I have to agree that Lisa Tiersten is awesome. She is feisty and outspoken -- and most importantly, she'll correct you when you are wrong or saying something dumb. Unlike some professors who allow some to rant forever about something dumb, she'll challenge you if she feels you're a littler (or a lot) off. She's also really funny and down-to-earth. You don't come across that last quality too often while at Columbia and Barnard. The texts we read we're interesting, completely relevant to feminist traditions, and useful for a comprehensive overview of feminist theory. She allows students to facilitate class, so it's peer-led, but she'll jump in when she needs to make a point or guide the discussion in a more correct direction. Definitely worth taking a class with her. Oh, and she's so cool, she even created a snack schedule for the class.
This isn't a class you can sit out on. Professor Bernstein very early on cut the class down to about 15 people so to keep the discussion open and participation ample. While the beginning of the course is pretty standard, by the time you get up to the 2000s the canon tends to end up being shaped by the instructor you have (as I understand it, there's little standardization in these kinds of courses in the WMST department). With that said, Prof. Bernstein ends up drawing from her own interests, and she ended up assigning a book that deals with the topic of migration and sex work--probably something you wouldn't expect from a canon course. She really makes it work, though, and although she doesn't really lecture that much, she moderates a thought-provoking discussion that is in the long run VERY worth it. I loved this class. Take it with her if you can.
I'm really only writing a review because Professor Tiersten mentioned culpa several times in our last class... This was a wonderful class, and Professor Tiersten was a wonderful moderator. Like others said, she has a lot of energy, which I feel is necessary in this class. As the course progresses, you get into more controversial topics, and people feel very strongly about them. We covered pornography, the ethics surrounding nannies, maids and sex workers from "third world" countries who work in the United States, and the "death" of feminism. (As well as many of the post-Simone de Beauvoir historical "phases," I guess, leading up to more modern topics.) Professor Tiersten knew exactly how to provoke us to encourage a heated, yet rewarding, debate.
I was really wary of Professor Bernstein because of her weak reviews, but I actually really enjoyed this class. She isn't the most assertive professor or an amazing teacher, but she is nice and passionate about the subject at hand. She chose some really interesting readings that really challenged my thoughts on the path of feminism and enhanced my understanding about the kind of work being done. Moreover, the class atmosphere was great, with lots of smart, interested students exchanging ideas on a very elevated level.
I have mixed feelings about my experience in this class. On the one hand, I found the student-led discussion format to be really frustrating. Class discussion was mostly dominated by a few students who always spoke and then there were some students who rarely said anythingÂ… and I think we would've gained more had Prof. Hirsch taken a more active role in leading the discussion (or if she had even lectured a bit more). As it was, I never knew what to take notes on and I often left class with a headache. On the other hand, the reading assignments for this class were really fascinating. Some of them were dense and it was a LOT of work to get through them all (a lot of pages), but I really felt the material was worthwhile, interesting, and eye-opening. Prof. Hirsch was not very good about replying to emails promptly and sometimes her responses to questions I'd email were not very helpful. I definitely think she was intelligent, experienced, and passionate about women's issues... but I don't think she was the best instructor (mainly because I would've preferred that she do more speaking in class). She was also somewhat intimidating although I did go to her office hours a few times and she was a little warmer one-on-one than she appears in class, but it's hard to work up the nerve to approach her. She is more helpful in office hours than by email. I also wish she would've provided more feedback on the weekly 1-page postings we had to write (she only returned two of them the whole semester and the comments were brief and there was no letter grade on them). I pretty much have no clue what grade I'll be getting in her class because the whole semester has passed and we only got one grade back (for our "position paper"). The class was a good experience, but it was more because of the well-chosen readings than because of Hirsch's teaching style. I would take another class taught by her, but I wouldnÂ’t rush to do so. I would, however, strongly recommend taking Fem Texts II (perhaps with another prof) for the sake of the reading list aloneÂ—the texts you'll cover are excellent.
Fabulous professor, fabulous class. Tiersten is very hip and can easily relate to her students during seminar discussions, plus she has so much energy. The readings about cultural feminism, pornography, pop culture, nannies in the USA, etc. are fascinating. Seriously the best seminar I have ever taken -- Tiersten creates such a great class atmosphere!
I've had the opportunity to take two very very different classes with Lisa Tiersten. The history class, which I took solely to fulfill the requirement (I hate history) was a large lecture, fast paced and often leaving me in the dust. She goes extremely quickly, and if you don't have much of a mind for history it can be quite intimidating. The other reviewers do a good job summarizing this class, so I'll leave it there. The women's studies class, however, is quite the opposite. A small women's studies seminar can be fantastic or awful depending on the teacher, and i LOVE Tiersten for this class. While she is a little ADD and a little all over the place, her class is thoroughly enjoyable. She has a very clear idea of where she wants the class to go, and is good at linking the theoretical points to the broader climate at the time. I guess that's why she's a history teacher. In the class we have really interesting and in-depth conversations, and it really feels like a safe space to share and learn. Exactly what a women's studies class should be. I don't know if she'll be teaching it again soon, but it's much better than the other wmst seminars I've taken, I highly recommend it.
I found Professor Kessler-Harris' class incredibly interesting and engaging, as she could bring in personal experiences and insights of the earlier feminist movements that can't be found in or relayed from textbooks. Her exceptional command of the material made this one of my favorite courses I've taken so far at Columbia. She is also very approachable outside of class and I enjoyed talking with her in her office hours. I definitely recommend taking a course with her!
As the previous reviewer noted, Trish is definitely not afraid to share her own opinions. Often the class would go something like this: Trish says something, student says something, Trish responds, different student says something, Trish says something, student, Trish . . . You get the picture. Instead of helping students find their own way in the texts, Trish, in great detail, explains her views and opinions. As a person, Trish is extremely kind, open, and lovely. But as a teacher she leaves something to be desired: spoonfeeding you information rather than inspiring individual thought and reflection. The syllabus was fine - some interesting novels and other works and some old standards. But the pace is rather slow. If you have little to no experience with feminist works then this class would be a pleasant introduction. But if you have more experience or want a more rigorous class take Feminist Texts with someone else.