. Please note that in researching their term projects for this course, students will be required to draw upon resources from the permanent collection of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, a research center of the GW History Department and archive of UDHR materials that UNESCO has designated “vital to global heritage and personhood."

Bio: Dr. Brick is an editor and principle investigator of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers project at GW and one of the hosts of the Organization of American Historians’ podcast Intervals.

The History of Coups d'Etat in the Twentieth Century: A Comparative Examination of the Nature of Political Power and Violence

Professor Seth Rotramel

HONR 2053:13 - 3 Credits

CRN 44659

W 3:30PM - 6:00PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Humanities

Course Description: This course examines the timing and causes of the seizure of executive power by the use or threat of force by some segment of a state’s ruling class or state apparatus. By looking at both long and short-term causes of coups, we will seek to better understand the nature of political power through the lens of political violence. After defining what a coup is and investigating theoretical underpinnings, the course will take a deep dive into a number of case studies that occurred during the twentieth century. Not confining ourselves to any one country or region, these case studies provide a comparative approach that will augment our theoretical understanding with real world examples. Investigating the dramatic events leading up to and following a coup d’état will also serve as a vehicle to examine broader issues affecting humanity. Thus, by examining illegal seizures of governments, we will also be studying the political consequences of poverty, inequality, modernization, political fractionalization, and coercive production structures.

Bio:  Dr. Rotramel has served as a historian for the State Department since 2011 and focuses on the history of American diplomacy. He recently compiled and edited a Foreign Relations of the United States document focused on the Carter administration’s approach to the South Asia region in response to the shifting political landscape at the end of the 1970s.

Hindu, Buddhist & Daoist Religio-Philosophical Traditions in Comparative Perspective

Professor B.N. Hebbar

HONR 2053:14 - 3 Credits

CRN 44660

W 6:10PM - 8:40PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Humanities

Course Description: This course will look into early Hinduism (prior to the advent of Buddhism) and then, after briefly studying Jainism, move onto study Buddhism (history, philosophy & religion) in all of eastern Asia. The course will then look into the seven schools of Classical Hinduism and then study the tradition of Daoism in terms of its philosophy and religion. The course will also look into the conflict and cooperation aspects of Buddhism with both Hinduism  (in  India) and Daoism (in  China).

Bio: Dr. Hebbar teaches Religions of the East and currently serves as Executive Vice-President of the International Buddhist Association of America. He was awarded GW’s Morton A. Bender Teaching Award in 2006.

Major Authors: Jane Austen

Professor Maria Frawley

HONR 2053W:81 - 3 Credits

CRN 46505

TR 11:10AM - 12:25PM


  • GPAC Critical Thinking in the Humanities

***Note that UHP students will only receive Arts & Humanities credit if they are enrolled in the HONR 2053 section (CRN: 46505)***

Course cross listed with ENGL 3820W.10 (CRN: 47654)

Course Description: Jane Austen: Literary Icon

Why does Jane Austen still matter? This course focuses on the novelist’s literary achievements, the vagaries of her reception over time, and on her continuing relevance to our own culture and historical moment. Our reading will include all of her novels, some unpublished early writing, and work unfinished at her death. Understanding the social and historical contexts that shaped Austen’s work will be a major preoccupation. Among our many topics for consideration will be the ways Austen both reflects and responds to social hierarchy and class relations in Regency England; the relationship between gender ideology, “conduct book culture,” and Austen’s representations of women’s lives; Austen and the histories and legacies of colonialism and slavery; Austen’s views of national identity in the era of the French Revolution; and her innovative narrative and linguistic techniques. Also, Austen and adaptation (esp. film, but also other media)! Students will expect to come away from this course with a solid grasp of the social, historical, and literary contexts of Austen’s fiction; with greater appreciation of the stylistic achievements of her fiction writing; and with the ability to critically assess how and why Austen’s works have been received and adapted over time. Writing assignments for this course will enable students to cultivate their analytic abilities and tap into their creativity, while also practicing writing for different audiences.

Bio: Dr. Frawley is Professor of English and chair of the Department of English whose research interests focus on  nineteenth-century British literature, social history, and print culture. She served as Executive Director of the UHP for many years and was awarded GW’s Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Faculty Prize in Teaching in 2022.