Sunday, March 26, 2006

Carl E. Schorske

. . . I enrolled in Columbia’s two-year humanities Colloquium, which allowed one to construct one’s own program. Colloquium was centered in great books seminars conceived in a more classical spirit than usual in the university’s prevailing pragmatist culture. The seminars were team-taught by truly outstanding young faculty members, such as Moses Hadas and Theodoric Westbrook, Lionel Trilling and Jacques Barzun. Watching their play of minds on the texts awoke in me for the first time a sense of the sheer intellectual delight of ideas. . . .

In [my junior year] I enrolled in young Jacques Barzun’s course in 19th-century intellectual history. Barzun simply overwhelmed his few students with the range of the subject and the brilliance of his exploration of it. At work on his biography of Hector Berlioz, Barzun injected much musical material into his course. While I shared with my classmates the exciting experience that this course turned out to be, I drew one rather personal conclusion from it: intellectual history was a field in which my two principal extra-academic interests—music and politics—could be studied not in their usual isolation, but in their relationship under the ordinance of time.—Carl E. Schorske, Thinking with History: Explorations in the Passage to Modernism, 1998, p. 20. On the Web as “A Life of Learning”, Charles Homer Haskins Lecture for 1987, American Council of Learned Societies Occasional Paper No. 1