Review Comment

MDE W3000y: Theories of CultureL Middle East and South Asia

January 21, 2009

Sohrabi, Nader
MDE W3000y: Theories of CultureL Middle East and South Asia

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

He's fine. A really sweet man who occasionally rambles. Nobody attends lecture because he doesn't take attendance.
But the readings are really, really good and with an excellent TA, I was able to get SO much out of the class/discussion sections - without actually attending many lectures.

Workload:

In-class midterm, in-class final, one final paper (4-6 pages), and weekly discussion sections. (In my section, we had to submit a four-sentence summary of the readings each week.)

January 20, 2003

Nichanian, Marc
MDE W3000y: Theories of CultureL Middle East and South Asia

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

The main problem with this course is that it seemed to forget its own purpose with the conclusion of the section on orientalism. suddenly, the class morphed into something wholly unrelated to the middle east, focusing instead on the works of foucault, levi-strauss, and others. the euro-centricity of this course is very unsettling and, to be honest, orientalist. nichanian himself-- a die-hard francophile--seems a bit like a colonial product, and probably the wrong man for the job. however, on the pro side, the readings were all fascinating and not too difficult. despite very spotty attendance, i came out with a flat A. so mealac majors, dont despair... my advice is to go just often enough that he'll recognize you, then skip the rest and do the readings. you'll be fine.

Workload:

an ungraded midterm paper, free term paper and final.

December 22, 2002

Nichanian, Marc
MDE W3000y: Theories of CultureL Middle East and South Asia

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

The best part of this class was the section on Orientalism...however, this is because of Edward Said's book, not the class structure or discussions...Prof. Nichanian is somewhat repetitive and after a while, you grow bored with his trying to differentiate between the words 'history,' 'historicality,' and 'historicity'....however, the class is not as bad as I make it out to be....recitation is not so bad, the ta Jai is extremely intelligent, well-read and interesting, and can be a lot of help on the papers (but he is somewhat intimidating at first). In any case, the only major problem with this class is that it is a requirement for mealac majors, but maybe that will change...

Workload:

two papers, final, course packet reading, and about 3 other books...

April 29, 2002

Nichanian, Marc
MDE W3000y: Theories of CultureL Middle East and South Asia

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

I am still unsure of what I actually learned in this class. Small bits of it might have been about the Middle East or South Asia, but most of it was Prof. Nichanian endlessly spouting off rhetoric about Foucault, Freud, and Levi-Strauss. Nichanian is Armenian-French, and expects all Columbia students to have the highly specialized knowledge that European university kids do (in Europe, you pick your "major" in high school, so you have a lot more specialized knowledge by the time you get to university). Since few of us have dedicated our lives to the study of social/cultural theory, this is very overwhelming - especially in the first few weeks of class. Attendance in discussion sections is necessary to decode the day's lecture: the TA I had was particularly helpful in this respect. Nichanian doesn't give very many compliments, but you're probably doing better in the class than you think. He's gruff in class, but surprisingly reasonable in person (and in his grading policies). Be warned that there are no reading packets (at least not when I took the class) - you had to get the master packet from either the MEALAC office or Butler Reserves and photocopy the entire damn thing yourself. Expect to spend several hours and plenty of cash on this process. Since the packet readings changed on a weekly basis, many trips to Village Copier were necessary. There is also a large stack of books to buy, half of which went unread (due to the ever-changing syllabus)

Workload:

Lengthy readings of very oblique texts. One in-class presentation (or write-up of an article on the syllabus). Nichanian does not hesitate to tear apart your presentation in front of the whole class. One 7-10 page paper (topic of your choice, must be discussed with prof). Final exam of IDs and a couple essays.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
MELC / CLME MELC CLME W3000: Theor-Culture: Mid East/S Asia Marc Nichanian 2002 Fall MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
MELC / CLME MELC CLME W3000: Theor-Culture: Mid East/S Asia Marc Nichanian 2001 Fall MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
MELC / CLME MELC CLME W3000: Theor-Culture: Mid East/S Asia Marc Nichanian 2001 Spring MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1