Review Comment

[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

July 04, 2015

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Disclaimer: It is important to note that I am offering my opinion as a student that is from a science based major, was taking this course namely to complete my global core requirement and with little to no background in religion or humanities for that matter.

With that being said I would highly recommend Professor Como to anyone that was either interested in East Asian Buddhism or needed to fill their global core requirement. For global core seekers Professor Como is a great lecturer and does a wonderful job of laying out the material in a way that emphasizes the key points which allow you connect the ideas. It was interesting to see that the development of a religion really is a logical progression once you understand the underlying factors that influence transmission of ideology.

For people that are interested in Buddhism in general, Professor Como is extremely knowledgeable about the field(His wife's family is Buddhist and he will share interesting personal anecdotes which bring the material alive). When you begin the course he will tell you that one of his goals is to make the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar familiar. I can say without a doubt that he works hard to deliver on that promise. As sad as it may be some teachers really do phone it in when it comes to their duties to educate their students, Professor Como is certainly not one of them.

Workload:

There were daily reading assignments that usually ranged from 10-25 pages. We were also required to do 10 postings on courseworks about 300 words in length responding to one of three questions about the material presented.

There was one midterm (20%) and one final(30%) and one final paper(30%) and three reading quizzes during the discussions(9%).

January 19, 2015

Vendova, Dessislava (TA)
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

I completely disagree with the previous post about Dessi as a TA for the Intro to East Asian Buddhism course.

Dessi clearly worked very hard as a TA, what with holding extra recitations, going over quizzes and exams meticulously in order to grade them properly and emailing us very helpful, supplemental material that she prepared especially for us. She was always willing to help and to clarify things as long as you make the effort to seek her assistance. She is demanding, but just because she wanted us to succeed and learn. Dessi is a very knowledgeable, kind and helpful TA.

Workload:

Manageable.

January 11, 2014

Como, Michael Silver_nugget and Vendova, Dessislava (TA)
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Summary: Buddhism with Como is pretty easy, interesting, and fun. It's a great class to take to fulfill the global core requirement. Avoid TA Dessi.

Pro tip: show up to every class and take notes. Getting notes from a friend might suffice, but you'll probably get confused because the concepts get somewhat complex as he goes on, plus they build on each other.

Como is funny and a fantastic lecturer. I came away from his lectures with a solid (very general and pretty novice, but nonetheless kinda legit) understanding of the basics of Indian, Chinese and Japanese Buddhism.

Avoid TA Dessi. Seriously. Her bark is worse than her bite (grading), but she's just a pain to deal with during the semester. I've heard some other TA's are good: Jay, Su-Jung, maybe another.

Workload:

-readings (you don't really need to do them, just browse the ones that they say will be important for the midterm & final)
-midterm (20% i think)
-3 small quizzes (3% each)
-final exam (30% i think)
-final paper (40% i think)

December 17, 2013

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This is definitely the class to take if you're looking to fill a global core.

Prof. Como's lectures were always really engaging and interesting. As someone who never really got a chance to study Asian history or religion, this class was a great survey class on Buddhism's rise in India, China, and Japan.
He really tried to remember people's names in the beginning of the year and was almost always open to answer questions that arose.

The midterm and final were both fairly easy. They consisted of a number of vocab from a list that was given to us beforehand and 1-2 essays. The grading can be pretty harsh though- I lost close to 20 points on the midterm for a few, very minor mistakes.
My TA mentioned that they were going to grade the final partially on how much it referred to/engaged with the texts we read so I'd recommend you actually do the reading.

Prof. Como and the TAs asked for feedback around the middle of the semester which led to more discussion meetings to go over the readings and lectures. I appreciated how quickly the TAs accommodated the demand for more meetings.

In all, this was a really interesting class and I'd recommend it to anyone who hasn't studied Buddhism before.

Workload:

Weekly Readings, about 20-30 pages per class
3 Vocab Quizzes
1 Midterm
1 Final
8-10 Paper

December 10, 2013

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Como is a wonderful professor. Picture Bob Saget and Stephen Colbert combined into one awesome, Starbucks-drinking expert on Japanese Buddhism. He is hilarious, and very good at presenting the material covered in class, which is much more than you realize you're covering because he's just that good! I took the class to fulfill the global core requirement, as most probably do, but I also have a genuine interest in the subject matter, which helped. For those with an open mind, this class should be a piece of cake. The grading is not harsh at all, and the midterm was INCREDIBLY easy so long as you've been following along with lectures. Go to the lectures, otherwise you might get lost. In the event that do, try to borrow notes from someone, but he also provides a really helpful review of last lecture at the start of every class. The readings aren't all necessary though, I didn't do them all.

