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Course Materials

Course Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate basic knowledge of European and American cultural history.
  2. Demonstrate basic knowledge of methods, techniques, and approaches used in the production of artistic artifacts.
  3. Demonstrate ability to analyze a cultural artifact, using terminology appropriate to the art form being studied, and evaluate its effectiveness as an expression of cultural values.

One of the great ironies of education is that we spend so much time and money learning things we promptly forget. How much do you remember about the last class you took? The major objective of this course is to lock in the knowledge you gain by:

  1. Giving you a basic introduction to the arts. This will be your foundation--what you build upon it will be largely up to you.
  2. Involving you in experiences with the arts. (I call them “aesthetic experiences.”)
  3. Writing about “aesthetic experiences.” By doing so, you will begin to understand those experiences; by writing about them, you will begin to know what you think.
  4. Passing this knowledge on. Unless you share what you learn, the knowledge is not really yours. I encourage you to talk about what you learn in the text, the museum, and the concert hall with others.

Course Organization

These are some of the fundamental beliefs and goals that govern the way this course is organized:

  1. I believe that civilization is preferable to barbarism, and that the arts can enhance the civilized life.
  2. I believe that significant sensory experiences are second in importance only to religious experiences in the attainment of a fulfilled life.
  3. I believe that my primary duty is to help you discover the cultural value of the arts by becoming critically literate and emotionally receptive to their meaning and impact.
  4. I believe that your primary duty is to learn to become an independent thinker and a discriminating critic of the arts.
  5. I believe that the most valuable thing you can get from this course is a love of great art and an understanding of great ideas that will help you to sift the trivial from the terrific in the cultural fare the media serves up to you.

Course Materials

No textbook is required for this course.

Other Materials

The University Prints (86 prints) Winchester, Mass.


Note: The prints and the CDs above may be purchased from BYU Bookstore. Please be aware that there is an additional multimedia CD that automatically comes as part of your course.

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The Self Check questions are located at the end of each lesson and are designed to help you assess your understanding of basic ideas or terms. Self-Check assignments are computer processed and the results are returned to you so that you may evaluate your own work. These are excellent preparation for both your lesson assignments and your exams. Self-Check answers do not count toward your course grade.

Lesson Assignments

Lesson assignments attempt to assess your understanding of the discussion material on a deeper level than the Self-Check questions do. They focus less on mere regurgitation of facts, and more on thoughtful comprehension and analysis. Each question includes a feedback statement for incorrect answers. This should allow you to review your answer and understand the corrections, thereby better preparing you for the exams.

Critical Reviews

In addition to doing reading and music-listening assignments, you will be required to attend several cultural events and to write Critical Reviews on two of those events. These reviews are your forum to apply what you have learned from the text to a real encounter with the arts. Critical Review #14 should be a review of a performance (dance, symphony, theater, or film), and Critical Review #16 should be a review of a visual art work (painting, sculpture, or architecture). Critical Reviews are submitted to Independent Study and are graded by the instructor. Specific instructions for submission appear in the portfolio assignments (lesson 14 and lesson 16). The two Critical Reviews comprise 20 percent of your final course grade.

Creative Process Paper

The Process Paper is your opportunity to create a work of art and then write about your own creative “process.” The paper is discussed in depth at the end of lesson 1 and the finished paper is due at the end of lesson 4. The Process Paper is submitted to Independent Study and is graded by the instructor. The Process Paper is worth 10 percent of your final grade.

Exploration Exercises

The Exploration Exercises are designed to re-create as closely as possible the classroom experience, eliciting thought-provoking expansions of the material in the text, and helping you make connections with your own experiences and the world at large. Exploration Exercises are not submitted to Independent Study. However, you should take the opportunity--in writing--to work through each question. These exercises, together with your experiences actually attending events, will undoubtedly prove to be the most lasting and personally valuable parts of the course. You might see them as the bottom part of the proverbial iceberg: the “tip” is what you submit for a grade, but what you do behind the scenes will be what lasts.

The Apology

The “Apology” is a one-page (single-spaced) “defense” of your grade to be sent in as part of your lesson 16 portfolio, written in the spirit of Socrates’ apology (apologia=defense) of his actions and philosophy in an Athenian court in 399 B.C. You don’t stand accused, of course, but I need a report of (1) what you put into the course, (2) what you got out of the course, (3) what you liked about the course, (4) what you would change about the course. Also, please include a brief paragraph description of any additional (unrequired) events you attended, if any. Note: Please attach to your Lesson 16 portfolio assignment.

Formatting Written Assignments

To make sure that I can open and read your paper, please save it as a Word .DOC or .DOCX file.

Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, IHUM101_JaneSmith_Portfolio1.docx.

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You will have two proctored exams in this course: a midterm covering lessons 1–9, and a final covering lessons 10–17. Both exams will be entirely objective (i.e., true/false, multiple choice, matching) and will be computer processed.

The two exams are a necessary evil to see that you have learned well the vocabulary of the major fine arts and are familiar with some of the important figures in each art form. Objective exams don’t begin to reflect the subjective richness that you will learn to pursue if you let this material feed your mind and enliven your emotions. Some students complain that there are too many detailed questions on the exams, but remember that without words to tie to things, you really can’t communicate to another person your aesthetic reactions to the arts, and without critical insights your experiences with the arts will neither last nor enrich your life. If you take seriously the challenges of this course, your tastes will broaden and your enjoyment will increase dramatically. As with the creative process, informed criticism requires the cooperation of both sides of the brain.

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My students see me as a tough tester and an easy grader, because in borderline cases I nudge the grade upwards. In general, your grade will be computed as a percentage of the total points possible. Any individually weak assignment, especially early on, does not automatically doom your overall grade, but it does imply that you may have to perform more successfully on the other assignments in order to achieve the grade you desire. As a rule, the percentages run as follows.

Your final grade for the course is determined on this basis:

Assignment Percent
Lesson Assignments 4 percent each (40% total)
Process Paper 10%
Midterm Exam 15%
Critical Reviews (Portfolio Assignments 14 and 16) 10 percent each (20% total)
Speedback Final Exam 15%
Total 100%

Grading Scale

Your letter grade will be determined by the following grading scale.

A 100 94
A– 93 90
B+ 89 87
B 86 83
B– 82 80
C+ 79 77
C 76 73
C– 72 70
D+ 69 67
D 66 63
D– 62 60
E (fail) 59 0


Just a quick notice before you begin this course. For your convenience I have included much of the text material directly into the course. This is so you can have a wonderful reference guide to a wide range of subjects in the humanities right at your fingertips. However, designing the course this way results in a large and detailed course. Don’t become discouraged by the magnitude and the breadth of the information in the course; it is meant to act as your reference guide.

If you focus on the Self-Check questions, Exploration Exercises, and lesson assignments, you will not only receive a rich background in the arts, but you will also succeed in this course. Good luck and have fun!

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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