Each year, courses in Humanities First are taught by faculty from across the Humanities division. This year, we have professors from Scandinavian Studies, English, Classics, and German Studies. Learn more about them below!

Humanities 102 (Winter) and 103 (Spring)

Humanities 101 Co-Instructor Alex McCauley

Dr. Alex McCauley works on ecology and political economy in nineteenth-century literature. Drownings, floods, swamps, sinking islands, liquefying crowds—that’s his material. Dr. McCauley tracks those interests back to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when he was living in Thailand and went to the coast with my high school to help out with relief efforts. That specific flood has led Dr. McCauley to global water issues: too much water, or not enough, everywhere we look. And, too often, that means a small number of people profiting from controlling that water. The humanistic question Dr. McCauley cares most about is how to read. That means thinking about the possibilities and limits of interpretive methods, whether interpreting a provincial Victorian novel or a contemporary report on dams filling up with silt. The hard work is avoiding algorithmic thinking. It’s very easy to see the same thing over and over wherever we look, and to repeat the same scripted arguments. (Like constantly complaining about a small number of people benefiting from controlling water.) The best solutions Dr. McCauley has found for that problem are attending to specifics, connecting those specifics to each other in new ways, and practicing self-criticism.


Image of Program Coordinator Sam Hushagen

Sam Hushagen received his PhD in English literature from the University of Washington in 2019 after completing a dissertation on early-modern science and descriptive poetry. He researches the connections among poetry written between 1660 and 1850, philosophy of mind, and the history and philosophy of science to show how these areas can be seen in productive conjunction rather than as isolated pursuits. He is currently working on a book about landscape poetry and sense experience, and has published essays in The Wordsworth Circle, The William Carlos Williams Review, and Milton Quarterly. Sam has taught English and humanities courses at the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, and Highline College. He began teaching at UW as a graduate student in the English department in 2013. Before pursuing his doctorate, Sam was a UW undergraduate in English and CHID. He joins Humanities First as an Instructor for Humanities 102 and 103 and Program Coordinator.


Program Leadership

Professor Sarah Stroup smiling

Sarah Stroup, the program director of Humanities First, is a professor in the department of Classics and the chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies.  Prof. Stroup received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Washington (BA Philosophy; BA Latin and Classical Studies), and her graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley MA Latin; PhD Classics).  Prof. Stroup is interested in the intellectual and political history of the late Roman Republic, late Republican cryptography and doublespeak, ancient philosophy of science and knowledge, ancient sport and spectacle, and the advanced technologies of the Greeks and Romans.  Prof. Stroup is a strong believer in the public, professional, and personal value of a humanities education, where our focus is on strategic and effective communication. Prof. Stroup can be reached at scstroup@uw.edu.


Image of Program Coordinator Sam Hushagen

Sam Hushagen, the program coordinator for Humanities First, received his PhD in English literature from the University of Washington in 2019 after completing a dissertation on early-modern science and descriptive poetry. Sam is your go-to contact for any questions about Humanities First! He handles the day-to-day operations for the program. Please contact Sam with any questions you have at samhus85@uw.edu.