course
Milton

Jan 2021

Prof. Crawford is the best, most understanding, kind, and humane instructor I have ever had at Columbia. If you are considering taking a class with her, do it. Her command of the texts she teaches, her talent on making them relevant to whatever we are living through (politically, emotionally, intellectually), and her pure admiration for writers like Milton make her classes engaging and transformative. For reference, I 'read' Milton in LitHum and did not get much out of it - I could barely understand what the guy was saying. Taking prof. Crawford's Milton class was one of the best decisions I've made academically in this school. She is extremely passionate about Milton's work and that radiates to her students. Prof. Crawford keeps students intellectually engaged, challenged, and happy in her class. She understand what it means to be a student, what it means to struggle personally and intellectually, and what it means to be a student trying to make your way through college. That does not mean that she is a light grader or that her expectations are minimum. She wants you to really engage with the material and she can tell when you have really tried and when you're BSing. She encourages a lot of participation but at the same time can guide the conversation to make it always interesting - and not a few undergrads pretending to have read the texts. Take her classes (whether CC or Milton) if you want to be intellectually provoked, if you want to really engage with the material, and if you are into queer and feminist readings of the Bible, Renaissance English poetry, and the philosophy texts in CC. Julie Crawford is a life-changing instructor.

Dec 2020

Ok here's the deal Professor Crawford definitely knows the material well and she's the sort of English professor who is very warm and will close read and trot out Milton quotes from memory animatedly. That said, she's such a reluctant pedagogue. She has repeatedly apologized for teaching: "sorry I'm talking/lecturing so much," and I'm like gurl what??? We want you to talk more about Lucretian materialism or the Civil War etc!! She also happily spent ten minutes at the start of each lecture asking everyone how they're doing, which is cute in a very weird online semester, but sometimes people clearly don't really want to talk, and time is just wasted and one feels shortchanged. I should also point out how she's a huge presentist, which I'm not necessarily against, but when it's her umpteenth time talking about how Adam and Eve's depression mirrors her's and how Adam is an incel, it's like can we focus on the text please? I think you stand to gain quite a fair bit if you're an underclassman (she runs a metrical bootcamp which will set you up nicely for future pre-1800 classes), but if you're a senior, think twice.

Dec 2016

I had the pleasure of taking a course with Professor Guibbory first as a junior, and then for my fall senior seminar. I was wary of her Milton class, as I am an Americanist, but her teaching of his prose and poetry was utterly compelling. It was not easy; this was the first English class in which I found myself truly needing to take notes. And I often met to read and discuss passages from "Paradise Lost" outside of class with a friend. Her senior seminar on Sin, Sex, and Spirituality is quite possibly the greatest course I took in college, and stretched and engaged my mind endlessly. In all, though, neither Milton nor her senior seminar were overly taxing in terms of readings and assignments. And I found that, rather than meandering, her lecturing was flexible enough to embrace the interests of her students while still getting us through the material.

May 2016

Professor Crawford is by far my favorite professor thus far at my time here! She's incredibly brilliant and reads each poem in so many different contexts (historical, religious, etc.). Each way of reading and interpreting the poem or piece of prose is correct...and she makes you truly believe that. I used it to allow for a free flow of ideas. Never once has my book been written in as much as I did for this class. She makes class so enjoyable by her sheer excitement for the material. She has a ton of office hours that I used to both help my understanding of the material and to just talk to Professor Crawford about anything and everything. She also gives a lot of great feedback on my essays.

Jan 2013

Julie is one of the best professors to take English classes with at Columbia, especially if you're still trying to figure your way out in the major. She is energetic, kind, and always helpful -- she assumes you might not know exactly what you're doing and is always willing to work with you. She does expect a decent amount from her students, but she gives you back a lot in return--she holds lots of office hours, fairly outlines her expectations for papers, and knows each and every student's name. Milton is one of her harder classes, but it is a worthwhile experience and a good way to fulfill your pre-1800s requirement. You will do a lot of reading. You will have to grapple with hard concepts and some history. But Julie makes it worthwhile at the end. You get to read all of Paradise Lost.

May 2011

Take a look at how many likes and dislikes the previous comments have had. Yes, Crawford is energetic, conversational, and "cool." Yes, she loves Milton. Yes, you will probably love Milton when you read him (but probably not as a result of Crawford). No, she is not the greatest lecturer at Columbia or in the English department. Definitely don't take her class if you're a senior. You will be disappointed and come to agree with a previous reviewer's assessment of Crawford as an "intellectual lightweight." This is an English class on Milton that has a final exam instead of a final paper and does not demand more than 9 pages of writing in total from you for the entire semester. She tries to make a 50 person lecture into a discussion by throwing out leading questions and throwing back all responses that weren't what she was fishing for. If you're looking for an English class to challenge you and develop your critical reading and writing skills, this is not the one to take. If you are looking for a class that will hold you semi-accountable for actually making it through Paradise Lost, Crawford's lecture is serviceable.

Mar 2011

I fell in love with this teacher on the first day of class, and slowly fell in love with her topic as she drew us into her impressively comprehensive understanding of Milton and his works. Not only is Professor Guibbory a phenomenal teacher for her enthusiasm and encouragement of class discussion, but she also gives her students the key to understanding some of the most difficult writings in English literature. Knowing Milton's poetry, polemical works and his epic Paradise Lost is invaluable to understanding the canonical works of the Western world -- Guibbory made this clear in the most delightful way. I loved writing for her and exploring the facets of Milton's characters and arguments.

