Heather Murray

Professor Wilson

Humanities 1100



List the skills learned or improved in this class (if any) that will help you to accomplish practical goals in your life? (Not counting the college credits earned in this class.) How will they help?

The most important skill I learned from this class was the ability to think critically about complex topics.  This enabled me to begin thinking subjectively about important world issues like social injustices and how they affect those they victimize and those they benefit, and what that means for me. This will help me to continue making important decisions about things like how to spend my money.  It has and will continue to help me think more about the types of companies I buy products from, and whether it is a company that has moral practices.  Having the skills to find and assess knowledge like this will enable me to either continue promoting child slavery through my purchases of chocolate that was acquired through immoral practices, or to spend my money more wisely by purchasing chocolate through companies that have moral practices and promote fair trade.  This class has helped me consider topics such as this that weren't even on my radar before.

I also began to consider the meaning behind some of life’s important concepts like love and happiness, how they apply to me, and what that means.  Being able to think critically about any topic is an absolutely essential skill that we all need in life.  It helps us to understand ourselves and those around us.  It enables me to make informed decisions about how I want to conduct myself throughout my life.  It has helped me to begin to consider how I want happiness to manifest itself in my life.  It has helped me consider my religious beliefs, why I have them, and whether or not I want to continue to stand behind them.  This process has helped met to solidify these beliefs.  I now have solid reasons I can cite to myself and anyone else about what I believe and why.  This will help me to define my own path in life instead of walking the path someone else pressures me into.  In the long term, these skills will help me to be able to make informed decisions about who I am, who I want to be, and how to live that out.

In the diversity section of this class, we explored what it meant to be on the outside of a group.  This exercise has helped me to see what it means to be someone other than myself.  This knowledgeable will allow me to be more accepting with myself and others, and will also help me to be more open minded accepting in my encounters with others.  It will help me in any job I get and in any situation that deals with other people, which is pretty much any situation one could think of.  Overall, this class has done nothing but add to my set of skills that will aid in life and any circumstance it may bring.

What is the most important humanities topic NOT discussed in this class?

The most important humanities topic not discussed in class is the effect of service on a community.  There are many classes that have adopted the service-learning method, and I think this has been very helpful to both me and my fellow students.  Giving your time and effort for nothing in return does much to build compassion and empathy, two key concepts that humanities promotes.  I think that having a service learning component would be a great addition to this class, even if not to the extent of requiring students to do 20 hours of service, like in other classes.  Perhaps a three-hour, class service-project would be sufficient.  You could then go over the effects that service will have on those it benefits, the community, and the individuals who were able to carry it out.

Finally, tell me why you chose the specific signature assignment you posted to your ePortfolio among the various assignments you completed for this class.

I chose to post the Romantic Love Definition assignment.  I chose this because it was the most intimidating for me out of all the assignments.  Defining such a complex and subjective topic has been one of the greatest challenges of my college career.  It took a lot of consideration to decide what I wanted to include in my definition and how to go about including it.  Even after I thought I had included all there was to include, I still found myself adding in more toward the end.  I think this assignment is a great example of how the humanities’ course took a topic we all thought we knew everything there was to know, and turned our beliefs about it upside down.  It is also a great example of delving into a topic and pulling its various components apart.  It shows how we learned to think critically about a topic and through reason and logic we were able to explain our beliefs and opinions on the topic.  I chose this over the others because I felt it gave me an opportunity to display the skills I gained as a critical thinker.  The other assignments, while they also made us think critically, weren’t as big of a challenge for me as this particular assignment was, and because of this I wanted to display my effort in overcoming this challenge.

Heather Murray

Prof. Wilson

Humanities 1100


 Romantic Love--What It Is and What It Isn't

                Romantic love—a concept that we each know the definition of, or so we think.  With as emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually complex as human beings are, would it not be naive to assume that such a key aspect of who we are and what drives us would be any different?  Romantic love is a topic that has both captivated and alluded the human mind and heart for centuries.  With great works such as Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and Pablo Neruda’s, “If You Ever Forget Me,” some of the greatest artists across the globe have attempted to unravel the mystery of love and why it affects the human heart so.  And yet, humanity is still at a loss to answer the question of what romantic love truly is.  To find that answer, it is my belief that we must understand love on love’s terms.  This means to understand it in relation to what it is not, and what it is; especially in the context of non-romantic love, lust, sex, long and short-term relationships, and in the context of multiple recipients of romantic love.

                The definition of romantic love differs greatly from that of non-romantic love.  Non-romantic love can be shared with or felt for family, friends, co-workers, children, and even significant others.  Romantic love, on the other hand, can only be felt for or shared with those you are romantically interested it, thus, the lines separating the two can be blurry.  As defined in class, love is an emotional relationship in which a person’s happiness and/or emotional state is influenced by the wellbeing of the person they love—I apologize if this is not the exact definition.  But this definition, while sufficient for love, falls short in its attempts to define romantic love.  It does nothing to describe the affects that follow the onset of romantic love, which love of any other type lacks. The two main affects being the reprioritizing the importance of the various relationships in the life of the person who feels romantic love for another, and also the redistribution of loyalty the giver of romantic love feels toward the various persons in their life now that romantic love has entered the scene.

