Great Cultural Epochs II

Course Description, Goals, and Requirements

Professor:  Robert W. Brown

HON 201 is an interdisciplinary course which introduces within a chronological framework some of mankind’s most enduring creations in art, architecture, thought, literature, and music.  It begins with the Renaissance and ends in the recent past (the 1990s).  Since this course only covers some four centuries of the human experience — eventful years to be sure —, we will be able to treat in some detail our many topics.  Setting out about 1400, we examine first the Renaissance in Florence, Rome, Northern Europe, and Venice, and then the flowering of Baroque art, architecture, literature, and music.  Following a study of the Enlightenment and the age of Neo-classicism, we focus our attention on Romanticism, the last great European-wide movement in the arts.  The Industrial Revolution and the Realist reaction against Romanticism serve as a transition to the extraordinary cultural and intellectual transformations that begin to occur after 1870.  By studying the birth of modern art, literature, and music, we explore the revolutionary innovations in culture that fill the years before 1914.  Our semester concludes with an overview of western culture from the 1930s to Post-modernism.  This course satisfies the UNC Pembroke General Education objective that students “should demonstrate knowledge of, appreciation for, and understanding of the contributions to society of” the arts, literature, history, and ideas.

Course Goals

 ***a chronological interdisciplinary survey of the western tradition and its achievements in art, architecture, thought, literature, and music from the Renaissance to the present;

 ***an introduction to the major stages in the development of the western intellectual and cultural tradition and a synopsis of the distinguishing characteristics of each;

 ***an introduction to the appreciation of representative works of art, architecture, thought, and literature as products of a specific historical and cultural moment;

 ***an introduction to the major forms of the western intellectual and cultural tradition;

 ***an appreciation of the content of each work, both for what it reveals about the time in which it was created and for what it has to say to the modern world;

 ***an understanding of history as a field of academic inquiry and an appreciation of the relevance of the study of history for the modern world;

 ***an introduction to materials on the World Wide Web dealing with the western intellectual and cultural tradition since the Renaissance.


Understanding historical, artistic, and cultural works fundamental to our western humanistic tradition requires a focus on selected, representative works.  Frequently these will serve as topics for class discussions and/or presentations.  Basic survey knowledge for each period is provided by the textbook, and a careful reading of it will provide the knowledge needed to situate a work of art, literature, or thought within its appropriate cultural and historical context.  We will also study the art and literature of such important movements as the Renaissance, the Baroque, Romanticism, Realism, and Modernism.  As we read, look, and listen to these works of inspired genius, we will be seeking what each of them has to tell us regarding the “perennial questions” asked by men and women over the ages about God, nature, man, society, and history.  For it is, in the final analysis, the attempt to wrestle with these ultimately unanswerable questions that gives enduring vitality and excitement to the subject matter of the humanities.

Course Requirements

1. Text.  William Fleming, Arts and Ideas, 9th ed. (Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace, 1995).

Reading assignments are specified in the syllabus.  Since the discussion of individual works of art or literature or thought in class will assume some background knowledge, it is of the utmost importance that the readings for each class be completed before the class meets.
2. Questions for Class Discussion.  Hand-outs with questions relating to the reading assignments will be distributed on a regular basis.  Students will be expected to discuss their responses to these questions in class and to participate actively in discussions.

3. Study Sheets and Tests.  For each chapter in the text, a study sheet will be distributed; diagrams, identification, matching, and multiple-choice items on the tests will be taken from these lists.  For each word (these are starred on the lists) to be identified, you should be able to answer the following questions:  Who? What? Where? Why (is it important)? and When?  For an author, architect, artist, or composer, give at least one major work as an example; for a work of art, architecture, thought, literature, or music, give its creator or author.

4. Tests.  Three tests (or two [a mid-term and a final], if the class prefers) will be given, each consisting of an essay [dealing with works of art, architecture, thought, or music discussed in class]; short answer, matching; and multiple-choice questions; and diagrams.  Essays are to be written at home and submitted on the day of the examination.  Make-up tests [of the original test] will be given only if the student notifies the instructor in advance of an assigned test date; these make-up tests must be taken before the next scheduled class meeting.  Make-up tests taken after the class meeting following the original test will consist of the essay questions and twenty-five identification questions.  Approximate test dates may be found on the Course Outline.

5. Analysis of a Painting or a Building.  Each student in HON 201 will complete an Analysis of a Painting or a Building using the required format.  The results of this analysis will be presented in class.

6. Short Paper. Each student in HON 201 will complete a short paper (approximately five typed pages), based upon supplementary reading or research, on a topic (restricted to subjects covered in this course) of his/her choice.  Detailed instructions will be provided in a separate handout.

7. Internet Analysis.  The Analysis of an Internet Site must be a review and analysis of World Wide Web Materials on a topic relevant to HON 201.  The site analyzed should be selected from those listed on the HON 201 Web Links page.  Specific directions for this assignment will be posted on the Internet Site for HON 201.  The analysis is due on 15 April 2002.

8. Grading and Grading Scale.  Grading will be based on the three tests, the discussion questions and the paper/essays.

3 Tests                          50%
Two Papers                  30%
Internet Analysis           10%
Class partic/Disc Q’s    10%
Extra Credit                  05%
Total                           105%
9.  Grading Scale. A=100-93; A-=92-90; B+=89-88; B=87-83; B-=82-80; C+=79-78; C=77-73; D+=69-68; D=67-63; D-=62-60; F=59-0.

10. Extra Credit.  A maximum of five (5) points (added to your final course average) may be earned by reading and writing a review or analysis of an approved book or internet site.  The essay grade will determine the number of points earned:  A = 5 points; A-/B+ = 4 points; B/B- = 3 points; C+/C = 2 points; C- = 1 point.

11. Class Attendance.  HON 201 is a discussion class and the assignments discussed in class will be emphasized on the tests.  Regular class attendance is therefore important.  Students are accordingly expected to attend every class, beginning with the first session.  Students should miss no more than three classes.  In any case, absence from class, no matter what the cause, does not excuse a student from any course requirements and may result in a lowered grade.  Attendance will be taken.

12.  Late Work.  Work submitted late will be accepted without penalty if arrangements are made in advance; otherwise, late work will be accepted but penalized at least five points.

13. Web Pages.  Selected materials and Internet links for this course are posted on the HON 201 Web Page.  The address is:

14. Art Museum Visit.  A trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh will (if my schedule allows) take place during April.

 13. Office Hours.  Weekly office hours are posted on my office door in the History Department (Dial 212); if these hours are inconvenient, please see me after class or telephone (910.521.6438 or 910.521.6229) to make an appointment.  Contact by E-mail: is easy and fast.

Return to the HON 201 Home Page

This Page is Maintained by Robert W. Brown
Last Update: 10 January 2002