Humanities Class: Syllabus, Etc.

Someone asked for a copy of my syllabus, but I couldn’t figure out how to send the links in an email without breaking the app that we were working in. So I am republishing it here.

I was thinking about this class today and wishing I would have the opportunity to teach it again. I think it would benefit my SLAC students just as much as it did my urban CC students.

There was a bibliography with picture sources, which I have not found yet. I recommend using relevant pictures and photographs to make the syllabus (especially online) look good. At least one of these was purchased from


The Course

Text: Adventures in the Human Spirit (AHS) by Philip E. Bishop

Course description: Humanities provides an introduction to the arts and humanities. The course investigates the relationship between individual human lives and works of imagination and thought.

Course prerequisites: Must be placed into college-level reading (or take GUST 0342 as a co-requisite) and be placed into college-level writing (or take ENGL 0310/0349 as a co-requisite).

Course goal: To expand the student’s knowledge and understanding of how human culture has expressed itself via mythology, drama, poetry, philosophy, visual art, music, film, and various related modes.

Student learning outcomes: The student will be able to (1) describe representative themes and developments in the humanities; (2) interpret representative terms, works, figures and artists in philosophy, literature, and the visual and performing arts; (3) compare and contrast representative terms, works, figures and artists in philosophy, literature, and the visual and performing arts; and (4) evaluate cultural creations in the humanities.

HUMA 1301 is a Core Curriculum course.

Even though it is an introductory course, this class is READING INTENSIVE.
It is a survey course.
We will be reading a lot.
We will do lots of fun things and reading will be a large part of that.


Course Withdrawal

If you wish to drop a course, you must do so by the withdrawal date. After this date the course cannot be dropped, professors can no longer give a grade of “W” at the end of the semester. Instead, students must be given the grade earned, which is usually an “F” if the student stopped coming to class.


Texas State law requires 87.5% minimum attendance for college courses. You will be dropped if you miss more than 12.5% of instruction (a total of six hours). This can be combined absences or tardies.

Students who are sleeping, talking, or texting during class will be marked absent. Students who leave class repeatedly, come in late and leave early, or are doing other work/reading during the class will be marked absent.

If a student is present every day for class, two points will be added to their final average. If they are absent once, one point will be added. If they are absent three times before the drop date, they will be dropped. Four absences total after the drop date will result in the state-mandated failure of the course.

Late Work
Late work will not be accepted in this class. The homework is primarily reading and note-taking. There will be daily quizzes.

Scholastic Dishonesty
According to the Student Handbook for the Houston Community College System (27-28), “scholastic dishonesty” includes, but is not limited to, cheating on a test, plagiarism, and collusion.

The consequences for scholastic dishonesty range from a minimum of a 0 on the work through a 0 in the course to expulsion from the college.

A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = 0-59

30% = Instructor’s choice: attendance, participation, quizzes
20% = Experience papers (2)
10% = First exam
20% = Historical/cultural paper and presentation
10% = Second exam
10% = Creative presentation

This image is by Jason Hogan of HCC.

This syllabus may be revised as the term progresses at the professor’s discretion.

“Thanks to art, instead of seeing a single world, our own, we see it multiply until we have before us as many worlds as there are artists.” –Marcel Proust

February 15
Initial Music: 10 min. Music of the Ancient World
Introduction to and syllabus.
Introduction to teacher, class, and students.
Email etiquette.
Sculpture introduction.
Diagnostic writing.
1. Read AHS chapter 1, pages 16-26.
2. Find one sculpture online that you like. Send the URL to XXX. (You will not be able to see the comment until it is approved, but I will approve it.) Please see the homework post for more details on this assignment.

February 17
Initial Music: 3 min. Lyre and Pipes, Mesopotamia
Bring the wood piece.
Introduction to the Cultural Event experience paper.
Guennol Lioness, 5000 years old, most expensive sculpture ever
Art: Painting. ancient painting introduction (some sculpture)
Cave paintings Lascaux
Pyramids: 4500 years ago.
True/False discussion
Stonehenge: 2000+ years ago
Reconstructing Stonehenge
Photos at Wikipedia on Stonehenge
John Constable’s Stonehenge
Literature: Epic of Gilgamesh oldest. Oldest known love poem, 2030 BC. Iliad and Odyssey, written about 800 BC.
Art of the First Cities
Why Study Art?
Ancient Art Podcast 1, The Scarab in Ancient Egypt
A Dance Depicting Ancient Egyptian Art
1. Read AHS chapter 2, pages 27-41
2. Take photographs of three “cave painting” equivalents. If you do not have a cell phone with picture capability, you can find six online photographs and print them out. Please make sure the URL is included.

Note: These were AMAZING. In fact, I took some, too, and these were some of my favorite works the students shared during this class.

Students went to the zoo and took pictures of the painted primary color animals on the restrooms, trash cans, and signs.

Students went to their neighborhoods and took pictures of the beautiful graffiti.

I also did the assignment and took pictures of the local international airports terminal B, a place I have only been in once, right around the time I was teaching this class. I am adding some of the photographs I took there.



The above picture is on the wall of the terminal. It is amazingly beautiful. I am sure I would have missed much of its grandeur, if I had not been thinking of this class.


This was in the floor. Several randomly placed brass animals were cut into the floor or molded, or something. Absolutely amazing modern cave paintings.

There were assignments requiring the students to attend two cultural events they would not normally participate in. The idea was to get them out of their comfort zone and into a learning zone.

The overview of the two papers and detailed specifics for the second paper have been published here.

Because of the two papers (and presentations), I posted things that were going on in town that they might not have heard of. This made me look for them and I found several amazing opportunities.

Impressionists Opening:
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art
February 20-May 23, 2011

The National Gallery´s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection ranks among the finest of any museum in the world and features some of the most famous artists active in France between the 1860s and the early 20th century. The MFAH presentation showcases masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others. An unrivaled loan in the National Gallery’s history, this exhibition offers a splendid overview of one of the greatest periods in European art and a survey of movements that changed the course of art history.

February 22
Quiz. You may use your notes.
Modern cave paintings.
Greek mythology. Greek Heroes, particularly Odysseus.
Aesop’s fables. “Tortoise and the Hair;” “The Ants and the Grasshopper;” others.
Why would these fables have been relevant to the people of that era and today?
Read another Aesop’s Fable that we did not read and find two pictures which illustrate it. Put the links in the comments of the  HUMA 1301 Homework blog post.

February 24
Initial Music: 4 min. Macedonian music
transliteration of names using Greek alphabet
Greek: not just monolithic cultures
Athens and Sparta: women
Alexander the Great, Part I
Alexander the Great, Part 2
Alexander the Great, Part 3
Oedipus Rex- riddle
Delphic Oracle
Read AHS chapter 3, pages 42-68.

Free concert:
Winter Concert
Friday, February 25, 8 pm
Free and open to the public
featuring full orchestra and chorus performing
Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church
8300 Katy Freeway

Second free concert:
The Northwest Choir, under the direction of Dr. Allyson Applebaum Wells, will present its Black History Month concert this Sunday, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Theater Two of the Performing Arts Center on the Spring Branch Campus. Entitled “Lessons from History,” the concert will feature music sung and written during the Civil War. There will also be music of the Cherokee people and twentieth-century Argentina. The concert includes a setting of Lincoln’s “With Malice Toward None” and will conclude with the stirring “Sound Over All Waters” which was composed in honor of Coretta Scott King. The concert is free and open to the public.

March 1
ancient Roman music 1:56
Introduction to the historical/cultural presentation due April 12 and 14. (Paper is due April 5.)
Paper includes:

  • Two pages of discussion about your presentation.
  • A Works Cited with four (4) sources following MLA (for electronic sources).
  • A paragraph for each source arguing for it being a good source. You may use any of these criteria.

Roman introduction: Roman army, schools, games
Modern building of a Roman house, Roman style
satire (Roman) Weird Al Yankovich: Amish Paradise, White and Nerdy, Pokemon, Cereal Girl
Study for exam.

March 3
Exam over class to date, especially ancient and Greek humanities topics.
There will be essay and short answer questions.
1. Read chapter 4 in AHS, pages 69-99.
2. Work on your cultural experience paper.

Andy Warhol and TV + Menil by Moonlight

Friday, March 4, 2011, 7:00 p.m. at the Menil

In collaboration with the Aurora Picture Show and the Andy Warhol Museum, this curated screening includes excerpts of TV works created by or featuring artist Andy Warhol: episodes from Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, a cable television series from the 1980s which featured celebrities interviewed by Warhol; clips from the Factory Diaries, home videos from the ’70s; and highlights from Warhol’s cameos on The Love Boat and Saturday Night Live.

The museum will be open till 9:00 p.m. in a special after-hours evening for new members, with all galleries open – and special incentives offered for joining the Menil (by moonlight!).

March 8
Quiz over chapter 4.
Roman history
Middle East Maps of War
Choose one of the introductions found here. You may not choose the introduction to your own religion. Read through the section, taking notes. The notes will be turned in before the documentary and will count as your quiz. Thoroughness counts. So does legibility. You may not just print the pages and turn them in.

March 10
We will be meeting in the theater for the documentary. Attendance will be taken.

Colores del Carnaval Dominicano
Thursday, March 10 at 7:30
Documentary film-makers Ruben Duran and Donna Pinnick premier their new work, Colores del Carnaval Domincano. For more than 500 years the Dominican Republic has reveled in the rambunctious traditions of carnaval: music, dancing, masks and mayhem – a party in the streets. Colores introduces us to the artists, dancers, musicians, the creative drive, behind this festival of the human spirit. Free, in the Heinen Theatre.

Finish up your cultural experience paper. It is due March 22, when we get back from spring break.

Free concert: March 11, at 7:o0 pm– “Music for Peace” at Rothko Chapel, which is at 3900 Yupon Street at the corner of Sul Ross Street.

March 15 and 17

NO CLASS. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s day safely.

First experience paper is due on Tuesday when you get back.

Remember for the cultural experience paper, you can also go tothe Menil or the Museum of Fine Arts or the Contemporary Arts Museum and write about that experience. Any museum will work. It does not have to be in Houston, either.

The Whole World Was Watching
at the Menil

The civil rights-era photographs in this exhibition – by Dan Budnik, Danny Lyon, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Bob Adelman, and Elliott Erwitt – were selected from the 230 images given to the museum by Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil, and document the profound changes that swept the United States in the 1960s. The exhibition’s title echoes a phrase chanted by protestors who used the presence of photographers and television cameras to remind perpetrators of racial or civil violence that their actions would not go unseen.

“Kara Walker Speaks About Her Art”
Kara Walker
Monday, March 14, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Menil Foyer, 1515 Sul Ross

Born in 1969, Kara Walker received an MFA in painting and printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design. Winner of a MacArthur award, she represented the U.S. in the 2002 São Paulo Biennial. The Walker Art Center’s 2007 exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Oppressor, My Enemy, My Love was her first full-scale U.S. museum survey. She is a professor of visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University.

Image of the Black’s Fifty Years of Using Art to Counter Racism

Friday, March 18, 2011, 4:30 p.m. at the Menil

John Boles, moderator; speakers: Peter Wood; David Bindman, Professor Emeritus of Art History, and Editor, Image of the Black in Western Art, Harvard University; Rick Lowe; and Karen C. C. Dalton

In 1960 responding to the prevailing climate of racism, John and Dominique de Menil launched an ambitious project: a photo archive that sought to gather every depiction of people of African descent from ancient Egypt forward. Later a series of books called The Image of the Black in Western Art paired images from the archive with essays by eminent historians. In 1992 the project moved from Houston to Harvard’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute; this fall Harvard University Press will republish the original volumes, plus five additional books.

Central Art requests the pleasure of your company at the opening reception for a new exhibit, Scratch Off: A Collection of Work From the Itchy Acres Artist Community. Itchy Acres is a little artist’s enclave on the north side of Houston, where the only thing more abundant than poison ivy is creative energy. For 20 years, this wooded maze of studios, sculpture, houses and art cars has been home to some of Houston’s most extraordinary artists. This exhibit – their first as group – includes work by Carter Ernst, Tim Glover, Paul Kittelson, Lee Littlefield, Liza Littlefield, John Runnels, Charlie Sartwelle, Ed Wilson and Magda Wilson. The reception will be held Thursday, March 3, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., in the Fine Arts Center Gallery, 3517 Austin at Holman and the show will be on display through April 2. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, call 713.718.6600.

You may visit this exhibit, taking a picture of yourself there, and write up a one page sheet about the experience or about some of the art you saw. This must be turned in by March 31. This could replace a quiz grade that you missed, or make up points for several. This exhibit can NOT take the place of the Experience Paper.

