Review Comment

[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

January 02, 2005

Pritchett, Frances
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

Do not take this class, trust me. I know that CULPA is worried about skewed reviews due to students writing reviews because they either loved or hated the class. I am writing this review because they want reviews from fair-minded people. So trust me, this is the worst class I have taken at Columbia. The only reason to go, and Prof. Pritchett knows this I'm sure, is to pass in the short blurbs that you have to write for every class on the reading that you didn't and don't need to do. Prof. Pritchett is a sweet woman, absolutely, but I think the vastness and the lack of coherence of "Indian Civilization" is what dooms this class. The lectures are incredibly dry and seem to have no goal. She does have a pretty incredible website from which she shows pretty pictures in class. If you are interested in the subject, it would certainly be a great source. Class consisted of random ramblings on nothing in particular with her spewing names that she does not put on the board and noone really has a chance to spell. Wednesday classes end with a group discussion with TAs, there are two groups. These are utterly useless except for comments about papers perhaps. The good news is that the class is pretty easy. I got a B+ for doing absolutely no work besides the two papers and studying REALLY hard for the final. You do not have to have taken any notes or done any of the reading to do well. The paper topics are a choice of three random topics that consist of reading a work and writing about it. Grading is pretty lenient. The final consists of memorizing about 125 IDs that are listed on the aforementioned website from which only 12 are chosen. You only have to write a couple sentences about 10 of them. Then there is an essay which I completely BSed. The class was terrible, but not that hard, so make your own decision. I promise that this review is fair.

Workload:

Two 6-8 page papers on random topics. I wrote on an Indian play and on the first part of Gandhi's autobiography. No midterm. Relatively easy final if you're willing to research and memorize all fo the 125 IDs. I think 100 pages of reading a week, but I never read a word. Attendance is counted by passing in the inane blurbs on the day's readings.

February 28, 2002

McDermott, Rachel Silver_nugget
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

Professor McDermott is an amazing lecturer. She is organized and clear, all her lectures have a typed outline with key terms on them. She is more than willing to discuss things after class and take questions in class. The TA's are crazy freaks, they grade unfairly and arbitrarily. They contradict what the professor wants you to do during their office hours. So if you have any question go to her. The grading is tough, its not an easy class.

Workload:

ALOT of reading but you dont really have to do it. Easy movie responses. A map exercise which is painful. 2 papers 5-7 pp and a final exam which is difficult because it covers so much information. She hands out a rough outline before the final. If you prepare the outline you will be okay, but it takes more than a week to do a thorough job. The TA's told us it will be the hardest final we ever take

January 27, 2002

McDermott, Rachel Silver_nugget
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

A very competent and organized lecturer. You'll learn a great deal about Indian religion, history, society, and current issues. The readings in the coursepack are by far the most important - the others are much more expendable. Beware of TA grading, as they can be overly harsh, though you can appeal their grades to the professor, who can be more generous. The final is comprehensive, which makes it quite big and annoying, but it's a good overall review. The problem with McDermott is that the actual final exam forces you to regurgitate the entire semester, instead of just picking a few topics as an indicator. Paper assignments are very reasonable. Map exercise is an insult to your intelligence and a huge pain in the butt. But McDermott's enthusiasm for the subject matter, and her articulate lecturing style, go a long way in making the class a rewarding experience.

Workload:

Two 7-pp papers, a map exercise (which really sucks), and a cumulative final.

January 20, 2002

Pritchett, Frances
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

OK, I just read the reviews of this class and found them a little confusing. Prof. Pritchett is a little zany and is very enthusiastic, but the quality of the class drops as time goes on. She isn't a great lecturer, but is a very sweet lady (when I went to her office hours she gave me this really gross dehydrated milk candy to compensate for a grading error by the TA). The silly thing about this class is that YOU DON'T NEED TO DO ANY READING!!! You aren't tested on the reading. The midterm and final were both completely identifications of text and pictures. She gives you a list of the texts that they could be, so all you have to do is figure out which characters are in the Bagavad Gita and what the Rig Veda talks about to ace that part. The pictures are all on the website, so it's easy to memorize them. Plus, partial credit is easy to get. The papers are on subjects of your choosing, so you can write on the one sentence of the book you read. To sum up, a stoned toad could get an A- in this class without doing anything other than memorizing and regurgitating. On the other hand, you won't learn very much about Indian civilization. The actual content covered could be summed up on a travel brochure or on the back of a bad romance novel set in India.

