The Ethnographic Imagination

Apr 2021

I want to like this course more than I do. I wholeheartedly agree with the previous review in saying that I left every lecture feeling like something important was said but having no idea what it was. I continuously found myself taking notes by simply writing word for word what she said because I didn't understand her enough to reword it. Her lectures, of which she uses no PowerPoints, feels as though she is simply talking at you for an hour and a half, and nearly all of it goes in one ear and out the other. Because of this, the assignments were often just me stringing together random thoughts from lecture and regurgitating them into an essay. Prof. Morris is very intelligent and kind, I simply just don't understand anything she says.

Sep 2017

I took this class because I was (and still am?) considering the Anthro major. I took the course spring 2017. Professor Morris, as many have pointed out, is a very brilliant lecturer, but the material is very difficult to grasp.I left every lecture feeling like something very important was said, but not understanding what it was at all. I am not sure how much I grew as a student. To be fair, I'm sure if I had went to her office hours (I was too intimidated) she would have cleared some things up, but honestly practically every sentence was difficult to comprehend. Its possible the problem had more to do with me as a student than her a teacher, but that's only something I will be able to figure out reflecting back when the painful memory of this class is not as fresh.

May 2017

I'm not sure if it's an option to take this class with someone else but if you can you should. Morris is an adept rhetorician, I'll give her that. Please don't be fooled. Intelligence does not make you a good professor unless you can get it to rub off, which she didn't. Everyone was getting B's and C's in the class. I should also mention that Morris does 2 of the worst things a professor can do 1) make you regurgitate whatever lens it is that she's reading onto an ethnography and 2) consistently relate texts to other texts that aren't on the syllabus i.e. we spent two whole weeks talking about Kant and another week talking about Derrida. Neither author was assigned to us. Everyone in my section was either extremely confused or too insecure to admit it. I will say that my TA (Danielle) was the saving grace of this course. I am blown away by her ability to break down difficult texts and to decode Morris's out-of-touch lectures. Thank your local grad student.

Apr 2013

Professor Abu-Lughod does not deserve bad reviews. She is a sweet woman with extension knowledge. She is forgiving, accepting, and overall willing to speak with us all about questions we may have. It seems the anthropology department has changed up how they are teaching intro's by means of rotation of the professors. Which ultimately leads to well-regarded Columbia professors who are usually teaching seminars at graduate levels to teach us undergrads. It's actually pretty cool to get that opportunity, and I am grateful for it. Lila does indeed have disjointed lectures, but by the end of the class she does get out what she's trying to say. You just actually* have to listen. Workload is very light because she claims to understand college life through her new experience as a kids-in-college mother. As such, it means heavy workload at the beginning of semesters (2 3-pagers, 1 write up, a class assignment) and thins it out toward the end of semester. It's perfect when your other courses demand so much of you. If you haven't noticed, I would take a course with her again.

May 2011

The Good: 1. Hilarious guy. If you like corny jokes, he's the professor for you. 2. He's genuine and he's completely interested in what the class is studying, even if for him it's really basic anthro content. 3. Approachable, intelligent and more than willing to take questions and spend the time necessary to answer them. The Bad: 1. The readings and whatever Lomnitz lectures on are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I think the only full book I read was at the very beginning of the semester, because after I realized that what we discuss in class and what we read at home or not the same, I had no motivation to do the readings. Instead, I skimmed all of the rest and did perfectly fine. 2. He goes off on ridiculous tangents that are more frustrating than interesting. 3. This girl next to me would chew gum with her mouth open really loudly. It was gross. 4. He wasn't prepared for a few classes and it was obvious.

May 2011

This is an intro anthro class, so don't get your hopes to high for a tightly organized straightforward lecture series. As an anthropology major, I enjoyed the class. The readings were well chosen and well organized and explained in Lomnitz's lectures. He always came to class with an interesting question to grapple with and explain through the reading and his own work. Lomnitz keeps the room entertained, often making jokes or dancing. He also was good at keeping the room involved even in a lecture in one of those hamilton lecture rooms. He was very responsive to questions and requests. Some people complained about him being disorganized, but I think his less linear lecture style is more honest and more able to reach the depth necessary to talk about ethnography. Lomnitz is really smart and straight forward, and I would love to take another class with him.

May 2009

Prof. Morris obviously knows her stuff. Her lectures are eloquent and brilliant, but many times incomprehensible and convoluted. She does not avail herself to students and seems inaccessible. The readings were time consuming and extensive but tied together well and most were pretty interesting. As an anthropology major I enjoyed the class as a whole but would quickly suggest other classes if you're looking for a basic anthro course with a professor more obviously passionate about the subject.

Jun 2006

Rosalind Morris is as thought-provoking, radical, challenging, generous, poetic, tough, shy, bold, knowledgeable, deeply sensitive, open-minded, and thoughful as it gets! What a beautiful human being, at once bringing you to tears with her intelligence and surprising you with her delightful sarcasm. You'll want to be her. This is what Anthropology should aspire to. You will read a broad range of texts critically, and engage with them in your own writing. Professor Morris' courses provide an opportunity for deep rigor and creativity.

