Colloquium on Major Texts

May 2016

This was absolutely the worst class I have ever taken. I was drawn to it by the minimal workload of 2 6 page essays, a weekly blog post, and an oral final. But Do not be fooled! The readings are boring and confusing. They all ramble about the same thing but are inherently different and make no sense. "The way of dharma is through action and nonfiction. Being and nonbeing"... WTF!? Moerman sits at the front of the room and says, so what are your thoughts. And expects students to just talk for 2 horus about nothing. He is useless. His essay comments are nonexistent... a question mark here or there and a grade at the end ... one of my papers he said made no sense and didn't even bother grading it. There is nothing enjoyable about the class, and nothing to be learned. Warning: stay far away.

Jan 2015

Professor Chung is an amazing professor. She has the ability to make even the most tedious and cerebral readings digestible and insightful. Sometimes class discussion was quiet, but she was good at bringing up different points to think about and discuss. If you can make her office visits definitely go! You can tell she really cares about her students and really takes the time to help you flesh out a paper topic.

Dec 2012

For someone who had only a passing knowledge of East Asian culture, Professor Chung was the perfect way to be introduced to it. Every week we read a classic piece of literature from East Asia that at least for me was brand new, but Professor Chung situated each work in the historical context within which it was created and how it influenced subsequent generations. She did a fantastic job leading discussion despite how quiet our class was, which obviously made it very difficult. Her honesty when advising us on our possible essay topics was much appreciated. If you are looking for a class to fulfill your Global Core requirement, I absolutely recommend this one.

May 2011

I really wanted and expected to love this class. Professor de Bary sounded like an incredible guy, and the opportunity to learn and discuss East Asian literature with one of the foremost scholars in the field in a small seminar seemed like an incredible opportunity. And, though I continued to love the class in theory, in practice it was quite disappointing. De Bary does know a lot about that which he teaches, and his age rarely shows. He is sharp, lucid, and does a good job of explaining the literature. I enjoyed his insights for the first few classes. This is supposed to be a discussion class, however, and people rarely spoke. De Bary is intimidating to even the most fearless students and it often seems like he is not really listening to what you are saying. He never quite agrees with your comments of insights. There are no grades given in the class until you receive your final grade at the end of the semester. The only indication of how you're doing in the class before you receive your final grade is the professor and TA's comments on the first of two papers, due halfway through the term. The final exam is a frightening experience, a twenty-minute interview with de Bary and the TA during which you're asked to discuss a theme in reference to the texts read throughout the semester. It seems like most people end up doing pretty well in the class, but don't learn very much or appreciate the experience. As tempting as it is to take a class with a professor of this stature and experience, choose a different Global Core class or take the Colloquium with a different professor if you're an EALAC or MEALAC major.

Jan 2011

Professor Anderer is a nice guy and he's extremely helpful, but sometimes disucssion dragged on a bit. Each class we discussed one book/text and at times, it felt like the students needed more context but he just wanted to discuss for two hours straight. That being said you cover a lot and it's really important to know this stuff if you're going to understand East Asian cultural references, so take the class. I found his grading to be fair although a little on the tough side. He's the kind of professor who gives out a lot of B+s but not so many As. I recommend the class, although the students are in large part responsible for how the class goes, if people are talkative it'll be great, if not, it can be a little dry.

Jan 2010

Mr. Anderer truly cares about his students, and it's hard to say anything bad about a teacher like that. This being said...his classes can sometimes be boring, but I think it all depends upon the students in the class and their contributions to the discussions. The readings are all enjoyable and varied enough so that you don't get too bored by Asian literature. He does tend to talk past the end of class...which is more funny than annoying. About grading--I think Mr. Anderer is a tough grader but it's more like tough love. He will give you the grade he thinks you deserve, and if you have a problem with that, you can take it up with him and he'll certainly guide you in the right direction. He is not too stringent on quantifying your final grade by scores, but rather in the cumulative quality of your work (so if you don't get a good first essay grade, you have time to redeem yourself). He also hosted a dinner at his house during my semester, which was very very nice. His wife is a lovely person and they both truly care about Columbia students and what we gain through our educations.

