Literature at Work: The Robert Braham Seminar

Years ago, a medical chief resident suggested that we start a medical center reading group. What started as a handful of residents reading a short story once a month has developed into a graduate-level literature seminar that meets twice a month for the serious study of literature.

Pediatricians, nurses, internists, social workers, medical students, hospital administrators, pathologists, dentists, informatics faculty, psychiatrists, and graduate students in English are some of the participants in the seminar now titled "Literature at Work." Our Literature at Work discussion group has been named to honor Dr. Robert Braham, physician, Director of the Primary Care Residency Program, and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University. Bob Braham passed away suddenly on Tuesday, November 12th, 2002.

Audience: All Columbia faculty and staff are welcome

Chair: Dr. Rita Charon, Chair, Dept. of Medical Humanities & Ethics and division chief of  Narrative Medicine

When: The group meets from 4-5 p.m., the first and third Wednesday of each month in the division conference room, General Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital, 9th floor, East Wing, Room 105 (PH9E-101).

Readings

2020

  • January 15 | Aminatta Forna – Happiness: A Novel
  • January 1 | Cancelled for New Year’s Day – see you January 15!

2019

  • December 18 | Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • December 4 | Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • November 20 | Zora Neale Hurston – Sweat andThe Gilded Six-Bits
  • November 6 | Margaret Atwood – The Testaments
  • October 16 | Margaret Atwood – The Testaments
  • October 2 | Toni Morrison – Jazz
  • September 18 | Toni Morrison – Jazz
  • September 4 | Viet Thanh Ngugen – The Sympathizer
  • August 21 | Viet Thanh Ngugen – The Sympathizer
  • August 7 | NoViolet Bulawayo – We Need New Names
  • July 17 | NoViolet Bulawayo – We Need New Names
  • July 3 | NoViolet Bulawayo – “Shhh” from We Need New Names
  • June 19 | Mavis Gallant – Across the Bridge
  • June 5 | Mavis Gallant – Across the Bridge
  • May 15 | Don DeLillo – White Noise
  • May 1 | Don DeLillo – White Noise
  • April 17 | Karen Russell – “Reeling for the Empire” and “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach” from Vampires in the Lemon Grove
  • April 3 | Karen Russell – “The New Veterans” from Vampires in the Lemon Grove
  • March 20 | Anna Burns – Milkman
  • March 6 | Anna Burns – Milkman
  • February 20 | Louise Erdrich – Love Medicine and Alice Munroe – Floating Bridge
  • February 6 | Louise Erdrich – Love Medicine
  • January 16 | Tommy Orange – There, There

2018

  • December 19 | Patrick Modiano – Missing Person
  • December 5 | Rachel Cusk – Kudos!
  • November 21 | Cancelled for Thanksgiving Holiday – see you December 5!
  • September 19 | Cancelled for Holiday – see you October 3!
  • September 5 | Albert Camus – The Stranger
  • August 15 | Ivan Turgenev – First Love Read it online
  • July 18 & August 1 | Fyodor Dostoevsky – White Nights Read it online
  • June 20 | Nikolai Gogol – The Nose PDF of the story
  • June 6 | Alexander Pushkin – The Queen of Spades PDF of short story
  • May 16 | Julio Cortázar – The Night Face Up a short story Link to PDF of short story
  • May 2 | Julio Cortázar – Axolotl a short story Link to PDF of short story
  • April 18 | Jorge Luis Borges – The Garden of Forking Paths Link toPDF of short story, also author Mohsin Hamid reads from and discusses Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Sand Link to Podcast online
  • April 4 | John Banville – Mrs. Osmond: A novel
  • March 7 & 21 | John Banville – Mrs. Osmond: A novel
  • February 21 | John Banville – Mrs. Osmond: A novel
  • February 7 | Mohsin Hamid – Exit West
  • January 3 & 24 | Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being

2017

  • December 20 | Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being Part I, pages 1-109
  • December 6 | James Baldwin – Sonny’s Blues
  • November 15 | Poem by Emily Dickinson to be provided in the session. There are no pre-readings.
  • November 1 | Yaa Gyasi – Homegoing (first 100 pages for November 1)
  • October 17 | D. H. Lawrence – Odour of Chrysanthemums and if time allows, also The Rocking Horse Winner
  • September 20 & October 4 | Rachel Cusk – Outline
  • August 16 & September 6 | Rachel Cusk – Transit
  • July 19 & August 2 | Michel Houellebecq – The Map and the Territory
  • June 21 & July 5 | Elif Şafak – The Architect’s Apprentice
  • June 7 | Elizabeth Strout – Anything Is Possible
  • May 17 | Henrik Ibsen’s – A Doll’s House
  • April 19, May 3 | Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter
  • March 1 & 15 | Colin Toibin – The Master
  • February 1 & 15 | Honore de Balzac – Pere Goriot
  • December 21, 2016, January 4 & 18, 2017 | Michael Chabon – Moonglow

