Honors students in an art history classHumanities Series

The Humanities Series, an interdisciplinary, chronologically-structured series of four honors courses, introduces students to the big ideas, questions, and debates of the Western tradition. The series explores works of literature, philosophy, art, religion, and music from Homer to Toni Morrison, Plato to Rawls, Praxiteles to Rothko, Hildegard of Bingen to Louis Armstrong. Although the content of the course is largely within the Western tradition, the series does put emphasis, when appropriate, on how these Western works developed in conversation with works from non-Western cultures. While the historical periods represented in the series remain the same, the themes vary depending on the teaching faculty and selected texts. Past themes in these courses have included “Moral Justice” and “The Invention of Selfhood.”

The Humanities Series at the University of Missouri is the College’s longest-running course, engaging students for the past 60 years. The four courses in the series are taught by MU faculty members (many of them recipients of the university’s highest teaching awards!) from art history and archaeology, classics, English, history, music, philosophy, religious studies, German and Russian studies, and Romance languages. Weekly guest lectures are followed by small-group sessions in which students share ideas with their professors and other honors students. Each Humanities Series course counts towards fulfilling the Humanities General Education requirements for all Schools and Colleges at the University of Missouri.


Gn Hon 2111H: The Ancient World

Offered every other fall semester, 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. The theme of Fall 2013’s course is “Epic Destinies, Individual Journeys.”


Gn Hon 2112H: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Offered every other spring semester, 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.


Gn Hon 2113H: The 17th - 19th Centuries

Offered every other fall semester, the third course of the Series 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.


Gn Hon 2114H: The Modern Era

Offered every other spring semester, the final course of the Humanities Series 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 film and visual art ranging from Impressionism to Expressionism to Post-Modernism. Special lectures are presented on twentieth-century music, including fine arts music, blues, and jazz.


Humanities Series Alumni

The Honors College is developing a list of Humanities Series Alumni. If you are one of the many students who benefited from participating in the Humanities Series over the last sixty years, please get in touch with us. You can email Dr. Rachel Harper, Director of the University Writing Center and Coordinator of the Humanities Series at HarperRP@missouri.edu with your name, contact information, and any memories you have of your time in the Humanities Series.

Also, you can keep up with what is going on the Humanities Series and the MU Honors College by “liking” the Honors College Alumni Facebook page.


Supporting the Humanities Series

Your donations can help support the work of the Humanities Series. 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 Series as a whole, please get in contact with Dr. Nancy West at WestN@missouri.edu.