“ humanity ” – “ culture W r i t i n g

“ humanity ” – “ culture W r i t i n g

The word “humanities” is derived from the Renaissance Latin expression studia humanitatis, or “study of humanitas” (a classical Latin word meaning— in addition to “humanity” – “culture, refinement, education” and, specifically, an “education befitting a cultivated man”). In our Western society, the study of the humanities is traced to ancient Greece, as the basis of a broad education for citizens. During Roman times, the concept of the seven liberal arts evolved, involving grammar, rhetoric, and logic, along with arithmetic, geology, astronomy and music (although such concepts can be traced back as far as the Sumerians, the first recorded civilization over 3000 years ago). These subjects formed the bulk of medieval education, with the emphasis being on the humanities as skills or “ways of doing.”

“Literature” is a highly ambiguous term: at its broadest, it can mean any sequence of words that has been preserved for transmission in some form or other (including oral tradition); more narrowly, it is often used to designate imaginative works such as stories, poems and plays; more narrowly still, it is used as an honorific and applied only to those works which are considered to have particular merit. During the semester, we have examined several literary selections as well as the historical background attached to it.

DIRECTIONS: You are to carefully choose ONE common theme that is prevalent throughout at least THREE different works that were assigned during the semester so far. The goal of this essay is to demonstrate an understanding of how our world’s many cultures (ways of doing) have developed and evolved from one time period to another. You may choose your own style of argument but I would suggest using examples of the works you’ve selected to prove the theme that you want to discuss.


  1. Variety of Creation Myths/Stories, include Genesis from the Bible (you may only choose ONE)

  2. Enuma Elish (Babylonian Epic)

  3. The Epic of Gilgamesh

  4. Theogony

  5. Everyman (Morality Play)

    Themes discussed so far (but you are not limited to this list)

    1. Darkness/light

    2. Ignorance/knowledge

    3. Good/evil

    4. Birth

    5. Life/death

    6. Divinity/humanity

    7. Instructions/Model for (good) behavior

    8. Sacrifice

    9. Ritual

    10. Suffering/consequences

    11. Sin/desire

    12. Relationships: man/man; men/women; man/god(s); man/nature

      Requirements:Your research essay must be at least 3 pages typed in MLA format with an additional works cited page. Here is a link to a handy MLA website: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

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