Nietzsche (Seminar)

Oct 2009

Experiencing Harro Mueller was one of the most bizarre encounters I expect to have at Columbia. This is a professor with a razor-thin command of the English language, yet rarely uses a word that has less than three syllables. The result is that a seminar on one of history's most controversial philosophers wound up being reduced to a gigantic effort to decipher the words coming out of Harro's mouth. The structure of his course could not have been less engaging - a rambling, obscurantist summary from Harro of one of Nietzsche's works, followed by a student presentation of another of Nietzsche's works. Since these student presentations happened every day and took up the majority of class, very little actual teaching occurs as a result of Harro's communication problems. What's more, I'm pretty sure he didn't know anybody's name, and I'm also pretty sure he hasn't made the jump to e-mail, so don't bother with trying to access him outside of class. He is definitely an amusing artifact - he's a hardcore German intellectual who doesn't bother to make himself accessible, but one wonders how much of this is out of choice.

Jan 2006

Robery Guay is young, clever, sharp, and energetic. He's also got a good sense of humor. The Nietzsche seminar involved a lot of monologues, which was a problem. Monologues, escpecially frequent ones from students and/or teachers regardless of how many impressive concepts are strung together, are not engaging. The reading course covered 2 Nietzsche books (Daybreak, and Beyond Good and Evil). The course was desgined to produce one research paper with short, relevant assignments to aid the reaserch for the final paper. The organization of the assignments was appropriate and Guay's guidleines for the final paper were unusually comprehensible. Guay was also cool, very understanding outside of class with everyone i talked to, not to mention extremely charming and approachable. In fact, one GS student in our class is beside himself to recommend Prof. Guay for a teaching award and has contacted the whole senior seminar (after the semester's end) by email to encourage us all to make additional nominations. Bottom line, the former review was very unflattering and incomplete. Robery Guay is new, he is knowledgeable, bright, understanding, dynamic, and open-minded. He can teach you a lot if you ask, and are willing to listen for the response. He also scheduled 2 of our classes as full guest-lectures by prominent Nietzsche scholars.