Van Goghs

HUMA 1301: Instructions for PD 3 Part One — Wonder (20%) Read this article from PsychologyToday (Nov. 30, 2020): Create a Prosperity Mindset Note the first and last step in particular: 1. Remind yourself that universal abundance is infinite. A great way to do this is to get a visual. Venture outside on a clear night and gaze out at the stars. Breathe deeply and really take this in, the vastness of our galaxy, and the countless others beyond the Milky Way. … 10. Three things. Acquire a journal and jot down three things you are grateful for each day when you wake up. Make sure to include the words, “I am grateful for . . .” Number 1 sure sounds a lot like wonder. Number 10 is pretty clearly gratitude. Now, think of all the reasons you can possibly think of to explain why “wonder” and “gratitude” would lead to “prosperity.” What is the deep connection between living a life suffused with wonder and gratitude, and a life that teems with prosperity? There are no right or wrong answers — but it’s worth pondering. Think it over. Come up with at least three different reasons, and write a few sentences about each one. Part Two — “The Starry Night” (80%) Write a short essay in three parts. Be sure to label the parts of the essay, so it is clear where each part begins and ends within your document. There is no length requirement, but be sure to write enough to develop your ideas. Before writing, and while writing, spend some long minutes gazing at Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” so that your ideas are closely connected to the painting. The highest-quality online image I have been able to find of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is actually on Google (not ARTstor): The Starry Night – Vincent van Gogh — Google Arts & Culture First, discuss how you see “wonder” in Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night,” or how the sense of wonder led Van Gogh to create it. It’s the teacher’s idea (not necessarily Van Gogh’s) that this painting is suffused with “wonder.” Nowhere does Van Gogh comment on wonder in relation to this painting, as far as I know. So your task is to use your imagination to connect wonder — the human sense of “wonder” as a good in human life — with this painting. Look for specific ideas from the Canvas “Topic” page on wonder, and find specific ways to connect them with this painting. The details make it interesting. Don’t be vague. (Alternately, if you think the teacher has totally erred, and the sense of wonder is NOT relevant to this painting, explain why. I think such an argument would be an uphill slog, but sometimes it’s fun to argue the other side. Your choice.) Second, connect at least TWO specific visual details of “Starry Night” with details from Van Gogh’s life. Use the “zoom” feature of Google Arts and Culture to zoom in to areas of the painting that you want to focus on, then take a screenshot, and include the two screenshots in your document. Be careful about how you take your screenshots! Do not first screenshot the whole painting, and then try to enlarge and crop the screenshot. It will not work. The image will lose resolution and become fuzzy and pixelated. Instead, zoom in first, then take the screenshot. For details of Van Gogh’s life, and the context in which he painted “Starry Night,” consult the videos provided on the Canvas “Topic” pages. It will require some imagination to connect the visual details of the painting to the details about Van Gogh’s life. Spend some time researching, observing, and mulling it over. Really explore the ideas. You can do it. Third, Find another artwork in ARTstor with the words “starry night” in its title, which you think reveals “wonder” in some way. So, search for “starry night,” and then sift through the results — make sure you’re considering works where “starry night” is in the *title* of the artwork (not in any other field), and make sure you’re considering artworks that come after 1889 (the date that Van Gogh painted the famous “Starry Night”). You can also do an “advanced search,” and the resulting URL will look something like this:;size=72;page=1;startDate=1890;endDate=*; sort=3 (There are 38 results from this search, as performed in December 2020, though a few of them appear to be duplicated.) For the artwork that you choose, practice “slow art” or “slow looking” — really take your time. First, provide the basic identifying information about the artwork (artist, date, title, medium), plus the ARTstor URL. Don’t copy and paste a bunch of boilerplate from ARTstor. Instead, just provided the basic facts to inform the reader about the nature of the artwork. Second, describe this artwork, in the manner that we practiced in JW 10. Third, explain how you see “wonder” in this work. Mull it over and develop a good idea. Finally, explain whether and how you think this artwork is influenced by Van Gogh’s famous “Starry Night.” Keep in mind that Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is one of the best-known artworks of the last 150 years, and it is reasonable to assume that any other artist is familiar with it. If you think your other “starry night” artwork is influenced by the Van Gogh painting, then explain how, by making specific references to similarities between the paintings. If you think your other “starry night” artwork is NOT influenced by the Van Gogh painting, then explain why not, again making specific references to the two artworks, to point out the key differences. Read the instructions (attached in a separate document — click the link). Doing a good job on this assignment requires at least several hours! Read, think, write, and revise. Be imaginative, but also be precise. Have a little fun 🙂 Resources For the warmup: Create a Prosperity Mindset (, Nov. 30, 2020) For the main part of the assignment: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on Google Arts and Culture (the highest-resolution image I have been able to find) Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on ARTstor Topic: “The Starry Night” Topic: Van Gogh’s Sunflowers Topic: Wonder Topic: How to write well in humanities General thoughts about good writing Topic: How to format documents Submit both parts of the assignment in one document. Formatting is important, but it’s okay to work on formatting last. Checklist Make sure you’ve done these things before hitting submits: Formatted your document well according to the manner we practiced last week. Slight diversions from the recommended formatting are just fine, as long as your formatting is clear and consistent, and contains appropriate metadata. Indifference to good formatting will be severely penalized. Completed both the warmup and the main part of the assignment. Clearly identified the parts of your assignment, so that any reader who comes to the document can easily tell what’s what. Included only *your* words (plus any quotations), and not the instructions written by the teacher. Included the requested screenshots. Mulled over the ideas and developed your thoughts. Don’t include any padding, but do explore the ideas at some depth.

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