Video / Audio

New Books in the Arts and Sciences at Columbia University: a podcast featuring audio from the New Books Series at Columbia University and interviews with the speakers and authors. This podcast features Anna Karenina and Others: Tolstoy’s Labyrinth of Plots by Liza Knapp.

New Books in the Society of Fellows: Celebrating Recent Work by David Russell and Emily Ogden

New Books in the Arts and Sciences at Columbia University: a podcast featuring audio from the New Books Series at Columbia University and interviews with the speakers and authors. This podcast features How Russia Learned to Write: Literature and the Imperial Table of Ranks by Irina Reyfman.

This book focuses on six brilliant women who are often seen as particularly tough-minded: Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus, and Joan Didion. Aligned with no single tradition, they escape straightforward categories. Yet their work evinces an affinity of style and philosophical viewpoint that derives from a shared attitude toward suffering. What Mary McCarthy called a “cold eye” was not merely a personal aversion to displays of emotion: it was an unsentimental mode of attention that dictated both ethical positions and aesthetic approaches.

Lucy Delap, University of Cambridge ‘Men, feminism and rethinking sex in late twentieth-century Britain’

Colin Barrett is the author of Young Skins, a debut collection of stories, which won the Guardian First Book Award, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Barrett will read from some of his work and converse with Colm Tóibín, whose own highly acclaimed fiction includes The Master (2004), Brooklyn (2009), Nora Webster (2014) and, most recently, House of Names (2017). Award-winning author Sam Lipsyte, Chair of The Writing Program, will introduce.

n 1872, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Science does not know its debt to imagination," words that still ring true in the worlds of health and health care today. We know a great deal about the empirical aspects of medicine, but we know far less about what the medical imagination is, what it does, how it works, or how we might train it. But it was not always so. In this lecture, Sari Altschuler will be talking about her new book on the history of the medical imagination. During the 18th and 19th centuries in the United States, doctors understood the imagination to be directly connected to health, intimately involved in healing, and central to medical discovery. Literature provided health writers important forms for crafting, testing, and implementing theories of health. Reading and writing poetry trained judgment, cultivated inventiveness, sharpened observation, and supplied evidence for medical research, while novels and short stories offered new sites for experimenting with original medical theories. Health research and practice relied on a broader complex of knowing, in which imagination often worked with observation, experience, and empirical research. In reframing the historical relationship between literature and health, The Medical Imagination provides a usable past for our own conversations about the imagination and the humanities in health research and practice today.

This talk contrasts the drug testing methods of two sixteenth-century alchemical empirics. Andreas Berthold validated his Paracelsian poison antidote (also deemed a cure-all) by letting learned physicians conduct poison trials at German courts, in which test subjects (several dogs and a convict) took poison, followed by the antidote. Georg Amwald, in contrast, scoffed at this method and instead included patient testimonial letters as evidence of the efficacy of his panacea poison antidote - a method also used by earlier alchemists such as Leonardo Fioravanti but derided by physicians. These cases elucidate the tricky problem of proof and evidence in early modern drug testing. While poison trials were used at princely courts all over Europe and appeared to give a definitive answer, they could also be dismissed as singular tricks. Testimonial letters, meanwhile, had perceived problems of trustworthiness. I argue that the boundaries of proof were contested and depended largely on the professional designation of the tester.