HUM 1010, FALL 2016, T/TH

Scott Abbott / / CB 311E / 801-863-8537


This course explores what it means to be human and does so on the basis of some of the works of art that have created the capabilities and possibilities that make us the human beings that we are. It deals with the media, the compositional elements, and the content of various art forms (literature, music, visual arts, dance, architecture, etc.) in order to get at their meanings. It teaches how to interpret the languages of art through formal analysis as well as in their historical contexts, including the predominant subject matters and styles of various periods. It emphasizes the interdisciplinary global, trans- and intercultural nature of human creativity. In short, this course emphasizes contributions of the arts to the creation of rich and meaningful lives.


This course will be driven by lively debate and the ongoing exchange of ideas as we examine various artistic explorations of the human condition.




On completing this course you should be able to do the following (as well as living a richer, more fulfilling life):

  • Identify major art forms and the materials with which they are constructed.
  • Explain ways artists use artistic media and composition to explore ideas and to communicate feelings and ideas to others. Recognize elements of aesthetic composition and apply this knowledge to interpret the meanings of art.
  • Recognize and interpret the contextual elements of artistic creation, including the time periods in which works of art were created, as well as the styles of many artists.
  • Demonstrate a greater command of intellectual and practical skills including written and oral communication.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and recognition of complexities inherent in global and intercultural issues and interrelate reflectively, responsibly, and respectfully within a society of increasing intercultural connections.




– Lectures and in-class discussions

– Supplementary material and readings and images; no textbook required



GRADES (500 Points)

  1. Papers: 5 @ 50 = 250 points


Paper Format

  1. Typed, double spaced, 12 pt. Times Roman.
  2. 2 pages (8 ½ X 11).
  3. Topics will be assigned in class and based on skills developed in class.


  1. Art Events: 2 @ 50 = 100 points

Attend TWO art events and write a critique for each. One of the two art events must be a “Happenings in Humanities” event.


NOTE: An art event is a publicly held presentation of poetry, painting, music, dance, drama, photography, etc. Except for the “Happenings in Humanities,” events must be approved in advance

Art Event Critique Format

  1. Typed, double spaced, 12 pt. Times Roman.
  2. 1 page (8 ½ X 11) for each event.


Art Event Critique Outline

To critique an art event, do the following:

– Take notes (what you NOTICE during the event).

– Introduce the event in one sentence (what/who, when, where).

– Describe and interpret ONE or TWO items you noted of interest in the event (from your notes).

– Apply ideas and/or terms presented in class.

– Draw a conclusion regarding human nature and/or your culture.



III. Attendance: 100 points


  1. Short papers and assignments: 50 points




Regarding Course Topics

This course is focused on developing critical thinking, analysis, and an integrated approach to its subject. Some topics deal with challenging subject matter. We’ll treat these topics in keeping with the context and scope of the subject and course objectives.


Students Rights and Responsibilities Code

Each student is expected to maintain the same standards of academic honesty as the professor. Cheating and plagiarism will result in severe punishment that may include failing the class.


Students with Disabilities

If you have any disability that may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, contact Accessibility Services Department (LC 312). Academic accommodations are granted for students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with student and instructor by the Accessibility Services Dept.


Week 1

23 August Introduction: syllabus and course overview. The Arts and the Human Condition. The Riddle of the Sphinx. Creating order, creating ourselves. The bower bird

25 What is Art? Andy Goldsworthy: “Rivers and Tides” Languages of the Arts and the Art of Language: How metaphors structure our lives. The metaphor of standing.


Week 2

30 PaintingPrimary Example: Pieter Breugel the Elder: “Peasant Wedding.”

(Each new section of the course will begin with a primary example that we will use to raise questions and to suggest avenues of inquiry that will lead to other works and periods and cultures.)


1 September Discussion of more Breugel Paintings for context. Interpretation of “The Peasant Wedding.”


Week 3

6 One-page paper due on Hieronymus Bosch: Christ Carrying the Cross and the Child Walking

8 Paintings of crucifixion by Grünewald and of Christ Entombed by Holbein.


Week 4

13 Portraits through the centuries



Week 5

20 Lecture and discussion: A lightning history of painting through the mid-nineteenth century

22 Lecture and discussion: A lightning history of painting in the late nineteenth century and through the twentieth. Paper 1 Due (topic assigned in week 3)


Week 6

27 SculpturePrimary Example: Standing Stones. Lecture and discussion, Leslie Norris’s “The Twelve Stones of Pentre Ifan”

29 October Obelisks, Greek and Egyptian sculptures


Week 7

4 October No class, reading day

6 Henry Moore and Giacometti


Week 8

11 Contemporary Sculpture; poetry about sculpture—Rilke

13 Sculpture and architecture. Paper 2 Due (topic assigned in week 6)


Week 9

18 DancePrimary Example: Pina Bausch Tanztheater (Wim Wenders film)

20 Fall Break


Week 10

25 Ballet

27 Ballet


Week 11

1 November



Week 12

8 Paintings of dance

10 Paper 3 Due (topic assigned in week 10)


Week 13

15 MusicPrimary Example: Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser”

17 Origins of Jazz


Week 14

22 and 24 Thanksgiving Holiday


Week 15

27 Bebop

29 [note change in due date for paper 4; now due next Tuesday]


Week 16

1 December Paper 4 Due (topic assigned in week 13)



Paper 5 Due During Finals Week (topic assigned in week 12)




All happenings start at 7 pm


September 21st, October 19th, and November 16th in CS 213A and B.