ChodorowsyllabusW2010 - HUMANITIES 1 Syllabus Prof Stanley...

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HUMANITIES 1 Syllabus Prof. Stanley Chodorow Winter 2010 Prof. S. Chodorow Office Hour: Thurs. 9:30-10:30 and by appointment Office: HHS 6059 Email: [email protected] On the Humanities Sequence The Humanities Sequence will introduce you to the European cultural tradition. From the early years of the twentieth century to the mid-1970s, Americans regarded that tradition as THE tradition. Educated Europeans and Americans considered ―Western‖—i.e. European—civilization as the best civilization ever created. They thought that Judaeo- Christian values were the culmination of human moral development, and European civilization dominated the world through empires that competed politically and economically but that all represented a single cultural heritage. Through much of the twentieth century, Europeans and Americans thought that this domination represented the true relationship among the world’s civilizations and that it was a permanent relationship. Even after the empires began to break up following World War II (1939-45) Europeans and Americans thought that they had civilized the colonial elites, if not the common people, and that the emerging independent nations would be subordinate members of the European cultural empire that would survive the political one. Great changes in perception and understanding have occurred since the 1970s. First, scholars have shown that the cultures of China, India, and Islam were at least equal to European civilization. In the last thirty years Europeans and Americans have begun to appreciate the qualities of those civilizations. Second, other cultures, in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia among other places, have reasserted themselves and acquired some respect among westerners, as Europeans and Americans call themselves. Third, the society of the United States, and for that matter of European countries, has become much more culturally diverse than it was in the 1950s and 1960s, and Americans’ attitude towards civilization in general and European civilization in particular has changed. Right after World War II, Americans thought that they were the heirs of European civilization. They thought that in its American form European civilization would be saved from the Europeans, who had shown that, civilized as they were, they had tried to destroy one another in two world wars. Americans thought that they would carry on the old civilization without sliding into the racism and wanton destructiveness that had been
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Humanities 1 Syllabus, Chodorow, Winter 2010: 2 evident in the Europe of the fascists, Nazis, and communists. Of course, we thought all these noble thoughts while practicing racism at home and while fighting wars in Korea and Vietnam. However, the point is not to expose our delusions. It is to highlight our cultural ideology. That ideology had produced a peculiarly American approach to education, and Revelle College’s Humanities Sequence is a product of that approach. The Humanities Sequence derives from the tradition of Western Civilization courses,
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ChodorowsyllabusW2010 - HUMANITIES 1 Syllabus Prof Stanley...

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