Nov 30, 2023  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Arts and Humanities (formerly Cluster Two: Arts and Humanities)

Dennis C. Beck, Arts and Humanities Coordinator

Arts and Humanities courses show students what it means to live lives enriched by reflection, imagination and creativity. They do so by offering each individual a cross-disciplinary experience within the arts and humanities, those areas of endeavor that humans have long valued for their intrinsic worth and that invite a deeper appreciation of the human experience. The broadly stated goals for Arts and Humanities are:

  • To introduce students to cultural, historical, aesthetic and theoretical expressions of and questions about human experience.
  • To expose students to multiple academic disciplines in the arts and humanities and their methods and unique perspectives.
  • To inspire a deeper awareness of how the interplay between culture and expression affects both collective and individual identities.
  • To foster appreciation of the aesthetic and formal qualities of literary, visual and performing arts.
  • To engage students in thinking critically and communicating clearly about enduring questions concerning human life, culture and history.

Arts and Humanities Learning Outcomes

Human Questions and Contexts

After completing a Human Questions and Contexts course students will be able to:

  • Use critical and comparative analysis to question their own and others’ beliefs about and responses to the world or universe.
  • Apply the methods of the discipline(s) studied to material from the humanities.
  • Identify, evaluate and produce arguments using appropriate concepts and techniques and formulate logical arguments on the same basis.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of broader cultural, historical or conceptual contexts of particular issues, ideas, objects or events – past and present.
  • Experience humanities events (such as exhibits, films, performances or public lectures) more discerningly.

Visual and Performing Arts

After completing a Visual and Performing Arts course students will be able to:

  • Explain how artistic works and culture are interrelated.
  • Recognize that the arts are accessible and relevant to their lives.
  • Demonstrate disciplinary literacy (vocabulary, concepts, creative processes) in a major art form.
  • Produce an informed response to the form, content and aesthetic qualities of artistic works.
  • Experience arts events more discerningly.
  • Acknowledge relationships among the arts.


After completing a Literature course students will be able to:

  • Generate increasingly nuanced questions (interpretations, ideas) about literature and explain why those questions matter.
  • Use appropriate vocabulary and tactics to analyze specific literary expressions of culture and the relationship between the reader, the author and text.
  • Define ways that texts serve as arguments and identify rhetorical and formal elements that inform these arguments.
  • Recognize appropriate contexts (such as genres, political perspectives, textual juxtapositions) and understand that readers may interpret literature from a variety of perspectives.
  • Articulate a variety of examples of the ways in which literature gives us access to the human experience that reveals what differentiates it from, and connects it to, the other disciplines that make up the arc of human learning.

Arts and Humanities Structure

Arts and Humanities consist of nine credits distributed across three program requirements: Human Questions and Contexts, Visual and Performing Arts, and Literature. Students will choose one course to satisfy each of these three requirements. Arts and Humanities requirements may be completed concurrently or individually, in any order.

Human Questions and Contexts

AMST 200  takes a cross-disciplinary approach to questions about American identity and shows how they reflect a complex interplay of cultural, historical, religious and ideological perspectives. The ANTH and HIST courses introduce students to the great cultures of the world by surveying the common patterns of experience that characterized Western, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Meso- and South American societies in the past. The HUM courses are cross-disciplinary, in-depth explorations of specific topics, cultures, periods or themes. The PHIL and REL courses explore the great inquiries into human existence and the ways different cultures across different time periods constructed their responses to questions concerning humans’ existence and their relationship to nature, ultimate reality and the universe. Thus all of the courses in Human Questions and Contexts emphasize central questions about the human condition and ways of studying values and beliefs as they are shaped by class, gender, race, historical events, philosophy and religion.

Choose one of the following:

Visual and Performing Arts

ARTH 205  and ARTH 206  are global art history surveys that introduce students to the visual arts, whose history often has been interconnected with developments in music, dance and theatre/film. These surveys are organized chronologically, but focus distinctly on artistic perception and experience. The global music surveys explore history and the arts through the study of music: its development, aesthetics, forms and styles; and its context within the cultural communities that produced it. ART 200  and MUS 200  are introductions to art or music in general culture; DANC 215  considers the historic and cultural significance of dance as well as the components of dance performance; THEA 210  studies theatre as an art form in its cultural contexts including acting, directing, design, costuming and lighting; MUS 203  explores America’s music landscape and examines the interconnections among music, art and literature in historical periods.


The literature surveys provide students with extensive reading experiences of representative genres and authors and various critical approaches to literary texts, as well as opportunities to explore the complex ways that the literature both reflects and helps change or create the cultural and intellectual contexts of the times in which they are written. Students are expected to learn strategies for reading and interpreting any literary text so that they come to deepen their appreciation of the aesthetics, rhetorical strategies and meaning of a range of literary texts. Through the humanistic study of literature, students will also obtain a better understanding of themselves and their own culture as well as those of others.

Literature and Writing Infusion

The courses that satisfy the Literature requirement are designated as writing-infused. Students will write a minimum of 5,000 words (approximately 15 pages double-spaced in a standard font) in assignments that may include both informal and formal, ungraded and graded forms. The extensive opportunity to produce and receive feedback on various genres of academic writing will help students sharpen their responses to interesting and thought-provoking texts and promote more engaged and sophisticated reading strategies.