What does it mean to be human? To be human is to think, feel, create; to find joy in song and sunset; to share with others moments of inspiration. We need to know what is in the humanities and, by extension, in the world around us. Once we have found ourselves, with the help of the humanities, we learn to look beyond ourselves. Our true potential lies in being so much more than we are, and the road to that enlarged being is through the songs of others. Only then do we find true reflections of ourselves. Only then can we discover how amazingly alike human beings are in all their differences.
The humanities teach us first and foremost that, unless we open ourselves to what they offer, we can never know all about what being human means – that is, what we as human beings are, have been, can be, will be.
This course is about the art of being human. What matters is how we personalize and internalize the arts, to recognize that one’s life can be changed for the better by encounters with the humanities.
Never forget that the starting point of any humanities course is you. It is your humanness you seek to define. Then you will discover how much like other human beings – even the most famous of them – you really are, and yet how different, how unique, you can be as well. You will find that the so-called “greats” were, after all, very much like you in many respects. They had insecurities, things they had to prove; they were often victims of prejudice that lowered their self-esteem; and they found a way to come back strong, as indeed you can if you try.
This course explores a wide range of experiences, ideologies and beliefs in terms of personal identity, philosophy, religion, literature, the visual arts, and the performing arts. Through exposure to diverse presentations and provocative readings, learners will be challenged to step outside their current world and life view and wrestle with the interrelationship of all these forms, as they are manifest in both western and non-western traditions.
This class introduces the humanities as a technique for living, by connecting the arts to students’ daily lives, utilizing the humanities to foster critical thinking skills, and examining their mythic origins. Part I explores the individual genres of literature, art, music, theater, musical theater, and cinema. Part II looks at provocative themes in the humanities: religion, morality, happiness, love, life and death, nature, and freedom.