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Humanities 201

Francis-Noël Thomas

Professor of Humanities
Truman College
Box 122
1145 West Wilson Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Phone: 773/ 907-4055
Secretary: Kim Rivers
Room 3522
Phone 773/ 907-4062

Humanities 201

Introduction: Humanities as a kind of knowledge; access to the documents of culture; subject matter; disciplines of the humanities; humanistic work as a necessary human activity.


Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart (1958)
A. J. Liebling: Back Where I Came From (1938) (selections) (handout)

Topics: the concept of self; identity and tradition; the will of nature, the will of society, and the will of the individual; self-knowledge and the concept of "story;" the modern concept of self; Michel de Montaigne.


The Wilton Diptych [Portrait of Richard II] (after 1377)
Hans Holbein, Portraits of Henry VIII
   and Sir Richard Southwell (1530s)
Diego Velásquez, Portraits of Philip IV
   and Juan de Pareja (1650s)

Art Institute List


Música Cataluña: four folk melodies, Narciso Yepes (guitar) from his own arrangements
François Couperin: pièces de clavecin (1717)

Topics: Elements of music: rhythm, melody, harmony; characteristics of sound: pitch, intensity, duration, color tone; the scales.


William Shakespeare: Macbeth (c. 1606)

Goals and objectives:
This course has four official goals. They are listed below in no particular order. The course also has the tacit goals of getting you (1) to read a novel that presents a sympathetic picture of a culture very different from ours, (2) to read two articles that exemplify the art of “persuasion by presentation,” (3) to study in some detail a small selection of portraits (4) to make the process of “knowing” a piece of music conscious; and (5) to read a seventeenth-century play that presents contingent philosophic ideas about authority and legitimacy and fundamental ideas about good and evil and their role in human decisions.

Here are the four official goals:

1. To gain confidence in reading literary and philosophic texts for concepts, not just for information.
2. To distinguish the concept of portrait from the concept of representation. To be able to articulate the implicit concept of “portrait” in three distinct kinds of portraits drawn from three historical periods.
3. To articulate the figures or structural “parts” we recognize in hearing a musical composition. To consider what it might mean to say we “understand” a musical compoisition. To connect these musical concepts with meaning in speech.
4. To improve written and oral expression, with special concentration on:

1. Giving accurate factual accounts (getting facts straight)
(Did Umuofia know what they were going to with the hostage from the beginning?)
2. Identifying and citing evidence for a claim
3. Interpreting a passage
(What does the author expect you to know after you’ve read chapter two? What questions does the author expect you to have after Okonkwo participates in killing the hostage? What connection does the author expect you to see between the initial threat of war in chapter one and the refusal to fight in part three?)

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