E232 – Introduction to Humanities
Description: This course introduces the student to the study of the humanities through works of literature from the Western tradition. Beginning with the Mesopotamian and Ancient Greek period and ending with the twentieth century, the student will read, reflect on, and grapple with texts which are entertaining and thought-provoking, and which have challenged and redefined the authority of the cultural tradition of which they are a part. The course is roughly divided into three periods: ancient, medieval, and modern. As students learn about the diverse cultural contexts in which particular works emerged, they will also ask in what ways they continue to be relevant to us today.
As a course that fulfills the III-B Arts/Humanities category of the All University Core Curriculum, E 232, meets all of the criteria for such courses. The course introduces the study of humanities by focusing on Western literature in cultural contexts. It places selected works of Western thought in historical, philosophical, religious, and artistic contexts to illustrate the changing values and worldviews of the Western world from ancient times to the present. At the same time the class will reflect on its own dynamic and developing view of these perspectives on human experience. The course explores central questions that Western texts have asked (or failed to ask) about humans and their relationships to their communities, to others outside these communities, to nature, to the divine, and to the self, through a focus on the familial, civic, religious, political, and economic institutions that shape human interaction. The course hones writing and speaking skills and critical thinking abilities that are central to the core competencies.