Cultural Artifacts Selected

The first cultural artifact chosen is ‘The Third of May 1808,’ a painting completed by Francisco Goya, a Spanish Painter in 1814. Spain’s provisional government commissioned the painting at the artist’s suggestion. It commemorates Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies during the 1808 occupation. The painting is considered revolutionary in its style, word, subject, and intention. The painting is set in the early morning hours and depicts two groups of men: a rigidly poised firing squad and a group of captives appearing to be held at gunpoint. The Painting is in Museo del Prado, Madrid (Zappella, 2015). The second artifact selected is Guernica, an oil painting by Pablo Picasso. The painting is a grey, white, and black painting that is 3.49 meters tall. The painting depicts suffering wrought by chaos and violence. The painting depicts the bombing of Guernica, a quiet village located in the province of Biscay. The town was bombed for two hours. When the bombing took place, most of the men were away, and the village was populated mostly by children and women, as depicted in the painting (Rhodes, 2013). The painting is a representation of the victimization of the innocent and defenseless. It is an example of the worst form of inhumanity.

Common Theme

The common theme shared by the two paintings is war brutality. War is ruthless and brutally confronts some romantic assumptions while deconstructing the nature of reality. The brutality of war is characterized by the sacrifice of many lives and sufferings to the innocent and defenseless parties (Sandman, 2023). The two paintings depict the reality of war. Guernica depicts various brutal scenarios. A wide-eyed bull with a tail is visible, suggesting flame and smoke from the bombing. The images of a grieving woman with a child in her hand and a woman’s head with her mouth wide open are visible. Other horror scenarios from the painting are the dead and dismembered soldier lying under the horse and a woman with her arm raised in terror as she is entrapped by fire (Rhodes, 2013). In his work ‘The Third of May’, Goya depicts a brutal scene of the fateful day. He does not attempt to present war as attractive or heroic. He clearly depicts a pile of bleeding and dead men, captives killed by the firing squad, and a group of captives with desperate looks as they wait for their deaths (Zappella, 2015). The scenes in both paintings are horrifying and disturbing. The reality of war is depicted.

How the Theme Relates to Personal Experiences

The theme relates to my experience of having close relatives working in the army. Although I do not have firsthand experience with war brutality, the mental and physical sufferings of the soldiers cannot be underestimated. According to Brauman (2019), the biggest victims of war are the young men who fight in the war. Goya’s painting depicts a pile of dead men who can be assumed to be soldiers. The fear of families losing their loved ones during war is also a concern. Guernica also helps me to identify with the soldier’s inspiration to protect the defenseless. The painting depicts a helpless woman with a dead child in her hands. I am very passionate about peace and promoting peaceful conflict resolutions at all levels of society to prevent brutality that may arise from violence and war.

Brauman, R. (2019). Oases of Humanity and the Realities of War: Uses and Misuses of International Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Principles. Journal of Humanitarian Affairs Volume, 1(2), 43–50. https://scholar.archive.org/work/3ft4f2bgfrcondcmo2oqgbnf6q/access/wayback/https://www.manchesteropenhive.com/downloadpdf/journals/jha/1/2/article-p43.pdf
Rhodes, R. (2013). Guernica: Horror and inspiration. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 69(6), 19–25.
Sandman, T. (2023). How violence dis/appears in narratives on war-like operations: a conceptual framework. Critical Military Studies, 9(3), 285–305. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23337486.2021.1985288
Zappella, C. (2015). Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808. Smart History. https://smarthistory.org/goya-third-of-may-1808/


Now that you’ve reflected on the personal application of your selected theme, you are going to apply the theme to work or professional experiences. Keep in mind that you must draft this element of your exploration document from scratch. In this next writing template, you will need to do the following:

1, Discuss how the theme relates to a particular profession or work situation.
2. Expand your discussion to include the ways in which an understanding of the humanities is beneficial in professional or work settings.
3. Provide specific details to support your explanation.

In three or four sentences, identify a profession or work situation that may be impacted by your theme, then explain how the theme is connected to the profession and how the profession benefits from a general understanding of the humanities.


At this point, you have drafted the first four requirements for your exploration document. The next requirement is a discussion of the resources you are using to research your two selected works and your theme. Your resources must be scholarly and relevant to your theme or works. In your discussion, be sure to do the following:

1. Describe each of your resources (you need at least three), and remember to include the title, author, and other pertinent information.
2. Explain what makes each resource relevant to your works or theme.
3. Include comparisons of your resources to note their similarities and differences.
4. Discuss the process you used to search for and choose your resources, noting any dead ends you reached and how you changed your search strategy to get past them.


Analyze Your Works:

Remember, you don’t need to tell your reader every single thing you found. Now’s the time to make like a chef and prepare a beautiful plate with just the best bites from each of your resources—like research sushi. As you look back over your research notes, what were the highlights of the historical context? What surprised you, what delighted you, and what seemed especially important?

If you can find a good, brief, quotable passage from a source, please include it in your responses below. Just be sure to use quotes around the words you copy and paste (or retype) from your source. Then add the words around the quotes to provide context for your readers.

If there aren’t any suitable passages, summarize the most important and most interesting selections, and note the sources from which you are summarizing. By pulling from your research and clearly saying that you got something from another writer, you can add the weight of that scholar’s study and expertise to your argument.

Discuss the Historical Context of Your Works:

Let’s start by discussing the relationship between each cultural artifact and its respective historical context. In other words, under what circumstances was each artifact created? For the historical-context element, be sure to do the following:

1. Describe the historical context for each of your works, based on information from your resources. Situate each of your works in the time period and setting in which it was created.
2. Make sure you are basing your response on the information from your resources and not just on your own opinions.

