not to be dramatic but this is the best class I've ever taken. I took it my first semester of college and have seriously used the stuff I learned from Prof Mercer in every class since! It truly gives you a framework that you can apply to everything and makes you see the world differently. Whenever anyone asks me for a class rec I always say Phil and Fem. Not to mention Prof Mercer is kind and hilarious and a genius. I love that woman!! If you are debating between this and an intro WGSS class I would say take this— gave me a very comprehensive foundation for gender studies classes and I don't think any other professor can compete w/ Mercer in this area. PLEASE COLUMBIA MAKE THIS A PART OF THE CORE!!
I am in love with this woman. She's smart, incisive, uproariously funny, and unapologetic about her sailor's mouth and radical agenda. The course was life-changing for me, already a die-hard feminist. Every reading challenged my perception of myself and the world around me, from queer theory to prison abolition to philosophy of science. I took it my first semester at Columbia and it made me even prouder to go to this school than I already was coming in, and I applied ED. No matter your gender identity, TAKE THIS CLASS. The world would be a better place if everyone studied with Christia.
This is THE BEST CLASS you can take at Columbia with one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, brilliant, funny, revered professors here. It was tough for sure, but stay close with your TA and meet with them often to discuss the material and make sure you have a good grip on all the concepts. It takes time and genuine effort to do well, but the course is so interesting that I never felt super pressured. Everyone NEEDS to take this class, no matter your background, major, gender. Seriously life-changing!!!
If you're looking for a class that rationally and logically assesses feminist and other ideologies, this is not the class for you. This is more of a gender studies/critical race theory class than it is about philosophy, and that was a big let down for me personally. Prof. Mercer touches briefly on the history of philosophy and some misogynist/racist underpinnings and then switches to modern day social justice issues. The class is very homogenous in its views, and there is little room for contrary discussion if your opinion differs from the norm. Most of the time it feels more so like I am being told what to think rather than being taught how to think for myself. If you're interested in social justice. gender theory, race, class, and power, then you'll love this class. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend. Prof. Mercer is a pretty cool professor nonetheless. She cusses in class and is unapologetic about her opinions, and I can appreciate that. The class was fairly easy as long as you go to lectures, and the guest speakers are really interesting and have great stuff to say about their personal experiences and views. Prof. Mercer's powerpoints can be a little bit confusing and difficult to navigate sometimes, but the readings and homework content tends to be very clear. Overall it was an enjoyable class, I just wish it was named differently so I'd have a better idea of what to expect from it.
I just took this course and let me tell you, EVERYONE should take this before graduation. I am not kidding. When I saw the previous reviews, I went just to meet Professor Mercer, and although she will try to scare off people in the first lecture by showing the amount of work we'll have, its worth it. This course will teach you how to think, how to see things differently, to consider things you've never thought of, to analyze, to challenge, it gives you a different mentality. This class should be a requirement. I've never written a review on Culpa, but Professor Mercer is so good that it made me want to write one. I do not understand how this woman does not have a gold nugget on here. She is the best professor I've had in my 4 years at Columbia. She is amazing at explaining philosophy and super complex concepts in a simple manner, repeats things to make sure everyone understands, and includes current events as examples to ground these abstract theories on. The discussion posts really help you understand the material and apply it to your daily life. The papers help you think concisely. It is an amazing amazing amazing class and I wish everyone would take it. And GUYS, don't be scared of the "Feminism" in Phil and Fem, this class is genderless –– everything applies to everyone, and you will not be sorry for going. Trust me.