2016

  • December 7 | Helen Oyeyemi – Boy Snow Bird
  • October 5 – November 16 | Septimania, by Jonathan Levi, with a visit by Jonathon Levi on November 16th
  • September 21 | Colette – Blue Lantern
  • September 7 | William Faulkner – The Bear | Link to story online
  • August 17 | Honoré de Balzac – The Unknown Masterpiece | Link to PDF of story online
  • August 3 | Henry James – The Madonna of the Future | Link to PDF of story online
  • July 20 | Two short stories from The New Yorker (June 6 & 13): Langston Hughes – Seven People Dancing (Link to story online) & Jonathan Safran Foer – Maybe it Was the Distance (Link to story online)
  • July 6 | Short story from The New Yorker (June 6 & 13): Ben Lerner – The Polish Rider | Link to story online
  • June 15 | Short story from The New Yorker (June 6 & 13): Zadie Smith – Two Men Arrive in a Village | Link to story online
  • June 1 | D.H. Lawrence – The Odour of Chrysanthemums | Link to story online
  • May 18 | Ann Burack-Weiss – The Lioness in Winter
  • April 20 & May 4 | Murasaki Shikibu – Tales of Genji (Royall Tylor translation)
  • March 16 & April 6 | Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore
  • February 3 & 17 | Colum McCann – 13 Ways of Looking

2015

  • November 18 through January 20, 2016 | Henry James – The Ambassadors
  • November 4, 2015 – Herman Melville – Billy Budd
  • October 7 & 21, 2015 – Toni Morrison – Beloved
  • September 2 & 16, 2015 – Edith Wharton – A Custom of the Country
  • August 5 & 19, 2015 – Sinclair Lewis – Main Street
  • July 1 & 15, 2015 – Dalia Sofer – The Septembers of Shiraz
  • June 3 & 17, 2015 – Rabih Alamaddine – An Unnecessary Woman
  • April 15, May 6 & May 20 2015 – Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse
  • March 18 & April 1, 2015 – Anthony Doerr – All the Light we Cannot See
  • February 18 & March 4, 2015 – Nellie Hermann – The Season of Migration Nellie Hermann was also our special guest on March 4th!
  • January 21 & February 4, 2015 – Colm Toibin – Norah Webster
  • January 7, 2015 – Penelope Fitzgerald – The Beginning of Spring

2014

  • December 3 & December 17, 2014 – Phil Klay – Redeployment
  • October 15 – November 19, 2014 – Haruki Murakami – Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgramage. Also, please read on your own The Dead by James Joyce
  • September 17 & October 1, 2014 – John Williams – Stoner
  • September 3: John Patrick Stanley – Doubt
  • July 16, August 6 & August 20: Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
  • June 18 & July 2: Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • June 4: Is there Life After Death, Henry James
  • April 30: The Middle Years, Henry James
  • April 16: A Round of Visits, Henry James
  • April 2: Beast in the Jungle, Henry James
  • March 19: What Maisie Knew, Henry James
  • February 19, March 5, March 19: What Maisie Knew, Henry James
  • January 15, February 5: The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

2013

  • December 4: Vampires in Lemon Grove, Karen Russell
  • November 8: The Trial, Franz Kafka
  • September 18, October 2: East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  • August 7, August 21: Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • July 17: Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • May 15, June 5: The Chemistry of Tears, Peter Carey
  • May 1, April 17: Blackwater Lightship, Colin Toibin
  • April 3, March 20: Dear Life: Stories, Alice Munro
  • February 20, March 6: As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
  • December 19, 2012, January, 16, February 6: The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

2012

  • October 3, October 17, November 7: Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon
  • September 5 & 19: When Women were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams
  • July 18: The Genesis Section of the Bible
  • July 11: Home: A Novel, Marilynne Robinson
  • June 20: Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  • May 16 & June 6: The Great Night: A Novel, Chris Adrian
  • April 4 & 18: The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford
  • March 7: The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje

2011

  • December 7 & 21, January 4: The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund De Waal
  • November 2 & 16: The Spectator Bird, Wallace Stegner
  • October 5 & 19: Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner
  • September 7 & 21, October 5: The Love of My Youth, Mary Gordon
  • July 7 and 21: Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann

2009

  • September 2 & 16: In Search of Lost Time, Volume 1: Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust (preferably the Lydia Davis translation)
  • August 5 & 19: Scenes of Clerical Life, George Eliot (“Amos Barton,” “Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story” & “Janet’s Repentance”)
  • June 17, July 1, July 15: The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot

2008

  • October 1 & 15: Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje
  • September 3 & 17: Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie
  • August 6 & 20: The Echantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie
  • July 2 & 16: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz
  • June 4: Diary of a bad year, J.M. Coetzee
  • May 7 & 21: The Sorrows of an American: A Novel, Siri Hustvedt
  • April 16: The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
  • January 2 & 16, February 6: Tin Drum, Gunther Grass
  • October 3 & 17, November 21: Daniel Deronda, George Eliot
  • December 5 & 19: Peeling the Onion, Gunther Grass