course
Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy (Literature Humanities)

May 2021

She is very deserving of a gold nugget! Warm, compassionate, sweet, caring and lovable are words I'd use to describe this professor. I hate writing and I hate literature even more, but this class was such a joy to take that I ended up actually enjoying literature for once in my life! My conversations with her and our class discussions actually helped me improve my writing as well, which is remarkable given how much I detest the art of essay writing and formulating a good thesis statement. The class as a whole is VERY low stress and well very well structured to the point where I actually enjoyed going and talking about what I wrote from my discussion post. She heavily structures the class around student discussion and participation (although she never grades you for your participation in class). She selects a few quotes from the work and will have you discuss one of the quotes with other students in a breakout room, than you share what you discussed as a group. You can use what you discussed in class while writing your papers, so long as you try to add to the discussion in some way, which I loved. In terms of the grade, as other students have said, she's a very lenient grader and you'll most likely come out with an A. She keeps things VERY low stress :) Honestly, just take her class, you won't regret it! She's amazing.

May 2021

i love this man so much. half our class from lit hum signed up for his cc because we didn't wanna leave him. if you can take his class, you should. he's very kind and a very good teacher. someone I'll remember forever from Columbia. don't miss out!

Apr 2021

Karen is a fantastic LitHum teacher. Having her during the pandemic was actually one of the highlights of my freshman year. She made an effort to help us get to know each other during class by splitting the class in half and letting two groups work on their own in breakout rooms. She's also super sweet, always very passionate about the things we're reading, and is generally quite helpful in showing you how to improve throughout the year. The class also really loved the TA for the class, Isabella, who went above and beyond to help us out! While we put more emphasis on some texts than others, and focused on very specific themes in pretty much every book we read, we still managed to cover a lot of ground throughout the semester. One thing everyone noticed is the importance of participation. You need to make at least a few comments per week to be engaged and show what you're thinking - but if you can do that, you're golden. Overall, a super fun core class, and she grades you well if you put in some level of effort.

Apr 2021

Ben VanWagoner's Lit Hum class was a true pleasure. He's an incredibly interesting guy, very very good at running an effective and engaging discussion, not afraid to cut off windbags, and super well studied at all of the works on the syllabus. I transferred into his class second semester and found his assignments to be some of the most engaging and stimulating I've encountered at Columbia, and his few substitutions/additions were generally agreed to be at par with or even sometimes more interesting to study than the stock canon by most of my classmates that I talked to. Discussions with him are really enjoyable as well – his depth of knowledge is a lot of fun to spelunk and he'll always entertain and engage with your thoughts on, well, anything. To boot he's also just an outstandingly nice guy and a bona fide good person, very accommodating and wants the best for all his students. Ben/Prof V is a postdoc and as he said a few times there's no certainty how long he'll be around, but if he's offering a section, take it. You won't regret it.

Apr 2021

I didn't know what to expect when I switched into her class in the spring semester (after having a rough fall LitHum section), but I ended up loving it! Was seriously so lucky to switch into such a great section. Liza conducts class discussions very energetically, which helped the material stick with me. She made it really easy to participate and feel engaged, especially over zoom. Note that she does cold call, but there is no shame if you answer with an "I don't remember" or an "I'm not sure". So while it's kind of scary when she calls on you, if you don't know the answer its nbd. I had a family emergency mid-semester, and she was sooo understanding about it. She checked up on me as well as understood if I needed to miss class or turn in assignment late. She doesn't grade super harshly (never got lower than a B on anything despite being a horrible reader), but gives great feedback! Overall she's a very happy, loveable, exciting person, and you'll probably love her too!

Apr 2021

Take LitHum with Dalia! I agree 100% with everything said in the last two reviews (4/7/21 and 12/25/20), and I struggled to write this without being too repetitive. She's so sweet, cheerful, and accommodating and that translates into students' attitude toward LitHum and contributes to our overall happiness throughout the semester. She is always open to hearing our thoughts and criticisms about the texts (or even the course) even as class is mostly focused on specific passages that we looked at in breakout rooms. Like others have mentioned, her grading is pretty lenient and fair too!

Apr 2021

Professor Cuadrado was an excellent professor in regards to his teaching: he effectively led class discussions and his assignments were engaging for the most part. His essay grading can border on harsh at times, yet essays account for much less of your final grade than comparable Lit Hum sections.

Apr 2021

Mendelson is such a great professor. Cannot recommend him enough. low-stress but I learned so much from his class. Took this class remote but he's probably even better in person.

Apr 2021

you know when you don't fully chew a chip and when you swallow it a sharp piece scratches your throat and you think you're going to literally pass away? Eliza Zingesser is a human chip. This is easilyyyy the worst class I've taken since coming to Columbia. This course gave me panic attacks the night before every class. If Ben Schapiro decided to come to Columbia, this is the class I would highly recommend for him. Both of them are unpleasant, uncaring, and generally robotic. I literally cannot stress enough to run as far away from this professor as you can. If you have friends in this class, and you don't warn them, they're not your friend. And if you yourself are in this class... good luck charlie

Apr 2021

Sarah is the GOAT!!!! Especially in an online setting, it was awesome to have such an understanding prof. I am not a big humanities person and she still made this class engaging and productive. If you can get her, you MUST!

Apr 2021

ANGEL. Take her. Take her at all costs. You will love your life as a LitHum student and will one day thank yourself for listening to the advice given by this review. Professor Inbal is incredibly sweet, understanding, and is passionate about the texts, and is delighted when anyone participates in any amount in her class. She grades very generously, just do the work on time and to the best of your ability and 9 times out of 10 you'll get full points. Please I heard that she sets up snack time for in-person classes if this hasn't sold you yet I don't know what will, you sick human...

Mar 2021

I'm writing this now but I had Nicole in 2016. I absolutely loved her, I remember she was so incredibly accommodating and caring about each of her students. She also always brought snacks to class. In terms of her teaching style, she's great at making sure all students feel comfortable participating regardless of how well you prepared for class, and she's a fair grader who makes her expectations clear ahead of time. Couldn't recommend her more, she remembered me years after I took her course!

Mar 2021

I'm so glad I had tiana for my lit hum class! she is really chill and understanding. the final is always a choice between what you want to do (artistic one, traditional paper, etc.) which I appreciate. she is also really lenient in grading :) I think if u want a ~challenge~ in lit hum, it would rly come down to who u have as ur classmates

Feb 2021

Sarah is HANDS DOWN the best lithum teacher. Very nice, very kind, you'd be lucky to have her. She made me not hate this course.

Jan 2021

Prof Dauber is definitely very knowledgeable and an interesting person overall. My one point of contention is that he dumbs the conversation down and also uses way too many pop culture references. You end up having a very surface-level discussion of the text. It's a shame because I'm sure that Prof Dauber has so much more to offer! Overall, though, he is a very caring professor and definitely encourages discussion and dissenting opinions (a lot of other professors at Columbia don't).

Jan 2021

If you are looking for a professor that goes on unrelated tangents, micromanages every aspect of the class, proud himself on crappy grading, and will barely go over any of the reading in class - this is the class for you. Professor VanWagner spends most of the class on unrelated assignments and time-consuming projects instead of actually covering the material, the discussions are flat as he always takes over any conversation, and he will give assignments for every single class. some assignments will be quick and short, and some will take time which really spirals every week as you cannot budget your time properly This professor does not care AT ALL about your grades and takes it as a point of pride to give students bad grades (even though he is teaching GS students, and our financial aid is based on our GPA). He even sent an email at the end of the semester saying that any comment about grades only irritated him do yourself a favor, take literally any other class

Jan 2021

Nassime was probably my favorite instructor in my first semester of college. She is kind, understanding, very open to feedback, and really loves the texts. At times I felt Lit Hum was my most challenging course, but talking to her was always helpful and reassuring during those moments--by the way, go to her office hours!!! Great time to have your questions answered and talk to a kind, fun person. There are some comments here on CULPA about how specific the writing style she asks for is. Although it is indeed specific and takes time to understand, I promise it's worth it. I'm a Physics major and have always struggled to interpret art in general. After doing so much close reading with Nassime, I feel as if a new instinct had been implanted in my mind. When I read a book now, I start to unveil otherwise hidden connections. Her emphasis on the importance of evidence pays off: text interpretation went, for me, from a seemingly magical power to an evidence-based exercise. On top of that, her grading isn't harsh, so you should worry too much about her demands. Eventually, you'll get it. If you get Nassime as your instructor, celebrate! You'll meet an amazing individual and your experience with Lit Hum will be as good as what we must expect from Core classes.

Jan 2021

She was really nice and understanding! Definitely possible to get an A. Class participation is 40% of the final grade, but that’s both in-class discussion participation and discussion posts that were due before each class. She’s really good at teaching over Zoom, and she’s understanding of technical difficulties.

Dec 2020

Really great professor! She genuinely cares for her students, and she is so passionate about the works she teaches. She is very engaging and sometimes humorous with her discussions in class, you will definitely learn a lot from her. She is also very understanding about deadlines, which was really considerate given we took the class during covid. Workload also isn’t too much compared to other lithum classes, she mainly prioritizes our reading and understanding the books. She is known to be a harsh grader, but I personally find her to be very fair as long as you follow close reading guidelines. Overall, she is an amazing professor!

Dec 2020

She is literally the best. If you have her don't switch out!

Dec 2020

He was outstanding. First, let me say that Professor Dauber (as a Harvard Grad Rhodes Scholar) is way overqualified to teach this course. The guy's a genius and makes his class genuinely interesting. He's also very good at guiding the conversations so that they stay relevant, while not being overly forceful about it. He values any contributions you make in class, likes it when you make connections between texts and appreciates it when you have exact quotes for your references (for example, in The Iliad, Book 4, Line 256, Achilles says "____" and then tie it in to the conversation). Taking this class with him was a pleasure and I absolutely plan to take a class of his in the future. Just know that he'll assign an extra book or two sometimes (he assigned the Histories and The History of the Pelopennisian War for us, which other sections didn't have to do). You don't really have to read the books, but I would recommend doing so (or at the very least reading some of them, so you can make a comment in class and get those participation points). I would recommend getting a list of the LitHum books from a current student and reading them ahead of time over the summer (or at least reading some of them). Also, he said at the beginning of the semester that anyone who did all the work in the class and submitted it on time would get an A-range grade, regardless of the quality of the work (This was COVID-time online classes so this probably isn't normal). 100% recommend.

Dec 2020

Lisa hollibaugh is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong her class is definitely challenging. She makes you do reading journals for every class, but honestly they aren’t that hard to do they maybe take 20 min. But the conversations during class are so great. She takes the time out of her day to get to know each of her students. I cannot say how much I love this woman. She is the best! She is very understanding and a decent grader! She will def help you grow not only as a reader, but as a writer. Take her section of Lit Hum. You wont regret it.

Dec 2020

Professor Stewart is simply great. He is understanding, sensitive, and smart. He adjusted well to the all-online format and reassured us that he was well aware of the extraneous things going on in the world. At the same time, Professor Stewart led in-class discussions masterfully. I was constantly impressed by his teaching instincts. For example, when we were discussing the Bible, he repeatedly acknowledged the advantages and disadvantages of reading a religious text from a literary perspective. This, I imagine, can be a touchy subject for any teacher, given the obvious wide range of experience and opinions of students with the text. Somehow, he bridged the gap, providing thoughtful critiques of biblical characters himself while facilitating debate over perhaps unfair or excessive criticism of the text. This was topped off by a beautifully written email after a particularly lively class explaining his ongoing personal relationship with the religious text. During conversation, he strikes the perfect balance between listening and contributing, interjecting and leaving space when appropriate. He has a way of rephrasing and responding to students' comments so that even the most incoherent ones sound intelligent. This, I think, is a testament to his knowledge and familiarity with the subject matter. His essay feedback is detailed and fair. He never calls people out in class and participation is purely voluntary, which makes class significantly less stressful. He didn't do reading checks but he did very occasionally take an in-class poll on a reading comprehension question. Ultimately, Professor Stewart is a reasonable and decent man. He wants to see his students succeed, and his energy and passion for the literature is infectious. If Professor Stewart is any indication of the quality of the English/Literature department, he has set the bar awfully high.

Dec 2020

She's the best Lit Hum professor out there! Class is really engaging and Professor Ramgopal makes an effort to make everyone feel welcome. We read fewer books for longer than other classes, allowing the discussion to do more justice to each of the books. For the first semester especially, Professor Ramgopal's knowledge about the historical context really enriches the discussion. I honestly had pretty low expectations for Lit Hum but it's now one of my favorite classes. She's super understanding and I've learned a lot without feeling overwhelmed with busy work. I can't recommend her enough.

Dec 2020

This professor is seriously amazing! His class was always a delight to be in, and the discussions he facilitated were so interesting. He always makes himself available for questions and makes sure to give you helpful feedback on almost any writing you submit. He's super lowkey and makes sure that the class' needs come first. He made having my first semester of college being online a lot more bearable. He also organized movie nights and Saturday discussions concerning material we didn't get to cover in our class.

Dec 2020

LOVE LOVE LOVE SARAH SO MUCH! It's only the first semester but I literally love her so much. Her class discussions/readings/assignments tie the mundanity of the Core readings with relevant modern day lens of analysis. She's really kind and a very chill grader + she's a younger professor so she gets it. I literally love her so much!

Sep 2020

Loved Paraskevi! I had her for LitHum. Paraskevi is from Greece but is super multicultural and brings a lot of new perspectives to the class. Her essay topics were very broad, like "what is love" or "what is the point of writing." She does a great job letting students discuss among themselves while still leading the discussion. Didn't seem like a hard grader. Our class went out for lunch/dinner a few times but attendance was pretty low—please go to these, as they're really fun and a good opportunity to get to know Paraskevi.

Sep 2020

I highly recommend having Prof. Paulson for your Lit Hum class. He is super chill, and although yes the class is more of a discussion, I really enjoyed it. He's a great facilitator of interesting conversation while also being very understanding. When classes switched to online, he was super understanding of everyone's unique circumstances while also continuing to maintain a really interesting classroom environment. He often gives opportunities for creative essays, like style imitations, and he also cuts some of the texts in the syllabus to give more room for discussion of the remaining texts (which we all were happy with because, you know, less reading). He seems like such a genuinely nice person. I would 100% recommend him as a professor.

Sep 2020

You're very lucky if you have Professor Adams for LitHum. Not only is he a very smart, knowledgeable and accomplished in his field, but I also find him to be very approachable in Office Hours + Responsive to Emails. I particularly like his style of facilitating discussion. Generally, after a student speaks, he will immediately respond with his own thoughts/feedback (before then bouncing the conversation off to another student). Personally I really like hearing an authoritative opinion on whatever opinion I might have just expressed because it helps me further develop my ideas and clarify misreadings. However, he also knows when to step back at the right moments, and very often there will also be natural, direct conversation taking place between students. I think you'll love his class whether you come in with very little knowledge of the texts, or whether you have a rich and passionate knowledge of literature and philosophy. I think his grading was also fair. To be honest I felt that I didn't do too well in some of my Fall response papers, but later I realised that his feedback accurately reflected the different expectations for university-level literary writing; and the detailed feedback he gave me genuinely helped me improve in other classes as well, which I'm really grateful for. In general he's the type of person who rewards your merits, rather than who penalises your mistakes. I don't think he's the easiest grader out there but I think he holds a good balance between generosity and an ability to make you improve in a progressive and rewarding manner.

Jun 2020

Kate is not the worst professor but she has a few issues. First, she has an unpleasant attitude to kids who don't agree with her views, especially on social issues. She seems to think that most of the Core texts (other than the ones she adds to the syllabus herself) are problematic, and added a total of 8 texts to the syllabus. She did pull out a few, but we definitely had to read more than other classes. It was cool to read some obscure Christine de Pizan or Islamic homoerotic poetry, but I bet many other students would have liked to read the texts chosen by the Core Committee, like Dostoevsky and Shakespeare. I will agree with other reviewers that her grading can be harsh, but I believe if you write according to her views she is not entirely unfair. She does grade harshly at first to make students work harder. Not the class for kids just wanting a good grade and a full core experience.

Jun 2020

Kate is definitely a good teacher for many students. And I'll begin by listing her positives: - she does offer a critical eye to many of the Core texts, meaning she'll be great for students who are more inclined to critique these works. - she does not overtake the discussion, and students have plenty of opportunity to speak. - she's not stuck-up, and often swears in class in a very casual way. She creates a welcoming atmosphere where students, especially students new to the Ivy League, do not feel left out or inadequate. However, Kate does have a few issues, in my opinion. She tends to show a bit of favoritism among her students, and tends to let her own political leanings slide into the class discussion. More than one student in my class noticed her slight preference for girls in class discussion, and slight dislike of boys, especially athletes. Again, this wasn't overwhelming, but anybody taking the class over two semesters would notice it slightly(I'm a girl and I noticed). Kate is an unapologetic feminist, and her class was unique for assigning Pizan and and a few other feminist texts for us to read, which was welcoming and offered a perspective counter to the mostly white and male other texts. Another was her grading. Brassel is the definition of a subjective grader. She is not one to hear any arguments about why a grade should have been better, and is more apt to give better grades to essays which critique social justice/racial/feminist issues in the texts we read. I performed this experiment personally in my first semester. I did receive multiple A's, but there were times I felt my grade was undeserving. Overall, I would not take Brassel if you are a non-feminist, male, athlete, or somebody who wants a more easygoing professor. Not that Kate isn't often lighthearted, its just that she believes a bit of harsh grading will motivate kids to do better. I would recommend Kate for anybody who shares views similar to hers, as you'll definitely find her class entertaining and thought-provoking.

May 2020

Zach is a sweetheart. I cannot recommend him enough. He's cheesy sometimes, and occasionally his passionate nerdiness about classics can get in the way of class discussion, but it's always entertaining. He hates how college grading is done, so he goes easy on everyone and seems to genuinely love reading essays. He had our class make memes instead of do a midterm, and he dots fun creative projects throughout the year. That's not to say his class is a joke, though--if you are looking for serious intellectual inquiry, Zach offers that too. He's extremely available as a professor and as a friend and I've had some super eye-opening conversations with him in and outside of class. In general, I noticed we go through texts much faster than most other sections with other professors, while reading more books. He is very concerned with the content of the course and has no qualms modifying the syllabus to better reflect what he sees to be the purpose of Lithum. In that vein, he took off Macbeth and Crime and Punishment and replaced them medieval Islamic poetry and an opera, and still took time out of his schedule to have an optional discussion group about Crime and Punishment which was one of the highlights of my year. The best part about his Lithum, though, is how he makes the class into a close-knit family. The way he cares deeply about his students rubs off on the class and everyone becomes good friends. Take his class. You will cherish it.

May 2020

He is very, very passionate about what he is teaching and also very knowledgeable. His discussions are engaging and he's also funny and a very chill guy. He brought in donuts one time and bought us all coffee at Joe's another time because we were acting sleepy in class. He's a good teacher for someone who really wants to participate and he values this highly. He brings a unique approach to lit hum by having us listen to parts of the texts in their original languages to hear what they sound like or having us act out scenes from the books. The comments the other reviews have made about grading are true, it is rather vague. However, the essays are not too hard once you understand what he's looking for which he's always willing to help with in office hours. He once told me that the key to getting an A on his papers is close reading and making an arguable point. Which I found to be true, I went from a B- on the first paper to an A- on the second one. It's better to over-do it on the close reading than under-do it in his class. He also has creative project options for people who wants to interact with the texts more creatively than a paper. I really enjoyed my Lit Hum experience with him and would highly recommend him for those who are super excited for this course and want a professor who will match that level of enthusiasm.

May 2020

Caio is SUCH a great instructor. If you make the effort to speak up a few different times in class, do the work, and communicate with him then his class is a great one to be in. He is extremely understanding and sympathetic to personal hardship or struggles, and he is genuinely concerned for his students' wellbeing and does all he can to make his class manageable but still challenging enough. He takes a lot of class surveys to gauge the opinions of the class and try to meet the needs of as many as possible. His classes were engaging and the approaches that he takes to each book emphasized the similarities and differences between each installment in the LitHum syllabus. If you can get into Caio's LitHum section, do it!!

May 2020

Paulson was probably the best decision I made in freshman year. I personally thought he was a great lit hum professor—he's light on the lectures, and as previous reviews have correctly pointed out, he's more of a discussion leader. However, while other reviews make this seem to be sort of a negative thing, I can definitively say he's fantastic at questioning and encouraging his students to think more deeply and develop their own thoughts about the texts. Saying this, he's extremely open to different ideas and somehow finds a way to bridge contrasting opinions, which broadened my understanding of the texts. Other than that, he's a very fair grader, quite often brings snacks to class, and our assignments are pretty open, giving way for writing something you actually want to write. Some of our assignments included imitations of different authors, interpreting art pieces in relation to texts, and the typical passage analysis. One thing I really want to emphasize is that he is super understanding and obviously cares about his students. When classes went online he was very lenient with us, especially the international students who were in extremely different time zones. He kept in constant communication with us to check up on our wellbeing, made a point to find ways to make online classes more fun/interactive, and overall made the experience so much easier. Basically, I would 100% recommend choosing him as a Lit Hum professor.

Apr 2020

Michael is AMAZING. 10/10 recommend. If you have the option, take his class. Probably the most understanding professor I've had so far at Columbia. He does a really good job taking the texts we read and finding a way to make them interesting and applicable in today's world. I was rarely ever bored in this class, and the discussions were always eye-opening and entertaining. He understands that not everyone is in love with older texts, so he has discussion posts that he uses really as a framework for class and this really allows the students to have a say in what they do or do not discuss in class. He even omitted a few texts from the first semester so that we'd be able to discuss the ones we kept more in depth. Cannot imagine having anyone more chill than he was. Midterm was not bad at all if you prepared, and final was the same. For essays you'll typically have the option of doing 1 creative project that can be really exciting if you give it your all, and he's there with you every step of the process. Over the semester, our class grew super close and I think Prof. Paulson had a really big role in making that happen. Overall an amazing class and would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Apr 2020

Professor Paulson is SUCH a good professor! I would highly recommend taking his class if you can. He cares a lot about his students and is very accommodating. His classes are sometimes a little boring, but it is definitely worth it. He realizes how tough the syllabus is and took some texts out to be able to really focus on the important ones (he makes his own midterm). The two writing assignments are also flexible--you're able to choose from different options of what you want to do. Having switched into his class for the second semester, I really wish I'd been in it for the whole year.

Apr 2020

I wrote the review below. But I also want to clear up that he does really care about his students and is very passionate about the texts. The reason that it is easy to get good grades is because he cares more about education than the exams/passage IDs.

Apr 2020

Yujhan is the best! He CARES SO MUCH about everyone learning in class. Everyone pretty much got an A because Yujhan is super invested in making sure we all do well and get credit for our work. He was kinda frazzled in a lot of classes, but like... it was relatable. With Yujhan, you know you're gonna do well, so it's really about how much YOU want to get out of your Columbia Core experience. I'm really thankful I had Yujhan my first year. Go to office hours!!! One of my best memories of Columbia is sitting with Yujhan and talking about books and movies (not from Lit Hum but just in my own interest). He knows so much and has such interesting perspectives that I would definitely recommend taking the time to get to know him / his brain while you have the chance.

Apr 2020

AMAZING! Our class became so close and we would always be making jokes about different characters. Prof. Murray is super engaging and loves her students to have discussions. Her class was always so fun and I always looked forward to it. I learned so much from Prof Murray but also from my classmates. She doesn't lecture, she really wants everyone to contribute - so if you want to sit in the corner and be quiet then you won't do well in this class. You have to be willing to speak up about your ideas but she fosters such an engaging environment that you will soon feel very comfortable talking. We also did weekly 'vibe checks.' Overall Prof Murray is great, tells stories about her son, brings snacks for us.

Apr 2020

Do yourself a favor and take this class! Warren is an absolute angel, and genuinely cares about the subject matter. Not only is he one of the most intelligent professors I've had the pleasure of meeting at Columbia, but he is passionate about passing on his knowledge to his students. His class is structured by discussing smaller sections of text very in depth, which in my opinion is much more valuable than trying to tackle an entire novel in a couple of class periods (though you are still required to read the entire novel). My lithum class became so close by the end of one semester that we even hung out outside of the classroom regularly, and this is because of the collaborative, group-oriented environment Warren cultivates during class. He is extremely accommodating to students' needs, and will do what he can to help you succeed. Most importantly, the 2 hour class never feels like a drag, and everyone genuinely has a good time. Midterms are extremely reasonable -- they only covered passages we directly went over in class, and he hosts review sessions to prepare you for it. Also, our budget was spent on seeing really cool plays around the city and going to dinner, which was fun.

Apr 2020

Prof Adams KNOWS how LitHum works. Having taught the class for over 18 years and probably longer than you've lived, he truly loves the literature and poetically teaches it. You will get the real LitHum experience taking his class. The discussion/participation is optional, but if you do speak up, Adams will really dive into a deep discussion with you and engage the rest of the class to do so. I breezed through this class by taking careful notes and tracking all the passages he mentions in class.

Apr 2020

Really engaging in class and truly cares about her students. Tough essay grader, but if you go to her office hours she'll sit with you and talk about your essay and offer great insight on how to improve it. If you go to office hours you will get an A on the essay usually. She has genuine excitement for the course!

Apr 2020

I think she’s okay. Her teaching style is more reminiscent of a mini lecture rather than a seminar, which didn’t sit well with some people. Her writing assignments are geared more toward creative writing, so you might have to rewrite passages from Pride and Prejudice and Crime and Punishment in the style of the other author, for example.

Apr 2020

Interesting.... I honestly got really bored in the class but I was lucky because he was the best for grading. Never did any of the readings. Never participated in class. Copied all my essays from Sparknotes. Got an A+ We literally had self-graded participation. He said that he was worried about anyone who got an A-. So pretty much everyone got As.

Apr 2020

Professor Robertson is a truly amazing professor, and I feel extremely lucky to be in her lit hum class for both semesters. She is passionate about the class and definitely knowledgable about the texts, but she always engages with students throughout the discussion and builds the class around our comments and opinions, which is what I think makes lit hum a truly amazing class. She is very supportive when it comes to major assignments, and I would highly recommend going to her office hours if you want to talk about an upcoming paper. Most importantly, Professor Robertson genuinely cares about the students, and I would definitely miss her next year.

Feb 2020

Gabriel is a great professor! His class and discussions are engaging and he's always excited to hear what everyone has to say. He is a bit of a tough grader, but he also provides amazing feedback to help you improve. He is also great to chat with during office hours and he's a funny and chill guy. Take his class if you can!

Jan 2020

Professor Adams is one of the best at Columbia. I recommend taking his Lit Hum section if you're the type that hates forced participation or work in groups. There's none of that in his class. Midterm is based on passages discussed in class - absolutely nothing obscure. You have about 2 weeks to write the papers, nothing too hard.

Jan 2020

Zach is a cool dude. He's down-to-earth and gives students a lot of freedom and responsibility in the class. His discussions are always interesting (if sometimes only surface-level) and his knowledge of the background of texts is quite good. He is extremely passionate about literature and these works in particular. This is a really valuable trait in a teacher. He cares a lot but his expectations and grading are reasonable. He makes the class fun and relaxing and like a conversation where you share impressions and ideas about the books.

Jan 2020

A very nice and standard LitHum prof—classes sometimes had quite a bit of lecturing + writing on the board (which is good if you like that style of teaching, like I do), and his grading was very fair. Office hours were also really helpful in terms of essay planning + writing. I took him for both semesters of LitHum and thought the midterm (passage IDs + short in-context explanations) for both semesters were very easy if you attended class, because they were almost all quotes that we discussed in depth. Second semester assignments were also fun because we got to do "artistic interpretations" of texts (like a painting or a song) instead of writing essays.

Dec 2019

Literature Humanities is a very boring, old-fashioned and uninspiring subject but Sarah Arkebauer is anything but that. She is the only reason why this class is bearable - she is an excellent professor and an unbelievably funny person. During the times when I was not asleep in this class I often watched the UEFA Champions League and Europa League - fortunately Sarah did not give a sh*t which shows what a legendary professor she is. If you don't care about this subject, Sarah is for you. If you do care, Sarah is still for you as she presents the material in an engaging way and promotes discussion and debate in the classroom

Dec 2019

whatever you do TAKE GABE'S CLASS!!! gabe is one of my favorite profs and does a good job of keeping the 2 hours of class fun and makes the time go quickly. Participation is key in this class, not only because it's 1/4 of your grade but also because it contributes to the class. Also, if you participate more he's more likely to be more lenient towards you during grading. I def did not read all of the books but a quick look at sparknotes beforehand is just as good as reading lmao. Like the first review says, Gabe's a pretty hard grader but as long as you take his advice you should be solid on all your papers, and if you're still unsure, make sure to go to his office hours so he can look over your idea!! If you can't turn in your paper on time gabe is also really lenient on the date so just email him for an extension!

Dec 2019

LitHum was definitely the class that I dreaded to take, but Taarini made it so enjoyable. The (almost) two-hour class went by very quickly because she would include creative activities to better understand the text. She's an absolute blessing and has such a kind heart.

Dec 2019

I am glad to be the first review for Prof. Shinnar. She is honestly a great prof. She begins the class with powerpoints to provide information about the readings. She also hands out discussion questions to get the class going. We go on outside class field trips to the museum, plays, and to go get pizza. Do the readings, participate, go to her OH. You will get an A in the class if you participate! (30% of your grade) She prepares you for the midterm and final! She even takes time to see how the class is doing too, whether we should the class structure or not, and personal opinions about the seminar in general. Prof. Shinnar adds and takes out some of the basic core readings, i.e. Lysistrata. The class is what you make it. Don't make it awkward and have a class that doesn't participate.

Nov 2019

In my short time as a first-year at Columbia, I haven't had a better professor than Professor Simone. She is genuinely very passionate about the class as well as the material covered. Her concentration is in Latin literature but she is extraordinarily knowledgable about Greek literature, history, and culture as well to the point that I initially believed that Ancient Greek civilization/literature was her specialization. She wants to see her students succeed and does a lot to help you achieve that. She gives personalized feedback on essays and is lenient on extensions. Additionally, she has a very warm and kind demeanor so she is very easy to talk to. Her lit hum class is very student-driven, with Simone giving only a few opinions or background knowledge occasionally, so be ready to speak often and give your thoughts. The workload is the easiest I've had in a class at Columbia, especially in comparison to what some others say about their own workloads in other lit hum classes. Definitely take her section of lit hum if you can.

Nov 2019

Overall great class (for lithum). He puts a lot of effort into hearing multiple perspectives (both literally among the students and globally) and is willing to openly critique the core and its western focus. he's very open to feedback too, and generally a casual dude, which is good. A relaxed grader, for the most part, esp. on the midterm. haven't got my final grade tho yet, so.

Nov 2019

Caio was a GREAT lithum teacher. His discussions were thought-provoking and engaging, material was not too challenging, and there were lots of opportunities for extra credit. Take his class if you get the chance!

Nov 2019

Best Lit Hum professor ever. Reasonable workload (relative to other Lit Hum classes) and fairly graded essays and tests. Great class discussions and relates everything back to contemporary works, sometimes going off on tangents about Trump or Jeffrey Epstein. Works hard to make the Core relatable/relevant/not just about old white men. She's a great professor, genius literary critic, and I wholeheartedly recommend her class.

Sep 2019

Absolutely the most engaging intellectual experience I've had at Columbia was working with Prof. Zingesser. Deeply committed to developing close-reading and critical skills in her students, and genuinely accountable to their goals and ambitions in the class. Highly responsive to concerns, questions, and challenges in and outside the classroom. A fair, thoughtful grader -- unless you're fundamentally uninterested in improving your writing because your parents paid the rowing coach to get you into Columbia and you're unable to admit any need for improvement. She's generous with her time and recognizes the demands Lit Hum makes of students without condescending to them by diluting the syllabus or her expectations. Take her class. Teachers like her are the reason you're here.

May 2019

Deserves a gold nugget and not that terrible review left by someone that probably just did badly. One of Columbia's hidden gems.

Apr 2019

Wow. Dr. Ullah is a superhero. I’ve never had a more engaged and excited teacher, I love her so so so much. She really truly does a fantastic job teaching the texts, but she’s also young and cool and hip and updated with current events. She keeps it super real and relevant, and allows the class to take the lead in discussions but also joins the discussions. I write down literally every word she says because it’s all gold and insightful and amazing, wow. Plus she takes you on free (or nearly free) plays and Broadway shows, and treats you to really good free dinners, and passes snacks around class pretty often. She’s encouraging and open minded when it comes to essay ideas, and just a dope person. I’m literally a CS major who HATED reading, but her class was by far my favorite this year and it made me seriously consider switching to Literature. TAKE THIS CLASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apr 2019

Ezra is a great instructor and relatively easy grader. He is very passionate and wants to connect with students. If you put in effort he notices. He is very sympathetic to the stresses of college students and works with them so they can succeed. Class can be kind of boring depending on how engaged you are in the conversation at hand. Also a note that he does not give the normal half-way through break but usually we got out early.

Apr 2019

Absolutely fantastic lecturer, but I cannot possibly share her tastes in pedantic assignments. She covers themes that most other instructors fail to, and bring unique philosophy perspectives into the text. I love reading and talking in class; never the assignment or examinations.

Jan 2019

Zachary Roberts is an amazing Lit Hum professor -- if you get him, you are lucky! He's very nice and funny, and class discussions feel low-stakes. Lots of laughs and insightful discussions. Seems to be pretty standard in how he grades. This class seems perfect because it's not easy/blowoff-y like other LitHum classes, but it's also super reasonable unlike other crazy LitHum classes. Midterm for first semester was passage identification.

Jan 2019

AMAZING!!! Julianna is so kind and helpful. At first, I tried so hard to switch out because her class was at 8:10AM ~which is always a struggle~ but she made it so worth it that I stayed for the 2nd semester. She is a very lenient grader, and you can get away with slacking off and not reading everything. I'd like to stress that you are able to rewrite your essays, which hardly any other lit hum teachers allow! She also grades the midterm and final extremely generously, and it saved my GPA. However, because she is so sweet, it makes you want to work hard for her and participate in class. I ended up learning a lot about the texts we read, so this doesn't count as a blow off. HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Even if you aren't a morning person like me, Julianna will make the class one of your favorites.

Jan 2019

First, she is a very nice lady and a very good teacher with an impressive background. She is very knowledgeable of the information needed for each text. However, her grading is COMPLETELY, I mean, 100 PERCENT biased. For every assignment (Midterm, papers, final) I felt like my grade was already determined no matter how hard I worked on it. Being a humanities course, I understood that there was going to be some subjectivity. But with her, the grade for each assignment was a direct reflection of the quality of participation you brought to each class. My advice to those who are assigned to her section, participate as much as you can because that will then directly reflect your grade. I had a difficult time participating, but even though my paper's were reviewed by multiple different professionals and I studied with very intelligent people, the grades she gave me showed that she almost didn't care about what I put on paper. For example, for the first writing assignment (that was reviewed by multiple people), she gave me absolutely no feedback and all she put at the end of the paper was my awful grade and "Rewrite this" What was I honestly supposed to do with that? If you're not a big talker, I'd try to get out before you can. It will bring down your GPA. If you love talking and you can bring some relatively good content and THEN can can turn around and write it down for your assignments, let it rain pal, A+.

Jan 2019

Great professor, but needs to input grades. He has not put one grade the entire semester into Canvas so you have no idea where you stand until the final grade is released. Come on! Our GPA matters especially for a required course. His discussions are insightful but not knowing your grade until it is too late is unacceptable. It’s his 1st semester teaching so I’m sure he will improve. I’m grateful for what he taught me and how he pushed me to think beyond the words on the page but disappointing how he doesn’t input the grades. If you don’t mind left wondering how you’re 1st semester GPA will crater then take him.

Dec 2018

Nassime is one of the best instructors out there! She is very enthusiastic about the texts of the course and it is quite evident during class. She also enjoyed sharing her wealth of knowledge on the texts with us that thoroughly improved the classroom experience. She is very understanding and very accessible out of class, so if you are worried about having to take this class she will be there to support you!

Dec 2018

Professor Ullah is great and so well-informed and so prepared for every class. She is able to facilitate discussions extremely well. She is always so enthusiastic and happy, such a great presence to have in class. Essays take a long time to be graded, and she is not too available to meet for office hours, although that is understandable as she lives far from campus. Sometimes classes are boring, as all classes may be. She never points out that anyone's contribution is wrong, even though some clearly are. This makes me confused as to who is saying incorrect things. The content of midterms comes from passages in class we have talked a lot about, so that made it easier. She sticks extremely closely to the Columbia syllabus, unlike other professors who move books and deadlines around.

