Seminar Leaders

Charles Hill - History and Politics

“Why is DS so important? These great works, and the way Yale teaches them, reveal an intellectual conversation across the ages which informs every major decision and development in our time. If you're not part of the conversation, you can't really know what's going on and why in the world today.”

Charles Hill is Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy and Senior Lecturer in Humanities at Yale. A Career Minister of the Foreign Service, he was aide to Secretaries of State Kissinger and Shultz and was special advisor on policy for Secretary-General of the United Nations Boutros-Ghali. He is also a research fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Hill was educated at Brown and the University of Pennsylvania, and was awarded an LL.D (Hon.) by Rowan University. He has lectured at the Air Force Academy, Baylor, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, and West Point. In 2011-2012 he will be Patten Lecturer at Indiana University.

Hill collaborated with former UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali on Egypt’s Road to Jerusalem, a memoir of the Middle East peace negotiations, and Unvanquished, about US relations with the United Nations in the post-Cold War period, both published by Random House. His book Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order was published by Yale University Press in 2010. His forthcoming Trial of a Thousand Years: Islamism and World Order will be published by the Hoover Press, Stanford University, this year.

Jane Levin - Literature

“It is a privilege to teach in Directed Studies. The books we read are beautiful, they are about the central questions of human life, there is always more to learn, and I have extraordinary students and colleagues.”

It is a privilege to teach in Directed Studies. The books we read are beautiful, they are about the central questions of human life, there is always more to learn, and I have extraordinary students and colleagues.

Jane Levin is a Senior Lecturer in Humanities and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Directed Studies, Yale’s selective interdisciplinary program for freshmen in Western Civilization. Students in the program take three yearlong courses--Literature, Philosophy, and Historical and Political Thought—in which they read the central works of the western tradition. In 2003, Mrs. Levin was awarded a Yale College Prize for Teaching Excellence.

Mrs. Levin graduated from Stanford University, Class of ’68. She received a second undergraduate degree in English from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University where she was a Fulbright Scholar. In 1975, she received a Ph.D. in English from Yale.

She has served as a trustee of four schools in New Haven. She was on the board of directors of the Neighborhood Music School, Foote School, and Hopkins. She is currently a trustee of Amistad Academy, a charter school.

Norma Thompson - Philosophy

“I like teaching DS because our books are perfectly suited for the seminar table:  the ideas might, and do, go anywhere.  Readers unfailingly respond with the utmost seriousness to our texts, as if everything is at stake – which, of course, it is.  In one Platonic dialogue, Socrates ruminates over the alternatives that he is some monster like Typhon (twisted and filled with desires), or some more gentle animal.  Wouldn’t it be better to know?”

Norma Thompson is Associate Director of the Whitney Humanities Center and Senior Lecturer in the Humanities. She received her AB from Bowdoin College and her PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her scholarship and teaching are in the humanities, with special interests in political philosophy and politics and literature. She is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Humanities major in Yale College.

Her latest book is Unreasonable Doubt: Circumstantial Evidence and an Ordinary Murder in New Haven (2006). She has published two books with Yale University Press: Herodotus and the Origins of the Political Community: Arion's Leap (1996) and The Ship of State: Politics and Statecraft from Ancient Greece to Democratic America (2001).


She edited the volume Instilling Ethics with Rowman and Littlefield (2000) and has also published in Arion, Nomos, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, and in the festschrift for David Grene, Literary Imagination, Ancient and Modern. Her most recent article is on Herodotus and Thucydides for The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Political Theory (2009). Her entry "Herodotus as Political Thinker" will be published in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Political Thought.