Even before recorded history, humans expressed their creativity in art, music and story. In France, prehistoric cave paintings of bison, horses and mammoths witness the grace and sophistication of a culture unimaginably distant in time. In some ways humans have not changed very much since ancient times: in the first century the Romans constructed concrete stadiums for sports, and Ovid wrote about how to manage love affairs; in the fourteenth century Dante wrote about the joys of worship, and Machaut wrote music as rhythmically complex as any twentieth-century composer. Yet in some ways the culture of our ancient ancestors seems strange and distant to us. The goal of this course is to explore some of the similarities and differences between those cultures and ours and to examine what elements of human creativity have remained constant and what elements have changed. Beginning with prehistoric times and working up through the Middle Ages, we will examine representative works of music, art, architecture, and literature that express in some way what it is to be human, what it is to create.
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