Nov 2018

I was initially worried when I saw that he wasn't listed on CULPA but I am sooo glad I am in his class. Gabriel is honestly one of the best teachers I've had. He is a grad student but definitely knows what he's talking about. He references pop culture and other modern sources to keep the text relevant and engaging. Additionally, he is able to play off the class dynamics and create a fun yet intellectually stimulating environment.

Nov 2018

Best lit hum teacher ever. Highly recommend. Very chill guy, super nice and funny. Leads pretty interesting class discussions and grades very fairly.

Nov 2018

The hardest grader. She is a very nice professor but she purposely tries to fail you from the beginning so you "can experience growth." Lit Hum is a lot of work regardless and with a harsh grader it just makes it that much more difficult. She does want students to attend her office hours for help but she is very misleading and will not give you direct answers on what she expects out of your writing.

Nov 2018

If you have Professor Murray, you've been blessed by the SSOL gods. Don't switch out! I'm currently a sophomore. I was in her LitHum class last year, and just a few days ago I saw her walking and we talked. Soon after, I had a sudden epiphany to write this review. Yes, she's that good. Just being reminded of her would make you want to shower her "professoral abilities", as she likes to say, with rainbows of praise. You will probably not be bored during class. She's incredibly smooth with discussions, bringing up interesting topics or controversial questions regarding the text. She often allows students to reply to each other before moving on. While some professors try to engage as many people in a single conversation, Professor Murray allows two students to debate on a topic in a back-and-forth manner. This means that the conversations are very natural and seem to be more like a true discussion instead of just class participation points. Listening to these energetic conversations are also quite fun and engaging. She also helps build upon student ideas. Oftentimes, it's hard to get my idea across, but Professor Murray always reformulates it in a more cohesive way before throwing it back to the class. It's really helpful! It keeps the discussion clear and smooth. Though the LitHum course itself seems to be quite stressful for some people, Professor Murray makes it as stress-free as possible. She's super flexible with deadlines and stuff. I know classmates who have had their essays pushed back two weeks at no additional costs. She's super understanding and really considers her students' workload. Just talk to her and she'll understand that you have either six hour rehearsals, three tests, another essay, a midterm, or whatnot. I like her sense of humour, she occasionally brings thematic foods such as gummy snakes for the Oresteia (spoilers?), or spicy candies for Dante's Inferno. Her energy in class is contagious. You get the sense that she's a real person and not just a professor teaching LitHum because sometimes she rants about politics and the depressing state of the world and then tells you to be a better person despite it all. She sometimes go on wild tangents but we always get stuff done in the end. All in all, she's an amazing teacher. Couldn't ask for more.

Nov 2018

I don't understand how Prof. Mendelson doesn't have a gold nugget. Taking Lit Hum with him made me want to be an English major. It also instilled a love for the Core in me that everyone deserves but few end up having given their Lit Hum experiences. He is dedicated to making sure you have a great experience. He cares about the important things and doesn't care AT ALL about the unimportant things. He is funny, brilliant, and caring. You'd be lucky to have him for Lit Hum or any other class. GIVE THIS MAN A GOLDEN NUGGET!!!

Oct 2018

I'm a broken man. I dropped my grandfather's ashes in the toilet by accident in high school because I was at a wake and got paranoid that people knew about the gram in the other pocket. My mother is addicted to opioids and my father preaches a religion he doesn't believe in. My younger sister is interested in pursuing a career as an "exotic dancer" (read:stripper). I've lied, cheated, and stole. I've taken sacrament and cursed the lord in the same day. I wrote my own admissions letter because our school didn't have an advisor. Hell, I had to calculate my own damn GPA, and you best believe there was some padding in that mix. But I can tell you one honest thing in a lifetime of regret: Take this woman's class. You will never regret it, especially after realizing that she is literally Edna Mode from The Incredibles. If you were to come to Columbia for a professor, Nancy Workman is that type of professor. She has taught Lit Hum for 18 years, and has an exhaustive knowledge of in-run translation for a significant number of the texts. Incredibly approachable, with office hours open during her advising dean days. Many Lit Hum professors send their students to the writing center - Nancy Workman IS a one-woman writing writing center. She bleeds passion for the course as a professor in the slavic department, and doesn't need to establish a rep as some scandalously low-curve hardo to show she's the best Lit Hum teacher in the school. She teaches an early class, and I took it to get a core course out of the way in the morning. It was possibly the only class I wasn't asleep in over 40% of the time, because I never once fell asleep as a prospective STEM major. Frosh, save your sleeping through bad classes for FroSci lectures and for the love of god sign up today.

Aug 2018

Awesome professor! I was sad he didn't teach spring semester Lit Hum too! As a result I had Jude and another Lit Hum professor so I can compare them. Jude was by far my favorite. He really cares about his student and is a fair grader (read: not necessarily an easy one). He was also super interested in the historical periods surrounding each of our texts which I appreciated because it gave more context to what we were reading. Overall, I think he is a very intelligent and approachable teacher.

Aug 2018

Perhaps the most discouraging and most condescending professor out there. Nothing is ever satisfactory enough for her, especially on exams.

Aug 2018

Perhaps the most discouraging and most condescending professor out there. Nothing is ever satisfactory enough for her, especially on exams.

Aug 2018

Humberto Ballesteros rocked my world. Incredible teacher not only for the mastery of his chosen field(s) but also because he is an exemplary human being who seeks authenticity and truth in academia, in art, and in everything he brings to class. This is a teacher that really brought out the best in me, made me read more than I ever thought I could in two nights, and who set the pace for my Columbia career. Thanks Humberto if you ever read this!

Jun 2018

Absolutely take Silva's Lit Hum (although I'm not sure he's staying at Columbia for long). Cool dude, super brilliant analysis of literature, and a blessedly easy grader. I had kind of a dud class in which everyone was sleepy all the time, but Silva is so clearly smart and passionate that we all enjoyed it. It was more like a lecture as a result. Casual group participation and Silva's friendly demeanor fostered friendships within the class. Also, he doesn't take attendance (but go to every class, it's worth it and you'll feel guilty otherwise).

Jun 2018

the very best person, teacher and instructor you will ever encounter. Just wait and see!!

Jun 2018

A true horrorshow as a professor and a monster as a human being - all you can say (as everyone else has understandably been saying here) is AVOID AT ALL COSTS. She has no teaching skills to speak of and is famously known as one of the most singularly awful personalities on campus. Everyone switches out of her class, it's so bad. To summarize: Elisabeth Ladenson is an embarrassment to Columbia and to institutions of higher learning in general. If you get her, switch out if you can!!

May 2018

Yerkes is a savage! You are not going to learn any Lit Hum with him, and that's fine, in my opinion. You don't need to open the books, unless you really want to read. I read as much as possible, but obviously 13 books a semester, is not very possible. Instead, Yerkes' approach, and his essays (he assigned 6) are 150-200 words, of something NEW and interesting. Focus on a word, an image something extremely specific, and do a "close reading", explain its significance. Ironically, you'll get a lot more out of this than doing the entire readings. Although he only assigned 6 "essays" during the semester, maybe forcing yourself to do one per book will prepare you for the final. Regarding exams, midterm is basically the same as the close reading essays we do, in which you take two texts and compare and contrast a very small aspect. Final, is the department final, which no one yet understands how he grades. He made it extremely clear that he doesn't care about the passage IDs. He doesn't care whether the identification is correct or false, and in fact doesn't even look at the answer sheet given by the core. Instead, he wants a good analysis. The remainder of the exam aligns nicely with the coursework he gives, especially the passage analysis essay, and the 3 novel essay -- as all the mini essays done gear you for this. Just go over the few essays you've written, and you'll be fine. All he wants, is something new, and interesting. Don't give him any of the AP high school bs, he sees right through it. Don't use fancy vocab either. As long as he likes the first line or two (in which you must present a clear argument), he'll probably stop reading your essay and give you an A or an A+. Consider yourself blessed if you get Yerkes. Easy A, easy 4 credits. Just don't take advantage of him. He is really cool, go to office hours, get to know him. Awesome guy, cares about his students, writes AMAZING letters of rec, though don't get offended as he does not recall names.

May 2018

Professor Stalnaker is the BEST Lit Hum Professor anyone could ever ask for. In the beginning, it was challenging to say the very least as I wasn't really sure what she wanted/ expected from our papers and assignments. However, going to her office hours was the best decision as she breaks down everything. She writes intensive notes on your essays, make sure to review them with her. She takes your complaints, and concerns into consideration and often times during the semester pushed back assignments, as she noticed that we were stressed, giving you ample time to turn in the assignment on time. She is such a sweetheart, and extremely caring. Our class discussions were amazing, Professor Stalnaker brought forth many interesting insights, and was patient and interested in what each and every student said. She really values class participation, so please participate, and say something. She really wants to hear everyone and makes sure that everyone is heard. Please take this class with her, you will not regret it !!!!!!!!

May 2018

While he isn't the easiest Lit Hum instructor, I think the best characterization of him was that he was fair, especially if you put in the work for his class. I personally did not do as well as I would have hoped on the first paper, but by going to office hours, during which he always there and willing to help, I gradually made my papers better and ended up learning a lot. He doesn't give quizzes so you technically don't have to read. However, even skimming the texts pays off big, becuse the emphasis on his exams tends to be passage ID. During class, he is generally pretty engaging and he seems to balance being professional yet approachable. Stay tuned for his passionate Freudian dissection of the most innocent details of your beloved classics though. P.S: 8 AM is really really rough and even though it probably shouldn't be a dealbreaker since Brendan is pretty good, just be aware how torturous this time can be.

May 2018

Unlike the previous reviewer, I will not be objective in my review because I had a very negative experience with the professor. This is not due to the grade I received in the class -- I received a grade in the A-range, and I'm very happy about the grade. But what I especially hate is her method of teaching. Several main points of criticism: 1) She is very dogmatic with her opinions. I don't expect Lit Hum teachers to be a blank slate; rather, I expect them to have opinions about the works. Otherwise, they probably shouldn't teach Lit Hum. However, she seeks to impose her viewpoint on her students and insists that her viewpoint is the correct one, which is definitely not how literature works and probably not how Lit Hum should be taught. Every time we have a discussion on a specific theme, after listening to all the student opinions, she says what she believes about the text/theme/idea. She says she's simply "aggregating" the student responses, but that is definitely not true. If you deviate from her opinion on your essays, prepare to be dinged. One person in the class says that this makes the class easier. That is true because it makes clear what her expectations are, which is a common criticism against liberal arts education in general by STEM majors (I'm a STEM major myself, by the way). But this way of teaching doesn't encourage student engagement and exploration, which leads to very shallow discussions. This leads to my next point. 2) Very shallow discussions. The discussions are even more shallow than what Sparknotes has to offer. I didn't read any of the texts and didn't even bother to read Sparknotes before classes, and I could still BS discussion points really well. There is one person who illustrates the depth of the discussion that we have. I talked to him a little bit at the beginning of the semester, and he told me he just wants to do the minimum to get the participation points. This was indeed what he did the entire semester. He would straight up read a line from Sparknotes that corresponded to our current discussion (sometimes he doesn't even bother to paraphrase and just straight-up reads Sparknotes out loud), and Konstantina would think that he made an excellent point. He would end his class participation there. This level of discussion is completely unacceptable. 3) She has a very condescending attitude towards her students (sort of stems from the first point about dogmatism). She loves to interrupt students IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR POINT to say that the point is not valid or relevant. Case in point: we were discussing Song of Solomon, and one person made some point (I forgot what the point was). She started off by providing textual support and her logic (to justify the later point that will be made). Konstantina interrupts her, saying that her point is not valid. The student insists that she didn't finish yet. When she concludes and ties everything together to the point that she now makes, Konstantina says that her point was amazing. Konstantina said she interrupted the student because the student didn't "get to the important stuff first." That is ridiculous. Maybe try not interrupting your students with your thoughts. Overall, she is a bad teacher.

Apr 2018

Usha goes to great lengths to make the class feel comfortable and manageable. She gives great background on the books, encourages a great discussion, and goes above and beyond in preparing class materials. She is understanding in terms of grading and specific in her criticisms. Great class, great discussion, great instructor (sometimes she even brought little treats to class which was incredibly kind and often listened to the class in regards to extending essay deadlines and making easier quizzes). If you're interested in philosophy, you'll enjoy the ways that she brings in her philosophical experience into the discussions. If not, you'll find the discussion interesting and applicable to your own studies anyway.

Mar 2018

Debashree is easily one of my favorite professors from both semesters this year! While there is the occasional silence following one of her more profound questions, overall she leads engaging discussions which give everyone opportunities to make meaningful contributions. She's energetic, understanding, and one of the coolest professors I know. The Core can be boring, so I don't always look forward to Lit Hum, but I do always look forward to class with Debashree!

Mar 2018

If you want to enjoy Lit Hum, transfer from this section or you will suffer. At first, Professor Tsygankova seems like a very nice person that cares for you. However, her deceptive personality will shatter you to your core. Indeed, Professor Tsygankova will act very kindly in class but outside of class, she will be cold and distant. It seems to me like she does not care about her students well-being nor what they go through during their time at Columbia. If you desperately need an extension, she will not grant it. Also, grading is as harsh as it gets. If you feel like you have written the best essay of your academic career, don't expect anything higher than a B because it is an excellent grade!!!

Feb 2018

Jessica was a great Lit Hum teacher, especially considering she's relatively new to teaching the course. She was clearly very knowledgeable about the texts and was great at mediating the conversation, without dominating it. Jessica was also very reasonable, and if for whatever reason an extension was required for a valid reason, she was happy to give one. She also takes a lot of time to critique papers and blog submissions, and is genuinely interested and invested in your progression as a thinker and a writer. She also clearly values participation, and if you participate regularly and put in a little effort in your papers, her grading is completely fair. I thoroughly enjoyed Lit Hum with Jessica, and would definitely recommend her.

Jan 2018

Professor Meisel is super nice. Very flexible with extensions if you need them. She prepares very well for her classes. She is just a kind person overall. I would not say she is the easiest grader as she expects people to write well as we transition into college but her midterm and final are graded generously. (I ended up with an A in the course somehow.) I had her for 1st semester and had to switch out for 2nd semester. I have to say it was really hard for me to click that switch button on ssol because I really wanted to stay in her section. She is definitely a professor I recommend.

Jan 2018

Sarah is fantastic. She makes LitHum fun and feel very relevant.

Jan 2018

Honestly the best instructor I've had in Columbia. Sarah doesn't like to change the syllabus, so you might think she is boring. She is everyhting but that. Even though she works with Columbia's recommended translations, she always brings other translations and even adaptations for us to discuss. We constantly watch clips in class that range from the movie Spring Breakers to VeggieTales. Her ability to relate pop culture to classical books is amazing, and she will help you develop yours. I went to her office hours when writing my first paper, and she was extremely helpful. She reviews your essay with you and goes over her own feedback if you need help understanding. Basically, there's always a prompt "whatever you want!", so you can write about anything as long as you prove her your idea matters. Sarah made me believe in graduate students teaching Core classes. She's brilliant, kind, and extremely funny. Definitely change into her section if you're able to.

Jan 2018

Kat is the absolute best LitHum professor I could have asked for! I was originally assigned an 8:10am class and, in my desperation to switch, ended up in her class. Honestly, thank god! She's so chill in class and with grading. Compared to my friends' stories about LitHum professors, she seems downright easy. We stick to the standard LitHum syllabus, but this is her second year teaching the class (she's getting her PhD in the French department I think) so she's familiar with the texts and always has interesting information about them that enhances the reading experience. She also went to Columbia for undergrad, so she took LitHum as a freshman herself.The class also makes really interesting points about the texts. Every time we finish a book we have to pass in an ungraded, one-page, double-spaced close reading of a passage from the book, which honestly takes me about ten minutes each time, and we could skip the response for one book. We had three four-page essays over the semester. I talked over my idea with her each time, and her expectations, both in class and in office hours, were quite clear, so writing the essay was not hard, even though she did not give us prompts. For the midterm, we had the option of voting on take-home or in-class, and the quotes she chose for the quote IDs were very reasonable based on what we talked about in class. The final was not decided by her, but she did try to prepare us. I do wish that she maybe spoke a little less in class, but she seems like she wants the best for students and wants them to understand what goes on in class and participate. If you get the chance, take Kat's class!

Dec 2017

Humberto is as about as good as it gets for lit hum, I'd imagine. The workload is very light and he is very lenient with grades. Just speak up during discussions, have a presence, and you will most certainly be fine. That's not to say that he lacks as a professor in any way whatsoever. Humberto is always enthusiastic, has great insight into the texts, and masterfully leads conversation. He is always considerate and puts a real effort into approaching the books from different perspectives, often providing his own translation for pieces of the English translation he feels lack in properly conveying the original text. You will come out of class each day with much more than you came in, especially if you put a true effort into participating.

Dec 2017

Paulson is a solid Lithum teacher, he's easygoing and seems to actually enjoy speaking with students. His section is very light on him actually talking though, he seems to prefer just letting the class talk among itself, which is a plus if you're one of those people who likes the sound of their own voice, and a minus if you want a teacher instead of a discussion leader. He brought food to class and generally has interesting and useful things to say when he actually speaks. He writes very useful class breakdowns/agendas on the board before every class if you like taking notes. Pretty average grader talking to my classmates, not overly easy but also not likely to hit you with a C on your first essay. Would recommend.

Dec 2017

Tsygankova is an intelligent, nice, and intimidating professor all at the same time. This is the deadliest combination ever, which resulted in lit hum being one of my hardest--yet one of the most beneficial--courses I took at Columbia. She truly supports a seminar-style class, where she almost talks little-to-none except for opening the conversation and directing what we should be discussing. Other than that, she leaves the room for the class to bring up new ideas, discuss and challenge them, polish them, and arrive at conclusions, all without her intervention. She also maintains the discussion to be heavily text-based; meaning no speculation and broad generalization about human nature, etc..but rather discussions about ideas born within the texts we read. Tsygankova is a very nice and friendly person. She would occasionally bring sweets and snacks to class, and she makes some delicious banana bread. Whenever you would suggest a discussion point, she truly encourages you and makes you more confident contributing to the discussions. On the other hand, she is an extremely harsh grader, which has its ups and downs. On one hand, you will have to work really hard to earn one of those B+ essays, but you'll find your level improving at an incredible rate.

Nov 2017

He lectures the entire time, I found them to be somewhat hard to follow. 6.5/10

Nov 2017

Best teacher. Super passionate and amazing. She grades fairly and ensures that our wellbeing is first priority. If you are nervous about coming to Columbia and want a teacher that will help you adjust to the rigorous climate here she will hold your hand to make sure you won't fall. Take her class if you can.

Nov 2017

Holy shit this is the best teacher I've had at Columbia. I had him last year in the 2016-2017 school year, and what can I say? He's a god damn genius. He comes to class prepared every day, is always full of energy and can get blood from a stone with his charisma. He is a wonderful person, and is extremely helpful with advancing any aspiring writer with his recommendations and advice. IF YOU CAN PLEASE TAKE HIS CLASS. I cannot repeat myself enough.

Nov 2017

Professor McIntyre was a phenomenal teacher. Everyone talks about how good Dean Awn is, which had me a feeling like I was missing the best LitHum experience by not taking Dean Awn. That was completely false. Professor McIntyre was a delight each and every class period, she is knowledgeable, humorous, and very down to earth. I genuinely laughed in this class more than any others so far, both from the light-hearted discussions and Prof McIntyre's humor and witty observations of the readings. She is able to identify well with her students and now that she is also teaching GS sections, she has adapted those discussions to better fit their perspective. Our classes felt like very open-ended discussions about the literature, where we could discuss anything within the text that caught our attention. Although Professor McIntyre did lead the discussion, at times she seemed to be more of a moderator to keep the class relevant and on topic. She also showed a handful of relevant media that added a lot of depth and were really entertaining. Professor McIntyre was also flexible with paper deadlines and was understanding of her students' busy schedules. She responds to e-mails usually same day, and provided me with a lot of useful feedback while I was brainstorming for paper topics. Yes, she is tough on grading papers, I got a B+ on all of my papers, but the quizzes for each book are so easy(as long as you actually read them) that it balances out her tough paper grades. When we read Plato, Prof McIntyre even brought in a subject matter expert from the Philosophy department, who added interesting points to the discussion. For the participation grade, Prof McIntyre holds "participation days" where each student must speak 3 times during the class period for an A. She gives plenty of opportunities for everyone to get their 3 participations in for the A. This is very doable even for those who aren't so vocal in class like myself. As a GS student where LitHum isn't mandatory, I took it because I think it is essential to the Columbia experience. After taking the first semester, and learning so much not only from Professor McIntyre but also my classmates, that assessment holds true. I didn't realize how many different ways you could read a text until this class! It remains one of the most memorable classes I've had at Columbia. IF YOU LIKE TO READ, enjoy classics, and actually have the time to read at least *most* of every text, don't shy away from taking LitHum with Prof McIntyre. As an added bonus, Prof McIntyre is on the board that makes the LitHum midterm and final, so I like to think her exam prep sessions were a tiny bit more guided since she helped pick the prompts.

Sep 2017

Great Lit Hum Teacher. Does a good job of making allowing the discussion to flow, and interjecting whenever she had something interesting to say. My class was one of the first she ever taught, and she did a really good job of making Lit Hum both enjoyable and rewarding. She really appreciates people who participate meaningfully and will give you a good grade, even if your papers aren't great, if you try and participate. Her grading is not necessarily easy, but is very reasonable. She also goes out of her way to give you feedback on your writing, and really enjoys seeing students progress. Would highly recommend her class, as it made Lit Hum really enjoyable.

Sep 2017

Brendan was a great professor to have every M/W, even as an 8:10 am class. The discussion was well facilitated and his office hours were often very helpful. Feedback on essays and grades seemed fair, and aside form occasional essays (of which we were given plenty of time to complete) there wasn't much work required outside of class besides the readings. We were encouraged to read Crime and Punishment over winter break, which I think made second semester a little bit easier than other teachers in terms of reading quantity. However, we voted on which work to read over break so this may change year to year. Seems like a cool guy, 10/10 would be friends with him outside of academic setting.

Sep 2017

If you can, TAKE ELIZA'S CLASS!!! She makes lit hum actually fun and explores the interesting themes that most other professors just ignore (gender, sexuality, race, class, etc). You will definitely learn something in this class, even if you've already read some of the books before. I also loved that she gave us the option to read Frankenstein instead of Pride and Prejudice (it was easily the best book we read all semester and all my friends were suffering through reading p+p for about the 5th time instead). You can really tell that Eliza actually cares about her students. She is always willing to help you figure out your essay topics and challenges you to improve your writing and thinking, but she also goes out of her way to make sure students are getting the most out of the class (offering interesting field trips, asking our opinion on how we spend class time and what themes we discuss, etc). She is the kind of professor you came to Columbia for, so don't miss out on her class!

Sep 2017

Fantastic professor, if you get Zach for your LitHum section, consider yourself lucky. He's an easy-going guy, but also knows his stuff, and always begins class with some interesting background on the text. He's also really respectful of student's opinions and listens carefully to what the class has to say. Discussions were often flexible and diverse, but always engaging and interesting. He's also a fair grader and gives a lot of helpful input on essays.

Sep 2017

Sadly, Claire Catenaccio no longer teaches at Columbia - and it is our loss. She taught my LitHum class during her final year of her Classics PhD. I cannot say enough in her praise. Her background in Greek and Latin afforded us tremendous insight into some of the more formal elements of the texts (especially the poetry) that is sometimes lost in translation.We hewed more closely to formal analysis, which was a pedagogical decision that Claire discussed frankly with us. She was unerringly witty, warm and awe-inspiringly intelligent, both one-on-one and while leading class discussion. She provided ways of approaching our analytical writing that were simultaneously intuitive and revolutionary, and my ability to construct an argument, either verbally or in writing, steadily improved throughout the year. Our class trips were informative and well chosen - we went to museums and productions of the plays we read. Claire's area of research was the performance practice of Greek tragedy - some of my favorite works of literature both in LitHum and in general. I had a weekly appointment with her during office hours, something I only wish I had begun sooner. She was an exemplar of scholarship and everything that the very best professors can be: a mentor, a role model, and a semi-divine conductor of knowledge.

Sep 2017

Brendan is a kind and caring, but slightly difficult to read Literature Humanities instructor. With most Lit Hum profs, you are able to determine what makes them excited and secures you a good grade, but with Brendan one truly never knows. While the 8:00 AM wakeup for the class was difficult, Brendan often made up for it with some enthusiastic discussions in the morning. Although Brendan really loves to facilitate class discussion, I felt that class often devolved into tangents with the English majors battling for supremacy between themselves at 8:00 in the morning. Also, Brendan would himself would get caught up on mundane details which prevented me from truly grasping the work to its fullest. Nonetheless, He was always available during office hours and if you make an effort to go a few times while writing a paper you will end up doing well as Brendan helps you flesh out your arguments very well. While the written assignments were light for Lit Hum, the readings were heavy, which led to some difficulty in staying on top of the scheduled readings. Luckily, he doesn't give quizzes, so one could be forgiven for sleeping during the 8:00 AM class. The midterm was very long, consisted of just IDs, and was graded harshly, but Brendan curved it really well so most people were happy. I suspect something similar happened on the final. Overall, take this section if you are looking to put in the work to stay on top of the reading and don't mind meeting with the prof a few times before you submit an essay in a relatively lower stress section.

Aug 2017

I don't know why Steve doesn't have a gold nugget. He absolutely deserves it!!! Best professor I have ever had in my life and I wish he could teach every class. He is so engaging and enthusiastic -- you can tell that he really loves his job and cares about his students. He facilitates the best discussions and encourages students to make to connections to the texts outside of class through the many trips that he offers, from museum tours that he comes up with and leads himself to a night at the theater and then having the whole class come to his apartment for dinner after. Literally I can't say enough nice things about Steve. His essay prompts are thought provoking and engaging, and they were actually fun to write! Before every one, I would go to his office hours to outline my ideas and just brainstorm and chat, and I always left feeling so excited about getting started. And his grading! To say that he is generous is an understatement. If I ever need to feel better about my academic ability, I literally just reread his comments on my essays. They somehow managed to be both encouraging and constructive, and I do think I am a better writer from taking this course. I was in his class two years ago, and I still go to his office hours just to talk to Steve. Every other class I have taken since has been a disappointment in comparison with Lit Hum. Take his class. It will be the best class you ever take.

Aug 2017

TAKE HIM!!! He has a Gold Nugget and for a reason. Amazing Professor, so kind, very interesting. He truly cared about his students and their learning. He is a fair grader in terms of your essays, but for your overall grade, he is very generous. Lord knows I did not deserve the grade I got, but grateful for it. He's so wonderful and really wants you to learn the material. I made the disastrous mistake of switching from his class to another so I could take a course his class conflicted with, but I regret that decision so much. He's also very approachable and understanding and knows how to keep you engaged. TAKE HIM. TAKE HIM. TAKE HIM. I cannot emphasize this enough. Best prof you will ever have.

Aug 2017

Do. NOT. Take. This. Professor. I was duped into taking her by the previous reviews and statements from students who had her for the first semester. However, she is not a good professor. She's a great person who is trying very hard, but she expected the students who just joined her class for the second semester to already know how to write the way she liked. She did not take the time nor did she understand that the students who just joined had different professors who taught/did things differently. She expected you to already know how things were done. All of the students agreed that she was very relaxed, lenient, and chill 1st semester but did a complete 180 for second semester. She was a very harsh grader when I had her for just 2nd semester and wanted you to write the viewpoint that she agreed with. She did work with students on their overall grades and helped you when you needed it, however she consistently contradicted herself on the things she wanted you to address in your essay, papers, etc. She would say include or address these things to one student but tell another student those same things weren't necessary. We all ended up being confused on what she wanted. In terms of discussion in class, they were mainly just her lecturing instead of us discussing. She would also often focus the entire class on something irrelevant to the material. For example, one class we were stuck on discussing what the word law and rules meant and then somehow got into politics. Most of the time we would focus on how certain words were interpreted but she would not tie it back to the book, so it was useless and a waste of time. She's very passionate and is doing her thesis on Dante which is helpful once you read that book, but her passion is for naught since she can't teach. If you can switch, SWITCH! Don't make the same mistake I and many others did.

Jul 2017

run

Jun 2017

Was VERY fortunate to be able to have this man as my Lit Hum professor my first year. Although he seemed very disorganized/lazy, his lectures are actually pretty interesting once you get past his monotonous voice. I say lectures because his "seminars" just turn into him lecturing for 2 hours. However, after all is said and done, the class is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to get a better grade in than other classes. I would most definitely recommend to take this class. For example, I NEVER EVER read, only looked at the material when he TOLD us when the quizzes were happening, and on the midterm (only one) he took out a major section and told us to skip it. For the final, he completely changed the Quote ID's and Essay questions. I got an A- for literally just showing up to the class.

May 2017

Janet was very sweet, funny, and engaging. The class was very discussion-based, and we really bonded over the course of the year as she encouraged us to creatively engage with the texts (sometimes she had us act out scenes from some of the texts). She's a fair grader and very kind and understanding. Also, she sometimes brought food.

Apr 2017

Great professor, I highly recommend taking his section, if you can find it. Nice guy, great at leading the conversation and extremely approachable. Coursework is standard lit hum. Not much to say there.

Apr 2017

I love Professor Biers class! She is so intelligent, so smart and so so nice. She fosters great class discussions, guides it and gives great insights into the texts. Her class is almost all discussion based, very little lecturing. She has this magic to turn really boring texts (what I thought when I first read it) into really interesting discussions. From what I have heard of my friends' sections, she is not the cozy, snuggly professor that will bake you muffins and take you to dinner, but she definitely will let you grow intellectually. It did take me a while to adjust to her style - a little intimidating at first. But in the end, this has been my favorite class freshman year. In terms of grading, I think she doesn't grade easy but definitely not unreasonable. If you put in the work that you should for this class, you will get a lot out of it and your grade will reflect your effort. Her essay topics are not easy but she is always very helpful if you go to office hours. Her midterms are not bad, I think they are on par with the department wide finals, even maybe a little easier. All in all, she's great!

Apr 2017

Andrea is a very nice person. She really tries to get the class to engage in discussions and she sometimes brings food. Those are the good things about her. She expects too much from her students during the essays (she continually grades harsher with the more essays you write, and this increases during 2nd semester), and she expects that everyone is heavily interested in the stuff to begin with. She decided to get very creative with the 2nd essay of 2nd semester, making us write an argumentative essay based on the physical features of 3 editions of the same text. All other classes did a normal essay, so it was overall a very boring experience. If you are a quantitative major with little interest in Lit Hum or just disagree with the way it's taught, your suffering will only be increased during her class. Don't put yourself through it.

Apr 2017

IF YOU ARE IN HUMBERTO'S CLASS, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Humberto is such a sweet, brilliant human being, and every class is extremely interesting. He thinks up inventive and fun in-class activities, and he's an extremely generous grader. Don't take advantage of him though, he really wants to make sure that you do well and get something out of his class! I really can't emphasize enough how amazing he is. Truly think he's the best LitHum teacher Columbia has. Will definitely miss him as a professor next year.

Apr 2017

Professor Baker is wonderful. He's incredibly enthusiastic about everything he does, from grappling with dense texts across the LitHum syllabus to planning class outings where everyone can get to know each other better and apply LitHum topics across disciplines. He makes everyone feel welcome, encouraging people to share their thoughts no matter how fully formed. He's equally friendly--if not more so--in office hours, when you can talk about papers or favorite books you've read or anything going on in your life, really. He's super supportive and wants to get to know all his students as well as possible to help them realize their full potential and feel comfortable in class. Three papers per semester seemed like a lot at first, but he often gives a variety of creative options and is equally open to creating your own topic. Especially during second semester, he's given us essay prompts that allow for the type of introspection and consideration of the big "core questions" that I think LitHum is really all about. I have no doubt that the takeaways from this class will serve me far beyond my time at Columbia, and that Professor Baker will be a close mentor and confidante of mine throughout college.

Apr 2017

PROS: Really smart guy, and a really engaging class that you'll get a lot of. If you're looking for a Lit Hum experience where you'll actually discuss meaningful things in the literature and have thought-provoking discussions, this is a pretty good section to be in. Stewart led class discussions well, knew how to talk about delicate subjects, and was actually pretty funny once in a while. CONS: While Stewart is great and you'll learn a lot in the class, the workload might not be for everyone. Stewart gives reading checks (quote IDs) about once a week in class, along with other activities to make sure you actually read the books. He also had our class make Lit Hum Twitter accounts to post reading responses on. This class is not for slackers! If you know you're someone who's just going to read the Sparknotes to coast through the year, get out of this section! Btw, he can be a tough grader with essays.

Apr 2017

Note: She's usually on SSOL as Mary Pollard Murray, which confused me when I first searched for her on CULPA. I had Molly Murray for Lit Hum two years ago, and she went on sabbatical afterwards. My advice: if you're lucky enough to wind up in her class, DO NOT switch out. We were the only section in that year to not have a single student drop; in a mandatory class with students of all interests, everyone tailored their schedules to make sure they could stay with her. That should speak for itself, but I'll keep going anyway. She tends to get lost in tangents with the class, but it's a 2-hour course and we always got through the material just fine. So if that's somehow a drawback, it's a small one to consider. I wouldn't say she's a tough grader, but her feedback is honest and your grade will reflect it. But she's rooting for you. Otherwise, I think she ruined me for most future professors. She witty, cool, collected, speaks most languages that you'll encounter on the syllabus (and brings the original texts in those languages to reference as needed). She's extremely knowledgable but not in a way that keeps you from engaging. If you have an inkling of an idea, you can throw it out there and you'll probably get a "say more!" as she helps you build upon that idea. What's more, it's really touching to have a teacher that can take an interest in her students like she does. Especially if you have her for Lit Hum and she's a big part of your freshman experience. I also agree with a past review about her dress. It's hardly the most impressive thing about her, but it's a little heartbreaking that she dresses so well on top of everything else.

Apr 2017

After 2 years, Professor Biers is the best professor I've had at Columbia. She is incredibly smart and guides discussions in a productive, no bullshit way. Lit Hum is still my favorite class because of her fabulous instruction. She re-reads each book with the class and constructs thoughtful discussion points to highlight the most important parts of each text in an interesting and engaging way. Even the most boring works (Herodotus...) led to stimulating discussion thanks to Biers' teaching skill. In addition to being crazy intelligent, she is also very kind and approachable. She cares about helping you do well in her class and beyond.

Apr 2017

WOoooOOOOOOooOOo Professor Johnson is one of the best professors I've had so far at Columbia. She is so knowledgeable and clearly has a true passion for the texts. She is quirky and funny so her classes never get boring. If you get her section please don't change it because she has a gold nugget and tenure for a reason.

Apr 2017

Quite literally the most witty, insightful, passionate, and brilliant Professor to grace Columbia. Do whatever you can to get into her section!

Feb 2017

Ms. Inbal is a perfectly sweet teacher who unfortunately should not be teaching LitHum. The flow of conversation in the class often felt extremely unnatural, as she would call on people in a circle and occasionally interrupt with her own not particularly pertinent insight. She would let the class dwell on very surface level interpretations of the reading, leading to unbelievably boring classes for everyone but the kids who like to hear themselves say the word "normative." She was, however, a kind grader and she even forgave my absences for no apparent reason. The workload was below average for LitHum with unchecked weekly postings and two short and nicely graded essays. Stay in Ms. Inbal's class if you don't care too much about a lacking LitHum experience and want to get an easy A.

Feb 2017

I learned so much from Claire. She is incredibly knowledgeable in classics and Greek plays, and if you ask a question about anything you're curious about, she is always prepared to give you an answer. I don't know how she can hold that much information in her brain! She speaks so eloquently, too. I just wish her wisdom and intelligence would transfer onto me as water flows from high concentrations to low concentrations.... (that was a reference to Symposium!)

Feb 2017

Couldn't have asked for a better lit hum experience. By far the best professor I've had!! Nassime is so passionate about what she is teaching that it is hard not to get excited while engaging in class discussions. She made me fall in love with literature and reading.

Jan 2017

Professor Biers is an awesome instructor! She does a great job of blending open class discussion with key ideas she wants everyone to take away from the reading. She is always responsive to students' comments and is super insightful! Professor Biers knows her stuff. She is kind and funny in a dry kind of way. She's a fair grader and gives great constructive feedback. She really wants students to improve as writers/critical thinkers and enjoy the great texts the course has to offer! I wholeheartedly recommend Professor Biers!