Evaluate Your Response:

1. Have I pulled from one or more sources?
2. Have I clearly indicated where I took exact phrases or sentences from another author by including quotation marks and a citation?
3. Have I clearly indicated where I am summarizing the points, ideas, or insights from another author?
4. Have I made any claims or shared any insights that did not come from my research? (If so, you may want to remove those. The point of this element is to ground your claims in what your sources say. Unless you are in a very unique situation, possibly involving time travel, your personal insights on the historical context aren’t as credible as those of the experts who wrote your sources.)

Compare Your Two Works:

For this next element, you’re going to consider how your selected theme is expressed in the two works you are comparing. Just like the historical-context element, this one is about your research. Keep in mind the following points:

1. If at all possible, give explicit attention to at least one example of how your two works addressed the theme similarly, and at least one example of how they did it differently. (This makes life much easier for your grader.)
2. Make sure you are basing your response on the information from your resources and not solely on your own opinions.

Evaluate Your Response:

1. Have I included at least one similarity?
2. Have I included at least one difference?
3. Have I covered the most important information?
4. Have I attributed every claim (or almost every claim) I make to a credible authority from my research?

Discuss the Medium of Each Work:
In this last research-heavy paragraph, you want to use your sources to inform your reader about the ways in which each artist, writer, or composer uses their medium. For this element, be sure to do the following:
1. Describe the artistic medium, such as the type of literature, music, or sculpture, through which each work was created.
2. Discuss how the medium of each work communicates some aspect of its meaning.

Evaluate Your Response:

For this element, as with the historical-context element, you can build on the work, insights, and words of people who have spent their careers thinking about how music, words, shapes, and colors present meaning.

On your second pass through this page, ask yourself:

1. Have I referred very specifically to the artist’s use of the medium? (For visual art, the medium might include the materials used and how they were used—color, line, shape, juxtaposition, balance, asymmetry, and the like. For music, this might include timbre, orchestration, tempo, dynamics, key, and so on. For literature, the medium is the type of literary work, such as poetry, short story, letter, or biography.) Use at least two specific examples to help your reader see the choices the artist made in this specific medium to create meaning in this work.

State Your Thesis:

You’ve done a lot of research. While you were answering the above questions, you probably found some gaps that made you return to your research or even start looking for additional resources. This is all part of the process.

Now, after doing all this reading and carefully considering the opinions of others, it’s time to form an opinion of your own and declare your thesis. Your thesis is a claim you make about these two works and the theme you selected. Given those constraints, your thesis is likely to fall into one of several patterns or forms:

1. "Work A and work B both express theme X.”
2. “The theme of X is presented in very different ways in work A and work B.”
3. “We can learn something important about theme X by examining work A and work B.”

You may have another pattern in mind, but regardless of the one you choose, your thesis will need to meet the following criteria:

1. It must make a claim—that is, it must be something a reasonable person could disagree with.
2. It must relate to your theme and your two artifacts.
3. It must be specific, something that you can use evidence to defend and that someone else could use different evidence to argue against.

Evaluate Your Response:
ask yourself
1. If I walked into a crowded restaurant, got the attention of all the diners, and proceeded to declare my thesis loudly and confidently, would people think, “That’s quite a bold claim; I look forward to hearing how you substantiate it”? (If the answer is yes, you’re off to a good start.)

Consider Your Audience:
1. Granted, the restaurant full of attentive diners is a stretch. But can you think of who might actually be interested in your argument, or in the theme that you’re exploring? Or maybe you can think of a group that would be interested in how the principles of the humanities can teach essential skills to people who work with humans—a group of cops, for example, who take a day to go to the Met in New York City.

Identify Your Ideal Audience:
This exploration document (which you are almost done drafting) is designed to prepare you to build a presentation. If you could give that presentation to anyone, who would it be? For this element, be sure to do the following:

1. Identify your ideal audience
2. Explain why the audience would be interested in (or how they would benefit from learning about) the theme, works, or humanities analysis in your presentation.

Evaluate Your Response:
ask yourself

1. Have I identified an audience?
2. Have I explained why I think that audience would be interested in my presentation?

Make Adjustments for Your Audience:
Here’s an amazing thing about communication: What you say depends on the person you’re talking to. Maybe that seems obvious, but think about all the research and writing you’ve done so far. Sure, you know you’re supposed to be writing for someone who is new to the topic, but deep down you’re aware that your instructor will be the one reading your work. Forget that for a moment. Think instead about an audience who would be interested in what you’ve learned. With that audience in mind, you should be doing some sudden recalculations.

You’ll need to design your project in a way that brings your audience up to speed on your works. These works might be totally new to them, and your analysis almost certainly will be. How much do they know about the principles of the humanities? Will you need to defend the very idea that art can contain a theme? To connect to this audience, should you talk at length about how the medium is used in these artifacts, or skip over that explanation as quickly as possible? What specialized terms (e.g., timbre) will you need to introduce and define to get your point across, and which ones are unnecessary and should not be used?

These are some of the questions you’ll need to be thinking about as you prepare your presentation. But for now, just focus on the following requirements:

1.Describe how you will tailor your presentation so that it will be understandable to your specific audience.
2. Include specific examples of what you will include or exclude from your presentation in order to tailor it for your audience.
3. Explain why these edits need to be made for your audience.

Evaluate Your Response:
ask yourself
1. Have I clearly defined an audience?
2. Have I done a thorough job of empathizing with them and anticipating how this presentation will sound to them?
3. Have I described specific choices I should make to tailor my message to this audience?





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