May 2006

Professor Morris is very intelligent, eloquent, and passionate about anthropology. It took me a while to get used to her lecture style because she has a soft voice and really likes to narrow in on one specific point and belabor it, but her lectures will make you think. The texts that we read in the second half of the semester were much more interesting than those in the first, and they are all so different that you get a very broad view of different anthropological studies with a focus on ethnography. There is a lot of reading in this course, but I would recommend it for anyone interested in anthropology who wants to be challenged to really think.

Apr 2006

If you are an anthropology major, or have any semblance of developing interest in anthropology, you MUST take this class!! [by the same token, people who want a filler course or superficial cultural analysis should NOT take this class. it will be a waste of your time--and a shame--unless you plan to really engage with Prof Morris and the material] Professor Morris is hands down the most brilliant, challenging and inspiring prof I have had in my past three years at CU. The texts on the syllabus are very interesting, but more than that, her lectures highlight and thematically tie together points and concepts that you wouldn't even think of. The bottom line is, she provokes you to really THINK--think about the texts and think about how you think and listen. By the end of the semester, you will have come so much closer to understanding what it means to be an ethnographer and to write an ethnography. Another amazing thing is that despite/along with her brilliance, she is kind and approachable and promotes class discussion (although I admittedly spent half the semester intimidated by her intelligence). Trust me, if you like socio-cultural anthro right now, after you take this class, you will love anthro. And possibly start laying plans to dedicate your life, or at least your college career, to it.

May 2005

Agreed with the other two reviewers that Gustav is incredibly smart, fits the "professorial" mould, and--although a work in progress--is an incredibly exciting work in progress. Above all (and to avoid overlap with the other reviews), Gustav is here to teach and communicate. This is not just a salaried job for him, this is not just an arcane precommitment to stand in front of a class and lecture. No, he wants very much to communicate and that is (IMHO), sometime lacking at Columbia. Gustav experimented by converting a weekly "lecture" slot into smaller dicussion sections which he (or his TAs) ran. The idea was to engage the invidiual; while this meant that you can't really just sit in, not read and incessantly fudge, it also meant that you tend to get much more out of class. Also, he responded to emails reasonably well, given his self-stated lack of comfort with digitalia; he even gave out his home phone so that we could reach him if needed! Research-wise, didn't really know too much. Digital Tools (online) project was mentioned but in class, he didn't dwell too much on his (or any) particular project but was always keen to convey (as mentioned) a critical and contextualized understanding of theories and developments in Anthro. For reasons best known to Columbia, it seems that Gustav won't be here much longer at CU. It is a waste, a downright shame. I, for one, shall sadly lament this; when Gustav becomes the superstar professor he deserves to be, CU will wonder why it missed out.

May 2005

Professor Peebles was one of the smartest professors I've had here. The guy was a freakin' book who could speak intelligently and knowledgeably about virtually any topic that was brought up. Plus, no pretension, no use of big words for their own sake, total understanding of anything he'd allude to. Again, ridiculously intelligent. He never completely bought into any of the theorists we read without also critiquing them, though he always did his best to make the argument work. Oh, and he was so personable too. Very available outside of class. I really liked him. Easily one of my top three professors. I wish I could have taken more courses with him!

May 2005

This class is basically a more souped up version of Intepretation of Culture. If you are a major take it, if you are not a major but want to have a more in depth look at anthro take it instead of Interpretation of cultures They just made it part of the requirement for the major. I was moaning and groaning about having to take it when there were other cool seminars at the same time. However, it was better than I expected. There is also a digital tools section where you read some field notes about Nepal from a famous anthropologist from a website. Besides being so hard to read, the notes were interesting to view the process of the production of anthropological scholarship. He is new a professor, just got his PHD a couple of years ago, so he is still working things out. Often times his lectures are disorganized and he ends up just listing names of books that are related instead of explaining the concepts behind them. However, Bourdieu ,Derrida and other members of the ilustrious French gang are damn confusing, especially to teach to undergrads who for the most part don't know their diachrony / synchrony (and I am still not entirely sure what they mean OR how to spell them) . Often, Peebles just quotes them and shows how ridiculous they can be underneath all the theorhetical gymnastics. Sometimes this class feels like a big vocab lesson, in a good way. I think in 10 years he will be a really great professor, he is excited about teaching and his research which always makes for a better prof. When he talks about his own work with relates to economics and markets, I felt myself perk up wih interest. Usually you can gear him in that direction if you don't want to talk about one of the more boring readings. Top readings are Aramis, A Sahlins piece, and Benedict and Geertz. Oh and he is easy on the eyes and likes to dress up like a stereotypical professor with cordouroy etc. A good class to have cocktail party bits shoot out of your mouth. Have impressed a few cute grad students with drunken comments derived from this class, but once they press I have to admit that I haven't actually READ Weber's discussion on Charisma. I wish we had small excerpts from the readings he mentioned in class so I might actually know what is going on deeper in the theory instead of knowing the surface sparkle. But I guess that is what this class is, a tip of the anthro ice berg, peep in the peepshow...If you want to know more you have to take more anthro classes.

Aug 2004

Sherry Ortner comes from a long line of anthropological tradition at Columbia (schooled by Clifford Geertz, etc.). She tried to cram in all sorts of readings. This class had nothing to do really with "ethnography" in any central way at all. Most of the readings were attempts to understand the breadth of ethnographic subjects. A lot of reading, most of which you don't have to do. Some of the reading is extremely interesting, others rather dull and purposeless.