CPJC Humanities for Our Humanity Program Description
The rationale behind this program is that an inquiry into global cultures and how they’ve developed over time that is both deep and broad can greatly enhance public discourse on any topic.
By starting with earliest examples of written and visual culture accessible to us, for example, we can see how rapidly culture developed as more human beings became less preoccupied with basic survival and found more time to reflect and create. We will see the earliest record of human hopes, fears, and desires and how they compare and contrast from one culture to the next. We will see different views of both intra- and intercultural concerns, how they were addressed, and how and why cultures and individuals succeeded and failed in their collective or individual efforts. We will see the evolution of class hierarchies, gender roles, and sexuality within cultures and across cultures, how this affected families and society more broadly, how power was distributed more and less equitably, and to what end. Ultimately, we’ll explore the human need to create and express themselves and more deeply understand the relationship between human creations and human being.
At first, the facilitators will develop reading/viewing guides for each session that we can use to guide our discussions. As the course progresses, the specific inquiries we delve into with each new piece will become increasingly collaborative, the whole group deciding which topics are most important to address in comparison with previous works. The facilitators’ roles will be to maximize the benefits of bringing multiple minds and backgrounds together in a room to discuss the material. Facilitators will do so by helping the group develop clear agreements for conducting discussions based on what participants hope to achieve in the program, helping the group stay focused on the shared material and cultures in question, questioning possible ethnocentric responses and developing varied perspectives on cultural differences, and helping the group decide on the most productive/useful questions for us to be asking as the course progresses. The reading schedule and additional resources we bring in will remain flexible and subject to change based on participants’ needs.
Local experts on history, art history, religious studies, anthropology, and many other disciplines will appear occasionally as guest speakers presenting interactive lectures followed by discussion and connection with the readings.
Most readings will come from the second edition (2009) of the Longman Anthology of World Literature, each volume of which can be purchased used online for less than $10. Each volume will carry us through at least one and sometimes two semesters.
We will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6pm to 9pm beginning February 12, 2020.
Spring 2020 Schedule
Week 1: Why a course like this? Group agreements, materials, and overview of our plan.
Reading for Week 2 on Ancient Cultures, Oral Traditions, and the Emergence of Writing (pgs. 1-23) “Babylonian Theogony” and “Memphite Theology” (pgs.23-27), “Genesis 1-11” (28-41), and ancient Sumerian and Egyptian poetry (3000-2000 BCE) (pgs. 41-45) and “Song of Songs” (46-56)
Week 2: Tentative guest Lecture on oral versus written cultures. Read Gilgamesh (56-97) for Week 3.
Week 3: Read section “Death and Immortality” and “Book of Job” (98-144) for Week 4.
Week 4: Read section “Strangers in a Strange Land” (145-183) and get a head start on “Classical Greece” and “Iliad” (185-259) for Week 5.
Week 5: Read Iliad for Week 6 (185-259)
Week 6: Possible guest lecture on ancient Greece. Read to Book 13 of the Odyssey (c. 800 BCE) for Week 7 (259-411)
Week 7: Read second half of Odyssey for Week 8 (412-559)
Week 8: Read “Archaic Lyric Poetry” (559-576) for Week 9
Week 9: Read “Oedipus the King” (616-656) for Week 10.
Week 10: Read Aristotle, Solon, and Plato (691-725) for Week 11
Week 11: Read “Early South Asia” and “Mahabharata” (799-851)
Week 12: Read “Bhagavad Gita” and “Ramayana” (851-907) for Week 13.
Week 13: Possible guest lecturer. Read “What is Literature?” and “Anandavardhana” (908-943) for Week 14
Week 14: Read “Kalidasa” (944-1013)
Week 15: For first week of Fall 2020, read “China: The Classical Tradition”, “The Book of Songs”, Confucius “The Analects”, and “Daoism and Its Ways” (1017-1091)