Found Object: Humanities Course Materials, c.1964

Location: Discovered between books from Associate Professor Emeritus Michael Donnelly. Object: Course materials for the Humanities course sequence on “Classical Cultures” and “Medieval and Renaissance.” Observations: 1. We usually think of a syllabus as the schedule of readings and assignments for a given course, but this thick spiral-bound “syllabus” is more of a course pack. It thus follows another primary definition of “syllabus”: “the subjects of a series of lectures” (OED, def. 1a), starting — according to the Table of Contents — with “The Greeks: The People, The Country, The Mythology” and excerpts from The Illiad and ending with “Late Renaissance: Utopian Literature” and excerpts from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. 2. At the time of publication, there was a “Kansas State Humanities Staff,” reflecting the frequency of the course offerings.  3. The cover design is an interesting combination of realistic architectural detail and surrealist optical illusion, as Greek columns float near clouds.
Location: Discovered between books from Associate Professor Emeritus Michael Donnelly. Object: Copyright page for course materials for the Humanities course sequence on “Classical Cultures” and “Medieval and Renaissance.” Observations: 1. The course materials date from 1964 in their initial publication, if not their last use. 2. “Humanities Staff” may be as close as we get to knowing the instructors involved in its collective authorship.
Location: Discovered between books from Associate Professor Emeritus Michael Donnelly. Object: Sheaf of papers tucked inside the front cover of course materials for the Humanities course sequence on “Classical Cultures” and “Medieval and Renaissance.” Observations: 1. Even though the copyright date is 1964, we can be sure that the course materials were still in use as of Spring 1980. 2. The stack of photocopied excerpts of poetry offers a reminder of how one typically assembled passages for distribution to students for class discussion or exams. Now, we’re more likely to locate a digital copy of the lines — as text or as an image — to copy and paste into a Word document.  3. It is certainly easier to reproduce and share the digital copy than to tape together those photocopied pieces!
Location: Discovered between books from Associate Professor Emeritus Michael Donnelly. Object: “Introduction” to the course materials for the Humanities course sequence on “Classical Cultures” and “Medieval and Renaissance.” Observations: 1. The definition of “Humanities” — “man’s efforts to interpret his experiences and his own nature” — could work still today, if revised for more gender inclusive language. 2. In their “Introduction,” the Humanities Staff urges students to embrace their role as scholars, noting that “interest in these fields is not limited to a few specially gifted ‘experts'” but instead available to all who are interested in exploring that which is “characteristically human.” This approach embodies the goals of K-State’s Land Grant mission: how “the university is committed to provide all students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills characteristic of an educated person.” 3. Today, a range of English courses continues this goal — not only recent offerings of ENGL 230 “Classical Cultures” and ENGL 231 “Medieval and Renaissance” but also courses like ENGL 220 “Fiction into Film,” ENGL 270 “American Literature,” and ENGL 285 “Introduction to American Ethnic Literatures.” 4. Through our teaching, research and creative activity, and service, we strive to fulfill K-State’s Land Grant mission of “developing human potential, expanding knowledge, enriching cultural expression, and extending its expertise to individuals, business, education, and government” — and we’re excited to explore, with our students and colleagues, the human experiences of the 21st century.

Karin Westman, Associate Professor and Department Head

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