Review Comment

FREN W3505 - Cultural Diversity in Contemporary France

April 01, 2013

Dobie, Madeleine Silver_nugget
FREN W3505 - Cultural Diversity in Contemporary France

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

While I think Professor Dobie is a very intelligent professor, this was by far the most boring class I've ever taken at Columbia. The readings were entirely too long (think 100-200 pages of reading a week), and most of the time while I was reading them I was wondering how they would ever possibly be relevant to my studies.

It only focuses on the Mediterranean, fyi.

Besides the reading, the workload is light, three responses, one big (12-15 page) paper. No exams.

Take it if you care passionately about the Mediterranean for some reason. Skip it otherwise.

Workload:

The workload is light, three responses, one big (12-15 page) paper. No exams.

March 20, 2007

Dobie, Madeleine Silver_nugget
FREN W3505 - Cultural Diversity in Contemporary France

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

Pros:

Madeleine Dobie will look after you: she takes OH seriously, and schedules appointments without any humming and hawing. She gives solid advice to those who enquire before writing a paper, and follows up afterwards with every student, by default

She is extremely well-read in all aspects this particular course, does not limit herself to literature (and includes history, political science, social philosophy, etc. etc.), and shows none of the wishy-washy naiveté of the typical CCLS scholar. You will learn the subject inside out, from two centuries of immigration, to post-colonialism, to youth culture, to the riots of 2005.

Madeleine will let your research just about anything you want, within or without her areas of expertise: she grades on the argument, use of material from class in testing assumptions, and, it seems, thoroughness and originality.
Her opinions are strong, but her prejudice is not.

You will be taking this class in French. This is not a negative, in that Madeleine will not mark you off on your papers for misemployment of the language, as long as your argument is intelligible. This is a plus in that she will mark every error she can find and explain to you how you can improve your writing.

Madeleine Dobie is the director of undergraduate studies in the French and Romance Philology department (on leave now, but generally this is so) and has some significant ties with CCLS. She is always looking out for job opportunities to pass on, too. Few faculty members would be more useful to know.

Cons:

If you read poorly in French, you will be in trouble.
W3505's readings outnumbered my CC readings at least three to two, page for page. Not doing the readings is not much of an option, as class participation is a huge part of the assessment.

While you could read a few pages and think about them really hard, you won't be able to bullshit a point without stepping in it: the texts you will be reading—novels, complex theories, and convoluted histories—resist skimming.

As most Columbia students of French aren't fluent French speakers, this course is structured around a lecture. Dobie fosters enough participation to keep the room awake, but not enough to bring about a full-blown discussion.

If independent research isn't your bag, you're out of luck: the two papers you'll be writing use the contents of that collosal reading list as a jumping-off point; the papers range over new material.

Workload:

100-250p/week, almost exclusively in French, with a mix of literary, argotic, academic, and academic-obtuse registers. Two research papers, 8-10p, in French.

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