define: the humanities

While it seems to be just a grammatical difference, the context between humanities versus Humanities are two separate ideas.

On the first day of class, I wrote that the humanities are “how people have documented and made sense of human language/ experience” (Professor Carol Quillen 8/27/19). The word “human” is so broad, and different types of humans are clumped together and seem to get stereotyped in the same lense. However, we all have different identities and traits that make each person an individual, and we explore and define those traits while studying the humanities. In Unit 2, we discussed how humanities may be a renewed interest in the classics to bring out into the future. This idea is more abstract than the one we previously discussed, and it made me understand just how abstract the topic is. In Unit 3 we connected the idea of the humanities back to humanity, which correlates to the idea we discussed in Unit 1. Professor Tamura stated, “The most human thing humans can do is recognize face,” which is the same idea as recognizing worth (Professor Tamura 11/7/19). Through the humanities, we examine the thoughts, ideas, worth, and identities of human beings. Through curiosity and patterns found in history, we uncover the truth of how the world is formed. Concluding the semester with Unit 4, we examined how humanities also in regards to how we treat others. In the case of civil rights, we have condoned and created a harmful “experience” for those who identify as a member of a minority group. From this, we see the poor side of the humanities, the side in which we examine how each human experience is different, and we are still trying to make sense of that. While considering the meaning of the humanities, there is no concrete answer, just like subject, you cannot have one correct answer. The concept is full of abstract matter, and each person has an individual perception of what the idea means to them.

Moving right along into the second semester, we continued our discussion on what defines the humanities. Our study trip to Montgomery, Alabama really inspired me to look more in depth when it comes to different races and how the history of their struggles overtime, and I learned a lot about the Civil Rights in the south. This tied in perfectly with the content found in Unit 5, looking at dance and how that defines one’s identity, as well as hearing lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson talk to the student body in late January. Unit 6 encouraged me to look more into the artistic side of the humanities, and appreciate what visual art of different kinds brings to the field of study. To me, Units 7 and 8 contained very similar messages. In regards to Humanities, both units dived into the unfair treatment of minorities, the poor, and the oppressed in a more dictatorship style government, and I learned how to properly spot oppression and was trained to think and ask, “Why did these events happen, and what caused the oppressors to act this way?”

The class, Humanities, Connections and Conflict, is classified with a capital H because to me, it deserves a certain level of respect due to the subject matter we discuss, and the way it determines set lifestyle for each member of the class. Everyone who is involved in the class is defined as a “Humster”, it is an identification we were given at the beginning of the semester. Humanities is more than just a class, it is now a way that I live at Davidson College. The being of a Humster allows one to have intellectual interactions with their fellow peers without feeling the need to explain such conversation. Most of my friends are Humsters, it is the class that takes up most of my time, and it the one that has taught me the most. In regards to the subject matter, the content taught in the Humanities course is full of, obviously, the humanities, but it also provokes curiosity in each student to strive for something more. Our discussions are more personal and worldly than any other academic discussions I’ve participated in before. I have learned how to conceptualize outside perspectives, and relate them to something more than just myself. Each student in the class has their own ideas of what Humanities contains, and it is up to each student to make the most out of how they view this opportunity.

In contrast, humanities with a lowercase h is a more relaxed and casual version of the word. I believe that the lowercase humanities is more inclusive, and it classifies all of the subject matter that we learned this year.

The Humanities course gives first year students at Davidson College the opportunity to find an understanding of the humanities and apply that to their time here at Davidson. The Humanities class is more than just a course, it is a community that inspires those in it to learn, dive deep, and challenge ideas that are commonly found in society today. The Humanities course is an identity that allows one to explore the humanities, and because of it, those who identify as a Humster continue to dare to know.

notes on humanities from Unit 1
notes on humanities from Unit 2
notes on humanities from Unit 3
notes on humanities from Unit 4
notes on humanities from Unit 5
more notes on the humanities from Unit 5