My TA was also the best TA I've had at Columbia, but it's Su Jung's last semester here I believe, so sorry guys! Still, you should take this class. I really think you should.

Workload:

3 vocab quizzes, 1 midterm, 1 final, 1 6-8 page paper. Substantial amount of readings, but not necessarily crucial that you do them all, just try not to miss lectures.

September 14, 2013

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Wow, if Professor Como has a silver nugget what does it take to get a gold? In a semester where I only had great professors, he was by far the best – a large part of the reason I became a religion major. When class was over each day, I was consistently disappointed that I didn't get to stay longer – the material is fascinating, and Professor Como does an excellent job making it relevant and accessible without dumbing it down. He is hilarious, very organized, and absolutely brilliant and while he has high expectations, he gives you everything you need not only to do well in the class but to retain the information in the long term. I remember more from this class than almost any I've taken. I would encourage absolutely everyone to enroll – it will be pretty much the best decision of your college career.

Also to the reviewer below me, if we didn't have to go to class what function would our professors even have? If you were hoping to spend more time on other subjects, ok, but you can't possibly fault the professor for making his job about actually teaching. Reading is supposed to complement the class, not replace it, and Buddhism is notoriously difficult to understand, which is why you take a class rather than just reading a book.

Workload:

Lots of reading, but reasonable, and everything is reviewed in depth in class, so if you have to skim it's not the end of the world.

December 23, 2012

Faure, Bernard
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

The main thing Faure wants you to know is that the notion of Buddhism as "spiritual" or "philosophical" rather than "religious" is a modern, Western interpretation that completely ignores what Buddhism really is in its various cultural contexts. Buddhism is a religion, not a philosophy, and it has all the same attributes and problems as every other major world religion (i.e. gods, demons, heavens, hells, tons of superstition, institutional corruption, gender discrimination). A surprising amount of this course focused on learning the names and characteristics of various bodhisattvas and demonic creatures, while very little dealt with the philosophical side of Buddhism or with meditation.

Faure's lectures are boring and rambling. He seems to cover the same ground over and over. Several times he called students out for falling asleep in class, which frankly is very easy to do. East Asian Buddhism is definitely an interesting topic, but I'd recommend finding a different prof if possible.

Workload:

Lots of reading, some interesting but some totally obscure and unhelpful. You don't need to do most of reading though. Weekly discussion sections and weekly discussion board posts about any topic from that week's readings. 3 pop quizzes on vocabulary. 2 4-page midterm papers based on assigned readings. 10-page final paper that requires some outside research. Grading is done by your TA and was pretty generous. Attendance sheet is passed around in lecture and discussion.

December 03, 2012

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

SEAS students -- DON'T take this class.

The amount of reading is unbearable and entirely unhelpful for the quizzes/exams/papers. The shear amount is enough to discourage anyone who is not fully committed. Next, because the reading is so ridiculous, you MUST go to lecture if you want to pass (another great discouragement for SEAS kids). Oh yeah, the lectures also happen to be unbearable. Lose-lose situation.

Finally, the TA's sucked.

Don't take this class unless you're actively seeking to lower your GPA.

Workload:

Ridiculous for nothing.

August 28, 2012

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Como is competent, charming and gregarious. His mastery of Buddhism in India, China and Japan is astounding. The course contextualizes Buddhism in India, China and Japan (Korea was left out). The course evidences that Buddhism is malleable. It is a seed planted in different cultural soils, and manifests differently creating many flavors of Buddhism. It is a rather sociological approach, and it works. Additionally, students are exposed to Buddhist dogma, tenets and the sutras, or the religious part of Buddhism.

Como is an expert speaker, clear and concise. He also expediently and skillfully uses humor to rationalize some of the more complex ideologies. For example, the concept of interconnectivity was presented via a student's bagel. It took many people, in fact everyone, to make that bagel paralleling the concept that we are all linked to each other, and ultimately Buddha.

Como does not take individual interest in his students, except in a superficial way. He will more than likely not learn your name, or chat with students outside of class. In situations like this, it is incumbent upon you to make a concerted effort to present yourself. Visit his office hours, he is exceptionally nice and appreciates your company. You can also catch him at coffee houses around campus. He is always amiable

Como defers to T.A.'s for grading, so there is little use in complaining about a grade to the Professor. T.A.'s rarely if ever change contested marks. However, if they see you improve, your final grade will be fine. Do get to know your T.A. Some of them may not know the subject matter and are learning like you. This provides a great opportunity for you to figure things out with your T.A..