Christia is absolutely amazing. Besides possessing a wealth of knowledge in different areas of philosophy, she's one of those professors that truly cares about her students and will encourage them every step of the way. She's not afraid to voice her opinions in lecture, especially about politics (as some have already stated). This may bother some students, but I found her openness very refreshing and endearing. She's very clear about who she is and what she stands for, which goes a long way in making her more approachable as a person and mentor. Philosophy and Feminism provided a good introduction to philosophy, as well as the changing attitudes about sex and gender throughout history. She said on the first class that the course was Philosophy AND Feminism, not Philosophy OF Feminism or Feminism IN Philosophy. She definitely stuck with this idea, as the course began with philosophical ideas (think Plato) and eventually turned more sociological near the end (like discussing the Prison Industrial Complex or Anita Hill case). The class was definitely geared towards more introductory students, as all of the papers had very clear and direct prompts and the class consisted of a midterm and final with passage IDs (which usually doesn't happen in upper-level philosophy courses). That being said, I'd definitely recommend the class to other philosophy majors (as well as other students), as Christia covered a lot of very complicated texts (like Judith Butler's Gender Trouble or Foucault's History of Sexuality), albeit at a very approachable level for the rest of the class. Regardless, the choices in her syllabus are definitely worth reading, and if you're interested delving further, going to office hours to meet with Christia about them. Also I don't think I would have been introduced to such a sheer diversity of topics in another philosophy course (epistemic justice, objectivity in science, discourse-power, feminist epistemology, prison industrial complex, Augustine's impact on feminism, performative gender, etc etc). Christia does a very great job of weaving these ideas together. Christia definitely wanted all of her students to succeed and actually take away something from the course. I'm not sure about the exact grading distribution, but I think it's very likely that if you put in effort and genuinely think about these texts and ideas (as you should be doing anyway), you'll do well in this course -- and hopefully leave having become a more aware person. Also if you're given the chance, take a seminar with her too! She's great in lecture, but she is even better in smaller more intimate setting (as are most professors). As a last note, Christia shares this Foucault quote a lot in class, where Foucault says his philosophy is like a toolbox and he "writes for users, not readers." This is definitely the focus of Christia's class and she leaves all her students very well-prepared to apply the knowledge gained from this class to various different fields and aspects of life. In short, TAKE THIS CLASS. Also shoutout to TA Conor Cullen! He's great, helpful, kind, and made himself readily available to his students!
Christia is absolutely amazing. Besides possessing a wealth of knowledge in different areas of philosophy, she's one of those professors that truly cares about her students and will encourage them every step of the way. She's not afraid to voice her opinions in lecture, especially about politics (as some have already stated). This may bother some students, but I found her openness very refreshing and endearing. She's very clear about who she is and what she stands for, which goes a long way in making her more approachable as a person and mentor. Philosophy and Feminism provided a good introduction to philosophy, as well as the changing attitudes about sex and gender throughout history. She said on the first class that the course was Philosophy AND Feminism, not Philosophy OF Feminism or Feminism IN Philosophy. She definitely stuck with this idea, as the course began with philosophical ideas (think Plato) and eventually turned more sociological near the end (like discussing the Prison Industrial Complex or Anita Hill case). The class was definitely geared towards more introductory students, as all of the papers had very clear and direct prompts and the class consisted of a midterm and final with passage IDs (which usually doesn't happen in upper-level philosophy courses). That being said, I'd definitely recommend the class to other philosophy majors (as well as other students), as Christia covered a lot of very complicated texts (like Judith Butler's Gender Trouble or Foucault's History of Sexuality), albeit at a very introductory and approachable level for the rest of the class. Regardless, the choices in her syllabus are definitely worth reading, and if you're interested delving further, go to office hours to meet with Christia about them. Also I don't think I would have been introduced to such a sheer diversity of topics in another philosophy course (epistemic justice, objectivity in science, discourse-power, feminist epistemology, prison industrial complex, Augustine's impact on feminism, performative gender, etc etc). Christia does a very great job of weaving these ideas together. Christia definitely wanted all of her students to succeed and actually take away something from the course. I'm not sure about the exact grading distribution, but I think it's very likely that if you put in effort and genuinely think about these texts and ideas (as you should be doing anyway), you'll do well in this course -- and hopefully leave having become a more aware person. Also if you're given the chance, take a seminar with her too! She's great in lecture, but she is even better in smaller more intimate setting (as are most professors). As a last note, Christia shares this Foucault quote a lot in class, where Foucault says his philosophy is like a toolbox and he "writes for users, not readers." This is definitely the focus of Christia's class and she leaves all her students very well-prepared to apply the knowledge gained from this class to various different fields and aspects of life. Also shoutout to TA Conor Cullen! He's great, helpful, kind, and made himself readily available to his students!
I always said that the main reason I wanted to come to Columbia was for the incredible professors, but even then, I couldn't have imagined the privelege of having such an incredible teacher as Professor Mercer. Everyone I spoke to in the class worshipped her, and, as many often said, hoped "to one day become half the person professor Mercer is". She was funny, charming, and highly encapturing. Anyone could tell that she was thoroughly passionate about her work, as well as about the general state of affairs at Columbia. I can honestly say that Professor Mercer changed the way I see the world through her lectures on oppression, power, change, etc. Take this class, any class, with Professor Mercer if you can. It will be one of your best experiences at Columbia, guaranteed.
What an amazing class. I will admit that Professor Mercer's can be a bit scattered and seemingly unorganized at times, but I came to realize while studying for the final how well everything fit together, and the reason her Power Points overlapped were to emphasize how everything we were learning was intertwined. I left the final exam feeling inspired, and actually enjoyed taking the test, which is not an easy thing for a professor to make happen. Professor Mercer is brilliant and bold, and has such an inspiring presence. This was my first semester at college, and it was such an amazing way to start it. I highly recommend this class!
