Friends of the Heyman Center

The Friends of the Heyman Center, under the direction of Gareth Williams, Violin Family Professor of Classics and Chair, Department of Classics, comprises people who help ensure the advancement and vitality of the Heyman Center for the Humanities. For more than twenty-five years, tuition and donations from the Friends colloquia have contributed to a variety of activities, most significantly, the Lionel Trilling Seminar, which is free and open to the public.

The Friends of the Heyman Center offers discussion courses led by Columbia's most renowned teachers and scholars to alumni and friends of the University who wish to continue organized education without the need for academic credit. These colloquia, titled the Carl Hovde Colloquia, are planned as active discussions rather than lectures, and the faculty leaders are among the best teachers in the University. No papers or examinations are required. We charge only a small fraction of normal tuition, and after expenses, these funds help both to improve our programs and maintain the building -- one of the most congenial on campus.

If you would like to donate to the Friends of the Heyman Center, you can do so here. Please enter “Friends of the Heyman Center” in the comment box so that your donation is properly credited.  Thank you!

Fall 2017 Colloquia

The Foundations of American Political Thought

Roosevelt Montas
Wednesdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm

In a series of conversations, we will examine seminal texts in American political and cultural history beginning with the Puritan settlement of New England and continuing with documents surrounding the Revolution, the early Republic, the Civil War, Reconstruction, liberalism, the Civil Rights Movement, and contemporary debates about the nature of American national identity and America’s place in the world. The inherent tension between “freedom” and “citizenship” will serve as the organizing theme. The course is conceived on the model of the Core Curriculum’s Contemporary Civilization (CC) and, like that course, it will focus exclusively on primary texts, with a roughly chronological order of readings and a conversationdriven approach to their analysis.   
This course will be offered from 5 to 7 on the following Wednesdays: September 6th (Common Room); September 20th (Common Room); October 4th (Common Room); November 1st (Board Room); November 15th (Common Room); November 29th (Board Room); December 6th (Common Room) as a make-up day if needed

Download Syllabus and Schedule

Dostoevsky on Brotherhood, Criminal and Social Justice, and Tender Mercies: Notes from the Dead House and The Brothers Karamazov

Liza Knapp
Thursdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm

We will begin with Notes from a Dead House, Dostoevsky’s fictionalized response to his own real experience in Russian prison camp in Siberia. Written after Dostoevsky’s release from prison, as he returned to literary life and as Russia underwent reforms, which included the liberation of the Russian serfs and the reform of the judicial system, this work reveals, perhaps more directly than his later novels, Dostoevsky’s understanding of what it means to be a Russian subject – and what it means to be a human being. Notes from a Dead House is not only a seminal work in the genre of prison literature, but it also contains the seeds of Dostoevsky’s magnum opus The Brothers Karamazov. In our reading of The Brothers Karamazov, we will show how Dostoevsky uses the Karamazov family saga to ask universal questions about brotherly love, nation, human responsibility, and God. 

This course will meet from 5 to 7 on the following Thursdays: September 14th (Board Room); September 28th (Board Room); October 12th (Board Room); October 26th (Common Room); November 9th (Board Room); November 30th (Common Room); December 7th (Common Room) as a make-up day if needed. 

Download Syllabus and Schedule

General Colloquia Information

We offer two courses each term, typically one dealing with East/West topics, and another about some aspect of Western thought. Classes meet from 5:30-7:30 every other week for six sessions. This fall and spring the charge is $500 for one course and $800 for both - and at this higher level, spouses are welcome without further charge. You would pay far more for courses carrying academic credit, and at the Heyman Center, you will be studying with Columbia's finest teachers.

Books for both courses can be purchased at Book Culture, 546 West 112th Street (formerly Labyrinth Books), located on 112th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, and can be reached by phone at 212-865-1588. These courses are not listed in the regular University Bulletin; if there is confusion, ask for the text-book department.


Additional support beyond our fees is very much appreciated and brings notices of the Thursday Lecture Series at the Heyman Center. All support beyond the course charge is fully tax-deductible. A gift of $25 or more also brings a subscription to the Columbia University Record. Acceptance is on a first come, first served basis, and you will be notified of your registration status upon the Heyman Center's receipt of your registration form with payment.

To register for one or both of this semester's colloquia, download, complete, and return the

Registration Form (pdf)

Please contact Iliana Ortega at 212-854-4631 with any questions.

500 for admission for an individual to one colloquium

750 for admission to  one colloquium for registrant and guest

750 for admission for an individual to both colloquiua in the same semester

1000 for admission for both colloquiua in the same semester for registrant and guest.