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B1 Fine art

UNIT 1. ART (1)

I. Read the text and choose the right alternatives.

Fine Art.

1. In European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from decorative art or applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork. In the aesthetic theories developed in the Italian Renaissance, the highest art was that which allowed the full expression and display of the artist's imagination, unrestricted by any of the practical considerations involved in, say, making and decorating a teapot. It was also considered important that making the artwork did not involve dividing the work between different individuals with specialized skills, as might be necessary with a piece of furniture, for example. Even within the fine arts, there was a hierarchy of genres based on the amount of creative imagination required, with history painting placed higher than still life.


2. Historically, the five main fine arts were painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and poetry, with performing arts including theatre and dance. In practice, outside education the concept is typically only applied to the visual arts. The old master print and drawing were included as related forms to painting, just as prose forms of literature were to poetry. Today, the range of what would be considered fine arts (in so far as the term remains in use) commonly includes additional modern forms, such as film, photography, video production/editing, design, and conceptual art.


3. One definition of fine art is "a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture." In that sense, there are conceptual differences between the fine arts and the decorative arts or applied arts (these two terms covering largely the same media). As far as the consumer of the art was concerned, the perception of aesthetic qualities required a refined judgment usually referred to as having good taste, which differentiated fine art from popular art and entertainment.


Origins and development.


4. According to some writers, the concept of a distinct category of fine art is an invention of the early modern period in the West. Larry Shiner in his The Invention of Art: A Cultural History (2003) locates the invention in the 18th century: "There was a traditional "system of the arts" in the West before the eighteenth century. (Other traditional cultures still have a similar system.) In that system, an artist or artisan was a skilled maker or practitioner, a work of art was the useful product of skilled work, and the appreciation of the arts was integrally connected with their role in the rest of life. "Art", in other words, meant approximately the same thing as the Greek word techne, or in English "skill", a sense that has survived in phrases like "the art of war", "the art of love", and "the art of medicine." Similar ideas have been expressed by Paul Oskar Kristeller, Pierre Bourdieu, and Terry Eagleton (e.g. The Ideology of the Aesthetic), though the point of invention is often placed earlier, in the Italian Renaissance; Anthony Blunt notes that the term arti di disegno, a similar concept, emerged in Italy in the mid-16th century.


5. But it can be argued that the classical world, from which very little theoretical writing on art survives, in practice had similar distinctions. The names of artists preserved in literary sources are Greek painters and sculptors, and to a lesser extent the carvers of engraved gems. Several individuals in these groups were very famous, and copied and remembered for centuries after their deaths. The cult of the individual artistic genius, which was an important part of the Renaissance theoretical basis for the distinction between "fine" and other art, drew on classical precedent, especially as recorded by Pliny the Elder. Some other types of object, in particular Ancient Greek pottery, are often signed by their makers, or the owner of the workshop, probably partly to advertise their products.


6. The decline of the concept of "fine art" is dated by George Kubler and others to around 1880, when it "fell out of fashion" as, by about 1900, folk art was also coming to be regarded as significant. Finally, at least in circles interested in art theory, ""fine art" was driven out of use by about 1920 by the exponents of industrial design ... who opposed a double standard of judgment for works of art and for useful objects".


Source: Wikipedia.

II. Watch the video and choose the right alternatives.


B1 History

I. Read the text and choose the right alternatives.

Ancient Egypt.

Egypt's 30 dynasties

1. Egypt’s history has traditionally been divided into 30 (sometimes 31) dynasties. This tradition started with the Egyptian priest Manetho, who lived during the third century B.C. His accounts of ancient Egyptian history were preserved by ancient Greek writers and, until the deciphering of hieroglyphic writing in the 19th century, were one of the few historical accounts that scholars could read. 


2. Modern-day scholars often group these dynasties into several periods. Dynasties one and two date back around 5,000 years and are often called the "early dynastic" or "archaic" period. The first pharaoh of the first dynasty was a ruler named Menes (or Narmer, as he is called in Greek). He lived over 5,000 years ago, and while ancient writers sometimes credited him as being the first pharaoh of a united Egypt we know today that this is not true — there was a group of Egyptian rulers that predated Menes. Scholars sometimes refer to these pre-Menes rulers as being part of a "dynasty zero." 


3. Dynasties 3-6 date from roughly 2650–2150 B.C. and are often lumped into a time period called the "Old Kingdom" by modern-day scholars. During this time pyramid building techniques were developed and the pyramids of Giza were built. 


4. From 2150–2030 B.C. (a time period that encompassed dynasties 7-10 and part of the 11) the central government in Egypt was weak and the country was often controlled by different regional leaders. Why the Old Kingdom collapsed is a matter of debate among scholars, with recent research indicating that drought and climate change played a significant role. During this time other cities and civilizations in the Middle East also collapsed, with evidence at archaeological sites indicating that a period of drought and arid climate hit sites across the Middle East. 


