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EXPLORING PLACE: HUMANITIES (CUL-224764)

Center for Distance Learning Home > Distance Learning Catalog > Communications Humanities and Cultural Studies >

Course Description:


This is an advanced-level research course in which students, with guidance from the instructor, propose and carry out their own semester-long, self-directed, in-depth research agendas.

Thinking of place as a community in a geographical location or physical environment, this interdisciplinary humanities course seeks to offer an opportunity for a place-based approach to cultural studies. Explore culture of and/or about the place you live (or some other place of interest), whether you define that place as a neighborhood, a whole village or town or city, a geographical region, or a watershed. Research, for example, literature about a place, local literary or other cultural genres or practices such as song texts sung at local coffee shops, regionally published poetry, essays in local newspapers, proverbs of community elders, local storytellers, regional foodways, or local festivals. Examine a variety of humanities methodologies from the language arts, literature, communications, folklore and cultural anthropology, for engaging with representations of place and place-based cultural practices.

Collaborate with other students interested in culture, the arts and history to learn concepts for thinking about place as a process, as a coming together of nature and culture, of the local and global and of issues ranging from gender, class, ethnicity and the environment to modernization, conservation and preservation. Design and share with peers the results of your own projects about culture and the place you are interested in. "Visit" one another's place online as part of a cross-place comparison. Some of the reading materials for this course have been predetermined and are available at the bookstore. However, each student, in consultation with the instructor, will be responsible at the outset of the course for proposing a set of individualized, place-specific research topics that will comprise the bulk of their work throughout the term. (For example, a project might require acquiring a scholarly book and a popular book about your place in order to analyze and compare how they represent its landscape.) Each student will be responsible for acquiring (borrowing or purchasing) in a timely fashion the books and materials necessary for these projects. Such materials are not available at the bookstore.

Students and mentors should note that the highly-individualized approach of this course can enable students to develop projects that support a particular personal interest or degree program need that is not directly motivated by an interest in the humanities per se. For example, a student who is interested in Labor Studies could choose to develop their projects in this course entirely around the question of "working class culture" in his or her community. Or, a student in Community and Human Services could focus for the entire term on the role of regional cultural organizations on the well-being of his or her local community.

Note: this course overlaps with Exploring Place: Arts and Exploring Place: History. Students interested more in the artistic cultural aspects (including visual culture, say, or music) of place should take Exploring Place: Arts. No more than one of these three should be included in a degree program.

No formal prerequisites, but considering the flexibility and individualization of research and exploration involved, students must be comfortable working at the upper-level in terms of reading, writing and research skills.

This course fully meets the General Education requirement in Humanities.


This online course is offered through the Center for Distance Learning. You can take this as an individual course or as part of an online degree program, with term starts in March, May, September, November and January. View current term offerings and all online courses. Click here to register for online courses.

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Other Areas: The Arts | Business, Management & Economics | Community & Human Services | Communications, Humanities & Cultural Studies | Educational Studies | Historical Studies | Human Development | Labor Studies | Nursing | Science, Math & Technology | Social Science
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Liberal Study
Upper Level
Credits: 4
Meets General Education Requirement In: Humanities-Full

Term(s) Offered (Subject to Change) : Spring 1. Fall 1.

For Books and Materials List Go to the Online Bookstore