Prerequisites: Completion of the Aesthetic Appreciation/Literature and the Aesthetic Appreciation/Art, Music, Film areas of the core. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the Honors Program or with permission of the instructor. (Second semester—even years/3 credits)
Music has meant many things to many different peoples and times. Some consider it the most abstract of the arts because it has no spatial form. Others consider it the most natural of the arts because it is the one art form we share with animals (birds, whales). Still others consider it the most fundamentally human of the arts since no culture on earth has been discovered that does not have music. In this class we will survey the writings of philosophers, artists, and other figures who attempted to explain why music appeals to us and what the musical experience says about human nature. These readings will be taken from antiquity, the distant past, and the present day. Our focus will be twofold: (1) to study how philosophers, artists, and writers have attempted to explain why music appeals to us and what the musical experience says about human nature; (2) to study what these explanations say about the time periods and cultures from which they came."