March 22
First experience paper due.
History of Major World Religions
Middle East Maps of War

Introduction to monotheism.
Go through the chapter carefully.
Famous stories from the Tanakh, the Torah, the New Testament, and the Koran.
Work on historical/cultural presentation and second paper.

March 24
What stories are present in more modern British and American literature?
Paradise Lost

It’s Alive!
History of Major World Religions
Middle East Maps of War

Work on the historical/cultural paper. This is due April 5.

Work on the historical/cultural presentation which is due April 26. You may attend the Bayou City Art Festival this weekend for your cultural experience paper.

March 29

early medieval- England
Norse mythology.
Vikings video
Angles and the missionaries to England and King Aethelbert, who takes them to Bertha’s church
Beowulf performed as a scop would, in Old English, with caption translation
Beowulf read aloud, with bubble translations
Beowulf introduction″>Guardian’s Anglo-Saxon Gold Hoard
Bayeux tapestry
If have time, cover Judith.
Work on historical/cultural paper and presentation. A possible topic would be a country in the Middle East and new news is being made there all the time. Look at the BBC coverage.

March 31
early medieval
drama- Second Shepherd’s Play, video, one of three
Everyman lecture
Everyman, five minute animation,
discussion of modern portrayal of Second Shepherd’s Play
another discussion
Coventry Carol
Read AHS chapter 6, pages 133-160
Finish your paper for your historical/cultural presentation.

FOR THE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE PAPER: The 2011 festival will be on Saturday, April 2, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. The event  is completely free and open to the public and remains the only one of its kind in the Houston and Austin areas, featuring a variety of nationally-distributed literary journals and small-press books alongside local booksellers, book and magazine publishers, small presses, literary organizations, and writers.
Here is the website with all the information:

April 5
1. Roland: French hero of the 700s, possibly nephew of Charlemagne
Song of Roland written in 1000s
2. El Cid video. YouTube. Is there any irony in the mix of pictures and music?
El Cid (Spanish early middle ages 1043-1099)
discuss the video in terms of the story, history, and military battles
Language Changes in Spain area, 1000-2000
3. pilgrims, pilgrimages
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer “Chaunticleer”
pilgrim badges (collector’s items of the 15th C) What do we collect? What is cool to collect? Why? How are they “badges”? What are sayings that include badges? (“badges of honor,” “badges of shame”)
Historical/cultural presentation paper due Thursday.

April 7
Historical/cultural presentation paper due today.
review badges (How are badges used in language?)–because I skipped last time
discussion of Romanesque v. Gothic architecture, see Prof. Hudelson’s online study guide
examples from Dr. Jeffrey Howe’s page
Words you should know apse, vault, clerestory, flying buttress, and rose windows BEFORE the quiz.
“The Quick Trick: If it has flying buttresses, pointed arches, and rose windows, it’s Gothic.” from mentalfloss
late medieval introduction
1. Prepare for historical/cultural presentations.
2. Go through the Art Institute of Chicago’s Arms, Armor, Medieval, and Renaissance gallery. Choose one work and find a modern corollary. Put the URLs in the comments of today’s homework post on

EXTRA CREDIT: Attend and write up: Kay Ryan, US poet laureate from 2008-2010, reads on Monday, April 11th, at 11.30 a.m. in LHSB 100 in Central campus.

Two plays for cultural experience paper:
Little Shop of Horrors will run Thursday through Saturday April 7 through 9, Wednesday through Saturday, April 13 through 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 2:30 p.m. in Theatre One, 3517 Austin. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $8 general admission. For reservations, call 713.718.6570.

God’s Trombones by James Weldon Johnson will be presented as a dramatization. This is a salute to the power of the black minister and his vision of Bible classics.
Encore Theatre located at 8616 Cullen Blvd. at Belfort
Adult tickets: $20
College student tickets (with ID): $15
Children under 14: $5
Performance dates and times:
Fridays: April 8, 22, 29 at 8 pm
Saturdays: April 9, 16, 23, 30 at 8 pm
Sundays: April 10, 17; May 1 at 5 pm
for tickets and group rates call: 832-578-1705

April 12
Historical/cultural Presentations

April 14
Historical/cultural Presentations
late medieval
Read AHS chapter 7, pages 162-190

Gallery opening:
Saturday April 16th at 5 pm attend the Poetry Pottery opening at Foelber Pottery Gallery.
This is poetry written by HCC students about pottery created at Foelber Pottery Gallery. You can get your work done and support your fellow students.

