First-Year English: Legacy of the Mediterranean II

Apr 2019

Andrew Lynn is one of the most kind and thoughtful professors I've had so far. He is also super chill and very understanding if you are struggling with assignments. He is great at leading discussion in class and encouraging his students to think critically about the text, as well as being incredibly knowledgeable. He's always willing to give you the extra help you need in office hours, and is very accommodating with finding time to meet outside of class. I 100% recommend taking First Year Writing with him!!

Apr 2018

Do not take this class if you like to challenge professor's opinions. Do not take this class if you consider yourself a feminist either. Last year, I was verbally assaulted by Professor Pedatella after making a point about women in the bible. It started when I made a simple point in class that there are far less women with names in Genesis than there are men, a true statement, especially in the ancestries. Professor Pedatella responded by telling me I should not claim that the Bible "does not do justice to women." When I challenged him on that point, he screamed at me in front of the seminar of Barnard first-years, to the point of actual verbal assault, claiming, among other things, that I was mathematically incorrect to say that there were fewer women's names then men's names in Genesis. After class, he asked me to talk to him in his office, where he continued to argue with me without actually ever allowing me to finish a full sentence, and when I started to cry, he told me that I was being inappropriate, and there is "no place for emotion in an intellectual discussion." Both in class and out, he abused his power as a professor to make me feel small, weak, "emotional" and stupid. And he never apologized to me. After talking to administrators and making the difficult decision to stay in the class, Professor Pedatella continued to be unaccommodating to me (he didn't let me go to office hours with a friend so I could be more comfortable) and he left passive-aggressive notes on my papers, and when I asked questions about his notes over email, he was quick to call me "emotional." This man is arrogant, immature, volatile, and sexist. He does not deserve the respect he continues to receive in these reviews. I tried to get some disciplinary action filed against him, but the administration could not do anything because I was the only student to ever make a complaint against him. This man should not be allowed to teach first-year seminars. If anything like this has ever happened to you, please tell the department.

Dec 2017

Sonam is an amazing professor. He made lots of time to meet with everyone in the class to help with papers and understanding course material. He is funny, informative, and he pushed us to think critically and examine texts from a feminist perspective.

Dec 2017

Sonam is an amazing human being and teacher! You definitely have to get used to the way he speaks (a little condescending and never holds back), but if you don't take him too seriously (which he doesn't either) then he's really funny and awesome. He has lots of really critical, interesting things to say about anything he speaks about--Barnard, Columbia, Butler, western culture, the patriarchy, racism. Beyond how amazing and funny he is as a person, I learned so much from this class as a writing seminar. He teaches about transitions, citations, introductions, and general structure of essays in a way that means you can use his instructions for any class. He explains how to use Butler, borrow direct, CLIO--it's truly so helpful. He is so smart, so fun. I don't know how much I can stress how great this class was on so many levels. It really was the most enjoyable class of my semester. Also!! He is always available to schedule meetings--my friend scheduled like 3 every week for a while cause she was so worried about an essay. He also offers to help with essays from your other classes!! I loved this class SO MUCH; it's making me sad writing this because I'm realizing its over. He is so lovely.

Nov 2017

He's funny and I learned a lot. Takes way too long to grade though.

Jul 2017

So Anne is a very nice and understanding person who clearly really cares about literature. However (and this may just be because she's a newer teacher) she could kind of be awkward leading the class and could have taken control more. I honestly ended up in this class as a last resort so the readings didn't necessarily excite me-if they had I probably would have enjoyed it more. This class just kind of felt blah, not actively bad, but not that productive either. The one thing I got from this class that I LOVED was the freewrites. Each class for the first five minutes she would set a timer and we would just write without stopping or censoring ourselves. I think she sometimes gave us topics but it was primarily for ourselves. I also kind of liked the class blog because it's always interesting to see what (and how) other classmates are writing. So yeah, this is basically a high school English class and a non-horrible way to fulfill the requirement, I just didn't love it.

