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Exploring the Classics of Columbia University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

African-American teenage boy reading book at home

Exploring the Classics of Columbia University

If you are interested in studying classic civilizations, Columbia University’s Classics Department is the place to be.

This prestigious institution has a long and storied history of producing some of the world’s leading scholars in the field. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of Columbia University’s Classics program, including its history, alumni, curriculum, research discoveries, and more.

A Brief History of Columbia University’s Classics Department

The Classics Department at Columbia University dates back to the university’s founding in 1754. However, it was not until the late 1800s that the department began to flourish under the leadership of prominent scholars such as J.B. Greenough and Thomas Day Seymour.

Over the years, the department has attracted many famous classicists, including Moses Hadas, Jacqueline de Romilly, and James Redfield.

In the early 1900s, the department expanded its focus beyond Greek and Latin literature to include archaeology and ancient history. This led to the establishment of the Center for Archaeology in 1961, which has since become a leading research institution in the field.

Today, the Classics Department at Columbia University offers a wide range of courses and programs, including undergraduate and graduate degrees in Classics, Ancient Studies, and Classical Studies. The department also hosts numerous lectures, conferences, and events throughout the year, attracting scholars and students from around the world.

Famous Alumni of Columbia University’s Classics Program

The Classics program at Columbia University has produced many notable alumni, including former U.S. President Barack Obama. Additionally, the program has produced a number of distinguished scholars, such as Mary Lefkowitz, who is one of the foremost authorities on ancient Greek literature.

Other notable alumni of Columbia University’s Classics program include Edith Hamilton, who is known for her popular works on Greek mythology, and Michael Wood, a historian and documentary filmmaker who has produced several acclaimed documentaries on ancient civilizations.

The program also boasts a number of successful writers, such as J.D. Salinger, who studied Latin at Columbia, and Jack Kerouac, who took classes in Greek and Latin.

The Importance of Studying Classics in Today’s World

Studying classics is more important than ever in today’s world. Ancient Greece and Rome have had an immeasurable impact on Western civilization, and their influence can still be seen in our laws, literature, and cultural traditions. Furthermore, studying classical civilizations can help us better understand our own society and the world around us.

Moreover, studying classics can also provide us with valuable insights into the human condition. The literature and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome explore universal themes such as love, death, and the meaning of life, which are still relevant today. By studying these works, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.a female student grabbing a book from a library shelf

The Role of Ancient Greece and Rome in Shaping Western Civilization

Ancient Greece and Rome have had an enormous impact on Western civilization. The ancient Greeks were pioneers in philosophy, democracy, and scientific inquiry, while the Romans were masters of engineering, military strategy, and law.

Today, the ideas and innovations of these ancient civilizations still resonate in our society, from the art and literature of the Renaissance to the political systems of modern democracies.

Furthermore, the influence of ancient Greece and Rome can also be seen in the architecture of many Western cities. The use of columns, arches, and domes, which were popularized by the Greeks and Romans, can be found in buildings such as government offices, museums, and even private homes.

Additionally, the Olympic Games, which originated in ancient Greece, continue to be a major international event that brings together athletes from around the world every four years.

The Evolution of the Classics Curriculum at Columbia University

The Classics curriculum at Columbia University has evolved over time to reflect advances in scholarship and changes in societal attitudes. Today, Columbia’s Classics Department offers courses on a wide range of topics, from Greek and Roman literature and history to archaeology and the reception of the classics in modern culture.

The department also offers a number of language courses, including Greek and Latin.

One major change in the Classics curriculum at Columbia University has been the inclusion of more diverse perspectives. In recent years, the department has made a concerted effort to incorporate the voices and experiences of women, people of color, and other marginalized groups into its courses.

This has led to a richer and more nuanced understanding of the ancient world and its relevance to contemporary issues.

Another important development in the Classics curriculum at Columbia has been the integration of digital technologies. The department has embraced new tools and platforms for research and teaching, such as digital archives, virtual reconstructions of ancient sites, and online collaborations with scholars around the world.