You do not have to be an East Asian Studies major to take and enjoy any of Como's classes. His class is accessible to all, which mirrors Buddhist mantra of reaching all sentient beings. Moreover, if you resonate with any of the philosophies, chances are you were a Buddhist in a past life (if you believe in that). I personally resonated with the concept that we need to detach from illusions that cause mental anguish. Let's just say I de-friended some people on facebook.

Como's class is hands down the best course offered to fill a humanities requirement. It's not easy. Lots of readings, which are really useless, numerous quizzes, two major papers and a final, but it is rewarding and fun. If you take it, you may even become enlightened.

Workload:

Numerous quizzes, tons of readings. You quickly realize readings don't correspond with class lectures, and therefore you don't really need to do them in depth. However, you must MUST attend each and every lecture or else you will lost. Take good notes and form a study group (a bunch of us did, and we all did great compared to those who did not). There are two papers, one midway through, the other at the end. The papers are weighted heavily so do your research. The East Asian Library is a very good resource. There is also a midterm and final, both of which were not that bad. Write clearly and stick to the bullet points and you'll do great.

April 29, 2012

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Como is probably the most exciting, engaging professor I have ever had here at Columbia. He managed to keep me, a checked-out, second semester senior, in class and entertained with his dynamic lectures and fun stories. He really knows his stuff, and he wants to make sure you do, too. He gives an outline at the beginning of every class, he makes sure to answer questions before moving from topic to topic, and he makes sure that you understand how all the different facts and stories relate to one another.

If you're looking for a global core class to take, you can't go wrong with Buddhism with Como.

Workload:

Readings for each class, maybe 80-100 pages a week. You don't need to do them to do well in the class, though. 3 quizzes (10%), 6-8 page final paper (40%), midterm (20%), final (30%). Not too bad, midterm isn't hard if you go to class and take notes.

May 17, 2011

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Take this class. Or any other class with Como for that matter. You will not regret it. Professor Como is an unbelievably engaging and clear lecturer who genuinely wants to ensure that the entire class understands the material. That also leads to the only minor downside, namely that he fields a lot of dumb questions from the whole class. But I digress. Como is the man. There are no two ways about it. The lectures are carefully outlined on the board and he intersperses his points with general humor and hilarious stories about his family. Story time with Como simply cannot be beat and takes the class from enjoyable to a must-take. He is easily one of the top three professors I have had and the workload was not difficult at all, making this a great choice for Global Core.

Workload:

3 reading quizzes which don't even require doing the reading, midterm, 8-10 page research paper, final. Don't do the readings, they don't help. Just pay attention in class and you'll be more than fine.

May 31, 2009

Como, Michael Silver_nugget
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Como is AMAZING. No one is better at explaining the complicated aspects of Buddhism. He is funny, genuinely nice, entertaining, informative, and knows his stuff. Unfortunately, the T.A. that was assigned to me was a bat from academic hell that must have gotten Cs their entire time at Columbia and seemed to intentionally try to make sure no one left Como's class with higher than than a C. That being said, I still don't regret taking Como's class. Neither will you.

Workload:

Ridiculous amount of reading about things that Como explained better anyway (but those were chosen by the infamous T.A.s), a paper, midterm, final. All in all, not bad.

May 03, 2005

Yu, Chun-Fang (TA)
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I completely agree with the previous reviewer. Professor Yu is obviously accomplished, intelligent, and passionate about the subject of East Asian Buddhism. She gives a speech during the first class about how much she wants us to visit her during office hours. In those respects, she is a great teacher. On the other hand, because she is so knowledgeable, she tends to ramble. A LOT. Often times, we would only get to the materials for the day in the last half hour or so of class. If you like learning all about a subject, then you would like this class. If you are just in it to memorize some facts, get an A and leave, then you will find lectures useless.

Workload:

Midterm (IDs and essays), weekly posting on courseworks (1 paragraph about the reading), final paper (6-9pgs), attendence (don't know how its graded but its taken at every class meeting)

January 30, 2002

Thurman, Robert
[RELI V2608] Buddhism: East Asian

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

3 words: Overrated, Overrated, Overrated. If you're taking this class because you think you'll catch a glimpse of his movie star daughter Uma you're out of luck. You will hear alot about his beautiful swedish wife and how good friends Thurman is with the Dalai Lama. He looks like the man from Titanic - you know the scary valet guy.

Workload:

His philosophy in a nutshell: Chinese are commie bastards who oppress the poor little Tibetans.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
RELI / RELI RELI RELI V2008: Buddhism: East Asian Michael Como 2011 Spring TR / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
RELI / RELI RELI RELI V2008: Buddhism: East Asian Michael Como 2010 Spring TR / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
RELI / RELI RELI RELI V2008: Buddhism: East Asian Michael Como 2009 Spring TR / 10:35-11:50 AM 1