Humanities 101: Cultural Traditions

Humanities 101/SECT 005: Cultural Traditions
Tuesday, Thursday - 2:00 – 3:20
Room: W4-03
CRN: 11718
Lakshmi Gudipati
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone #
Office hours
TR 12:30-1:30 & MWF 1:00 -2:00
An Important Note:
You are expected to have login ID with a password to access and use your address as a student
of this course. Doing so will allow you to check your email and the Course Page on a regular
basis for group messages, assignments or other correspondence that I might post. Ensure that you have
access to a computer with an internet facility and the basic knowledge to open and post messages. Even
if you have other e-mail addresses, the preferred e-mail for the purpose of the course is your Email address.
1. Longman Anthology of World Literatures, 2nd Edition
Publisher: Longman Pearson
ISBN 0321233972
Course Catalogue Description
Interdisciplinary study of the humanities, from the ancient world to the Renaissance [Early Modern Era]
including literature, philosophy, music, art and history. Crucial themes of continuing importance, such
as justice, the hero and the concept of the self will be examined in both Western and non-western
cultures. Courses will emphasize oral and written analysis of primary works.
Upon completion of this course students will be able to:
Analyze primary texts to demonstrate how they reflect the social, political and/or cultural context
that produced them from ancient times to the Renaissance
Explain similarities and differences between aesthetic, political and/or social values as they
developed in Western culture and that of a selected non-Western society
Discuss the role of the humanities in shaping society
Reading and Assignment Schedule
The syllabus below is divided into topical or thematic units of study. Each unit covers a certain
historical and/or cultural period and often from a comparative perspective. The items in the syllabus are
subject to change relative to the time we spend on each unit. Hence, it is imperative that you follow the
changes that are announced in the course as we commence the semester.
How best to handle the course of study?
Each unit includes introductory lecture/s, in-class discussions, in-class or at-home written responses or
project-based assignments. Study of each unit culminates in either an exam or a Paper. Taking careful
notes in class from lectures, participating earnestly in discussions, regular attendance and homework
submission will enable you to reach your highest potential. Often, homework assignments are
announced at the end of a class period upon considering what remains to be done after class work.
Therefore, it is imperative that you pay close attention to the announcements and write them down
instead of rushing out at the end of the class.
Note: Attendance and participation in in-class activities, timely completion of homework assignments
covers 20% of your final grade
Unit –1: Weeks 1- 3
Topic: Antiquity – myths, wisdom texts and material artifacts of ancient civilizations
Theme: Exploring the building –blocks of civilization
In this unit we will study creation myths and religious hymns from diverse cultural traditions that arose
in the ancient world, Mesopotamia, Africa, Mesoamerica, and India. The focus is on discovering the
common concerns that these early humans shared about their seen and unseen worlds and their
imaginative responses to their survival and larger than life quests. We will study the symbolic, and
allegorical representation of their imagined and felt visions of the creation of the cosmos and the pace of
God/gods on the universe, its origins, evolution and the place of its many creatures, spanning from gods
to animals within the cosmic scheme. We will also study the artifactual evidence discovered by
archeologists for the light they shed on the life styles and concerns of the ancient societies.
Week 1 - 3 JAN 17, 19, 24, 26, 31 FEB 2
Activities and Assignment: In-class group analysis and discussion, written responses to assigned
questions (part of the 20% of the final grade for class participation, and homework)
Topic: A study of the building blocks of civilization: A Case Study of Mesopotamian and Indus Valley
primary and secondary sources from archeological artifacts-- online materials posted on
the Course Homepage
Myths from across cultures: A study of the roots of cultural imagination, religion, and values, Texts
TBA from Longman Anthology
Activities and Assignments: study of maps and cultural artifacts to isolate and analyze the purpose and
function of civilizational institutions such as religion, government, and rituals (part of the 20% of the
final grade for class participation, and homework)
Take-Home Exam (10% of the final grade)
In-class analysis exam on Myths ON FEB 2
Unit – 2
Epic Age
Weeks 4 – 6
DUE on FEB 2
FEB 7, 9, 14, 16, 21
Themes for Exploration: A study of the elements of a cultural or national hero; the; sagas of
expansion, occupation and warrior codes; ethics of duty and honor
Texts: The Iliad & Ramayana
Epics may be defined as literary texts that narrate the foundation stories of cultures and larger than life
responses to eternal human quests and conflicts. Generally, epic sagas recount the stories of cultural or
civilizational development as a particular society progresses from its initial settlement as communities
and political power groups towards the building of empires. Many of the epics that are available in the
present day also reveal to us how the earlier age’s myths and religious rituals come to be established as
institutionally sanctioned cultural practices. We will be studying selections from the two epics, Iliad
and Ramayana to derive an understanding of how the above elements operated in their respective
societies. Finally, we will also study how the two epics shaped or questioned the cultural ideals and
practices of archaic Greece and India, respectively.
