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Category V, Arts & Letters

Category Description

In this category students develop their skills for critical analysis through intense
engagement with works of literature, philosophy, visual arts, music, and film. The works studied may be associated with a particular country, time period, genre, or theme. Students will learn to use techniques of literary and artistic analysis. At the same time they will become familiar with disciplinary and interdisciplinary methods of argument and persuasion. Because intensive reading and writing is demanded in these courses, they will generally be capped at 30 students.

Students learn to become more discriminating readers, viewers, and listeners. Critical
thinking and knowledge of a subject are developed through careful study of particular works and consideration of such questions as: What are the primary methods for interpreting works of literature, art, or philosophy? How is literary, artistic or philosophical analysis different from empirical or scientific analysis? What is the relationship between works of art and thought and their cultural or social contexts? What evidence counts for making arguments in literary, artistic or philosophical study? What criteria have been used for judging the quality or significance of works of literature, art, and philosophy? Why do we care about literature, art, and philosophy?


Course Requirements:

  1. As a rough guideline, there should be reading assignments of about 150-200 pages of fiction per week (or the rough equivalent in poetry, drama, non-fiction, etc.) -- except, of course, in weeks when a paper is due or a midterm is given.
  2. These courses will require at least 15-20 pages of formal (and out-of class) written work, split up into 3-5 assignments, with the first assignment given early in the semester. Though writing is intensive, courses in this category are not a formal part of the Writing Program, and students with severe writing problems should be referred to the Writing Center.
  3. There will be at least one conference with each student, preferably held early in the semester. The conference should include discussion of an assignment or a review of a paper.
  4. There will be a midterm and a final examination.
  5. It is expected that these courses will adhere to rigorous standards and expectations, both in terms of grading as well as in terms of course content. (For example, small lower-division General Education courses of this type might expect to average 60-70% A's and B's, though obviously there will be some variance with each different group of students.)