Kathy Hannah Eden

Kathy H. Eden is the Chavkin Family Professor of English Literature and Professor of Classics. She received her B.A. from Smith, her Ph.D. from Stanford, and has been teaching at Columbia since 1980. Professor Eden teaches both Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization--Columbia's core curriculum courses upon which Freedom and Citizenship's seminar is based. She specifically studies the history of rhetorical and poetic theory in antiquity, which is why she's a perfect person to speak to our students on Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. 

Her books include Poetic and Legal Fiction in The Aristotelian Tradition and Friends Hold All Things in Common: Tradition, Intellectual Property and the ‘Adages’ of Erasmus. Her most recent book, The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy (2012) examines how writers of the Renaissance were influenced in their own writing by reading the letters Ancient Greeks and Romans (including Aristotle, Cicero, and Plato) wrote to their closest friends. 

In 1998 Dr. Eden won the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates and in 2001 the Mark Van Doren Award and the Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum. In an article about her teaching in Columbia College Today, Professor Eden revealed that in addition to speaking French, Spanish, Italian, German, and some Japanese, she memorized all of Hamlet when she was 15.

Professor Eden's Courses

  • Plato the Rhetorician(Seminar). Although Socrates takes a notoriously dim view of persuasion and the art that produces it, the Platonic dialogues featuring him both theorize and practice a range of rhetorical strategies that become the nuts and bolts of persuasive argumentation. This seminar will read a number of these dialogues, including ApologyProtagorasIonGorgiasPhaedrusMenexenus and Republic, followed by Aristole's Rhetoric, the rhetorical manual of Plato's student that provides our earliest full treatment of the art.