May 2017

Maureen Chun was one of the worst teachers I have ever had. She was unapproachable and just not nice. She never smiled or seemed excited or happy or passionate about teaching our class. In a class of just 15 students, she should be able to make students comfortable and help the class to mold together but she really just made things uncomfortable. She was awkward and brought no interesting insight or excitement to the texts that we read. If you made an insightful comment in class, she would basically ignore what you said and move on with the conversation in the direction she wanted to take it. She would often refute, in a very demeaning and embarrassing manner, our ideas or comments in front of the class. When it comes to writing papers for her, she offers no constructive criticism. Just flat out criticism. She will tell you everything she doesn't like, will not mention anything positive about your paper, and she will not offer you any advice on how to fix or improve what she does not like. She also presents her criticism in a very demeaning way and delegitimizes your ideas and perspectives just because she does not quite agree. Meetings with her about papers and topics are hell. I came out of meetings with her wanting to cry and feeling even more confused and lost. She offers no guidance and does not direct you in any helpful direction for your ideas. Often, I would come to her with a paper topic and she would manipulate my ideas to what she wanted my paper to be about and 2/3 times her idea was a dead end. She insults your ideas and disregards the effort you put into your draft. Writing papers was already tough for me but writing papers for her was even harder. I knew that no matter how much effort and analysis I put into that paper, she would not like it, even if it was exactly what she wanted me to write about. The most frustrating thing was that she did not make an effort to understand your thought process or your ideas. She was so set in stone with her own ideas and would not really entertain any ideas or topics contrary to her own. Also, she is not very good with giving extensions and is not very understanding. However, she will take all the time she needs to get back your graded 3-4 pg papers (as long as 6 weeks). So she wants her students to meet deadlines but she doesn't meet them herself. After speaking with many other members of the class, both humanities and STEM majors, all seemed to agree with this criticism of her. Some of the readings in this class were interesting.... nothing too special. The class material and work load itself was very doable. I would recommend that you avoid this teacher at all costs. She will really ruin your semester and you will not reap the benefits of a first year writing class like you should.

Dec 2016

This class was the worst part of my semester. The material itself was enjoyable, but Professor Singh's instruction was terrible. To start, he would not grade or read our essays until a scheduled 30 minute meeting, usually around a month after we would hand our papers in. I would sit down for our meeting, he would struggle to find my paper, and ask me if I had actually handed it in. Once he found it, he would take 5-10 minutes to read my paper (for the first time) in complete silence, write a grade on the last page, then would not let me look at it until the end of our meeting. He, several times, gave me formatting corrections that directly went against MLA style, which he was adamant I adhere to. He only reads the sections of the books we read in class so he has no context for the passages other than what he can garner from a skim of Sparknotes and what he remembers from high school. Avoid this professor if possible. His instructions are confusing and counterintuitive, his expectations are unclear and constantly wavering, and his teaching is unenthused and uninformed. Avoid avoid avoid.

Nov 2016

If you're wondering whether or not to take a class with Professor Breyer DO IT. Just do it. He is one of the kindest professors I have ever met and genuinely cares about his students to a degree that I have yet to see in any other professor. I had Prof. Breyer for First Year Seminar at Barnard and, thanks to him, I feel much more comfortable in a seminar setting and in writing college-level essays. He is encouraging but also honest and gives good guidance, and if you have any questions or are just plain confused, Breyer is always willing to meet with you for as long or as often as you need. I think that some people are put off by his somewhat awkward demeanor, but, in my opinion, that just makes him all the more genuine and approachable. And, if nothing else, he has some pretty crazy and hilarious life stories that are 100% worth your time. I feel very lucky to have had Professor Breyer, especially in my first year, and would recommend him to everyone.

Jul 2016

Professor Luhan was by far one of the best professors that I had during my first year at Barnard. He drastically helped me improve my writing. I believe that this is important because all of the students who attend Barnard have a high standard for their writing skills, but Professir Luhan pushes his students to attain more. He does not expect students to have read every single reading every single day and will give students a few passes if they have fallen ill. He is excellent at stimulating discussions and coming up with new activities for classes. Even though I had to wake up at 8am to attend this class, I enjoyed doing so.

Jul 2016

Professor Pedatellla was very passionate about the texts and the class itself, but very opinionated and narcissistic when others challenged his ideas or seemed to not enjoy/agree with them. Frequently, students were talked over in his class or not allowed to formulate an argument in the class if he did not agree with it personally. This resulted in a somewhat uncomfortable environment in class when it came time to discuss texts with the students. The texts and lecture were okay, just very dry.

Apr 2016

"To say JW stands for anything is a betrayal to the name JW" This class is lit. He tries to make it seem difficult like Shamus Khan does in the social world, but J Dubs is an easy grader and a huge pushover.

