Perceiving the Arts: An Introduction to the Humanities

Dennis J. Sporre  
Total pages
January 2014
Related Titles


Provides an introductory, straight-forward, and response-oriented overview of the arts
Perceiving the Arts
presents the basic formal, technical, experiential, and contextual qualities of the arts in a brief, clear, and factual manner. Students will develop confidence in approaching the arts and will gain skills that encourage life-long artistic and cultural engagement. Intended to provide a basic overview of the major artistic disciplines - drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, architecture, music, theatre, cinema, dance, and literature - the book teaches readers what to look and listen for in the humanities.


  • Uses Broudy's formulation of aesthetic perception and response - Four questions tie the book's separate chapters into a cohesive whole: 1. What is it? (formal response); 2. How is it put together? (technical response); 3. How does it appeal to the senses (experiential approach); and 4. What does it mean? (contextual and personal response).
  • Encourages Critical Thinking - A new chapter-opening Critical Thinking segment focuses students' attention on key concepts and enhances their comprehension of the material to follow. Chapter-ending Basic Analysis Outlinesfacilitate students' ability to write basic critical descriptions of works of art based on the concepts discussed in the text.
  • Examines Artists and Styles - Profile feature boxes contain detailed biographies of important artists, helping students better understand the context and inspiration for their work. The book also includes expanded coverage of additional artists from non-Western cultures and under-represented minorities. A new glossary effectively serves as a new chapter and provides comprehensive definitions of major artistic styles, many of which are not discussed in the main text.
  • Provides Engaging Examples - Readers are provided with concrete examples of the concepts discussed in the text so that they can more easily understand them. Expanded and improved visual content has been added to the eleventh edition, including twenty-six new illustrations and more works in color. New color illustrations emphasizes broad cultural sources and artists from under-represented groups and cultures.

New to this Edition

Chapter 1

  • New learning objectives
  • New text and illustration relating the concept of aesthetic convention to everyday
  • objects
  • 5 new illustrations
  • New Timeline on major world artistic styles

Chapter 2

  •  New learning objectives
  • 8 new illustrations
  • New 'Profile' feature on Rosa Bonheur


Chapter 3

  • New learning objectives
  • 7 new illustrations


Chapter 4

  • New learning objectives
  • New text on 'Style'
  • 8 new illustrations


Chapter 5

  • New learning objectives
  • New discussion of Rap music
  • 3 new illustrations
  • New 'Profile' feature on Hildegard of Bingen


Chapter 6

  • New learning objectives
  • 3 new illustrations

Chapter 7

  • New learning objectives
  •  2 new illustrations


Chapter 8

  • New learning objectives
  • New overview of 'mise-en-scène'
  • New section on “the director”
  • 4 new illustrations


Chapter 9

  • New learning objectives
  • New 'Profile' feature
  • 4 new illustrations

Table of Contents

Brief Contents

  • Chapter 1. Introduction: What Are the Arts and How do We Respond to and Evaluate Them?
  • Chapter 2. Pictures: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, and Photography
  • Chapter 3. Sculpture
  • Chapter 4. Architecture
  • Chapter 5. Music
  • Chapter 6. Literature
  • Chapter 7. Theatre
  • Chapter 8. Cinema
  • Chapter 9. Dance


Dennis J. Sporre is an internationally prominent and award-winning writer, scholar, and artist. He has a bachelor's degree in Speech and Drama with a minor in music from Central Michigan University and a graduate degree in theatre scenic design and technology from the University of Iowa. Until his retirement he was a tenured professor, department head, and dean at various universities across the United States, including Ball State University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, The Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Arizona. His administrative and teaching experience has encompassed interdisciplinary courses in the humanities and fine arts. He has sung professionally and designed scenery and lighting for more than fifty productions.

His writings, including more than a dozen books, numerous journal articles, and poetry, have covered numerous topics including the humanities, theatre history, and design and technology. He has spent decades traveling the world researching and experiencing the arts and cultures about which he writes.