Essay Prompt and Process
Essay Prompt/Question: What values does the study of Humanities offer to the modern audience, and how does a particular work illustrate this?
Process: To answer the prompt above, follow the steps listed below.
- Choose a work (or collection of related works) discussed in one of the following chapters in our text. You may select a work from any of the broad genres—literature, sculpture, painting, architecture, etc.
- Chapter 5: Ancient Civilizations of India and China
- Chapter 19: India, China, and Japan: From the Medieval to the Modern World
- Chapter 20: The Peoples and Cultures of Africa
OR research a work (or collection of works) from a pre-Columbian Native American culture,
such as Inuit, Kwakiutl, Aztec, Inca, or Maya. If you choose this option, be sure to use an
approved text. You are welcome to use a text that I have in my office.
- Submit your Project Proposal (see handout).
- Begin your research investigation with these questions: What are the “Humanities”? What are the benefits of studying the Humanities?
In order to answer these questions, review the definitions and benefits of the Humanities that we discussed during the first week of the semester. To review, first visit Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.: http://www.wdchumanities.org/docs/defininghumanities.pdf.
As you review the Humanities Council website, and any other similar sites, brainstorm a list of possible values that the Humanities may promote, such as “understand the human experience,” “appreciate our heritage,” “appreciate the individual’s artistic vision,” “transmit culture to new generations,” “enrich our lives,” “make connections between cultures,” and so on.
- From your brainstormed list, decide on several values that you think are fostered by the study of the Humanities. You may use these as major points within your thesis statement, which can then govern the major sections of your essay. (If you prefer another focus for your thesis, just consult with me first.)
- Research your chosen topic. Keep an organized record of the sources you use and the material you borrow from them. This record will help you identify your sources when you write your paper, which will help you avoid plagiarism.
- Construct your thesis, stating your central opinion along with several supporting points.
- Write your paper, supporting your thesis in an organized, coherent fashion. Include an introduction (with your thesis at the end of the introduction) and a conclusion.