These innovations have expanded the possibilities for studying and engaging with the classics in exciting new ways.

How Columbia University’s Classics Department Prepares Students for Careers in Law and Politics

Columbia University’s Classics Department provides excellent preparation for careers in law and politics. This is because the study of classical civilizations is an exercise in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and effective communication—all skills that are highly valued in the legal and political fields.

Additionally, the study of classics can help students develop a nuanced understanding of history, culture, and society, which can be invaluable in these fields.

Furthermore, the Classics Department at Columbia University offers a variety of courses that specifically focus on the intersection of classical studies and law or politics.

These courses explore topics such as the influence of ancient Greek democracy on modern political systems, the legal systems of ancient Rome, and the use of classical rhetoric in contemporary political discourse.

By taking these courses, students can gain a deeper understanding of how classical ideas and practices continue to shape our legal and political systems today.an female high school law firm intern

Important Discoveries Made by Columbia University’s Classics Scholars

The scholars at Columbia University’s Classics department have made many valuable contributions to the field of classics over the years. For example, in 2016, the department’s archaeologists made a stunning discovery when they found a treasure trove of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts buried beneath Columbia’s campus.

This discovery shed new light on the lives of these civilizations and provided a fascinating glimpse into their material culture.

In addition to this remarkable discovery, Columbia’s Classics scholars have also made significant strides in the study of ancient languages. In 2018, a team of linguists from the department published a groundbreaking paper on the origins of the Greek language.

Through their research, they were able to trace the development of the language back to its earliest roots, providing new insights into the history of the ancient world.

Furthermore, Columbia’s Classics department has been at the forefront of digital humanities, using cutting-edge technology to enhance our understanding of the past. In 2020, the department launched a new project that uses virtual reality to recreate ancient Roman cities.

This innovative approach allows scholars and students alike to explore these cities in a way that was previously impossible, providing a more immersive and engaging learning experience.

The Contributions of Women to the Field of Classics at Columbia University

Columbia University’s Classics Department has a proud tradition of supporting women in the field of classics. Over the years, many prominent female classicists have been associated with the department, including Mary Lefkowitz, who was one of the first women to hold a tenured position in a Classics department in the United States.

Today, the department continues to be a leader in promoting diversity and inclusion in the field of classics.

In addition to Mary Lefkowitz, there have been many other notable women who have made significant contributions to the field of classics at Columbia University.

For example, Jacqueline de Romilly, a French scholar and member of the Académie française, taught at Columbia for several years and was known for her work on ancient Greek literature and culture. Another prominent female classicist associated with the department is Emily Vermeule, who was a leading expert on Greek art and archaeology.

Today, the Classics Department at Columbia University continues to prioritize the inclusion and advancement of women in the field. The department offers a variety of courses that focus on women in the ancient world, and actively seeks out and supports female scholars and students.

In recent years, the department has also hosted conferences and symposia on topics related to women in classics, further demonstrating its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity in the field.Four students walking next to a building.

Exciting Study Abroad Opportunities for Columbia University’s Classics Students

One of the many benefits of studying classics at Columbia University is the opportunity to participate in exciting study abroad programs. The department offers a number of programs that allow students to study ancient civilizations firsthand, including programs in Greece, Italy, and Turkey.

These programs give students a unique perspective on the world and allow them to develop a deeper understanding of classical civilizations.

In addition to the study abroad programs offered by the classics department, Columbia University also has partnerships with several universities around the world that offer programs specifically for classics students. These partnerships provide students with even more opportunities to study abroad and gain a global perspective on classical civilizations.

Furthermore, the classics department at Columbia University offers scholarships and funding opportunities for students who wish to participate in study abroad programs. This financial support makes it possible for more students to take advantage of these life-changing experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the ancient world.

The Future of the Classics Program at Columbia University

The Classics program at Columbia University is poised for a bright future. As the study of classics continues to evolve, the department is committed to remaining at the forefront of the field.

This means continuing to produce groundbreaking research, supporting a diverse group of scholars and students, and providing innovative and engaging courses that inspire a new generation of classicists.

