Great Books

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See also Wikipedia's article about "Great Books".

The Greak Books philosophy of education advocates the teaching of canonical and "classic" works, primarily of literature and philosophy. This method undergirds the present-day Core Curriculum, particularly the central classes of Lit Hum and Contemporary Civilization, although the latter has not always been guided by it.

The first advocates for the Great Books were almost all Columbia scholars. John Erskine, Mortimer Adler, and Mark Van Doren were the most prominent among them.

Although often associated with the heavily-criticized Eurocentric aspects of the Core, the Great Books philosophy has in recent decades been translated to the study of non-European cultures. The work of William Theodore de Bary has been central to this effort; in the 1980s, he proposed that the Major Cultures requirement of the Core be reformed to include Great Books seminars on Asian civilizations. The plan was not implemented, but two such classes, covering the Middle East and South Asia on one hand and East Asia on the other, were created to serve this purpose, and are known colloquially as Asian Humanities.

Great Books is also the title of a book by alum David Denby on his experiences retaking the Core.

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