Fine Arts and Literature

To help students develop their creativity and ability to innovate as they pursue their intellectual interests, it is important to consider how literature, the arts, and other forms of artistic and aesthetic expression create distinct ways of knowing. These ways of knowing are various and include how artists interact with their media as well as how all of us can develop the critical skills necessary to understand a work of art, its production, and its reception.

Beyond the classroom, being able to approach works of art in any form and understand something of their place and role in a culture is essential to developing a lifelong appreciation of the arts and to supporting the richness they bring to human society.

Courses that satisfy the art and literature requirement may well include creative practice. Certainly, they should always include the critical analysis of others’ creative practice to enable students to develop the analytical tools to recognize a work’s formal dimensions and its ideas as well as the often complex interaction between the two. Engagement with artworks will also lead students to reflect on how aesthetic forms of expression help us define ourselves and our world. Analysis of a work of art, be it through its production, through careful interpretation of the work, or through its reception, should lead students to a deeper reflection on how art and society interact, and how artistic expression reflects the position of the artist and the individual with respect to society at large.

Courses in literature, the arts—from painting to film to architecture—and other possible subjects could all serve to satisfy these learning goals.