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Directed Studies at Yale Universitymarker is a selective humanities study program for freshmen. It follows the Great Books of the Western tradition, and resembles Princeton Universitymarker's Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture, Columbia University's Core Curriculum, Georgetown Universitymarker's Liberal Arts Seminar, the University of Chicagomarker's Core Curriculum, the Program in Structured Liberal Education at Stanfordmarker, and the program of study at St. John's College.

Directed Studies consists of three year-long courses: Literature, Philosophy, and Historical and Political Thought (formerly "History and Politics"). Previously, Art History and Classics were also available as options. The works read cover a wide variety of noted authors, including Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Descartes, Hobbes, Milton, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Tolstoy. The program requires a large commitment of time, and allows students to take only one or two other classes each semester.

The program includes 125 students a year, or about one-tenth of each freshman class. About 50 are admitted because they expressed interest in their applications to Yale College. The remaining 75 must apply for the program during the summer before freshman year.

Directed Studies classes are small. Lectures have been given by prominent scholars such as Sterling Professors R. Howard Bloch and Harold Bloom. Several participants have returned to Yale as scholars, including Margaret Litvin, cognitive scientist and philosopher Tamar Gendler, English professor S. Shameem Black and political scientist Roy Tsao.

Critics of Directed Studies say so much material cannot be covered in sufficient intellectual depth in one year. Others say the reading list includes too many dead white males. In past years, the syllabus has included short stories by Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor and novels by Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, but in 2008, Sappho and Hannah Arendt were the only female authors included in the syllabus.


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