Research in the humanities encompasses a diverse mixture of disciplines that includes departments in area, ethnic, culture, and gender studies, philosophy and religious studies, foreign languages, English language and literature, and history. These disciplines encompass the heart of the liberal arts experience for students at Vanderbilt.
Much of the research in the humanities involves asking a specific question within a discipline, reviewing the relevant literature, writing critically and thoughtfully on the topic, and then potentially presenting or publishing the end results of this process. This type of research can be conducted more independently and with fewer barriers than research in many other fields, but this by no means makes it easier. In fact, by exploring the questions that arise in the humanities and attempting to answer them, you join a rich tradition in thinking about some of the hardest and most important things people have ever thought about. In trying to answer those questions, you may come to understand profound insights about how the world works, how to make it better, and how to live a meaningful life.
Students conducting research in the humanities are strongly encouraged to find faculty mentors who can help focus and clarify research questions, review literature, and focus and guide the writing process. Many of the majors in the humanities also offer honors and senior seminar opportunities for independent research, as well as opportunities to publish or present at conferences for especially committed students.
Students interested in research in the humanities should consult the academic resources page of Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science.