Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Humanities Whistle Stop Tour; Benin to Greece

Along with my fellow students, I am now at the halfway point of the AA100 module, and the whistle stop tour of all points of humanities continues.  In the next few weeks we will be studying...
A Benin bronze plaque

Cultural Encounters : Changing relations between Europe and Africa and the art of Benin

Cultural exemptions and the Musqueam people of Canada

World short stories

The transmission of medical knowledge from Greece to Europe via the Middle East

Seamus Heaney's translation of Sophocles' Antigone : The Burial At Thebes

Everything is going well so far.  Although our tutor had told us it is not compulsory to hand in every essay, I feel I am getting better value from the course and building my skills better by doing all the work possible.  So far with four essays handed in and marked I'm just a fraction off a Distinction grade.

There are two essays from this section of the module, on the art of Benin and cultural encounters, then either cultural exemptions and the Musqueam people or the contribution of the chorus in The Burial At Thebes.  So far when we have had a choice of essays I have tried to go for what seems the harder of the two choices.  My thinking here is that this is only a level one module so it would be good practise the mentally stretch myself whenever possible.

One aspect of student life that makes learning today so easy is the huge wealth of information via the internet, I kid you not, Melvyn Bragg and the In Our Time guests on Radio 4 are helping me enormously.  Having a group of renowned academics discussing the topic you are composing an essay on is a fantastic help.  Other great sources for research are Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg with their vast collections of texts, audio and picture files. The Open University also gives us access to its vast online library system, so big that sometimes it feels like diving into an ocean of information to find a single pearl of knowledge. It is quite possible to get hopelessly lost / bogged down when searching the seemingly endless OU databases for something you hope to be relevant.

The Benin section is fascinating, and I am very much enjoying the way that the chapters are now drawing the various disciplines of humanities together.  In the the two chapters on cultural encounters and Benin we start with straight history, then combine it with the history of art and a hint of religious studies, then mix in a bit of philosophy at the end.

This section of the course feels like real university work, I had little idea what was meant by the phrase 'cultural exemptions' before this and if asked to describe the philosophical mindset behind 'difference-blind liberalism' a blank and uncomprehending look may well have ensued.  It is all good stuff though, I'm still loving the work.  Onwards and upwards as my tutor says.

1 comment:

  1. Squirt2:06 pm

    I'm so proud of my clever big brother xx