Images representing the Iliad, and Don Quixote, and students in class discussions.

Literature Humanities

HUMA CC1001 and HUMA CC1002Literature Humanities or “Lit Hum,” as it is popularly known, is a year-long course that offers students the opportunity to engage in intensive study and discussion of significant works.

Part of the Core Curriculum since 1937, Literature Humanities is not a survey with a fixed syllabus, but an ever-evolving series of careful selected readings that reward both first encounters and long study. Whether classwork focuses attention on the formal elements of the text, its importance to literary history, or on its significance to contemporary culture and issues, the goal is to consider a range of perspectives across time and cultures that can enhance our understanding of the world and foster a deeper sense of empathy, while also developing crucial skills in close reading, critical thinking, writing, and academic discussion through the analysis of literary works.

Instructors from a range of departments and disciplines meet with groups of approximately twenty-two students for four hours a week in order to discuss texts by Enheduanna, Homer, Sappho, Aeschylus, Suzan-Lori Parks, Plato, Vergil, Apuleius, Augustine, Ibn ‘Arabi, Marie de France, Dante, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Austen, Machado de Assis, Dostoevsky, Woolf, Morrison, and Rankine, as well as Hebrew Scriptures, Gospels, the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, and the anonymous Life of Aesop.

For information about registering for Literature Humanities, please refer to the College Bulletin, GS Bulletin, or SEAS Bulletin and consult your Advising Dean.

Paul Brooke Program Chair for Literature Humanities
Portrait of Professor Josef Howley
Joseph A. Howley

Associate Professor of Classics

601 Hamilton Hall

(212) 854-7856

The Readings


Homer, Iliad
Enheduanna, “The Exaltation of Inana” *
Enuma Elish *
Homer, Odyssey
Sappho, If Not, Winter
Song of Songs
Aeschylus, Oresteia
Parks, Father Comes Home from the Wars
Plato, Symposium
Virgil, Aeneid
Life of Aesop
Apuleius, The Golden Ass


Augustine, Confessions
Ibn ‘Arabi, The Translator of Desires
Marie de France, The Lais of Marie de France
Dante, Inferno
Montaigne, Essays *
Shakespeare, Othello
Cervantes, Don Quixote
Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Machado de Assis, The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas
Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Morrison, Song of Solomon
Rankine, Citizen

Text Availability

All readings marked with an asterisk (*) are available to faculty online in the Lit Hum Reader and should be shared with students on CourseWorks. All other readings can be purchased through the Columbia University Bookstore. Digital and print copies of most books can be borrowed from Butler Library.

Students who identify as first-generation, low-income students may use the First-Generation, Low-Income (FLI) Partnership Library. Their website has instructions on how to borrow books from the FLI Library’s collection of digital and print copies and a guide to other low-cost options.

If you are having difficulty obtaining the required texts for any reason, please write to the Center for the Core Curriculum: