It is worth taking a class with Professor Mercer. She is funny, smart and irreverent; she knows her material and she is fearless in the classroom. Her class can be a lot of fun, but she will make everybody work for it. The LitHum class I took with her was by far my best experience with the Core. More than any other class I took at Columbia it affected the way I read books to this day.

MercerÂ’s approach to philosophy is different from what you will encounter with most of the other Professors in the department. As far as I know, there is nobody else in whose class you will find that philosophical insight is second to (or at least on an equal footing with) historical study. While it is true that most of us philosophy majors did not choose our major with that sort of thing in mind, Mercer makes her approach interesting and engaging. In part, she knows a tremendous amount and finds it so interesting herself, and, in part, because she will offer you an argument (if you are willing to listen) about why what she does is as important to the discipline as straight-up philosophical debate. Mainly though, she makes it work because she is spectacular in the classroom. Her lectures are informative and certainly held my attention, but I think she is one of the best when it comes to leading a discussion. She gets people to say interesting things, and it is not just the usual suspects saying the usual, predictable stuff. She gets all kinds of students involved because people feel compelled to participate.
Professor Mercer takes a genuine interest in her students. She wonÂ’t coddle you, and donÂ’t expect too much sympathy if you feel talking without having much say, but she will listen if you are sincere. She will also argue with you if she disagrees. I found Prof. Mercer helpful as a departmental advisor (especially in comparison to what I heard about other departmental advisors). She made the program flexible and seemed to be concerned that I get the most out of my course of study.