Jan 2017

Great professor. She is very helpful when you write your essays. She takes drafts and will give you a lot of notes and suggestions. She also teaches the material well, focusing on specific scenes and what they reveal about the culture, values, and context of the author(s) of the texts and what the scenes reveal about views on a range of subjects. She goes exactly by the standard syllabus in terms of books we read: nothing more or less. She also has a take-home midterm that's very doable.

Jan 2017

tons of great feedback on essays. really really nice and relatable and passionate and funny. not an easy grader but very fair.

Jan 2017

Don't take her class. She doesn't take responsibility for screwing up your papers from her comments and odd essay topics. Her grading was also very intense and unforgiving. Agreed with a lot of the past comments, they are highly accurate.

Jan 2017

Professor Biers was absolutely amazing. She is well versed in her material, and even reads the books at the same time as we are. She makes good use of the board, which helps the visual learners in the room, through the use of diagrams. She's flexible and understanding and really tries to help you if you are struggling, so long as you are open with her. Discussion allows for students to speak their thoughts but if there's ever a dull moment, she will chime in. She expands others ideas to help the class progress. Grading is fair but if you feel the need to redo an assignment, just ask.

Jan 2017

Awesome LitHum Professor, also a loveable professor who probably has no flaws whatsoever. Gives 1 quiz for each book, except for those that are just pure poetry. During class discussion, does not require anyone to talk although this is at least 5-15% of your grade. Discussions are very insightful and he tries to find creative ways to make the texts interesting. Get use to "What's going on?"

Jan 2017

Excellent teacher. Easy grader.

Jan 2017

By far the best teacher I've had this semester. Funny and gives helpful feedback. He's a fairly easy grader, and probably curves: I got only B+'s on essays but he gave me an A.

Dec 2016

Professor Howley really is the best professor one can ask for. He is a very very very nice person, someone who always genuinely cares about his students. He's a classics professor with a specialisation in Roman literature, so he can actually connect Latin/Greeks words and Roman history with what we are reading. When the class went to the MET together we all saw how obsessed he is with his stuffs. His class is truly engaging, in some magical way everyone actively participates. There's not a sense of dullness in his class at all, never. Professor Howley has a ton of personal charm, it's never boring to talk to him/be in his class. He really knows his stuffs but never appears to be condescending or lecturing. Also, he's very loose with extensions, if you ask, there's no way he won't give you a lot more time to write as long as you tell him what happened. He also is a very fair grader, mostly people get A- on papers and same with midterm, but he ends up giving higher final grades. Not that he's just laid back, but he really knows how to encourage students and make sure they are rigorously trained at the same time. He's strict when he needs to. If you get him as your lit hum professor I'm impressed by how lucky you are. Or if you are taking a classics class, I strongly recommend you take it with him. He's a perfect professor in every sense, whether you are just starting to get into classics or deeply familiar with the material. Everyone in my lit hum class LOVES professor Howley, have never seen any exception.

Dec 2016

Claire is one of the smartest people I have ever met! If you want to learn a lot in Lit-Hum definitely take her as a professor . She tries to make the class as interesting as possible and takes the class on amazing field trips to the theatre etc. If you put in effort you will learn to love the literature of Ancient Greece and Rome. Nevertheless, the grading is definitely harsher than in other Lit Hun classes and if you want to take Lit Hum just to get a good grade you should probably take someone else. If, however, you want to get the most out of your Columbia experience definitely take Lit Hum with Claire!

Dec 2016

Kat's the absolute BEST! She's really chill, funny, and she's just an overall pleasure to be around. She has a fantastic attitude toward her job in ensuring that our conversations were dynamic, productive, and applicable- not esoteric, too philosophical, or difficult to relate to- as can be the case when discussing some of the works that established the way we currently think and learn. She also loves group collaboration, so many times instead of just having one long extensive conversation about a book, we would break up into smaller groups; and each group concentrated on a particular theme or event- later presenting to the entire class. Kat's also a pretty generous grader; she has a simple set of expectations, but if you don't take her incredibly helpful comments seriously to actually improve your writing- you can easily end up with the same mediocre grade on each paper. Kat also seems a bit disenfranchised with the whole "core mentality." She doesn't really buy into the whole idea of everyone having the exact same final, which made her expectations for the exam slightly unclear. Regardless, after spending so much class time with her, you get to understand what she expects and all is well. Also, Kat's just an incredibly pleasant person- and likes to make sure everyone has a part in the discussion- so even when people spew absolute nonsense, she never rejects or shuts people down (which probably doesn't do those people any favors). Either way, if you're lucky enough to get Kat- enjoy! You'll have an incredibly positive experience. And, as Kat loves to say... Cheers!

Dec 2016

I didn't see any reviews for Schaub in terms of his Lit Hum class, so I thought I would try to help people out with this. Schaub is a very good Lit Hum instructor- he makes the class mostly discussion-focused, but stopped us occasionally to make his own comments or to shoot down a point if it got too ridiculous. The class was run without quizzing, study guides, or any of the other painful extra work that some other Lit Hum sections integrate: it's all discussion, some of which is lively and interesting, and some of which is just tossed in for the participation grade. In terms of papers and exams, Schaub is a fairly generous grader. He informed us that he didn't give any grades below a B on our first paper, at the very least, and that he defined an A as a "very good" paper- I got an A on both my papers despite turning in a lightly revised first draft for my second one. He provides great feedback on all exams and papers we got back, which is insightful without being harsh. If I had one complaint to make, it's that I didn't find any of the class especially mind-blowing. I thought Schaub's comments on the texts were interesting and insightful, but there wasn't anything to make me reconsider how I read literature or existence itself or anything- it was just an enjoyable class with an instructor who had good things to say. If there was a model for a standard and well-executed Lit Hum section, I think this would be it- no deviations from the syllabus whatsoever, good (but not great) discussion, and a well-organized and fair instructor who was available for help and very responsive to requests for it. More or less, I'm trying to say that you should consider yourself quite lucky if you've ended up in Schaub's section, but I'd tell you not to expect the Core section that Columbia sells in its admissions process (though I really have my doubts as to whether or not that ideal section- 22 students with insightful things to say and a brilliant professor to guide them- actually exists or not).

Dec 2016

Lynch was so poorly qualified to teach Lit Hum, I would have been better off in the library reading the books every day for two hours--which is pretty much what every one did in class anyway. Class was a silent room filled with the droning monotone of Lynch's thoughts on the general themes of the curriculum-- the treatment of women in Greek society, the role of the gods in mythology. He did not solicit class involvement and when students did interact, he did not encourage the conversation to move along. We opened our books probably once every two weeks; there was almost no close reading done in class. Lynch seemed to consider it more of a history course than a literature course. The most interesting class was the day after the Nov election, when we asked Lynch, who is a federal judge (and Columbia law school prof) what he thought. This turned into a discussion on this involvement in the Lil Kim case...clearly had nothing to do with Lit Hum. On the other hand, the saddest day of class was when Lynch ran out of topics to (pretend to) talk about and silence pervaded the class for more than a minute. So Lynch let out class early that day, because he couldn't find anything else to talk about. And this is a class with dense epic texts...(can you ever run out of things to talk about? if you actually analyzed them?) I hope Lynch never teaches Lit Hum again. And if he does, don't take him.

Dec 2016

She is the best teacher ever. She is so knowledgeable, thoughtful, smart, respectful, and more. What you learn in her class alone is more than what I learned in all of the other classes combined. Her grading is fair, and her comment is always helpful and makes you a better writer.

Dec 2016

Nassime is one of the best Lit Hum teachers out there. She is able to lead discussion in an engaging, interesting way. Say goodbye to boring Lit Hum classes and hello to Nassime Chris!!!

Dec 2016

Switch out if you can. Professor Ladenson will explictly let you know that she is irritated by anything and everything that you do. She will ramble and lose track of what she is saying, not delving into any analysis of any sorts beyond asking students to reread passages of the texts to then go off on a tangent about some piece of literature she is familiar with. You will be on her good side by coming into the class having learned Greek and with knowledge of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology. Her midterm destroyed me. She claimed to be encouraging me to come to her office hours. However, she purposely tended to find faults in whatever I discussed, or whatever I wrote in my papers. She never gave ideas to help improve the content of the paper, but only got irritated if you wrote not as "normal people do." As a result, I, among others, was left clueless in how to improve. She looked for specificity, and never pitied anyone. I cried in her office hours more than I did over anything else my first semester at Columbia. And this is all coming from an English major.

Nov 2016

A few very strange things have happened in this class which have prompted me to write this review. I will try to do my best to give as much of an objective account as I possibly can. I will address Konstanina Zanou as Konstantina because that is what she has asked us to call her in class. It is not meant out of disrespect. As for the quotations, I am doing my absolute best to be faithful to her actual wording, but my memory isn't perfect. I. Very Personal Approach The thing that strikes me most is Konstantina's incredibly personal approach to teaching. This, for the first few weeks, seemed amusing and perhaps even nice - but as time went on, it developed into something rather uncomfortable. She often makes personal remarks about students in front of other students (half jokingly, half not), such as telling someone that it's okay that they didn't do well on the first paper because there are other ones, or that such and such needs to prioritize school over sports, or that "the blondes aren't participating", etc. Also, she organized a few out-of-class trips (I think with the best intentions) and (as far as I could tell) didn't realize that most of the students didn't want to stay for dinner with her after one such event (they had to pay for their own dinner but felt uncomfortable saying no to her invitation). She tells many personal anecdotes in class, which are (I have to admit) amusing in a shocking sort of way. She told us about her ex-lover who she met after many years of being apart and who, she had hoped, might still be suitable for her and then, after a summer together, it turned out that he "was stupid!" The point of this anecdote was to explain the way nostalgia alters our recollections. During that same discussion she asked the students to share personal stories. When people didn't want to share (because they felt uncomfortable), she assumed that we had never experienced nostalgia (inaccurately reading the vibe of the classroom). She showed us an X rated film (Dionysus in '69) in class without much context, which lead to an uncomfortable viewing experience and an even more uncomfortable discussion afterwards (to make it clear - I am not against showing X rated films in class, but there needs to be some sort of contextualization so that the class understands WHY the film is being watched and feels comfortable talking about it afterwards). The film was intended to be sexually arousing (it was based on the Bacchae) and watching it with Konstantina in the room was - I use the word AGAIN - uncomfortable. She seems to believe that she can read other people (I hazard to guess it might be her acting background), which means that she sometimes psychoanalyzes her students. She told one girl that she reminded her of herself in many ways and then told her that she had a mental breakdown in her 20s and doesn't want this girl to experience the same thing (a conclusion she reached based on very little in-class interaction). I only give one example because I don't want to share stories online that other students might not want shared. This is not the only time she has done something like that, however. She told us that she wants the class to feel "more like a book-club discussion with friends" rather than a seminar, partly because she was reading many of the texts for the first time in English or at all. II. Requirements for Papers/Exams Instead of writing in my own words, I will copy paste a few of her requirements below. These are direct quotes from her assignment sheet: "Simple, clear sentences with neat, appropriate terms are better than convoluted sentences and pompous phrases. Your sentences should not be more than 2 lines long." (she grades down if they are longer than 3 lines) "Don’t psychoanalyze. I am not interested in claims along the lines of 'Because Achilleus is childish and attached to Patroklos, he refuses to participate in battle.' Characters are not real people with psyches. They are fictional depictions, crafted by an author or multiple authors. All you have access to is the words on the page that actually describe them. Do not speculate. Analyze what we do have access to." "In the first paragraph of your paper (Introduction) you should state what your thesis statement (=argument) is and be crystal clear about it. I should have no doubt after your first paragraph as to what exactly you will be arguing in your paper. A good way to do this is to signpost (“I argue first that ... subsequently turning to.... in order to show...”). All paragraphs and observations should relate to this central thesis statement. A cluster of unrelated or only vaguely-related observations about a topic, however brilliant, does not a paper make. Everything you say should contribute to a single argument." That last quotation is crucial - because it seems reasonable enough on its own, but Konstantina also expects the students to include all of the material discussed in class that is relevant to her prompt. In other words, when one student decided to write about "the animals in Homer" and didn't include the horses in his argument (because the horses were an animal that was not relevant to his argument), he was told that that sort of omission was unpardonable because "horses are animals too!" So, if we are to include all of the material discussed in class, then it is incredibly hard (perhaps impossible) to write a cohesive paper with a clear thesis (unless the thesis is rather broad and more of a summation than an argument). All of these requirements are easy to follow once you understand what she wants, so it is not hard to get decent grades as long as you are able to tailor your writing to her expectations (which may feel, at times, like it is making your paper worse). As for the midterms, she grades based on class discussion. After the test, she told us that she "didn't take away points for additional information if it was correct" which translates to: "I only gave credit for the things we explicitly said in class". Several students did quite poorly on the midterm because they gave their own interpretations of the text thinking that Konstantina wanted to see original thought rather than the things we have already discussed. She said that she grades this way because "how else would [she] be able to grade them?" III. Just started teaching at Columbia and it shows This is more of a minor point, but if you are placed in a Lit Hum class soon after Fall 2016, realize that Fall 2016 was her first time ever teaching at Columbia (not only Lit Hum, but any class in general). Conclusion: This is, undoubtedly, a negative review. I tried my best to remain "objective" (whatever that may mean) and give facts rather than personal opinions - although I included personal opinions in parentheses when I thought some sort of explanation was necessary. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, but also recognize that if you take Lit Hum with Konstantina it will not be your average Lit Hum experience. Whether that is a good or bad thing, you will have to decide for yourself.

Nov 2016

Probably the easiest LitHum section in the world. Karen is a good teacher, and loves Greek literature, so she's is constantly teaching us about the Greek translation etc. Gave us some sweet hook-ups to Greek events across the city. We rarely had quizzes (and often we could do them together). Our midterm was easy. We only had 2 papers for the semester and that's it in terms of grading. She didn't prepare us that well for the final (bc you didn't have to read the books to get an A in the class) but a little studying helped me through.

Oct 2016

Janet Min Lee was the best professor I could have had for my first literature class at Columbia!! She makes class fun, engaging and educational and if you take notes during class (the Greek terms, the ideas we discuss, and her hilarious diagrams/cartoons on the board), then you will do well. I got an A- mainly because I am not the best writer, but I was able to ace the midterms and final. Overall, Janet is a fair grader and excellent professor. Take her both semesters! You will not regret it!

Sep 2016

The other reviews were solid but let me break it down for you. Maude is a boss. No other words. She probably loves her class more than her own family which makes it impossible not to care about the readings and workload. That being said, the workload was ridiculously standard and Maude was soooo understanding about any issue. I swear Maude Meisel might be God because she taught us that God created the world in 7 days and Maude blew my mind in 7 minutes. Obviously I probably over did this post but really take Maude's class..it'll give you an unbelievably chill and fun freshman year.

Sep 2016

Took lit hum with Prof baker in fall 2015 and Spring 2016. I came in this class so out of place. Having not done much literature in highschool( am an international student), I was way behind my peers in regards of writing and literary skills. I remember shooting an email to him before even 1st class making him aware of where i stood. He worked with me and encouraged me to speak up and try. Started with a not really great first paper and ended up being the author of one of the best papers later in the course (his words). All due to guidance, encouragement and wisdom from Prof steve. He is a very fair grader and you would never feel he wants to deduct points. He will be on your side, "always"(shameless Snape plug). In the class discussions he loves to listen to students discuss but has a plan for every class himself. You would never feel singles out but also could speak up your mind. I was very shy at the start but my confidence constantly grew under his supervision. Outside the class too he's one of the most genuine people I met at columbia. I would even go on to say a rare kid breed on this cut throat campus. He would listen to you enthusiastically in Office hours and could even help you plan out your full papers with him. He is a very unique sense of humor that keep class from being a bore but also not go off the hinges. His exams are beautifully made and biggest pro of all , you can take on any idea and interpret it in your own way. There is no set mind map that he expects. I wrote papers exploring topics that hit me deeply and brought in current times as well as dark stuff at times and he appreciated it instead of criticizing. Any first year that got assigned to prof Baker is very lucky. In no time it will be the day of final and you will feel sad as you hand him your final exam and say Goodbye to one of the kindest people you will ever meet who will look at you like he sees potential in you.

Aug 2016

I love Liza! She's a gem. Sweet, considerate, helpful, you really can't ask for a better Lit Hum professor. She has this endearing quirk where she will only address people in class by their last name (ex: Mr. X, Ms. X, Mx. X). You'll get into this habit too and might end up not knowing everyone's first names by the end of the year. Liza is a part of the Slavic Studies Department, so we ended up reading Tolstoy ("Sevastopol Tales", "Childhood, Boyhood, Youth") instead of Paradise Lost. She really loves Slavic literature. Also, drawing. Her class usually follows the typical (and dull) Lit Hum lecture model, but she will occasionally break it up by having students get up and draw scenes from the books on the chalkboards. There are a few class debates as well (Was Odysseus a good leader? Should Pride & Prejudice be on the syllabus?, etc.), along with some presentations to the class. Like any Lit Hum class, you probably will not end up doing every single reading and that is okay. As long as you skim and remember some key points, you'll get by. However, Liza does love to call upon students who have not raised their hands and may ask some pretty specific questions. If you don't know, it's not that big of a deal because she'll either call upon someone else, answer it herself, or get distracted completely and never address it. Her lectures aren't always that structured, and she is unintentionally hilarious. Sometimes she will get so overwhelmed by emotion after we read something that she might start crying in the middle of class. Cherish her. She really does care, and usually sets up conferences for essays. She can be pretty helpful, though I never really learned how to improve my grade over the course of the year and consistently scored a "B+/A-" on every essay. Her tests are incredibly different from your peers (read: better). IDs don't matter as she'll usually give the speaker in the middle of a quote or use the first lines of the book. Expect many short essays on the other hand and "scavenger hunts" where you'll have to compare three works and unusual essays asking you to write an Op-Ed or defend a character's actions. You generally have to post on CourseWorks after every reading, but she only asks for one or two sentences per post. Participation does help, so make an effort to talk in class. Her class can be strange and assignments creative, but Liza really cares deeply about Lit Hum, and eventually, you will want to as well.

Aug 2016

Prof. Rosen is a godsend. The previous reviewers described her very well, so I won't go into detail, but had to add that you MUST take her class. You will learn a ton both about the texts and about your own writing. She should have a gold nugget. Don't be scared by her grading on papers. My theory is that she has some sort of secret curve/bonus where everyone's finals are "really really well done" (you don't get them back or to see the grade even if you ask) allowing her to bump up everyone's grade at the end of the semester. She doesn't want to penalize good, thoughtful students for a dud paper, so she will probably make it up to you in this way. Combined with generous allotments for participation and Google Docs, Prof. Rosen allows for many opportunities for redemption (or if not redemption, bonus points). At least half the class will get in the A-range according to my transcript. My main advice is to participate well (she called me out on not talking enough in office hours, although she doesn't spot call) and take her comments about close reading and extrapolating features of the text as a whole from words/phrases in the the passages very seriously on exams and essays. My exams literally looked like this: "quote of 1-4 words in the passage" --> feature of the text (e.g. rhyme scheme, narrative discrepancies, teleology): brief note form explanation. Make a list of features of each text and memorize it so that you can do this easily during test and you'll have no problem. TL;DR: MARGO IS THE BEST. She will challenge you to do good work and teach you a lot about the texts and how to write. Her grading is very fair. She is warm, understanding, and very smart. If you're in her class, you've lucked out.

Aug 2016

I loved Joe, but not everyone will. If you enjoy the reading and discussing the texts, this is the right professor for you. Joe has an unreal amount of knowledge about anything humanities related but especially classics (first semester). His insights into the texts are thought-provoking and give you a deeper understanding of why the text is important and considered to be so great. Plus, his New Zealand accent, his ridiculous fashion sense, and his frequent tangents make him extremely entertaining to listen to. His mind works at a million miles an hour and he's one of the most eccentric people I've ever met. He's also generally very casual, joking around with his students with a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor that he thinks we don't get/is unique to New Zealand. That being said, he is not very forgiving to students who don't keep up with the reading or who are late to class, he gives lots of stupid/unhelpful assignments every night (I remember having to translate an ancient text into "modern English"), and he is extremely moody. On a good day, he's the best professor you'll have all year, but on a bad day he is temperamental, seems disappointed in the class, or is just plain bored. Also, he requires you to go in and talk about your paper topic with him beforehand, and most of the time you do this he tears it to shreds and you leave feeling much worse. You will probably either love him or hate him, because there's not really an in between with him, but however you feel, I promise you'll have a more interesting professor than your friends!

Aug 2016

Let's be honest, you're only on here to find if his class is an easy A. If you complete the two papers and show up to class, you'll get an A.

Jul 2016

I have so much respect for Professor Mendelson that I feel wrong writing this review. A man of this much track record, the subsequent reviews, and natural charisma doesn’t need valuation. Just take his class, get an A, and leave a changed human. Oh and one thing – Mendelson’s a natural savage. He doesn’t care about the little things. It’s the big things (how to be human; how to live life) that he’s interested in. Don’t waste your time brooding over whether he likes you as a person. He’s wiser than that – he’ll see through you. He only cares that you’re getting something out of this class – after all, a man of his success doesn’t need to be teaching freshmen. He’s there because he chose to be there. Just focus on what you can do as a student to best learn from the man. One caveat – that said, don’t take this class as a joke. I’m not saying it’s a tough class. It’s not. But it is going to be tough if you don’t enter the classroom with an open mind, ready to learn. Put in the effort but not that of brute force. Put your effort into answering the questions that genuinely interest you. If you’re the type that thinks you know all the answers to life, well you’re 18/19 my lad, it’s about time you get off your high horse. Trust the man, and he’ll trust you back with his wisdom.

Jul 2016

Professor Knapp was by far the best professor I had my first year at Columbia. She went above and beyond of what she needed to do, giving unconditional support and motivation. She connects with her students and provides great feedback. If you have her for LitHum, be happy. You're in for a great treat.

Jun 2016

Arthur is the instructor that I have always envisioned I would have at Columbia. Arthur embodies everything I was looking for in a professor from such a prestigious institution of higher education: caring about his students' learning, not "robbing" us from the beauty of arriving to conclusions ourselves by igniting discussions, critical thinking and debates through his intellectually challenging questions instead of just giving us information through one-way teaching (professor-student). I always felt comfortable to affirm my opinions without fearing I would be judged or contradicted by my instructor or my classmates - and this is due to the engaging, positive and safe atmosphere that Arthur ensures to be the background for the most interesting discussions I have ever had in my life prior to Columbia. Having been accustomed to an educational system in which I would discuss just the form of a text and the reasons why characters were positive, negative or complex, now with Arthur stressing that it is far more important to delve into the character's "thinking" processes and the aims that drive their actions (which simultaneously helped me understand human behavior), I can affirm with certainty that I am a much more critical reader. Thanks to Arthur, I do not trust any information that any text, author, work gives me, but read the text against itself and question aspects I would not have had in the past. Thanks to Arthur, I now experience the beauty of critical reading, the beauty of reading texts and feeling that I am not undergoing a passive activity but rather an investigation with every written work that I delve in. During the trip at The MET, I realized how much knowledge I acquired after just a couple of months at Columbia even just by taking this course. It was extremely fascinating to see how all the ancient writings that we read connected to ancient art. Although I was mesmerized by all the correlations between Herodotus', Homer's and Euripides' works with the art pieces we saw, I found particularly interesting how during the visit we touched upon how the Romans imitated bronze Greek sculptures and right the day after the visit we read a passage acknowledging bronze sculptures in Virgil's Aeneid which we then connected to Virgil's inspiration in Homeric works etc.

May 2016

If you have Humberto for Lit-Hum, you just won the lottery. Humberto is absolutely brilliant. He is a master at instigating meaningful, provocative class discussion, and his insight into the texts is fantastic and life-changing. Generally, class begins with either a reading quiz (which everyone typically fails, but it doesn't really impact your grade) or a passage/scene from the reading. From there class rockets off into scintillating debates on passages Humberto selects for us to close-read. Humberto will oftentimes mix up class agendas; several times he asked each person to prepare a 5 minute speech in the spirit of the Symposium or other, which we would then share with the class. Class time was always spent valuably, and I enjoyed every minute (seriously, every minute) of it this year. As if that wasn't enough for you, Humberto is also a genuine, sweet, and lovely human being. One thing I particularly loved is how we would read the texts through a very human lens. It was okay to not understand something, or to voice a strong opinion about one of the characters, or to simply say you loved how a certain scene made you feel. Humberto makes the literature fun and personally engaging, and his kindness and genuine compassion for his students creates a classroom environment that feels like home. I honestly can't say enough wonderful things about Humberto. If you have him, you will have the best experience ever.

May 2016

Professor Tommasino is encouraging, friendly, humorous, and really wants everyone in the class to do well! He is very knowledgeable as well as fun and makes you really interact with the texts and learn a lot from discussions. Plus, it's a pretty easy A as long as you are engaged during class discussions! After a pretty miserable fall semester of Lit Hum with a different professor, I switched into Prof. Tommasino's class and I am so thankful and glad that I did. His discussions are lively and energetic and students really want to participate. Whenever we start a new text, he usually goes over the context and sometimes a brief history about the book, the time period, and/or the author. He is funny and makes light-hearted comments throughout our discussions. He also really wants everyone to succeed and the class is designed so that mostly everyone does well. You can get by without doing all of the readings and it definitely helps to pay attention in class. He also allows computers which is a GREAT WAY to do some quick Sparknotes reading and type notes. He's on sabbatical this coming year, 2016-2017, but hopefully when he returns he'll continue to teach Lit Hum!

May 2016

Before starting Lit Hum, I read the reviews about Nancy and saw that she was a silver nugget professor so I definitely had high hopes for a great experience. However, I was thoroughly disappointed with the outcome. This is the type of class where your performance is solely based on if the professor likes you or not. Professor Workman is knowledgeable, but she also only wants to hear what she wants to hear. In class discussions, her expressions and her opinions are written clearly on her face and she will make it explicitly clear by her facial expressions if she likes what you are saying or not. She cuts off students and also puts down students' comments or thoughts. It's pretty discouraging, especially as your first introduction to the Core. She has a set opinion on the texts and only wants to hear what SHE deems is important or interesting. Thus, the environment of the class was usually stifling and tense - students are always trying to one up each other and say something better than the previous person. In terms of class load, if you want to be able to spend time on your major courses or more important courses, than do not take this class as you have to turn in a 1-2 page response for EVERY CLASS. You're allowed 5 skips on the responses but it's not that helpful; you basically can't skip readings so you have to read everything. Her grading on the essays and midterms are also very harsh. If she doesn't like you, you won't do well in the class. A lot of people switched out of her section after the fall semester. Takeaway: Your Lit Hum experience is heavily, if not solely, based on your professor. So choose wisely. Good luck.

May 2016

Professor Meisel is truly one of the best professors I have ever had. She is fun, thoughtful, and incredibly knowledgeable. As long as you keep up with the the readings, do the discussion posts, take good notes, and don't fool around in class, you are bound to do well in her class-- she is one of those professors who wants you to learn and do well. Thanks to her, I have become a better writer/reader and have a newfound appreciation for classic novels. She is also super helpful in office hours. All in all, Professor Meisel made LitHum an amazing experience!

May 2016

Greatest professor of my first year. His masterful understanding of works we read was shocking. His passion for the subject was inspiring. He really cares about the students. He is accommodating and wants you to do your best. Recommend to any and all first years.

May 2016

Hiie was the best!!! I'm SO glad I had her for LitHum. The workload in her class was reasonable. It was a bit lighter than most LitHum courses, but certainly not a joke. She was so caring about her students and truly wanted to see everyone succeed. The class was heavily discussion based, which in my opinion is how LitHum is meant to be. She is so sweet, gives ample feedback on assignments, and responds to emails in a timely manner. She will give you an extension if you need it. She sometimes takes a while to give back grades on group assignments, but it's not a big deal because everyone does well on those anyway. Highly recommend this class!!!

May 2016

Reading these CULPA reviews made me skeptical of taking this class at first. But let me tell you, I couldn't be happier that I did. First of all, Professor Lilla treats his students with the respect and expected us to perform at a college level. I'm sure many Freshmen were intimidated by this, but I really think this class was a great introduction to what college courses are like. We engaged with the texts in this course at a much higher level than other LitHum classes. Our classes were basically an open forum for discussion of higher themes and philosophical concepts that made us challenge our beliefs and get outside of our comfort zones. As someone who took AP Literature in high school, I was so sick of spending copious amounts of time analyzing symbolism, metaphors and other basic stylistic tools. In Lilla's class, while we did discuss and break down the writing styles of various authors, the objective was to get to a larger level of understanding about specific cultures and the moral progression of western civilization. I loved this spin on LitHum and appreciated the chance to think at a higher level like this. I also learned so much from my peers in this class and I think we all reached a level of understanding and respect for each other. So in short - do not be intimidated at first by other reviews or by the first class in which Lilla tells his students that "this is not a safe space." Our discussions were well worth the initial discomfort some students felt when being pushed to engage in the conversation. I think everyone in our class progressed as a writer and a thinker which really set us up for what to expect throughout the next 3 years at Columbia.

May 2016

Joe is witty, self-deprecating, and absolutely brilliant. His humor and dedicated passion to the texts makes class enjoyable, even if his expectations are sometimes alarmingly high. Joe dominates the discussions in class, not only because he has a deep understanding of the texts and their histories (he is an archaeologist, a Ph.D. candidate for Classics, a Fulbright Scholar, as well as is fluent in Greek and Latin) but because he is so smart that he often intimidates the rest of the class into silence. That being said, he cares about each of his students deeply and is always willing to meet with us outside of class for hours on end to discuss the readings and our writing assignments. Joe also makes an effort to help us understand and appreciate the texts in an extracurricular context, through taking us to museum exhibits, film screenings, plays, or to a restaurant just to get to know his students better. A+ guy, B+ teacher (due to his high expectations, not due to his teaching style).

Apr 2016

Be wary of Professor Lilla's grades. They are not charming nor they are sometimes fair.HOWEVER PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HE SAYS BECAUSE ITS VALUABLE BEYOND THE CLASS, ITS VALUABLE FOR LIFE. Taking Professor Lilla's fall LitHum section was certainly challenging and rewarding. His class is dynamic, open and he encourages free discussion (as long as you are willing to defend your position). Of course, just as any Professor in LitHum he will guide the discussion towards areas he finds more interesting, but if you are able to make the case for something else, and defend it against his comments, you will see the class steering your way. This class is not for those who do not like to argue, for anything you say he will challenge. Don't take it personally because he wants for you to improve and that's the value of this class. Not only is his extensive knowledge of the works and Western Civilization impressive and engaging, but he knows about life, and pay attention to what he says because you'll learn more about yourself, than about Achilles or any Greek hero in Professor Lilla's class. Do not expect fantastic grades. They are not easy to get, although they're not impossible. In terms of feedback, just know that he is not there to mess around so be ready to get feedback during the class, and only after your long paper assignments. I absolutely recommend this class (and professor) to anyone who came to college to not only get a diploma, but learn and grow as an individual. You will enjoy the discussions and learn about history, philosophy, literature and much more. Don't hesitate when taking his class, but be careful because it won't be easy and you might shed a tear or two.

Apr 2016

If you are in her section - you are very very lucky. Stay. She is one of the most knowledgeable lithum professors in Columbia and she knows the texts inside out. She also truly cares for each individual student. Don't feel bad if there is not as much discussion in her section as in other sections. Instead, listen to what she says - she is always insightful and profound, and she tries to make the texts relevant and link them to our daily lives.

Apr 2016

Am surprised to see that Lilla no longer has gold nugget, since he really hasn't changed and probably won't barring unexpected head injuries. I'd like to focus on the seminars so people who didn't take LitHum with him can get an idea of whether it's useful. Or skip the reviews and read this article for his thoughts on liberal education: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/college_week/2005/11/college_makeover_8.html -- If you're concerned about grades and workload (perfectly understandable), you might want to rethink taking his LitHum section. I think that if you're humble and you put in the work into writing your posts (most important part, easiest way to tell if you've done the reading) and participate in discussion, you'll be fine. He is easily one of the best LitHum teachers, and most importantly, he actually really enjoys teaching the class and listening to his students (no, really). Yes, he does tend to guide the class onto certain interpretations, but generally speaking this is much more useful and more interesting than chaotic speculation (never mind the fact that he knows the books better than any student). Broader discussions of themes happen frequently, but only as results of conflicts within the texts themselves. That said, if you have a good grasp of the text or an alternative interpretation, you should definitely be able to contest or augment his own picture, so please do that and don't bitch about the class being an echo chamber. I actually get the feeling he would like it if people were more combative (at least that means you're invested). -- Seminars: they are glorified reading groups. Lilla will select a single main text for the semester (in some instances supplementing it with other readings), which the class will read at a slow pace. The class is divided into halves, which alternate between writing long posts (1000+) and shorter responses (500+) every week. Depending on how good the posts are, Lilla will organize the class around them (inserting topics or passages that he feels are important). Classes go like this: he gives a little intro sometimes, then jumps directly to a passage, which becomes the basis for discussion until time demands that the class move onto another passage, and another topic. On rare occasions, he will lecture a bit when a certain idea comes up (negative theology, for example) or if the class is just lost. Discussion is usually very good at comparing different readings and different angles on the texts; Lilla will also bring up other thinkers and books, which I've always found useful (if merely tangential). --- Lilla has the knack for transforming everyone's comments, both good and bad, into useful observations for the rest of the class. I have found that the quality of other students (and my own, of course) mattered very little to how much I get out of it, since Lilla seems to make it all intelligible. This is especially impressive because his class attracts such a random bunch (people from across the humanities, and a couple outside), who are used to approaching problems in their own fashion. Of course, it also helps that he doesn't take undercooked bullshit - if he doesn't understand you, he will ask you to clarify, and he's really not into patronizing moralists who proselytize instead of analyzing (very rare though). Lilla takes the discussion pretty seriously, and it's not uncommon for him to take notes and learn from students (it's also pretty invigorating to feel like you're being taken seriously, and I haven't gotten that from any other professor). I will say that some people have told me they weren't a fan of the way he approached texts (whatever they meant), and some have said they appreciated other teachers for allowing them more leeway for personal exploration. I either disagree or do not understand these criticisms (see article), but, they're there... -- In the past, Lilla's done classes on Montaigne, Rousseau, and Pascal - but he will do different texts in the future. It's really probably your best opportunity to spend a lot of time trying to understand the text, and I would recommend it for that reason alone. What really makes Lilla's classes great for me isn't really the discussion or his insight, but the fact that by the time I've turned in my final papers, I will feel like I've come to know these books very intimately, and it would be dishonest to deny that each of time my interests and thinking have shifted. After you take his class, there's just no way you can read philosophy any other way, and no other class will come close to giving you a similar kind of experience. It's because of this that I would take a Lilla class no matter what he taught. -- Finally, I want to put in a good word for the man himself: capital fellow, un bonne homme cause he likes French. He loves teaching and his students, and people across the spectrum of interests and beliefs like his classes (lots of repeat offenders). He also has a great sense of humor - or am I the only one who's noticed he has/had portraits of (I think) Napoleon and Burke in his office? Intellectually, he is a fantastic resource - he's good on basically any period of Western intellectual history, but he's best on early modern and 20th century Europe, and he's especially good on Christian theology and also on politics. I have yet to receive a bad book recommendation from him. TLDR: No, fuck you, I put time into this. Damn, it's actually pretty long.

Apr 2016

The best professor I've had at Columbia. Hands down. No questions asked. You are incredibly lucky if you get her for Lit Hum. She is brilliant, intelligent, and easy to work with outside of the classroom. She has written me recommendation letters, and we still maintain a relationship after class. She began every class with an overview of the history of the work we were reading at the time and maintained a class discussion quite well, even from 6:10-8 in a residence hall classroom. She made me stimulated to go to class, and brought cookies three times throughout the semester and Swedish Fish for the midterm and final. This is the most I've learned throughout my time at Columbia in my first semester of my first-year. Go into her outside of the classroom and any time that you can. You will learn so much from her if you put in the work and let her know that you are willing and able to create an outside of the classroom relationship. She is so deserving of her golden nugget.

Apr 2016

Everything the person below said is pretty much completely on point. Janet is amazing. She teaches very clearly and focuses on the parts of the texts that are important and interesting. She lesson plans very well and almost always makes sure that we arrive at a *light-bulb moment* conclusion without making you feel too over guided. On top of that she is sweet. smart and funny. Our class had a great dynamic and she often felt more like a friend than a professor. If its any indication the whole class stayed for the second semester. While the class is not strictly easy, it is also not overly hard. The workload/prof demand is enough to make you learn and appreciate Lit Hum without hating it.

Apr 2016

I just wanted to say that I absolutely agree with all the previous reviews: Margo is warm, caring, wonderfully professorial in that frazzled, excitable sort of way, and an excellent teacher. There's no point in restating all the points the old reviews say; they all still hold perfectly true. Professor Rosen is an EXCELLENT Lit Hum teacher. A note on her essays: the close-reading point still holds true. You need to focus in on one passage and analyze it with little reference to the book as a whole. She's also big on being concise and cutting out fluff - the "bullshit" line that an older review mentioned seems to be part of a yearly trope she uses. If you follow that advice, though, it's not hard to get a good grade on your papers. Just have a point to your essay, back it up with details in the passage you're analyzing, allude to the point in your intro, and make the point in your conclusion.

Apr 2016

Professor Rosen is an excellent teacher, and her strengths are particularly well-suited to Lit Hum. Her class is constantly and consistently engaging, interesting, and even fun. I'll go into a lot of detail about her class, which will probably sound dry at times; that's simply a function of my extended analysis and poor prose. Her class is absolutely fantastic, and was an incredible introduction to the Core here at Columbia. She is highly recommended, and deserves even better than the silver nugget she has currently. A disclaimer before I begin: Obviously, a lot of the quality of a Lit Hum class depends on the students - if they're all quiet, the class likely won't be enjoyable, no matter how great the teacher. I was lucky enough to have a relatively lively class, where at least 10 people spoke in any given class period, rather than 3 or fewer people making all the contributions. On the other hand, both by making a large chunk of the grade (30%) based on class participation, and with her easy and engaging manner, Margo definitely brings out the best in her students. Professor Rosen's class is focused on close reading. Her essays are all exercises in that skill: to get a good grade, simply mine the passage for the tiniest linguistic details that the author might have placed to make a larger point, then make the larger point yourself in the conclusion. Afterwards, go back and write an introduction that leads naturally to your analysis and conclusion; she's a stickler for writing the intro AFTER the rest of your paper. Margo is an absolute joy in class; she comes to every session smiling and spends the entirety of each class jumping off into tangentially related analyses of the text that keep both her and her students excited. Because of her emphasis on close-reading, Professor Rosen's classes tend to be a series of 10-20 minute stops at different self-contained places in the book. For instance, you might spend 15 minutes on a particular juicy scene in Crime & Punishment, without making reference to much of the surrounding book (besides the places in which language from the part you're analyzing gets repeated). Then, after both class and professor have exhausted (or nearly exhausted) their analysis of the symbolism, sentence structure, metaphor use, and other features of that particular section, Professor Rosen will nudge the class towards a different passage, later in the book. As such, her class isn't so much a review or exploration of the books as a whole, but a tiny taste of what truly deep mining of the text can net you in particular places in each book. (Close reading!) Professor Rosen is a Slavic literature buff by trade, but that doesn't stop her from being immensely and obviously excited and knowledgeable about all the works on the syllabus. Perhaps her biggest weakness is that she doesn't have a lot of background knowledge on the historical circumstances surrounding the books beyond the notes she prepares for class; however, if you ask a question she doesn't know the answer to, she'll always research it and bring the answer to the next class. She truly cares about her students; she'll often try to organize fun activities with her class's event funds. For instance, she might take the class to a performance of one of the plays you read, or have a trip to the Cloisters, or organize an out-of-class review session for the final with pizza or at Symposium (she'll let you vote on what to do with the funds, but she has plenty of good suggestions). She also has a 10-minute break built in to the middle of her 110 minutes, and she'll try to organize a signup list where each week, a different member of the class brings a snack. Small, cute things like that don't really impact the class, but are certainly a nice touch from a veteran, All-Star Lit Hum teacher. As far as grading goes, Professor Rosen will generally give poorer grades on the first paper than later ones; this is explained by the fact that she doesn't give a 'discount' at the beginning of the semester to account for the fact that students don't yet know how to write her close-reading-heavy preferred paper-type. As you learn how to write the type of paper she likes, your grade will improve; don't be afraid when the majority of the class receives C-range grades on the first paper. Margo is generally a pretty easy grader when it comes to your final grade; her final A-range is usually around 40%. The grading breakdown varies, but is generally something like: First paper - 15% Midterm - 15% Second paper - 20% Final - 20% Class participation and Google doc - 30% The Google doc assignment is one that takes place before each class. Each student has to find a particularly poignant or loaded quote from the assigned reading for that class, post it to the Google doc for that particular class session along with a thought-provoking question about the quote, and answer someone else's question. While the minimum is one quote and one response, quality and quantity are both good things here (and both can make up for a poor class participation record, if you realize you're not speaking up as much as you should be). Professor Rosen's emphasis on close-reading extends to her tests. Instead of simply asking you to identify the work, author, and context of a quote, Professor Rosen asks that you analyze the quote and list as many features as you can find in the quote that are indicative of what work it comes from. For instance, whether it is poetry or prose, what sort of narration it includes, what themes might emerge from its content, etc. This different method for passage ID's means both that your passage ID's will take much longer than other classes' (which is why you'll be given fewer of them), and that less of your grade is dependent on simply knowing quotes (instead, you need to know the FEATURES of each work that define it and separate it from others). Be aware that you won't get back your papers or tests quickly - it'll often take upwards of a month. You'll almost always get back a paper before the next one is due though, and the midterm before the final happens. Professor Rosen is unafraid to give her own interpretations of symbols in a book once the class has given its analysis. Although she's an incredible facilitator (be careful - if you so much as scratch your nose, she'll assume you're raising your hand!), she'll also tell you her own view of the texts. She'll make it very clear when this view is her own and not necessarily shared by her colleagues, but her theories are often eye-opening, provocative, and extremely intriguing. Many of these theories come into play later in the second semester, as she really enters her zone of expertise - especially surrounding Crime & Punishment and To The Lighthouse. Speaking of specific books, Professor Rosen isn't afraid to monkey with the standard Lit Hum syllabus. She doesn't like Sappho, for instance, and this year she removed it and Ovid's Heroides in favor of Ovid's Metamorphoses (which I personally think was a wonderful decision). She's been teaching Lit Hum for a long time (She once mentioned a class she taught in 2002, I think), and she tends to lean towards the classic elements of the syllabus as opposed to the new additions. (With that said, the last book she teaches is almost always the graphic novel Maus, which hasn't ever been on the official Lit Hum syllabus to my knowledge.) Professor Rosen will never agree to have class outside - she finds it distracting and she makes good use of the blackboard - but she gives off the sort of fun vibe that makes even books you've read and disliked in the past seem fascinating and deep when she teaches them. She'll breathe new life into the dusty old classics, and if you pay attention, she can make books you'd never have considered enjoyable feel like some of the best in history - which, after all, they are; that's why they're on her syllabus.

Apr 2016

Honestly one of the best and most thoughtful teachers I have ever had in my life, not simply Columbia. If you have the ability to switch into his class for Lit Hum — DO!!!!!! Best decision I ever made. The man is a genius yet also insanely kind. A rare breed at this institution indeed.

Apr 2016

Honestly one of the best and most thoughtful teachers I have ever had in my life, not simply Columbia. If you have the ability to switch into his class for Lit Hum — DO!!!!!! Best decision I ever made. The man is a genius yet also insanely kind. A rare breed at this institution indeed.

Apr 2016

I thought Lit Hum was going to be a nightmare, but Arthur has made the class infinitely more enjoyable than it could've been. Our discussions are always thoughtful and student-led, and he creates an atmosphere of inclusion that allows everyone to contribute meaningfully. Even if you come into class having no idea what you just read, he is able to lead us to come to our own conclusions and understanding of the material. The class time (6:10-8) was pretty brutal, but he made it tolerable (we all took turns bringing in snacks) and we all signed up for the same time slot, as horrible as it was, because he is just that great. Our whole class agrees that he should have a gold nugget.

Apr 2016

"I do not provide feedback on short responses. I will provide feedback on your long posts." This was the response Lilla gave me when I approached him for feedback on my first short response, because I was new to the class and wanted a general idea of whether I was headed in the right direction. I should have taken it as a warning sign, but I didn't. Ultimately, I only received feedback from him once throughout entire semester, for the 3 long posts I wrote. I was not surprised, but that did not make the experience any less frustrating, especially when I had already made it clear to him that I was an international student who is new to literature. I approached him for help; he rebuffed my attempts. Imagine my frustration when he chalked my lackluster midterm performance down to the "unfortunate fact that some students are simply more at home in the languages," along with some vague reference to my international background. Granted, the factors he named were probably relevant, but I would have appreciated more self-examination on his part. Lilla is also extremely vague about his expectations for the final. I completely concur with his view that the point of lit hum is to learn, rather than simply earn a good grade. However, this led to a great deal of ambiguity over the exams. For instance, he went through the entire semester claiming that he "does not care about passage IDs." When one of my classmates attempted to clarify his expectations regarding the exam, he told her than he "did not want to talk about it yet." We were eventually only provided with information on the final, on the final class before the exam. And yes, he cared about passage IDs a lot more than he let on. Personal grievances aside, Professor Lilla led great discussions, and had brilliant insights on all the works we read. The way he approached the works from unique angles taught me a great deal about how I should approach the readings, which I really appreciated. If you're an independent learner who appreciates a good discussion, Lilla is your man. However, if you'd prefer more support, feedback, and clarity from your professors, look elsewhere.

Apr 2016

Eliza is potentially the best professor I have ever had! Her classes are simply brilliant and the way she teaches Lit Hum is not only passionating but also very modern. She covers intersectionality, feminism, social class and sexuality in all of her classes and allows each student to participate to the conversation. If you are looking for a more than competent lit hum professor that will make you LOVE the core, she is the right choice!

Sep 2015

In general a pretty chill professor, encourages a lot of reading, talking and thinking in class. Requires close reading to texts, but over all a very manageable workload.

Sep 2015

Robert's a nice enough guy, and he seemed to try quite hard to be engaging. Unfortunately, our class wasn't nearly as engaged as he (or most of us) would have liked. Discussions were rather bleak, with a few people dominating most of the conversation. Robert himself is a fairly pleasant guy, but I think many students found him to be intimidating or something. If you get him, he's not the worst Lit Hum instructor, but nor is he the best.

Aug 2015

Professors Sacks is the man. He deserves a gold nugget. His class is everything I hoped for in a Columbia core class. He really knows his stuff, but he never dominates the discussion. He uses his knowledge of the material to enhance the discussions, but he encourages you to draw your own conclusion. He values your opinion. He's so so smart, but not pretentious at all. He will ask the most deep-cutting questions but still keeps a great sense of humor throughout the class. I wish all my professors were like him. He's such a cool dude. As far as grading goes, he doesn't assign much work, but he expects your papers to be thoughtful and well written. Honestly, if you're a good writer and insightful reader, he'll give you an A. If not, well then you're shit out of luck.

Aug 2015

Professor Graham is a great teacher because of his class's structure. In class, there was an open and constant dialogue. There were very few instances where there was "dead air." I think his idea to use different hand signals to indicate whether the next student wanted to introduce a new idea or continue on the idea being discussed was a great help to how well the class was run. Outside of class, I found Professor Graham extremely approachable. The two office hours I went to were extremely helpful in reshaping my understanding of the texts we were reading. In the office hours, Professor Graham listened to my interpretation of the text and then offered criticism on it. I thought his criticism was extremely helpful and admirable because he could have just as well said this is the way to approach the text and there is no other way to do so. In the office hours I also found Professor Graham very kind and respectful towards his students. He expresses a genuine interest in what every one of his students is doing outside of class. I would highly recommend Professor Graham for a class in LitHum.

Jul 2015

Professor Martin is extremely kind and understanding - he's willing to give reasonable extensions if you talk it over with him, he does his best to give advice during office hours, and he's definitely not the kind of professor to grill you if you admit that there are somethings you don't know. He did grade rather harshly during the fall semester, especially on the first paper. Most people got B's and C's, but his grading gets more lenient as the semester goes on; I'm sure it's just his way of pushing students to work harder in a class that they'd usually slack off in. The first paper made me realize, ah, I should probably go to his office hours for help - and his office hours were a LOT of help. Just come in with a few ideas beforehand, don't be totally unprepared, and he'll push you to think differently about your ideas, to go further with them, and he's also really good with teaching you how to analyze the text (I found that it was really helpful when I got to talk to him one-on-one about analyzing the words and then examining how they work together). You probably don't want to ask him for as much help as I did (I'll admit that I'm kind of a pain-in-the-ass when it comes to asking teachers to help me with papers), but he was very nice and understanding about it all. Professor Martin's way of teaching LitHum was also quite different from other classes, in the sense that he was very interested in discussing marginalized voices (women, foreigners, the poor, etc.) both by characters in the books, and by the authors themselves. You can notice that there are several important recurring themes that he likes to focus on - the permanence of art, marginalized voices, suffering leading to wisdom, etc. (They're more specific and detailed when discussed in class, but these are the general ideas). He also like to do "Food for Thought" presentations - basically, one student presents on a passage that we read for the week, and also brings food. tl;dr Professor Martin is helpful, nice, and intelligent, and it IS possible to get A's (or at least an A- if you put in the effort) but his class is NOT an easy A.

Jul 2015

Seth is a really smart person and a really good professor. He will take the time to read your essays thoroughly and cares (sometimes more than students care) about helping students become better writers and thinkers. He asks challenging and interesting questions in class. One of the best things about having Seth as a Prof is visiting his office hours. He takes time to talk through writing ideas, will "hash out" books with you outside of class, has interesting life advice, and is interesting to talk with. Some people thought his class time could get boring and his grading was too harsh but I disagree. I would take his section again in a heart beat. He deserves gold. Plus he lets you call him Seth which is cool. Also you get to know your class well and he takes y'all out for dinner instead of doing academic extracurriculars like the other sections of LH.

Jul 2015

The scheduling conflict that made me switch into this section of LitHum is probably one of the best things that have ever happened to me. Professor Graham is extremely engaging and it’s obvious how invested he is in the course. The class is almost entirely discussion about assigned readings. What I thought was most helpful was how much Professor Graham listened— as in, he makes sure he understands what everyone says, rather than assuming someone’s point or steamrolling it into the ground. A third of your grade is based on class participation alone, which is pretty great. He’s also a pretty funny guy, very approachable, and visiting him during office hours is great for developing any ideas you might have. On your two papers during the semester, he leaves detailed notes for revision with your grade. It’s literally advice on getting an A handed to you. Pay attention to discussions and make good notes. I’ll admit that I didn’t complete every assigned reading, but since the class goes over thematic elements based on close passage readings, it’s easy to form your own understanding of the text if you're listening. But, seriously, participate.

Jun 2015

Edward Mendelson is a professor who truly cares about his students. Aside from providing fresh apples every Thursday, he takes the time make a connection with each student. He has some very interesting things to say and he enjoys a class that is able to make meaningful additions to the discussions. He makes you want to try in his class, and he grades very generously.

Jun 2015

Anne Holt is great. If you get assigned to her section for Lit Hum, you're going to love the class (which I can't say is the case in most other sections). She takes the time to talk to everyone about their essays/assignments, knows a lot about the texts we read in class, has a sense of humor (seems insignificant, but is surprisingly important in a class like this), and understands that life sometimes inhibits things like completing assignments right on time (to a point, of course). She'll do a great job preparing you for the final, and is a very fair grader overall.

Jun 2015

Sahar has by far been one of the best teachers not only in my Columbia experience but in my entire life. Hyper-intelligent, always well-prepared, Sahar always awes me with the depth of her preparation for each class as well as her ability to adapt to the natural and spontaneous changes in the course of student-led conversations. I was impressed by her ability to (seemingly intuitively) balance the principles of seminar, allowing students to engage in a conversation together, with the goals of good teaching, also stepping in and providing guidance and instruction at the appropriate moments with thoughtful opinions and questions. She also asks really thought-provoking questions that helped me think about the texts we read in a new way! In seminars, group dynamic is so important. I don’t think I was just randomly blessed to have a great seminar group: I think that Sahar’s teaching techniques contributed to the supportive, interesting conversations that we had. She really obviously cares about each and every one of her students. She is supportive in class and her comments on our papers were usually thorough (sometimes she acknowledged that they weren't and invited us to office hours, in which she is also very helpful). She is a tough grader but her high standards made me a better writer and encouraged me to work harder. I think by the same rule, her class expectations were really high—we only cut one text (Faust), which we replaced with 2 others (Excerpts from Ibn Hazm's "the Ring of the Dove" which is very short and Tony Morrison's "Beloved") whereas I know other teachers cut many, and we definitely never had like "movie day" or anything; but her high expectations pushed me to actually read, learn, and ultimately feel incredibly accomplished at the close of the course. I really tried to get the readings done most nights but I think Sahar also makes it pretty accessible even when you haven't read. She is great with asking guided questions about specific passages and referencing (with page numbers) specific parts of the book, so you can still participate and respond in class. Sometimes we split up into small groups in class and looked for information/themes in the books, which was tedious, but at the end of the day it was great when you hadn't done the readings :) While I don’t think that anyone in our seminar completed all the readings on time, Sahar was ALWAYS prepared and engaged for every text we were expected to read. She is SO thoughtful and thorough, I am impressed by her ability to prepare so well for each and every class. Overall one of the best!!!!

May 2015

I really have little to say about Professor Baker than that he is as close as you will get to an IDEAL LitHum professor. Does he know what he is talking about? Yes Is he passionate in class? Absolutely Is he the kindest professor on campus? Surely And does he give fair grades? NO (he gives everybody much BETTER grades than we really deserve) If you have professor Baker as your Lithum professor, you are blessed indeed.

May 2015

Although Professor Diebel was very kind, approachable, and accommodating, I did not feel that her class was sufficiently critical or informative, especially in comparison to the wonderfully engaging and compelling section I switched into for my spring semester of Lit Hum. Professor Diebel is very open to any ideas presented in discussion, and often does not present much material herself. This is an okay strategy that regrettably resulted in an uncomfortable atmosphere: incompetent comments trailed to nowhere, with little explanatory or clarifying remarks by Diebel. Professor Diebel's comments on my papers were often puzzling--I sometimes asked rhetorical (i.e. complicated) questions at the end of my discussion papers, to which she would sometimes respond with flippant and unproductive answers unrelated to the questions I asked. Unlike my other Lit Hum section, Professor Diebel's did not take much time to focus on marginal characters or question the assumptions of "the canon" which, if cliché, is quite important and, as I learned in the spring, added ~immensely~ to my experience of the texts. Of course, I don't mean to demean Professor Diebel. Take this with a grain of salt, as you always should. Basically, this section is probably better than some, but it's not sensational and certainly not memorable.

May 2015

Professor Diebel is sincerely one of the best teachers I've had in my three years here (CC). So good, that I felt compelled to write this review as a rising senior (maybe I'm getting nostalgic already). First off, she was really great at balancing discussion and lecture. You could tell she was smart and engaged enough in the material (unlike other professors I've had) to be able to actually respond to the momentum of a class extemporaneously and still fill it with articulate and thought-provoking points. She's also incredibly approachable and just as smart outside of class, for office hours or after class. She's super helpful with refining paper ideas or just extending the class discussion. In conclusion, the really bitter reviewer bellow was probably just sad that he or she didn't do well and get a professor who didn't care.

May 2015

Anne is hands down one of the best professors I've had. She made lit hum such a great experience, and is a knowledgeable, friendly, helpful professor and really just an inspiring person to be around. She was more than happy to help discuss essay topics, thoughts on the books or anything at her weekly office hours, and she is extremely skilled at mediating a productive discussion. Our classroom discussions were in no way dominated by Prof. Holt, but she made sure to gently steer us in the right direction when we strayed off topic, and would always bring up something interesting so that there wasn't the awkward silence that often happens in Socratic discussion settings. Each book, she would start off our discussion with some background info on the author, novel, and historical context, and she would track down experts to answer any questions we had that she couldn't answer herself. Her grading is extremely fair, and her criticism constructive. Highly recommend taking a class with Anne if you have the chance!!

May 2015

I have so many things to say about Nancy that I don't even know where to start, but first off, I'd like to encourage anyone who is put in her class to STAY IN IT. Even though the workload is heavier than most other LitHum classes, it all pays off, and Nancy herself is well worth the effort. Professor Workman not only knows every single text on the syllabus back to front, but actually makes even the most dull of them totally fascinating. She sheds so much light on every text that you have to end up with some kind of appreciation for them. By the end of the year, you'll probably realize that you've even come to develop some kind of fondness for the Iliad. She's also hilarious-- she can make the class laugh, whether with a personal anecdote or a snarky remark, at 9 a.m. Considering the frugal amounts of sleep you get at Columbia, this is a miracle. She is extremely thorough and supportive. Though tough, she DOES read and DOES care about every single daily assignment that you turn in. She'll sometimes write whole paragraphs of her own thoughts or questions on your response. Always take the time to meet with her about your term papers-- the meeting are informative and instructive, and I've often found that I come out with an entirely new topic or idea that I'm actually excited to write about. At the end of each semester, she hosts a review session at her apartment, which is not only helpful but interesting. In addition to the reviews, she hosted a screening of a 1980s Japanese film version of King Lear halfway through the second semester. There's always nice cats and pizza at her apartment. Definitely an invitation that most professors at Columbia would not extend to their students. Anticipate the discussions on Crime and Punishment at the end of the year; she will absolutely boggle you. Take advantage of this wonderful professor! Even at Columbia, you don't get great professors like Nancy that often. It's LitHum, that one class you hear about like 83 times before you even get here-- make the most of it!

Apr 2015

Jeffrey was a fantastic teacher. This review will undoubtedly get some downvotes as I know of some people who disagree with me (and they are probably the most likely to come to review on CULPA), but I know of some others who agree with me on this as well. I came into LitHum dreading it and thinking it would be the most painful class I’d take at Columbia. I end the class grateful that it was required and having learned more than I ever expected. This is largely a function of the incredible literature that we read, but is also reflective of Jeffrey’s teaching. When I saw that Jeffrey was a Grad student (and in the History Department) I was pretty disappointed that my longest class wouldn’t be taught by an expert. But honestly, if anything his being a Grad student was a plus. He was never overbearing in his knowledge of the books or the historical context and was open to any ideas the students had, while still guiding the discussions in a way that helped you look at the books differently. This was especially important given that the amount of reading in LitHum was (at least for me) very overwhelming – I had to skip a lot of the readings and skim even more. While some of our discussions were less interesting than others (Medea basically devolved into a feminist dispute; we had a baffling conversation on the semantics of “power” vs. “authority” in King Lear, which I am convinced are effectively the same word; and an odd discussion of the effects of the Napoleonic War on Pride and Prejudice), the majority of the discussions were very interesting. We had some especially great discussions about Don Quixote, Crime and Punishment, and To the Lighthouse at the end of the year. All said and done, Jeffrey was a very intelligent, fair, and attentive teacher, in addition to being the nicest guy in the world. He always listened to everyone’s opinion and guided the discussion skillfully without ever being condescending. He had an awesome tendency to respond to emails within minutes (always with his signature sign-off “Cheers”) and was readily available to meet, during or outside of Office Hours. Tl;dr Jeffrey may not be a tenured professor but he has the exact qualities you want for a class like this. Taking this class made me more appreciative of the Core (barf, that’s something I thought I’d never say) and definitely of the literature.

Apr 2015

If you're reading this because you just discovered that you got Liza Knapp as your Lit Hum instructor -- breathe a sigh of relief, because you're in for an amazing experience. I honestly don't know why Liza doesn't have a gold nugget yet, because she is certainly deserving of one. Out of all the teachers and professors I've had in the course of my education, I don't think I've quite met someone so passionate and enthusiastic and eccentric as she is when it comes to reading these texts. Liza will gasp, ooh, ah, and scream out whenever someone says something interesting or she comes up with an exciting new idea, which definitely keeps you on your toes. It's pretty hard to fall asleep in her class because she's too excited about the literature for you to not get pretty excited about it yourself. I personally have never been a really big English Lit kind of person, but I found a serious enjoyment in reading most of the books because of the way Professor Knapp taught them to us. That being said, I will list whatever can possibly be seen as a negative to this course. Liza does make her own distinct midterm and finals, which tend to be longer and can be seen as more difficult than exams seen in other courses. Her quote IDs, however, are abundantly obvious and beyond fair (they're almost impossible to miss, so don't sweat these, she just cares that you can analyze themes and whatnot). Her essays can be a bit long or difficult to answer, but are usually fun and interesting prompts that provoke thought and force you to be creative and connect the books from the syllabus. Overall, I wouldn't trade my experience with Liza as my lit hum instructor for any other professor at this university. Her kindness and enthusiasm goes a long way in this class, considering a lot of my friends who had less than great professors ended up hating lit hum. I, however, love it, and going to class is always exciting. Also, if you're interested in the English Lit department at all, take another one of her classes. You won't be sorry.

Apr 2015

Professor Graham has been my favorite teacher at Columbia thus far. He has a strong command over the material, and is incredibly eloquent in presenting it. He is a “to the book” kind of professor, meaning he doesn’t believe in adding or subtracting from the typical lit hum syllabus. You know exactly what you are getting from him. In terms of grading, Professor Graham is incredibly fair. Visiting his office hours before a paper is due is a must. He gives incredible advice and direction in his discussions during office hours. When he gives a paper back, he provides literally a page of feedback about your paper and how he thinks you are progressing as a writer. I have never seen a professor more dedicated to his student’s progression. Previous reviews of Professor Graham state that you can get by if you just read sparknotes. While that may be true, Professor Graham loves delving into texts and digging up its meaning, so reading the books is incredibly helpful. If you get Professor Graham, just know that means you have to participate in class discussions. A third of your final grade is participation, so that is definitely the difference between a B+ and an A-. If you are a first year, stick with Professor Graham.

Apr 2015

Professor Smoliarova's Lit Hum class is one of the most enjoyable classes I have taken during my time at Columbia. She has no arrogance about her even though she is obviously brilliant. She requests the class call her by her first name, something not often done by professors. She strikes a beautiful balance in the classroom of leading the discussion while engaging the class and having us chime in with what we think. She will keep conversation going but always wants to hear what we think. I would take pretty much any class she is teaching because she is not just a teacher in the classroom but genuinely cares about her students and their concerns. If something is going on in your life she understands you and will work with you one on one to catch up with the material--without you even asking but with her approaching you. She's an incredible teacher and an even better person.

Apr 2015

TL;dr : Bad teacher, nice person, easy to moderate workload, average grader. She has no idea how to lead a discussion. We talk in very vague terms about themes, with no close reading and little guidance from Hiie.

Mar 2015

I had professor Diebel for freshman year literature humanities and I have to say, she was one of the worst professors I've ever had. I've never written a review on here before, but I was so surprised to see that people gave her good reviews that I had to put in a comment. She doesn't say much of anything useful and seems to be on some sort of ego-boosting trip. As someone else mentioned, she'll always agree with people, even if they aren't saying much of anything worthwhile. Kids seem to participate just to get the grade (though this may be the same in other classes). She assigns a lot of work and pop quizzes and grades essays harshly, unless you go to her. She's one of those teachers that likes to have their ideas repeated back to them, and doesn't seem at all interested in letting you develop your own analysis. This is not a good professor for anyone who cares to get anything out of lithum.

Mar 2015

So, so glad I had Hiie. She actually cares about the students and gave us a break: when we had a project due in her class, she gave us extra time on papers, easy days during midterms. I felt completely prepared for exams after taking her class. Classes are fun, she breaks it up so it doesn't feel so long. We might divide into groups and each group would explore a theme and then present to the class. We write in wisdom books during class sometimes, reflecting on the way the books relate to our life. It's a nice way to start class. It never felt like too much work, actually learned the material, discussions were productive and well led, hands down my favorite class.

Feb 2015

Professor Gamber is FANTASTIC. He really knows his stuff. My class was the last time he was teaching Literature Humanities, but I'm sure that his other classes are just as good. I have a hard time paying attention in any of humanities classes and John kept me interested every single class. He knows how to engage the class in intelligent discussion really well. At the same time, he does a great job of translating the texts into real, understandable English.

Feb 2015

Katja is a very straightforward Lit Hum professor. She expects you to have done the reading, but will often ask about simple plot points to catch people up (which is a great way to get class participation points). She's good at facilitating conversation and leading people to the conclusion she wants the class to make--her lesson plans are all quite structured. There's food every class during break, provided by student sign-ups, which is nice. She's a reasonable grader, and expects straightforward essay structure and content. She's never woken anyone up during class (definitely guilty of sleeping through a few), though she does get frustrated if you're habitually late or absent, or use your phone during class. She doesn't hold regular office hours, but is happy to talk after class or by appointment.

Feb 2015

Johanna is an incredible teacher and person. She is someone who genuinely cares about her students- go to her office hours, I cannot emphasize that enough. On top of that, her knowledge is immense and she does a great job of making Lithum an enriching and fulfilling experience. She will make your first year experience in Columbia College live up to the reasons that you came here. Everyone in this class came prepared and excited to go over the readings, thanks to Johanna's charisma and teaching abilities. If you get her, you have won the lottery. If not, try to switch in!

Jan 2015

I had Alan for first semester Lit Hum. First off: Alan is completely brilliant, and knows all of the Lit Hum readings inside and out--not only in English, but in Latin and Greek as well. This allows him to convey unique and interesting insights into everything from the Iliad to the Bible. Also, he always spends a part of class explaining useful Greek/Latin words and concepts, which adds a lot to the overall understanding of the course. That being said, Alan is a misanthropic personality who allows his apathy to spill over into the classroom. With his knowledge, experience, and love of Greek literature, Alan could easily be one of the best Lit Hum professors at Columbia if he wanted to. Instead, he chooses to show movies (which is fun, but ultimately a waste of time), discourage students from coming to office hours, rant about the uselessness of the Core, and ask students difficult existential questions before refuting or mocking their answers. When we read the Bible, Alan made a habit of calling out inconsistencies in the stories and doctrine. This in itself was understandable, but he would also force the one self-identified Christian in the class to explain and defend contradictions that even a theology student might have had trouble understanding. This got to the point where it seemed like he was wasting class time just to try and "logic" her out of her religion, an activity that benefitted no one. If the point of Lit Hum is to turn Panglossian freshmen into cynics who suffer existential crises about the inevitability of death and can reference Euripides at the drop of a hat, then Alan succeeds admirably in his job. He pushes students to think about difficult topics and to question whether their deepest beliefs are blind dogma or legitimate ideologies. In the process, however, he dismisses students' ideas and creates an environment in which the potential hazards of speaking up greatly outweigh any benefits. At the end of the semester, you WILL leave Alan's class having fully discussed, read, and analyzed the texts and broader thematic elements of the course. You will have a deeper understanding of some of the greatest literature in history and, as cliché as this sounds, yourself. However, you will probably leave with an underwhelming grade, a new-found fear of voicing your opinions, and a hollow pit in your stomach that reminds you that, as Alan says, "life it just the painful progression of mortality."

Jan 2015

Stephane is awesome. He really encourages every student to throw in his/her opinion, no matter how contradictory/unconventional. Therefore, he pushes the discussion deeper because it is more lively, more controversial, more honest. Even though he does spend some time lecturing (which is good, because it gives you a basis for the reflection), he also emphasizes discussions, from which he almost disappears (until it is time to be put back on track). What is great about Stephane is that he is 100% honest: he'll tell you when he forgets his notes (which practically never happens), and he'll tell you when he doesn't like a book in particular. He understands that we are human and is therefore super chill about the reading (if you don't read a book in time, you're just hurting yourself by not being able to participate in class, but he won't make a fuss at all). This honesty can be a little harsh in his grading: his comments are not tender (quite sassy actually), but his intentions are solely good. He really does want the students to progress and he does so by pointing out their flaws. He genuinely reads the students' papers and gives personal advice to each and every one of them. He's also really great about office hours and is overall a super approachable person. He is the kind of professor who will take time to talk to you , to joke around and to get some news even when the course is over. As a whole,the class was delightful: I felt like our opinions were valued, therefore the class was a breeze. Also, Stephane made an effort to relate every work to common concepts and phenomena. I think he did a great job in giving details for each book, even though Lithum is really a fast survey course.

Jan 2015

I took Lit Hum with Max and had an average experience. Max welcomes open discussion and allows students to steer the focus. He encourages dialogue amongst students for long periods of time before interjecting with his own interpretation. Unfortunately, his insight into the text was uninspiring and fairly banal- often not easy to follow either. He is pretty easy going and welcomes a sense of humor but he also forces the academic persona, which can lead to aforementioned pontifications. Pleasant to meet with one-on-one. Fairly chill dude but not going to inspire most.

Dec 2014

Janet ROCKS! She was hands down one of my favorite professors during my first semester at Columbia, and the best English professor I've ever had. She's a fashionable, petite, cynically funny woman - you WILL fall in love with her within the first couple of weeks of class. She does a fantastic job of making sure that we analyze the themes of the texts that we read - this sounds like something all lithum teachers should obviously do, but many of my friends have complained that their teachers focus on less helpful things in terms of preparing for midterm/final exams (like learning a bunch of Greek word roots?!). In general, I feel like she really pushes us to strive for deep and complex analyses of the texts - she demands this on the analytical essays you will write and although it may be difficult to achieve her expected level of analysis, she forces and motivates you to improve your writing which is indeed the best thing a teacher can do. She always keeps class interesting and shows her interest in and passion for literature: she has no inhibitions about pointing out all the sexual jokes/references in Lysistrata; she acknowledges the driest/most cumbersome portions of the texts we read (the catalogue of ships in the Iliad, the choruses in the Greek plays, ALL of Herodotus and Thucydides) - but at the same time has the skill and will to show us the beauty and complexity even in these least palatable and seemingly useless passages; she makes a real effort (but doesn't take out unreasonably huge chunks of class time) to get to know her students personally and ask how we're doing in general, etc., and she studied at Columbia herself, so she understands all the toils (both related and non-related to LitHum) that we're going through. She is not an "easy" teacher, she will want you to participate daily in class and contribute to discussions in some way (but she's even pretty reasonable about this - she explicitly states that she counts reading passages out loud as participation), and she will want to see you put in effort into writing your essays (GO TO OFFICE HOURS one week before every essay deadline), but if you want to learn a lot and truly enjoy LitHum in spite of the overwhelming workload, you must take Janet's class.

Dec 2014

Professor Sacks embodies everything I imagined the Columbia Core experience to be and more. He is dedicated to his class of undergraduates (rare for this university), and he brings interesting materials/supplements to class. He brings the perfect combination of discussion and lecturing/direction to the course. He is quirky and slightly in your face about backing up your ideas with evidence from the text and the evolving dynamic of various themes/motifs, but that is exactly how a professor should be. The only downside to his class was that he cut out a few works due to extended looks at Genesis and The Iliad (for fall semester). But, he did offer optional one-day reviews of the works we skipped. I cannot recommend Richard Sacks enough, and he is by all definitions a gold nugget professor.

Dec 2014

Very intelligent teacher. If you are into discussing those books (which I am not) he is your guy. He doesn't force you to participate in class. I would say the only bad part about him is that he does not stop talking from the time the class begins to when it ends so I sleep at least a little every class. If you read, you will definitely succeed in his class. Great prof!

Dec 2014

Peter Pouncey is...a mixed experience. On the plus side, he knows his shit really, really well. He's a very smart guy with a lot of interesting things to say. Lots of historical tidbits (he's a Thucydides scholar), and we usually end up discussing broader themes in life instead of staying narrowly with the text. He's also very funny and nice. But...he's not always super lucid. He tends to repeat himself several times and revolves around the same topics during discussions. It's not bad at the beginning of the semester because a lot of it's new, but it gets old at the end. He's also not always very attentive and connected to the students. Frankly, we weren't smart enough to entertain him with something new: this was his 50th year teaching the course, so he's basically seen everything and heard everything.

Nov 2014

Professor Kumar is an awesome professor and an awesome guy. I had him last year for Lit Hum and he got about 75% of our class to actively engage in discussions, and thats saying a lot when there are usually only a couple of people talking in Lit Hum. I'd take another class with him teaching since he is very enthusiastic and prepared. He was very straightforward in what he expected in essays and on tests, and he is a pretty fair grader. You can't BS your way through essays though, I highly suggest you do the reading. He gave us a 5 minute break each class and we had a couple of review sessions outside of class that included pizza and some cool storytelling; like I said, awesome guy. He's great with responding to emails and making office hours upon request. I don't have any negatives about him.

