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A123: Introduction to the Humanities
60 points / 16 credit hours
The opening block introduces the essential study skills which underpin the whole of your work on A123. Here you will find answers to such questions as 'How will becoming a student affect my life?' 'What will I need to do to organize my study materials?' 'How much time will I need each week to keep up with the course?' Most importantly, the skills you need to work on 'texts': looking closely at pictures, reading and reflecting, following argument then selecting points, note taking and producing your own evaluation of the topic in essay form, are all explained and practiced. By the end of the block you will be equipped for work on the rest of the course.
Block 1 Form and Reading
The block develops your work in the subjects of art history, literature, and philosophy. The techniques of close analysis studied should enrich your appreciation and understanding of the fine arts. So questions such as what it is that is special about a particular poem or painting and what generates your response to them are considered with regard to a selection of works of art. You will encounter paintings by Courbet and Rembrandt, and sonnets by Shakespeare, Milton and Seamus Heaney. The philosophy section aims to develop your skill in the critical analysis of arguments.
Block 2 The Classical World
This block brings together the disciplines of art history and classical studies in an interdisciplinary case study of the design and social function of the Roman Colosseum. The classical studies part of this block explores the Colosseum as a symbol of Roman society and its function as a place of punishment and spectacle. The art history component examines the architecture and design of the arena, and then proceeds to a study of the uses and design of modern stadia.
Block 3 The Neoclassical World
This block is broadly based around the ideas and events of the French Revolution. The first two weeks introduce you to the study of history. Your methodological skills will be developed, and you will look at the different kinds of text available to the historian as well as the value of contemporary texts in our understanding of the Revolution's historical context. In the following two weeks you will examine the ideas of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose thought inspired the revolutionaries. His relevance to modern democracy will also be considered. Finally, the importance of historical context in art history will be demonstrated in a study of Jacques-Louis David, the 'official' painter at the time of the French Revolution.
Block 4 The Modern World
This block opens with the 1832 Reform Act in England and the extension of political involvement to the mass of the populace. Primary source documents relating to the event are studied in considerable detail, using the methodology for handling source material that was taught in Block 1 and practiced in Block 3.
There in another literature unit, too, and the text used is George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. This play expresses the changing expectations of the populace as the nineteenth century moved into the twentieth. In G.B. Shaw's play (of 1912), a flower girl is transformed into a duchess – with ensuing problems. The play also has strong language interest, with reference to variation in English dialects. We also study in detail the dramatic structure of the work, characterization, theme and dialogue.
Block 5 Looking Back, Looking Forward
The final week of study brings together themes and issues from the course. This consolidation material will enable you to reflect on what you have learned, and on the skills and understanding that you will carry forward to study in subsequent years.
The following components are covered by your course fee and will be given to you by your AOU Branch personnel:
1 The six blocks.
2 The Arts Good Study Guide by Ellie Chambers and Andrew Northedge
3 Resource books: Resource Book 1 and Resource Book 2 contain extra readings for the study weeks and for audio CD work.
4 Illustration Book: all the extra illustrations which are discussed in the blocks are located here.
5 Seven audio CDs: these are described below.
6 Audio Notes: these relate to the audio CDs.
7 Study Calendar: this provides a plan of work for the year.
8 Assignment Booklet.
Most of the extra reading we want you to do as part of your study of A123 is printed in the resource books. However, you will also need to buy:
Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, Penguin (ISBN 0-14-043789-4)
which is studied in Block 4.
The Arts Good Study Guide (AGSG) was written especially to be a main part of your study of the course, and we would expect you to use it throughout your study of A123 and to refer back to it as you progress through your Open University career. The book is based on the experience of past Open University students. It is a practical book which gives you the opportunity to develop your own study strategies. It offers help in the key aspects of your study: reading effectively and making notes, writing essays and, for the future, preparing for exams. However, Open University courses don't rely solely on written material, so the AGSG also offers help with learning from tutorials and summer schools, from television programmes and audio-cassettes, or from visits to museums and art galleries.
The AGSG is designed so that you can refer to it when you need to, for example when you have to complete a specific task or when you encounter a problem. You will find that you will be referred to the AGSG both in your early blocks and in some of the supplementary materials. The references in the course units are in the form of marginal directions to particular sections of the AGSC when you may need guidance or reassurance about particular study skills.
A123 has seven audio CDs. They have two main functions. First, they give you examples of performance, particularly poetry reading and drama. Second, they help you to practice and apply skills you will have learned in the units. You will be directed in the units as to when to use the CDs and will find exercises relating to CDs in the units. The audio notes also give information about the ******* of the CD and sources used. You will need a CD player for your work on the course.
The audio CDs were originally produced as audio-cassettes and contain some references to the original 'bands' and 'sides' of a conventional audio-cassette. However on a CD you can identify specific sections more easily by using tracks, and you will find a complete list of tracks in the Audio Notes.
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