Humanities III: Age of Revolution to Present Syllabus


Jesse G. Swan, Ph. D., Professor of English


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Dr. Swan has published widely in humanities topics. His Ph.D. is in English Renaissance and early modern literature, with an especial concentration on textual studies and postmodernity. Dr. Swan’s research has taken him to many of the most important libraries in the US and Great Britain, including the Houghton Library at Harvard University, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, and the University of Cambridge Library. For more information on Dr. Swan, visit his UNI web site at

Contact Information: Office: BAR 1008 Tel.: 319-273-2089 Email: (The best way to communicate with me is by email)


Humanities III reviews, in broad terms, the major ways of being human realized in Western Europe and the United States from the Revolutionary period through High Modernity to postmodernity and globalization.  The epoch covered by Humanities III can be thought to cover the 18th century to the present, with the ways of being human realized during the time being variously characterized as Romantic, Realist, Modern, Postmodern, and Global.  To recreate the ways of being, students engage various forms of human expression in the manners implied by those expressions.  Most significantly, the history and literature of the epoch are explored in terms considered fundamentally “human.” Similarly, an exploration of musical and artistic expression is to reveal humane experiences.  Throughout the course, then, each student ideally advances his or her appreciation of the major Romantic, Realist, Modern, Postmodern, and Global ways of being and ways of knowing, which are ways of knowing that constitute what we mean by “the modern and contemporary west.”

Required Texts:

The following book is required for the course. Books may be purchased, either from the publishers or from a bookstore such as University Book and Supply, 1009 West 23rd Street, Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition, Book 5 (Romanticism, Realism, and the Nineteenth-Century World) and Book 6 (Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Global Perspective), 7th edition. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2015.

Select Required Texts (depending upon individual student selection; see Assignments 3, 6, and 9 for further information)

For Assignment 3, select from the following (select one book)

Blake, William. Blake’s Poetry and Designs. Ed. Mary Lynn Johnson and John E. Grant. 2nd edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008.


Darwin, Charles. Darwin. Selected and ed. Philip Appleman. 3rd edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001.

For Assignment 6, select from the following (select two books)

Wiesel, Elie. Night. 1958, English 1960. Tr. Stella Rodway. New York: Bantam, 1982 AND Keynes, John Maynard. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. 1953. San Diego: Harcourt, 1964.


Foucault, Michel. “What Is Enlightenment.” Tr. Catherine Porter. The Foucault Reader. Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon, 1984. Pp. 32-50. AND Wallace, David Foster. The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel. Ed. Michael Pietsch. New York: Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company, 2011.

For Assignment 9, select from the following (select two books)

West, Cornel. Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity. Anniversary edition with a new preface. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. AND Duffy, Carol Ann. The World’s Wife. 1999. New York: Faber and Faber, 2001.

OR Duffy, Carol Ann. feminine gospels. 2002. New York: Faber and Faber, 2005.

COURSE ORGANIZATION This course will be delivered over the World Wide Web, utilizing web pages, and a learning management system (eLearning). The course is divided into 10 Assignments and 3 examinations. All written assignments will be submitted via eLearning. Please refer to the assignments for specific instructions. Please note that UNI Guided Independent Study requires that you complete all assignments and exams to pass the course. Type all assignments using a word processing program and save as a file. If you are using a word processing program other than Microsoft Word, then please save the file as Rich Text Format.  Submit your assignment by clicking on the Assignment Submission link in the Course Content menu on the left and uploading your assignment. Need help? See the  eLearning Tutorials  for instructions on how to submit an assignment.

Assignments: For each written assignment you will read chapters from The Humanistic Tradition or a selected text. Read and learn the material covered. Use whatever online help that is available and which appeal to you. Most of the assignments require you to write a discursive response, and each exam will have one discursive essay required, among other things. The discursive writing you do for your assignments are, in part, practice at writing discursive responses on the exams.

Discursive writing is writing about a topic in personally associative terms as opposed to various kinds of structured ways of writing. In discursive writing, a person writes down everything he or she can think of in relation to the topic and material he or she is supposed to demonstrate knowledge of. 

Further, and most importantly in discursive writing, the writer tries to demonstrate that he or she can use the knowledge he or she is to demonstrate that he or she possesses in creative and personally identifiable ways. Typically, the more one writes, the better a discursive response or essay is, which is why the only limit for this sort of writing is at the lower end – you must write at least 1,000 words, but you may write as many words as you like. You want to demonstrate that you know all the material and that you can use the material in meaningful, creative, and, at times, unique ways. Writing fewer than 1,000 words is okay, and you will receive some points, but not likely much more than half of the possible number of points, if that. 

A note on Assignments 8 and 10: These are extra-credit and optional assignments. You do not have to do either of these two assignments. If you do one or both, you may receive as few as zero or as many as 25 extra points for each assignment added to your overall point accumulation.


Each of the three proctored timed exams is cumulative and comprehensive. Each will have an objective section, which is taken without reference to books or notes, and an essay section, for which reference to books and notes is permitted.

On exams, you will be tested on your objective knowledge of the reading material and on your ability to draw on the best material from the chapters for essay responses. The objective part of the test is closed-book, while the essay responses are open-book, but still timed.

Course Outline:

Assignment 1 (60 Points) EXAM 1 (100 Points) Assignment 2 (50 Points) Assignment 3 (100 Points) Assignment 4 (60 Points) EXAM 2 (100 Points) Assignment 5 (50 Points) Assignment 6 (100 Points) Assignment 7 (50 Points) Assignment 8 (Optional and up to 25 Extra Points) Assignment 9 (100 Points) Assignment 10, (Optional and up to 25 Extra Points) EXAM 3 (200 Points)


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