The enduring relevance of the humanities is that they encourage us to consider a number of “big ideas.” What is culture? How do we go about studying it? What is the relationship between cultural artifacts and the culture in which they are created? What is the relationship between artists and the creators of “cultural artifacts” and the things they create? How is human meaning generated through cultural creations? We humans seem driven to express and create in our search to understand and be understood.
You will complete two related projects in this course that will be turned in separately. In Project 1, you will choose an artifact of human creative expression and respond to a series of questions about it to complete an artifact chart. In Project 2, you will use the insights gained from completing Project 1 to answer a series of short-answer responses about human expression.
For Project 1, you will choose an artifact of human creative expression from the world around you. This artifact can take any form and can be from any physical modality (visual, aural, tactile, etc.). The key is that you choose a form of expression you might experience any day that intrigues you and makes you want to know more about it. Once you have chosen your artifact, you will respond to the elements below on the provided artifact chart, culminating in questions about the artifact and what it might represent. You will use the insights you gain here when completing Project 2. Project 1 will assess the following course outcomes, which you focus on throughout Themes 1 and 2:
Develop questions about fundamental aspects of human culture that inform personal assumptions, beliefs, and values using evidence from cultural artifacts and systems Determine fundamental approaches to studying the humanities in addressing questions about how cultural artifacts and the culture they are created in have influenced each other
Prompt Choose an artifact from the world around you that you could encounter any day. Use the provided artifact chart to think deeply about the artifact and its representation of human creative expression. Your responses should be recorded on the artifact chart. Specifically, the following critical elements must be addressed:
I. Describe the artifact in detail. For instance, how would you describe it to someone who could not see it? II. Choose elements of the artifact that you believe are most important to how you experience it and explain why. For instance, what particularly catches your senses or makes you want to keep experiencing it? Does the choice of medium impact your experience? III. State your opinion on what you believe is the purpose of this artifact and the success of the creator in achieving the purpose. For instance, what message do you believe the creator is trying to express, and is that message successfully expressed?
IV. Discuss how the artifact reflects the culture (or context) in which it exists. Be sure to address what aspects of culture have relevance for this artifact: politics, history, religion, social perceptions, technology, media, education, and so on. In other words, how do the artifact and its culture interrelate? For instance, how would a particular form of body modification reflect the urban culture in which you encountered it? V. Use the artifact to discuss how acts of creative expression impact and are impacted by the people and situations that surround it. How might the artifact and the person who created it have impacted each other? For instance, how might the geographic location where the artifact was made, the materials used to create the artifact, the medium of the creative process, or the environment where the artifact is displayed influence the creator’s life or future creative work? How might the artifact and the culture or context in which it was created have impacted each other? For instance, does the artifact add to the understanding of the culture from which it was created? What contributions does it make to continuing on a dialogue about that culture and the importance of its artifacts? VI. Pose questions you have after thinking deeply about this artifact. What more do you want to know regarding: a. The relationship between human culture and expression? b. Your personal assumptions about artifacts of this sort and why they exist? c. How your values have shaped and are shaped by your expression and that of others? d. The relationship between the possible intent of the creator and your own interpretation of its meaning? VII. Speculate on how you would go about answering these questions. For instance, what sorts of things would you study about these kinds of artifacts and their contexts that might begin addressing these questions?
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