Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

Humanistic Studies Core Curriculum

All students at MICA take Humanistic Studies courses as part of their degree plans.

Critical Inquiry (HMST 101)

This required first year course introduces the process of critical inquiry and the vocabularies and practices of diverse analytical methodologies—psychoanalytic, Marxist, feminist, structuralist, deconstructive, post-colonial, reader-response, new historical, African American, cultural, and gay and lesbian criticism, among others. The course emphasizes critical thinking and writing skills and provides an opportunity for students to understand and refine their own critical identities and practices as these are employed to respond to and inform their own work and the work of others.

Intellectual History 1 and 2

This six-credit course requirement (courses with the IH-1 and IH-2 suffix), generally taken in the sophomore year, draws from a variety of humanities disciplines—literature, art history, history, philosophy, and sociology, among others.  No more than one art history (AH prefix) or literature (LIT prefix) IH-suffixed course may be taken to fulfill intellectual history requirements.

Intellectual history courses embrace the premise that primary texts in philosophy, literature, the arts, and science present a discourse that orients social and political actors, and thus a careful and systematic study of visual artifacts, literary, philosophical, and scientific texts will lead to an understanding of social history. The central perspective of these courses is that ideas do not exist in isolation from the people who create and use them in particular social and political contexts: ideas are the engines of history. IH-designated courses may be broad, general surveys, or more theme-focused investigations.


The three-credit math/science requirement, taken in the sophomore or junior year, is fulfilled by a NSCI-prefixed course. These courses include topical offerings, historical surveys, and practical classes involving field and lab work.


The three-credit theory requirement builds on the work students accomplish in Critical Inquiry and the intellectual history course requirements, this three-credit, junior-level requirement adds depth and weight to the study of the theoretical concepts and assumptions embedded in contemporary views of visual and textual artifacts. Theory courses bear a TH suffix and are offered in a variety of disciplines including art history (AH) and literature (LIT). Theory courses explore such issues as the different ways philosophers and critics understand and describe aesthetic, cultural, and social products and phenomena, and the contexts of their production and consumption; the terms and stakes of the ongoing debate about the role of theory in the study of art and texts and the relationship of theory to meaning and significance in artistic productions; and the problem of reconciling the subjective response to objective theoretical analysis.


Courses in literature offer students the opportunity to read and explore genres across a wide array of cultures and time periods. Courses vary in focus: specific to explore one author, theme or genre; or broad with varied content and contexts. Many courses have the designation of Intellectual History or Theory and can fulfill one of these requirements.  200, 300 and 400 level courses are offered.

General Academic Electives

Students must take 9 credits of academic electives (3 courses). Electives from a variety of fields are offered through the Humanistic Studies department, including Literature, Politics, Philosophy, Religion, Natural Sciences, Anthropology, Film and Media Studies, Theater, History, Gender Studies, and Creative Writing, among others.  Of the general academic electives, one elective must be a 300 level Humanistic Studies course. The other two electives (one 300 level course & one of any level) may be from Art History or Humanistic Studies. 

NOTE: Intellectual history (IH-suffixed courses) and theory (TH-suffixed courses) may be taken for elective credit, subject to the elective restrictions above. All Humanistic Studies courses in all disciplines may be used only once on MICA degree plans. No single course may be applied to meet more than a single degree requirement.