5. Dynasties 12, 13, as well as part of the 11th are often called the "Middle Kingdom" by scholars and lasted from ca. 2030–1640 B.C. At the start of this dynasty, a ruler named Mentuhotep II (who reigned until about 2000 B.C.) reunited Egypt into a single country. Pyramid building resumed in Egypt, and a sizable number of texts documenting the civilization’s literature and science were recorded. Among the surviving texts is the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus, which includes a variety of medical treatments that modern-day medical doctors have hailed as being advanced for their time. 


6. Dynasties 14-17 are often lumped into the "second intermediate period" by modern-day scholars. During this time central government again collapsed in Egypt, with part of the country being occupied by the "Hyksos" a group from the Levant (an area that encompasses modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria). One gruesome find from this time period is a series of severed hands, cut off from their human victims, which were found at a palace at the city of Avaris, the capital of Hyksos-controlled Egypt. The cut-off hands may have been presented by soldiers to a ruler in exchange for gold. 


7. Scholars often refer to dynasties 18-20 as encompassing the "New Kingdom," a period that lasted ca. 1550–1070 B.C. This time period takes place after the Hyksos had been driven out of Egypt by a series of Egyptian rulers and the country was reunited. Perhaps the most famous archaeological site from this time period is the Valley of the Kings, which holds the burial sites of many Egyptian rulers from this time period, including that of Tutankhamun (reign ca. 1336–1327 B.C.), whose rich tomb was found intact.


8. Dynasties 21-24 (a period from ca. 1070–713 B.C.) are often called the "third intermediate period" by modern-day scholars. The central government was sometimes weak during this time period and the country was not always united. During this time cities and civilizations across the Middle East had been destroyed by a wave of people from the Aegean, whom modern-day scholars sometimes call the "Sea Peoples." While Egyptian rulers claimed to have defeated the Sea Peoples in battle, it didn’t prevent Egyptian civilization from also collapsing. The loss of trade routes and revenue may have played a role in the weakening of Egypt’s central government. 


9. Dynasties 25-31 (date ca. 712–332 B.C.) are often referred to as the "late period" by scholars. Egypt was sometimes under the control of foreign powers during this period. The rulers of the 25th dynasty were from Nubia, an area now located in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. The Persians and Assyrians also controlled Egypt at different times during the late period. 


10. In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great drove the Persians out of Egypt and incorporated the country into the Macedonian Empire. After Alexander the Great’s death, a line of rulers descended from Ptolemy Soter, one of Alexander’s generals. The last of these "Ptolemaic" rulers (as scholars often call them) was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide in 30 B.C after the defeat of her forces by the Roman emperor Augustus at the Battle of Actium. After her death, Egypt was incorporated into the Roman Empire. 


11. Although the Roman emperors were based in Rome, the Egyptians treated them as pharaohs. One recently excavated carving shows the emperor Claudius (reign A.D. 41-54) dressed as a pharaoh. The carving has hieroglyphic inscriptions that say that Claudius is the "Son of Ra, Lord of the Crowns," and is "King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands."


Neither the Ptolemaic or Roman rulers are considered to be part of a numbered dynasty.



II. Reading comprehension.



12. Throughout much of Egypt’s ancient history its people followed a polytheistic religion in which a vast number of gods and goddesses were venerated. One of the most important was Osiris, god of the underworld. Abydos was an important cult center for him and numerous temples and shrines were constructed at the site in his honor. 


13. Navigating the underworld was vital to the ancient Egyptians, who believed that the dead could reach a paradise of sorts, where they could live forever. Egyptian dead were sometimes mummified, preserving the body, and were sometimes buried with spells that aided them in navigating the underworld. 


14. In ancient Egyptian mythology, one of the first steps in navigating the underworld was to weigh a person's deeds against the feather of Maat. If the person had committed a great deal of wrongdoing, the person's heart would be heavier than the feather and the person's soul would be obliterated. On the other hand, if their deeds were generally good, they passed forward and had the opportunity to successfully navigate the underworld. 


15. Figurines called shabti were often buried with the deceased — their purpose being to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife for them. 


16. Egyptian religion did not remain static, but changed over time. One major change occurred during the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten (ca. 1353-1335 B.C.), a ruler who unleashed a religious revolution that saw Egyptian religion become focused around the worship of the "Aten" the sun disk. He built an entirely new capital in the desert at Amarna and ordered the names of some of Egypt's deities to be defaced. After Akhenaten’s death his son, Tutankhamun, denounced him and returned Egypt to its previous polytheistic religion. 


