What Are the Humanities?

The humanities are the academic disciplines that help us understand and interpret the human experience. Though their boundaries are necessarily porous, they include the following academic departments here at the University of Illinois:

Students majoring in any of these programs or considering doing so are welcome to make use of the resources of the Humanities Professional Resource Center.

For a more complex explanation:

In the main the humanities value qualitative above quantitative reasoning; they place greater faith in interpretative than in positivistic thinking; unlike the sciences and the scientific wing of the social sciences, they do not have a dominant methodology, and many of their truth claims are not verifiable as those of the natural sciences are verifiable; they tend, accordingly, to distrust proceduralism and to value independence of thought. They are orientated as much toward historical analysis as toward synchronic structural analysis, and as much toward the medium of expression as towards its content (tending to see the form/content distinction as itself problematic). They attend to the role of the perceiver in ascertaining even the most philosophically secure of knowledge claims  and they have an interest, often they also take pleasure, in the specificity of the object of study and the specificity of the individual response (its content and its style) over and above the generalized or collective response. Not least, they respect the products of past human endeavors in culture, even when superseded. 

Helen Small, The Value of the Humanities, Oxford University Press, 2013.