Modes of Knowing, Sites of Encounter:

Exploring the Human through Text, Image, and Performance

July 6 – 26, 2024

The Humanities cultivate our awareness of the many factors and forces that shape the actions and beliefs of individuals or group through time. Most of all, it strengthens our capacity to enter into the lives and thoughts of others so as to understand more fully, subtly, and sympathetically “what makes them tick,” a capacity that ultimately helps us be and do better in every aspect of our lives.

Students in the Humanities Program will seek to understand the complex connections between vision, performance/experience, knowledge, and truth and the ways in which people have used texts, images, and performance to encounter new and different ideas and realities. We will see how human beings have used maps, history, literary fiction, and the visual and scientific arts to understand, control, and challenge their world.

Students will learn to use techniques of research, interpretation, and presentation that are essential to achieve the goals of humanistic research: to understand with depth and complexity the nature of human thought, action, and expression and to convey this understanding to others. Students will complete research in one of four courses and enjoy opportunities to engage the other three topics through field trips, lectures, discussions, and primary source explorations. The program culminates with a research symposium where students share the results of their work with each other and the broader community.

Two students reading in class.
A summer Carl looking at a large book.

Hear from the Faculty Director

We sat down with Faculty Director Bill North to learn more about the 2024 Humanities program. Take a look to see if the Humanities is the program for you!

Academic Credit

Summer Carls can earn up to six Carleton course credits (typically transfers as three semester credits) for successfully meeting faculty expectations and completing course requirements. In addition to receiving written feedback about course performance from faculty, students will receive one of the following three possible grade designations: satisfactory (S), credit (Cr), or no credit (NC)Formal academic transcripts are available upon request for Summer Carl alumni and will reflect the name of the course and grade earned.

Writing Sample Requirement

Each applicant to the Humanities Program must submit a writing sample along with their online application. The writing sample must be submitted during application process and an application will not be considered complete without the writing sample.

The writing sample should be a recent sample of your best academic writing for review by the Humanities Program Admissions Committee. Your writing sample should be a minimum of two pages long, typed and double spaced. The essay may be on any topic of your choice and should be of an academic nature. While not required, we suggest a literary analysis or research paper. If you have questions about the qualification of a writing sample please contact our office.         

When uploading the document to your application please note the following are supported file formats: .txt (plain text); .doc or .docx (Word); or PDF (portable document file).

Courses and Faculty

Click on each topic below to view the course description and faculty information.

Power, Knowledge, and Uncertainty in the Renaissance:

The Encounters of Machiavelli & Montaigne

Niccolò Macchiavelli (1469-1527) grew up in one of the vibrant centers of humanistic investigation and artistic creativity—Florence. Exploring the classical past and observing a tumultuous present, Machiavelli brought new perspectives and questions to his analysis of governance and the role of perception and knowledge in the accumulation, use, and loss of power.  Like Machiavelli, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) entered a world in the midst of dynamic changes. Protestantism, the European encounter with the New World, the printing press each dramatically, sometimes violently, shook traditional sources of truth and structures of authority. A jurist and scholar, Montaigne used observation, scholarship, wit, and humane sympathy to challenge verities and easy coalitions of power and knowledge.

In this course, we will explore how these two individuals understood the connection between knowledge, power, and identity and the ways in which their contemporaries were seeking to cope with new knowledge, uncertainty, deception, and controversial ideas.

Students choosing history as their primary field will pursue individual curated research projects that will culminate in a research essay and a public presentation based on this research.


Bill North

Program Director

Fascinated by history, religion, and the classical tradition at Princeton University, Bill North went on to receive his Ph.D. in medieval history from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998. After a post-doctoral year pursuing Byzantine history at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, North came to Carleton in 1999.

At Carleton, Bill teaches courses on the later Roman Empire, Byzantium, the early and central Middle Ages; medieval Latin and Greek; and maintains an active interest in Renaissance humanism and the methods and meaning of the recovery and study of the people, both ancient and contemporary. In each of his courses, he is excited to explore the opportunities offered by the interdisciplinary collaboration that is an essential part of the humanities.

Bill is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome and at Carleton co-directs an off campus study program in Rome with his colleague Victoria Morse. In his research and teaching, he is particularly interested in the dynamics—institutional and intellectual—of controversies, the creation and maintenance of institutional and political cultures, and the role of the past in creating and dismantling structures of authority and knowledge. He loves garbanzo beans and garbanzo bean-related food.

Explore more courses ↑

Professor Bill North

Become a Summer Carl

Ready to spend your summer with us? Apply Today!