The Humanities Sequence at the University of Missouri, an interdisciplinary series of four honors courses, introduces students to great works and great ideas of the Western tradition. The Sequence explores works of literature, philosophy, art, and music from Homer to Toni Morrison, from Plato to Rawls, from Praxiteles to Rothko, from Hildegard of Bingen to Stravinsky and Louis Armstrong. Inspired by Great Books courses at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, the Humanities Sequence at the University of Missouri is one of the oldest of its kind, engaging students with great books and great art for the past 60 years.
The four courses in the Sequence are taught by Missouri faculty members from art history and archaeology, classics, English, history, music, philosophy, religious studies, German and Russian studies, and Romance languages. Weekly lectures, given by experts in the field, are followed by small-group sessions in which students share ideas with professors and other honors students. Each Humanities Sequence course counts towards fulfilling the Humanities general education requirements for all Schools and Colleges at the University of Missouri.
Honors 2111H: The Ancient World
This course offers an interdisciplinary exploration of cultures in the Ancient World that formed the foundations of Western culture. The reading list includes great works of ancient literature and philosophy such as the Homeric epics, tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides, philosophical works of Plato and Aristotle, the Book of Job, Virgil's Aeneid, Stoic and Epicurean texts, Horace’s poetry, Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians, and Apuleius's Golden Ass. In addition, students will study the classical art and architecture of Greece and Rome.
Honors 2112H: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance
This course explores Western culture from the last days of the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages to the flowering of art, music, literature, and philosophy in the Renaissance. The reading list includes philosophical and religious works by Augustine, al-Ghazali, Aquinas, Luther, and Machiavelli; selections from the Koran and from Christian mystics; medieval epics such as Beowulf and Song of Roland, as well as literature by Dante, Chaucer, Montaigne, and Shakespeare. Works such as the medieval cathedral of Chartres and the Renaissance artistry of Michelangelo, as well as selected medieval and Renaissance music, depict the major artistic and architectural developments of these centuries.
Honors 2113H: The 17th - 19th Centuries
The third course of the Sequence treats the cultural developments in the West from the Baroque Period through the European Enlightenment and Romanticism. The reading list includes works by Cervantes, Descartes, Milton, Voltaire, Hume, Kant, William Blake, Jane Austen, and Dickinson. Students will also study Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music, as well as the visual arts of the period, including the influential work of Hogarth.
Honors 2114H: The Modern Era
The final semester of the Humanities Sequence deals with intellectual and cultural developments from the mid-nineteenth to the early twenty-first centuries. The reading list includes works by Marx, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison. In addition, students analyze a film by Alfred Hitchcock, as well as examples of visual art from Impressionism through Post-Modernism. Special lectures are presented on twentieth-century music, including fine arts music, blues, and jazz.
Humanities Sequence Alumni
The Honors College is developing a list of Humanities Sequence Alumni. If you are one of the many students who benefited from participating in the Humanities Sequence over the last sixty years, please get in touch with us. You can email Dr. Nancy West, Director of the Honors College and Coordinator of the Humanities Sequence at WestN@missouri.edu with your name, contact information, and any memories you have of your time in the Humanities Sequence.
Also, you can keep up with what is going on the Humanities Sequence and the MU Honors College by “liking” the Honors College Alumni Facebook page.
Supporting the Humanities Sequence
Your donations can help support the work of the Humanities Sequence. Donations of any size can help us enhance the education of our students through special lectures, concerts, and museum tours. You can give online through the Mizzou Development website. On the drop-down menu, you can direct your gift to Academics, Schools and Colleges, and then to the Honors College.
If you are interested in making a larger gift, to endow a faculty position or the Sequence as a whole, please get in contact with Dr. Nancy West at WestN@missouri.edu.