Tumbling in Albany, NY, USA
Posts tagged Columbia University
The other seminar in Modern European history, Charles Downer Hazen’s, was exactly the opposite: it repeated, year after year and was none the less indispensable, because it taught method. The topics were not chosen by the student but assigned. One called for delving into the voluminous Clarke Papers for seventeenth-century radicals, another compelled one to master the figures in one of Disraeli’s budgets, and so on—each as it were featured a type of difficulty. Hazen had every item at his fingertips, and the omission of a single essential point in the report to the class brought the question, “Did you not find, Mr. X (or Miss Y), that… . ?” Known as “the Chevalier” on account of his Legion of Honor for work in France, Hazen was gentle but implacable; an amended paper must be turned in with the lacuna filled. It was no surprise that his two-volume history of the French Revolution was vivid and memorable—no textbook—by virtue of the skilful use of the small detail; and it was characteristic of his unacademic conception of history that he said he reread Carlyle’s French Revolution once a year. Jacques Barzun, Reminiscences of the Columbia History Department, 1923–1975.