This class should be a graduation requirement. I do not think I have ever encountered a class that has so drastically changed my worldview. I feel as if I matured three years in the span of the semester. Professor Mercer is a glorious, spastic and intelligent woman. A wonderful class for every gender identity, race and age.
Philosophy and Feminism changed my life. You might think this is an exaggeration, but no! Quite the contrary. As Professor Mercer said, this course will give you the tools you need to shape and better understand the world you live. And, better yet, change it! I decided to become a Philosophy Major because of this class, and it was the best decision I've EVER made. Not only are the readings and discussions interesting and relevant to the subject matter, but also Professor Mercer does an incredible job at explaining them and putting them into perspective/contrasting them with other issues. If you haven't taken a philosophy (or gender studies) course, this is a must! If you have...this is a must too! Just do it. Last, but not least, Professor Mercer teaches the course with enthusiasm, tries to get to know each one of her students and strikes the perfect balance between class discussion and lecturing. It's a pleasure to be in this class. At least, sit on the class the first week just to see how you feel about it.
I took this class a few years ago and and now doing my Master's at SIPA, to date it is still one of my FAVORITE classes of all time!! The subject matter and Professor are both engaging and thought provoking! I would recommend that EVERYONE take this class as it will stimulate your mind! The class readings are a bit difficult to understand if it is your first time reading books on this subject matter, but in class Professor Mercer reviews the readings in class and you come away feeling silly that you didn't understand the readings...but fret not, they ARE difficult readings!
There are two kinds of students who take Philosophy and Feminism: philosophers, and feminists. I would caution anyone in the former category who is considering taking this class to think about it again. Before I begin, let me explain the many "disagree" votes that will surely be cast upon this review â€” I took this class for the opposite reason that most others did (I was a philosopher, they were feminists), which from the outset doomed me to a semester of slight frustration with this class. Our spring 2010 section was, unsurprisingly, 92% female. Most of these were the Barnard, fair-trade-coffee-drinking liberal elitist type who went to SXSW for spring break. I don't dislike these women â€” I, in fact, a lot of the time more or less fit into this stereotype. However, I had taken philosophy classes before and was planning on being a philosophy concentrator and was taking the class to do philosophy, whereas most of my classmates were there to learn about women and their struggle. This general characteristic of my classmates led to the almost universal worship of Christia Mercer. I don't dislike Christia â€” she is a fairly cool woman, she tells funny stories, she swears, she's not married to the father of her children out of solidarity for gay marriage rights. She is also a fairly interesting lecturer. Okay, great. But the one big problem I had with Christia was how often she repeated the phrase, "Sorry, now I'm just ranting, BUT..." It is wonderful that she is so interested in feminism and is invested in what she is teaching us, but when her lectures so frequently collapse into Christia Mercer's Very Strong Opinions About Topic X, I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the structure of the course. Therefore, for those who agreed with Christia's opinions simply by virtue of the fact that they were feminists who hadn't taken the time to really think their reasoning through, the class was wonderful. But for those of us who held alternate opinions, her lectures were slightly frustrating. Our unit titled "Ethnicity, Gender, and Truth" was perhaps the best example of this: we spent two weeks reading essays about the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas debacle, and it was clear by the end of the first lecture on this unit that there was only ONE correct interpretation of the events. In other words, Christia's Way or the High Way. There was an incident during one lecture in which some particularly strong-minded students openly disagreed with her; everyone else in the class was of the opinion that these students were simply being belligerent troublemakers. The way they addressed Christia was indeed a bit hostile, but Christia's equally brutal response to their points made me cringe. It was clear to me that several months' worth of pent-up frustration with Christia's teaching style had simply gotten to them. However, let me finish this review with the good news (?) that even if you disagree with everything Christia is saying, you will still probably be able to do reasonably well in the class. The only thing graded is your papers, and as long as you argue convincingly you'll do fine. The only thing you should think about before taking this class is whether you'll be able to stand a semester's worth of Christia's opinion-spouting. It's not impossible to get something out of the class, but if you're a proponent of approaching philosophy objectively, I would caution you against taking this class.
