MWF 1:10 - 2:00
IN THE MODERN WORLD
We were all born in it, but what was it? When I was taking courses in 20th-century music and literature, there were still a couple decades left to figure out after the textbooks had been written. We Y2K survivors can now start to get some perspective on the century that bred us.
The 20th century in the mind of your average dolt boils down to Nazis and computers. If this were apt, then woe to the idea of humanity. Fortunately, much was happening in the arts throughout the century. This Humanities course is designed to acquaint you better with the human, thoughtful, and innovative side to life through literature, music, art, architecture, film, food, fashion, and other accomplishments of the so-called modern period and up to the present.
I am particularly interested in how the principles and struggles raised in these artistic materials speak to conditions still harassing us in contemporary times and culture. I will encourage you to see and to make connections between ideas and attitudes in classroom discussions, and to develop some expertise in new areas that interest you.
To gain exposure to modern thought, art, and influence by poring over some of the major artistic works of the last century which have shaped our culture and the way we think.
To increase intellectual maturation and clarification of our own values through examination of ideas and attitudes in literary/cultural contexts and through articulation of these.
To develop skills in critical thinking, verbal analysis, and detection of subtlety through reading, discussion, and writing about literature and other arts.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. 1916. Bantam Classics, 1972.
Colette, Sidonie-Gabrielle. Chéri and The Last of Chéri. 1920, 1926. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
Sartre, Jean Paul. No Exit and Three Other Plays. 1944. Vintage Books, 1989.
Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. NY: New Directions Pub. Co., 1962.
Robbe-Grillet, Alain. Jealousy. 1959. Riverrun Press, 1995.
Kuper, Peter. The System. DC Comics, 1997.
[Lots of other crucial and cool materials will be provided in hand-outs, on various types of screens, and, if it proves possible, on plates.]
A significant part of your life this semester has to become Humanities studies. Studying this stuff can be demanding, but at least well be doing it together as a "learning community." Because classroom interaction is essential for this to be a valuable experience, and because frequent quizzes and homework writings will be exchanged or posted and no late assignments of any sort will be accepted, more than a few absences will affect your grade regardless of reason. Heres the math:
I will frequently ask for relatively minor homework assignments to be turned in or posted to WebCT, designed primarily to stimulate subsequent discussion and to practice conventions for writing about literature and the arts. At other times I will ask you to answer questions in writing in class, often ad lib responses to the reading before class discussion begins. Homework assignments and quizzes will receive numerical grades (points) and, although these writings cannot be made up (except for a couple optional writings that can take their place), the final semester totals will be curved if necessary. (30%)
You may be responsible for some sort of contribution to the learning community that may serve also as work towards one of the written projects: perhaps a brief but impressive lead-off presentation on a topic arranged in advance that is dazzling, informative, and glamorous, involving some research, or parallel outside reading, and possibly snazzy visual aids; or a handy web page. Class participation and other service to the learning community -- occasional group work, for example -- will be expected. (10%)
You will submit two written projects of manageable length. (30%)
Your presence will be kindly requested at two miserable exams. (30%)