Fall 2016 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Rodriguez, Robert
Discipline and Number
HUMA 6300 Section 501
T Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Interdisciplinary Appr. Huma.

Description of Course:


A concentrated exploration of arts criticism. Taught by an active composer-conductor, this course will examine the working sketches of master creators in all media (music, literature, drama, cinema and the visual arts), comparing rejected drafts with the final versions. We will thus attempt to view each work “from the inside out,” reconstructing the artist’s train of thought and exploring both the rational and irrational aspects of turning a blank canvas or page into a work of art. In so doing, we will develop insights, criteria and procedures for analyzing, evaluating and verbalizing the artistic experience.

The course will begin with an introduction to the basic terminology of aesthetics and arts criticism, including points of attack for verbalization in the arts: reporter, theorist, analyst, historian, judge, companion, independent creator. Each class thereafter will feature a different topic (i.e., The Elements of Drama, The Psychology of Climax, Form vs. Content, Form as Content, Art about Art, The Artist revealed through his/her art, Collaborations, Art and Society, Art and Mythology, etc.) which will serve as a focal point for a short presentation by the instructor followed by student presentations and class discussion. The film Les Enfants du Paradis will be included as a final analysis project incorporating an integration of the arts. There will also be a special presentation regarding the nature of historical inquiry.


1. Analyze and explain the creator’s process in creating a work of art.
2. Analyze and explain the artistic experience through a demonstrated understanding of the terminology and techniques of arts criticism.
3. Develop skills and techniques for formal academic writing, with particular emphasis upon verbalizing non-verbal phenomena, such as music and visual art.

Required Texts:


Egri, The Art of Dramatic Writing
Ghiselin (ed.), The Creative Process
Stravinsky, The Poetics of Music
Williams, How to Write About Contemporary Art

plus class handouts and additional assigned readings


Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction
Strunk & White, The Elements of Style
Wingell, Writing About Music

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:


There will be no tests or term papers. Instead, each student will be asked to prepare a short (ten-minute) weekly class presentation on a specific work of art in any medium which illustrates the assigned topic. The presentation should include a brief sample of the work (text to be read or summarized, picture to be shown, CD or DVD to be played or YouTube link to be viewed).

Students will also be asked to write five short (three to five-page) formal analytical essays, each one on a topic related to the class presentations. Each essay should present the student’s original ideas about a work of art and its relation to the class topic, with a conclusion and specific supporting examples. A final notebook of these five essays will be required at the end of the semester: the original graded copies of the first four essays plus the new fifth essay. In those notebooks, students also have the option of turning in revisions of any or all of the first four essays, along with the graded originals. If the grade is higher for the revised essay, then the new grade will take the place of the original grade. Students will be graded equally on their written work (50%) and on their weekly class participation (50%).

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