Dec 2009

Professor de Bary is not as bad as these reviews make him out to be. He's actually pretty laid back (doesn't care if you skip class or want to turn in papers late). Having said that, he doesn't teach. He needs other professors to enter and teach for him, and he spends the majority of the class listening to his students' opinions. He doesn't lecture; he simply entertains everything and doesn't say anything during class. He's a nice guy actually, but this class is frustrating simply because you don't learn anything directly from him. Another reason it's frustrating is because he doesn't grade anything. While this is nice on one end, it's nervewracking because you have no idea what your grade is going into the final exam. You don't know if you're doing well or poorly, and he has no interest in letting you know. Having said that, he's not a bad guy, certainly not the way these reviews have made him out to be.

Oct 2009

One of the best courses and professors I've ever had. The material is very good and Anderer's discussion flows pretty fast. Sometimes delves into a more lecturing style for the denser texts, thereby preventing a lot of confused discussion. Try to take him if you can.

Jan 2008

Judging by the reviews, people are torn on the issue of whether he's actually funny, on whether his class is actually interesting--his sense of humor is dry and sarcastic, and it's not like he jokes the entire class session. All the same, he's flexible, approachable, and a nice guy once you realize that most of what you see is sarcasm. He doesn't always lead the discussion in the most interesting directions and it's sometimes frustrating when he lets other students ramble on, but overall he's a nice guy. Compared to the experiences of friends who took other sections of this class, my experience sounded less stressful, more relaxed, and more enjoyable overall.

Dec 2007

For the most part, the other reviewers have been accurate. Prof. Swartz covers all you need to know from the texts, leads a good discussion, but most of all (my favorite) does not allow students to stray in their arguments. She will correct the students when their rant becomes off topic or incorrect. The two papers are assigned well in advance and are on whatever you like. A fine choice for Major Cultures requirement.

Apr 2007

Don't be fooled by the wonders of gaining 4 points for meeting less than 2 hours each week. There is a huge amount of reading to be complete each week. The class begins with a huge section of Chinese classics, directed by Hori's partner, Professor Hsu. Hsu is a somewhat aggravating man, that has a very limited understanding of the meaning of "colloquium" and tends to present the class as a lecture. Once Chinese classics are completed, the class improves because (1) the reading becomes more interesting and (2) Hori takes over. Hori is a very sweet little Japanese woman, with a somewhat halting accent.

Apr 2007

Snarky could sum up her personality, but as a teacher, Professor Kim (she really does not look like a Bonnie) does deserve credit for actually explaining the texts we had to read. Though she would ask vague questions on some important element, which we would guess at (not knowing exactly what she was asking) until someone gets it right or she sighs tragically and tells us the answer. Her analysis is usually insightful, but I suspect she is merely parroting the ideas of her professors. Really hardly a discussion at all, and it was impossible to find her during office hours, because either she just never bothered to keep them or arbitrarily changed them while cleverly forgetting to tell any of her students. Oh, and also, she made it embarrassingly obvious which students she favored.

Apr 2006

An incredibly intellectual course, and the perfect instructor for it. Rachel is one of those professors that truly engages herself and her students in the texts. She is genuinely enthusiastic about the topic, and she makes the 110 minute class rather enjoyable. While the texts are incredibly complex, don't stress about it--It's Daoism etc., the essence of which is that you can never fully understand the content.

Apr 2006

Professor Suzuki is funny and amazing. She really knows what she is talking about even though it is hard to understand her English at times. This was one of the best classes I have taken this year. There is a lot of reading that is really interesting, but you only meet once a week for two hours and its four credits. This is an excellent list B class for the major culture requirement but it is a lot of work that is manageable.

Dec 2005

Absolutely wonderful. Don't miss out. Especially if you're looking for a post-CC reading fix. There is really nothing more that can be said.

Sep 2005

This is one of the best courses I have taken at Columbia. Prof. Shang is very friendly and approachable. In a big class of 25 people he made sure everybody understood the material and had a chance to speak up. Also he was always well prepared and raised a lot of provoking questions in class. Readings are of reasonal amount, given it is a 4 credit course. If you have done most readings and understand the main concepts, it should not be hard to get a good grade. Prof. Shang accepts new ideas and different perspectives, which makes this class more interesting than other EALAC ones. I had some personal matters last semester which made me absent from a couple of classes. Prof. Shang literrally approached me and sent me his kind concerns - this is definitely the most caring teacher I have seen at Columbia and I do recommend students to take this course with him!

