Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture

Dec 2014

This is by far the best global course class I have ever taken at Columbia (tbh though that's not saying much). Berninghausen is a good teacher, though a little green behind the ears (this is her first ever class), and is spunky, charismatic and passionate about both Art History and Indian Art. She made class lively and interesting enough that I never wanted to skip, and actually seemed to care about her students. She was always willing to meet up and talk about any concerns or questions you had about the class, material, or just life in general. I want to make this a fair review, so it must be noted that there are a few people who would disagree with me. The class was an interesting mix of Art History majors and others (about 50/50), and a couple of the non majors felt that Berninghausen favored the majors. This is a tricky suggestion to unpick, partly because of Berninghausen's level of investment in the class (which was very high) and her personality type / teaching style, which is quite personal (we learned a lot about her trips to India, her Hindu husband, her wedding, her childhood, etc.). So while I'd say that it's true that Berninghausen is not a purely objective, calculating person, and it's probably true that she did favor some of the students, I don't think the divide was between the Art History majors and the non-Art History majors, but between those who showed interest/enthusiasm and those who did not. For instance, she definitely graded you higher if you went in to talk to her about your paper before writing it. I think it's just that there's a correlation between people interested in this [Art History] class, and people majoring in Art History. I'm not trying to defend her: it's totally unfair that she was biased in this way, and you shouldn't be expected to act enthusiastic about something if you are not (and it should certainly not impact your grade). It's just something to be aware of. I think it can be an enjoyable class for all majors (it really wasn't heavy on the Art History). I hadn't taken a non-Western art class before this but really enjoyed it. The material we looked at and discussed is fascinating and I feel like I now have a basic understanding of the art, history, geography, religion and politics of a country I knew absolutely nothing about before.

May 2012

This is a lecture class but very discussion oriented. The first half of the course covers the art & architecture of major sites such as the Sanchi stupas, Ajanta, Elephanta, and Khajuraho. I would say that the material gets more interesting after spring break when the Islamic and Colonial periods are covered -- you are exposed to many more readings that have a critical stance/different viewpoint on particular Indian "masterpieces" such as the Taj Mahal. Mughal miniature paintings are delightful to look at. I also especially enjoyed the post-colonial/modern period and interpreting the ways that India is portrayed as a country. The trip to the Rubin Museum was the icing on top. Professor Kaligotla is incredibly helpful both during and outside of class, always willing to answer questions and meet up if you have any special concerns about your paper/midterm. At first I was worried because she seemed like a really harsh grader, but if you demonstrate that you want to improve and make the extra efforts to participate actively in class, then she will recognize that. I knew next to nothing about Indian culture before joining the class, and I came out of it with a broad and solid understanding of India's artistic past and present. A highly recommended course for anyone interested in exploring art historical topics outside of the Western realm.

Jan 2009

Just to clarify Neeraja was not a TA of this course (as previous reviews suggest she was for whatever she taught before), but the Professor. Great class, great professor. When I read the reviews about Neeraja before the first day of Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture I was horrified and desperate to find another class to take. My schedule did not allow this change, and I thought I was destined to suffer, seeing as the previous reviews are horrible. I found Neeraja to be a great professor who loves the subject of Indian Art-this is her first time teaching this class. A class about Indian art can be daunting if you know nothing about Indian heritage, culture, or religion. However, Neeraja made this learning experience fun and exciting, choosing interesting articles to read and discuss. She was very patient and helpful with these new terms, myths, etc. We received handouts at almost each class to supplement what we read in the book and these were helpful. Class participation is important to your grade. Everyone will present on at least one article, which is mainly just leading a discussion on what you read, guided by Neeraja. The exams were not easy and did require a comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter. There was never an easy A, but I also was not aware of anyone failing an exam or making below a C. Her grading of our papers was less lenient, but the same principle from above applies. I also wanted to briefly mention how approachable Neeraja is. On many occasions I had to discuss personal issues with her after class and she was understanding and very willing to help. If you have problems in the class--go to Neeraja's office hours or make an appointment! Also, she is very helpful with paper feedback if you take questions to her before the due date. This class is not an easy A, but if you show up to class, do the reading and participate in class you will be fine. This is a great choice of career for Neeraja. I'm sorry the previous reviewers had such a bad time experience with her, maybe she wasn't an expert on the subject matter she taught prior to this class? In this class she is an expert on the material, and if you're willing to put out the effort in this class, not only will you learn a lot, but you will enjoy it...I did!

Dec 2005

Dehejia is an extremely competent teacher and well- versed in the subject. In addition to her quite literally writing the book, she expounds upon the subject in accessible and enjoyable ways. Subject matter is relatively easy to comprehend and the tests are not difficult. Essentially, the readings comprise the majority of the instruction, so pay attention when doing so. The class discussions are not as extensive as other classes, but lively nonetheless. The tests are a "name that tune" affair. Slides remain on view for 10 minutes as you write about the significance of the piece and detail any arguments and theories heard in either the class or in the readings. It is easy to fill 2 bluebooks front and back writing about the pieces though. I would wholeheartedly recommend this class. A perfect class to take for Art Humanities requirements and a fine one indeed for meeting people and making connections.

Dec 2003

Professor Dehejia is really solid on her material. She's worked extensively in both research and curating fields, and is a pretty well-renowned figure in Indian art circles. Her lectures are extremely informative and insightful, and she tends to encourage student participation at all times, especially on class readings. Her command of the subject is overall terrific. The only problem that I found, and it wasn't really a huge issue at all, was her lack of warmth. While she occasionally liked to joke with students, she was one of my least personable professors, which was particularly frustrating as she's such an authority in her field. Other than that, it's a great class to take if you're interested in this topic.