The Humanities 

The Humanities, properly understood, encompass all forms of human self-expression aimed at communication with others. Spoken language, music, written language of all genres, drama, visual arts, architecture, and more recently film and digital arts, have evolved in constant interaction with one another and in concert with technological developments and advances, and can only be fully understood in relation to one another.

The Humanities program at The Hill, uses "greatest jewels" of human creative and intellectual accomplishment, as the foundation from which the students as citizens of a rapidly changing 21st century global community will venture farther afield in both space (beyond the traditionally defined West) and time (to study contemporary creative works) while looking ahead to anticipate the adult world they are about to inherit.

Humanities 3 and 4 together are designed to guide students as they attain the sophisticated levels of both critical and creative thinking that are the foundation of effective, lucid and compelling oral and written articulation of their own understanding, analysis and appreciation. These are the “skills” at the core of the Humanities program at The Hill, as they are throughout the liberal arts curriculum. It is the means to those ends that make the Humanities program at The Hill different; those skills are developed in response to and interaction with the “best” of human creation.

Within the evirons of the Levis '45 * Alexandre '75 Center for the Humanities, students enrolled in Humanities 3 and 4 will write on a daily basis, while exploring a wide range of genres and rhetorical methods and techniques as both critics and practitioners themselves. Students must be prepared to be challenged daily within an active, interdisciplinary, student-centered learning environment. This course requires summer preparatory work, which includes, reading, writing, and experiential activities.

Humanities Courses:

Humanities 3 AP English Language (College Level)

Fifth form Humanities 3 AP is the first year of a two-year sequence of courses. It prepares students for the CEEB Advanced Placement Examination in AP English Language and Composition. 

Humanities 3 students will explore rhetorical masters spanning from Prospero in the Tempest to such diverse characters as Jonathan Swift, Abraham Lincoln, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Annie Dillard. 

Humanities 4 AP English Literature (College Level)

Sixth form Humanities 4 AP is the second year of a two-year sequence of courses. It prepares students for the CEEB Advanced Placement Examination in AP English Literature and Composition.

Humanities 4 students will explore the critical concepts of “genius” “greatness” and “excellence” through their encounters with the Illiad and Hamlet as well as Michelangelo and Beethoven, and a variety of modern, contemporary, and global authors, artists, and cultural phenomena.

A Brief History of the Humanities at The Hill School:

The humanities have been taught at The Hill by some of the School’s finest masters, beginning with Paul Chancellor, who created the program in 1946, when secondary school-level humanities programs were quite rare. 

Chancellor led the program until 1954, when he was succeeded by John Anderson, who taught Humanities from 1954 to 1999. Henry Bender, Ph.D. was the chairman from 1998 until his retirement in 2012. Kathryn Malone, Ph.D., previously an instructor of history and Academic Dean at The Hill, has been the School’s Elizabeth B. Blossom Chair of Humanities from the fall of 2012 to the present. 

From 1946 to 2014, the humanities’ home was the stately Levis Room, named in memory of John M. Levis ’46. In January 2014, a completely renovated and technologically upgraded room was dedicated as the Levis ’45 * Alexandre ’75 Center for the Humanities, in tribute to the generosity of Julie and Jim Alexandre ’75.

Read More About the History of the Humanities Program

Opening the door to more Humanities scholars:

Not surprisingly, an ever-increasing number of highly qualified students are strongly interested in studying humanities at The Hill. Greatly sought-after admission to this rigorous curriculum has been very selective to ensure small class sizes and provide traditionally intimate, discussion-based pedagogy. Indeed, Hill’s humanities students always have been among the School’s top scholars, and quite often they go on to markedly distinguished academic and professional careers. 

Beginning in 2016-17, two additional faculty members joined the Humanities Department to better meet our students’ demand for this transformative academic opportunity. Joining Dr. Malone were Patrick Lake, Ph.D., Isaac Thomas Instructor of Classics and chairman of the Classics department, and Mark Pearson, Ph.D., Hill Class of ’78, director of the Humphrey Family Writing Center and instructor of English. 

By virtue of their now-combined expertise in history, the classics, and English literature, the masters’ collaboration will enhance the way in which their disciplines are connected to one another as well as the visual arts, architecture, music, and religion. 

The expanded humanities faculty also will mean that the number of Hill students who can study humanities will increase substantially, about 29 percent, even as the Department maintains demanding academic standards. In 2015-16, 59 students were able to participate in Humanities through four sections; for 2016-17, 76 students (or 22 percent of total Hill enrollment) enjoyed this class via six sections. Three fifth form sections were offered, with each master teaching one section. Three College Board-approved AP Humanities classes are available for the sixth form, with all sixth form sections taught by Dr. Malone. Notably, Hill humanities students traditionally perform extremely well on the AP exam. 

All Humanities Department faculty members also serve on the “Trivium Review” task force which began work in the spring of 2016. This endeavor will re-examine Hill’s liberal arts curriculum and imagine new pedagogies to connect humanities-related classes -- from English, history, and foreign languages, to religious studies, philosophy, and the visual and performing arts. 

The humanities program – a hallmark of The Hill School’s distinctive and challenging curriculum – will grow ever stronger as we inspire more students’ intellectual curiosity and help them understand what often is called the connective tissue between academic disciplines.