Nov 2014

TAKE THIS CLASS WITH KATE. Especially the second semester. She is the ideal Lit Hum professor- both extremely knowledgeable and accessible as well as great at generating class discussion. She always has excellent points to bring up about each text, including potential criticisms of it and implications for modern life. In fact, she makes a point of trying to connect the texts back to our own lives which I found refreshing since it can feel pretty pointless to go through the whole Lit Hum syllabus if it isn't being made relevant in some way. She makes sure everyone gets a chance to contribute during class discussions and raise their own points, never shutting down anyone's argument but also not letting people make sweeping generalizations or statements without supporting them. SERIOUSLY, by the end of the year she actually made me think a lot about my own life and the world I live in through the way she taught and had us engage in the texts which is beyond valuable. She also revised the syllabus so that we got to read some more modern and diverse writers. In terms of assignments, she is a fair grader (though not an easy one) and makes her expectations very clear. She provides tons of useful feedback and genuinely just wants to help you become a better writer, reader, student, etc. There are 3 essays, progressively longer and with more room for interpretation and creativity as each semester progresses. Kate is a fantastic professor who will teach you a lot, make you question many things, and create a sense of community in your class. She is friendly, intelligent, understanding, and generally amazing. So count your blessings if you are in her section and transfer into it if you can.

Nov 2014

Okay, so the year is not even half way through so this might be an early remark to make but I'm pretty positive that my opinion won't change about Professor Kumar, and if it does I promise I will make another comment in the end of the year for those who just HAVE to know what their teacher will be like. First of all, for those looking to change their lit hum professors for this spring, GET IN THIS COURSE ASAP. So many of my peers have been complaining about weekly quizzes and essays they have to type and all the workload of LitHum, the only thing Prof Kumar wants is a simple annotation from a website for some of the works, not even all! The annotations are about five sentences, honestly, you don't even have to read the whole paragraph to comment on a few words. I personally find Professor Kumar to be extremely funny and ironic. He will accept any comment (almost) and even if he doesn't agree with you he will never call you out on a comment or judge you. He is super accepting and super super nice. I went to his office hours a couple of times, i must admit he isn't the most straightforward teacher I have had. So if you're looking for a teacher who will very directly frame each and every thing you need to do, don't take his course but then again, framing is not the point of LitHum, commenting and suggesting is and that is exactly what Prof Kumar is trying to accomplish. Also, participation is about 20% of your grade but to be honest i don't think he would ever be too harsh on that. He also never calls people out to answer a question. He said that he is a "too lenient" grader so, I don't think anything more should be said.. But I will say, since Prof Kumar is by far my best teacher this semester. He pays a lot of attention to students, personally getting to know them. By the end of the second month, the class already has many inside jokes going on. I don't think I've ever left a class bored to death even when I didn't read the works before, so no pressure on reading works on time but do know that whereas many teachers read the works in a couple of weeks, prof Kumar goes by the syllabus so you will probably have to read around 500 pages each week. (Like the odyssey in one week basically) He is also very modest, I've never seen him compliment himself when he obviously is an expert on these works, quoting directly with page numbers almost in each class (impressive?!) For those who don't want to read all the boring sentences above, I'll quickly summarize: TAKE. AKASH'S. COURSE. TAKE. AKASH'S. COURSE. TAKE. AKASH'S. COURSE. TAKE. AKASH'S. COURSE. On a side note, for those interested in fashion, he dresses pretty interestingly, I'd say. Interesting as in I'll let you decide if that's good or bad.. by the way, to the comment below: I personally paid attention to the way his name was said after reading the comment and it is not "I don't have any uh..cash", it is actually "a-KASH". as in a british person saying "Car" with a "sh" instead of "r".

Nov 2014

I really can't say enough good things about Cathy Popkin. Every classmate I talked to came away from that class last year adoring her, with good reason. She didn't give us some of the busywork that other LitHum classes have (quizzes or blog posts), but we still really engaged with the texts. She's funny, engaging, kind, and for sure the best professor I've had so far. She more than deserves the silver nugget on Culpa.

Oct 2014

The biggest mistake I made my freshman year was lookup Mark Lilla's (then with a golden nugget) reviews and choose his class. Mark Lilla asks his students to write CULPA reviews which makes it much more likely that students who are partial to him write him good reviews. Grades : Mark Lilla is not the kind of teacher you want if you want good grades. Very biased, judges on style (subjective) rather than on content. He is also very partial to specific people, as one might observe during class. Content : Mark Lilla is very opinionated. He will only teach what he think is right, and he will only focus on the part of the text that he is interested in. Any questions leading to some other topic, regardless of how important it may be, will be dismissed. Workload: Mark Lilla's ridiculously enormous sense of self importance about himself and his class makes him assign a massive amount of work that he expects to be done with top priority. Given that, there are some students who do well in that class and those students are very specific to Mark Lilla's taste, and there is not really much of a correlation between whether they are good writers or not. Mark Lilla is very paternally condescending and demeaning, which does make some students worship him, but overall makes his class unpleasant.

Sep 2014

Joe North is simply the best. You are tremendously lucky if you get him as your Lit hum prof, but unfortunately I think this is his last year teaching here. He is incredibly nice, never pedantic or condescending, and he really values your learning and his students as people. He will never shoot you down in class, or grill you like some Lit hum professors do. He may sometimes be too nice, but that is much, much more preferable to the opposite. I can't harp on how kind he is - he deserves a gold nugget!

Sep 2014

I miss Humberto now that I am taking CC with somebody that is not Humberto. What I mean to say is that I didn't truly realize how good of a deal I had until I was faced with the reality of taking a class with a vaguely clinical, stilted professor. As others have said, Humberto is really one of the nicest, best people you could take Lit Hum with. That being said, you run the risk of missing out on some incredible insights if you can't maintain your own focus because the classroom he runs is not under draconian rule and you won't be forced to participate. If you don't pay attention, its not like your grade's going to die. Its more like the palpable disappointment will rip your heart right out of your chest.

Sep 2014

To all you freshmen out there who get the chance to take Professor Tommasino's class... YOU ARE LUCKY DUCKS. My class and I simply LOVED him. He had this great way of encouraging class participation and discussion. Didn't matter if it wasn't super related to the text - his teaching philosophy emphasizes learning to think on your feet. BUT don't let that deter you!! Mostly participation is voluntary unless no one raises their hand but someone always did because he posed such interesting, yet open-ended questions. Computers: check yes! Literally was on buzzfeed or online shopping half the time, still got an A. Homework: None besides the Lit hum reading! (And maybe two papers, but they both had CREATIVE options so super fun and not stressful to write.) I got by just fine with Shmoop summaries. Grading: Generous. Don't think anyone ever got under a B on any paper. Finally, this class involves a lot of laughing! He is a very charismatic teacher who you actually want to participate in the class for.

Aug 2014

Amazing professor. Discussions were always lively and interesting (and discussions rather than lectures), she didn't push topics she could tell no one was interested in, gave good background info and didn't expect you to have memorised each book. Really helpful with office hours and such and grading was more than fair. She basically made you want to come to the lesson prepared because she was just such a darling. Pretty much everyone kept the 9am class into the second semester for her.

Aug 2014

Anne was probably one of the most approachable and kindest professors that I've ever had. She never tries to shove her ideas and analyses down your throat and is really enthusiastic about class participation and hearing about what everyone in the class is thinking. She also is really good about getting input from her class about what sorts of discussion formats work best with her students. She's really knowledgeable about all of the texts and is extremely well spoken and easy to understand. I personally think she's a rather fair grader. For essays, she gives you a lot of opportunities to either send in drafts, or meet her during office hours (which are really easy to take advantage of). If you take advantage of this and really take her edits to heart, an A is definitely possible. However, I learned the hard way that she takes word and page limits seriously (you don't want to get knocked down a letter grade for trying to go above and beyond). She tries her best to split up up the reading in a manageable way because she really encourages her students to do the reading. Because of that she does do pop-reading quizzes. That being said, you can get away with sparknoting and shmooping the readings and still passing the quizzes (they're just plot based questions and like two quote ID's--nbd). Her midterms and finals are pretty basic (passage ID's, quotation analysis, a choice between three themes where you write an essay using three texts). Again, sparknotes and shmoop will get you through the class if you're not feeling super motivated.

Aug 2014

I had Yvonne for both semesters of Lit Hum - it was her first year teaching, and it did show. My experience in her class was mediocre -- however, to be fair, the time and location of the class were both unideal (6:10 - 8pm, in an odd and smelly room in Hartley). I felt like Yvonne was certainly well-read, intelligent, and able to discern good ideas (in essays, class discussion comments, etc) from poor ones. I had faith in her grading, which was always very fair and well-thought out. Nevertheless, the classroom experience was far from enlightening, and I was frustrated for not gaining much from the class. There were only a few people who spoke up often, and they ended up running the discussion at times. Yvonne made attempts at increasing participation by doing participation quizzes (which were obviously effective at getting people to talk, but also felt sort of contrived), and doing group work often (which I did NOT enjoy... because usually people had not read the texts, and were not motivated to be productive), but ultimately it felt like a slog. Overall she didn't really inspire us to become interested in Lit Hum, which is a shame. That being said, Yvonne was a responsible instructor and prepared us well for the final, and we did end up covering all the major ideas and themes from the texts. She also offered a lot of extra credit assignments, including out-of-class movie nights, which was quite nice and helpful. Hopefully in the future she will improve and have more command and control over the class, which I think she will.

Aug 2014

Sharon is a wonderful Lit Hum instructor. She's a little quirky, but super passionate and knowledgeable about the material, and she really cares about her students. She's definitely a hard grader, but she also provides a lot of constructive feedback and is really easily accessible for office hours and meetings. Though she follows the Lit Hum syllabus exactly, I always found the discussions she led to be interesting and thought-provoking. She also organizes some unique (and really interesting) activities like talking about contemporary court cases while studying Montaigne and reenacting scenes from To The Lighthouse. In short, if you're looking for an easy-A Lit Hum, this is not the class for you. However if you want a really solid Lit Hum experience, and are willing to put in time and effort you can have a really great Core experience with Sharon.

Jul 2014

First off, I want to say that I'm not writing a slightly negative review because this class is hard. Sure, it's more work compared to some LitHum classes, but the workload isn't bad (see below), even if Professor Lilla does grade a little harsh. I got an A; not impossible. I agree in part with some of the reviews here. Lilla is very intellectual and will teach you a lot about writing well. I found many of his musings thought-provoking and valuable. Make sure you schedule a meeting with him at least once; he's interesting to talk to outside of class. He's a funny man with a somewhat sincere, somewhat jocular disdain for our generation and the depravity of modern society. One thing you notice right away with Lilla is that he likes to engage with the "big", overarching, important philosophical issues within a text. However, these philosophical issues aren't really up for interpretation. He will hear your views in class discussion, but ultimately presents his own view as the correct one. Of course, his is probably the most valid interpretation, but I personally think that LitHum is more valuable as a course based on many interpretations. Nevertheless, most days I find him fascinating to listen to. My biggest frustration with Lilla's class is that he mainly likes to focus only on the "big philosophical issues". This is fine, but it neglects the issues that certain students might want to raise because of their cultural/personal background, identity, or experiences. It disregards the fact that people might have different views because of where they’ve been in life. (If Lilla were reading this right now, he would call out this review as sentimentalist and “soft”.) If you want that kind of classic, glorified Ivy League professor, then by all means, pick Lilla. You’ll still learn a lot, but not without frustrations. I certainly did, and I definitely wouldn't trade the experience.

Jun 2014

I honestly feel bad for you if you don't take Professor Lilla's class. He goes through the readings in ways that make solid and thought-provoking claims, but also leaves adequate room for students to challenge his ideas and develop their own. He is a genuinely good guy that works hard to get the best out of his students. You can copy and paste this link to view a lecture he gave linking many of the year-long course's readings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF_AH0rfZe0 How to do well in the class: Treat your major posts like graded essays, and make sure you form and have a firm grasp on your own ideas, because they will be challenged in the seminar. Also, thinking about how the different works relate to one another as you read them throughout the semester will help on the midterm and final. Seriously though, give this guy his damn golden nugget back!

Jun 2014

I disagree with the previous review of Yvonne. I thought Yvonne was an excellent Lit Hum teacher. She ensured that every essential passage, theme, character and plot point in each of the readings was covered thoroughly, especially in her favorites like Medea, and when I took the final it was clear that she taught the readings in a way that we would be prepared. In fact, in the spring, she based our essay assignments on the essay sections of the final to give us practice. As the reviewer said, class was heavily discussion based, and Yvonne usually just worked to steer us in the right direction. This, however, is not incompetence, but the way literature classes are supposed to work. It's a seminar, not a discussion. By ensuring everybody participated (she even gave "participation quizzes" once a semester in which everybody had to speak 10 times) she ensured that nobody could sleep through class, bomb their participation grade and have everyone practice thinking about the readings in preparation for writing the papers. The weekly required courseworks postings did the same thing. One thing that was also surprisingly effective was the large amount of group work, in which she would assign longer passages to groups, have us discuss them for a while, and then regroup and discuss them as a whole class. This actually made us cover more ground than we would have if we'd gone through each passage as a class because the discussion was prepared and smoother. She is indeed a very nice person, who made sure we could schedule movie nights and extracurriculars each semester. The time slot (night) and the room (Hartley) were awful, but if she gets a better timeslot I think you couldn't do better, especially because we were her first class and she now has experience and evaluations from both semesters,

Jun 2014

He's extremely intelligent and makes the class discussion a challenging and interesting one to be apart of. An impressive speaker his class is fun to listen to, although he arguably lectures at you a bit too much. There is no bullshit it his class, he doesn't try to emphasize the importance of all these classics and has a very modern and young perspective on a very old class. He expects your work to be done, no real extensions are granted. His grading is fair, if not a tad harsh. Great Professor, you are lucky if you have him for lit hum.

May 2014

Rough semester. Dr. Cavallo is a very nice and well-intentioned woman. She's also very understanding and helpful during office hours. I think she is very intelligent, but unfortunately I didn't feel like class discussion was very fruitful. People became disinterested, and many eventually stopped reading (unlike first semester in our section with a different professor in which everyone was actually excited to come to class and participate). The essays were graded fairly, in my opinion. Each of the two essays needed to be 6-7 pages in length and include just 1 of the texts we've read. The midterm was what tanked everyone's grades. Average was in the low-mid 70s, no substantial curve (I think I remember her arbitrarily giving a few points back when she saw how badly we all did). The format of the midterm was very different from the format of the final exam (I believe that the midterm should be designed in a similar fashion to the final exam for test-taking continuity). The midterm included a number of strange sections (weird short answer questions, character ID questions) that were fairly arbitrary. This left us in a pretty bad place when it came time for the final. Overall, eh. Very nice professor on a personal level. Had a difficult time when it came to discussion and engagement. Grade turned out eh.

May 2014

Everything good you've heard about Darragh Martin is absolutely true. Darragh Martin and Literature Humanities were honestly one of the most memorable highlights of my first year here. Darragh knows exactly how to stimulate class discussion around important, interesting questions. One caveat: this section is almost entirely lecture-free, so if you're not about that discussion life, it's not for you. Darragh is very much interested in what his students have to say. He knows how to keep the classroom environment lively -- we had small-group discussions structured in a variety of ways, we had class outside at least three times, we took field trips in class and outside of class, we did imaginative readings, we presented scenes from the Oresteia and Medea in groups to explore performative texts, we did physical/staging exercises...no class was quite like another! It's quite the experience. One common thread throughout the course I think is particularly effective is that at the beginning of each work, Darragh goes around the room and asks everyone for a question they have about the work or a topic/something they noticed they're interested in discussing. He takes notes and incorporates those questions into discussion, remembering days later who's interested in what. The absolute best thing, though, about Darragh's Lit Hum is unquestionably the Food for Thought presentation. Halfway through each class, and after a five-minute break, one student takes over the classroom and after a five-minute presentation of close reading and analysis, leads class discussion for the next ten minutes, without any interference whatsoever from Darragh. In addition to helping us grow closer to the text, this really enhanced our understanding of the value of each of our voices as early as the second class in September, and allowed us to exchange our ideas student-to-student, which is a unique and vital relationship to cultivate. Each student is also responsible for bringing $10~$15 worth of food -- very important! Darragh is also notably concerned with addressing, not ignoring the problems inherent to the course and to the Western canon as a whole. Startlingly, the quote he wrote on the blackboard at the beginning of the first class, from To the Lighthouse, was a quote about intimacy -- we knew when he started talking about becoming close with texts that at the same time we weren't going to be leaving any stone unturned. He crucially adds Sappho's fragments to the first-semester curriculum, making sure there is at least one female voice. For introductions with new classmates second semester, Darragh asked that we all specify our preferred gender pronouns. This assumption-challenging attitude came out especially strong in the second semester. A group of students initiated an alternative narrative project, selecting a set of short(er) readings from traditionally marginalized voices, and Darragh let them run a very interesting class discussion for a day. And by popular vote at the end of the first semester, we cut Faust from the curriculum in favor of a day with Christine de Pizan's medieval feminist manifesto Book of the City of Ladies and two days with Tony Kushner (CC '78)'s wonderful play Angels in America. The second semester has a large assignment (something like 18% of the grade) called the theme exploration. Students choose a theme (eg "music" or "reading" or "intimacy", what have you) at the beginning of the semester and write four 1~2 page papers tracking the treatment of that theme in each of the units. Then they write one 6~8 page paper (you're allowed to use, even copy & paste -- with editing -- your previous work) on that theme across several works. This makes the stress of writing the final paper much lower, and I think contributes to your understanding of the purpose of the course as a whole. One of the neat things about the course during the second semester is that although Darragh encourages you to read by giving passage ID quizzes, we also did a significant amount of close reading in class, and discussed individual important passages from a given work in class. That was particularly important because the second semester readings grow very large, and Darragh understood that we weren't always able to finish them by class. Darragh's exams the second semester are also well-designed. Instead of having us focus unnecessarily on identifying passages, Darragh identified passages for us and then asked us to focus on close reading, imaginative comparison, contextualization...the sorts of things that are actually important to reading and understanding literature. Darragh will encourage you early on to bring your voice to the table (or rather, the floor -- he doesn't believe in the table-circle-and-outer-circle environment typical to some Core classes) -- make sure you have something to say. After that, go to office hours every now and then for help with your papers and make sure you've read everything by the exam. On top of being a great teacher, Darragh's also a fascinating person -- check out darraghmartin.com to see what I mean. He writes plays and children's books. He's a Fulbright Scholar. He's just much too good for Columbia, frankly. As Eoin Colfer noted, "Darragh Martin must be stopped."

May 2014

Congratulations! You were randomly placed into Professor Kimmel’s section of Literature Humanities. Please, call him Seth. My advice is to stay. Why? Cause I liked the class and think you will too. Seth is certainly not the lecture-at-you-professor, telling the class everything you "need" to know about each book that you read. Instead, he spends roughly half the amount of time we speed on each book (so about a day) listening to what the class thinks is important. Then, he spends the other half of the time pushing us towards what he finds important in each text. He is rarely interested by such things as Shakespeare’s renowned knack for inventing words or the definitions of terms such as kleos, hamartia, and ubermensch. Seth makes the class think about what these texts mean now. He lead us to ponder Montaigne’s pursuit of a universal system of judgment and Cervantes simultaneous warning against and defense of ideals. These are Question! You will not necessarily come away from this class feeling that you know more about "literature" in the scholarly sense, but I feel that I came away from this class knowing for the first time how to successfully read a text, how to critically reflect on it, and how to write a thoughtful and meaningful analysis of it. Seth emphasizes close reading, and originality of thought. He places a greater emphasis on the philosophy aspect of western literature than the literature aspect of it. But, even I (anonymous voice on the internet) did not always think it would be this way. I wanted a Lit Hum class where my professor would tell me all the answers: what this book means, how it answers the problems that it raises. Professor Kimmel’s class is the antithesis of the class I envisioned being in, but after a year, I am glad to have taken it and would definitely take it again. Apart from being a great teacher, Seth is pretty cool dude. Get to know him! Now that I’ve convinced you to stay in the class, here is a survival guide: Seth does not seem to like: verbosity, long-windedness, redundancy: Both in writing and especially in speaking in class. This is not to say that he is impatient, but he does quiet repeat offenders efficiently. He also does enjoy silence in class. Seth does seem to like: words such as “tension, pedagogy, epistemological”, sharing good places to eat in Manhattan and the other boroughs, “concision and originality of thought.” And please, read the books. I’d say it is the one thing you really need to do to do well in his class. Seth would add, “turning in your papers on time is all you have to do to become a Harvard professor.”

May 2014

I had Yvonne for Lit Hum in the fall, and promptly switched out by spring. Yvonne was easily one of the worst literature teachers I have ever had. It was probably her first time ever teaching, so I do feel bad being this harsh, but I really felt I wasted a lot of Lit Hum's first semester. Our discussions never really elevated above: "So why do you think this character did that.. [student responds]... cool, what do you think [points to another student]." I went through the entire first semester with her, and I could not tell you her opinions on anything. The class felt meandering and never really resolved to learn or discover anything, and it made Lit Hum really feel too easy. I was able to do very well in the class without killing myself (doing all the reading). She did try to do a few fun things in class, such as a trial or having us bring in some piece of media that reflected some themes in the works we read, but they could feel contrived and never came to any conclusions. I switched into a silver nugget second semester, and it blew me away how different the class was. I felt I learned more in the first week of my new class than all of first semester. Granted, perhaps simply as a function of Lit Hum, there is a certain sense of pride when studying for the final and you really feel like you have become familiar with a good bunch of these great works. All in all, I didn't feel like I got a lot out of this class, but I know some others did, and I do have to say that she is a very nice woman, and she's very understanding. Hopefully, she'll get better with time, and perhaps she was more engaged with the modern works of the spring.

May 2014

Just finished Stanislawski's LitHum section, and think it was fantastic. Stanislawski knew the texts intimately, but more importantly, worked extremely hard to get us to understand and appreciate the material, which was often not easy. Contrary to some of the reviews here, he was extraordordinarily accessible and caring-- he went out of his way to meet with each student individually, to discuss not just this class but our overall coursework and academic plans, and was genuinely concerned about each student. He did have to cancel some office hours, but always made up for that with private meetings at another time. And at the end of each semester he invited us to his home form a review session, but it was as much just a friendly informal gathering to make us feel better facing the daunting exam. In class he did sometimes talk a little too much, but this is because we really needed context and information about the authors and texts and he has amazingly wide knowledge and is really committed to students' learning. He used visual material a lot, which helped, and accompanied us to two tours of the Met to supplement the classes. He also required that we submit rough drafts for the first two papers each semester, which I guess doubled the work load for him, but was amazingly helpful in trying to get us to write better papers. Finally I enjoyed this class so much that I will definitely take other courses by Stanislawski, even though my major is far away from History. He is the kind of professor you came to Columbia to study with. Inn short, if you can get into his section, do so!

May 2014

Seth is a good teacher for lit hum. I wouldn't call him great (if he made some small changes, I think he'd be perfect) but as it stands, this class was good and I would take it again. Don't get me wrong. The class seems a lot more enjoyable than other sections that my friends took, where the teacher drones on and the class is constantly behind. But that's not to say that it was perfect for me. The best part about this class was the emphasis on discussion. I know some of you will hate that. Some people like to listen to someone drone on about metric economy or whatever you talk about in each book. I personally found it much more enjoyable to have a teacher that emphasized class discussions, even if it did come down to only a few of us actually having this discussion. But really being able to get a sense of ideas and where people stand on issues was really, really helpful when it came time to write my essays. Though there were some painful moments, Seth did try to really to keep the discussion lively. However, there are some times where I felt that Seth could be a better teacher. Often, I felt that his expectations for essays were too high. I understand that this is Columbia and it should be difficult -- but he was never clear from the beginning about what he wanted to see/did not want to see, and expected you to figure it out more or less through the semester. His comments were sometimes very precise (especially the ones regarding style, which I will comment on more later) but other times were very, very, very vague. He once wrote that I had a "good style" and left it at that. It was difficult for me to determine what made my style good in particular, and what he liked to see. That's not to say the comments were entirely useless. Often he'd point out stylistic or organizational flaws, particularly passive voice (seriously, just avoid it at all costs -- even constructions like "X is characterized as Y by use of ..." WILL be noted) padding (use of phrases like "also," "similarly," "in other words," etc.) or adverbs (he doesn't seem to mind these as much, though). By the end of the class I was not sure what made my writing good, but rather what made it bad and what I should avoid. That's something, I guess, but I'd rather know what to focus on improving and making shine rather than what to remove entirely. Another notable aspect where I think there could be some room for improvement is knowing who wants to participate. I know I said he does a great job at getting people to participate, and I still hold by this. He achieves this mostly by getting out of the way and directing people to talk not to him, but to one another. However, that's not to say that *everyone* participates in these discussions, or even that everyone should. As we all know, not everyone does the reading or even reads the SparkNotes. But Seth still expects everyone to participate -- which I think is a fine expectation, but in reality, I'd rather he not call on people obviously not prepared and have the class sit in utter silence for (literally) thirty seconds to one minute. Honestly, I did not feel embarrassed for that person, but I felt embarrassed that they were put on display in the first place. I also felt that some of his behaviors in class were rude or downright unprofessional. Once, he interrupted a student to ask another to stop snapping in support. Regardless of what you think about snapping, it would have been much more professional to send that student an email or talk to them during break or something else -- stopping a student entirely to reprimand another in front of the whole class not only disrespected the student he interrupted but also everyone who was listening to her. In addition, he also commented that Ovid "raped" Homer and Virgil by adapting their stories, a comment which I will leave to stand for itself. That being said, don't think I hate Seth or even dislike him. He is a very talented teacher (seriously, look him up. He speaks like four languages and got tons of honors) but he isn't without flaws. He took Lit Hum as a freshman, too, so he knows what it's like and tries to space out the reading to be easier for the class (i.e. most of a book will be assigned over a weekend). I also liked his class for his laid back personality, vibrant discussions and his office hours. Speaking of, seriously go to office hours. He is super helpful and will schedule additional office hours if his don't work for you, even if you just want to talk about essay ideas! Since he is grading your essay, definitely ask him as he will help you choose the best idea and develop it a bit. He will also have good restaurant suggestions (I've noticed a lot of them are in Brooklyn), though they may be lost on first years as they need a dining plan. Oh, he also lets you use laptops in class AND has a break in the middle :) Which you may or may not enjoy. Personally I didn't mind it as most people took notes by pen and paper and those on computer generally paid attention. The breaks were always welcome though. All in all, if you get Seth Kimmel as your Lit Hum teacher, you probably lucked out. While he may not be perfect, I think he is one of the best instructors and you will probably not regret staying in his class.

May 2014

Humberto is easily the best professor I've had at Columbia thus far. And it's not even close. Right off the bat, he is the most humble, down-to-earth (to the point of hilarious self-depreciation sometimes), and genuine professor I've known. He has not illusions of grandeur––he sees himself as just another member of the class, one who incidentally gets to grade the papers and offer feedback. He loves these books, and he shows it. Every once in a while, towards the end of class, he'll just start waxing poetic about the meaning of life and how a particular book, passage, or idea helped him think about this. One of these speeches resulted in a full-blown standing ovation––he's that good. He's an easy grader, mostly because he doesn't care about the grades. And if you meet with him before handing in a paper, he will offer concrete advice on how to improve (read: get a better grade on) your paper. If you landed Humberto, consider yourself lucky. He's not just a great professor; he's just a damn good guy to be around and to learn from.

May 2014

Prof. Lilla takes the readings into the scope of human nature. He tells you this from day 1, and at times it becomes rather philosophical. The class will make you think a lot and learn how to defend your arguments because Lilla is very well read and will quickly propose counterarguments to your response. Sometimes, class discussion feels like it's being pushed in a particular direction with little room for deviation. All in all he's a great teacher, would recommend taking his class if you're not afraid of a little extra work.

May 2014

Darragh is an angel. I switched into his section of Lit Hum for the spring semester after having an absolutely horrible experience with the class and professor I had in the Fall and came into the class very unmotivated towards reading and the Core in general. Darragh actually got me interested in the texts we were reading and is really great about being responsive to what students want to get out of the class. On the first day of discussing each text, he goes around the room and gathers questions that people have about the text or topics/scenes of interest and makes sure that the material we cover that day and in following days somehow responds to what students want. Another really great part of class is the presentations - after the first hour of class, we get a five minute break and someone passes around some food and then gives a quick presentation about a scene in the book - 5 minutes or less of your own interpretation of the scene and then a 10 minute class discussion. It's a very low-stakes presentation that breaks up the class well and makes the person who's presenting much more knowledgable about that text. He's also great at facilitating discussions and getting people to speak up (every once in a while he will call on people who aren't raising their hand just to get them to say something, especially if you make eye contact with him - nothing to be scared of though) and also encourages us to think critically about what the texts say about marginalized voices (women, people of color, colonized groups, etc), which is definitely not true of all Lit Hum classes. The only downsides to Darragh's class are the grading and the quizzes. He can be a tough grader, especially earlier in the semester and on the assignments that are worth less of your grade. He uses a much more liberal grading scale (95-100 is an A+, 90-94 an A, 85-89 an A-...) so he can be honest with what he thinks about your work numerically without being completely discouraging. He definitely becomes WAY more lenient as the semester progresses and I do think he really just tries to push us by not being the easiest grader in the world. He also gives pop quizzes during the semester, typically on the day we finish a book. The quizzes are passage ID and they count towards your participation grade, only to move it up your down if you consistently do exceptionally well or terribly. Again, a low-stakes assignment to get you reading. Because of the quizzes, you don't have to do passage IDs on the midterm or final - instead, he gives you passages that are already identified in terms of speaker, text, and context, and asks you to do a short analysis of them. This was much easier for me personally even though the quizzes were annoying. Other than that, the final is the typical LH final and the midterm was the short passage analyses and an essay similar to the long essay on the final (broad topic, talk about it using two texts). In terms of papers, he has us write short "explorations" that are 1-2 pages long about a specific theme for every unit of the semester. They don't have to be super focused or have a thesis or any sort of argument - it's just a place for you to develop ideas. The final paper is 6-8 pages long and can be about your theme (he literally allows you to copy and paste from your explorations into your final paper) or something else if you want. Each exploration was worth 3% of our grade and was graded a bit more harshly than the final paper (18% of the grade). Overall, Darragh is a great teacher. I really wish everyone could have taken the class with him. He is critical of the Core and encourages us to push back against a lot of the ideas expressed in the texts, is extremely available to his students and makes the class about us, and pushes us to work hard and do better in the class without actually hurting your GPA all that much. He let us have class outside pretty much whenever anyone asked. A groups of students also gathered texts (short stories and poems) from marginalized western voices in modern-ish literature to challenge the dominant Core narrative and he let them present those stories and lead discussion for a day, which was a really amazing part of the course. I am so glad I had Darragh and encourage you to work hard and talk to him if you end up in his class.

May 2014

Having Mark Lilla as a professor was the highlight of my second semester. Of all the courses I've taken in my first year here, I can confidently say I took the most out of his. I just wish he taught my section first semester too. Lilla's guidance through the readings greatly changed my perspective on things (for the better!). Getting away with not reading the books is rare -- Lilla seems to have a sixth sense that allows him to figure out who did the reading. The CourseWorks posts probably give him a hint, but I'll go with the sixth sense. The posts, although somewhat time-consuming, are what really make Lilla's class different. By the semester's end, I felt like the posts helped me much more than just reading the material. I had a greater understanding of the themes and their significance not just to the works, but also my personal life. He asks for more work to be put into his class than most other LitHum professors, but it's beyond worth it. As for tests, Lilla gives a take-home essay rather than an in-class Midterm. Upon receiving the graded essays, some students may need to rewrite their work, which isn't as bad as it sounds. When doing the rewrite, take Lilla's comments to heart. To say he is a fantastic writer would be an understatement -- his notes and advice helped me with my writing more so than those of my UWriting teacher. TLDR: Mark Lilla is a spectacular human being. If you're in his section, don't switch out. Do the extra work, improve your writing, and brag reading all (or most) of the semester's books.

May 2014

If you are willing to put the necessary intellectual effort into this class, it will be the most rewarding one you take this year. Each lesson begins with Professor Lilla providing some illuminating historical/philosophical context for the text being discussed that day, followed by a class discussion of the assigned reading with some in-class readings of particularly pertinent passages interspersed throughout the lesson. Lilla requires you to write a short essay (300-700 words) twice a week on the class' courseworks discussion board, each due the night before class, usually in response to a longer essay (at least 700 words) written by another student. You'll be required to write 3-4 longer essays over the course of the semester, and these papers are later discussed during class. Initially, I hated the format of Lilla's class: he will frequently call on students that aren't raising their hands, and his manner of interrogation often feels like a cross-examination, during which you have hardly any time to formulate a coherent response to his question - which Lilla will then follow with another question directed at any fragile or ambiguous facet of your shitty argument. While Lilla doesn't intend to make his class agonizing, for someone who requires a lot of time to digest the density of material Lilla presents in each discussion, it can be difficult to focus in class with the constant fear of being unprepared to answer if called on. Some students are skilled and experienced in this style of discussion, but others may struggle to adequately articulate their thoughts in a forum-like setting with Lilla as a moderator. Many students switched out of Lilla's Lit Hum section due to his high demands, but he seemed to relax his confrontational/intrusive approach in class after the first few weeks of the semester. The class will remain demanding, but as you toughen up and adapt to its requirements, you will become aware and appreciative of the transformations it will generate in your writing, thought, and awareness of self. Lit Hum is essentially a Fisher-Price Western philosophy course, but Lilla still makes it worth it. Lilla has high standards because (I want to believe) he cares about your development as a student, thinker, writer, and human. He makes an effort to give each student the individualized attention and criticism (there will be a lot) they require to improve, and he frequently stresses the importance of establishing proper writing technique early on in one's academic career. Lilla makes himself available through various lines of communication; his email replies are rapid and he holds office hours before classes for a more personal discussion of your work and life in general. I should add that the class shifts in difficulty after the midterm as the historical pace within the texts accelerates. In the last few books, I found it more difficult to discern which connections between texts and political philosophies were the "right" connections to make, and found my mental repository of relevant knowledge constantly lacking without Lilla's instruction. With this arises an increasing reliance on Lilla's own political interpretation of the history and the text, which can dangerously lead to a stifling of all other potential perspectives - it felt impossible at times as a student to create any argument that wasn't in line with Lilla's own analysis. I constantly felt unworthy of even being in Lilla's presence, but being assigned to his Lit Hum section was one of the best things that has happened to me this year.

May 2014

Oh man. To be honest, Cathy Popkin is probably the best professor (and teacher in general) that I have ever had. I honestly don't understand how anyone can have such a detailed understanding of so many different works (especially when she's a Russian lit professor by trade). Her class is amazing, and she succeeds in making you interested in some books which are really, really uninteresting on their own. She has an uncanny ability to encourage discussion, which is actually interesting and relevant--none of the wishy-washy grasping at straws you so often see parodied when people talk about English classes. She makes the course as much about life as it is about literature, and about the ideas from the books which relate to us. Yet it's done subtly and tastefully, like so much of this class. She also will go out of her way to do interesting activities on the weekends, such as having the entire class for dinner at her house. Definitely would recommend. Ice skating 6 for sure.

May 2014

I have very mixed feelings about Prof. Lilla's class. On one hand, it was an incredible amount of work and at times felt like an echo chamber of students desperately repeating the same thing over and over to earn their professor's approval. On the other hand, when the class transcended this, I really did learn/think a lot about philosophical issues I feel like other Lit Hum classes rarely approach. Class: takes the 5-15 minute lecture then class discussion format: participation is mandatory. You'll be called out for saying something outright stupid or totally irrelevant, but otherwise he's not as critical as people have said. Sometimes it seems like he's searching for only one right answer (as in, the interpretation he agrees with), which I found irritating. However, they're often very interesting interpretations. I'm talking about this so much because you have to be totally invested to do well. You also really do become a better writer, as you learn what kind of posts will elicit a response/he lambastes your essay. I did appreciate Prof. Lilla's obsession with word precision, which was never mentioned in U Writing. Honestly, I would recommend reading one of his writings (google them) before deciding. If they seem interesting, this really will be a valuable and challenging class (probably the one you think about most the entire semester, rather than a throwaway graduation requirement). If they don't appeal to you, transfer and save yourself a couple hours a week.

May 2014

Had Professor Lilla for Lit Hum spring semester. It was an incredible experience. Although the adjustment to a heavier workload can be bumpy in the beginning you will soon see the method behind his lectures that makes this class so amazing. Each student comes in with a 300-500 word response to another student's analysis of the reading. Though this may sound like a lot once you have been launched into the course discussions writing these becomes second nature. The lectures themselves are at once informative and philosophical. Professor Lilla begins with a contextual lecture of the source at hand and then opens it up for discussion. This is not a typical Lit Hum class nor is he an easy grader. But, as other reviewers have commented, if you work hard and dedicate yourself to the course material you will walk out not only with the grade you've earned but also with a powerful grasp on the course material. Hands down, best class of freshman year.

May 2014

Professor Shelley was absolutely one of the most brilliant professors I have ever had, and he remains to this day (after three years) a wonderful friend and mentor of mine. I do hope he never reads this so that he doesn't get all flattered. I do hope he goes on to teach in the future, as I think he'll inspire many, but I hope as well that I remain his favourite student. Besides knowing all that there was to know for the class, he has awesome taste in music, film, and wardrobe, and he's very kind and approachable. Although I did not care so much my freshman year and skived off, not doing quite a few readings, I still learned an incredible amount. He graded very difficultly, but it has improved my essay writing more than I can express. A brilliant man who will do brilliant things if given the chance.

May 2014

Emily Hayman is by far the best professor I have had all year, and possibly the best educator I have ever had including all pre-college teachers. She is brilliant, engaged, knowledgable, and interesting. She makes the class fun, and she cares deeply about her students. She's the kind of professor you whom you want to ask for a rec letter and also hang out with her at a bar. She makes a huge effort to help each student, focusing on writing, since she used to teach UWriting. So if you have/had a shitty UWriting class, Emily makes up for it tenfold.

May 2014

Baker's silver nugget is very well-deserved. I have had Baker for two semesters of Lit Hum, and it has been a great experience. Personality-wise, Baker is extremely friendly and helpful. He's really good at making everyone feel comfortable and part of the class. Last semester, he invited the class to eat dinner (prepared by his girlfriend) at his apartment. Because I told him that I was part of the wind ensemble, he showed up to our spring concert with his girlfriend to listen. In class, Baker is very knowledgeable of the different works and facilitates discussions well. He frequently goes above and beyond by giving extensive background information on the texts and providing useful guides for understanding the works (for example, Baker created a useful list that summarizes the different events in The Histories). He also cracks some jokes that people usually don't get, but people laugh anyway since he's a fun guy. (important: Baker does not allow the use of computers in class unless you are presenting. He also requires the physical copy of the text) In office hours, he is very helpful. He usually requires students to sign up to discuss the direction of their essays. His opinions and suggestions are very helpful for writing the essay. It's a good idea to discuss the paper before writing it, since he usually provides helpful guidance. As for the grading, I think Baker is fairly lenient without being a total pushover. Most students in the class do well. tl;dr If you get into his class, consider yourself very fortunate!

May 2014

I think I will look back on Lit Hum with Prof. Ahmed as one of the seminal experiences in my intellectual development. I’ll try to refrain from hyperbole and sentimentalism, as well as overly academic-speak, but I have strong feelings about this class and Prof. Ahmed as a teacher. This class was everything that a Humanities class is supposed to do: (re-)instill the love of reading and literature; give you a sense of how Western literature came to be (and, more importantly, why); develop critical thinking, of course; and above all--and this may be controversial to some--help form a political consciousness through the critical awareness of the patterns of discourse formation within the social, cultural, and political realms that we inhabit. All of this is to say: the class was fucking awesome, and it blew my mind almost every single day. I’ll admit: our class was extra-ordinary, and much of the class dynamic was a result of the students in my class. Basically, I was lucky enough to have a class full of cool and fucking smart people, all of whom had unique perspectives and interesting things to say. But I feel indebted, in a way, to Prof. Ahmed’s teaching; he challenged and inspired us (me, at least) to think critically about the texts we were reading and the idea of canonicity itself. He couldn’t care less about pop-quizzes or memorizing plot details; from day one, he challenged us to consider what is meant by the very practice of interpretation itself--hermeneutics--and had the class come up with strategies of reading. We often came up with readings that differed significantly from conventional readings but didn’t feel crazy and were completely grounded in a close reading of the text; our readings changed, too, over the course of discussion, illustrating the power of communal reading (which Lit Hum ostensibly serves to institutionalize). Over the course of the second semester, we delved into the worlds of the texts themselves; when and where they came into being, and the relationship of that embedded history to the text. We looked at practices of literary production and the material circulation of the texts. It was awesome. That said, some of the criticisms in the review before mine are valid. There was definitely a tendency in my class to reify him, but he was not a perfect professor: - Grading was somewhat erratic. First semester standards felt exceedingly demanding; and second semester ones, exceedingly generous (probably to compensate). - Comments and feedback on papers were limited and often not helpful. My friend received a paper that literally just had “decent”, with a grade. That’s unacceptable, and something he’ll have to improve upon if he takes teaching as seriously as he says he does. - With regards to intelligibility: I think my class went in being exceptionally good at Humanities to begin with, but even still, sometimes Prof. Ahmed pushed a little too hard trying to get us to understand some theoretical stuff. Often, he would assume that we understood what he was talking about and plow on with some really nutty, but obviously smart stuff. I think he’s a really fucking brilliant man who might not always know how to dumb down some ideas to engage freshman. I don’t really know. Often, this tended to divide the class between those with stronger theoretical humanities backgrounds and weaker humanities students, with the latter barely participating at all. With that said, towards the latter half of the year I think he did a really good job getting everyone to participate. My experience with other seminars and discussion sections points to this class being the exception rather than the rule, in this regard. - Organization: the structure of Lit Hum left little room for poor organization, but I can see why one would charge that of him. He’s definitely not a type-A dude. - While he claimed we were engaged in a practice of communal reading, there were definitely more than a few texts where he had very specific places he wanted us to go with them. Overall I don’t think this was a huge problem; he’s not like, for instance, Prof. V. Rosner who will either condescend to you or look at you like an alien if you challenge her own readings. However, I’d like to rebut some of the other criticisms. I don’t think he was condescending at all; on the contrary, he was remarkably encouraging of everyone speaking up, and gently criticized problematic or bullshitty views. Just because you couldn’t get away with obvious bullshit doesn’t mean he was condescending. He genuinely cared about getting each of us to grow intellectually, and really believed that we could. I don’t know what to say about his nutty readings of continuity discussed in the other review. I feel like his more “against the grain” readings were pretty backed up by textual evidence. Bear in mind, too, that this is one of his first years teaching (his second, I believe). I think he'll get even better with time. So take it as you will: the review before mine claims that he embodies everything that’s wrong with humanities classes; I think that his class demonstrated everything that’s right with them. Well, I can’t speak for others, but for me, at least, Prof. Manan Ahmed was one of those few, maybe two or three teachers in your life that really leaves a lasting impression on the way you think and see the world. One might even say, changes your life--but nahh, that would be too sentimental. (Strongest recommendation for a gold nugget in my opinion.)

Apr 2014

Prof. Fantuzzi is always well prepared for class and clearly puts in time and effort before to prepare for his lectures. Despite this, he does not encourage class participation well at all. Before he begins the lectures, he always asks the class if anyone has any questions or specific comments. While in theory this seems an effective method of encouraging discussion, it does not go over well in practice -- mostly because if you have a comment that does not line up exactly with the way he interpreted the work, he will disregard it as absolutely incorrect. This suggests there is only one way to read a work and does not encourage discussion; rather (especially near the end of the semester), it often led to heated debates involving Prof. Fantuzzi and one spirited student who tired of having his opinions shot down. At first this was amusing for the rest of the class, but eventually it caused everyone to feel frustration and then boredom. After this "discussion" period of the class (which grew briefer and briefer as the semester continued) we moved on to the lecture Prof. Fantuzzi had prepared. The lectures often included long periods of time where he read commentary directly from the sources he had brought in. Not only is this an ineffective way to communicate information, Fantuzzi's extremely thick Italian accent mixed with his soft voice (which grew softer as he progressed through his reading) made it nearly impossible to understand everything he said, even if you tried their hardest to pay attention the entire time -- which, let's face it, no one did. Needless to say, I'm sure I was not the only student who zoned out during this long portion of class. Fantuzzi always made it clear the approximate amount of reading we needed to do for the next class (i.e. read through chapters 10-12) but rarely assigned specific chapters, which I appreciated. The midterm, however, was a different story. Fantuzzi told the class that the midterm would consist of passage IDs and a passage commentary, but specifically said there would not be a full essay. On the day of the midterm, though, we were instructed that he had decided to include an essay to help prepare us for the final. This is a fair claim, but it was unfair to the students when he could have just told us there would be an essay.

Apr 2014

I had Professor Diebel for Lit Hum this year, and she's basically incredible. She really encourages student participation and wants to hear people's opinions, and fosters a super comfortable class atmosphere. She also is an extremely fair grader and wants her students to do well and succeed. She's so nice, approachable, and easy to talk to. There seriously are not enough good things to say about her. I think my class pretty much wants to be her when we grow up haha. She's super funny and a brilliantly smart, compassionate person. I'm super bummed I won't be taught by her again. If you get her, you're in for an awesome year. She's basically the best. Seriously love her

Apr 2014

Prof Gamber is maaaaad chill. He's just a cool dude in general: he always dresses on point, and always has an interesting story to tell. His classes are always engaging, and the way he talks/the impressions he does are always great. Gamber is one of those adults that teenagers consider cool and look up to; he knows bullshit when he sees it, and not only is he willing to call you out on it, but will think it's funny and laugh along with you. He's eloquent, witty, quick on his feet, and intelligent. It's also really interesting to hear him connect themes in the texts with themes that have roots in other fields. He really makes the texts applicable across time & studies. He's also not one to force discussion when he sees that we're all drained out. Classes are usually out early by 20 minutes, which is great. He expects daily responses every week, but they're really easy and you can talk about anything. I wish I had him for a different class than Lit Hum though. He does not like Literature Humanities, and you can tell even though he never explicitly says it. He's always saying how it's ridiculous that CC expects its students to get through the syllabus at the pace it sets. If I had him for a class he was actually really interested in teaching, I'm sure I'd have the most amazing experience. Something annoying is that his office hours are "by appointment", and he's very unresponsive over email. He also gives literally no feedback/comments on anything. This semester is the last semester he's teaching Lit Hum ever, but still. He's a great professor and you should definitely take a class with him if you can.

Apr 2014

Horejsi definitely has both her pros and cons. For pros, this was an easy class. She had 2 essays throughout the semester with rewrites, and the rewrites were worth more. Essays had to be only explication essays, and she gave you usually 4 passages to choose from. She had 4 quizzes, 3 of which were take-home and on reading comprehension, meaning you could just quote the book verbatim and you were fine. Pretty sure that she didn't even look at the answers and just gave everyone a check mark. The midterm was also take home for some bizarre reason (not that I minded), and thus way easier since the time limit wasn't actually enforced. The midterm essays also had a rewrite option. She doesn't count participation in your grade, so you can go through the whole semester without talking. As long as you know what she wants (and she's VERY specific about what she wants), it's not hard to get an A. She also came in at least 15 minutes late every class without fail (again, not that anyone minded). She gives a ton of feedback on essays which is great, and she's also really helpful when you're able to talk to her one-on-one. As for how knowledgeable she is, she does know her stuff. I learned a lot from her and classes were usually pretty insightful. However, the following things below really made me enjoy the class less. Cons: She is a very disorganized teacher. Case in point: for most of the take home quizzes, she would email them to us a day or two before it was due, and these quizzes were ~30 questions long, and each question had 3-5 parts on average, resulting in an actual total of 100+ questions (I'm not joking). While she gave the class an extension, it was still an unnecessary source of stress. It takes her forever to hand back papers and what not. She is very unresponsive to emails, and it usually takes weeks to hear back from her. Her office hour appointments always run overtime, and so they always start way later than they're supposed to: expect to wait a lot outside her office. She also likes to talk a lot, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I felt as though it took away from the seminar experience; often her comments would overshadow what my classmates would have to say. I think she'd be great for a lecture course, not so much seminar. She never exactly figured out the grade break-down either, which was confusing. We also never got those damn cookies. SPARKNOTES VER: Knows what she's talking about, really disorganized, but an easy class if you can write super-specific (like within a 14-line passage specific) explication essays.

Apr 2014

Best professor I've had all year. His passion for the literature in the LitHum syllabus really contributes to the overall atmosphere in the class. The guy is brilliant- knows 5 or 6 languages--including Spanish, Italian, French, and German--which is helpful when discussing translated literature. I learned so much and looked forward to going to class. Overall, he's just a really nice guy. He is very open to new suggestions and ideas and expresses his honest opinion, sometimes providing good constructive criticism. He has given extensions for papers to the whole class and dropped quizzes on which we all did poorly. Great sense of humor as well. I would recommend him to anyone trying to switch p.s.- we discussed Game of Thrones for our last class of the year

Apr 2014

Seth is a great Lit Hum professor. He's little tough on the grading and doesn't always seem forthcoming about his criteria, but he's very good at encouraging meaningful and deep discussion in Lit Hum. He's a very nice guy, and you can always feel comfortable going to his office hours or just chatting with him after class. He's also pretty understanding about the stress that students feel at certain points in the semester but continues to expect that all the readings have been done.

Feb 2014

Darragh has been the most inspiring teacher I have had in my entire life. He made me appreciate the core more than I ever could have anticipated. I'm that kid who didn't want to read texts written thousands of years ago and was sure I was going to sparknotes the whole term. I had no interest in classic lit whatsoever. Darragh changed my opinion on everything. He guides the class through passages and texts that make the literature come to life and makes you recognize the significance of passages in a way you would never read on your own. People complain about quizzes and hard grading, but Darragh emails out "important sections" before every reading, so if you sparknote but read the parts he emails, it's totally fine. Plus, you'll get the most bang for your buck on the meaty parts of complex books. He also single handedly took the bullshit out of my writing. His 'close reading' style may take some adjusting to, but overall, in your college career you'll be so grateful for it. Darragh genuinely cares about all of his students. He's not "out to get you" he's not a "GPA killer" he is a FABULOUS teacher, and one who rocks cardigans on the regular. There's a reason he has such a cult. Class participation is a great way to boost your grade -- don't worry about what the reviews say on his grading -- the amount of knowledge that you gain will far outweigh your worries. Seriously, once you accept a B+ over an A-, your life will be so great. Not that that is necessarily the only possibility. I got a C+ on the first paper, B on the midterm, B+ on the last two papers and still got an A- in the class. Honestly, though, I would've been HAPPY with a B in this class for all of the incredible wisdom, laughter, and enlightenment I received from this course. The satisfaction of having a great teacher and actually LEARNING things, rather than an easy A, is why you attend Columbia in the first place. Every time you look up at Butler library you'll be grateful he was there to guide you through these works.

Jan 2014

Dr. Horejsi is, in short, a legend and completely inspiring. I started off the semester not reading the first three books and it was only one day in class when she was going into a tangent about the use of genre in ancient Greek culture that I realized that with a teacher this knowledgeable, I had to be doing my end of the work. From there, the class was really great although a good deal of time was wasted when we split up into little groups. Nonetheless, she provided us with so many supporting materials that I felt I was gaining a good understanding of the material. Also, best essays policy ever. 2 essays, with rewrites! And when I would email her questions in advance of a meeting, I would come and she would have printed out my email and have it fully annotated (!!!). Her work ethic and knowledge are truly phenomenal.

Jan 2014

Gania was probably one of my worst experiences at Columbia. Lit hum was the thing i looked forward to least because it was such a draining, boring class. 2 hours felt like 2 days. Also, by the end of the semester, you don't feel like you've developed at all. I wouldn't recommend that you take lit hum with her. She's ok in terms of grading but her feedback is really useless. Honestly, if you could avoid lit hum with Gania, you should.

Jan 2014

I had Justin for Literature Humanities last semester, and I do not think he is the best, not worst, lithum professor. Positives: petty chill about talking in class, cursing, plans fun activities (restaurants and museums) so there is that. Negatives: he is a pretty harsh grader, and considering most of his prints don't even make sense to him, it can be really annoying, frustrating, and disheartening. Main thing to keep in mind: brainstorm with him and your classmates, and write up a draft to show to him!

Jan 2014

I am a non-humanities student and Ben Parker's lit hum section was one of the best classes I have taken at Columbia. Seriously. He is an engaging, intelligent guy who has very defined views on the texts we read in the class. Discussions ranged from moderately engaging to essentially Ben trying to get people to speak up. He can be pretty intimidating and even confrontational. But just because a teacher challenges your statements instead of just nodding along and marking a check for class participation doesn't mean that they think what you're saying is invalid. He really does care about what the students take out of the class--he was a Columbia student himself and obviously took Lit Hum. If you miss a day because of illness or something, he schedules a make-up session to go over what you might have missed (which was awesome and unexpected). Also he tends to sprinkle his classes with little witticisms and I am very sad because I think I've lost my notebook for the class and can't remember any off the top of my head. He did one time take off points on a quiz one time because someone was too prudish to say that the characters had sex or a demon made a trumpet of his ass or something. There will be pop culture references, diversions from the main Lit Hum syllabus, and illegible comments on essays and exams. Unfortunately I think he graduated in 2013. I hope he survives the real world.

Jan 2014

Lit Hum discussions with Professor Lilla were all well-organized. Every discussion had a introduction, a middle and and an end. During the first 10 to 15 minutes of class, he will speak about the historical and authorial context of the text. Then, he will explain the important themes. This is when he opens the floor to discussion. During the final 10 minutes, he will again take control of the class discussion and deliver a jaw-dropping conclusion. He will tell you something you had never thought of or unravel a metaphor in the most awe-inspiring manner. Everything we discuss leads up the final 5 minutes of class and that's when he drops the bomb. I must also say that professor Lilla is extremely fair. He will take your hard work into consideration. Your grade depends on the quality of your writings on courseworks, the essays and the final. He will give you critics of your responses in a timely manner. If you put effort in his class, you will get your deserved "A". However, I found class to be quite uncomfortable at times. I think it is because Professor Lilla has complete control over the discussions. He may or may not call on you to speak that day. He may or may not ask you to elaborate on the review you posted the night before on courseworks. Class discussions were quite strained because you do not have time to develop your ideas as you speak. You will need to think through your ideas and then explain succinctly. Otherwise, he will interrupt you and ask you to state your point. Otherwise, I learned a lot from our class discussions. By the end of the semester, I had a thorough understanding of the texts. When finals rolled around, all I needed to do was read my class notes and go through the courseworks responses. All in all, I strongly encourage you to take Professor Lilla's class. He will push you to become a better writer. If you intellectual discussions and "aha moments", take his class. It is very hard to forget Professor Lilla's lectures. He is one of the best professors I've had thus far.

Jan 2014

How does Professor North not have a gold nugget yet? He definitely deserves one. Joe, as he prefers to be called, is friendly, understanding, and encouraging. He approaches every text with immense enthusiasm and really knows how to engage the class. He's a fair grader and will happily meet with you about questions, comments, concerns, essays, etc. Each class begins with everyone going around in a circle and answering the question "how are you?" It's a brilliant way to get to know the people in class and leads into the discussion of the texts quite well. If you got Joe as your Lit Hum professor, then consider yourself very lucky.

Jan 2014

Professor Meisel is great. She is so laid-back about readings and the class, but also does a good job at explaining the readings. I had her this past fall semester, and although class discussions weren't really as intense as some other sections, we get the information. Really easy grader, and almost unbelievably understanding. I went to office hours a few times this semester and she was always ready to help. Since she commutes from another university to Columbia, she's not on campus most of the time. However, she is more than willing to skype with students or to call them - really, if you want to get a hold of her, it's not a challenge. I wish that I could have her for the spring semester (as she majored in Russian lit)!

Jan 2014

I think with two years of experience under her belt, Vesna has become one of the finest teachers in the Lit Hum department. Not only does she have a vast and in depth understanding of the texts, but her analyses have a refreshing and provoking punch. Furthermore, she's HILARIOUS. When we got off-topic (and by off-topic, I mean relevant but not exactly about the text), our class learned some pretty crazy stuff about her life. For example, she used to smoke a lot as a teenager, stayed with a Mormon host family as an exchange student from Serbia, makes politically incorrect jokes that had our class in stitches, etc. You don't always have to do the readings, nor do you have to participate in every class discussion, to get a B+ or an A-. Her first essay is graded harsher than the second, which most people aced. By the midterm and final, you should have read all the texts sans the History of the Peloponnesian War and the Histories because they're tedious and unnecessary. Her review session encompassed a broad outline of what we needed to know for the midterm/final. Additionally, we have this fun presentation that counts for 10% of the grade: basically on music/books/art/movies related to the assigned text. HINT: Vesna is a huge movie buff so she loves that shit. Also had 2 easy discussion posts that aided most students, quite a bit, for essays. If you study decently and take efficient class notes, you can definitely come out of the class with an A and Vesna's love. She definitely deserves a silver nugget for this course. Our entire class was pretty obsessed with her.

Jan 2014

Jenny is THE BEST LitHum teacher. I know that there's already an absurd waiting list to get her class in the spring and it's not a surprise… This past semester Jenny was pregnant and had her baby sometime in October/November, so we had a substitute for a few weeks. However, the class was so pleasantly surprised and astonished with the level of commitment Jenny maintained during the process. She taught class up until a few days before she had her baby, and continued to grade our papers the whole time. She even came back only a week or two after to be there for her favorite book, Lysistrata. She also came back for the review session and final, and was prepared to answer our emails the whole time. Also she NEVER got moody from the whole thing which I think women usually do and was almost on some sort of baby high and was super happy all the time… although I think that is just her personality. Jenny is so NICE and passionate about what she does, and makes the class a lot of fun. She's not too strict, but doesn't slack off at all either, and is overall very fair. You won't have a guaranteed A, as is the case with all Lithum sections, but if you put in the work an A is definitely attainable. JENNY SHOULD BE A GOLD!

Dec 2013

Great Professor- not only is she very knowledgeable about the literature but she truly excels at creating a community. We spent the first day learning each other's names and we ended up really good friends by the end of the semester thank to her. She picks out field trips that are relevant to our class material. She is really kind and always happy to see students at her office hours. Professor Legutko is also very competent, I learned a lot from her.

Dec 2013

Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant. Absolutely deserving of the golden nugget. Jon is absolutely amazing. He is kind, intelligent, understanding. You can have a conservation with him about absolutely anything- he's just so knowledgeable. I just wish that I could have him for another semester- Core office is pushing him out for senior faculty, as they do almost every year (such a shame!). Jon made Lit Hum a pleasurable class. He was able to give historical, cultural context to all of the works we read. He style is an informal lecture with expected participation- a few words every class or two is fine. He just wants to get to know you, he's one of the rare ones that truly cares. He is realistic in terms of what he expects from first semester freshmen. He is more than happy to make time to talk to you about papers or otherwise. Great mentor. Grading was extremely fair. Helpful comments on papers. Got things back quickly. If you're lucky enough to get Jon as a Lit Hum professor, you've indeed hit the lottery.

Dec 2013

Professor Martinsen is a fantastic, dedicated teacher and kind individual. She makes class interesting with a good mix between lecture and discussion, but mostly discussion. She puts a lot of time into correcting papers, gives lots of good comments and genuinely wants her students to do well. She makes you meet with her to discuss paper topics and will always help you read over a draft. Her response assignments for every class might seem like a lot of work, but they prepare you for class discussion (especially if you didn't do all the reading) and exams. I remembered a lot of passage IDs because I had analyzed them for a response. In addition to being a great teacher, Professor Martinsen is a really fun individual with a ton of passion for Dostoevsky and just literature in general.

Dec 2013

By the end of the first semester, O'Meally's section of Lit Hum had a reputation for being the easy workload section. We were never held accountable for reading the books (**no in-class quizzes**), got free pointers on our papers before turning them in again for a grade, and had no real pressure to participate in class at all. To be honest, though, I felt a little gyped in the whole scheme of what I thought I was going to get out of Lit Hum because going to class and "discussing" the books didn't really give me any more perspective on them than I got from just reading them by myself. Class "discussion" consisted mainly of monologues by O'Meally on (sometimes pointless) background information for the books we read--only every 30 minutes or so would he remember to look up and say, "Oh, does anyone have anything to add?" The only time we really got to voice our opinions was on the days when people presented papers and we got to give them pointers, an exercise that would sometimes veer off into the direction of fascinating and valuable discussion but which was usually soon cut off by O'Meally taking control of things again. He was always available and happy to talk to students during office hours, and going to office hours proved to be a *gold mine*. If you wanted help or ideas for a paper, you could literally say five words about what you were trying to do and he would launch into a half-hour musing on it, basically giving you every idea you could ever need. He also always went to great lengths to find resources that could help me, from digging through books in his office to calling his Biblical scholar friend to ask what he knew about what I was trying to argue in my paper. O'Meally readily admits that he has little to no expertise in the area of the books we dealt with in Lit Hum, so I felt like I didn't really get much insight from him. He is extremely smart, though, and you can tell that he LOVES to muse about literature and deep ideas, but that musing was often at the expense of us getting to hear each other's ideas and perspectives, which I felt was the most important part. Beware that his grading on papers may be a bit harsher than he leads you to believe by the way he praises everybody's papers in class.

Dec 2013

Consider yourself lucky if you are able to take a class with Professor Rosenthal. Despite the lack of info about him on CULPA, he has been at Columbia for decades (as evidenced by the fact that he has his own WikiCu page), and is certainly one of the best, if not the best, LitHum professors in the College. He has at one time or another been an Associate Dean, a professor, and a well-established author. He very much believes in the value of the Core and liberal education in general, and tries to allow students to learn in an environment with as little busy work as possible. His class discussions were interesting and he is very kind and approachable. In fact, to get the most out of this class, definitely show up to his office hours. He is one of the wisest advisors at Columbia and has some interesting stories to tell as well.

Dec 2013

I can see why people like Professor Hart. He's funny, lively for a 9am class, and cares about his students. That being said, I often felt he did not facilitate discussion effectively enough. Often people would say something and he would just move on without acknowledging what they said. His quizzes are oddly specific and you won't necessarily do well if you do the reading. He comes late to office hours. However, he is extremely helpful during office hours. Once time he looked at a draft before it was due and will always discuss an outline with you before the paper is due.

Dec 2013

Emily is absolutely fantastic. She impressed me from day one with her knowledge of the texts in addition to her sincere interest in anything she didn't know already. If someone brought up something that was especially interesting, she would take a moment to just acknowledge that, and then move on to her own point. She is very open to many different interpretations of the texts, which is refreshing within a class that could very easily get very boring. Emily varied her class structure, usually with some lecture component and discussion. Sometimes she threw in group work (in which she provided us with questions that were relevant and easy to discuss) and these open discussions where she would just let us lead the class and see where that took us with our own ideas; later, she would bring these back in her own discussion. She made sure to talk about the important things that everyone should know about the books, but also asked us what we wanted to talk about. As far as grading, I think she's a pretty fair grader. She gives good feedback on essays, and on mine she included specific places where I could improve for my next essay. I find that specificity very useful. She also did draft meetings or paper idea meetings, which were useful in figuring out what she was looking for while also expanding our own ideas. She also arranged for us to bring snacks each class, which was so nice for a 4-6 class. I would recommend her to anyone - I legitimately felt very prepared for the final and I enjoyed this class - my favorite!

Dec 2013

Nancy Workman Review The following review is lengthy. To Professor Nancy Workman: You are phenomenal. Unreal. I cannot stress enough that you made this class so very worthwhile. In your class, every time I did well I felt ridiculous joy. Not pride - joy. Each time I was drowsy, after staying up all night for some ridiculous assignment for unmentioned science class, I felt ashamed to be wasting time in your class. Each time I was off point, it was ok because you do such a fantastic job of guiding discussion that I knew even if I couldn't come up with meaningful input, I'd be on the receiving end of some. You have changed the way I write, and far more notably the way I read. So much so, in fact, that I remember your fall paper instructions on meaningful reading of text. Every assignment was an absolute thrill because, as you put it, you gave us opportunities to have ideas. To potential students: Let me first scare off the people who this class is not right for. Professor Workman is tough. A ton of hard work. An assignment every class on the material you were to read for that class means you can never skip reading, and you have to put in 300 to 800 words (average 650 for me personally). Prof. Workman emphasizes none of these assignments will throw your grade but you want to spend some time on them. They'll give you something to say in class (re echoing an earlier comment), and they'll allow you to come up with your own idea rather than hearing other others' interpretations. They are unforgivingly relentless and supremely fulfilling. Never spark note, shmoop, plagiarize in anyway. This woman is brilliant, supremely intelligent, and understands how a student thinks. She catches on to this shit. Do not do not do not disappoint this woman with plagiarism, she deserves so very much better than that. You have to do your reading, not just because of the essay, but also because she deftly handles class so that you go over everything. She asks questions in every assignment, be it her daily stuff, midterms, or fall papers tat make you think. They made me feel phenomenal. It's inspiring stuff. Don't waste it. The perks go on. Her insights into the texts are amazing. Yes, everyone says this about her but the way it manifested for me is that I would read and be often bored by the heavy works of the Lit Hum syllabus and I'd get into class and things would start to have meaning. They'd grow into ideas I could cherish and she'd be the one that made it all possible. Before fall papers (worth 20% of your grade) are due, she allots 15+ hours of office hours in the week and makes arrangements if you cannot make those. She cares tremendously for the intellectual development of her students and puts in thoughtful effort to prove it. When you are as stunningly insightful as Nancy Workman, that means you can give the best damn kind of attention each student needs. Also, she is an adjunct Professor and teaches just one class of Lit Hum and I don't believe anything else anymore. This means she's not striving for tenure and pouring herself into published work. That, in turn, means she is absolutely there for you as a teacher. She is supremely understanding and approachable. Her acute awareness of each student means she can sympathize, really sympathize. She is just the best kind of person. To those who have stuck to the end of this, she gives great grades for hard work. She will do her very best to teach you how to think and reward you if you worked your ass off to learn. In summary: 1. She made the $66000 a year I spend on this institution seem absolutely justified. She imparts something you can learn from few sources - a way of thinking. 2. All that stuff you wrote in your 'Why Columbia' essay about the Core, that you want to be a part of rich academic tradition, have conversations with other students about the texts etc - by the end of her semester, if you didn't before, you will absolutely mean every word 3. She'll make English, as a language, look bloody gorgeous. To the Core Office: This woman needs to teach more. Tenure her, even though you can't tenure an adjunct. Give her every award you have. Do something to show Nancy Jean Workman that Columbia College appreciates her and that she embodies what we want out of our Professors. To CULPA: Gold nugget (see other reviews) Find other more valuable nugget (http://most-expensive.com/precious-metal. Rhodium perhaps)

Dec 2013

I loved taking LitHum with Vesna. I found her to be very warm and welcoming. She runs a relaxed class and has a sense of humor, which was very refreshing at the end of a long day, let me tell you. The class discussions were mostly freeform, but she usually made sure to get through a series of key points for the text as well. I thought she struck the perfect balance between letting the students talk and taking time to comment on the discussion and offer her own thoughts. Others in the class felt she was a tough grader, and that may well be true, but I did well in her class. If you come to class prepared, stay alert throughout the session, and meet with her outside class if you want to discuss your written work, you ought to be fine. If you attempt to skate by, you'll probably run into trouble. If you have Vesna for LitHum you are in good hands.

Dec 2013

I had Katja for LitHum. She's a very nice person and believes in lecturing a bit before moving on to class discussion, which I really appreciated. Context is always welcome. She also favors a more structured class format than some instructors do. For the most part she asked us direct questions and had us spend part of the class having discussions or completing activities in small groups that we then had to share with the rest of the class. I hated having to do this, but I just hate group work in general, so take that with a grain of salt. For the most part, the class was pretty innocuous. I don't feel that I learned much especially or overly enjoyed it, but it could have been worse. I did feel that she had unrealistic expectations about how much each person should participate during the class session. We had a big class and a gaggle of people who liked to ramble (and whom Katja never cut off), so it would have been literally impossible for everyone to have the opportunity to make three or four separate points during each session. Except apparently, that was what Katja expected us to do. I was unpleasantly surprised to find out late in fall semester that I did not have a very good participation grade, despite talking around twice every session. So in the last month I became one of the resident loudmouths in class and sapped up time other people could have used to say perhaps more salient things. But at least I finally got full credit for participation during those weeks. Similarly, others in my class felt she had overly high expectations for our written work. I didn't feel that way, but I was in the minority. You definitely can't just turn in bullshit to her and expect to do okay. Again, she is very nice and approachable, and often brings in food. You could do a lot worse for a LitHum professor.

Dec 2013

I have always loved literature, but I've never once really loved an English/literature class. I really wasn't looking forward to LitHum for that reason, but... my expectations were just completely surpassed. Samuel Joseph North, or "Joe," is just the best professor I can imagine for this class. He's really funny and makes every text accessible. Even in reading plays or philosophical writings from ancient Greece, Joe was able to frame the ideas in a way that made me feel like I could really understand what these people from thousands of years ago were thinking. And he understands that we don't have to like every piece to get some meaning out of it! At the beginning of the class, he pointed out that he doesn't care if we love or hate the works, as long as we get some feeling from them. Plus, we never got busy work, which was obviously great. Also, another huge, huge perk of being in Joe's class was that we all interacted really well. I mean, we pretty much had to get to know each other because we went around the circle every day to repeat our names and how we were doing that day. That, I think, really helped us, both in and out of class, because we were able to raise our hands in discussion to say, "I agree with X," or "Well, I'm not sure if I think that Y has the right idea," and we could also just talk to each other around campus. If you can choose a professor for LitHum, Joe is the best, hands down.

Nov 2013

Good professor. This class was at a terrible time (6:10-8:00) but Arthur did everything he could to keep us engaged with the texts. He never dictated discussions, instead letting us take the lead, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed this class. As a teacher, he always had great insight into the texts and could guide the class when we veered off-topic. Minor complaints would be that he sometimes over-complicates the texts - he uses terminology that may not be essential to our understanding of the text. For some texts, this works and isn't a problem, but for others it gets a bit annoying. He's pretty particular about being on time, so keep that in mind if you're in his section. He takes us on a tour of the Met with an ArtHum instructor leading the tour, which was pretty informative and a lot of fun as well. Overall, LitHum with Salvo won't be a drag unless you really don't give a fuck about any of it.

Nov 2013

Todd was so great and I miss him dearly. He was constantly concerned about our opinions of him and maybe tried to influence them with baked goods. Many a 9am class I was greeted with homemade cookies or muffins with giant chocolate chunks, not chips. The man knew what he was doing. We were even treated to absolute one morning! He had the perfect combination of lecture and class discussion. I was always excited about class, because he made it obvious that he really cared about the readings and I wanted to share that excitement with him. He was always interested in our thoughts on the way he was teaching, which allowed us to get more from the readings. He had us very well-prepared for the exams and was always a very fair grader. I'm sad he found work elsewhere as I would have hounded the core office until he became my CC professor. Cheers, Todd!

Nov 2013

An amazing teacher. He was very enthusiastic about the texts we read. Class discussions were great because Arthur would guide our discussion toward the issues that all these texts presented and make us to confront them in a very textually engaging way. The class was very discussion-based and he never really lectured to us. He asked us challenging questions that provided for really lively class discussion. He was also a very kind person. He was always willing to meet and talk to you.

Nov 2013

One of the brightest people I've met in my time here. She's amazingly familiar with the texts we study and leads the class along incredibly insightful and interesting thematic threads. Sometimes discussions take strange tangents (reading the Iliad and talking about Trojan condoms--would you really trust condoms named after the Trojans?), which are rather refreshing...Need I say it's one of the most memorable classes I've taken here? When Annie is not successfully guiding apathetic freshmen through texts of times gone by, she also runs Morningside Opera and works on her thesis. How she remains sane is one of life's greatest mysteries.

Nov 2013

Nancy is great. She puts a tremendous amount of effort into the class, which definitely shows. Her classes are very well structured (even if the structure isn't always obvious, she will get you precisely where you need to be), making it very rewarding. She not only encourages participation, but somehow manages to coax fairly sophisticated points about the works out of the students. If you are looking for a blow-off class, Nancy probably isn't for you (which I see as a compliment to her teaching style). You definitely don't need to do all the readings (I certainly didn't), but simply copying Sparknotes will end poorly for you - she smells that shit from 10 miles away. If you want to actually learn about the works and have some interest in literature, you will probably enjoy the class. Nancy enjoys teaching and her passion for the texts is infectious. She is funny and fair, challenging her students just enough to make Lit Hum into a valuable academic experience, rather than another Core class to tick of your list.

Nov 2013

I disagree with the other review. Emily is a fine teacher. The workload is incredibly reasonable, with the same reading any Lit Hum class would be required to do and the wiki-spaces assignments is not even checked for a grade. I missed a few classes and she was very generous with making up the lost participation. She's very understanding as a teacher and accommodating. She also organized for us to have snacks everyday in class. Literally nothing to complain about, unless you hate Lit Hum in general, but the content of the course standardized throughout the department and really doesn't reflect on her own preferences. Would definitely recommend her if anyone has to switch sections.

Nov 2013

Professor Shelley is hands down my favorite professor. He is not only extremely intelligent, well organized, and interested, but he also genuinely cares about his students. That said, Shelley is one tough professor, but I wouldn't have considered changing Lit Hum sections for a second. He pushes the entire class so that discussion is always rich and challenging. He expects a lot from his students, but he also holds himself to high expectations as a professor. There was never a boring moment, and we often found ourselves staying in class 10-15 minutes after it had ended because we were all so engaged. The class is structured as follows: occasional short reading quiz, historical background, close reading, cookie break, partner work and more close reading, student presentation, and open-ended discussion. Simply said: Professor Shelley is the best.

Oct 2013

Basic Uppity Grad student. Nice as a person and very interested in the subject. It may be as a result of how young she is, but she doesn't offer much to your understanding of the books. She made us use wikispaces every week to write close readings of things pertaining to the book we were on, but nothing was really gained by this. Her class is very similar to the typical bullshit you probably did sophomore year in highschool. Useless busy work, no real insight. Easily my least favorite class.

Sep 2013

Caleb is a fantastic teacher. He brings enthusiasm and passion to the class rain, hail or shine which really helps when you're trying to get through something as dull as "To The Lighthouse". His classes are a great mix of discussion and lecture and he provides historical context for each text, which is super helpful. Since he's also in the Classics department, he gives you a lot of great insight into the Greek texts in the first semester. Caleb is quirky and relatable and just one of those teachers that no one can dislike. He will also go out of his way to help you if you ask for it and is very reasonable with grading. Basically his class is great and you should definitely take it or you'd be missing out.

Sep 2013

Ms. Barlow is an excellent teacher. Although my class definitely seemed to have a lot more work than some of the other Lit Hum sections, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found the class interesting and education. In the Fall, we had weekly Passage Analyses that were each about 1 page long, but in the Spring she changed the format to online Wiki discussion posts/threads, which were less time consuming. The midterms were very straightforward, and her grading is fair. Her essay grading can be a bit tough, but if you participate and do well on the midterm and final you can get an A in the class even if you get B+/A- on the essays. The one downside is the amount of work, and not only did we read every book on the syllabus (unlike many other sections), but we even read an additional book. I would still definitely recommend this class.

Aug 2013

Stanislawski is brilliant; unlike the previous reviewer, I had him for BOTH semesters, but didn't truly appreciate what a great experience he could make LitHum until the latter half of my LitHum career. It's true, Stanislawski's class is what you make of it. If you choose not to do the readings, if you choose not to participate in class, no harm will befall your GPA...but it's your loss. At times, I was somewhat frustrated with the futility of our discussions or the wayward directions they'd take, but at others, I walked out of LitHum immensely satisified. Stanislawski doesn't waste time with arbitrary passage analysis or by decoding what the placement of a simile here, a metaphor there means; instead, he uses his class time to TALK about the significance of a particular work and give juicy tidbits from his really vast library of knowledge - it makes me feel like he really appreciates what LitHum is SUPPOSED to be. One word of caution: Stanislawski responds to your (/class') enthusiasm; it's hard to foster a lively 2 hours if you're the only one who cares about the material. Try to engage with your fellow classmates and cultivate an atmosphere of appreciation - Stanislawski will more than meet you halfway. And as for playing favorites (see review below), it's true.

Aug 2013

Professor Hart has a friendly tone, and is fine with students calling him by his first name. Class is often a laid-back affair, until he gets particularly passionate about a subject, at which point he'll become very energetic. He is extremely understanding, and often gives partial credit and extensions because his goal is to have everyone read to learn and really enjoy the literature. Professor Hart comes prepared to every lecture with pages of notes, and is happy to give in-depth explanations to each book your read. This is interspersed with an active dialogue between him and the students. I had a 6:10-8pm timeslot (not particularly fun), and only one person transferred out from the first to second semester. Class was excellent, and his deep British baritone kept students' attention (and might've created some crushes, as well...).

Aug 2013

When the professor for my second semester Lit Hum class was named, I rushed to CULPA, probably much like you all are doing now. I was pretty intimidated when I read the reviews that were posted before... Lots of "unfair grader," "critical in class discussion," "impossible to get an A" accusations were thrown around, which are the words we are all are drawn to, but the words none of us want to see. However, upon completion of Professor Lilla's class, I have gone back and read these reviews, and I can say for certain that there is a reason he has a gold nugget. I wholeheartedly agree with the overarching theme of these reviews; Professor Lilla is a fantastic teacher in every sense of the word when it comes to provoking thought, encouraging constructive dialogue, and actually bringing real-world significance to the books we read. He did not encourage literary analysis on the micro level (i.e. analysis of diction, syntax, etc.), but instead on a macro level, focusing discussions on the broader ideas and themes of the works we read, which makes sense considering most of these works are translated anyway. While this is a bit of whip lash coming from high school English and other Columbia Core classes, the completion of the class leaves you wondering why every professor doesn't teach the way Professor Lilla does. It's more fun to write, talk, and think about. I won't say that I looked forward to going to class (who looks forward to going to a 2-hour Lit Hum class, anyway?), but once I was there and the conversation started rolling (about 5 minutes into class), I was not only stimulated by the content of conversation, but also genuinely happy to be there. Professor Lilla loves his job. That being said, he takes it very seriously (as all great teachers do). So don't eat, talk, text, or drink anything other than water in his class. You probably would even be better off if you made it a goal not to move in his class. And please, please, please, for the love of God, use parallel sentence structure in your writing. Sound awful? It's really not. He just means business and wears a full suit every day to class to show it. This creates a great atmosphere, and if you embrace it, you will learn a lot more than you realize. He also really cares about his students, not only in his class but in their own lives (I think that was parallel pronoun usage, but if it's not, I can see Professor Lilla writhing in pain...). Go in, introduce yourself. If nothing else, it's quite a sight to see the millions upon millions of books he has in his office, stacked to the ceiling. Summary: Take the class.

Aug 2013

I don't know if Akash still teaches Lit Hum or is even at Columbia anymore, but my rather dismal CC experience this past year has made me really appreciate having had as a Lit Hum instructor ('11-'12). So: Akash was pretty laid-back and ran a fairly casual classroom. He did a really good job of getting to know each of us as readers and thinkers, and while he never really forced people to participate, he did a good job of drawing people out by letting them relate the material to their own particular interests and skills. Discussion for the most part stayed lively, focused, interesting, and involved. We probably could have gone deeper into the texts than we did, but the ability to keep everyone engaged book after book is not to be discounted. He was very open to discussing texts/papers/whatever in or out of office hours and was, generally speaking, a very fair grader. I also felt super prepared for the course-wide final. My one complaint would be that he overburdened us with extra reading during the spring semester and the quality of our discussions suffered as a result. But overall, I had a really good experience in his class.

Aug 2013

If you have him, consider yourself lucky. He's super chill but at the same time really pushes you to produce your best work. During class he would spend a good amount of time lecturing so that you'd be able to take down some detailed notes but he also made time for students to participate. He's one of those professors that will go around class and have each person say something about certain questions (these things are often super simple questions so don't freak out). But I find this helpful because it gets your feet wet in terms of speaking in class which was really great for the quiet, shy students. We had to do weekly courseworks posts on a question that he'd ask about the reading. I found this helpful because it helped you prepare for something that you might want to discuss with the class. His essay topics were great and he allowed us to come talk to him about our topics/ get critiques if we bring him drafts. We went really in depth with some books(like Pride and Prejudice) and others (like Faust) we kind of just went over the necessary points. Whereas most professors add books to the syllabus, Stephane actually added a movie trilogy (Three Colors Trilogy) which I thought was amazing. And he found a way to tie this movie back into things we've read this semester to gain even more insight into the texts. I can honestly say I enjoyed his section and again, if you have him you will really enjoy your Lit Hum experience!

Jul 2013

Austin is a great guy, and he's really passionate about Lit Hum. He is big on class participation, and, personally, I think that really helped his perception of people in the class (i.e. you talk a lot, you get good grades on papers). He isn't big on structured class because he emails you about the reading and what to prepare for the discussion. That being said, you can read sparknotes and be able to fully participate. He loves explications of the writing and digging into the text rather than talking broadly about it. Before papers, go to office hours and run ideas by him. He loves to know what you're thinking, and help you develop your argument. He also has great ideas, and if you can execute what he says, you can get A's. His grading policy is: 1/3 Class Participation (really the difference between a B+ and an A- in this class, so talk!) 1/3 Exams (Midterm- use his emails to study, he likes to do ID's that are kind of tricky; Final- always the classic lit hum final) 1/3 Essays (2 essays per semester structured like the essays on the final) In terms of his essay grading, here's what Austin is looking for: Intro- an argumentative and interesting thesis, he doesn't want BS Body paragraphs with interesting arguments USING SPECIFIC LANGUAGE Development Conclusion He keeps track of attendance and you get major points for just being on time every class.

Jul 2013

Professor Johnson is one of the best professors at Columbia. She cares about each student--In fact, she is still a dear friend to me today. She inspired me to become an English major. She is incredible. If you can, GET INTO HER SECTION. She is one of the most honest, humble, brilliant people I have ever met. While totally sweet, she is not afraid to call students out in front of the class for being close-minded, rude, or bigoted. Easily the best professor I have ever had.

Jun 2013

Samuel North (or, rather, Joe, as he prefers to go by) is a great professor and there's really not much more I'd ask for from a Lit-Hum professor. Basically, classes go like this: He first has everyone go around and say their name and answer some question (usually either "How are you feeling today" which resulted in some depressing answers... or "What did you think about the text? Did you like it, etc"). He likes to have all the students in the class really get to know each other, which I thought was kind of nice. On the first day after reading a text, he has us go around and talk about some of our first impressions of the text and just general thoughts. He also usually provides some background about the time period and other facts about the author. Based on what the class speaks about, he starts to ask some questions to prompt further discussion. We sat around in a circle (he liked to have everyone visible to everyone else) and raised our hands when we had something to contribute. Joe tries to give everyone a fair amount of speaking time (ie, if you talk a lot, he'll try to call on you less often to give others a chance to speak, and if you don't talk much, he'll make sure to call on you when you finally do raise your hand). Also, he gives us a short break in the middle of class which is nice because we're there for quite a long time. A lot of times, he already has an idea of exactly what points and passages he wants to be addressed, so he'll ask questions that will push us in those directions. He has a three step method for going over passages: 1) State the obvious. 2) A little bit deeper, what else is this trying to say. 3) Further analysis & how does this relate to the rest of the text. Anyway, he clearly knows what he is talking about and he is very enthusiastic about the literature. A very fair teacher, and he will help you develop your thoughts and phrase them in an understandable way. He's helped me see a lot of things in the text that we read that I would otherwise not see. I think the only complaints I could have is that 1) It was at 9 am but of course that wasn't his choice, and 2) as previous reviews mentioned... the "suffers fools too lightly" issue, but honestly, that's the problem of the fool and not the professor. Advice for people taking this class: Do your reading early, time management, yada yada. Joe gives you 3 "opt-outs" a semester (meaning, you can say you didn't do the reading and just not participate in discussion without any harm to your grade for that day), but opting out is no fun, and you'll have to do the reading eventually anyway. Basically, just try to speak up more in class and make the most of it!

Jun 2013

Stanislawski is a very knowledgeable and intelligent professor, and as rigorous as you want him to be. Basically, you could probably get a B in the course without doing any of the readings (he doesn't believe in quote ids) and the tests are OPEN BOOK (because they're just 2 essays). Hell, if you're clever and eloquent and charming and act like the type of student he likes you could probably get an A in the course without ever reading. But if you actually do the work, you'll be rewarded during your conversations with him and questions you might ask. He cares about his students, but doesn't want to baby them. Therefore, to make the most of the class: seek him out during office hours (i discovered this really late second semester because i wasn't in the class before and didn't know what was up), do only the reading you want to read (but when you read it, do it so you can talk and ask questions) and don't be discouraged if he cuts you off. he tends to play favorites a little bit but if you put in the effort, he will afford you the same courtesies. if you're not a go-getter and want to actually learn something, take another course. if you don't want to try too hard and get a good grade, take this course. if you want to learn a lot and are willing to put effort into creating a relationship with one of the biggest names on campus, this course is perfect. you won't ever have to do anything you don't want to do. Stanislawksi has somehow made it so that if you want to learn a lot and engage with the texts, it can be a stress free experience. He's very liberal with extensions and isn't about to give pop quizzes or call you out for sleeping in class (though it's rude..and you're just languishing in ignorance if you do that).

May 2013

If you find yourself placed into Patrick's lit hum section, you're in luck. I agree with all the past reviewers who emphasized Patrick's cheerful disposition and a willingness to engage his students. But in the end, your experience in lit hum all depends on what YOU want to get out of the class (and Patrick). Contrary to the previous reviewer, I was in his 9:00 to 10:50 am section, so people were either half asleep or didn't bother to show up. No matter - I really don't think Patrick gave a rat's fart either. Discussion for the first two books are going to be amazing, because people actually have time to do the readings (or have already read the Aeneid in high school). Except by the time April rolls around, you're basically assigned to read 100+ pages a night, which no one does, and subsequently, discussion becomes....what, did I say discussion? What I really meant was Patrick posing a thoughtful question to a class full of students staring blankly, pausing for a couple of seconds, and then broke the awkwardness with a smile and an answer to his own question. It's in situations like these that makes me feel guilty for not doing the required reading. Oh, and Patrick takes a HELLISH long time to return any assignments. We didn't get our midterm grades until mid-April, and by the time he finished grading our final papers, everyone already moved out of their dorms. Other than that, Patrick's a pretty easygoing instructor. His grading is just as liberal as his personality; most of my friends got As on the midterm on the papers. I ended up getting an A in the class, and chances are, you probably will too.

May 2013

Anne is so great! Love love love her! She's very nonthreatening, always encouraging her students to participate. Like no matter what you say, she'll probably agree with it (which yes can get frustrating.. sometime you're like, no literally that classmate was being blatantly dumb, but for the most part it's uplifting). She's readily accessible outside of class either at office hours or via email, responding to emails usually in 24 hours or less. A previous reviewer said her class was not an easy A. I kind of disagree. Like yes you will of course have to work for the grade you want, but compared to what I heard about other lit hum classes, anne's section sounded a lot easier. She splits up the readings and tries to make them as manageable as possible so her students actually try and read. That being said if you don't read you can get by by sparknoting and shmooping (ie I read very little second semester in her class and still got an A- as my final grade). She also has either a quiz or a 1 page reading response for each work you read-- the quizzes are superrr easy, literally 5 plot based questions that can be answered in a sentence or less, and the reading responses are straightforward and simple too (you can basically write a page about anything you found interesting or want to elaborate on in the book). Also she has you do 2, 250 word tumblr posts, but yeah those are mad basic too and you can probably wait till the last minute and pump them out in 30 mins or less. Basically in my opinion if you get anne as your professor you are one of the lucky ones. I found her class to be very easy and manageable. Don't switch out. Stay where you are. ALSO THIS CLASS COMES WITH SNACK TIME SO LIKE DO YOU REALLY WANNA LEAVE?! NO NO YOU DO NOT.

May 2013

Patrick is this hilariously weird, kind of troll-ish classics dude with seriously impressive knowledge about literature. He's really casual and friendly, although this came back to bite him in the ass in some ways. My class was particularly apathetic, perhaps as a result of our 6:10-8:00 time slot, and Patrick does not prohibit laptops in his class, nor does he care about attendance. I would say 12/20 people brought their laptops every day and never said a word. Class would frequently be interrupted by the Facebook chat sound or the Skype sound followed by the frantic Macbook volume-down sound, as if Patrick had no idea what they were doing for 2 hours instead of participating. Of course, this is mostly the students' fault for not taking advantage of such a bright professor as Patrick. That being said, his discussion-leading style was a bit off putting at times. He would sometimes bring up really deep, difficult questions about large themes and wait for someone to respond–obviously no one wants to expound extemporaneously about the nature of identity in Don Quixote or whatever, so often silence would follow. Other times he would ask something really obvious that could only be answered with a yes or no question. A bit puzzling. Occasionally I would fall in love with a book we were reading (Ovid, Woolf) and those discussions were fantastic and enjoyable. Mostly though, they were just meh–which is partly my classmates' fault and partly Patrick's. He assigns two essays per semester, both of which are graded insanely easily, as are his exams. The topics for the essays are stimulating, but he invites you to make your own, with his approval (which was quite fun actually). As far as I know, I did not receive any grade lower than an A on any assignment. I got an A both semesters. Also, he likes to add in another text 2nd semester. We had the option of reading Paradise Lost, Paradiso, or various others. We voted to read Nabokov's Lolita, which was great fun. Overall, Patrick is a really good professor, super willing to talk even outside of office hours and capable of generating real intellectual excitement at times. Just pray that your class is self-directed enough not to slack off.

May 2013

I had Professor Soloski for both semesters and I have nothing but positive things to say about her. She was one of the best, if not the best, professors that I had during my freshman year. If you get assigned to her for Lit Hum, I'd highly recommend staying in her class. Looking at her other reviews, perhaps her class environment is different for her "Legacy of the Mediterranean" courses; however, I thoroughly enjoyed having her for Lit Hum. Soloski is very quirky and witty, and the class environment was positive and comfortable. You'll find that she's quite funny (I'd recommend checking out her Twitter feed) and connects with her students very well. Soloski is extremely knowledgable about the texts. You can tell that she has studied each text very thoroughly and prepares well for every class. She is also a very effective teacher; she provides a lot of valuable insight, and as stated in previous reviews, her theater background really adds another dimension to the course material. The basic format of each seminar was that she would ask analytical questions to foster a class discussion, while intermittently having us read important passages out loud and discuss their significance (this was very helpful for passage IDs on the midterms and finals). To be honest, I did not do a good amount of the reading; however, I still learned a lot during seminar and did reasonably well on the papers and exams. I think she was a fair grader, and every grade I got back seemed appropriate. Obviously I can't speak for everyone but our class as a whole really liked Soloski, and almost everyone stayed with her for second semester. We even threw her a mini baby shower and bought her presents for our last seminar. As one of my friends put it, "Soloski is the shit."

May 2013

Mark Lilla's class was one of the most intellectually stimulating experiences I have had. If you're looking for a classic "English class," though, don't waste your time hoping for close textual analysis. Lilla uses the books as a spring board for larger topics. Sometimes, by the time you finish class you are not even sure how relevant the discussion you just had was to the book you were reading, but if you think about it, it always turns out to be. Besides, the discussion is always so interesting and valuable in and of itself that for some works it doesn't even seem to matter how relevant the discussion was to the text. Whether or not he chooses to focus closely on the text for a certain work, Mark Lilla seems to have unlimited knowledge of every work we read in Lit Hum... and also of everything else. He begins every class with a mini-lecture on the historical context of the work we are reading, along with any other interesting tidbits he has to share about each book. This part is always really interesting and very useful. He then uses quotations to spark discussion--if you like/are good at reading aloud you are in luck, because there is a lot of reading aloud in this class and Mark Lilla will call you out if you don't read with enough gusto. (He will also absolutely call you out if you are sleeping, eating, or just not paying attention or contributing enough to class discussion.) His evaluation of students is pretty difficult to gauge since he doesn't tell students many of their grades, but he is a stickler for good writing and values good quality class participation a lot. If you're insecure about your writing or shy in class, don't hesitate to set up a meeting with him because he will improve your writing and he will pay attention to whatever hesitancies you have about the course. Besides, he is just a really interesting and nice person to talk to.

May 2013

All the reviews before this one made me freak the hell out about taking Professor Lilla's class...and they're mostly true. However, that shouldn't discourage anyone from taking his class, in fact, as some people have said, his class really was the best class I took my Freshman year. Here are some things to think about when taking his class, and they will be repeating some of the stuff in the reviews below. He takes LIT HUM seriously. 1. Read the books. Although some of the reviews say that you can bullshit the class by not reading, I don't think that's true at all. There was actually one point where he guessed that some of us didn't read all of a certain book, and he called the whole class out on it. Also, you can't really engage in the conversation without having read the book. 2. Yea, he will call people out sometimes. It's never a "you suck!" but you can just kind of tell when he's displeased with something you're saying. He'll show it either with a grimace or if you say something abstract he'll keep grilling you on what you ACTUALLY are trying to say. But there's no need to feel offended. I think it's actually helpful--we should be able to clearly convey our thoughts instead of saying fluffy bs. 3. He's a stickler about writing. He actually taught more about writing than my UWriting teacher. I actually did ok on all my papers. He has every person write 3 papers throughout the semester and gives feedback the next day through e-mail. (from what I got in my e-mails, I think I did ok), but I heard "horror" stories from some of my classmates about their feedback. But hey, if they weren't good writers, it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. 4. He gives more work than most professors: I mean, a response for every class and three big papers throughout. I HATED it at first, but then I got used to it around Midterm time, and now that the class is over, I actually thought it was REALLY helpful. It's definitely made me a better writer, and it helped me engage with the text more, which helped with the final. 5. Other classes like to just talk about the books as though this class is AP lit, meaning some classes just care about learning the plot, the themes, the quotes etc to prepare for the final. But Lilla doesn't really care about that stuff. Our class would discuss the themes, but not in the texts' contexts, but how those themes relate to our own lives, about human nature, etc. It felt more like a philosophy class than a lit hum class, and I liked that a lot I know that some people don't. It's whatever fits your personal tastes. All in all, if you got him, you're LUCKY. He was even rated the #1 professor to have for Lit Hum or CC by BWOG. If you're worried about grades...still take his class. Well, I mean, I'm someone who would have been fine with whatever grade in that class. I hate grade-grubbing and I ended up fine. That whole "one in five get an A-range" doesn't seem to be true... The only assignments he'll actually give grades are for are the midterm and the final, and the final doesn't even count for much with him. If you're someone who can't really take criticism, are a softie, and care too much about grades, this isn't your class. But I still advise you to take it!

May 2013

Caleb was awesome as a Lit Hum professor! He's very upbeat and was always excited to teach, it made it hard to tell that it was his first time teaching the class. He's in the classics department, so that's definitely his area of expertise, but he was still very knowledgeable and engaging well into second semester as well. He's one of those people who doesn't really believe in tests (but still gives them out and grades them because he has to), and he really just wants you to get something out of each work that we read. I think it's saying something that nobody switched out after first semester! Stay in this class! We also had a a pizza party and watched Big Trouble in Little China. You should ask him about it.

May 2013

If you have the option of having Paola for class, PICK HER! You will not regret it. I wish I had her for the full year! I'll break down the class Her: Amazing. She not only cares about the class, she really cares about her students. She will go out of her way to make sure you know whats going on, and will provide you with the feedback you need. Even though our class at 9am's on Monday's and Wednesdays, she brought life and humor to our class. She really knows her stuff, and will definitely make you more interested in the class and the material. Class: Discussion based like most. She leads the discussion, but she loves getting our feedback. She'll always find a way to make it fun, and will crack jokes out of the blue. Workload: Standard. She likes to spend a lot of time talking about texts, so you will definitely go slower then most of the other Lit Hum classes. Which is fine! You will have a Wikispace, where she will expect you to post twice a week. Not bad at all. Two 6 page papers. She gives amazing feedback on it. I sent her my draft for my final paper a few days before it was due to see if she could possibly read it. She ended up doing a full review of it, and gave great feedback. Then midterm, and final. All standard. Midterm was only ID's. You would think that it was bad, but she spent a lot of time preparing you. She also held a 3 hour review session for this final as well. Long story short, She is an unbelievable, fun, and such a nice professor. If you can get you, get her.

May 2013

If you have been assigned Mark Lilla as your LitHum instructor, you're in for the most intellectually stimulating (and best) semester/year of your life. Mark Lilla is sassy, funny, and the most intelligent man I have ever encountered in my life. He knows everything about anything. He quotes passages from books and entire poems. He can critique any philosopher you throw at him—in fact, he is one himself (read his books). You will love this man. To have Mark Lilla walk into the room and teach your LitHum class is a blessing, so don't waste any second of it. He makes LitHum his first priority, and expects you to make it yours as well. So don't mess around, do the reading (a little more than typical for LitHum), and participate in class. You'll actually want to do this because you'll be getting even more out of the class. He expects a lot out of you (discussion posts of ~450 words twice a week, with an extended post of ~900 words three times a semester), so do what he expects and you'll be fine. By fine, I don't mean you'll get an easy A (I probably won't), but you'll be prepared for class and if you really push yourself in class and on the midterm/final, you'll be satisfied with your grade. Make sure you take advantage of his office hours. He is a real human being—we talked about where I'm from, what I'm studying, what my interests are, about his books, and a variety of other things. "Office Hours with Mark Lilla" is an intimidating experience, no doubt, but once you get in the room, the legend becomes a normal human being who you can relate to and feel comfortable around. I realize this review has turned into me just praising Mark Lilla the instructor. To summarize his class, it's tough but rewarding. Put in the work (a bit above your average LitHum workload) and you'll get more out of this class than your other classes combined.

May 2013

Professor Lilla is actually the best. He begins each class by talking about each text's historical context and providing background on the author. He'll also bring in other authors' ideas, particularly those that you'll read the next year in Contemporary Civilizations. After talking for around 15-30 minutes, he'll choose passages from the text for students to read out loud and then discuss. Even though the discussions are student-based, Professor Lilla does a brilliant job in directing them and bringing out latent ideas. Some classmates have complained about how discussions are not always entirely based on the text. For instance, he didn't talk about some famous scholar's reading of King Lear, and one class session focused on fantasy/reality more than what happened in the text of Don Quixote. Professor Lilla tends to start out with a specific passage and then quickly branch out and talk about larger ideas and how they apply to us – as Columbia students, as college students in the US, as people living in the US, as people living now. Similarly, our midterm was based on one of two prompts about very vague, broad ideas, not at all like the specific "compare x and y in works 1, 2, and 3" that my professor last semester assigned. If you prefer text-based analysis and in-depth discussion about each text as an individual work, you may be better off with another professor. I personally found that being pushed out of my comfort zone made me grow much more intellectually, and I loved it. Some of the older reviews mentioned him criticizing students during discussion or calling out examples of poor writing. He wasn't nearly as harsh this semester. He gave us a handout on writing tips and gave us examples of errors from our Courseworks posts once, but was hardly condescending when he did so. His emails are very terse, which might surprise you at first, but I don't think he ever "screams" at you. Grading is a little unclear. He'll give you feedback on your longer Courseworks essays, but won't explicitly tell you your grade. The midterm is the only concrete grade you get before the final. I agree with the review below about the earlier harsh grading comments being outdated, as most of my classmates got a B+ or A- on their midterms. Though we have yet to take the final and receive our final grades, he did assure us that they would be slightly higher than what we "should" receive.

May 2013

If you have been randomly assigned to this Lit Hum section, you are among the luckiest students in your year. Professor Knapp is an incredible instructor, making this class an incredibly rewarding experience. She makes a real effort to make the class as challenging and creative as possible, giving interesting essay assignments like composing a character's Twitter feed or discussing a connection to a painting at the Met. One day, someone mentioned that the class before ours had taken place outside, and the class after ours was going to go outside, so by the "squeeze theorem," we should have our class outside; Professor Knapp definitely did not let us go outside (it's against her rules), but she did use the squeeze theorem to discuss Crime and Punishment for the entire rest of the class. I'm not sure I've ever had a teacher who could connect Calculus to Russian literature, but she did it! Professor Knapp also is a very big deal at Columbia - she's the chair of the entire Slavic Languages Department. She tries hard to bring in her knowledge from this field into the classroom, replacing some texts on the traditional Lit Hum syllabus with additional works by Tolstoy. These alternative works were often much more interesting and thought provoking than the other works that other classes may have read. Professor Knapp's teaching style is very quirky - she screams when someone brings up a good idea, she calls everyone ONLY by their last name (don't ever try to use first names in the class), and she doesn't hesitate to poke fun at the eccentricities of the texts (or sometimes even her students). Her personality really adds a lot to Lit Hum, and makes you actually look forward to this class.

May 2013

I'm just going to start off by saying you are incredibly lucky if you get Emily for LitHum. She really knows her stuff, and the way she facilitates a discussion every class is actually pretty impressive. Even though it was a 6:10-8pm class in a less than favorable classroom, I looked forward going to class, and it felt like it got progressively better. Her enthusiasm for literature in general (and Virginia Woolf in specific) really showed when she basically said every book was "the best book ever," except maybe History of the Peloponnesian War because ew. She's really funny, and even though we had a really strong class dynamic, Emily deserves credit for creating an open and welcoming environment. She actually tried to get us in the same CC section at our request because of how well we meshed. I'd say Emily is a very fair grader when it comes to essays. She does expect improvement like the previous reviewer, but her extensive feedback on each essay made me want to continue pushing myself, and to be honest, I found her feedback more helpful than my UW class. She was also fair in extending deadlines. Her midterms are straightforward, and if you pay attention to the passages she focuses on in class, you're gonna ace the test. She's perfectly cool with us bringing in meals to eat during class, and she brings cookies and candy to class on occasion, especially during midterms. At the end of each semester, she organizes a movie night right after class with pizza. We saw 300 the first time, and we actually didn't watch anything the second time because we all just decided to hang out, and she actually took some of us out to Haagen Daz which was really awesome and already made me miss going to her class by the time we all parted ways. In all, I'm really happy I got into Emily's section and got to meet all the incredible people in our little LitHum family. (btw, Emily was also in the running for best grad student-teacher at Columbia at the time that I wrote this review so you know she's good!)

May 2013

Full disclosure: Lilla does ask that all of his classes write a Culpa review on him, because he doesn't belong to any department and apparently that's how other professors get the word out about their classes. Lilla is a sassy guy. As has already been said, you either love him or you don't. If you don't, you should probably leave as soon as possible because the way he is on the first day is the way he will be for the first semester. He's not fucking around about anything he says, either. You really do have a miniature essay due every class, he really does read them, and he really does judge you based on how well you can write. That said, he should really pick up a uWriting class, because he will teach you how to write properly in ten minutes. If you already know how to write, you have an advantage. You can do the posts without necessarily finishing all the reading and he will probably still appreciate your opinion. Lilla does not care even a little bit about what grade you are getting in the class. He gives you only one grade before the final, and that's your midterm grade. You only get an A on this if you manage to come up with something Lilla himself didn't think of, which, seeing as he has a PhD, is a little difficult. That said, all the comments about his harsh grading are a little outdated. I think since last year someone higher up than he is said something to him, and he grudgingly agrees that he should not singlehandedly ruin the GPAs of every student in his class. Your midterm grade is not the final grade you get in the class; he grumpily said he was going to boost our final grades, even though we should remember that "an A- does not mean you are brilliant." I spoke to Lilla twice outside of class. The first time we spoke, he sought me out, just because he thought one of my posts was interesting. Outside of class, he is pleasant, thoughtful, and will actually remember your name and your interests. He has an opinion on almost everything, but is never nasty in person. Emails are a different story. Most of his emails are entirely in capital letters and that is because he is screaming at you. Take a class with Mark Lilla if on the first day you feel like you appreciate his sense of humor. It will be worth the effort in the end if you can deal with his personality. He is definitely much smarter than you will ever be, and he knows it, but he is also interested in helping you learn something, even if you will never know as much as he does.

May 2013

Anne is a really nice person. She's young and has a great way of connecting with her students while still maintaining a professor/student relationship. Due to the general nature of LitHum, her classes do sometimes tend to get boring, but that's probably true of all LitHum sections. The one problem I really have with her is that she is a pretty harsh grader. She gives a lot of assignments and quizzes and really expects students to come prepared to class each day, so if you are looking for an easy A in LitHum this is definitely NOT the right section for you. That being said, she always makes time for students to meet with her outside of class before a paper, a test, or even just to discuss the books- this is one thing that I really appreciated about her. Overall, it was a pretty substantive and interesting class, but be forewarned that you'll actually need to do work. On a side note, Anne made a snack schedule for each semester which consisted of one student bringing in snack for the class each day. This was always fun and helped to sort of bond the class together during our 5-minute breaks. It's always nice when college is sort of like Kindergarten.

May 2013

Take his class, take his class, take his class. One of the most rewarding (albeit rigorous) experiences at Columbia thus far. The best way to describe Mark Lilla is intense. He is mild-mannered - he's never raised his voice in class - but he exudes such gravitas that, the moment that he enters class, everyone falls silent. We basically clung to his every word, because he's brilliant. To give you a sense of his intellect, he was independently appointed at Columbia, meaning that he's not affiliated with any department, but Columbia carved out a place for him to be on faculty. Not to mention, he knows an insane amount about literature, history, philosophy, pop culture, likely as a result of being an intellectual historian. Given his immense credentials, Professor Lilla could be more exacting than he is. While his workload is heavy, he's a fair grader, and he's always willing to take the time to work with you in office hours to improve your writing/discuss major themes of the course/just talk about life and your college experience in general. He's clearly passionate about the core - he invests a lot of time in structuring his classes, incorporating our nightly essay posts into his outlines to stimulate class discussion. He strikes a great balance between allowing us to speak our minds regarding the works at hand and guiding our discussion.

May 2013

Seth, or SK, currently teaches LitHum. He is honestly a really great teacher and facilitates the class really well. As a class mostly of first-years he really helps you bond and at least in our experience we actually became a really solid group of friends. He is a very likable guy and easily becomes more of a friend than an instructor. He's pretty flexible with how far you get in the readings and is willing to fill gaps in the conversation and spark new topics of interest. If you get Seth for LitHum you are one lucky son of a gun. You won't regret staying in his class and maybe even some of his coolness will rub off on you.

May 2013

Professor Lilla asked us to write this, so he can have students who want to learn from his style. I am a bit scared in writing this, because I feel like he will be able to tell who I am. However, this speaks to how Professor Lilla really gets to know you as a thinker and a writer. I will talk more about workload below, but others have called him as the hardest teacher and I would agree. I cannot speak to grades, because other than the midterm he provides no grade (the way he explains his midterm grading is vague, because he admits to grade inflation, but is still a hard grader...still have not gotten my grade). Regardless, I believe "the juice to be worth the squeeze." If you picked Columbia for the Core Curriculum like I did, he gives you your money's worth. He will push you hard in every aspect in your thinking and writing, (He waits 3 weeks before giving you his criticism). He is very blunt, which can be disconcerting, but also a welcome change to some teachers. He is a purist when it comes to writing, become acquainted with Strunk and White. However, he does appreciate philosophy and exigence, which is a welcome delineation from my 1st semester professor who cared a lot about passage analysis. He also is one of the smartest men, and smartest teacher I ever had. He gives his perspective in the beginning of every class, which is very enlightening. The rest is discussion based, where he either agrees or challenges what you are saying. He really does make teaching an artform, in his appreciation of reading passages. He wants us to soak up the text (He insisted on reading Dante's Inferno, because we did not give it justice). He is a bona fide Ivy League Professor, and writes about really interesting things. He has his roots in political philosophy and theology, but came to Columbia to teach this class with his research. Really cares about his class, but come prepare with thick and skin and motivation.

Apr 2013

Darragh is genuinely invested in your understanding of the material. He comes from a theater background and is very into acting out the plays, getting inside the characters' heads, etc. which really makes the material come to life. Other reviews describe his enthusiasm for the material, but what they don't mention is his ability to really challenge his students to dig into the more uncomfortable aspects of the reading (rape culture in Ovid, homosexuality in The Iliad). He often asks you to take the side of the underdog and often brings issues of gender roles and sexuality into class, which not all of the LH teachers do. His accent is great, his sense of fashion is always entertaining, and he has one student present each class and bring in snacks, so we always have a food break in the middle of what would otherwise be an insufferably long two-hour class. Darragh expects a lot of his students; he doesn't give an easy A and emphasizes participation enough that it's tricky to get through a class if you haven't done the reading. He gives reading quizzes after each major unit or each long book, which count as part of your participation grade. He's tough on papers, but has allowed us to rewrite papers if we're willing to put in the work and improve our writing. A few people switch out of his class; his teaching style is almost entirely discussion-based. He's a skilled discussion leader and can direct conversation without being too pushy or expectant. He gives creative assignments where he asks you to reinterpret or imitate the style of one of the books; these are more fun than anything and are not difficult at all. He's flexible on which reading gets done; he's willing to add or drop books depending on the class.