Week 4 – FEB 7 & 9 Reading: The Iliad
Activities: in-class discussions, quizzes, homework assignments (part of the 20% of the final grade
for class participation, and homework)
Week 5 – FEB 16 & 21
Reading: Ramayana
Activities: in-class discussions, quizzes, homework assignments (part of the 20% of the final grade
for class participation, and homework)
Week 6 – FEB 23
Comparative analysis and interpretation
Receive Essay Assignment: Compare and contrast analysis essay (5 pages) (10% of the final grade)
DUE on FEB 28
Unit 3 Classical Age – Philosophy, Religion, and Politics Week 7
Week 7 — FEB 28
Topic: Explorations of the metaphysical Reality in Greece and Classical India
Readings: excerpts from Plato and Aristotle (Greece), Bhagavad-Gita & Jain and Buddhist texts (India)
Activities: class and homework assignments (part of the 20% of the final grade for class
participation, and homework)
Week 7
Topic: Philosophical explorations of the ethical mandates for the individual and society
Readings: “Crito” from the Trial and Death of Socrates: Four Dialogues
Activities: Class and Home work, quizzes (part of the 20% of the final grade for class participation,
and homework)
Receive Take-Home Assignment DUE on March 13
Unit 4
MAR 5- 10
Classical Age- Drama and Poetry Weeks 8 & 9
MAR 13, 15, 20, 22
Topic: The Poetics of classical drama
Texts: Medea, Sakuntala
Assignment: class work, homework (part of the 20% of the final grade for class participation, and
End of the Unit assessment: Essay (10 % of the final grade) DUE on 27
Week 10
MAR 27 & 29
Topic: Study of the Art and Architecture of Greece and India
Homework: Art analysis
End of the Unit Assessment: On-line presentation on an art or architectural piece (10% of the final
Unit 5
Weeks 11 & 12
APR 3 & 5; 10 & 12
Middle Ages: Medieval developments in politics, religion and the arts in the Arab World
Texts: Persian and Arabic cultures: pre-Islamic odes, Ghazal, scriptures from Koran, Travel writing
Tales from Thousand and One Nights, Islamic art and Architecture
Assignments: homework and class work (part of the 20% of the final grade for class participation,
and homework)
End of the Unit Assessment: Take-Home Exam (10% of the final grade), Due on or before NOV 30
Week 13
High Middle Ages Europe APR 17 & 19
Readings: Development of Catholicism, Crusades, Decameron, Canterbury Tales
Assignments: In-class quiz, and text analyses assignments (part of the 20% of the final grade for
class participation, and homework)
Take-home essay on Canterbury Tales DUE on APR 23 (10 % of the final grade)
Unit 6 Renaissance & Early Modern Europe
Weeks 14 & 15 APR 24, 26 & 30
Topic: Beginnings of modernity in Western Europe and its global reach (Lectures posted on the Course
Readings: Primary and Secondary Source texts, Select literary texts
Assignment: Text analyses assignments and journals (part of the 20% of the final grade for class
participation, and homework)
Last Class Day: APRIL 30
Final Exam: TBA
Course Overview
Welcome to Humanities101. In this course, you will analyze and study the religious, artistic and
intellectual developments across the major world civilizations from the beginnings of recorded history
(ancient times) to early modern developments in Europe. You will study materials from the fields of
history, philosophy, literature, and art. The course is divided into four major units of study: antiquity,
classical civilizations, middle ages and the early modern age. We will examine crucial themes of
continued importance such as the origins and development of art, religion, science, and politics. We will
be examining these themes from a cross-cultural perspective spanning both western and non-western
Course Goals
The process of study involves analysis and interpretation of primary texts (texts that were
contemporary to the time period of our study). Below are the main interpretive questions we will be
exploring in our study of the primary texts, be they literary texts, art or historical/scientific/philosophical
What are the hallmarks of civilization?
