Asheville School's award winning Humanities Department integrates study of literature, history, religion, art, and music in a four-year sequence: Ancient Studies, World Studies, European Studies, and American Studies.
Ancient Studies explores the roots of Western Civilization by studying ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and Jerusalem. The course is reading and writing intensive and promotes growth as thinkers and writers.
Ancient Studies is centered around a core question: “what does it mean to lead a good life?”
Asheville School values character formation, and the ancient world offers many examples of lives to emulate or avoid, and multiple ideas to engage and confront. Through extensive study of the classical past, students encounter numerous figures that ask and answer this question through their words, their actions, or their creations. Students not only grapple with the complex legacy of the ancient world, they also have the opportunity to develop their own answers about how best to lead their lives.
In World Studies, students delve into the eight major world religions and the regions that gave rise to them. With each culture that we investigate, students explore the world and their role in it by navigating art, architecture, poetry, philosophy, geography, current events and—most importantly—foundational literature.
Research Seminar and Intro to Studio Art
While students take World Studies, they take Intro to Studio Art and Research Seminar. The art and research teachers work as part of the World Studies team to integrate the study of art and research with the content of World Studies.
When students are studying China, they will read Tang Dynasty poetry in English, and they will make Chinese landscape paintings in art. They will also study the three religions that influence this art and literature—Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Students will learn how to use and apply the terminology of art criticism, and they will learn the research skills needed to explore complex topics thoroughly.
European Literature teaches critical reading, writing and thinking skills in the context of European history. Students approach writing as a process, and writing assignments emphasize careful revision, creation of a demanding thesis, and thorough support for that thesis.
This course surveys the key events and themes in modern European history from the Renaissance to the present. Students examine political, cultural, and religious themes and events, including the Reformation, the French Revolution, and Napoleon’s reign, as well as nationalism and its impact on the 19th century and beyond.
Students interpret key events and analyze historical evidence while heightening their awareness of the consequences of European contact with other areas of the world. To prepare students for the 21st century, this course encourages students to examine the socioeconomic and political partnerships formed between the U.S. and Europe. This course emphasizes the study of art and what it can tell us about a given movement or era.
American Studies offers a unique perspective on the American Dream and its meaning for our lives. Students cultivate critical thinking skills and are prepared to articulate questions, analyze and synthesize information, distinguish fact from opinion, and write and speak intelligently about American literature and American cultural development.
As students interpret the thoughts and words of various literary figures, so too are they better able to interpret and articulate the meaning of their own lives.
The course culminates with the Senior Demonstration. Students read three books of their choosing, write two papers analyzing those books and sit for an oral defense. This capstone project affords students the opportunity to pursue a subject of their interest and then put into practice their scholarly independence.
This course examines the development of the United States from the colonial period to the present. Students analyze and interpret historical and modern events from political, cultural, economic, diplomatic and social perspectives. Throughout the course, a clear emphasis is placed on understanding the essence of American democracy. Key topics include the American Revolution, the philosophy of government, Jeffersonian America, the link between domestic policy and foreign policy, the Civil War, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and post-war America.
A spring trip to Washington D.C. and its museums and government buildings brings our study off the pages of our books and into students’ lives.
The Humanities Department offers a single-semester elective course for students with an interest in further humanities study. Past topics have included illness, medicine and literature; women in literature; major works of world literature; the 1960s; and the constitution and the Supreme Court.