Philosophy and Feminism is absolutely amazing.Furthermore, Christia Mercer is absolutely amazing. She is an incredibly bright philosophical mind, yet the most humble professor I have encountered at Columbia. More than anything, she wants her students to fully grasp the material at hand (and hopefully, be affected by it as well). She recounts personal (and often, humorous) anecdotes in attempting to illustrate concepts from the texts. She'll often sit on the front table, knees crossed, as she listens to students share their thoughts about the class material. She has the most miraculous way of making a 60+ lecture very, very, intimate. Absolutely Nothing is boring with this woman. This might also be because the class material is so exciting. While the texts are not very philosophically demanding (some philosophy majors get frustrated with this, but i wasn't), they are all very gripping. Once again, I just have to illustrate how humble and wonderful Mercer is. She teaches for everyone. Please, please don't graduate without taking a class with her.
Although I refuse to take any more philosophy after this class, I recommend it to all students. I had taken neither philosophy nor womenâ€™s studies previously and thus found the subjects in conjunction eye-opening. Though not my favorite, of the classes I have taken in college thus far this one has most changed how I think about myself, my authority, how people treat me, and how I treat others. Mercerâ€™s tension rises visibly when an account of sexually-based injustice prickles her but she can also laugh at such accounts for their absurdity. The reading is dense, dense, dense, but usually fascinating, if you can get through it. Likewise papers are challenging and itâ€™s demoralizing to think youâ€™ve turned in a winner only to learn your foundational assumption was wrong. Generally you can salvage your grade by writing well and being consistent (even if you are consistently wrong), and if youâ€™re ambitious there are many T.A./prof hours of which you can avail yourself. Nonetheless, you will likely earn your lowest grade or close to it in this class and Mercer makes sure to remind you of that, which became annoying. Her lectures are generally quite clearâ€”studentsâ€™ comments less soâ€”except on the occasions she refers to other philosophers or ideas unfamiliar to students new to philosophy. Nietzsche? Marx? Meta-physics? Sure, Iâ€™ve heard of themâ€¦ The final exam proved much more difficult than her repeated admonitions to â€œrelaxâ€ would suggest. Having done nearly all the reading, I found it harder than any other exam I had, and I was agitated by how, after two hours taking the test, she worsened a high-pressure situation by telling the class, â€œIt shouldnâ€™t take this long.â€ Regardless, her quirks and humor sandwiched between integral issues of gender, sexuality, race, and power make the class worthwhile and will make you question the accuracy of yours and othersâ€™ claims to truth and authority within and beyond feminist issues.
I took this class hoping for an interesting intro to philosophy and briefing on/critique of feminism. It ended up being a pretty limited look at philosophy, and Mercer laid on the feminism pretty thick. Mercer would constantly repeat statements like, "Don't worry, we all agree here," driving home her point that there would be no dissension (grading of papers reflected this view). The readings were pretty interesting, and Mercer was certainly passionate about them, but she basically repeated the same couple of points all semester and continually interrupted students during discussion. She also tried way too hard to be profound and inspiring, and her metaphors to this effect were pretty strange. Some students went for it and seemed deeply inspired, but I'm not quite sure why. Her lectures sometimes got ridiculous (she tried to teach us Plato by naming the tree outside the window Betsy, and also told us that an excellent way to challenge societal norms was to run up to our uncles and scream "Blow job!"). The papers were interesting and challenging, and reviewing them with the TA helped, but Mercer was more interested in being a tough grader in theory than in actually challenging us and making us better writers. Most people in the class got a B, and there were few As. All in all, it wasn't a waste of time (the readings were cool), but Mercer was a dud.
This class was a nice introduction to both feminism and philosophy. Would have been nice to have at least one intro class in either under my belt, but it wasn't too bad without. Mercer is a particular personality, and I wouldn't want to cross her, but she's mostly an engaging lecture. She rambles a bit, and expects a lot. I was occasionally dissapointed in the her attempts to foster disscusson in a fifty person class. Overall though, the material she covered has proved invaluable not only academically but also in everyday life. While this class did not lead me to a huge epiphany, I do see the world in a different light from time to time because of the topics covered. She's a tough grader, and passes those standards on to her TA's. The reading is dense and MUST BE DONE in order to get anything from this class.
Professor Mercer is by far one of the best Columbia professors IÂ’ve had. I took the course to fill a gen ed requirement, and it ended up being my favorite class. She is so brilliant it hurts. I always left her class inspired, and thinking about the things she taught. Material that may have seemed irrelevant to feminism all came together by the end of each unit. If you have any interest in philosophy or gender studies, I highly recommend this class. Even if you donÂ’t, you will still learn a lot. This is not an easy class, so you do have to work hard. I think the majority of the class got a B, and only a few students got A's. There is a lot of reading (which you really do have to keep up with), and the grading is pretty tough. While thereÂ’s a lot of reading, itÂ’s all interesting and relevant to the discussions. I recommend going to see her with an outline of your paper before you write it. This is the kind of class that makes the ridiculous cost of tuition worth every penny.
