HUM101: Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes 

In this course, we investigate the social, historical, ethical, and aesthetic meanings attached to and manifested in cultural artifacts and texts. Our study of diverse visual, literary, performance, and philosophical works from different historical periods and cultural contexts leads students to increased critical understanding of literary and cultural forms, as well as the processes by which those forms are produced, used, and received. 

Students learn how to better interpret diverse texts and works of art by contextualizing them, how to better formulate questions, construct arguments, and how to communicate ideas more effectively, thus becoming better critical thinkers, speakers, and writers.

What are the humanities?

The humanities are academic disciplines that 

study how people process and document the 

human experience. The humanities study how we

use philosophy,  literature, religion, art, music,

history, and language to understand and record our


Why study the humanities?

Studying the humanities helps us to understand

who we are as human beings. It gives us a sense

of connection, to each other and to those who came 

before us. Stephen Shoemaker, religious studies 

professor at the University of Oregon, affirms the

value of studying the humanities this way: "The

stories we discover give us a way to comprehend our

lives and shape our values. History enables us to

remember who we've been so we can make sense of 

the problems and the traditions we now share. It's 

essential that we understand the past to understand

where we are now." 

  • Do you agree? Why? 
  • Do you disagree? Why? 

Culture and Cultural Values

The term "culture" refers to the ideas, customs, and

behaviors of a society. It also refers to the

manifestations of those ideas, customs, and

behaviors in the arts. 

The term "cultural values" refers to the

predominating principles and standards of a society:

ideas about what is acceptable, important, and just.

Values are learned and differ across cultures

and time. They are represented in our language,

literature, music, architecture, films, paintings, 

sculptures, advertisements, etc. 

Consider how some of us choose pronouns in 

American English to be gender neutral and inclusive 

in our speaking and writing. This is an example of 

how language can represent cultural values. 

[More on gender neutral American English here.] 

Figure 1: L'AMOMALI

by JR - Artist

HUM101 is comprised of five rubrics:


"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." – Civil rights activist Desmond Tutu  


Required reading
HUM101 Course syllabus

Required viewing
Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Werner Herzog, director
"Use Art to Turn the World Inside Out": TedTalk by JR Artist

Suggested viewing (not required)
"Make Good Art": speech by Neil Gaiman, via Maria Popova's Brain Pickings 
"I Could Do That": PBS' The Art Assignment, with Sarah Urist Green
"What is art and what is not": Big Think with graphic artist Milton Glaser


"Visual images influence the psychological frame work upon which identity is established; particularly the images that one sees of him or herself or those that are representative of their community." -Contemporary artist LaToya M. Hobbs

Required reading
Chapters 1 and 8 of A Beginner's Guide to the Humanities
"The Tragedy of Guernica": George Steer, Special Correspondant for The Times

"On Photography": Susan Sontag

Required viewing
Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth (director)
Magic of the Image: Photography Revealed (WCC Library "Films on Demand")
Documenting the Face of America: Roy Stryker and the FSA/OWI Photographers (WCC Library "Films on Demand")

Visual art addressed in this rubric

A View Near Volterra by Jean-Baptiste Corot

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Monroe County House with Yellow Datura by Beverly Buchanan 

The Tribute Money by Masaccio

Bedtime Aviation by Rob Gonsalves

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Autumn Rhythm 1950, Mural 1943, and Convergence by Jackson Pollock 

Buddhist Retreat by Stream and Mountain by Juran


Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange 

Woodblock - Woodprint
Maple Leaves at Mama by Ando Hiroshige

Double Portrait, Marci by LaToya Hobbs


"Ideally, we lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world — in short, we become more critical and more capacious in our thinking and our acting."  -Judith Butler, philosopher and gender theorist 

Required reading

"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children": Gabriel Garciá Marquéz, author; Gregory Rabassa, translator

"Samsa in Love": Haruki Murakami, author; Ted Goossen, translator

"The Seven Ages of Man": William Shakespeare

"The Sonnet" 
Required listening

"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children": Gabriel Garciá Marquéz / Gregory Rabassa

"Rabbit's Wish for Snow": Narragansett tale, told by storyteller Tchin

"Rabbit": Tlingit tale, told by storyteller Gene Tagaban / CC version here 

"The Seven Ages of Man": William Shakespeare

Required viewing
"Magical Realism Is Still Realism": Salman Rushdie on truth in fiction

Native Voices–American Passages: A Literary Survey

Maiden of Deception Pass, Guardian of Her Samish People: Samish Indian Nation

Act II, Scene VII, "The Seven Ages of Man": Digital Theatre+


"There is great power in the inability of theatre to create a complete illusion." Tony Kushnerplaywright, screenwriter, 

Required reading
Chapter 6 our our textbook

About ancient Greek theatre (on this website)

Required viewing
Sophocles' Antigone, translated and directed by Don Taylor

Jean Anouilh's adaptation of Antigone, translated by Lewis Galantière and directed by Gerald Freedman

Suggested reading 


"We need not give up our special affections and identifications, whether national or ethnic or religious; but we should work to make all human beings part of our community of dialogue and concern."  –philosopher Martha Nussbaum

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