                The first of these affects being the inevitable reprioritizing of the current relationships in the lives of whomever is in love.  Love can happen between friends and family, however, this type of love doesn’t result in the person, who feels that love, repositioning the recipient of their non-romantic love at the very top of their list of persons of importance.  However, this is exactly what happens in romantic love.  Be it a husband of twenty years or a 16-year-old girl who begins her first serious relationship, not matter the circumstance, the recipient of romantic love always becomes the person of greatest priority in the life of the person who feels romantic love for them.  This is the reason that married people have affairs and stop going to their son’s basketball games, and instead, spends every possible moment with the recipient of their romantic love.  This is why teenage boys and girls stop spending time with their friends who they used to be inseparable with, and now only spend time with the person their romantically involved with and whom they feel romantic love for.  And this is why romantic love and non-romantic love are very different in the affects they have on those that feel them.

                Another affect that love and romantic love do not share is the affect they have on the loyalty of the persons feeling them.  Loyalty comes in various degrees, however, the degree of loyalty felt for someone that is the recipient of romantic love is astronomical in comparison to the degree felt for someone who is the recipient of non-romantic love.  In true crime documentaries, I cannot count the times I’ve heard stories of lovers covering up for their partners, or even worse, engaging in immoral and illegal acts to please their partners. However, I cannot think of a time I saw a documentary of mere friends doing this for one another.  Granted, the extent to which one will go based on loyalty for their lover is different for everyone, but in EVERY case, the extent the loyalty for their lover will take a person is always further than the extent to which the love of a friend would take them.  Even the law understands this, which is why they have passed the law stating that in criminal cases a spouse doesn’t have to testify against their spouse.

                Examples of the effects of loyalty don’t have to be as extreme as the afore mentioned.  Just this year my sister-in-law cut off her own biological sister, whom she has been close to over the years, because the sister’s husband didn’t want my brother in their home.  So, because of her loyalty to her husband and the recipient of her romantic love, she felt it necessary to end a relationship with a sibling who is a recipient of non-romantic love.  Situations such as these happen regularly.  Those who are recipients of romantic love will always be those who are the recipients of the greater amount of loyalty in regards to the persons who romantically loves them.  It is known and accepted that the friend will come second to the lover.  The person who loves the friend and romantically loves the significant other will always take the side of the significant other, this is due to the heightened loyalty that they feel for their lover, which is more than the loyalty felt toward any other person in their life, even those they have non-romantic love for.

                Another key difference between love and romantic love is the presence or absence of lust.  Lust is not something that is present in relationships based on regular love.  It is only felt in relationships where romantic love is felt and the differences between the two are obvious.  Lust causes a variety of affects for those experiencing it, and can be experienced for someone who has no love for a person, is beginning to have romantic love for a person, or who has established romantic love for another person.  Effects of lust include physical and sexual attraction, increased heart rate, reduced inhibitions, and reduced focus/ability to think among many others.  Lust is an important part of romantic love, however, it is not a constant factor in romantic love and is absent altogether in non-romantic love.  It is important to note that regular love and the absence of love are two different things.  Lust, while able to be present in the absence of love altogether, cannot be felt for subjects of regular or non-romantic love, unless that love is transitioning from non-romantic love to romantic love.  And lust, depending on the stage of the romantic relationship, can be a central part of the relationship or can be completely absent.  It is normally most present in the beginning of a romantic relationship where romantic love is blossoming and tends to lesson as the relationship establishes itself.  However, in a healthy romantic relationship where romantic love is present, lust never completely disappears.  It is the reason for sexual attraction and is a vital part of keeping romantic love alive.  Lust can increase and decrease depending on life events, age, health, sex, and a myriad of other factors.  This peak and trough of lust is normal and should be expected in romantic love.  In the case of non-existent love lust can and is frequently present.  This accounts for the physical and sexual attraction that is often experienced between two strangers.  Lust doesn’t define romantic love, other than to say it can be an aspect of it.  Just as easily as it can be present in romantic-love it can be absent.

Long and short-term relationships share the quality of romantic love.  Romantic love can be experienced in both long and short-term relationships, and can be felt in different intensities for each individual experiencing it.  There are also plenty of long and short term relationships where romantic-love is not present, and instead of romantic love being the motivation to be together money, pressure from the family or something else altogether is the reason for entering into the relationship.  It is something that can be lost, just as it can be found.  And because of this it is something that, if you want to keep it, you must work for.  Relationships, whether based on romantic or regular love, take work.  Romantic love doesn’t mean that problems wont arise; it doesn’t mean that arguments won’t be had.  What it does mean, is that the wellbeing of the person receiving romantic love affects the emotions and/or wellbeing of the person giving the romantic love, and furthermore, prompts the person who has feelings of romantic love to take action in the interests of the recipient and their welfare.  Romantic love can be felt with or without the presence of sexual attraction, and sexual attraction can be felt with or without that presence of romantic love.  Romantic love can also be felt toward more than one person at a time.  It isn’t some magic entity that takes over the person experiencing it, making them faithful and monogamous.  It is possible to have an affair with someone while romantic love is felt for someone else.  Romantic love can blossom from friendship and can fade out of marriage.  Romantic love can be one way.  It is possible for two people to be in a relationship and only one have feelings of romantic love.  Romantic love comes in many different stages and intensities.  A relationship can begin with a lot more lust than romantic love and end with the opposite being true.  Romantic love takes maintenance. It doesn’t maintain itself without work and sacrifice being put into the relationship on both sides.  It is also safe to say that most relationships that are one sided, meaning that only one person in the relationship has romantic love for the other, it is usually unhealthy.

Romantic love is a complicated subject.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to give a definition that would be acceptable for everyone.  It is subjective, thus, my definition can only be my definition.  And my definition of romantic love may be similar to or completely different from the definition of romantic love for someone else.  Romantic love is a subject that has been explored for as long as the concept has existed.  I have no doubt that it will continue to be a subject of mystery and intrigue, and am glad that I had the opportunity to explore what it means for me. 


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