Great Books, Honors Programs, and Hidden Origins: The Virginia Plan and the University of Virginia in the Liberal Arts Movement


This book argues a new and more complex interpretation of the development and manifestations of the liberal arts movement in American higher education during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Specifically, the book elucidates the under-explored yet formative role that the University of Virginia and its 1935 'Virginia Plan' played, both in fostering the liberal arts movement, and as a representative institution of the broader interaction colleges and universities had with this movement. The Virginia Plan challenged contemporaries elective curricula by promoting the development of a prescribed great books and honors tutorial course of study. It also introduced 'Oxbridge'-style honors tutorial programs to American public higher education, a development that has been essentially ignored by educational historians. The importance of this book comes from building upon and improving the historical literature on the liberal arts movement in specific, and higher education curricular reform in general. By including, for the first time, mathematical and scientific classics, the Virginia Plan fundamentally altered the content of the western canon, and in doing so, changed the notion of what was considered a 'great book'.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Stringfellow Barr
  • Clark Kerr
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Scott Buchanan
  • Colgate Darden
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2003


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.