Human Values and the Arts - 1st year

Integrates the study of art, history, and literature along with philosophy, religion and other aspects of western culture. The time periods covered include: ancient Egypt, classical Greece and Rome, early Christianity, the High Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate the ability to identify significant masterpieces of art, literature, architecture and music in western culture;

2. Demonstrate knowledge of the predominant political, social, religious, and economic institutions of each period;

3. Demonstrate knowledge of the interdependent relationship of these institutions with the arts and values of the times;

4. Demonstrate the ability to think critically about significant values in western culture;

5. Classify major works of art, literature and architecture;

6. Look at a variety of art forms in a time period and identify significant values, which they hold in common;

7. Demonstrate the ability to trace the development and/or change of certain art forms diachronically;

8. Demonstrate the ability to trace the development and/or change of certain institutions diachronically;

9. Demonstrate the ability to trace the development and/or change in the status of women diachronically.


For each time period covered, the appropriate art, architecture, literature, philosophy, and religion will be put into the context of the significant institutions of the time. The continuity and change of the cultural values within each discipline will be emphasized. A specific theme may be chosen as the focal point for each session’s study.

1. Ancient Egypt: Quest for the eternal

2. Classical Greece: Wisdom, balance, and restraint

3. Classical Rome: Justice, practicality, and duty

4. Early Christianity: Concern for all and communal Living

5. High Middle Ages: Feudalism and otherworldliness

6. Early Renaissance: Humanism and classicism

7. High Renaissance: Individualism, genius and exploration

8. Protestant Reformation: Priesthood of all believers

Method of Instruction:

1. Lectures

2. Class Discussions

3. Small Group Work

4. Student Presentations

5. Use of Library for Research Projects

6. Use of Audio-Visual Media Resources

Types of Assignments:

1. Students will read chapter-length assignments in required textbooks and will be given questions regarding the reading.

2. Additional appropriate assignments may include library research in preparation for short papers, term papers or oral presentations.

3. Students must be able to take notes from the reading and lecture materials.

4. Students must be able to write well-organized essays and/or reports reasonably free of major errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation.

5. Students must be able to synthesize ideas from several sources and to make inferences regarding important points in papers and oral presentations.

Sample Text:

1. The Western Humanities, Vol. 1 Beginnings through the Renaissance, fourth edition. (Roy T, Matthews and F. Dewitt Platt, Mayfield. 2001)