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The Core Curriculum

"Honors"

Event Date: 
1920

Professor John Erskine's course, the predecessor to today's Literature Humanities.  The basic idea: small groups of students who would read one book a week and subsequently spend a few hours discussing it with a pair of instructors. The main controversy: Erskine's endorsement of reading classics in translation, void of secondary sources or more traditional introductions. Erskine designed the reading list independently. A number of Columbia's best professors, including Mortimer Adler, Mark Van Doren, and Irwin Edman, signed on to teach the course. The course was open only to students who had performed well on special exams, received recommendations, and possessed stellar academic records.