Humanities Circle: Middle School

The Middle School Humanities Circle Spring 2018 course will focus on Arts & Literature.

Spring 2018 Course Information

In Spring 2018, we will offer one course for students in grades 6–8. The focus is Arts & Literature. Classes begin the week of April 4th and run for 10 sessions through June 6th. The class will meet on Wednesday evenings: 6:15–7:30 pm. 

The class will explore the role of art in society and the relationship between arts and literature. What is art? How do different artists respond to an idea or event? How does art change lives? Students will gain an understanding of a selection of major aesthetic movements in relation to key cultural and historical events. Participants are introduced to the interplay between disciplines such as architecture, art, photography, music, literature, and major social, political, cultural, and historical forces. 

  • Blending Fiction and Non-Fiction in Storytelling
  • American Abstract Expressionism in Context: What is Abstraction?
  • Visionary art and altered experience - Pop, Minimalist, Psychedelic: The art of the 1960s
  • Jazz Music, the Harlem Renaissance, and the poetry of Langston Hughes
  • Meter, Rhythm, Shakespeare, and Hamilton
  • Visuality in Modernist Poems: Introducing the technique of the pastiche
  • Photography: Story
  • Photography: Composition 
  • Photography: Light


Maria Cichosz is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Program in Modern Thought & Literature at Stanford University, where she studies the history of ideas as told through literary and visual forms. Her interdisciplinary work brings together literary history, philosophy, and art historical inquiry, with a particular focus on the late twentieth century through today. She has taught at the University of Toronto, where she earned her M.A., and will be teaching in Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies Summer Institute 2018. As a fiction writer, Maria has a unique understanding of the relationship between thought, language, and visual form. 

Azar Kafaei holds a B.A. in History with a focus on Modern Middle East from Yale University. She is currently an MFA candidate at the Department of Art and Art History, where she studies in the Documentary Filmmaking program. She is interested in blending fiction and non-fiction in storytelling.

Gretchen E. Kellough (Ph.D., Northwestern University, Comparative Literature; M.A., Northwestern University, Francophone Studies; A.B., Occidental College, French and Comparative Literature) is a middle and high school English teacher at The Nueva School in Hillsborough. Prior to teaching at Nueva, she taught English at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii and at The Quarry Lane School in Dublin, CA. She also taught courses in French language and world literature at Sonoma State University, Lake Forest College, and Northwestern University. She specializes in postcolonial novels by women writers and has published articles on the ways in which these female authors weave together multiple genres, languages, and communities.

Joel Simon studied with Leo Holub at Stanford and has worked as an editorial and fine art photographer for four decades. His documentary assignments have taken him to nearly every country across the globe. He is as at home photographing beneath the ocean’s surface as he is on land. His work has been published in Vanity Fair, Time, GEO, Condé Naste Traveler, Aqua, the Chicago Tribune, Sunset and Skin Diver, and he maintains an extensive portfolio of Stanford University images. His work may be viewed at Joel teaches in Stanford’s Continuing Studies program and has taught in students in the SPCS Summer Institute and Humanities Institute.