Lessons Learned: Give Me a Novel, a Play, a Poem

The pandemic has shown, and will continue to show, how important the humanities are to the major questions a society must ask during a time like this.

Sarah Cole
June 29, 2020

It has been a difficult time for the humanities nationwide. With funding and new academic jobs already in a precarious state, the pandemic has brought these to a standstill. Many fear that it will be years, if ever, before these disciplines can rebound, with great jobs for our graduate students, support for our courses and our projects and a larger sense of the value of a humanistic education.

At the same time, one thing the COVID crisis has shown is that the humanities are more vital than ever. The intellectual work of our disciplines allows us to see how health, disease and collective life are inseparable categories, tying together, as they always have, foundational forces in human life and aspiration. I have been inspired by how quickly and forcefully our faculty and students have seen the applicability of the pandemic to their work, and the centrality of their work to understanding the pandemic.

Rest of article can be found in Columbia News.

Sarah Cole is Humanities Dean and Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia.