Introduction


When the first University Professorships were established at Columbia, they were limited to three—a highly exclusive and selective group: Lionel Trilling ’25CC ’38GSAS, Jacques Barzun ’27CC ’32GSAS, and Meyer Schapiro ’24CC ’35GSAS ’75HON. These men were obvious choices at the time, distinguished not only by their exceptional scholarly attainments, but by two other shared features: they were home-bred New Yorkers and graduates of Columbia College and the Columbia Graduate Faculties.

Trilling has been the subject of a Living Legacies essay (Summer 2001), and Barzun has given us an account of the history department (Winter 2000), although an essay on Barzun himself is still to come. Meanwhile, David Rosand ’59CC ’65GSAS has prepared an account of art history at Columbia, featuring the third, Schapiro, to which he adds a vignette of Rudolf Wittkower. Both were teachers of Rosand’s as well as leaders in the establishment of art history as one of Columbia's most distinguished departments.

A third major figure in the ascendancy of art history is Rosand himself, who, like Schapiro, earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at Columbia. He has produced work that ranges from Renaissance painting and poetry to graphic arts and modern art, as shown in the publications Titian (1978), The Meaning of the Mark: Leonardo and Titian (1988), Painting in Sixteenth-Century Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto (1982, rev. 1997), and Robert Motherwell on Paper (1997). His most recent books are Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State (2001) and Drawing Acts: Studies in Graphic Expression and Representation (2002).

Rosand’s administrative service to the University has also been noteworthy through two terms as chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, as chair of Art Humanities in the College, and as chair of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities. His contribution as a teacher was recognized by the Great Teacher Award conferred on him by the Society of Columbia Graduates in 1997. With other colleagues, he was also a recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Medal, for distinguished service to the Core Curriculum.

At the convocation held in St. Paul’s Chapel in May 2002 for graduate students in arts and sciences who would receive their degrees at Commencement the next day, Martha S. Jones ’01GSAS, a candidate for the PhD in history, was asked to represent her fellow graduates as a principal speaker at the ceremony. She chose to talk about her experience as a student reliving, in her own way and time, the life of Thomas Merton ’38CC ’39GSAS, which she had read about in his spiritual autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain. From this account of his dedication to the religious life, she found much in his experience that resembled her own.

Somewhat in contrast to our earlier Living Legacies essays, here is a young student of history, at the start of her career, reflecting on the thoughts of the young poet and monk at the start of his, 60 years earlier. Jones recalls a legacy of student life on Morningside Heights that carries on its own intellectual tradition, and in this personal account she shows how Merton’s writings gave added meaning and perspective to her own career as a student in the same halls and haunts he knew.

Jones is currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, in the Department of History and in the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies. She is completing a book entitled All Bound Up Together: The “Woman Question” in African-American Public Culture, 1830–1900, an examination of the emergence of African-American women into public life during the nineteenth century.

Wm. Theodore de Bary ’41CC ’53GSAS ’94HON is John Mitchell Mason Professor and
Provost Emeritus of Columbia University.