I have to agree with the previous response in certain respects (the readings were somewhat difficult and some of us were not quite ready for them), but this was by far one of the best classes that I have taken while at Columbia. It truly has shaped my ways of thinking and seeing, and it truly enhanced my understanding of feminist "sites of practice" (as the class was titled). The readings were truly challenging, sometimes too challenging, and she did try to remedy this by assigning a weekly response (I think more to gauge our level of understanding and our concerns with the readings). If anything though, I think this should be demonstrative of her desire to negotiate our ability to understand and the rigors that the subject matter required. Professor Hartman is brilliant -- like brilliant, brilliant. I don't think I've come across a professor who is as eloquent and well-versed in so many areas (I found it amusing when she mentioned that Michel de Certeau's "The Practice of Everday Life" reframed the way she thought as a scholar, or something along those lines. I certainly didn't understand much of the book, so she got something out of it that I didn't). She's also funny and chill in her own way. In the end, the challenging aspects of the class were certainly the most rewarding. Many of the readings and the discussions that pursued really framed my thinking as an academic/student/feminist/?. Some people -- certainly myself -- weren't prepared for the rigors of the class, but I walked away with new vantage points and with new arenas in which to carry feminist endeavors. Did I mention Professor Hartman is brilliant?
This was the worst professor I have ever had during my time at Columbia. She made it clear to her students in every way that she did not give a damn about the class or the students. She handed out a syllabus that was filled with material that was entirely inappropriate for an undergrad class. The readings she chose were so dense that when I showed it to the department head he said most of those readings were things he had read when getting his doctorate. When the class came to her about the readings being too difficult all she did was assign a response paper that would be due every week. It was already halfway through the semester and she changed the syllabus to include this weekly assignment that would ultimately be 30% of our grade. She only likes to hear herself speak so even though it was a seminar it was generally two hours of listening to her ramble and toss around jargon that no one else understood. She was always late, continually let the class go over the allotted time and canceled class 3 times because of her own personal reasons despite the fact that class only met once a week. She gave absolutely no direction on her written assignments so you never knew what her expectations were, nonetheless, she would hand back the assignment and say you did it wrong. She had office hours but never actually showed up for them instead she would tell you to make an appointment which she would then cancel. If you had a question or needed help she would tell you to write her an email and then she would never respond. I literally wrote her 5 high priority emails throughout the semester and she never responded to any of them. Also, she was a full month late handing in our final grades and when she finally handed in the grades and I asked my other classmates what they got in the class she gave everyone in the class the exact same grade.
Amazing, shes sharp as a tack knows exactly what shes talking about. She will probe you to be specific, not go off into whimsical theoretical generalization. Say what you mean, explain your points and your thoughts clearly. Dont be offended by this though she wont judge you harshly, she just wants to see you make sense of your own ideas and not just produce verbal diarrhea while you try to sound smart.
The best part of this class and the professor would be that no matter how difficult the reading was for that week 1) it was never unreasonably long and 2) she would always spend class time discussing and reviewing the difficult theory (especially background which was not required to read). Because of this, I learned so much from the class on different case studies that I ended up being shocked. With a different professor, this may not have been the case.