June 09, 2012

Saliba, George
[ASCM V2008] Contemporary Islamic Civilization

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

I took CIC last semester to fulfill a core requirement and was really pleased with the class. For someone with very little knowledge of the Arab world, I still wasn't lost in the material. I thought the syllabus was structured so well. There was about a week of introducing us to the broad themes before we got into the meat of the pieces, which all related to each other even as the writers spaned across time periods/countries/religions/etc.

The particular TA I had required us to post a one page paper each week overviewing the pieces we had read, and to prepare one presentation during the semester. This was taxing and I hated it at 9:30pm on a Tuesday when I had two and half hours to wade through tons of (sometimes very dense) material and write something about it. But when the midterm and final rolled around, I was so thankful for the instant study guide I had. Columbia students are smart, and even if I didn't understand or totally remember a certain work, I could rely on my peer's responses to the week, as well.

Truthfully, I was terrible at paying attention during the lecture and took sporadic notes throughout. The discussion seemed fairly useless only because 50 minutes is such a short time to try and cover a week's worth of material. It would be far too easy to totally slack off in this class, which is why I appreciated the forced posts every week because then I had to get through the material. Not getting anything back all semester except the midterm made me completely unsure of my grade until the bitter end (and it took FOREVER for grades to be submitted at the end of the semester as well), but I ended up with a B, which was good enough for me.


The readings vary week to week, from sometimes quite a bit, to not so much at all. I didn't read any of the books. The weekly workload was dependent on the TA. Attendance is taken.

One midterm and one final.