What are myths? What function did they serve in earlier cultures?
What was the basis of religious faith? What roles did religion play in earlier cultures?
What was the nature of scientific thought in the ancient times? What were the major
human needs that shaped the nature of scientific thought?
What role did art (story-telling, music, painting, and dance) play in the early cultures?
What values determined the social structure of these societies?
What forces generally seemed to shape the individual conduct?
What seem to be the markers that scholars use to divide one age of history from the other?
What are the features that distinguish modern age from its predecessor cultures?
Whereas the above questions will be used to frame the thematic discussion of each period, individual
texts and topics will be used as case-studies.
 analysis and interpretation of texts will be done primarily within their own cultural,
historical, and social contexts, and where appropriate certain themes will be interpreted
for their universal validity;
 in the analysis of a given text, a combination of relevant and standard disciplinary
principles of evaluation and interpretation will be employed to avoid fallacies such as
overgeneralization and interpreter bias.
Course Objectives
As analysis and interpretation are the two main goals of the course, you will be guided through and
assessed on the following objectives:
 reading response journals focused on specific issues,
 explain specific passages with reference to context (cultural, political, artistic and/or
intellectual context,
 productive participation in group activities, and
 critically and academically appropriate responses to assignments
 Independent analysis and interpretation of texts.
Assessment and Evaluation
You will be reading many primary and some secondary texts and demonstrate your interpretation and
analysis of the texts through several written and oral responses. The bulk of your critical thinking will
be elicited in class discussions and inquiry journals, written essays and exams. Mostly, you will be
assigned specific topics or questions to engage in these activities. Therefore, reading the assigned texts
prior to class discussion is of utmost importance for doing well in this course.
Your performance on all of the activities will be graded you will find the grade allocation in the syllabus
and here:
class work, homework and attendance—200 points
Unit 1: exam---100
Unit 2: paper—100
Unit 3: exam--100
Unit 4: paper—100
Unit 5: 2 papers--200
Unit 5: Exam—100
Final Exam: 100
Do not throw away the work you do, whether it is in-class exercise or the draft for the term-paper. You
will receive a point score on the exams and papers, and check marks (check plus (9-10), check (8),
Check – (7) and zero for work not done on the minor assignments. You will be informed of the quality
of your performance and the grades at the intervals of 4 weeks each. Below are the minimal
requirements you need to meet to receive your grades.
 Homework assignments must be turned in on the day they are due.
 Class participation, contribution to class discussions and productive contribution to collaborative
group work is a requirement. (Appropriate academic conversation is central to this course, and
your cooperation to the fullest in the endeavor will allow you to reach your full academic
 Regular attendance and finishing missed work (for valid reasons such as sickness and
emergencies) in a timely manner counts for part of your final grade.
You may earn one of the following grades on your papers determined by the quality of your work. The
grading scale is as follows: A 100 -90, B 89 -80, C 79 -70, D 69 - 60, and F below 60. A, B, C are
acceptable grades for students who intend to go to a four year college and get a Bachelors in the near
future. “D” is a passing grade but is not transferable to any other institution. Below you will find the
qualities that define each grade.
“A” – An “A” grade work, first and foremost, clearly demonstrates the student’s critical acumen and
originality of interpretation. It reflects comprehensively developed and accurately presented content
with a clear and focused thesis, and the written work has very few grammatical and syntactic errors. It
also addresses all the elements included, both directly and indirectly, in the assignment.
“B” – Response incorporates the critical concepts articulated in lectures and class discussions, written
work reflects comprehensively developed and accurately presented content with a clear and focused
thesis with a few grammatical or usage errors, and fulfills major elements included in the assignment.
“C” – Work reflects an attempt to develop a comprehensive response but falls short for lack of in-depth
reading and/or interpretation of sources. The response is developed an unevenly, and indicates an
awareness of basic conventions of academic writing – has structure and voice but makes use of simple
syntax and informal language. Students who do not master basic sentence skills cannot expect more
than “C”.
“D” – Responses lack a clear and focused thesis, do not reflect an appropriate use and/or interpretation
of sources, various parts of the paper are underdeveloped, and reflect simple syntax and informal
language and has several basic grammar and usage errors. A grade of D is acceptable for CCP
graduation, but
“F “– A paper will earn a grade of “F” if the score is below 60 points, irregular participation, and/or if
the instructor suspects plagiarism and/or cheating by the student on any assignment.
