Topics in Asian Civilization: Middle East & India

Aug 2006

just a biased professor who portrays a nation, culture, religion, and region as backward, decrepit, downtrodden, and a shame for the world. a major cultures class? i would say not. the reason: hinduism is portrayed from the observer's eyes, while the christianity/judaism/islam are taught from the believer's eyes. simply ridiculous. i could not bear sitting through that class at some points. the class was supposed to be about civilizations, but we spent approximately 5 minutes on the indus valley civ and 20 minutes on the moghul empire. Rest of the class was spent on how women are abused, sati (an ancient practice that she herself said was no longer an issue...then why did we waste time on it?), and the sexual texts of india. horrendous portrayal of this land. Aside from all this was the fact that she referred to an ancient text as "full of crazy S--T". While the text may be controversial, it was pretty ridiculous of her to say that in the classroom. In my opinion, she should not even be teaching at Columbia, and should not teach anywhere...until she understands that at this point in time, we have to learn BOTH positives and negatives of a culture, not just one. She has discouraged me from taking any more MEALAC classes about South Asia.

Mar 2006

A teacher of the old-school variety: class attendance & participation as well as clearly demonstrated effort (on the student's part) to grapple with the material counts for big brownie points with Busch. (She's also a stickler for proper grammar and syntax - high school-ese isn't going to wash here.) The flip side of the coin, of course, is that she also goes out of her way to ensure that the primary purpose of the course - ie. learning - is achieved. In a class of 150 students, she encouraged us to meet with her individually to go over our paper topics (and was extremely helpful with additional sources in my case). Having said all that, her style of teaching - and this is a problem by no means hers alone, not by a looong shot - is probably more conducive to smaller group settings, eg. seminars and the like. She doesn't lecture, she talks. (Pritchett is another MEALAC name that leaps to mind.) That works great when there are only 20 people in the classroom - communication becomes a two-way street - but when you have to contend with a lecture hall mostly full of freshmen and juniors who behave like 5 yr olds with a severe learning disability then blank-eyed shoe-gazing, a general air of somnolence, and little incentive to engage in the learning process are only to be expected. (Which probably explains her heavy-handed tactics.) This was her first semester teching the course though, so I guess the rough spots should be ironed out the next time round. The material is structured thematically, which forces quite a bit of independent thinking, as opposed to passive listening and reception.

Dec 2004

Prof. Bakhle is amazing. She is an incredibly enthusiastic and engaging lecturer, genuine person, and critical in her approach to the course and its material. This course is not a history course, per se; rather, the course focuses on several themes (nationalism, modernization, religion, revolution, gender issues, etc) and then puts each theme into critical discourse. You really cannot ask for more from a List A major cultures. Bakhle only teaches half of the course and then Prof. Massad takes over. Bakhle's lectures were always packed, while Massad's were half empty. You've probably heard that Bakhle is a hardass. This is true; however, all she asks is that you show up on time to lecture and not fall asleep or have Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" ringtone blast throughout the lecture hall. But if her lectures themselves aren't enough to keep you up, you shouldn't be there in the first place. This course is a must-take.

Apr 2003

My friends and I are flabbergasted over the reviews for this professor. After walking away from this class, I knew NOTHING about the Middle East, and I frankly don't think that she did either. The only good thing about Kassab is that you don't have to do the reading because if you do, you will fall asleep in class since the only thing she's going to do is regurgitate what the authors say. And even if you do decide to do the reading, it's very, very little. It's a great way to get four points. I was very upset about this class because I feel like she wasted the opportunity to teach over a hundred students about the Middle East- an area of the world which is of interest to students across the country. And this class would have been the perfect venue to open students up to new ideas with primary sources.