The Human Spirit: Sources in the Western Humanities, Vol. 2

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9780130480538: The Human Spirit: Sources in the Western Humanities, Vol. 2

Covering the period from 1600 to the Post-Modern Era, this book is part of an innovative two-volume primary source anthology that presents some of the greatest ideas and creative expressions of humanity. The anthology features an exceptionally diverse and unique variety of selections reflecting artistic, musical, literary, political, social, religious, intellectual, and scientific issues that encompass the study of Humanities. Chronological in format—with individual units focused on time periods, specific events, and historical questions, it is internally organized around five major themes—The Institution and the Individual; Social and Spiritual Values; Revolution and Transition; The Varieties of Truth; and Women in History and the Humanities. Each piece of literature, poetry or art, each diary entry, philosophical excerpt, or religious proviso is juxtaposed against the tapestry of history so that it can be viewed within the context of its time. Throughout, readers are confronted with basic questions regarding historical development, human nature, moral action, and practical necessity. Major period covered include: The Baroque Age (1600-1715). Enlightenment and Revolution (1715-1800). The Birth of the Modern: Nationalism and Romanticism (1750- 1830). Changing Dimensions: Social Conflict and Realism (1830-1870). The Belle Epoque (1870-1914). “The Abyss Also Looks Into You” : The West in Crisis (1914-1945). The Individual Apart: The Abstract World and the Post-Modern Era. Includes excerpts from drama and literature, short stories, speeches, letters, diary accounts, poems, newspaper articles, philosophical tracts, propaganda flyers, and works of art and architecture. Includes not only the traditional primary documents essential to the study of the Humanities, but also the more unusual which are not found in similar texts. For anyone interested in the great ideas and artistic expressions of humanity.

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From the Back Cover:

This innovative two-volume primary source reader offers students an opportunity to evaluate and interact - through both discussion and writing - with some of the greatest ideas and creative expressions of humanity. Chronological in format, with individual units focused on time periods, specific events, and historical questions, The Human Spirit features six major themes: The Institution and the Individual; Social and Spiritual Values; The Power Structure; Revolution and Transition; The Varieties of Truth; and Women in History and the Humanities. Throughout these volumes, students are confronted with basic questions regarding historical development, human nature, moral action, and practical necessity.

  • Chronological format with 7 self-contained chapters in each volume with a strong focus on interrelationships and cultural interaction.
  • Diverse interdisciplinary range of primary sources which, include works of art and architecture, excerpts from drama and literature, speeches, letters, diary accounts, poems, newspaper articles, philosophical tracts, and propaganda flyers.
  • Relevant problem orientation: Questions that confront students with problems that human beings have struggled with for centuries but that still have meaning for their own lives in today's world.
  • Boxed integrative features in each chapter: The Artistic Vision, Against the Grain, The Architectural Foundation, The Cultural Intersection and The Reflection in the Mirror.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The human world is complex, full of discovery and creativity, deceit and destruction. As we each make our way through life, we learn to navigate its seemingly endless maze of contradiction. It is our human alternative to give life or take it, to appreciate the beauty of a sunset or to deprecate the mindless destruction on some lonely battlefield. It is our gift to wonder and reconcile, to fashion the buildings that house our grand ideas and to create systems of law that harness the vagaries of our human nature.

We humans wonder at our own existence, and this is the crux of it all. This is the foundation for our study of the Humanities, those disciplines of music, drama, art, dance, architecture, literature, philosophy, and history. "It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance," noted the American novelist Henry James. "And I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process." James understood that if we seek happiness and truth, beauty and meaning in life, we must look to the many expressions of human worth that are defined through the writings and arts of our culture. Yet this is not simply the history of human progress, but also the story of its negation and defeat—the contradiction of human existence. The primary way to understand the past and to appreciate the present is through a personal examination of the writings and artwork, the music and poetry of generations.

The Human Spirit offers the student an opportunity to evaluate and interact with some of the greatest ideas and creative expressions of humanity. And interaction is the key to an analysis of the Humanities. Each piece of literature, poetry or art, each diary entry, philosophical excerpt, or religious proviso has been juxtaposed against the tapestry of history so that it can be viewed within the context of its time. This two-volume book has been conceived as more than a simple compilation of primary sources. It is meant to provide the student with thoughtful and engaging material, which is focused around individual units that encompass time periods, specific events and historical questions. Students learn from the Humanities most effectively when posed with problems that have meaning for their own lives. In evaluating the material from The Human Spirit, the student will discover that issues are not nearly as simple as they may appear at first glance. Historical and visual sources often contradict each other and compete for emotional engagement and primacy. Throughout these volumes, the student is confronted with basic questions regarding historical development, human nature, moral action, and practical necessity. The text is therefore broad in its scope and incorporates a wide variety of political, social, economic, religious, intellectual, and scientific issues that encompass, define, and reward the study of the Humanities. It is internally organized around six major themes that provide direction and cohesion to the text while allowing for originality of thought in both written and oral analysis:

  1. The Power Structure: What are the institutions of authority in Western societies and how have they been structured to achieve political, social, and economic stability? Monarchy, theocracy, democracy, fascism, socialism, communism, nationalism, and imperialism form the basis of study in this section.
  2. The Institution and the Individual: What is the relationship between personal, creative expression in the arts and the governing political, religious, and social institutions of the age? What gives the Humanities purpose in the eyes of Church or State? How are writers, artists, and poets variously employed through patronage systems to enhance political authority, perpetuate myths, and create heroes who embody the values of the age? What is the role of the rebel, the free thinker, who works against the grain and threatens the status quo by exploring new dimensions of thought or creative expression?
  3. Social and Spiritual Values: The Judeo-Christian and Islamic heritage of Western Civilization forms the basis of this theme. How have religious values and moral attitudes affected the course of the Western Humanities? To what extent have spiritual reform movements resulted in a change of political or social policy, or artistic style? Are ideas more potent than any army? Does every society need a spiritual foundation? How do art, architecture, and literature reflect the dominant values of an era?
  4. Revolution and Transition: This theme seeks to define and examine the varieties of revolution: political, intellectual, economic, social, and artistic. What are the underlying and precipitating causes of political revolution? How essential is the intellectual foundation? Does an artistic revolution stem from political change or a shifting of social realities? This theme focuses on transition through historical or artistic periods.
  5. The Varieties of Truth: What is the role of propaganda in history? Many sections examine the use and abuse of information, often in connection with absolute government, revolution, imperialism, or genocide. What roles do art, architecture, poetry, and literature play in the "creation of belief," and in the successful consolidation of power? This theme emphasizes the relativity of truth and stresses the responsibility of the individual in assessing the validity of evidence.
  6. Women in History and the Humanities: The text intends to develop an appreciation of the contributions of women to the intellectual, political, and artistic framework of the Western Humanities. At issue is how women have been viewed—or rendered invisible—throughout history and how individually and collectively their presence is inextricably linked with the development and progress of civilization. This inclusive approach stresses the importance of achieving a perspective that lends value and practical application to the study of the Humanities.

The overriding theme that provides a foundation and overall unity to the text is that of cultural interaction. How have the diverse cultures of the West been linked by political systems, economic contact, social and religious movements, philosophy, art, literature, and such variables as disease and war? In what ways has Western Civilization over the centuries struggled with similar challenges and themes that have contributed to cultural transition?

Structure of the Book

The main strength of the text lies in its structure and the direction given to the student through introductions to each primary source. Study Questions promote analysis and evoke critical response. Each chapter follows the same format:

  • Time-line Chronological Overview: These brief time-lines are designed to give students a visual perspective of the main events, movements, and personalities discussed in the chapter.
  • Quotations: These are statements from various historians, artists, philosophers, diplomats, literary figures, and religious spokespersons who offer insight and give perspective on the subject matter of the chapter.
  • Thematic Presentations: The entire text is composed around six primary themes in the Humanities. Each chapter begins with a list of the relevant themes and questions that link that chapter with ideas and problems in other chapters.
  • Headnotes: These are extensive introductions which explain in detail the historical or biographical background of each primary source. They also focus themes and discuss interrelationships with other relevant primary sources.
  • Primary Sources: The sources provided are diverse in nature and include excerpts from drama and literature, short stories, speeches, letters, diary accounts, poems, newspaper articles, philosophical tracts, propaganda flyers, and works of art and architecture.
  • Study Questions: A series of study questions conclude each source or chapter section and present a basis for oral discussion or written analysis. The study questions do not seek mere regurgitation of information, but demand a more thoughtful response which is based on reflective analysis of the primary sources.

Features and Integrated Format

The study of the Humanities is necessarily an integrative experience. The Human Spirit provides insight into the interrelationships between art, music, literature, poetry, and architecture during various historical periods. Students are linked to historical events, broader artistic movements and styles through five unique features included in each chapter:

  1. The Artistic Vision: This feature emphasizes the creative processes and vision of an artist who embodies a dominant style of the period or expresses the social or spiritual values of the age.
  2. Against the Grain: This feature focuses on those who don't fit or are in conflict with their societies, but embody the edge of creative change and set new artistic or historical parameters: the outsider, the radical mind, the free thinker. What impact does the individual have on the artistic landscape? To what extent is progress dependent on those who threaten the status quo and seek new directions outside the mainstream?
  3. The Architectural Foundation: This feature emphasizes architecture as an expression of culture. Most often, this section includes a visual analysis of floor plans, religious shrines, theaters, or other monuments that are important cultural expressions of a particular society.
  4. The Cultural Intersection: This is an important focus of The Human Spirit. It presents a primary source that emphasizes one of the themes around which the text is based, but draws from a culture outside the European Western tradition. These are comparative links with Asian, Middle Eastern, American, or African civilizations at contemporaneous or thematic moments. This feature provides an expansive dimension to the text and offers a world perspective on the integration of the Humanities.
  5. The Reflection in the Mirror: This feature offers an analysis of a focused moral or philosophical problem within a culture. It emphasizes the more abstract themes of progress and decline, arrogance and power, salvation, the impact of war and disease, the conflict between science and religion, the relationship of divinity and humanity, and the importance of human memory and creativity when juxtaposed with technological progress. This feature promotes thoughtful reflection and often asks the student to assess the cultural impact of artistic vision.

Use of the Book

The Human Spirit offers the instructor a wide variety of didactic applications. The chapters fit into a more or less standard lecture format and are ordered chronologically. An entire chapter may be assigned for oral discussion, or sections from each chapter may satisfy particular interests or requirements.

The chapters also may be assigned for written analysis. One of the most important concerns of both instructor and student in an introductory class is the written assignment. The Human Spirit has been designed to provide self-contained topics that are problem-oriented, promote reflection and analysis, and encourage responsible citation of particular primary sources. The study questions for each chapter should generally produce an eight- to ten-page paper or instructors may assign particular sections for shorter, reflective papers.

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