Jul 2005

tons of reading. class was taught by 2 teachers, wiebke and mingwei song. structure was rushed, hard to follow. convenient that the class only meets once a week, but makes it hard to learn everything and to totally understand. **i found this class to be very hard, primarily because i had no previous knowledge of the subject. i would only recommend it to students studying ealac.

Jan 2005

HATED this class. The books we read are great, but I think the Professor is boring, mean, and condescending. The reading list long, which is expected, but the discussion (if you could call deBary going on and on while knowing exactly what he wants students to say discussion) was horrible. Nothing in the class is graded - you have no idea how you are doing until after you've gotten your final grade online. The best part of class was it ended after a long 2 hours. Avoid if you can. Or P/F it.

Jan 2005

this is a fabuluous class. I recomend it to anyone who wishes to not only satisfy the Major Cultures requirment but also learn a lot and enjoy a fascinating class. Prof. Denecke is the sweetest, kindest woman. AND a really good teacher. She does an excellent job of leading discussions and encouraging students to say what they think. she even includes creative assignments. despite her kindness, the reading is rigorous. the class is easy as is the grading. you can slide by, but Professor Denecke's passion makes you want to do the best you can. Do the reading, attending class, get an A, and learn a lot. what could be better?

Dec 2004

Scanlon is the definition of layed-back, and so was this class. It often felt more like a book club than a 4-credit class, but discussions were usually enlightening despite their lack of academic rigour. This class was LitHum style, meaning NO directed discussion, which proved sometimes painful when not enough people had done the reading. Scanlon would jump in now and then to prod things along, but he never pressured participation--almost to a fault. He's just an easy-going guy who's genuinly interested in what you think about these Asian texts, most of which are at least mildly interesting. If you are looking for a low-stress way to fill your major cultures req, by all means TAKE THIS CLASS. You might even take a liking to Confucianism...but probably not.

Dec 2004

The class is very interesting and not that much work. Basically it's just reading texts and talking about them. Discussions in our class were actually very active, in part because there were a lot of interested people taking it, and in part because Proff. Scanlon encouraged discussion and asked questions. As long as you show interest and put forth some ideas in class you're bound to do fine. The proff wants everyone to do well and enjoy the readings, so he makes it as painless as possible. Theoretically, he wouldn't have a problem giving everyone A's. However, he doesn't lecture, and since the discussion is so dependent on the students, I would not recomend this class if you're not actually going to do the readings. (Though if you miss one occaisionally, it's no sweat.) Scanlon is also no DeBarry; he encourages you to present your own thoughts, so expect to hear a lot of what other students have to say and not so much about scholarly interpretations or historical perspectives.

Nov 2004

Terrible, just inexcusably terrible. Fellow classmates and I have all confessed to our fear that we might just drop dead from ennui one of these days. He is just so boring . He doesn't lecture, he just summarizes the text at a fifth grade level. After two hours, I can't actually say that we discussed anything. He cannot answer a questions, or simply doesn't care to. It actually disgusts me that he has been around for so long and has gotten away with so much. He is a simpering, weak, pathetic misogynist, and if you attempt to discuss sexuality, sex, gender, or anything in any of the texts, he will misunderstand (probably intentionally) your question and avoid answering it or just tell you its irrelevant. I am not a violent person, but this man makes me so angry on so many levels, he might just change that. Please! Use your time to here to get an education --- you will not get one from him, so if his class works with your schedule, fills a requirement, or looks easy, find SOMETHING ELSE. Please.

Nov 2004

How can anyone have anything good to say about this man? Believe all the terrible things you have heard. He is misogynistic: apparently the problem of women in the Koran is a "side issue." I could list many another anecdote. I took the Colloquium on East Asian texts with another prof last spring and sitting through de Bary's class PAINS me when I remember how good last spring's class was. He is so boring and seems so bored; he will suck away like a leech any interest in the texts you may feel compelled to develope. The only "lecturing" he does is summarizing the next week's homework assignment. I have bore witness to no font of wisdom, no knowledge greater than God's, as was claimed for him in other reviews. He is simply boring. Most of his speaking consists of asking students to repeat their questions in a most condescending manner. AVOID.

