Roosevelt Montás

Roosevelt Montás is Director of the Freedom and Citizenship Program.  He was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York as a teenager.  He attended public schools in Queens and was admitted to Columbia College in 1991 through its Opportunity Programs. He graduated from Columbia in 1995 with a major in Comparative Literature. In 2003, he completed a Ph.D. in English, also at Columbia, where he began teaching in the faculty of the English Department in 2004. From 2008 to 2018, he served as Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia College. Roosevelt specializes in Antebellum American literature and culture, with a particular interest in American national identity. His dissertation, Rethinking America, won Columbia University’s 2004 Bancroft Award.  In 2000, he received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student and in 2008, he received the Dominican Republic’s National Youth Prize. He regularly teaches moral and political philosophy in the Columbia Core Curriculum as well seminars in American Studies. Roosevelt speaks widely on the history, place, and future of the humanities in the higher education and is the author of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation (Princeton University Press, 2021). 

Professor Montás's College Courses

  • Freedom and Citizenship in the United States: This seminar examines foundational texts and debates in American political and cultural history.  The inherent tension between “freedom” and “citizenship” serves as the organizing theme. The course is conceived in the model of Contemporary Civilization (CC) and, as in that course, we focus exclusively on primary texts, the order of readings is roughly chronological, and the class is discussion-driven. We begin with readings from the Puritan settlement of New England and continue with documents surrounding the Revolution, the early Republic, the Civil War, Reconstruction, liberalism, the Civil Rights Movement, and contemporary debates about the nature of American national identity. In addition to the classroom requirements, students serve a minimum of four hours a week at the Double Discovery Center (DDC) in connection with the Freedom and Citizenship Project, which DDC conducts in partnership with the American Studies Program.