Arts & Humanities

Arts & Humanities

The humanities disciplines use historical, philosophical, and artistic approaches to study the human condition. Humanistic knowledge plays a crucial part in the education of the individual and the betterment of society. The humanities broaden and deepen human awareness, give training in language, art, and rhetoric, build the core competencies of citizenship, and are even more important in a world where work and play have become globally connected.

Nationally Renowned Faculty & Programs

Duke’s humanities departments represent some of the top-ranked programs in the nation. Particular areas of teaching and research strength abound in the broad areas of languages and literatures, religion and philosophy, cultural history and visual studies, using the full range of traditional and new digital modes of inquiry. In addition, research in the humanities is strongly allied with the interpretive social sciences.

Interdisciplinary Approach to the Arts

Duke is also a rich place to study, practice and perform art, creative writing, dance, media and visual arts, music and theater. Our programs are defined by the university’s culture of cross-disciplinary research and education. As a result, the whole of Duke serves as a resource for the arts, informing and deepening student and faculty exploration of artistic expression and tradition.

Please see our departments, centers and affiliated research groups below.

The Ruby

The Rubenstein Arts Center is a hub for artistic production at Duke University and a new arts venue for the Triangle. Students, faculty, visiting artists, and other collaborators come together in flexible project studios to hone their skills and create new work. Public programs—including performances, film screenings and exhibitions—launch this work into the world. The Ruby is also home to the programs in Dance and the Arts of the Moving Image and WXDU 88.7 FM, Duke’s student-run radio station.

News & Video

Selected Faculty Books

Centers & Institutes

Center for French and Francophone Studies

The Center for French and Francophone Studies fosters interdisciplinary French studies. Designated an official Centre Pluridisciplinaire by the Cultural Services division of the French Embassy, the center is an umbrella, a catalyst, and an organizing force designed to consolidate and intensify intellectual energies across the campus and throughout the region. The Center sponsors and co-sponsors a variety of cross-disciplinary activities, including colloquia and workshops; visits by distinguished writers, scholars, joumalists, theater troupes, and researchers; screenings of the best new French films; and virtual and actual intellectual collaborations and exchanges.

Center for Jewish Studies

The Center for Jewish Studies is an inter­departmental program focused on the exploration of Jewish language, literature, history, and culture. The program offers courses including on topics such as religion, political science, history, cultural anthropology, comparative literature, Hebrew language and literature, women's studies, Germanic languages, and more. The Center offers students the flexibility to design a curriculum that meets their individual interests.  In addition to our internationally respected faculty, Duke is home to one of the finest collections of Jewish haggadot, theological and liturgical printed works, manuscripts, papers, diaries and art.

Center for Late Ancient Studies

The Center for Late Ancient Studies seeks to promote the interdisciplinary study of the culture of the Roman Empire, its neighbors and successors, from the second to the eighth century C.E.  Duke has gained international recognition through its sponsorship of a distinguished annual lecture series, and the center acts as an intellectual focus for the graduate students and faculty from different departments with shared historical commitment. In addition to the annual lecture series, the Center is active in creating and maintaining reading and discussion groups as well as in arranging conferences. Closely collaborating with colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Center also aims at establishing substantive inter-institutional links with neighboring universities.

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Duke University has been an important international center for interdisciplinary medieval and Renaissance studies for over fifty years. The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies collaborates on many projects with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in the Joint Program for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The program itself offers an undergraduate major and minor within Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, and a certificate of graduate study within the Graduate School. Duke's libraries contain over 5,000,000 volumes, ranking among the top private university library systems in the United States. In addition to large holdings in art history, British history, English literature, musicology, medieval Church history, and Reformation and post- Reformation materials, the various campus libraries contain several distinguished special collections of medieval and early modern materials.

Duke Islamic Studies Center

The Duke Islamic Studies Center is a vibrant, diverse community of scholars and students engaged in interdisciplinary teaching, interactive learning, and cutting-edge research about Islam and Muslims. Duke's Center is one of the leading institutions in North America for the study of Islam and Muslims. Its comparative, cross-cultural approach to Islamic studies will foster fresh interpretations of Islam and encourage creative solutions to the economic, political and social challenges involving Muslims. We are committed to working with partners at home and abroad to provide undergraduate and graduate students, professionals and policy makers with the knowledge about Muslims and Islamic cultures, beliefs and practices that will enable them to operate effectively in a multicultural world.

HASTAC - Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory

HASTAC ("haystack") is a network of individuals and institutions inspired by the possibilities that new technologies offer us for shaping how we learn, teach, communicate, create, and organize our local and global communities.  We are motivated by the conviction that the digital era provides rich opportunities for informal and formal learning and for collaborative, networked research that extends across traditional disciplines, across the boundaries of academe and community, across the "two cultures" of humanism and technology, across the divide of thinking versus making, and across social strata and national borders.

Humanities Writ Large

Humanities Writ Large is a five-year initiative, with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aimed at redefining the role of the humanities in undergraduate education. Humanities Writ Large aims to infuse the undergraduate experience with opportunities to conduct humanities research and thereby learn how humanities fields contribute valuable new knowledge through humanistic analysis, perspective and methods. Emerging Networks are a culture change mechanism intended to shift humanities research towards broadly collaborative, interdisciplinary engagements in contrast to the largely solitary efforts that tend to characterize traditional humanities research. Humanities Labs are multi-year programs designed around a theme and intended to drive change and innovation in our undergraduate humanities curriculum through new courses and student research opportunities.

Asian/Pacific Studies Institute

The Asian/Pacific Studies Institute (APSI) is a focal point of research and teaching on the Asian/Pacific region at Duke University. APSI supports a dynamic group of faculty drawn from a variety of disciplines and is unique in the range of interdisciplinary interests of the faculty. Duke’s East Asian studies faculty offer comprehensive coverage of East Asian politics, societies, history, and cultures. The faculty’s research concentrations in East Asian colonialism, East Asian political economy, Japanese history, and modern Chinese literature, film and cultural studies are among the deepest in the nation.

John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies

The John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies is a unique consortium of programs committed to revitalizing notions of how knowledge is gained and exchanged. Participants from a broad range of disciplines converge to explore intellectual issues, including some of the most pressing social and political themes of our time: race and race relations, the legacy of the African-American experience, equality and opportunity among diverse populations, the implications of accelerated globalization. The center brings together humanists and those involved in the social sciences in a setting that inspires vigorous scholarship and imaginative alliances. Participating arts and science organizations include the Center for International Studies, the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, the Duke Islamic Studies Center's Transcultural Project, the Center for Canadian Studies, the Center for European Studies and faculty from the departments of music and Asian & Middle Eastern studies.

John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute

The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute encourages and enables serious humanistic inquiry, and promotes a heightened awareness of the centrality of the humanities to the quality of human life, social interaction, and scholarship in all fields. The institute emphasizes a broad conception of interdisciplinarity – one that encompasses all methods and approaches, and which acknowledges the importance of the core humanities disciplines – as well as scholarly work that examines issues of social equity, especially research on race and ethnicity in their most profound historical and international dimensions. The institute serves as a collaboration resource for humanistic research across Duke, and draws on the faculty scholarship of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

Academy Fellows

American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Academia Europaea

American Academy of Arts & Letters