17. When Egypt came under Greek and Roman rule, their gods and goddesses were incorporated into Egyptian religion. Another major change occurred after the first century A.D. when Christianity spread throughout Egypt. At this time Gnosticism, a religion that incorporated some Christian beliefs, also spread throughout Egypt and a large corpus of Gnostic texts were discovered in 1945 in southern Egypt near the city of Nag Hammadi. 


18. Islam spread throughout the country after A.D. 641 after the country was captured by a Muslim army. Today, Islam is practiced by the majority of Egypt's inhabitants, while a minority are Christian, many being part of the Coptic Church.



II. Watch the video and choose the right alternatives.


B2 Biology

I. Reading comprehension.

1. Although modern biology is a relatively recent development, sciences related to and included within it have been studied since ancient times. Natural philosophy was studied as early as the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indian subcontinent, and China. However, the origins of modern biology and its approach to the study of nature are most often traced back to ancient Greece. While the formal study of medicine dates back to Pharaonic Egypt, it was Aristotle (384–322 BC) who contributed most extensively to the development of biology. Especially important are his History of Animals and other works where he showed naturalist leanings, and later more empirical works that focused on biological causation and the diversity of life. Aristotle's successor at the Lyceum, Theophrastus, wrote a series of books on botany that survived as the most important contribution of antiquity to the plant sciences, even into the Middle Ages. Scholars of the medieval Islamic world who wrote on biology included al-Jahiz (781–869), Al-Dīnawarī (828–896), who wrote on botany, and Rhazes (865–925) who wrote on anatomy and physiology. Medicine was especially well studied by Islamic scholars working in Greek philosopher traditions, while natural history drew heavily on Aristotelian thought, especially in upholding a fixed hierarchy of life. 


2. Biology began to quickly develop and grow with Anton van Leeuwenhoek's dramatic improvement of the microscope. It was then that scholars discovered spermatozoa, bacteria, infusoria and the diversity of microscopic life. Investigations by Jan Swammerdam led to new interest in entomology and helped to develop the basic techniques of microscopic dissection and staining.


3. Advances in microscopy also had a profound impact on biological thinking. In the early 19th century, a number of biologists pointed to the central importance of the cell. Then, in 1838, Schleiden and Schwann began promoting the now universal ideas that the basic unit of organisms is the cell and that individual cells have all the characteristics of life, although they opposed the idea that all cells come from the division of other cells. Thanks to the work of Robert Remak and Rudolf Virchow, however, by the 1860s most biologists accepted all three tenets of what came to be known as cell theory.


4. Meanwhile, taxonomy and classification became the focus of natural historians. Carl Linnaeus published a basic taxonomy for the natural world in 1735 (variations of which have been in use ever since), and in the 1750s introduced scientific names for all his species. Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, treated species as artificial categories and living forms as malleable—even suggesting the possibility of common descent. Although he was opposed to evolution, Buffon is a key figure in the history of evolutionary thought; his work influenced the evolutionary theories of both Lamarck and Darwin.


5. Serious evolutionary thinking originated with the works of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who was the first to present a coherent theory of evolution. He posited that evolution was the result of environmental stress on properties of animals, meaning that the more frequently and rigorously an organ was used, the more complex and efficient it would become, thus adapting the animal to its environment. Lamarck believed that these acquired traits could then be passed on to the animal's offspring, who would further develop and perfect them. However, it was the British naturalist Charles Darwin, combining the biogeographical approach of Humboldt, the uniformitarian geology of Lyell, Malthus's writings on population growth, and his own morphological expertise and extensive natural observations, who forged a more successful evolutionary theory based on natural selection; similar reasoning and evidence led Alfred Russel Wallace to independently reach the same conclusions. Although it was the subject of controversy (which continues to this day), Darwin's theory quickly spread through the scientific community and soon became a central axiom of the rapidly developing science of biology.


6. The discovery of the physical representation of heredity came along with evolutionary principles and population genetics. In the 1940s and early 1950s, experiments pointed to DNA as the component of chromosomes that held the trait-carrying units that had become known as genes. A focus on new kinds of model organisms such as viruses and bacteria, along with the discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA in 1953, marked the transition to the era of molecular genetics. From the 1950s to the present times, biology has been vastly extended in the molecular domain. The genetic code was cracked by Har Gobind Khorana, Robert W. Holley and Marshall Warren Nirenberg after DNA was understood to contain codons. Finally, the Human Genome Project was launched in 1990 with the goal of mapping the general human genome. This project was essentially completed in 2003, with further analysis still being published. The Human Genome Project was the first step in a globalized effort to incorporate accumulated knowledge of biology into a functional, molecular definition of the human body and the bodies of other organisms.



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