Introduction to Comparative Literature

Jan 2021

I really enjoyed her class. She pushes you to be really precise in how you talk about texts and refine your limited ideas and observations into a broader point. The books weren't always the most engaging, but I still enjoyed thinking about them in class.

Feb 2011

Professor Worman is phenomenal. She is, to put it simply, the best teacher I've had at Barnard or Columbia. Professor Worman understands that by assigning less reading and by choosing it very carefully, it is possible to get much more out of each assignment. Her careful examinations of each reading gave me a deeper and more focused understanding of the subject matter than is usually gained in classes where hundreds of pages are assigned each week. Worman's lectures are smart, detailed, and avoid generalizations; she's not afraid to struggle through nuances to gives her students a more precise understanding. She also has an awesome dry sense of humor; for some reason, some students find this scary or off-putting, but I have no idea why. She is also friendly and approachable and something about being in her presence makes you smarter. As a reviewer a few years ago put it: My new goal is to be Nancy Worman.

Feb 2010

A complicated woman...I had her for intro. to comp. lit, which is a fairly easy course at best (just do the readings, go to class, and talk to her about your essay topics) and an incredibly flawed course at worst (readings all over the map without a coherent theme running through all of them), but her blatantly false congeniality and the unnerving feeling that she was going to snap at us at any moment made it a hell of a lot more interesting. If you stay on her good side, you have nothing to worry about. But don't argue with her, interrupt her, or question her methodology because you will be sorry. Her teaching style is her kind of having a stream of consciousness about the books, explaining simple concepts in convoluted terms, and ocassionally saying something brilliant. In fact, you kind of know she's brilliant, but that doesn't make her the best teacher, or one with the best intentions for her students in mind.

May 2005

Prof. Huyssen's devotion to his students and rigorous scholarship has been duly rewarded, since he was this year's recipient of the prestigious Mark van Doren teaching award. I felt truly lucky to be in this class (required for all Comp Lit & Society sophomores) taught by him since the professor for this seminar always changes every year. Prof. Huyssen structured the syllabus so that we would be exposed to a wide variety of texts, thinkers, movements, etc. There was a lot of reading but he made it quite accessible in class. Participation in class was limited by the unconventionally large class size (thanks to the laxity of the department, freshmen and non CCLS people were taking the class too, which was annoying), but Prof Huyssen encouraged comments. At first I was extremely intimidated by him, but as I started going to more of his office hours I found he was an extremely approachable man and eager to help lost undergraduates out. However, he will not take any bullshit whether in class comments or in papers. Call it typically German or whathaveyou, but his analyses are always razor-sharp and crystal clear. All in all, definitely take a class with this towering bastion of contemporary intellectualism--you'll be glad you did.