Jun 2004

De Bary's legendary name, or so I thought, is what drew me to take his class. As knowledgeable as he is in his field, he does little to inspire student interest or engage his class. Only a few in the class will really get it, and he will stick to these, not the majority who seem not to have been able to follow up on readings or the discourse de Bary leads in class. When I had a personal problem that prevented me from attending class, he bluntly expressed his disinterest in my situation. This class was like being in an science class led by Albert Einstein, only this Einstein really has little ability to convey his wisdom to his students.

May 2004

An extremely nice and generally agreeable teacher, Suzuki will generally give a brief historical background on the book we're reading without trying too much to actually demonstrate the bearing it has on the text, then try to get the students to discuss it with her there only to act as a guide. This worked out fairly well and made this a class I looked forward to attending. Expect to hear the word 'interesting' uttered at least 10 times every class.

May 2004

Literature majors (or even non-lit ones who love to read) who don't take Colloquium on Major Texts (aka Asian Hum) with Lurie to fulfill the MC requirement are shooting themselves in the foot. An assistant professor with possibly the most immaculate goatee known to man, Lurie is phenomenal. True, he doesn't talk much in class and tries to give as little context as possible so that students can discuss their most visceral reactions, but he's funny (he once tried to count the number of orifices in the human body out loud), incredibly smart, and very helpful in office hours. The class is a lot of work - it's 4 points and meets once a week, so expect readings on the level of an English or History Department seminar - but there are only two short 5-7 papers and the Famous Asian Hum Oral Final (which is, as everyone says, easier than you think - for half of mine we talked about things totally unrelated to the class). The readings are interesting, for the most part (you read everything from the Tale of Genji to Confucius) and while a lot of them are dense and difficult to relate to, Lurie knows enough to help you through the rough spots. One of the few classes at Columbia that truly is a discussion (even more than Lit Hum or CC). Come having done the reading and you'll be rewarded by a fairly stimulating two-hour discussion (provided you get good classmates)

May 2004

Professor Moerman is great. This class had the potential to be the most boring requirement ever conceived. Instead, it was fun, engaging and--yes--even educational. The texts we read covered a wide range, and Professor Moerman has the rare ability to share his expertise and his sense of humor. He's also good at keeping the discussion going, letting every get their opinions out . The workload is more than reasonable. Yeah, there's a bit of reading, but this is college. It's really a great class taught by a great professor. And I've heard really horrible things about the other ones, too. Columbia definitely needs more professors like this.

Apr 2004

Moerman is the Man. I took this class to fulfill my Major Cultures requirement, and it was most fulfilling. Moerman is great at leading discussions, at asking good questions, at keeping the pace going, at making almost any text complex and interesting. Mind you, my section was particularly engaged and intelligent, so no promises if you have a class of dullards. I knew very little about Eastern philosophy and literature and had never studied it formally; I now want to take some more electives because of Moerman. The weekly online postings were at first a little annoying, but in the end, they made discussions so much better and the class much more structured. Plus, Moerman is so warm-hearted that I needed extensions on them for a week or so and he was very understanding. He's witty, interested, and interesting. I had so much fun in this class and learned so much; I looked forward to it every week, and I'm really going to miss it. Columbia needs more Moermans.

Apr 2004

Prof. Moerman is a pretty good professor, and this is from experience, since I took two semesters with him. He is very casual to the point where he doens't have a heart attack about a late paper or discussion question. I found East Asian civ very interesting, after taking a class with this professor. There is a diversity in the reading, as he doesn't stick to a topic for too long. Instead, the readings range from philosophical to fun, like Confucius to Japanese Ghost Stories. The response questions were a burden, so was the writing fellow but overall I have no other complaints. Take this class, you will have a great time, especially if your looking to get out of the Major Cultures requirement without suffering. You will love his personality and good humor!

Jun 2003

Please see the review for I-Hsien Wu. (Two professors taught this course.) Oh, though you can ignore the sentences about being an EALAC language teacher, pretty much everything else is the same for this professor.

