Bwog enlisted freshman correspondent Peter Thompson to report back with all the exciting details of the semester’s first Lit Hum class.
Notebooks and laptops in hand, the thousand or so 2012s filed in to Roone Arledge Auditorium this afternoon for their very first Columbia class. Professor Gareth Williams, chair of Lit Hum, started speaking at 12:35 PM, but it took almost a full minute for the 12s to quiet down.
Williams began by talking about how wonderful the Core, and specifically Lit Hum, is. Then he spent several eloquent minutes waxing poetic about the marvels of the Iliad, calling it a “human document” and saying it exists in a “timeless vacuum.” He also declared it a “miracle of advanced technology.” Just like an iPod.
The highlight of his lecture came when he asked the members of the audience whether they were on Agamemnon’s or Achilles’ side. The first girl who ventured to the mike was wearing a pink bandana, and at first had trouble getting the mike to work, but she told everyone not to worry, she could project.
She then said that she was on “neither side” because both Agamemnon and Achilles “treat women like meat.”
This wasn’t exactly a response Professor Williams had in mind. He said he would “take that point” but that it was a “whole other issue.” But he added that Pink Bandana Girl’s comment illustrated the whole point of Lit Hum, which is that we “talk with each other.”
A more helpful comment came later, when Williams asked whether Achilles was a monster or a hero. One freshman said that “one of the great things about literature is you do not need to take a particular side…[Achilles is] a human being.” Williams really loved that comment, which somehow led him to the epiphany that Achilles is a “rainbow.”
Williams’ lecture was concentrated and efficient, keeping a restless crowd mostly under in control. He ended at 1:25, fifty minutes after he began and a full thirty-five minutes before he was supposed to end.