May 2015

I had this whole review written out, in which I tried hard to find flaws with Professor Pedatella and inflate them so that my praise would seem balanced and objective, because I’m suspicious of simplicity. Purely rave reviews tend to leave something out, and to feel a bit blind or even biased as a result. I really wanted this to not be one of those reviews. But then I saw the below review, realized I was being ridiculous, and wrote what I actually think instead. Professor Pedatella treats the material like something young and alive, as if despite however many years of teaching, To the Lighthouse can still surprise him. When he lectures it’s as if he’s been thinking about these theories for years and this is the first time he’s ever gotten to tell someone about them. (Not to say that his teaching style is at all amateurish, far from it, only that his enthusiasm is beyond anything I’ve ever encountered in someone who’s been teaching as long as he has). Additionally, he seems to know more or less everything related to the Western canon, and is happy to explain intertextual allusions that would otherwise be almost impossible to catch. However, in spite of his, quite frankly, intimidating knowledge base, Professor Pedatella never acts like what a student has to say is obvious or unintelligent. He will disagree with students from time to time, but he is always very clear that his opinion in nothing more than just that: his opinion. In the class or in your essays it’s easier to simply agree with him, because he will smile and nod and move past you, but if you ever come up with something that’s yours (whether it clashes with his point, drives it forward in a direction he hadn’t considered, or ignores him altogether) that is when he will challenge you, and in doing so make you feel a real connection with the text, as though you are a participant in this millennia long conversation, just as much as Virgil or Chaucer or Keats. (Okay, maybe not just as much, but pretty damn close.) A friend of mine who entered his class with almost no literary background, having gone to fancy music schools her whole life, put it nicely when she said, “He makes literature sing.” I’d have to agree. His interpretations helped me write a response to Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale (which is far and away the most ambitious poetry project I have ever attempted), and class discussion has prompted me to write quite a few short stories. In sum, Professor Pedatella is the most inspirational teacher I have ever encountered. I really cannot recommend him highly enough. Oh, and to address the below review directly: I’ve never known anyone to give participation credit for note taking.

May 2015

The class was difficult to follow because of my weak foundation in Greek/Roman literature. However, he was a pleasant enough individual. He occasionally goes a little off topic and I think that discussions could be facilitated a little better, but he does do a good job at teaching the class. He's respectable and kind, for the most part. I didn't like the readings, but he did a good job at sparking interest in the texts by framing discussions with historical context at the beginning of some classes. He also has a strong personality---in a good way, and is brilliant. I would take another class with him, but he's apparently not teaching any classes but fye/fys classes? 9/10 reccomend.

Nov 2014

Patrick gets kind of nervous at times and sometimes can't answer your questions (tells you to interpret it yourself), however he is a sweet guy at heart. He isn't a harsh grader, but he does edit your papers to help you improve. Overall, it was an ALRIGHT class, very boring though. There are no "summaries" of the texts during class, just discussion based and OUR views on them.

Nov 2014

I should probably preface this by saying that this class was not on my list of preferred courses, so I already had some bias going in, but Professor Singh's class was a very frustrating experience. In the beginning of class we would waste so much time looking up somewhat-but-not-really relevant things online, allowing very little room to discuss the readings. I don't feel like I learned much from this class and I can't say that I enjoyed it. There wasn't much of a facilitated discussion, and I didn't feel like Professor Singh provided the necessary groundwork or questions to get discussions going. Yes, I'm walking out of this class with the ability to now say that I've read many famous Greek and Roman works, but not much else. Professor Singh is a nice enough person and definitely entertaining at times, but his class left much to be desired.

May 2013

Frederick was a very approachable professor, as is evidenced by the fact that he let students call him by his first name. I really liked his class because he didn't baby us or try to lure us into guessing the motifs or symbols in a text that he wanted to talk about. Instead, he would present us with his ideas (which were always interesting) and encourage us to engage in literary discourse about these ideas with both him and our fellow students. Many people did the bare minimum (if anything) for reading, yet complained about how there wasn't enough student discussion in the class. I think that Frederick could sense that our class was bound to be somewhat ill-prepared on any given day and took the reins in order to save us from shallow, plot-based discussions fueled by what people could remember from spark notes. He was super helpful with papers when we met with him and always hung around after class to answer questions. Overall, he was a great professor and I would definitely take another class with him.

