Wednesday 17 October 2007

The humanities

One of my many jobs for the OU is to teach AZX103, the online version of Introduction to the Humanities, and for this presentation just started, I plan to discuss each week what we've actually done outside the course where any of the disciplines impinges on us.

I need to set the scene a bit first. AZX103 doesn't introduce all the humanities - just those covered by other OU courses when it was devised, which means:
art history,
history of science,
classical studies.

One notable absence, for instance, is film - the reason for that being that when A103 was first written the OU didn't do film courses. We do now so no doubt A100, which starts next year, will cover film. One notable inclusion is history which I don't see as a humanity, it's a social science, but then you get into all sorts of awkward questions about how you define both those subject groupings.

Art history - can't think of anything, apart from looking at "Man Reading" in Saturday's tutorial, which doesn't really count.

Music - I'm into rock, fairly heavy, and mostly metallic - I've just bought two Within Temptation CDs, and one is now blowing my ears out (Dutch Gothic, which is a subgenre of symphonic metal).

Religion - a bit tangential this, but I was at the launch fair of Low Carbon Ringmer and I was next to the Christian Ecology stall, being run by the local vicar.

Philosophy - I hardly ever consciously "do philosophy" - I did have an interesting chat with my son this week who had just been to a philosophy society meeting about the connection between "attempt" and "intention". But I reckon we do philosophy quite a lot without noticing. I found on the BBC website this article about obesity. It raises, as so many of these things do, an acutely moral question - how much is it morally justified to force people to do things for their own good, especially in an (allegedly) libertarian society?

History - I watched The Tudors on telly. I never realised they had so much sex in Tudor times.

Literature - haven't read anything all week, apart from "Cultural Geography", which is a different kettle of fish. I did think briefly about what to take on holiday with me - anybody got any recommendations?

History of Science - not really. Actually at the Environment Fair, I did have an interesting chat with a farmer about the issue of risk - and that is connected to History of Science, because there's a historical dimension to the way we have grown to (mis)understand science, and what constitutes risk - the issue usually being that scientists never make categorical predictions, but we live in a society that expects them. E.g. no scientist would ever say, scientifically, that the MMR vaccine is completely safe, but to say that it is safe enough for all normal purposes doesn't play well in the media.

Classical studies - er, not this week.

1 comment:

bluefluff said...

I'll see your Dutch gothico-symphonic & raise you Lichtenstein neo-classical darkwave.