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About Great Texts


Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

These questions, posed in 1934 by T.S. Eliot in "Choruses from the Rock," still resonate. Though we have access to massive quantities of information, we can "aimlessly drift about in borrowed manners and super-imposed opinions," as Nietzsche put it. To rise above this condition, we do not simply need more information. We need ways of putting this information into perspective. We need knowledge and insight.

We need wisdom.

To gain wisdom about our condition--this is the reason to study Great Texts. In the Great Texts Program at Baylor, we read the greatest works composed by the greatest minds. We discuss the books in small classes that are taught as seminars, not lectures. In these classes, we raise questions, make arguments, analyze passages, and debate the merits of competing interpretations. We apply the wisdom of great texts to our own lives.

We discern for ourselves the strategies used by great texts in asking and answering the basic human questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What can I know? How should I live?

No matter where your specific interests lie, you have much to gain from Great Texts. If you are thinking about medical school, take a look at the Great Texts and Pre-Medicine Planner. (Click here for an Honors Program version.)

For law school, there is no better preparation than to acquire the skill of reasoning about texts that are initially unfamiliar, and applying their principles to new situations.

Students of the natural and social sciences will discover the intersections between their particular disciplines and the perspectives gained from reading Great Texts. The Program regularly offers courses that feature great texts in the history of science. Reading Great Texts is indispensable for knowing the origins of the modern disciplines of psychology, history, cultural anthropology, sociology, history and political science.

Those with a passion for art, music, film, philosophy, or journalism will find themselves in constant conversation with kindred spirits as they study Great Texts. The art of close reading and careful analysis, fostered by the rigor of seminar participation, is an ideal preparation for graduate school in the humanities.

By taking seminar-style courses that pursue a rigorously interdisciplinary approach, students empower themselves to address questions and topics that inform a wide spectrum of human endeavor: scientific, political, creative, philosophical and theological.

All Baylor students, without exception, are eligible to take courses in Great Texts. Those in the Honors Program are required to take a two-course sequence in Great Texts. These are GTX 2301, "The Intellectual Tradition of the Ancient World" and GTX 2302, "The Medieval and Renaissance Intellectual Tradition." Students in the University Scholars Program take GTX 2301 and GTX 2302, along with a third course in Modern Great Texts.

If you've read this far, it's a safe bet that you're interested in Great Texts. Very likely, you have some questions.

• How does a minor or a major in Great Texts fit into my degree plan?

• Would taking seminars in Great Texts help me progress toward my professional and personal goals? If so, how?

• Just what are the Great Texts? What makes a text great? Who decides what is or is not a great text?

To address these questions, or any others that you have, please do not hesitate to send our administrative assistant an e-mail. We will put you in touch with a faculty member, who will be happy to speak with you personally about Great Texts.