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Humanities Final



Tragedy as a Genre of Literature

Tragedy is a form of drama, and it is usually based on human suffering that appeal to the audience by various mournful or terrible occasions, which are either done or provoked by the main characters. Tragedy refers to the work of art that detects extremely serious questions concerning the role of the human being in the universe. The oldest form of tragedy is called the Athenian tragedy. This kind of tragedy was distinct type of play, which was presented at the Greek festivals. The performance looked more like a religious ceremony, and less than entertainment.

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The main subjects of these tragedies were the misfortunes of the legend or myth characters. A lot of themes for such a performance were taken from the works by Homer, Sophocles, and Euripides. Performances were free to attend by all citizens. The play was created in different verse meters, and many of actors’ replies together with the choral part were sung. The most interesting thing was that all of the actors were male, and they wore the masks. The next period of tragedy development came during the time of Elizabeth I’s reign. The tragedy of that period resembled religious ceremonials. However, more and more biblical stories were dramatized, and popular demands affected the religious orientation of the tragedy. Comic scenes were much broader; all negative moments became more melodramatic.

The rediscovery of the ancient Greek tragedy came together with Renaissance; the worldview of people developed to a high extent and it concentrated on the skeptical individualism, though moving away from the moral and spiritual absolutes. The ancient tragedies were still in use; however, they became more sophisticated and cruel sometimes (Tragedy, 2010). The definition of tragedy in the modernist literature has become less precise. The most crucial change was done by Arthur Miller’s essay, where he argued with Aristotle insisting that the tragedy might also describe ordinary people in their routine surroundings and not only individuals with power and high status. He was sure that the spirit of the common man is the only thing that should be depicted in the world without actual heroes and kings (Miller, 1949).

What Are the Humanities and What Is a Humanist?

The humanities are the academic studies of the human beings. These disciplines are demonstrating how people have developed during the human history. They can include ancient and modern languages, philosophy (as the study that explains fundamental problems of the society), visual and performing art, literature (which shows the art of written words), and law (that provided a system of rules to govern social behavior). A lot of these disciplines, if not all of them, have had a massive effect on the way human race was evolving during the whole history.

The word ‘humanities’ originated in the Renaissance; it came from Latin word that meant ‘culture’ or ‘education’. During the Middle Ages, the humanities included seven arts and, as each of them was developing on its own tempo, they lost their original relations and even became the matter of debate. The main difference concerned the issue of whether the humanities should have its purpose in providing education only and preparing for a future career or it should shape an educated individual. In the medieval times, the humanistic education grew into the component of the meditative life led by monks (the cognition and experience of God).

That was a chance to prepare the individual for the mystical knowledge of heaven. However, this tradition of gaining education was challenged by a totally new rationalist movement. That was the period when such practical studies as law, theology, and medicine joined the humanities. During the Middle Ages, the humanist was considered a person that belonged to Renaissance humanism; it was an individual, who was concerned with the general welfare of human beings (Chodorow, 1997). Nowadays, this term is used to define a scholar in Humanities. Humanities can help in preparing the person to discharge cultural responsibilities. They helped me to gain knowledge of foreign cultures and languages, what actually shows that everything in the world is interconnected. It also provides the possibility to see how the walls between the disciplines are lowered, and I could move between them freely. Humanities can also show the impact that sciences has made on the society; this, in turn, provides the possibility to understand the future scientific requirements of humanity.

Renaissance

If I were to choose the time period I can live in, I would definitely pick the times of Renaissance. It was a very special time when a cultural movement had a profound effect on the intellectual life of Europe. This movement influenced literature, philosophy, art, science, religion, music, and other sides of intellectual researches. That was the time of the reign of the humanist methods in science and searching for the realism and human sentiment in art. The Renaissance was a movement that was dedicated to rediscovery and usage of classical knowledge. The period before these times was considered the cultural decline, and that is why the word ‘Renaissance’ means ‘rebirth,’ as it was the process of returning to classical principles.

The most important feature of the Renaissance art was the development of highly realistic linear perspective, and this was a part of a wider trend towards realism in arts. Painters were gaining more and more knowledge in applying various techniques, they dedicated a lot of time to shadows and lights, and they even studied human anatomy. The most important painter of the Renaissance period, who was studding anatomy professionally, was Leonardo da Vinci. His style of painting was particularly influenced by the usage of oil paints, which replaced the paint that was using the eggs as the basis, and the usage of canvas. These features were making the representation of the picture as natural as possible (Clare, and Millen, 1994).

In the architecture, the most attention was dedicated to the studies of ancient classical buildings and actually improving them thanks to the flourishing discipline of mathematics. A lot of Renaissance artists admired the antiquity to a huge extend, and they tried to keep the ideas and symbols that were present even during the medieval times. Some artists, as, for example, Nicola Pisano, tried to imitate the classical forms by making paintings of particular scenes from the Bible. I like this period so much, because all of the paintings and sculptures look so realistic, as if the figures depicted are on the verge of becoming alive and stepping into the real world.

Cubism

Cubism is an art movement that developed during the 20th century. It is widely hailed to be the most influential one of the 20th century. Cubism originated from the tree-dimensional form representation by Paul Cezanne. This is an avant-garde movement that was pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Cubism revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and later the influence spread on the music, architecture, and literature. The cubist artwork is analyzing the objects; it might break them up or depict for a multitude of various viewpoints. The first major step towards the Cubism movement was done by Pablo Picasso in 1907, when he painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

This picture is generally referred to as the first Cubist picture in the history of art. Such artists as Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso were inspired by the discovery of African and Native American art. To their mind, it had some original strength and, at the same time, demonstrated the simplicity of styles. Both the artists had a particular interest in primitivism and African tribal masks, which influenced their art. Pablo Picasso and Braque developed such techniques as multiple perspective, faceting, and ‘passage’. All of their pictures were aimed at a large audience, and the painters tried to stress the usage of multiple perspective and flat faceting to have the expressive effect; however, they also tried to save the eloquence of various subjects granted with some philosophical or literary meanings (Barr, 1936).

Actually, the subjects were painted in such a way to provide the audience with the possibility to see it from numerous angles and make the eye of the viewer free to roam to any of them. For example, this technique is best represented in the Gleize’s work named ‘Harvest Threshing’, which was exhibited in 1912, and also in the painting ‘The Wedding’ by Leger, and the work by Delaunay, named ‘City of Paris’, which were exhibited in 1912. The Cubism is also known to be divided to certain phases. The first is named Analytic Cubism, and the most widely known picture of this period is ‘Violin and Candlestick’ painted by George Braque in 1910. The second phase is Synthetic Cubism and the classical example of it is the painting by Pablo Picasso named ‘Three Musicians’ exhibited in 1921 (Cooper, 1970).

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