Jun 2012

Professor Lynn (he says you can also call him Andy, though I preferred the professional title) is a wonderful teacher. He devotes a lot of care and time into reading our essays.You turn in a rough draft for each paper, and regardless of the quality of the draft, his comments are helpful and not the least bit condescending. He is a relatively fair grader, although I was disappointed with my final grade of A minus. However, he does reward improvement and hard work. His comments on the final paper are always very comprehensive and show that he took a great chunk of his day to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your paper. In terms of the way he conducts lectures, he has strengths and weaknesses. He is not at all condescending or dismissive of comments that make no sense, which shows a great deal about his character, but made students feel that it was okay to make irrelevant connections between the texts and their personal lives. At times, this prevented discussions from being as deep and analytical as I would have liked them to be. Nonetheless, the texts of the class are very engaging and interesting...if you have a good class full of women who are strong in english, it should be a great experience. unfortuantely, due to the long list of works on the syllabus, we did not spend as much time on certain things as I would have hoped (I don't see how a group can have a full discussion on To The Lighthouse in one seventy five minute lecture....), but Professor Lynn does his best.

Feb 2012

This guy is a great teacher. Like honestly everyone who keeps getting pissed off below is just ridiculous. He is one of the most engaging english professors I have ever had. Even if you dont have a class that is very talkative (which is obviously going to be more borring) he is sure to keep the conversation going and asks the class questions to engage everyone. There is never an awkward lul in class, because he knows everything and will share with the class to keep people interested! If you aren't into the readings, I mean that is a totally different problem, but he is great and really cares about his students and will make extra effort to meet with people outside of class to go over essays or to simply chat about the readings. he LOVES the readings, to the point where its ridiculous how dorky he is. Some of the reviews below speak to him wanting you to write what he wants... eh to a certain degree every english teacher is going to enjoy read what they have already understood for themselves in the texts, but that doest mean you shouldn't write what you want. He WANTS you to write what you want as long as you are able to argue it - you can't BS. Also, he doesnt just want you to have an essay with a strand of references from the book, you need to find something and then deeply analyze it - thats how you will get your A. I never got anything below an A- on papers, and sometimes they were written three hours before they were due... honestly he is a great guy who cares a lot about his students and he will especially respect you if you care too and make the effort.

May 2011

haha, I also have mixed feeling about Stefan. Let me start by saying that in the beginning of the year I HATED Stefan, Then I started to grudgingly respect him...and now, at the end of the year, I'm immensely glad that I took his class. I don't plan on taking another class with him, but I'm glad I took this one. He is brilliant, and he absolutely loves his subject matter. His enthusiasm is infectious. By the end of the semester, people were really engaged in high level discussions on the texts. On the one hand, he does have a specific idea about what he wants you to write for some of the papers. I remember when we realized that, even though we all started with different topics for our Genesis papers, our rewrites were exactly the same. Part of the class, especially early on, is about learning to read his mind. On the other hand, he has a brilliant literary mind. If you can learn to read it, then you've developed a solid foundation for analyzing texts. Albeit one that often comes back to sex, as has been noted in earlier reviews. XD I feel like my literary analysis has noticeably improved. He grades papers on content, and that being the case, he forces you to make arguments that you can really support. He'll give you a little more leeway on essay topics though as the year goes on. Side note, it's true that he won't help you with your writing - just your literary analysis. (^u^) In conclusion, if you're a generally vocal English student, be prepared to swallow your pride. His analyses are well founded, and he won't particularly listen to your ideas if he thinks they aren't - either in class or in your papers. There are some times when you just have to write what he wants you to write, and you have to be prepared to listen to him talk at you for the first couple weeks. But once you get past that stage, I think you'll really enjoy discussion, and get legitimately excited about your papers. HELPFUL TIP: When you can just FEEL that he wants you to write about a specific topic, go to his office hours and argue against it. He'll use textual analysis to support his point, which you can put into your paper. The parts of my papers that he loved the most were the ones he came up with himself. XD

Jan 2010

Tough grader but interesting class. Don't expect an A unless you are willing to work really hard, but his class discussions and the way he teaches definitely forces you to learn. He definitely knows his stuff and brings a lot to the table. He has an interesting sense of humor and can call you out on your bs. Go to class prepared to talk. Reading quizzes are a little detailed but they force you to really know your stuff. The essays involve ungraded drafts which is a plus. The class discussions and workshops help improve your skills as a writer.

