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 2018 Colloquia

To Hell and Back

Jennifer Rhodes
Tuesdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm

This colloquium will be led by Jennifer Rhodes, Robert Belknap Core Faculty Fellow in Literature Humanities. This course traces the lasting impact of literary voyages into the underworld. With authors from Augustan Rome through twentieth century France as our guides, we will examine the narrative lineage of hell. To what ends do authors seek to represent this most unimaginable of all possible destinations? What insights can audiences gain from artistic journeys into the underworld and beyond? How do the representations of these journeys shift as the narratives travel across language, time, and medium? Each session will focus on one text and a selection of its artistic descendants, drawn from music, dance, theater, film, and the visual arts. 

Download Syllabus and Schedule

The Book

Joseph Howley
Thursdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm

This colloquium will be led by Joseph Howley, Associate Professor of Classics.  It will explore the history of the book throughout world history, beginning with antiquity and proceeding to the present day.  It will consider 1) the relationship between the history of the book and the history of writing, 2) major inflection points in book technology and culture and how they differ around the world, 3) the book and book culture in popular and literary imaginations, 4) the book today and its future.

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 5:00-7:00pm every other week for six sessions. This fall and spring the charge is $500 for one course and $750 for both. 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 Clarence Coaxum at 212-854-4631 with any questions.

$500 for admission for an individual to one colloquium

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