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Cluster Two: Arts and Humanities (9 credits)


Cluster Two Coordinator:  Dr. Dennis Beck


Cluster 2 shows students what it means to live lives enriched by reflection, imagination, and creativity.  It does so by offering each individual a multidisciplinary experience within the arts and humanities, those areas of endeavor that humans have long valued for their intrinsic worth and that invite a deeper appreciation of the human experience.


The broadly stated goals for Cluster Two are:

  • To introduce students to cultural, historical, aesthetic, and theoretical expressions of and questions about human experience.
  • To expose students to multiple academic disciplines in the arts and humanities and their methods and unique perspectives.
  • To inspire a deeper awareness of how the interplay between culture and expression affects both collective and individual identities.
  • To foster appreciation of the aesthetic and formal qualities of literary, visual, and performing arts.
  • To engage students in thinking critically and communicating clearly about enduring questions concerning human life, culture, and history.

These goals were adopted by the General Education Council in April 2007


Cluster Two consists of nine credits (3 courses) covering three broad areas:

  • Human Questions and Contexts
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Literature.

Students planning to participate in one of JMU's Study Abroad Programs may fulfill some or all of their Cluster Two requirements depending upon the program in which they participate. For additional details, go to:
Choose one class from each of the three areas below:

  • Human Questions and Contexts
    • GAMST 200 Introduction to American Studies
    • GANTH 205 Buried Cities and Lost Tribes
    • GHIST 101 World History  to 1550
    • GHIST 102 World History since 1550
    • GHUM 102 God, Meaning, and Morality
    • GHUM 250 Foundations of Western Culture
    • GHUM 251 Modern Perspectives
      • Topics vary by section
    • GHUM 252 Cross-Cultural Perspectives
      • Topics vary by section
    • GPHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy
    • GREL 101 World Religions
  • Visual and Performing Arts
    • GART 200 Art in General Culture
    • GARTH 205 Survey of World Art I: Prehistoric to Renaissance
    • GARTH 206 Survey of World Art II: Renaissance to Modern
    • GMUS 200 Music in General Culture
    • GMUS 203 Music in America
    • GMUS 206 Introduction to Global Music
    • GTHEA 210 Introduction to Theatre
  • Literature
    • GENG 221 Literature, Culture and Ideas
    • GENG 222 Genre(s)
    • GENG 235 Survey of English Literature: From Beowulf to the 18th Century
    • GENG 236 Survey of English Literature: 18th Century to Modern
    • GENG 239 Studies in World Literature
    • GENG 247 Survey of American Literature: From the Beginning of the Civil War
    • GENG 248 Survey of American Literature: From the Civil War to the Modern Period
    • GENG 260 Survey of African-American Literature
    • GHUM 200 Great Works of Literature
      • Topics vary by section

    NOTE: The courses in Group 3 are designated as "writing-infused." Students will write regularly throughout the semester (a minimum of 5000 words, or about 15 pages double-spaced in a standard font) in assignments that may include both informal and formal, ungraded and graded forms. The extensive opportunity to produce and receive feedback on various genres of academic writing will help students sharpen their responses to interesting and thought-provoking texts and promote more engaged and sophisticated reading strategies.

Learning Objectives:

After completing Group 1. Human Questions and Contexts students will be able to:

1.  Question their own and others’ opinions about and responses to the world. 
2.  Apply the methods of the discipline(s) studied to material from the humanities.       
3.  Identify and evaluate arguments using appropriate concepts and techniques and to formulate logical arguments on the same basis.
4.  Demonstrate an understanding of broader cultural, historical, or conceptual contexts of particular issues, ideas, objects, or events - past and present.
5.  Experience appropriate humanities events (such as exhibits, films, performances or public lectures)

After completing Group 2. Visual and Performing Arts students will be able to:

  1. Explain how artistic works and culture are interrelated.
  2. Recognize that the arts are accessible and relevant to their lives.
  3. Demonstrate disciplinary literacy (vocabulary, concepts, creative processes) in a major art form.
  4. Produce an informed response to the form, content, and aesthetic qualities of artistic works.
  5. Experience arts events.
  6. Acknowledge relationships among the arts.

After completing Group 3. Literature students will be able to:

  1. Generate increasingly nuanced questions (interpretations, ideas) about literature and explain why those questions matter.
  2. Use appropriate vocabulary and tactics to analyze specific literary expressions of culture and the relationship between the reader, the author, and text.
  3. Define ways that texts serve as arguments and identify rhetorical and formal elements that inform these arguments.
  4. Recognize appropriate contexts (such as genres, political perspectives, textual juxtapositions) and understand that readers may interpret literature from a variety of perspectives.
  5. Articulate a variety of examples of the ways in which literature gives us access to the human experience that reveals what differentiates it from, and connects it to, the other disciplines that make up the arc of human learning.

These objectives were adopted by the General Education Council in April 2007