Dec 2009

My roommate and I were in Prof. Schor-Haim's class last year and it was one of the worst experiences either of us has had at Barnard (and, from what I inferred from the other students, this was the general consensus). Prof. Schor-Haim is not qualified to teach English literature and it showed. She has degrees in Medieval History from NYU and consequently her level of knowledge about literature from the seventeenth century to the present was less than you would expect from a Barnard professor. On one memorable occasion, she taught us about the Rationalist philosophers from the Wikipedia entry on Rationalism. She also definitely held several classes on a work that she had not finished reading (if there were two days devoted to it on the syllabus), and sometimes assigned us supplemental readings she had not herself read, including the worst piece of criticism I have ever read from our edition of Frankenstein. (It turned out to be about Kenneth Branagh's movie version, as it happens.) Her ability to lead a discussion was also lacking. We spent most of our class time reading long passages out of the books for no real reason. I did not feel that class in any way enhanced my understanding of the works of literature. Her approach to essay writing was equally dismal. She treated us as though we were freshmen in high school, not in college, and allowed us very little intellectual freedom, sometimes punishing students for not writing about what she personally found interesting. The syllabus for FYE: Legacy of the Mediterranean is not great, and the class is not structured well, but a good professor would have been able to take the less-than-ideal syllabus and make something worthwhile out of it. Prof. Schor-Haim failed miserably at this task. As my roommate just put it: it was literally the worst.

Jul 2009

I agree with the review below for the most part. Soloski can be condescending and obsessed with her own intellect. She is smart and often witty and provides useful comments on essays. However, the class environment is not pleasant, and she makes students feel like they are below her. Sometimes she even shoots down students' ideas in front of the class, and then when she asks questions later and is met with silence, she will jut sit there for like 2 minutes and wait for someone to speak. Very strange! The books are pretty good for this class, though, and Soloski is not horrible...she just is definitely nothing like the glowing reviews from a few years ago. Everyone pretty much agreed that she is condescending and class discussions are weird. But... Im pretty ambivalent about her in general.

May 2006

As a person, Mr. Bird, with his cuffed pants, boat shoes and chain smoking, makes class interesting. As a teacher, his book discussions can be pointless and frequently off-topic. Overall, a funny and interesting class but if you're interested in serious discussions, you have to make them happen yourself. He is very available for help on the papers.

May 2006

This class is extremely boring. I recommend staying away. The books were good but the discussion was dead. We tried to save it but there's only so much you can do. His grading standards are puzzling at best. All in all he is a nice guy though.

Dec 2005

Professor Olsen is sweet and she tries hard, but there were only a handful of stimulating discussions. She seemed to have a hard time accepting unusual ways of writing an essay, and her comments on the essays exposed this. She does let you do a first and then a final draft, though, which is really nice. Sadly, if you want a good grade, you have to sacrifice your style and just do what she wants.

May 2005

Andrew Sage is an excellent professor and a kind and generous person who genuinely cares about advancing the written and oral skills of his students. The reason he is so good at teaching is that he DOES demand a lot and DOES ask you to change your writing style. That way you really pay attention to what you are writing, how you are thinking about a problem, and what you actually mean to say. He is more than willing to consult with you about your papers, will say hello to you on campus, and is in general a caring and kind person. This does NOT mean that he is going to praise you and your writing to the gods. His aim is to improve your writing, and since no one is perfect and everyone can use some writing help (especially first-years) don't expect him to call you a genius. Put aside your ego and LEARN for once - Sage can help you do that. Like any class, if you take it seriously and at least try to be interested in improving yourself, you'll get a lot out of it.

Apr 2005

This man came very close to ruining my semester. Still a grad student, he handles himself extremely unprofessionally in the classroom, thinking he has to swear and/or talk about sex to get our attention. He is antagonistic and condescending and calls on people who are not raising their hands, forcing them to BS while blatantly ignoring the people who actually have things to say. He doesn't seem to know exactly what he wants out of our papers, but he is perfectly able to tell us when he thinks they suck. He's amazingly available to meet with you as much as you need, but these meetings will be short and only confuse you more. He answers email promptly, but beware: he may insult your dignity by telling you how to use CLIO when you've already written a draft of your research paper using books that you clearly got from the library. Also: he responds to anyone who doesn't support his opinions in discussion with "Fine." or "Okay. In the interest of moving us forward..." (as he glances at his watch and drums his fingers or pen on the table) Overall, this class was the worst one I have taken here so far. He is utterly the most frustrating, condescending and unprofessional teacher I have ever had.

Apr 2005

This proffessor (who is actually still a graduate student) has put me off english. The type of paper he wants you to write does not include intros, making strong points, or using words too big for him to understand. He never gives back an essay before the next one is due; it is impossible to figure out what he wants. And even if you do, you feel like you are sacrificing your writing style for a good grade.