Use the all-purpose guide "How to Analyze the Logic of an Article, Essay or Chapter" as a tool for developing a 300-word minimum response to Susanne Langer essay "The Lord of Creation." You will want to pay attention to her bold claims that human beings, unlike animals, are intelligent precisely because they are "unrealistic," that "only with high intellectual discipline do we gradually approach the realistic outlook of intelligent animals."
For those of you curious about Langer, one of the more notable female philosophers in history, here's more:
Wikipedia (whose articles have to evaluated on an individual basis) has a pretty good little article on Langer's life and work here. Perhaps the most important section is the end, which discusses the current reputation of her theory of symbolization:
Although she is not frequently cited by professional philosophers, her influence is great to the extent that her doctrine, particularly with respect to presentational symbolic activity, might be said to have become an integral part of the "collective unconsciousness” of many persons concerned with art and music in the English speaking world.
A clear example of her legacy is found in the fifth chapter of neuroscientist Howard Gardner’s 1982 book Art, Mind, and Brain. A Cognitive Approach to Creativity, dedicated exclusively to her thought. Now that neuroscience has begun to sort out some of the distinguishing characteristics of the interplay between right and left hemisphere mental processes, and the way emotion is essential as a mediator, the work of Susan Langer comes to have even deeper significance, and some feel that she may have been ahead of her time.
So, Langer's work, which has long been a touchstone for Humanities types (like me!), is finally being recognized by the cutting edge field of neuroscience, and ideas which she arrived at through scholarship and speculation are now being confirmed to a certain extent by experiments in hard science.
For those who want to read the full statement of her theory, take a look at her masterwork, Philosophy in a New Key (click for pdf of entire book), one of the most accessible classics in the history of philosophy. The chapter entitled "Language," in particular, is a much more detailed and systematic exposition of the argument she puts forth for the general reader in "The Lord of Creation."
Finally, I'd just like to point out that one of the really exciting things to me about studying communications and media theory is that it is one of those scholarly areas where there is a large, impressive and growing body of work done by female scholars. Perhaps this cartoon gets at some of the reasons:
In addition to Langer, we will also encounter the work of Elizabeth Eisenstein, Denise Schmandt-Besserat, Marcia Ascher, Johanna Drucker, Rosalynd Williams, Susan Douglas, Michele Hilmes, Lynn Spigel, Camille Paglia, Ruth Schwartz Cowen, Janet Abbate, Susan Sontag, Tara Brabazon, Sherry Turkle, and others. Langer was one of the first, and she has helped inspire two generations of female scholars of communication theory. Perhaps there is a member of the third generation sitting among us in this very class!