It makes me sad that Abu-Lughod has such bad reviews - I honestly enjoyed this class, even if the lectures didn't always connect seamlessly to each other. They were internally followable, definitely, and she obviously knows her stuff and gets excited about her subjects. She doesn't use powerpoints (if you're a science major, you may not be expecting this), so go to the lectures - they're worth it. She has a lot to say and is quite articulate, able to string together concepts in a way that makes you think. This class is heavy on the reading, but the readings make the class. They're absolutely great. I feel as though much of what I've taken from this class comes from the readings; Abu-Lughod herself says that the class is mostly "a guide to the readings."
She is a horrible lecturer. Totally disorganized, kind of an airhead. The readings she assigned were great, but sometimes irrelevant. We had to buy some books that were expensive that she should have just photocopied 3 pages out of because that is all we really got out of the entire book. The TAs were pretty good. Lecture was painful because she was such a flake and had no notes, no points to make...The syllabus was very, very structured, but you would never know this from hearing her lectures. Good books in general, the work load was weird. Two out of 3 little papers...on strict topics that were RIDICULOUSLY DUMB. Then midterm/takehome final that were basically silly. She graded easily but her TAs graded harshly. the assignments were up in the air...you never knew how you would do. Good topics, good readings....bad class.
Maybe the most disappointing class I have taken while at Columbia. Prof. Abu-Lughod is a brilliant woman but you would never know it if you attended one of her disorganized babble sessions that were supposed to be lectures. I often wondered if she prepared lecture notes or just went up there and winged it every class. I think my bad experience with the course also had to do with the fact that I felt the T.A.'s were horrible. They seemed totally uninterested in the course and were all about asserting their dominance over us. We had 2 lectures and 1 discussion session (with one of three T.A.'s) every week. My discussion sessions consisted of our T.A. talking and talking and talking.... I'm telling you... this man LOVED to hear himself talk. He also loved to make people feel uncomfortable and was not afraid to insult students. All in all I did manage to learn quite a bit about the subject but I think it was a reuslt of the interesting articles we read and the movies we saw. Final thought: Abu-Lughod is an great writer and researcher... but her lectures made me want to stick needles in my eyes. Post Script if I never hear the words, Post-Modernist...Agency...Discursive Tradition...Orientalist....etc. again I will be very thankful.
I think professor Abu-Lughod has improved since the last reviews, so I figured I'd update them. She is a very interesting lecturer. You'll feel like you are sitting around discussing topics with your friends, which is a difficult atmosphere to cultivate with 40 kids. If you like a more rigid format, you might not care for the class. I found myself learning what I needed to learn without frantically taking down notes and cramming for exams. She wants you to understand principles and fundamentals. If you like classes where you go, sit, listen and discuss, this is probably a good fit for you.
Professor Abu-Lughod is not a very good lecturer. Her lectures were usually disorganized, and it was hard to tell what the most important points were. (I took this class without any background in anthropology or MELAC, so that may make a difference.) Plus, if someone asked a question she was liable to spend half an hour answering it (which is good, I suppose), but never get back on track. That said, the readings and movies were very interesting, and when she gave a good lecture, it was really good. Overall, I would recommend this class because the topic is relevant and very interesting, but be prepared for some confusing lectures.
Prof. Abu-Lughod tries very hard to make this class worth while. she assigns good readings, interesting paper topics. she prepares for lectures, invites guest speakers and shows a variety of relevant movies. however, it seems that she can never really overcome the fact that she believes that it is impossible to teach a class on such a enormously broad topic - therefore what you end up with is lots of repetative explanations of easy to understand ethnographies because she fears making any generalization that is not supported by an anthropological study - so despite her effort classes are very boring and you really don't ever have to go - you will get just as much from just the readings, the movies and the short papers -
While her lectures can be a bit scattered and sometimes boring, Lila really knows her stuff and the readings are great. She also is very approacable and really cares about her students. She incorporates films into the class, which you have to write two short (3 pg) papers on. The films are great and relate very well to the class readings. The Midterm and Final are both take-home and you have the ability to choose which readings you will write on, so you can eliminate the denser, slightly more boring ones. Overall, the grading was very fair and not too hard. I would recommend taking this class to anyone interested in women's studies or the middle east.
Excellent material used in this class, however, at times I dozed off because of her monotonous voice. However, I did enjoy this class as well as the TAs. This class has alot of potential and is quite enjoyable. Wouldn't mind having her again for sure.
If youre into this sort of thing, the topic and the readings are interesting. The professor is very, very knowledgeable, but seems uncomfortable in front of a crowd. Her lecture style is disjointed, which can sometimes make the class boring. But she and the TAs are really nice, we watched a lot of movies, and the work load isnt that bad. I would take the class again.