Fall 2011 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Frome, Jonathan
Discipline and Number
HUAS 6330 Section 501
R Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Art & Evolution

Description of Course:

At first glance, it is not obvious why humans should devote substantial amounts of time to creating and enjoying art such as literature, film, painting, or even videogames. Art seems separate from the practical world. We often go to museums or movies to escape from our real lives into the realms of imagination.

This seminar will address two main questions: Why has every human culture throughout time produced and enjoyed art? And, what is it about art that we enjoy? We will consider the idea that features of our human minds and bodies, developed through evolution, can help us understand the answers to these questions. This idea, which is contrary to most approaches to the study of art, may fundamentally change the way you think about our relationship to artworks.

Required Texts:

We will read 3 books. All other readings on e-reserve.

1. Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. (Harvard University Press, 2009). ISBN-13: 978-0674057111. List price: $19.95, Amazon: $10.95

2. Dylan Evans and Oscar Zarate, Introducing Evolutionary Psychology: A Graphic Guide (Totem Books, 2010). ISBN-13: 978-1848311824. List price & Amazon: $9.95

3. Torben Grodal, Embodied Visions: Evolution, Emotion, Culture, and Film. (Oxford University Press, USA, 2009). ISBN-13: 978-0195371321. List price: $34.95, Amazon: $26.88

I have ordered the books at: Off Campus Books, 561 W. Campbell Road, #201, Richardson, TX 75080, 972-907-8398. They accidentally ordered Grodal's "Moving Pictures" instead of the required book, Grodal's "Embodied Visions." I have notified them and they are ordering the correct book. The Grodal book will not be assigned until week 3 at the earliest. I don't know their prices, but they usually get both new & used copies. The books are also available at the UTD bookstore and from online sources.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Students will write response papers, lead discussion for one day of the seminar, and write a final conference-length final paper (12 pages). There will be an opportunity to re-write the final paper if you choose.

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