Jun 2003

I've been holding myself back since mid-November 2002 from writing this review. I really would like to be fair to this professor. Thus, I've been pondering what I should write for several months. Here goes... This professor is by far the worst literature professor that you could ever have during your time at Columbia. She is actually a Chinese teacher in the department, and if you know anything about the EALAC department, it has to be its over-demanding language teachers. Unfortunately, in teaching Colloquium, Wu's over-demanding attitude towards beginner's Chinese transferred over to East Asian literature. She requires the students to read more than is humanly possible, especially for those students who are not humanities majors. Furthermore, her grading of the papers is awfully harsh considering the fact that not more than one hour of class is spent discussing any one text. Had this been a lit hum style course, where the class met twice a week for two hours, my opinion would have been otherwise. However, this class met only once each week for two hours. No teacher should ever expect his/her students to read this much for any one class of a course. Consequently, such a teacher should never expect his/her students to understand the texts enough to write a paper that is satisfactory in his/her eyes. Perhaps, in preparation for this course, I should have re-adopted the stereotypical East Asian skills of rambling and b-s-ing (when it comes to the humanities) that took so long for me to overcome when I entered Columbia. I think then I would have faired better on my papers. In other words, if you can manage to blab through two hours of class and continue to blab in papers, you'll do well. If you'd rather receive a grade for truly and clearly expressing your opinions only WHEN such was necessary, DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE WITH THIS PROFESSOR. Lastly, I cannot believe that I lived to see the day that a paper would be mangled to pieces based upon notes and reasoning from the professor that had never previously been discussed in class.

May 2003

Lurie's a great teacher. He's really into the material & passionately cares about his students. This class is also one of the only true discussion classes at Columbia, where Lurie barely ever talks and it's almost all student run. Don't get the best understanding of the material, but rather a very personal one that Lurie will encourage you to explore in your papers. Very intelligent when he does say something and always answers question the best he can without bullshitting.

Jan 2003

Nice guy and down to earth. The class is fun under his intruction, however, he's not very knowledgeable on the things he teachers. He constantly brings any topic back to Buddhism (seemingly his expertise), but sadly this is not a Buddhism class. His knowledge of Chinese society during the time periods of the readings is minimal. He is very apprachoable, but getting an A in this class is not easy at all. He likes people to talk so if you are not a talker, this class won't be an A for you. The readings are good and so is the workload, but hes not a strong enough academic on a course covering such vast resources (but then again who really is?).

Dec 2002

Anderer is absolutely the most kind, wise, understanding, and motivating teacher. Though previous reviewers have managed it, I cannot think of one aspect of his teaching with which I found fault; take this course if you love learning, sharing your ideas, and East Asia - in fact, take this course regardless - his passion for the subject matter, and for teaching would inspire any student.

May 2002

One thing should be made clear about Professor de Bary: he's spent the last sixty years studying this stuff, so anything you say he's probably heard before and already formed an opinion about. This gets confused sometimes with academic arrogance; but face facts, you read the work rather quickly a week ago. He translated it. He probably knows more then you, and he's probably right. Deal with it. The class can be excrutiatingly boring, and it looks like he's going to die 4 times an hour. But the fact is, he's probably the first white guy to read any of this stuff, so just to learn in the same class should be viewed as an honor and exciting prospect. Just do as much of the reading as possible, and actually listen for a change in class: he has far more to contribute to your knowledge base then anyone else in that class.

May 2002

Lurie is an enthusiastic professor who has a genuine interest in the reactions of his students to the readings. He takes a secondary role in the classroom and fosters great student-led discussions. Lurie is very nice and approachable, and is flexible with issues like paper rewrites, missed readings, etc. Definitely a great way to fulfill the major cultures requirement.

Apr 2002

Good teacher, down to earth, concise, lets the students run the class when they can, takes over when he needs to.

Mar 2002

Very nice guy and always receptive to student opinions. From what I can tell this is one of the best Major Text sections; the professor runs discussions well and the readings are assigned in a realistic manner. This may be the only section that does not foist 700 pages of the Tale of Genji on all of the students as one week's reading. Generally a good experience; if you are going to take Major Texts and don't want just straight lectures, try for this section.

