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.. Through analyzing literature spanning nearly 3 millenia, Columbia students engage with complex texts which challenge cultural and societal norms. Through exploring these past cultures, students must 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. Despite Lithum’s significance, a common criticism is if the curriculum lives up to the core’s goal of preparing us for the future ahead. During their conversation, they speak about the goals of the class, and if the current books meet the goals that the university sets.

Throughout the conversation, they discuss the ways in which the current works on the syllabus look at community and individual values. Reflecting on the current syllabus, they speak to the extent about how well the books communicate and articulate values that are valuable to them as students. They grapple with the ways in which students should take values from the works-should they take them literally, or should they view them from a more distanced perspective, looking at the ways community and individual values have evolved over time. Each of them see room for a new work that incorporates values more pertinent to them. From their own experience reading the works throughout the year, they each propose a new book which they feel will build on the current syllabus’ selection of literary works. 

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