Plagiarism and Cheating
Plagiarism is when students copy passages and chunks of text from published or unpublished texts and
use them in their own essay without citation or acknowledgement. Often this problem occurs when
students are not careful with their presentation of source information. The best way to avoid this from
happening is learning the techniques of paraphrasing, quoting and summarizing well and meticulously
following the citation conventions.
Cheating, needless to say, is when you have someone else write your paper or do your research and
attempt to pass it as if it is your own. Your instructor becomes quite familiar with your style and
technique of writing early in the semester and it will be very easy to spot any act of cheating. Once it is
determined that you have cheated, severe academic penalties will be imposed as per college policies.
Please refrain from any such attempts and do not defeat your purpose, to learn.
Outside class study requirements and sources of additional assistance
As you may see, this course is reading intensive and expects you to be able to read and understand
academic texts independently. Expect to spend at least four hours outside class time for every classroom
hour to meet the reading requirements. In addition, you will be spending at least an hour a day doing
assigned homework.
Your instructor is available during her office hours to clarify your doubts, and please avail yourself of
that opportunity.
There is also a writing lab, which is a good source of seeking help with writing papers. Individual and
small group tutoring is available for you free of charge in the Learning Lab. The tutors can help you
with a wide range of tasks such as idea-generation and planning, and revision.
Classroom Behavior
1. You must be alert in class, stay on task and collaborate productively with your team members
while doing group work.
2. Do not engage in distracting and unruly behaviors such as walking around or in and out of the
class room, chewing gum or eating food, drinking soda or coffee, talking privately to other
students in the class, reading newspaper or other unrelated material, doing homework assigned
for other courses, etc.
3. Treat other students and your professor with respect and earn the same; in other words, do not
make derisive comments, engage in provocative acts, or ignore other people’s needs. You will
be asked to walk out of the class and then be removed from the course if you engage in physical
or linguistic behavior that is perceived as a threat, harassment or a humiliation to other students
or the instructor.
4. Keep your beepers and cell phones turned off during the class. If there is an emergency, you
must inform me of your need to keep the communication line open for that class period.
5. Do not bring guests and children into the classroom. Exceptions might be made when the
instructor perceives a valid reason.
Attendance requirements
1. Class attendance is required. If you are absent for an equivalent of 2 weeks/6 hours with or without
valid reasons, you may be dropped from the course as per college policy.
2. If you know ahead of the time, you will not be in class, call and let your instructor know, and make
arrangements with a classmate to get homework.
3. If your are absent for more then three class hours and get behind in your work or turn in papers late,
your grade on those assignments will be reduced by one letter grade.
4. Habitual tardiness or leaving class early will be counted to calculate the allowed number of
5. You must attend all scheduled conferences. Remember conferences are in place of class meeting but
not optional. Absence for these sessions will be the same as being absent for class meeting.
6. You must attend an appointment that we make and if for some reason are unable to keep it, you must
call and leave a message on the professor’s voice mail.
Note: If you exceed the allowed number of days of absence (2) after the official deadline to withdraw
from classes, which is November 23, your final grade will be an “F”. Make sure you get in touch with
the instructor in the event of an unavoidable problem and discuss the withdrawal option to avoid the
“F” grade.
Special Needs Students
If there are students who need special accommodation due to any kind of disability, you must inform the
instructor during the first week of class. If a previously non-existent or undiagnosed disability arises
during the course of the semester, you must notify the instructor immediately to qualify for special
Other housekeeping matters
You are expected to check your ‘myccp” course website on a regular basis for group messages,
assignments or other correspondence that I might post. For this reason, you need to have access to a
computer with an internet facility and the basic knowledge to open and post messages. Even if you have
other e-mail addresses, the preferred e-mail for the purpose of the course is your ccp e-mail address.
School closing announcements on account of inclement weather:
Listen to KYW 1060 for school closing announcements. Our school code is #238
I hold regular office hours at the times listed on page 1 of this packet. If you intend to see me during
those hours, you may come by my office. If you anticipate spending more than ten minutes on a
question or problem, I suggest you make an appointment with me ahead of the time.
Wish you a productive and enjoyable learning experience in this course.
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