Trombone Choir Concert:
The Fine Arts Division of Houston Community College Northwest will present a special trombone choir concert Sunday, April 17 at 5:00 p.m. Low brass musicians from all over the Houston region will join in a tribute concert to the late David Waters, longtime bass trombonist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and trombone instructor at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music. David was also a frequent soloist, conductor and supporter of Houston Community College. Featured performers at the concert will be the Houston Symphony Orchestra Low Brass Section and the Shepherd School of Music Trombone Quartet. The trombone choir will present a variety of popular and classical music, closing the concert with Aubrey Tucker’s special arrangement for 20 trombones and percussion of Simon and Garfunkle’s Bride Over Troubled Waters. The concert will be presented at the Spring Branch Campus Performing Arts Center, 1060 W. Sam Houston Parkway, N. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, free for HCC students, faculty and staff with ID. For more information, please email or call 713.718.5620.

April 19
Art History ppt:
Art in the Early Renaissance
High Renaissance Art
The Art of the Northern Renaissance
Northern and Late Renaissance
500 Years in 30 Minutes
Study for the exam, chapters 4-7.

April 21
Exam 2 will be a take-home exam.
Type your answers. Use spell check. Do not take other people’s words or ideas without the requisite citations. You do not need to create a works cited if you only use the book. Just give page numbers. I recommend simply using the book and your brain, together an incredible combination!

Grading will be on content—development, organization, clarity, and detail—and grammar and mechanics. The bulk of the grade will be content. Please use the MLA format: double spaced throughout, name/Dr. Davis/Huma 1301/due date on the top left of the first page, name/page number on pages 2ff.
Please do not repeat major aspects of information in more than one essay. Short mentions of previously discussed material is fine; complete re-use is not.
Each essay should be between one and three pages.
1. Discuss the use of art (music, architecture, drama, and art) to present a message. How has art been used throughout history to “say” something? Give specific examples from the Roman through late medieval (or Gothic) era. Discuss information from at least three chapters.
2. How has the approach to the human body in art changed through the ages? Give specific examples from the Roman through late medieval (or Gothic) era. Discuss information from at least three chapters.
3. Discuss the metamorphosis of architecture through history. How has architecture changed? How has it remained the same? Give specific examples from the Greek (chapter 3) through the late medieval era. Discuss information from at least three chapters.
The take-home exam will be in lieu of class.
It must be turned in to

1. Go to
2. In the upper right hand corner there are boxes for email and password. Underneath the email, there is a blue link which says “Create Account.” Click that link.
3. Scroll the bottom of the page it takes you to. There is a list that says “Create a New Account.” Under that, click the blue “Student” link.
4. It will take you to a page that says “class ID information.”
5. for class id:
The class id is 3973402
The class password is davis7

1. Fill in the rest of that page. Then click “I agree- create profile.”
2. This should take you to the page to turn in your paper. It needs to be in a .doc file. Turn in the entire paper, except the Works Cited. You do not need a Works Cited if you just used our book.

Read AHS chapter 8, pages 191-226.

Cultural Experience possibilities:
Saturday, April 23 from 7:30pm until 11:30pm at El Rincon Social, 3210 Preston
Midtown Launch Party, Tuesday, April 26, at 4 pm, in the Rotunda of Theater One
any museum you haven’t already gone to (for the last paper), just write about something that is NOT available simply from the website
Final cultural experience paper will be due April 28.

April 26
Take home exam is due.
Teacher evaluation FIRST.
Quizzes: one on chapter 8, one on Romanesque v. Gothic, one on Early, High, and Northern Renaissance, esp. Breugel, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Cranach, El Greco, Donatello, Boticelli, Raphael…
Final cultural experience paper is due April 28.

April 28
Final cultural experience paper is due.
Shakespeare play clips: Romeo and Juliet through the ages (?)
Prepare for your creative presentation. The creative presentation will act as the final exam.

May 3
Creative presentations

May 5
Creative presentations
Have a nice life!

These were the best finals ever.

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