Columbia residents gathered at Orr Street Studios on Sept. 8 to discuss an unlikely pairing: Lady Liberty and “Little House on the Prairie.”
These people were the first attendees of “Speaking of Culture,” a humanities series the Honors College hosts.
The monthly series, which features a variety of topics and speakers, began when Honors College Director Nancy West saw how successful Saturday Morning Science, a monthly hour-long talk about a science-related topic, had become.
With the help of visiting assistant English professor Gabriel Fried, West said she decided to do the same for humanities and arts. Thus, Speaking of Culture was born.
The series will feature speakers from five departments, the Museum of Art and Archeology and the Honors College. West and Fried will lecture as well. Topics will vary from Julia Roberts to Sherlock Holmes.
The founders wanted a range of speakers, not only people from different fields but also different styles and backgrounds, Fried said in an email.
They wanted to focus on taking a general audience and talking about things for which they have a deep curiosity, he said.
West said it took about a year to finally secure all of the series’ details, such as funding and location. The founders needed to select people to give the lectures and also find a space that captured the right feel.
“(We wanted) a place that felt special but also welcoming and would allow for mingling after the talks,” Fried said in an email.
They decided on Orr Street Studios.
Fried said he wants to stress the idea that these lectures are open to anyone and everyone who wants to come.
Though the Honors College produces the series, the founders have worked to attract an audience from beyond MU’s bubble, Fried said. The founders have promoted the series to students as well as the entire Columbia community, hoping to reach a wide array of people.
Fried said he believes Columbia is an ideal city for this type of series.
“If the first talk is any indication, it's a great way to recharge on a Sunday afternoon,” Fried said in an email. “The talks are short and lively, the coffee is provided free by Kaldi's, and Dr. West and her mother provide amazing baked treats.
Michael Budds of the music department will lecture next month about Guiseppe Verdi, in honor of the composer’s 200th birthday. It will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13.