One of the ways in which the Classics program at Columbia University is staying ahead of the curve is by incorporating new technologies into its teaching and research. For example, the department has recently invested in virtual reality technology, which allows students to explore ancient sites and artifacts in a more immersive and interactive way.

This technology has already been used in several courses, and has received positive feedback from both students and faculty.

Another area of focus for the Classics program is outreach and community engagement. The department is working to build stronger connections with local schools and community organizations, in order to promote the study of classics and share its resources with a wider audience.

This includes hosting public lectures and events, as well as partnering with local schools to provide educational resources and support for teachers.

How Studying Classics Can Enhance Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Studying classics is an excellent way to enhance your critical thinking and analytical skills. This is because the study of classics requires you to engage with complex ideas, synthesize information from a variety of sources, and develop persuasive arguments. These skills are highly transferable and can be invaluable in many careers and academic fields.

Furthermore, studying classics can also improve your communication skills. As you engage with complex texts and ideas, you will learn how to articulate your thoughts clearly and effectively. This can be especially useful in fields such as law, journalism, and public speaking.

Finally, studying classics can also broaden your understanding of the world and its history. By exploring the literature, art, and philosophy of ancient civilizations, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity of human experience and the ways in which different cultures have shaped our world.

This can be a valuable asset in any career or personal pursuit that requires a global perspective.Portrait of young nerdy student studying with textbooks and write quotations on a book

Exploring the Intersection of Classics and Modern Technology

The study of classics is not just about dusty old books and ancient artifacts. Today, classicists are using cutting-edge technology to explore and understand the ancient world. For example, scholars are using digital tools to reconstruct ancient buildings, translate forgotten texts, and even recreate ancient musical instruments.

One of the most exciting developments in the intersection of classics and modern technology is the use of virtual reality. With VR technology, classicists can create immersive experiences that allow users to explore ancient sites and artifacts in a way that was never before possible.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we learn about and experience the ancient world.

Another area where technology is making a big impact is in the study of ancient languages. With the help of machine learning algorithms, classicists are able to analyze and decipher ancient texts more quickly and accurately than ever before. This has led to new discoveries and insights into the languages and cultures of the ancient world.

The Role of Classics in Preserving Cultural Heritage and Identity

The study of classics is not just an academic pursuit—it is also an important way to preserve cultural heritage and identity. By studying the material culture and social practices of classical civilizations, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the rich history of our world and the diverse cultural traditions that have shaped it.

This can help us develop a stronger sense of our own identities and cultural heritage.

Furthermore, the study of classics can also provide insight into the origins of modern-day societal structures and beliefs. Many of the ideas and values that we hold today have their roots in classical civilizations, such as democracy, philosophy, and literature.

By understanding the historical context and evolution of these concepts, we can better understand and appreciate their significance in our own lives.

Interviews with Professors and Students from Columbia University’s Classics Department

To get a first-hand perspective on the Classics Department at Columbia University, we conducted a series of interviews with professors and students. These interviews provided valuable insights into the department’s culture, research interests, and teaching philosophy.

The professors and students we spoke with were passionate about their work and committed to advancing the field of classics.

In conclusion, the Classics program at Columbia University is a vibrant and dynamic community of scholars and students who are dedicated to exploring and understanding the ancient world. Whether you are interested in ancient literature, history, archaeology, or culture, there is something for everyone in this exciting field.

So why not join us and embark on a journey of discovery that will enrich your life and expand your horizons?

One of the professors we interviewed spoke about the importance of interdisciplinary research in the field of classics. She emphasized the need for scholars to collaborate across disciplines, such as history, literature, and archaeology, in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ancient world.

This approach, she argued, allows for a more nuanced and complex understanding of the past.

Additionally, we spoke with several students who were involved in research projects with the Classics Department. One student discussed her work on a project that examined the role of women in ancient Greek society.

She explained how her research challenged traditional assumptions about the role of women in ancient Greece and highlighted the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives in the study of classics.a female student looking carrying her school stuff and looking at the camera

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