I took this class first semester of my first year, and Professor Mercer was everything I thought college professors would be like. In fact, I didn't really appreciate it that much until I had some obnoxious classes. Her lectures were interesting, exciting, funny, and relevant. Everything we read kind of tied together in the end, and at times you felt like you were on an intellectual exploration with her. She was a nice person as well, not too dogmatic (as some womens studies professors can be). The readings were varied and good, take this class if you have an interest in philosophy or feminism, but be warned that most classes in these feilds will be a disappointment after this one.
Take this class. I signed up for it completely unaware of the many things it would make me reconsider. She'll honestly tell you that she has every intention of changing your opinions on some of the topics - as long as you're aware that you're being indoctrinated, accept it. I left class everyday (never skipped) wanting to call someone and discuss the topics and ideas. The paper grades were frightening at first but as long as you show improvement and understanding your final grade will reflect it. Her lectures are stimulating and often entertaining. This is one of those classes that you'll remember and be glad that you took long afterwards.
This course is a must-take for any budding feminist (and for all those generally curious in the feminist approach to philosophy). Philosophy and Feminism offered a comprehensive review of religious and intellectual movements that contributed to the misogyny-zation of Western culture. Prof Mercer has an insightful grasp on the subject matter that will illuminate the most slippery of concepts. I highly recommend this course - in fact, it should be required.
This class was a good breathe of fresh air. It really gets your mind going and you start to question the things that are not usually to be played around with. In Mercer's Class nothing is sacred. You tear apart the lies and get to the good stuff. Mercer is excellent in keeping the class on its feet and keeping the students involved. Mercer is also extremely funny and well learned. I strongly reccomend this class to anyone that is willing to leave with a whole different perspective on life.
Very interesting class. Prof. Mercer is clear, concise, and provocative in her explanations and questions. She stays on topic and her examples provide areas for research or fun reading. I highly recommend anyone, philosophy major or not, to take this class. On the other hand, the Prof. Mercer has a lot of students come during her office hours so it is difficult to have discussions with her on class texts. Though she doesn't shoo you out the door, she does give brief explanations before you feel the peeping heads of other students looking through the crack. I think she's a fair grader. The majority of the class got B's. She looks for a clear, well developed and argued point. You can't crap your way through her papers, short as they are. Also, she'll warn you not to choose topics outside her recommended list unless you confirm with her first. Please take that advice if you're in the class. Prof. Mercer does come off a little prim and proper and she does argue her point if she doesn't agree with you, but I think that's a good thing. She articulates her reasons for her argument and you can critique her response if you like. Some students did seem to get on her "bad side" but I think it's only because they either didn't do the reading or gave a long speech with little evidence from the text. Yet even those students get a nod for good dissenting arguments. In the end, Prof. Mercer is not my favorite person in the world, but she is a wonderful teacher who lets you know her expectations and provides you with interesting and intellectual materials.
Professor Mercer is both witty and compassionate in the classroom. Her secure knowledge of her subject matter allows her to bounce complicated ideas back and forth between of her students, while at the same time providing an excellent introduction to philosophy and feminism. At first I was skeptical about this combination of topics. I was worried that looking at philosophy through a feminist lense would do damage to either one discipline or the other. However, Professor Mercer tackled epistemology, virtue, and science by discussing flaws in the methods used long ago and today. I realized quickly that there was plenty of important ground to cover. The combination made so much sense that I've selected much of my thesis writing material directly from her syllabus. Mercer is very willing to meet with students outside of class. She expects her students to have done the readings, and rewards those who have with good conversation, and valuable explanations. If you are willing to work reaosnably hard and show intellectual respect for the course material, you will enjoy being Christia Mercer's student.
Professor Mercer is one of the best professors I have had in the philosophy department, and as a concentrator in philosophy, I have had quite a few teachers in this department. In her lectures, she detangles the often ambiguous and complicated structures of a philosophical argument, enabling the non-philosophically oriented student to grasp the topics at hand. She is extremely upbeat and positive, and she thoroughly enjoys interacting with her students. This course had approximately 40 students, and Professor Mercer was able, with ease, to run the course like a seminar. She encouraged myself and other students to question, critique, and dialogue about the topics. Feminism and Philosophy is the best course I have taken in the philosophy department, and I feel that my feminist foundation has been strengthened, as well as my critical thinking skills sharpened, as a result of Professor Mercer's teaching. I highly recommend her and this course.