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The Humanities, Art, and Culture

The humanities are branches of knowledge that study various aspects of human society and culture. They include literature, art, philosophy, history, law, politics, religion, and linguistics. It is important to study humanities because they allow people of different nations to communicate with each other and understand the world they live in. The humanities influence culture by providing an analysis of its processes and a framework of knowledge for artists and philosophers to base their ideas on. Without an understanding of culture, art has little chance to produce an impact on society.

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The relationship that exists between art and culture is complex. Culture influences art by providing a context against which an artist’s work is defined (Cunningham et al., 2014). Artworks are basically a product of a culture that cannot be viewed separately from the general context. For example, it is impossible to understand cubism without the knowledge of the previous history of art and the way in which it revolutionized the traditional modes of representation. The art of different countries reflects national culture and identity. For example, the Mexican Dead of the Day, a national holiday celebrating death as a natural part of human life, is a cultural phenomenon explicitly reflected in Mexican art but unfamiliar to other cultures.

Art influences culture by shaping people’s perception of the world, instilling values, and translating an individual’s experience across space and time. Works of art do not merely represent the way things are but produce a community’s shared understanding of them. Heidegger wrote that each time a new artwork is added to the culture, the meaning of what it is to exist is inherently changed (Vinegar & Boetzkes, 2014). For example, Joann Rowling’s Harry Potter books became a cultural phenomenon that changed not only people’s perception of children’s literature, but the ways children are raised and educated.


Cunningham, L., Reich, J., & Fichner-Rathus, L. (2014). Culture and values: A survey of western humanities. Cengage Learning.

Vinegar, A., & Boetzkes, A. (2014). Heidegger and the work of art history. Ashgate Publishing.

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