Workload:

Unnecessary and light. 4 reading responses, a midterm and a final

November 14, 2001

McDermott, Rachel Silver_nugget
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

Lots of reading, but you can get away with skipping some of it. (Burton Stein's book is the world's biggest, densest waste of matter.)

Workload:

Moderate. Two papers, a map project (yay second grade!), four movie response worksheets, and a Final.

May 06, 2001

Pritchett, Frances
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

I was not surprised to find a couple negative reviews for Professor Pritchett related to her Indian Civ course. I do not doubt that these plaintive and banal criticisms came from the several students who were too preoccupied with their own cultural hypersensitivity to actually to listen to Prof. Pritchett's insightful lectures. There were many students who mistook the discussion time at the end of each lecture to be an open-fire on Prof. Pritchett's supposed disregard for Indian citizens. This is ridiculous. I personally believe that Prof. Pritchett is an engaging intellectual who is not too self-conscious to show her almost child-like awe and respect for the beautiful, innumberable works of Indian art and literature that we cover in class. For those of you in my class who complained of having to familiarize yourselves with too many 'facts' that span 'thousands of years', what did you expect from a civ course that covers a nation as ancient as India? I highly recommend this class for those who are genuinely interested in immersing themselves in India's rich history.

Workload:

A lot of reading, and keeping up to date with the website (which, by the way, is incredibly helpful). Web board postings are encouraged, but not required. Tough midterm and final, but fair in the selection of material.

December 31, 1999

Pritchett, Frances
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

This is undoubtedly the worst course I've taken at Columbia during my three semesters here. Lectures are dry and meaningless- Prof. Pritchett often merely recites statistics from the reading without adding much additional insight. It seems as though she had just learned the material herself a few hours before the lecture. My TA was especially waspy. Avoid this class at all costs!

Workload:

reading intensive, often pedantic

December 31, 1999

Pritchett, Frances
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

I disagree with the other reviewers. Prof. Pritchett shows genuine interest and passion for the material, which is always a plus. There is a large amount of facts that she has to get through, and at times she breezes through these facts too quickly, but ultimately her goal is to get the students interested in India. She spends the last twenty minutes showing online slides, often simply because she thinks they are beautiful. Unfortunately, she also tests on these slides. The biggest problem with the class was the assigned textbook "History of India" by Burton Stein, which was, without exaggeration, the MOST POORLY WRITTEN BOOK I HAVE EVER BEEN ASSIGNED IN MY ACADEMIC CAREER. So here's a tip: don't bother reading it, because the exams are all on the primary texts in the source reader and on the slides.

Workload:

A little tough, but not too bad. I think a little too much is expected considering that most of the people in the class are taking it for a requirement and that it is an introductory course. Midterm and final with lots of IDs of quotes and slides, and four two-page essays.

December 31, 1999

Pritchett, Frances
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

This has to be one of the most disorganized, badly-managed courses I have ever taken. The class is one hour and twenty minutes of dry lecture, and then five minutes of discussion, where all the students are expected to sumarize their opinions of thousands of years of history in a minute or less; this is, needless to say, impossible. Although I have an avid intrest in this subject, I spent most of class gazing longinly at the clock, counting the seconds 'til dismissal. Human interaction via recitation sections is replaced by an online message board run by the TA's, who do not help further your understand the material at all (this was the worst thing about the course).

Workload:

The midterm is ultra-specific - it does not test understanding of the subject, but instead forces students to memorize fact after fact, date after date - the whole subject then becomes dry and tedious.

December 31, 1999

Pritchett, Frances
[ASCM V2357] Introduction to the Civilization of India

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

Professor Pritchett knows her matter, she is actively involved and offers you immense resources. As with all cultures classes, it helps if you are interested in the subject matter, but if this is the case, you will find her (and especially her brilliant website) to supply with you with whatever you need or would like to know. She has a pleasant way with people, and moves at a good but reasonable pace.

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