The Center for the Core Curriculum held the inaugural event in its new “Books That Changed My Life” series, which provides a space for Core professors to have intimate and informal conversations with small groups of students about books that had a deep impact on their lives.
Julie Crawford, chair of Literature Humanities and the Mark Van Doren Professor of the Humanities, speaks with students at the inaugural event in the "Books That Changed My Life" series. Photo: Toni Gunthrope-Hardee
“‘Books That Changed My Life’ tries to build on the intimacy of the Core classroom. It's an opportunity for personal and unscripted interaction between students and faculty in an informal setting,” said Roosevelt Montás, director of the Center for the Core Curriculum and associate dean of Academic Planning and Administration. “It is also a way for faculty to reflect in front of our students about the arch of their personal and intellectual lives.”
The conversation, held on December 6 in Schapiro Residence Hall, brought together a small group of students to meet with Julie Crawford, chair of Literature Humanities and the Mark Van Doren Professor of Humanities. She discussed Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality and Charlotte Bronte’s Villette.
“I read the two books in accidental conjunction when I was in college, and they did both change my life, so it seemed right to talk about them with students at that same stage of life,” said Crawford. “I love talking about books with students in a non-classroom setting, because I, and they, feel freer to talk about pleasure, to make more conversational suggestions and segues, to think aloud rather than present.”
The Center for the Core Curriculum plans to organize an event in the series each semester.
“These ruminations can serve as powerful models for our students to think about their own lives and their intellectual development,” added Montás. “The series will allow professors' personal connections to and affinities for books to frame conversations with students not just about texts but about growth, learning, community and the world at-large.