Review Comment

Dante

September 25, 2009

Barolini, Teodolinda Silver_nugget
Dante

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

Professor Barolini's classes on Dante are a treasure. I'm so glad I got to attend to them. Her knowledge of the book, the man and the epoch exceeds the encyclopedic. Her passion for the peculiarities of the author's genius and her insight into the workings of his mind are simply astonishing. But, perhaps even more importantly, she is an articulate and talented lecturer, and she actually cares about your learning the Commedia.
Moreover, she's a total sweetheart. For a professor so busy and famous, it is amazing how available she makes herself for her students. She can easily spend a full two hours talking to you in her office, even if you are an undergrad from a different major. And, if you approach her with honest and interesting questions about Dante or the Italian Middle Ages, you're in for a great intellectual reward. If you are interested in literature for any reason whatsoever, this course will provide you with invaluable knowledge. If nothing else sticks to you, at least you will learn how to develop an argument about a text beginning with the text itself, with a close, attentive, intelligent reading of the actual words that it presents you with; and that is an invaluable skill.

Workload:

Reading the Commedia in two semesters can be a lot more work than you initially thought. Ideally, you will do your reading for every class, including the commentary and the occasional critical excerpts, in a very attentive way. It is easy to slack, however, because Prof. Barolini rarely stops lecturing during her classes, and halfway through you might start thinking that it's not that important if you fall behind; but beware of the exams. She will require actual specific knowledge from you, and she is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable; it is absolutely impossible to get away with not knowing what you are writing about. There will also be a small translation section in both the midterm and the final; but you will be surprised how well you can translate 14th Century Tuscan if you have done your reading the way you should have, with the help of a bilingual edition, even if your Italian is poor.

May 04, 2009

Barolini, Teodolinda Silver_nugget
Dante

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

Professor Barolini is a god.
There is no other way I can explain
her merit, and her teaching I applaud--

for a lecture course a student’s bane
can be, if taught by someone ignorant.
But here, instead, no moment was mundane

nor was our teacher cold or arrogant;
though her vast knowledge she never did hide,
but shared with us her musings brilliant.

In short, I believe we should take much pride
in having in our midst a mind so fit
to act to many pilgrims as a guide
and her great love for Dante to transmit.

Workload:

Who cares? She's a deity. Take the class.

January 14, 2007

Barolini, Teodolinda Silver_nugget
Dante

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

OMG....an amazing professor. My favorite class at Columbia.

Ok, so it's a grad level course, but don't be discouraged. I'm an undergrad who doesn't know Italian fluently and yet enjoy every second of her lectures. The assignments and readings aren't long, just two cantos per class (less than any class i have ever taken). She will expect u to read them and please do, it's not hard at all. Come to class prepared, read the cantos, jot down some notes on the margins to keep yourself on track, and read the notes/commentary. You will enjoy every second of the class- I have.

First semester, undergrads have a take-home midterm and a regular final. Grad students just have 5 write-ups and the final.

Prof. Barolini is very accesible and wants to help her students. I spend 10-20min with her after every class because of the questions and observations I come up with and she's willing to listen and argue about them.
Definitely take her course on Dante.

Workload:

First semester, undergrads have a take-home midterm and a regular final. Grad students just have 5 write-ups and the final.

2 cantos a session to read and that's it

October 23, 2003

Barolini, Teodolinda Silver_nugget
Boccaccio and Dante

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

Professor Barolini has been one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. She gives really good lectures (during which she allows students to offer up their own thoughts & comments) and is open to students with less than stellar Italian skills taking her classes...she'll lecture in English but usually the bulk of the reading is in Italian. She gives me the impression that she won't put up with any b.s. or time-wasting ego-indulging comments, but if you have something worthwhile to say, she'll gladly listen. The 3 classes I have had with her have been great and I'm definitely going to take another one with her. She's a fair grader--but she does expect you to come to class prepared and with the reading done. Likewise, she'll welcome you to office hours, but don't dither when you're there: just get to the point. (She won't, for example, spoonfeed you a paper topic, but if you have the slightest clue, she'll whip out a file of potential articles, etc. to look up.)

Workload:

Usually she teaches major Italian texts which are demanding per se, and it takes a constant effort to keep up with the reading: the Divine Comedy, Boccaccio or poetry aren't light, and so you must resist falling behind. But it is doable and for undergrads there's just a midterm and a final. For grad students, final exam + final paper + reading critical articles. She does emphasize however that this prepares grad students for becoming critics themselves...

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