Anti-Vanilla Site

Primary Educational Resource for Humanities, Foundations I Honors, Creative Drama, and Theater Workshop

Humanites Essentials

                                                                  Aims: 

1.) To encourage students to make connections among academic disciplines and thoughts, feelings, and actions.

2.) To develop a fascination with the richness of knowledge as a human endeavor and an understanding of the empowerment that follows from reflecting upon it.

3.) To build a consideration of the responsibilities originating from the relationship between knowledge, the community, and the individual as an informed and humanistic citizen of the world.

Objectives:

1.)  To generate questions, explanations, conjectures, hypotheses, alternative ideas, and possible solutions in response to knowledge, beauty, and power issues.

2.)  To analyze critically knowledge, truth, and beauty assessments, their underlying assumptions, and their implications.

3.)  To formulate and communicate ideas clearly and elegantly with regard for accuracy and academic honesty.

Unit 1:  What is Power?

Essential Questions:

1.  Who or what has power over you?

2.  What is the role of language in creating and reinforcing social distinctions such as class, ethnicity, and gender?  Is there a hierarchy established through language?  Is there a "Power Language?"

3.   How much power can you give to the individual while still maintaining a cohesive collective? 

4.  What social, psychological, or historical influences set up power polarities:  personal, group dynamic, mob psychology, government, or other interactions between people?

Ideas for  Interdisciplinary Connections:

     History: VietnamKoreaIraq wars overview, Imperialism, Nazi Germany

      Contemporary Economics:  Global Economy mini-unit on employment

      Non fiction:  Thomas Friedman:  The World is Flat (Pod Cast)

      Human Sciences:  Gender Role Expectations     

      Linguistics:  Socio-linguistics  (Genderspeak and Harassment issues)

      Literature:  J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

                        Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

        William Shakespeare, Richard III 

       David Mamet, Oleanna

      Film:  Oleanna and Let's Fly Away

      Economics:  Business models, corporate takeovers, and Richard III

 

Unit 2:  What is Beauty?:

Essential Questions:

1.  Is beauty cultural/ personal/universal?

2.  Does Beauty have power?  If so, what kind?

Ideas for Interdisciplinary Connections:

      Historical Definitions of Beauty:  Aristotle/Plato (Classical) definitions, Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern

     Math:  Pythagoras (order and comprehensibility=mathematical laws)  Fibonacci Series

     Philosophy:  Plato, Sophist (rules of aesthetics in sculpture, Medieval harmony (proportion) and color.  Also, moral significance:  beauty and ugliness in juxtaposition. 

     Human Sciences:  Research regarding beauty: cultural and personal                                                      

     Non fiction:  Nancy Etcoff, The Survival of the Prettiest           

     Contemporary Culture: Beauty in Media, Hollywood, and Fashion and Advertising Industries

      Art: Realism, Romanticism, Surrealism, Cubism

      Literature:  Katherine Harrison, Exposure

                       William Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis

       Photography:  Diane Arbus

       Film:  Malena (Guisseppe Tornatore)

 

Unit 3:  What is Knowledge?

Essential Questions:

1.  How is knowledge measured? How is knowledge gained?  To what extent might these vary according to age, education, or cultural background?

2.  What is "scientific method?"  What kinds of questions do scientists ask and how do these questions differ from those asked by philosophers, artists, and theologians?  To what extent might the formulation of a hypothesis or the invention of a research method be comparable to imagining and creating a work of art?

3.  What kinds of explanations do scientists offer, and how do these explanations compare with those offered in other areas of knowledge?  What are the differences between theories and myths?

4.   What role does personal experience play in the formation of knowledge claims?  What role does what we expect to see, want to see, or are used to seeing, play in what we observe? 

Ideas for Interdisciplinary Connections:

      Natural/Human Sciences:  What scientific/psychological/philosophical theories best explain the acquisition of knowledge and our understanding of our world?  Suggestions:  Socrates, Locke, Montaigne, Rousseau, Montessori, Dewey, Eriksson, Piaget, Darwin's theory of evoluation, Heisenberg's uncertainty theory," Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, chaos theory,  or others?  See Supplemental Reading.  

     Philosophy:  Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World and Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy.

      Mathematics:  Statistics and Bias

      Literature:  David Auburn:  Proof

                      James Joyce:  The Portrait of An Artist as a Young Man

      Film:  A Beautiful Mind

 

Unit Four:  What is Truth?

 Essential Questions:

 1.  What are the differences among the following:  information, data, belief, faith, opinion, knowledge, and wisdom?

2.   How do applied sciences approach the gathering of information in order to build a body of knowledge?  Is artistic truth the same as truth in the context of the natural sciences, the human sciences, or history?  What is truth in advertising?

3.  Presented with a belief system of a community of knowers, how can we decide what we personally believe?

Ideas for Interdisciplinary Connections:

      Math:  Mathematical proofs, empirical evidence, and inductive reasoning=Truth?

      Natural Science:  Scientific method and values:  quantum mechanics, chaos theory, "uncertainty principle" (Heisenberg), evolution (Darwin), and relativity (Einstein).  How do multiple theories=Truth?

     Human Science:  Marxist, Psychoanalytic, Behaviorist, and Humanistic (Existentialists) present widely diverse paradigms.

     History:  Historical "fact?" Does the historian record history or create it?  Is history only about the powerful?

     Philosophy:  Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Bacon, Kaku, and others (see Supplemental Reading)

     The Arts:  Does art expose truth or manipulate it?

     Photography:  Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and Dorthea Lang, contemporary war photojournalism (Supplemental Reading and Links)

     Literature:   Poetry (see Interdisciplinary Link)                                      

                      Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot 

     Non Fiction:  Susan Sontag, On Photography

     Film:    Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa)

                 Crash (Paul Haggis)

The Truman Show (Peter Weir)