Feb 2010

Guibbory seems like a nice, warm, down-to-earth woman, but she reminds me more of my teachers in eighth grade than any instructor I've had in college. Classes are unstructured, meandering and governed by incredibly vague, general commentary she doesn't seem able to control very well. She has a habit of answering "exactly" or simply affirming every comment that is made, no matter how uninformed or plain stupid it is. It's easy to appreciate a nice professor - and she's great and understanding, especially in office hours - but every lecture felt like a high school class, and I ultimately learned very little from the course. Guibbory is, by all appearances, American born and bred, but she occasionally gives bizarre mispronunciations of obvious words, which, coupled with her well-meaning elementary school delivery, and Baby Boomer smoker's voice, make you feel like you're in a Midwestern ESL classroom. Even close readings tend to be oddly generalized and/or obvious. To give you a sense of the environment of this lecture: earnest, unironic sighs of "that's cute" or "I like it" delivered by what sound like Barnard first years appear roughly every ten minutes. It's functional as an easy way to knock down a pre-1800 requirement, but if you plan to specialize in the material or require any sense of intellectual rigor in your major-related classes, cross over to Columbia.

May 2008

Very intelligent and a thoughtful teacher. The first half of the semester was devoted to Milton's prose/polemical writings and the second half to Paradise Lost. She provides her own insight into the various readings, but encourages alternate opinions and one never feels like she is forcing her perspective of the text onto you. Though the class is a lecture, about half of each class is spent in discussion which varies in effectiveness depending on the particular class. Definitely recommended as an interesting, and not very difficult, English course.

Sep 2007

Professor Guibbory is, by far, one of the best professors I've had in the English Department at Barnard. She loves the material she teaches, and she really loves it. I took this class to fulfill a requirement, but I ended up loving it purely because of Professor Guibbory's teaching. She lectures a lot, but still manages to allow the class to discuss things/ask questions. However, I never felt that the discussions were heading off onto random tangents. At the end of the class, I really had a sense of closure; I felt that I had a complete/rounded out knowledge of Milton. Professor Guibbory is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you can take any of her courses, do it!

Dec 2006

Decent professor, Milton is his specialty so he actually knows what he's talking about. Very smart, approachable, whether you do or do not do the readings is up to you, the final can be a killer either way. The class is not really a Milton class, but a Milton and His World class, which can be good or bad depending on how much history of the English civil wars you can stomach (and remember for the final). Ie: Cromwell, Charles II, Rump Parliament. Overall, an interesting and erudite lecturer, he's always available to talk and he's very good about giving constructive criticism on papers. He's not a spitter or the please-kill-me-now type, though Milton might be. With that said, material is rather dry at times and the final won't let you get away with not knowing every single thing about the works and the circumstances in which they were written.

Jan 2006

Professor Kastan is an engaging speaker and can take any subject and make it interesting. As an English major dreading the poetry requirement, I took Milton having had professor Kastan before. As usual he was great at making the sometimes dry material interesting, and he has a great ability to include the entire (large) class in the discussion. The biggest downfall of this class was the discussion sections. There seemed to be no guidelines for the TA's and since the discussion sections were required we often ended up talking about the same topics over and over. So Kastan was great, but the discussion sections weren't so hot.

Dec 2005

Kastan is an amusing, personable, intelligent fellow. A friendly and brilliant Renaissance Lit scholar who is in no way intimidating. You will know so much of Milton's theological, pedagogical, and political world at the end of this. His lecture jokes range from dud to chuckle to class hysteria. The lectures are most informative when Kastan narrows upon a textual segment and elaborates on the diction and versification. Though his knowledge of the theological and historical background (doctrinal disputes, the orders of angels) is impressive and sometimes necessary when providing possible material for your assignments. If you want more specificity than the lectures or the TAs can give, Kastan is usually available right after class and you can follow him back to his office to get his input on your digression or possible paper topic. And there are his office hours. Though since he is the Department Chair, he probably cannot devote so much office time to every one student.

Nov 2004

Professor Guibbory is a lovely woman. She is warm and down to earth. She allows student participation to structure her class. As a result, she offers very little scholarship and very little lecturing. We don't look at many passages closely, and I find that the class has very little focus. Unfortunately, I don't really feel that I'm learning anything from her. Nearly every comment that a student says is "exactly" right, in her words, and it's hard to perceive where her own knowledge of Milton actually lies. As far as her grading goes--she is not a harsh grader and offers very few critical comments on written work.

May 2003

A very nice lady, but something of an intellectual lightweight. One of her good lectures does some decent close reading, points out some interesting parallel constructions between Books 3 and 9 of Paradise Lost, for example, and analyzes the use of the word "fancie" in Milton. Moreover, she feels comfortable saying something like, "So what the fuck is Milton doing here?" in front of the class, which makes you feel good because, you know, the professor's bein' all cool. This is all well and good, and I would have been extremely impressed by it when I was a freshman. But I came to realize that what she does with a text is extremely hollow -- she will make you learn some things about Milton, but she will NOT develop your ability to read, interpret, and think about texts. As the semester went on, her leading-questions style became more and more agonizing. "What the fuck is Milton doing here?" was intended to launch us on a quest toward a particular answer she already knew -- not a genuine call for discussion. This is infuriating and did not help me think profound things about Milton. By the end of the class, I couldn't stand her teaching, and felt that I would have gotten more out of Milton if I had read Paradise Lost and some critical essays about it myself.

May 2003

Oh, she'll make you love Milton by the end of it. Prof. Crawford is such a great professor! Not only is she insightful, but she is enthusiastic about the material as well. Do take a class with her, any class, if you can. Milton, by nature, presents a challenge. But a worthwhile one. She'll teach you how to read a passage in depth and fall in love with English all over again...