The End of An Era: Literature Humanities


A fraction of the books I read this semester

Controversy aside, as of 3:30pm on Friday May 10, the Columbia class of 2016 is finished with lit hum for good.  (And then 90 minutes later I turned in my last Uwriting paper, but that felt less majestic.)  I don't know how other people felt about this class, but I can say it was the most worthwhile English class I have ever been forced to take.  I know a lot of people who never opened a book for it, but I also know a lot of people who read them all.  I must confess that I never managed to finish Pride and Prejudice, but that was not because I did not have time; I simply did not like the book.  But other than that one minor flaw, I managed to read all 20 books.  Some of them were awful, for example I will never read past the nine chapters required of Augustine's Confessions, and I will probably never read the two remaining parts of Dante's Divine Comedy.  Some of them were great and life-changing, like To The Lighthouse, which I don't know if I will ever fully understand.

That being said, lit hum is about more than just the books.  Ideally a class will stay together for both semesters, making it one of the only two classes at Columbia to foster that sense of community.  I was lucky to have an interesting and diverse class along with an amazing teacher.  I never would have understood the depths of The Aeneid if it had not been for class discussions, and I would not be half the writer I am now if Prof. Knapp had not given me such useful feedback.  And while her final which differed from the standard lit hum final took us longer and made our hands more sore, I don't regret any of the work for that class.  


Finals studying last semester
But the most important thing that I can take out of that class is reading.  I now know that I can read Inferno in an hour and Tolstoy's Childhood, Boyhood, Youth in a mere five.  I have faith in my ability to read and comprehend other masterpieces of western literature that did not make the syllabus.  I discovered my passion for Russian literature.  I know that whatever books end up on my summer reading list will be read.  The classics no longer scare me, and even War and Piece seems conquerable. I'm going to miss spending monday and wednesday from 2:10-4 in Hamilton 309 every week, and I'm going to miss scheduling time to read these great books.  Because when it comes down to it, yes, lit hum is a lot of reading.  But when else in life can a person sit down and read an amazing books without feeling guilty?  

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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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