Humanities Blast Courses

two hands paging through a book on a table with many books

Thanks for another wonderful year of Blast Courses! We will return for a new slate of public humanities programming for Summer 2023. If you would like to be kept updated on future Blast programs, contact

Blast Courses

Blast Courses in the Humanities is a summer program offered by AGHI. Courses are free to all members of the public, taught online by up-and-coming Johns Hopkins experts. These five-week, online humanities classes offer entry-level explorations of topics ranging from “Medieval Irish Sagas” to radical movements to “Reading Poetry for Everyday Life.”

Classes are intended to offer adult students with busy schedules a chance to learn something fun and interesting without homework or high-intensity classes. Instead, Blast Courses allow students to get familiar with a new subject over about two hours/week.

Some classes include a live class discussion at a pre-arranged time: be sure to check if the class you sign up for is all pre-recorded or includes some group meetings. All Blast Courses are interactive. This includes even the fully recorded classes, in which instructors will ask students for their questions about the week’s ideas and topics, then post a Q&A video at the end of the week responding to you. Students need to provide an email address upon registration so their instructor can send these weekly links to videos, handouts, and/or any other material as you take this five-week blast through a topic!

What Blast Courses Offer

We believe that the humanities are all about making connections, both in our thinking and in our contact with other people. All students are welcome to sign up for a Blast Course: no prior knowledge is required, and participation is up to you! At a time when many of us want to learn for fun but don’t have time for a full course or lots of homework, Blast Courses are designed to introduce you to a topic as taught by some of the most enthusiastic and informed sources around.

These five weeks are supposed to be fun and thought provoking, but you will also gain skills you’ll be able to use once the class is over. Whether it’s about how to read a poem or why TV shows keep repeating the same stories, we want to share the amazing research and interests of young scholars in the humanities—and share it with the community beyond our usual students.

Any questions or concerns? Email – and be sure to mention which class(es) you have a question about!

Past Courses—Summer 2022

  • The Atomic Age Today,” instructor: Ruoyu Li (Political Science)
  • Ancient Poetry at the End of the World,” instructor: Martin Michalek (Classics)
  • Fast Fiction,” instructor: Eric Emmons (Writing Seminars)
  • A Voyage and the Marvel: Discovering Maryland in the 17th Century,” instructor: Ambra Marzocchi (Classics)
  • Glory of an Ancient, Storied Land: Tolkien and the Ancient World,” instructor: Kathryn H. Stutz (Classics)
  • Cut and Paste: Remediating the DIY Archive through the Creation of Cyber-Zines,” instructor: Lauren Mushro (MLL)
  • Where Are We at Home? Literature of Exile,” instructor: Marta Cerreti (MLL)
  • Tomorrow Will Be Too Late: Reading The Second Sex,” instructor: Thomas Mann (Political Science)
  • Talk Like an Egyptian: Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs,” instructor: Maarten Praet (Near Eastern Studies)
  • The Production of Forensic Space in Crime Fiction,” instructor: Antonia Grousdanidou (MLL)  

Past Courses—Summer 2021

  • Exploring Uncanny Valleys in Contemporary Literature” – instructor: Antonia Grousdanidou [Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures]
  • Surgery, Herbs, and Amulets: A Social History of Ancient Medicine” – instructor: Dr. Lingxin Zhang [Dept. of Near Eastern Studies]
  • Medieval Irish Sagas” – instructor: Daniel McClurkin [Dept. of English]
  • Reading Poetry for Everyday Life” – instructor: Martin Michalek [Dept. of Classics]
  • Letters from Prison—Homegrown Terrorism and Basque Nationalism” – instructor: Lauren Mushro [Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures]
  • Introducing Gilgamesh” – instructor: Michael Chapin [Dept. of Near Eastern Studies]
  • Science and Utopian Fiction” – instructor: Mitchell Cram [Dept. of English]