Thursday, November 15, 2007

Humanities A

Jacques Barzun stated four crucial beliefs supporting the new course: “First, that a college granting the Bachelor of Arts degree should not merely pave the way to professional training, but should try to produce educated men. Second, that if educated men are those who possess an inner life of sufficient richness to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, they must have learned to feed their souls upon good books, pictures, and music. Third, that the memorizing of labels, catchwords, and secondhand judgments about art and books is not educative in any real sense. And lastly, that to know and to be at home with books a man must at some time or other read them for the first time.”23 Overall, Humanities A focused on important books read as humane texts rather than as adjuncts to courses in literature, philosophy, or history. The course emphasized that these books “address themselves primarily to man as man, and only secondarily to man as philosopher, historian, or college undergraduate.”24

23Jacques Barzun, “Teaching the Humanities,” Columbia University Quarterly 30 (1938), p. 197.
24[Barzun,] A College Program in Action: A Review of Working Principles at Columbia College (New York: Columbia University Press, 1946), p. 105.

— Timothy P. Cross, An Oasis of Order: The Core Curriculum at Columbia College, Chapter 2.

See also Faculty Profiles.