By studying women in the literary roles they occupy, regardless of prominence, we can develop insight into how these women think.
What place should female authors have in the Core Curriculum?
The most common criticism of Columbia College’s Core Curriculum is its lack of female authors. The simple response is that the most influential thinkers in Western civilization were, by and large, men. Works authored by women became prominent only in the last few hundred years, long after most works in Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization were written. But many feel that Core courses’ syllabi should still be expanded to include more female voices to highlight women’s role in the progression of Western thought. In this week’s Canon, we asked our contributors what the role of female authors in the Core should be. How should women’s contributions to Western thought be represented on syllabi meant to span thousands of years of literature and philosophy? Why is it important that we focus on female authors’ works if they were not the ones most influential in their time? Should these works penned by women be incorporated into already-existing courses, or should we create new courses to balance out the “dead white men,” à la Global Core requirement?
Emma Finder and Dan Garisto
Editorial Page Editors
If the University were to add a course devoted to questions of identity, gender, and bias, the College would not only engage an untapped branch of historical and philosophical thinking, but in doing so, Columbia College would also challenge its own history.
Modern ideas of how women are valued overlooks traditional honoring of women as mothers and central household figures.
If the Core Curriculum aims to truly capture the influential thought-leaders of a given time, then excluding most women is only honest. Why not spotlight women in their own course instead?