The Arts and Literature are concerned with the study of aesthetic forms as expressions of meaning, as vehicles for exploring the nature of reality, as sources of beauty, and as objects of knowledge and critical scrutiny.
In studying the arts—the visual arts, music, theatre, dance, and film—there is opportunity to explore ways of knowing and universes of expression beyond the essentially cognitive or discursive. A distinctive feature of the arts is the relationship between form and content: meaning is conveyed by both the medium and the subject matter of the work. Central to the study of the arts is the development of one’s understanding, appreciation, and critical capacity in encountering particular works and genres as well as one’s awareness of both the limits and possibilities of the creative imagination. Courses in this area, whether historical or contemporary in approach, interpretive or oriented toward practice, seek to foster recognition of the distinctive role of the arts in culture, in liberal education, and in the enrichment of the human condition.
In studying literature, there is opportunity to explore the multiple ways in which the spoken or written word may disclose features of life that might otherwise remain unarticulated and thus unknown. Critical reading and writing are fundamental to literary study. Specific features of literary study include analysis of literary form and technique, examination of the relationship between literary works and social/historical context, and exploration of methodological and theoretical perspectives on literary inquiry. The study of literature highlights the communicative, expressive, and revelatory power of language itself.