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!

Spring 2018 Colloquia

Song Cycles

Susan Boynton
Tuesdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm

This colloquium will be led by Susan Boynton, Professor of Music. The course will study several Romantic song cycles and conclude with Schoenberg’s early modernist cycle, Pierrot Lunaire. We will focus on the composers’ creative interpretations of the poems they select and set, and on the structures of the cycles. We will address the following subjects: 1. How musical settings shape our reading of poems; 2. What makes these collections cycles; 3. The construction of narrative in each cycle; 4. The expression of Romantic concepts of self and subjectivity in each cycle; 5. The cultural and historical contexts that inform the meanings of the works. The syllabus below presents a weekly schedule of the compositions we will study. Recommended recordings and other resources are listed below the syllabus. Most recordings can be found on Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music and the Columbia University Libraries. Further suggestions for reading and recommended recordings are available upon request.

Download Syllabus and Schedule

John Milton

Julie Crawford
Thursdays, 5:00pm-7:00pm

This colloquium will be led by Julie Crawford, the Mark Van Doren Professor of Humanities and current Chair of Literature Humanities. The seventeenth-century writer John Milton was famous first as a revolutionary and polemicist, and, later, as a poet. In this class we will look first at his famous defense of a free press, Areopagitica (1644), and then at his great epic poem, Paradise Lost (1667). Paradise Lost is at once a biting indictment of political turpitude, tyranny and war-mongering; a brilliant (and somewhat heretical) account of a vitalist universe; a revision of the entire epic tradition, including the very nature of heroism; an unsparing examination of Christian theology; and a love story that refuses easy pronouncements about gender and sexuality.

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 Clarence Coaxum 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.