Six Pretty Good is a new initiative within the First Year Seminar Program offered every fall semester. Intentionally irreverent in name, the program deconstructs canonicity and reconceives the “great books” rubric as open, dialogic, and vital. It invites students to think about what we value—what makes something “good” – and why we once valued and might still continue to value it.

Each seminar is paired with a mandatory Friday lab that alternates between writing workshops and exploring Yale’s archives, museums, and special collections —including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Yale Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, and specialist world-class holdings such as the Babylonian collection. Interested students must apply through the first-year seminar preference selection portal before the beginning of the Fall semester.

Close up of Sterling Library Bas Relief. A statue of a medieval scholar holding a book stands in the center. On each side, scribes with text in different languages above them.
Sterling Library Bas Relief, Lee Lawrie & René Chambellan source

Six Pretty Good courses are organized thematically with an emphasis on transhistorical and cross-cultural connections. Linked by some framing readings held in common, the seminars’ framework speaks to our commitment to a broad, open-ended canon and a mode of teaching driven by curiosity and exploration rather than by a fixed set of principles and hierarchies of value.


Alessandro Giammei

Alessandro Giammei studies how early modern culture haunts later ages, including the present. His latest books are about masculinity, the modern afterlife of chivalric epic, and Shakespeare's ghost.

Kathryn Slanki

Kathryn Slanski holds a joint appointment in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and in Humanities and studies ancient Mesopotamia at the intersections of sources and approaches.

Simona Lorenzini

Simona Lorenzini is an expert in medieval and early modern poetry, both in Italian and Latin. She co-edited a book about the agency of Renaissance women with Deborah Pellegrino.

Jane Mikkelson

Jane Mikkelson works on premodern literary cultures of Islamicate South Asia and the Near East. Her writings on Persian culture transcend the boundaries between poetry, philosophy, and politics.

María del Mar Galindo

María del Mar Galindo's research and teaching focuses on Shakespeare, material texts, and forgery and the authentic.