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Always Do the Reading
This class was tough.
The idea of a "core" or "canon" in literature and philosophy is difficult to concretely pin down, for the main voices of history are not always the "right" voices of history, and it is difficult to portray the multiplicity of past voices and stories in a world that preserves and passes down the tales of the victors. The "core" at Columbia has been polished for years; the order of its texts is deliberate and fascinating, and all impart valuable information. Yet Lit Hum is not complete, and never will be. Its desired scope is not to be: too many voices have been trampled, the victims silenced, and so many "masterpieces of Western literature" destined not to be. Yet this course, (dependent to some degree on the earnestness and awareness of its professor) provides an amazing critical outlet for looking at the Western canon with new eyes - and that is so necessary to the canon's growth and improvement.
I gained a much more thorough, nuanced understanding of some formative texts in the Western canon, and how they reflect older and contemporary Western values alike.
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
Read as much of the texts as possible - though with the Iliad, it's ok to skip a few books. The discussions are the most important part of the class, so make sure you have enough understanding of the text to contribute meaningfully.