Introduction to Humanities

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					Introduction to Humanities

   Humanities Through The Arts
   F. David Martin and Lee A. Jacobus
Chapter One
The Humanities A Study Of Values
  What is humanities?
  The humanities are those studies that are
   directly concerned with human values.
  Unlike the sciences, which are expressed
   through numbers and symbols, human values
   can be perceived, felt, and expressed in subtle
   and enduring ways.
  In the medieval period the word “Humanities”
   distinguished that which pertained to humans
   from that which pertained to God.
Humanities a Study in Values
   Humanities covers a broad area of human creativity but are distinct
    from mathematics and the “hard” sciences.

   The separation between the humanities and the sciences is illustrated
    in the way values work differently in the two areas.

   Both the scientist and the humanist must make value judgments. The
    development of powerful weapons is seen as a positive development
    for the scientist - because of the many possibilities the development of
    the weapon might bring.

   On the other hand the humanist might see the development of powerful
    weapons as a bad thing that will eventually affect or even destroy a
    culture, people and or an entire life style.
A Humanist Approach

  The humanists say, “what we need is a
   study that will get us closer to ourselves.
  Of the many ways to study an approach
   to the humanities is through art and the
   subtle & enduring ways values are
   expressed in the arts.
Taste: is an exercise values!

  People are often quick to say they like or
   dislike a piece of work because of taste.
  An there is no accounting for taste.
  The taste of the mass public shifts constantly.
   It does not matter if it is in; fashion, programs,
   slang words or terms, etc., it will one day go
   out of style. Examples: the cabbage patch
   doll, the pet rock, the eight ball, gold teeth,
   mini skirts, the thong, etc.

  Everyone can and should be educated
   about the arts and should learn to
   respond to as wide a variety of the arts
   as possible
  Because when we do there is a change
   within us - something has been added.
Many facts are involved in the study
of the arts
  We can verify the dates of Beethoven’s birth
   and death; the dates of his important
   compositions, as well as, their key signature
   and numbers.
  We can investigate the history of jazz and the
   claims of Jelly Roll Morton for having been its
  We can make lists of the Impressionist
   painters and those they influenced.
  There are oceans of facts attached to every
   art form. But our interest is not in fact alone.
What we mean by a study of the arts
penetrates beyond facts
  to the values that evoke our feelings
  In other words we go beyond the facts
   about a work of art and get to the values
   implied in the work.
  We learn to recognize the values
   expressed in such works as well as to
   understand the ways in which they are
Responses to Art

  Our responses to art are complex
  Education in the arts permits us to
   observe more closely and thereby
   respond more intensely to the content.
  Consider Eternal City 1934 – 1937 by
   Peter Blume (p.7 - 5th ed/p.9 - 6th edition)
Knowledge about” a work of art can lead
to your “knowledge of” the work of art,

  which implies a richer experience.
   THIS IS IMPORTANT as a basic
   principle since it means that we can be
   educated about what is in a work of art,
   such as its form, shapes, and objects, as
   well as what is external to a work, SUCH
   AS its political references.
Artistic Form:

  Form is the interrelationships of lines,
   color, light, textures and shapes.
  Form of any painting can be analyzed
   because any painting has to be
  Frequently, we need to know something
   about the background of a work of art
   that would aid our perception.
  Composition is basic to all the arts
  To perceive any work of art adequately,
   we must perceive its structure.
Abstract Ideas and Concrete Images:

   Examine the following poem “l(a”- by e. e.
   Cummings’ poem presents an abstract idea
    fused with a concrete image or word picture.
   It is concrete because what is described is a
    physical event; a falling leaf.
   Abstract idea on the other hand deal with
    words or terms such as; love, hate, indecision,
    arrogance, jealousy, ambition, justice, civil
    rights, etc.
What is a work of art?

    A work of art is often said to be something made by a
     person. Not natural beauties. Instead it is of human
    Identifying Art Conceptually:
    Criteria for determining whether or not something is a
     work of art:
    1. That the object or event is made by an artist,
    2. That the object or event is intended to be a work
     of art by its maker
    3. that important or recognized experts agree that it
     is a work of art.

    mass produced works do not qualify as works of art.
Identifying Art Perceptually:

     Perception, what we can observe and
      conception, what we know or think we
      know, are closely related. Do they
      possess artistically perceivable
Four Factors for Identifying Art
   1. Artistic form: All objects and events have form. Form is the
    interrelationships of part to part and part to whole. Perceptible unity!
    Artistic form distinguishes art from objects or events that are not works
    of art.
   2. Content: Content is the meaning of artistic form. The meaning!

   3. Subject Matter: is the content or meaning of the work of art; is
    never directly presented in a work of art;

   4. Participation: We must not only give but also sustain our
    undivided attention. Only by participation can we come close to a full
    awareness of what the painting is all about. Good Analysis
Being a Critic of the Arts
Chapter 3

    There are methods and means for becoming a
     good critic and understanding the goals of
     responsible criticism.
    The act of responsible criticism aims for the
     fullest understanding and the fullest
     participation possible.
    It requires being at the height of awareness
     while examining a work of art in detail,
     establishing its context, and clarifying its
Being A Critic Of The Arts

     You are already an art critic - when you;
      choose a film or change the channel
      looking for something better, turn a radio
      dial looking for good music, when you
      stop to admire a building or a sculpture.
     Our experience is one factor which
      qualifies us to make such critical
      judgments. It helps us make critical
      judgments without hesitation.
Critics of the arts

  Everyone has limitations as a critic.
  Without some specific critical training
   ourselves we are capable of going only
   so far.
  By learning some principles about
   criticism and how to put them to work,
   we can develop our capacities as critics.
Being a Critic of the Arts

   Our basic critical purpose is to learn, by
    reflecting on works of art,
   how to participate with these works more
    intensely and enjoyably;
   good criticism will sharpen our
    perception of the form of a work of art
    and increase our understanding of its
Kinds of Criticism:
Descriptive Criticism

      Descriptive criticism concentrates on the form
       of a work of art,
      Describing the important characteristics of that
       form in order to improve our understanding of
       the part-to-part and part-to-whole
      Still, we miss things and oftentimes we miss
       things that are right there for us to observe.
      Good descriptive critics call our attention to
       what we might otherwise miss in an artistic
Kinds of Criticism:
Interpretive Criticism

    Interpretive criticism gives detailed
     explanation of the content of a work of
    It helps us understand how form
     transforms subject matter into content:
     what has been revealed about some
     subject matter and how that has been
Kinds of Criticism:
Evaluative Criticism

    Evaluative criticism – to evaluate a work
     of art is to judge its merits (praiseworthy
    At first glance, this seems to suggest that
     it is prescriptive criticism, which
     prescribes what is good as if it were a
     medicine and tell us that this work is
     superior to that work.
Kinds of Criticism:
Evaluative Criticism continued

      If evaluative criticism makes you
       uncomfortable, your reaction is based on
       good instincts.
      Nevertheless, evaluative criticism of
       some kind is generally necessary.
      Evaluative criticism’s three fundamental
       standards: perfection, insight, and
       inexhaustibility.                 -30-