Mar 2002

Paul Anderer was one of the best professors I've had at Columbia. I think he was a bit too lenient on students who quite obviously didn't do the readings and made nonsense comments nonetheless. But he is a master in leading seminar discussions. He listens and considers students' points very carefully and works very hard to generate a good discussion. One problem I've had with this class (and this is not necessarily attributed to Anderer) is that I don't feel like I've taken anything really substantial out of the class. It was more like a whirlwind tour of various texts and ideas in Asian history, but it was done so carelessly by lumping so many different historical and cultural traditions under the title "Asian" that the course kind of contradicted its main purpose. Moreover, writing now about one year after I took the course, I feel that I've forgotten many of the ideas in these texts. But despite this, Anderer is an excellent person to work with, and I highly recommend him.

Jan 2002

No the Heyman Center is not a part of the female anatomy. If you can figure out that the class takes place in East Campus??!!, then you've passed the first hurdle. The second hurdle is staying awake through DeBarry's so so so boring lectures. I guess the man is famous, a good writer, and a knowledgeable expert. However, he is just beyond boring. Ancient Chinese texts are boring too. Plus he's all into human rights violations - a big amnesty international advocate - i suppose. Confucious says: Man with no brain take class for self-pain.

Nov 2001

"How to put it?" Anderer may seem a nice enough guy, but something about his blank stare and unending (perhaps related to the subject at hand??) babble-ogue leaves me wondering about his pedagogy. The man can talk, but can his students follow? If he isn't sounding like a regurgitation of the foremost synoptic analysis of any of the East Asian Classics you read, he is leading- always leading- the discussion to a dead end. Anderer's expectations of your writing ability are high (grades reflect this), so if you feel pangs of torment reminiscent of L&R, don't be too surprised. If you can, take it from someone who encourages more student participation, letting the interesting works lead the class; like Wei Shang from what I hear.

Sep 2001

This class is by far the most boring I have ever taken. Two hours per week feel a lot longer than they are, and by the end you'd rather rip off your own arm than put up with having to listen to him speaking. The readings are interesting however and you can get away without reading any of them. Somehow you learn nothing in that class but still end up with a decent grade.

Jul 2001

Take this class if you want to witness someone who knows more than God about a certain subject. It is really incredible to realize this man's depth of knowledge about East Asian literature--and what's more is, his knowledge is extraordinarily subtle in the way that he understands the texts and their nuances. Of course, if you're not the type of person who would be in awe of deBary's as a person, don't take this class. Hell no, don't take this class. There is way too much reading, and about a fifth of it is actually interesting. Plus, deBary is not a good teacher. There, I said it (for all you deBary-worshipers, you know who you are). You aren't meant to interpret this literature or to make it your own in any way--deBary sees the authors as having a very specific purpose for the their time, place, and audience in history. How you, the modern reader, fits into, this deBary does not care, and, furthermore, you will be criticized by deBary for reading into the texts in that light. It is more of a history class really; interpretation outside of deBary's own is not permitted.

Jan 2000

de Pee is very boring, David Lurie only slightly more interesting, but the readings make for great student-led discussions. The professors generally refuse to speak, only writing down everything said. Both are very friendly and seem fair.

Jan 2000

Worst class at Columbia. Professor De Bary runs a colloquium of fifty people at which he is the only loqucious person. If you think you'll get to discuss great works of Asian literature, think again. De Bary will most likely cut you off in the middle of your presentation and tell you that you are wrong. He's even been know to cut of the TA. It almost doesn't matter whether you read the books or not because either way you probably won't get to discuss the important issues. De Bary constatly rehashes his favorite themes even if they're secondary or terciary to your understanding of the text. Most important of all, he is <i>boring, boring, boring</i>. I went into this class with a desire to learn about East Asian literature; I left it not only without having learned anything but with a newfound aversion to anything East Asian which is only begining to subside.

Jan 2000

Prof De Bary is a legend. No question about it, a giant in the department. Half the books you'll read were either written or edited by him. However, do be warned that as Prof De Bary has entered his golden age, lectures tend to drag on and boredom sets in quite often. A quality class.

Jan 2000

She's so bad that I avoided taking what seemed to be a really fascinating ealac course, just because she taught it. I feel awful saying that, but it's true, even though she's really, um... sweet. Somewhat incompetent, and often incoherent, but sweet. don't expect any titilating roundtable discussions here; though if you contribute, she'll be sure to support what you say. discussions tend to randomly meander, eventually dwindling and dying. the longest two-hours of my life were in her class.