Conversations At Columbia

For more than 100 years, the core curriculum at Columbia has been shaping the minds of its students. For every book read, students immerse themselves in new societies and cultures and explore themes and questions that generations of people have grappled with. Through analyzing literature spanning nearly 3 millenia, Columbia students engage with complex texts which challenge cultural and societal norms; in exploring these past cultures, students  reflect on their own values, actions, and perspectives.

Today, during Conversations at Columbia, Ben Erger(CC ‘24), Artem Ilyanok (CC ‘24) and Madeleine Birdsell (CC 22’) discuss the history, present and future of literature humanities. As students in this class, they have a unique perspective about the role each book in the curriculum plays in the Literature Humanities experience; in this episode of the podcast, they critique the Literature Humanities curriculum and propose positive changes to it. In particular, they address   common criticisms about the core’s modern relevance (or lack thereof).. During their conversation, they also speak about the goals of the class, and if the current books achieve them the way that they are ostensibly supposed to.

The conversation writ large analyzes these issues through the lens of community and individual values. Reflecting on the current syllabus, the hosts discuss the extent to which the Lithum canon communicates and articulates values that are prescient to them as students. In this discussion, they address questions of value-interpretation and consider how students ought to engage with the values they encounter in the various books they read throughout the semester.  Finally, toward the end of the episode, each of the hosts proposes an addition to the Lithum syllabus which they feel addresses the main issues within the curriculum. By the end of the episode, it is the hosts’ hope that listeners will not only come away with an understanding of the merits and flaws of the Literature Humanities curriculum, but also critically consider proposed changes to it and perhaps even come up with some of their own.