Common Core Essential Characteristics

Essential Characteristics

Literary and Intellectual Traditions courses focus primarily on texts.  These courses make use of primary sources, such as texts, documents, artifacts, etc., either created during the period under study or by someone who participated in the events of the time, to demonstrate how disciplines in the humanities, such as English, Philosophy, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, and World Languages, contribute to the development, growth, and understanding of the human experience.  Students in these courses learn to analyze or evaluate texts, events, or ideas in their cultural, intellectual or historical contexts. Students will develop an interpretation or argument about forms of human agency, understanding, or expression grounded in humanistic analysis.  They will use literary and intellectual methods to analyze diverse narratives or viewpoints in order to explore the complexity of the fundamental issues related to the human experience across space and time. 

For these reasons, students are required as part of their General Education to complete a course in Literary and Intellectual Traditions. Such a course should enable students to:

1.  Construct an interpretation or argument based on texts from literary, historical, or philosophical traditions;

2.  Analyze or evaluate texts in their cultural, intellectual, and/or historical contexts;

3.  Apply general concepts, terms, and/or methods of analysis to the particular course topic


Specific Characteristics

The humanities represent great traditions of inquiry into the human condition. The themes dealt with in literature, philosophy, history, and related disciplines often overlap. This characteristic of the humanities makes them especially amenable to interdisciplinary study. The various versions of this course will typically take advantage of this overlap in content, by focusing on a theme that can be addressed, augmented, and enriched using more than one disciplinary perspective.

The Literary and Intellectual Traditions course must have the following specific characteristics:

  1. The course must explore one of the following themes: ideas of self, ideas of truth, ideas of beauty, ideas of community, ideas of nature, or ideas of conflict.
  2. The course must develop an analysis of at least one primary text in 100-level courses; and two or more primary texts in 300-level courses.
  3. Instruction must include reflection on the benefit of developing interdisciplinary approaches to the course theme.
  4. The course must address ethical issues that emerge from the theme as well as from disciplinary approaches to the course topic.
  5. Students in 100-level courses must engage course material in a writing-intensive, discussion-focused manner. Students in 300-level courses must demonstrate an explicitunderstanding of the disciplinary approaches of the course in the work they produce. Courses at the 300-level must include a research component.

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