Apr 2013

He takes his teaching very seriously. You can be sure you'll learn what you need to know and more for the midterm and final. His classes are mostly discussion-based, with a very small amount of lecturing. However, he usually has a goal in mind when opening a subject up for a discussion, and he will guide students toward a certain conclusion. If it takes too long for the students to reach that conclusion by themselves, he sometimes just says it outright or drops it and says he expects the class to think about it in their free time. He's very no-nonsense without being stifling or intimidating, and he's always available and helpful during his office hours. Do not take this class if you want to babble bullshit all class long and waste time because he will (kindly) shoot you down. He grades a bit harshly on essays, and the class is curved to a B. All that said, one of my favorite teachers this term and truly eye-opening if you're willing to put in the time and effort into his class. A wealth of information, great guy, and he really knows what he's doing.

Apr 2013

I will agree with some of the previous reviewers that Darragh's class is not one you'll easily get an A in. I worked very hard the first semester and just barely scraped an A minus. And we do have much more work than some other sections. Doing the reading isn't really optional - or at least, not if you want to be able to keep up with the level of discussion in class. First semester, I skipped out on quite a few readings, and it showed in my participation. Once I started reading everything (or as much as I could, and skimming/sparknoting the rest) I started getting a lot more out of the class. Participation is only like 10-15%, so you could feasibly get away with never talking in class as long as you do well on quizzes and assignments, but I wouldn't recommend it. That said, Darragh is easily one of the best professors I've had so far at Columbia. Not only is he intelligent, caring, and adorable - he's also dedicated to evaluating the purpose of Lit Hum. This often occurs from a gender studies perspective, but if gender studies isn't your thing, he will certainly be respectful of that. That said, I think if you consider feminism/queer theory scary subjects, this class will help you realize that they aren't at all, and can be very approachable. I never thought I could get so much out of the class, and I probably would've thought Lit Hum was a ridiculous, antiquated class if not for having Darragh as a professor.

Mar 2013

Cristobal Silva is possibly one of the greatest people, let alone professors, on the face of the planet. I had him for LitHum last year, and I'm taking an elective with him this year, along with several other former students. The man has a veritable fan following. Here's why: Firstly, his interpretations of the texts are both concrete and insightful (partly due to his obsession with close reading); you never walk away feeling like you just spent two hours postulating about abstract nonsense that isn't really there, and he always contributes a meaningful, sensible reading. Secondly, he's very very very fair. He understands that LitHum is a core class, and that the reading load is on the verge of unmanageable. He gives you "real grades" on papers, and doesn't pull punches with his critiques, but his exams are very doable. He's not one of those professor's who thinks they can single-handedly combat grade inflation, but he still expects his students to work hard. He cut a few texts over the course of the year and somehow squeezed in five days for Moby Dick (trust him on this one; it really should be in the core). Go to office hours with drafts of papers and questions about the reading--he's very helpful. Ultimately, he wants you to leave the class with a strong appreciation for the texts, and the ability to write a solid close reading. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, he's hysterically funny. His sense of humor is obtuse, geeky, politically incorrect, and extremely endearing. Ask him about his family/real life during office hours (or during class, actually). He's been all over, and has great stories.

Mar 2013

Best teacher I have ever come into contact with. Hands down. If you get lucky enough to take lit hum with marina you will leave the class having become a better writer and thinker. She is absolutely lovely to be around and one year later after being in the class i swear to god miss it more than anything. I would pay a lot of money to be in a class with her again. God bless her.

Feb 2013

Darragh is an inspiring teacher that truly makes the core worthwhile. He's certainly tough when it comes to grading, but it comes from a place of true concern and care; he's more interested in your academic and intellectual growth than your GPA. Occasionally, his readings can be fairly inconsistent in length, with some nights involving 150+ pages and some less than 50, but he's fairly tolerant of a couple slip-ups in terms of assigned work. He's also more interested in "broadening" the scope of the core, which means a little more time spent thinking about non-traditional focal points of LitHum, like women authors and queer theory applications, but it doesn't feel intrusive.

Jan 2013

Great section leader. He encourages much discussion, but keeps it pretty focused to the text. Before each class he emails out about a dozen topics for discussion. Each person has to pick a topic and be prepared to lead a discussion on it. This is GREAT for making the conversation flow, and for people to actually have something developed to say. If you're short on time, you can also use it to help focus your reading. He, unsurprisingly, really likes to bring up ancient Iranian and eastern religions and history, eg Zoroastrianism and such. His anecdotes can be a little repetitive, but if you've seen him talk much about GS you know he likes to repurpose his favorite lines/anecdotes. This can wear thin at times, but they're interesting and he's a great speaker. He's surprisingly available for office hours, but only by appointment. Most of the time you'll be talking about things besides the class, which is sort of the reason to take a section with him. His reputation for harshly grading essays seems exaggerated. I found that he expects you to make a clear, specific argument and use the text to support it. It doesn't have to be particularly insightful or revolutionary, although that helps. He doesn't have to agree with it. Just make a specific argument, and argue it. Then polish your English for typos, grammar, punctuation, etc. He is a stickler for that. The grading structure for his LitHum is similar to his Islam. 3x essays, each worth about 25%, and participation worth about 25%. You must take the standard final exam, but it's functionally irrelevant ("1%" on the syllabus).

Jan 2013

Professor Lieber was an interesting professor for Literature Humanities Semester I. In my opinion, she is not as "excellent" as previous commenters say, but she was also not terrible. First, Professor Lieber is a very nice woman. She is a caring person and encourages everyone to meet with her before papers. She conducts discussions with moderate, but lacking skill. Despite her attempts, there were still very many awkward gaps during our discussions. Our class was at 9 AM and I think she needs to take greater initiative to get her students to think more critically during discussion. In my opinion, Professor Lieber didn't really contribute anything significant to my understanding of the literature. She allows students to discuss any topic, even if that includes the morality of having sex with one's mother (yes someone was arguing that such is not a bad thing). Professor Lieber could greatly enhance her class by incorporating a smaller lecture component in each discussion. Of course after taking one semester with her, I'm not sure if she has ANY real knowledge about these texts. In one meeting wit her, she told me that she did not "remember" the specific passage from which I decided to write my paper. I wanted to tell her: "HELLO you assigned the reading so you should at least remember the details of this scenario". I then received a B on that paper. I find it ironic that she finds her self able to grade my paper after being unclear about the subject matter. This brings me to my second qualm about Professor Lieber. She is a very harsh grader. I thought Lit Hum's purpose was to increase my literary analysis skills and enhance my knowledge of these texts. Rather than grade me on my knowledge and innovation, Professor Lieber grades me on HOW I write my paper. Most of the comments on my papers were stylistic. I never received above a B+ on a paper because she always found a problem in the way I expressed my argument, but not actually about a problem in my argument. This is NOT Uwriting. What is more frustrating is that when she hands papers back, she provides very few comments. She will find one error, explode upon that and randomly assigns a letter grade. I'd advise future students to meet with her but I doubt that will greatly affect your performance. I met before and after my papers and she often gave blank looks and answers, with no real explanation or helpful insight. I met with her before my 3rd and final paper, and she told me that I had "great ideas" and then she didn't contribute anything to my paper though I kept asking her for advice and ideas to strengthen my argument. My biggest gripe with Lieber's grading is the timeliness. I went into the final, not knowing 65% of my grade because she doesn't release your grade for participating (20%), your grade for the final paper (another 20%), or the final exam (25% of grade). I do not attribute any part of my good performance on the course-wide final to Emma Lieber's teaching. Oh, and she will randomly pick a favorite for discussion. She has ONE favorite, so start ass-kissing. If you're reading this, I hope you don't get Lieber for Lit Hum. She will only frustrate you. I head of other students in my class who didn't participate at all get As or A-s which makes no sense. I was one of the top 5 participators and I received a B+ in the end. Thank you for rewarding me Emma? The worst is when you students who dont read anything in your class and other classes are getting your grade. Conclusion: STAY AWAY FROM EMMA.

Jan 2013

Austin is a very nice and very easy instructor. He is a recent PhD graduate from UCLA, so his area of expertise is still fresh in his mind. Because of this, at times his reviews and discussions of books can be very "Spark-Notey," i.e. they don't really go deep. His class is structured as a complete discussion, no lecture. He mainly just asks questions, students answer, and he builds off of this to move from point to point. Never will you go into his class and be lectured about the content/meaning of a book, you are expected to figure that out for yourself via independent reading and class discussion. That being said, he is extremely lenient on grading and is VERY helpful in office hours. His reading can get daunting at times, but it truly is no more than any other Lit Hum class, and he follows the syllabus exactly (which means no extra readings). His grading policy is: 1/3 Class Participation (Talk in class - if you don't, you will not get a good grade) 1/3 Exams (Midterm and Final) 1/3 Essays (2 essays structured like the essays on the final) If you get Austin, DO NOT switch out. He is knowledgeable, understanding, always willing to grant an extension (for a legitimate reason), and helpful in the end. ***One note: DO NOT, under any circumstances, ANY circumstances, even pretend to cheat. He takes the honesty policy to the absolute maximum enforcement, and threatens to get students expelled if they cheat in his class. Overall, however, this is not going to be an issue - if you do the reading and show up to class, you can pass his midterms and essays, and then you take the course final which is more of a joke than it is an exam. Good luck!!

Jan 2013

jI'll cut down the redundancy and agree that most of the previous reviewers for Rosenberg have hit the nail on the head regarding his teaching style in class. But seriously - how many other professors will you encounter have such a deep understanding and appreciation of the classics, arts, and literature? After all, you're being taught by the dude who wrote John Ruskin's biography and turned his analysis of Tennyson's "Idylls of the Kings" into something akin to a religious text. Yeah, he repeats himself from time to time. Yeah, he does pick and choose favorites (and in my experience, he seems to favor the ladies more - I guess chivalry ain't dead in Rosenberg's turf). Yeah, he doesn't like it when people don't do the reading (but thankfully, he never gave our class pop quizzes. But if you are one of the fortunate freshman to have been placed in his section, I urge you to give Rosenberg a chance. He'll definitely challenge, if not change, your perspective from the Iliad to the Bible. Gradewise - I felt he was very generous with my final grade. I ****ing flipped out when I got my first midterm back (somewhere in the B+ range, which nearly gave this pre-med a heart attack). But as the semester dragged on, I appreciated more and more his "fluid" grading style. A lot of Lit Hum teachers will tell their classes that this midterm/paper/quiz/final/etc is worth a certain percentage of your grade, which in my opinion, can actually stress out and discourage a student even more especially if they have done poorly on any one of the assignments. But because Rosenberg (much to the class's chagrin) always said "I don't know how much each assignment is worth," we basically tried our best on everything, from those random pain-in-the-rear pop timed writes to our first (and last) take-home paper of the year. And I feel that in the end, he evaluates your work and your progress as a whole. So if you happen to be that student who struggles with writing (or just don't give a rat's ass about Diomedes or Pericles or Harpagus), yet you consistently participate in class and try to follow his instructions on the timed writes, you'll be on your knees singing Hallelujah once your final grade comes out (right in the middle of your other finals :) haha). As much as I enjoyed Rosenberg's class and teaching style, what I didn't appreciate was the fact that he didn't prepare us AT ALL for the IDs portion of the final exam. What I recommend is highlighting and marking any important quote (aka. quotes and passages that Rosenberg specifically discusses in class) so that you'll at least have something to review for come finals. Also, talk to your friends in other classes - chances are, their more "normal" Lit Hum teachers will have provided practice passage IDs that you can look at/borrow/test yourself to prepare for the final. Rosenberg's midterm, after all, didn't contain any IDs. So I apologize for this long review - it turned out to be a little redundant, I'm afraid. But if you are that frightened and uncertain freshman who turned to CULPA as soon as you found out your Lit Hum instructor was JDR, I do hope I've assuaged your concerns, if only a little. Good luck!

Jan 2013

I had this class at 9 AM, and it was remarkably uninspiring. At any given moment, half the class was asleep and a quarter of the class was on their laptop or phone surfing the internet. Although Silva does encourage student participation, this was limited to a handful of people who occasionally threw in comments; the rest of class time consisted of Silva droning on in an unchanging, quiet lullaby. Half the time he presented a question to the class, no one responded. Then there would be 10 seconds of awkward silence before he moved on. Even the people who participated regularly/ the people that sat right next to him were often nodding off. I can imagine that he could do much better with a less catatonic class, but keep in mind that this is a likely possibility. With that in mind, he has a..quirky sense of humor. Coupled with his high pitched giggle and rather cynical personality, he makes for an interesting specimen. He laughs often, most of the time only to himself. He's a huge advocate for close reading. Huge as in, his entire class basically runs on it. His two papers involve close reading, and since it's also a part of both the midterm and the final, I would suggest you learn to close read exactly the way he expects you to, or risk having an unappealing grade at the end of the year. He grades writing fairly, somewhat on the tough side though. He's surprisingly warm and willing to help during office hours, and he encourages students to go. I would take advantage of that. Definitely not an easy A class, but I think he gives you the grade you deserve. I don't want to discourage or encourage anyone, but I have had him one term and I'm not staying.

Jan 2013

Emily was a great teach, i had her for Lit Hum. It was a 6:10-8 class so Emily knew we were all tired so she kept us involved and let you have a down day if you needed it. She also occasionally brought in food! She is a fair grader and really looks for improvement. I wish she would have let us have a break at some point during the hour and fifty minutes but overall it was a good experience.

Jan 2013

Maksim is a phd candidate from the slavic department. While the class is relatively easy, it is also extremely boring. Maksim is a nice guy but it doesn't seem like he wants to be there anymore than the students do. The entire two hour class passes by very slowly with maybe a handful of people talking each class and then a dead silence for the rest of the two hours. The one thing that annoyed me about the class was that Maksim would ask a question, a few people would answer, and instead of a discussion he would just tell us what the "right" answer to the question was. But overall, a very easy class- he is a lenient grader. Didn't matter if you did the reading or not since there wasn't much discussion. side note- he doesn't care if you bring in a laptop.

Jan 2013

He really does not care about the class. He is pretty passionate about his own interpretations of the readings and is able to back them up, however. He will call you out if it is obvious that your comment is unfounded, but other than that it is a chill class. He is very knowledgeable, but class will be boring. He looks at the clock every five minutes towards the end of class, demonstrating his disinterest in the subject matter. I did not enjoy going to class, but I learned a moderate amount. Plus, he spends a class period reviewing for the final.

Jan 2013

Note: This is (supposedly) his last time teaching Lit Hum, but much of this applies to his other classes. This isn't your grandpa's Lit Hum. Unlike most, Yerkes spends a lot less time on the broad themes of the books and often goes line by line analyzing the language and style certain key passages. We would often spend an entire class on one page. Although this sounds painful, it really isn't - classes usually end a half hour early, and there's no real penalty for spacing out when he starts talking about gerunds. He often brings up background information about the books, and more importantly, allows for dissenting opinions and criticism of the books, as long as it was meaningful (ie. not "God was really mean in Job!"). Since he didn't force everyone to participate, I think a good third of the class said next to nothing all semester. I think in the end this had a positive impact on the quality of discussion and led to some genuine insights. There were no readings added or cut out, but because of the way the class is structured, such as him telling us the essay topics before the midterms, and the extremely narrow scope of the paper, you can get away with doing maybe 10% as long as you have the writing skill to back yourself up, and still get an A/A-. As a result he can seem pretty unfair, since time devoted to reading doesn't necessarily correlate to a higher grade, so if you do all the reading and want to be rewarded for that, you're probably better off switching into another section. Some people find his pop culture references, bashing of other Ivies, and ego grating, but he tones it down as the semester goes on, since he intentionally tries to get people to drop the class early on to have a more intimate group that's more open-minded about his idiosyncratic teaching style. Overall, I'd say give him a shot - there's a reason he has such a cult following among humanities majors.

Dec 2012

This is a good LitHum section! Like the previous reviewer said Joe has engaging lessons and is clearly invested in the subject matter. Even at 9 AM he's always awake and asking thought-provoking questions. He also has a pretty awesome party trick the first class (I won't spoil the surprise -- hopefully he continues doing this in future semesters) where he pretty much proved in my book that he cares about getting to know his students and making sure they get to know each other. Our LitHum class is exceptionally well-acquainted, which is great for a freshman year class! Joe indeed writes a lot of notes on your essays and tries to give a lot of feedback. He also seems like somebody who has all the time in the world for his students if you just set up a meeting with him. He's very reasonable with giving extensions as long as you ask at an appropriate time. He also plays no favorites whatsoever. In short, he's fair. While I sort of agree with the last reviewer saying that he 'suffers fools too lightly' (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE [I hope]) he sort of patches up the problem through his teaching style. What he does is that when people make comments, he repeats it back to them to make sure everyone gets it. What's cool is that when somebody makes a lame comment, we a) hear it twice and laugh, b) watch the person wallow in their own idiocy by trying to change their comment and make it somewhat meaningful. This encourages people to make meaningful comments. The problem is that people who don't 'get it' don't shut up. GO JOE!

Dec 2012

Although she may seem strict at first, Vesna is actually an incredibly easygoing teacher. At the beginning of the year, each member of the class had to schedule an appointment to meet with her and discuss our expectations for the class. I forgot to show up twice and both times she rescheduled with no complaints. She's very amiable and has a good sense of humor, even when students challenge her authority. When it comes to essays, she doesn't give out many As. I'd recommend meeting with her during office hours to discuss your idea for the paper, as you may lose quite a few points if she thinks your thesis is too obvious. The midterm is fairly easy. If you've done the reading, you won't need to budget much time for studying. If you haven't done any of the reading, you will have a miserable week before the midterm and another miserable one before finals.

Dec 2012

She has got to be the worst teacher I have ever had. She is so terrible at bringing up interesting discussion topics.. and she is a very boring lecturer when she decides to give us useless, boring, irrelevant information about the books. I don't even understand how Columbia can allow such a TERRIBLE teacher to teach here... She is truly a disgrace to Columbia teachers. That being said, she's even an unfair grader and a terrible human being. She changed the god damn format of the lithum midterm and didn't tell us until we got the actual exams. Also, her grades seem rather arbitrary, as she leaves little to no explanation. In fact, her explanations don't even make any sense. All in all, I wish I had switched out of this section from the start... One girl got so fed up with the teacher that she even stopped coming to class! That's a sign that she's a shitty teacher.

Dec 2012

She has got to be the worst lit hum teacher ever. Her "discussions" often consisted of her lecturing us and being really boring. Not only that, but she's also a terrible grader. She grades so harshly and her comments don't even make any sense. In fact, they hardly give any justification for why you received such a poor grade. Not only is she a terrible teacher, but she is also a terrible human being. She decided it would be a good idea to change the format of the midterm the day of the midterm. In fact, she didn't tell us about the change until she handed the midterm out to us. I'm sure that was a great idea professor. Overall, worst teacher/class ever, got a B+ though.

Dec 2012

Professor Knapp is awesome!!! Ignore the review before this one [editor's note: the review in question is the one written on September 28, 2012]!!! She is very nice, cares alot about her class, and is an extremely fascinating person. What I really like about her class is that she focuses on making sure the people who put the work into the class gain alot from it instead of focusing on punishing those that don't do the work. Some professors have quizzes in their lit hum section, ask if people have read, and have quote IDs on their midterm/final; not Knapp!!! What she really cares about is engaging the class in good discussion and tries to focus on what interests the students. We are (semi) required to make posts on a courseworks discussion board about a theme of the reading sometime before the class that discusses the work. Her discussions will be based off the responses we make on the discussion board. I really appreciate that she does this, but you can tell when most of the class didn't do the reading or BSed something for the discussion board response. The conversation is either not very engaging or between her and 2 students. That being said, when the discussions do work, they work very well. She will commonly scream something in the middle of class; very entertaining and her energy is highly appreciated. Many times I will come out of class with my mind blown about life, or uncomfortable with the fact that we were able to come to a truth about the text that I completely missed while reading on my own. The latter situation results in the most learning and makes me very grateful for having her. I really don't like the essays. Either I'm just bad at writing, or the essay prompts are ridiculous hard to respond to. Yet I attacked each one with a desire to improve, most likely because I felt guilty that Knapp was soo awesome to us. For example, she required us to email our essay ideas to her along with some supporting evidence by Friday at 6pm if we wanted feedback and to email her anyway after the deadline, albiet without feedback. I (being a hardcore procrastinator) submitted it at midnight on saturday (12:01am sunday?) and she replied to my email FIVE MINUTES LATER with a full page of analysis, critque, and constructive feedback. After our first round of essays, she required that we set up writing appointments with her for our second and third essays, where we would sit with her for 20 minutes and discuss our rough draft. These usually ended with her tearing apart my essay in the most polite way possible... "I really like the ideas you have and the direction you are going with this. You just need to re-do the structure of the essay and improve the overall argument" Gah, but still really helpful and greatly appreciated. I don't know why the previous review complained about her mid terms/final. She makes her own, which is FANTASTIC!!! Everyone else in Lit Hum complained about "Quote IDs" where they would have to identify the novel/speaker of a certain passage from memory without any sort of word bank; we had to analyze a passage which generally required knowing which text it was from, but we did not lose all the points for not knowing the exact speakers. The essays on the final/midterm were annoying, but you could get a B/B+ on it for vomiting whatever came to the top of your head onto the page, which was quite fortunate as we already felt bad enough for not doing as well as we wished. She really cares about the content and relfects this by actively adjusting the syllabus to what she thinks will work best. We did not read "The Medea" (which everyone said was really good) but instead read "Iphigeneia at Aulis" which was not only an easy read, but rather fun to analyze. I ended up writing two of my 3 essays on this book, and felt like I gain muched from analyzing this text in depth. Take Knapp. She is quite insane (in a good way), everyone in the class would love to have lunch with her (seriously, she is quite a character), most of the class wants to try harder in the class as a result of her actions, yet you can still get away with not participating in the discussion if you had a hard week and couldn't read the book. She is always willing to help out with any question you have, is very accessible via email/office hours, and she brought cupcakes and drinks (lemonade, green tea, sparkling water) to our last dicussion of the semester!!!! Most importantly, if you make the effort to read the texts, respond well to discussion posts, and work hard on the essays, the discussions will be very engaging and you will learn alot!!!!!!!

Dec 2012

I had Liza last year second semester. She was incredible. Liza is absolutely captivating. You will not fall asleep. She whispers, she screams, she calls everyone by their last name. In this class you will not know your neighbor's first name. Actually that part is a little awkward. Her discussion topics are also interesting, and she makes sure that at least some have thought about it before class through discussion posts. It get particularly interesting when you get to the Russian texts which seems to be her area of expertise. Finally, her class just felt FAIR. Lit hum is graded so weirdly. You have these stupid passage IDs and an essay you have to string together based on one word on the final? Why...? Liza's exams are long, but they are fair and cover things covered in class. If you are in her section, stay in it. And if you are not immediately impressed, wait. Or google her.

Dec 2012

She is such a great professor. She is completely fair and understanding; she often would change the reading assignments or due dates of papers based on the workload of students in the class. She is super nice and had interesting things to say about the readings. The class was discussion based with very minimal lecturing to give us background information. There were no reading quizzes, but she really values class participation. She is a pretty fair grader - not easy but it is possible to do well. I really enjoyed her class.

Dec 2012

Todd is an extremely friendly and approachable professor. The classroom discussion ran surprisingly well despite the fact that the class was at 9 a.m., and he made interesting and relevant points that encouraged conversation. He was willing to acknowledge when texts are uninspiring or lacked deep meaning, and tell you which parts of the reading to do carefully. Papers and midterms were graded on a very reasonable curve with the majority of the class in the B+/A- range and no one (to my knowledge) got below a B-. I'd strongly recommend Todd as a professor. I did learn a lot in his class, and he tried not to make it unnecessarily stressful.

Dec 2012

Professor Workman is amazing! Words cannot describe how great of a teacher she is. She's helped me improve my writing so much throughout the semester. There is an assignment due every class (you're allowed to miss 5) but it's totally worth it because it helps you keep up with the readings. The ONLY problem I personally have with this class is that it is at 9 am. I really wish it wasn't so early in the morning (not really a morning person). I think my note-taking ability was definitely impaired by the class being so early in the morning, which kind of sucks because she says a lot of really important and interesting stuff during the class. There have definitely been a few times (especially after getting only 4-5 hours of sleep the night before) that I had been just too tired to absorb much. All in all though, despite me not being a morning person, I'm still sticking with her class next semester because she is just that amazing of a teacher.

Dec 2012

Professor Parker is a great professor. Keeping up with the reading in this class is essential - there’s a lot of ground to cover, but that’s true across the board for Lit Hum. The material he wants you to engage with can be very abstract - e.g. discuss changing ideas of justice, ethics, morality, and the state across the texts - but Professor Parker tries to deliver a sophisticated treatment of each work. He’s also completely willing to meet with you outside of class and hash out anything you don’t understand. I don’t find him pretentious - I think he has a really sharp sense of humor - but he’s definitely not a high school teacher. And this is not a “wrap it in a bow” type of class - if you’re looking for a Lit Hum class where you just memorize terms, skim some of the reading, and come to clean conclusions - I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re looking for a class that really challenges you, with a professor that responds with intellectual seriousness to your work - and if you’re interested in the ideas that really drive these works - take it.

Nov 2012

Austin graham is a great LitHum professor. He's young, flexible with the syllabus and rewards effort. A third of your grade is participation, a third on exams, and the rest is for papers. He's funny and everyday seems like an open class discussion. One thing though, USE PROPER GRAMMAR! It is easy to lose points on an essay for not using proper grammar and go to see him during office hours. Overall, I'd recommend him

Nov 2012

If there were ever such a thing as intro to CC, Ben Parker's lit hum section would definitely be it. He directs lit hum like it's a philosophy class instead of a literature class and rambles on about Hagel and other texts we read in CC (literally, he said he will only references books we read in lit hum or CC). He can be quite arrogant and pretentious (definitely a hipster, might I add). However if you enjoy talking about really REALLY abstract philosophical ideas by all means take this section. It's definitely not for most.

Nov 2012

Ben Parker is a very smart and clearly well read Lit Hum teacher. However, you quickly come to absolutely hate his style as a teacher and his attitude towards Lit Hum. Ben Parker is arrogant, self-centered, and egotistical--at least for being a TA/grad student. His class is not so much of a conversation, but Professor Parker steering the conversation as he sees fit. Whenever a student speaks he can't hold his tongue from refuting, somehow, whatever the student says. I came to Columbia expecting Lit Hum to be an amazing experience. Professor Parker really negatively effected my first semester and I absolutely plan on switching out of his class for the second semester.

Nov 2012

Okay, so I had Akash for Lit Hum, and he definitely doesn't deserve a silver nugget. He wasn't very good at facilitating class discussions and for the most part everyone either made unfunny jokes about Don Quixote or stared at each other awkwardly. Akash was not a super hard grader but his paper topics were mostly pretty boring. He had some pop quizzes throughout the semester but typically everyone would score at least a check, which he said was "well into an A." His midterms mostly looked like the Lit Hum final except scaled down. Once we had to do a communal essay for our midterm, which was creative but ultimately a failure. I guess it was cool that we got a five minute break halfway through each class. Also there was pizza a few times. That was pretty neat. By the way, in case you think his name is pronounce A-KAAAASH, it's not. It's more like uh-cash. As in, "I don't have any uh...cash."

Nov 2012

Lit Hum: She is super nice and interesting to listen to. She is very understanding as well. On another note, she gives pop quizzes quite frequently. She will work out a time to go over any work or questions that you may have, but she cannot explain what she would like from you very well. She is a hard grader on essays and is not clear as to what she wants you to write about. Her essay prompts are very confusing. It is easy to get a good class participation grade.

Nov 2012

It's been three years since I took Yerkes' lit hum class, and as I near the end my time at Columbia, I find myself reflecting on the truly great experiences. Yerkes' class was inspiring and memorable. The man takes no shit, and he'll tell you it. Columbia needs more no-nonsense people like Dave leading classes. Your writing will improve, and you will think hard about the texts you read and about the choices you make here at school. To Yerkes, it's not about doing a great volume of work--it's about doing quality work. As he told us: "take as few classes as possible." That's why he assigns papers with low word counts, and that's why we never made it past the first page of a text. If his class doesn't appeal to you, you ought to reconsider, and if it still doesn't appeal to you, you ought to leave that slot for another student who doesn't know yet what he/she is missing. This was, indeed, the single best class I took at Columbia.

Sep 2012

Nancy Workman is bar none the best professor I've had at Columbia, and will probably continue to be so through the rest of my time here. I came into Columbia a dedicated science kid with very little interest in humanities, but Nancy managed to make me interested to come to Lit Hum, at 9 in the morning no less. This woman is so undyingly dedicated to that class that it is infectious. She meets with every student before each paper, sometimes multiple times or exchanging emails, and returns pages of constructive comments with your grade. She actively encourages study groups, even going as far to host the finals study session at her own apartment. Nancy has high expectations for you, so she's a bit of a tough grader -- she is totally and completely fair though. The grade you get is exactly proportional to the work you put in. You don't need to be the next Homer or Ovid, but you cannot half-ass this class. It's worth it though, since I was totally blown away by almost every discussion we had in that class. Nancy knows how to lead and moderate a discussion so that there's just enough freedom for us to respond to the texts in our own ways, but also to stay on topic and hit the major points from the readings. She obviously knows her stuff too. She wrote her thesis on Crime and Punishment -- at the end of the last session on it, she looked at the clock and, with 5 minute left, said "I don't normally do this, but I have some important things to say." Then she launched into this incredibly monologue on how the ending of the novel not only was important commentary on all the characters, but also on life and humanity itself. That sounds like total bullshit probably, but I am being completely serious when I say that I have never looked at a text with so much awe as after those 5 minutes. If you have the chance to take Lit Hum with Professor Workman and you chose not to, you're missing out on one of the best Columbia experiences, no doubt.

Sep 2012

Ok, I really don't know what all the excitement is about Liza Knapp. I got her for freshman year LitHum and was excited to have received a silver nugget professor. However, her class was anything but silver. I would go into class having read all of the assigned reading and excited to talk about the books. Within 20 minutes of the class starting, she managed to put me asleep with her conversation topics. We would talk about the smallest, irrelevant scenes in the books for almost an hour. I almost always fell asleep in class. Furthermore, it is not easy to do well in this class. For every single paper, I would go to her office hours prior to the due date to work out the kinks she suggested, and then when the paper was returned, I would receive B-'s! She pointed out new faults in my paper that she didn't point out in her office hours! And the cherry on top? She makes up her own finals and midterms. For one of the finals, we were sharing a classroom with another LitHum class. Everyone from the other class was gone with an hour to spare, but every single person from our class was still working. Her midterms and finals are way longer than the department made ones. SWITCH OUT OF HER CLASS!

Sep 2012

Nancy is the BEST! If you have a chance to take her class, DO IT!!!! She knows everything about everything, and is extremely enthusiastic about the material. You can tell that she really dedicates herself to the class. She is a bit of a tough grader, but she is very fair. If you have a conference with her before you write a paper for her, she is very helpful. Anyways, Nancy ROCKS! Take her class! DO IT!

Sep 2012

I will say it. Sacks deserves a gold nugget. He gives his all to every class, and if you do too then you will get an experience you will read for a life time. He is a gift to our university. That being said Sacks treats his students like adults, and if you don't act like one: you don't read the texts but try to bullshit your way with spark-notes, or just fall asleep (and come on guys, that is adolescent. Why are you even in the Ivy League?) then you will probably get nothing from this class and wonder what the hell everyone else was talking about. He leaves it up to you and teaches this course almost as if it is some type of graduate do what ever you want thing, instead of a freshmen identification of quotes course. He asks more than most professors seem to, but he also gives you more. He cuts the readings and the paper word limits, so this might have the most realistic expectations of any LitHum class but he also asks you to go the furthest with your ideas. I loved this course, and I reaffirm that he deserves a gold nugget. If you can switch to him I'd do it for sure. But honestly only if you buy the whole Ivy-league thing and the intrinsic value of knowledge and the joy of philosophy etc etc. If you wanna coast and come to class hung over, I'd look somewhere else, you'll probably be miserable, and give more work to other students (see below). So I say if you have Sacks then stick with him. But do your damn readings, and stay awake in class. If you don't, then like about half of my class you might wonder why the other half was so excited and happy to be in class every day. You are very fortunate to have someone who cares so much, not to mention how great of a professor he is. You will find many great professors in your years at Columbia, but few will care as much as Sacks does, and in the way that he does.

Sep 2012

Derrick was awesome, difficult but interesting. I really enjoyed his class. He did have a tendency to throw temper tantrums and stop class, which was unfortunate. The class was otherwise enjoyable though. I really liked how Derrick would make you question your assumptions, qualify your evidence on each paper. He probably made me a better writer. In my first semester I got a B+, which disappointed me, then I got an A-, which made me happier. Too bad no one else will have him though, he moved to South africa.

Sep 2012

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I didn't like Professor Horejsi's teaching style. Classroom discussions, at least in my class, never got particularly deep; Horejsi often rewarded students for comments that were banal (as in "Don Quixote is a quixotic character"), and didn't do much to push us towards deep or thought-provoking conclusions. She had a tendency to ramble and spent a lot of time summarizing or stating the obvious, which I found frustrating. We focused a lot on content at the expense of talking about themes in a meaningful way. She was also very strict about policy/grading, to an extent that I personally felt interfered with the quality of the class. If you get on her good side by participating a lot - even if you don't have anything intelligent to say - you'll probably enjoy the class. If not, it's still not a terrible class to be in; she's competent, you'll cover everything that needs to be covered, and sometimes she brings cookies. I just didn't find her as inspiring a professor as some others have.

Aug 2012

In terms of Lit Hum, I don't think I would give Prof Kumar a silver nugget. He is a decent teacher and knows his stuff, but I don't think he is fantastic at facilitating class discussions. Towards the end of each semester, class would get monotonous and dull --we would start talking about irrelevant things or just repeating ourselves. He does give us pizza parties so that's a plus! I did also feel very prepared for the final and midterm. He surprises you with pop quizzes which could be sometimes brutal (especially after spring break). When it comes to papers, he's generally very accepting about what you write about. But I would not say he is an easy grader nor is he a tough grader.

Aug 2012

Prof. Rosenberg is an old school literature professor. Think "stereotypical Ivy League". While some of what he says/emphasizes is a little trite/repetitive (he often repeats himself from class to class to class...), other points that he has about the texts are extremely insightful. He whips through the required readings at the speed of light, so be prepared. If you want to do well in the class, be sure to dominate the discussions of the books early in the semester; later on, Rosenberg will primarily rely on those people who contributed to class discussions a lot in the beginning of the semester. One of Rosenberg's pet peeves is people not reading the assigned readings. If you didn't read the book, either skip class, Sparknote, or just sit/take notes/be quiet, because if he catches you, he will not hesitate to harshly reprimand you in front of the class. If he catches any one person in the class who has not read the book, he'll start pop quizzes. (and will institute them for the rest of the semester faithfully, which is annoying)

Aug 2012

Margo Rosen is GOD. Her class delivered everything I expected out of the Columbia Core, and really was life changing. After taking her class, I feel prepared to read and analyze any text that comes my way. She advocates "close reading," and wants her students to become experts at it. By the end of the year, the things we would pull from the texts and the conclusions and observations made TRULY blew my mind and changed the way I see the world. In my opinion, THIS is what the core is about. Not only is Margo a brilliant woman, but she is also extremely down to earth and a wonderful person to talk to about just about anything. Make use of her office hours--she will truly make a concerted effort to get to know you as a person and to understand your own learning style. I cannot say enough about this professor and this class. I wish I could have her for CC too (and every other class I ever take ever.) She epitomizes the type of person I want to be when I grow up: someone who is smart, has a wonderful sense of humor, cares a lot about learning, but doesn't take herself too seriously, and wants to see others succeed. She could make any work of literature fun, stimulating, and fascinating. In short, take this class. It will probably be one of the best intellectual adventures of your life. I know that sounds cheesy as hell, but that is what this class is and I loved EVERY second of it.

Aug 2012

Dalia is an angel. It was her first year teaching LitHum, as she is in the Germanic Languages department at Columbia. She has a moderately thick German accent and is rather insecure about her English-speaking abilities, but there we had absolutely no problems understanding her. She likes to make a few jokes and always keeps the mood in the classroom lively. We had a 6-8pm class, which might be one of the worst timeslots you can have for LitHum, but she started a cookie sign-up sheet, and so we had a 10~15 minute break in the middle of each class just to eat cookies and stretch/talk. She's a pretty easy grader; most of our class got A's. She's very lenient with papers (again, most students got A's) and doesn't seem to mind if a paper is 3/4 of a page shorter than it needs to be. That being said, she DOES prepare you well for the LitHum final exam, which is standardized for most LitHum professors. As long as you do all (or most of) your reading and pay attention to the passages she brings up in class for discussion, you will be well prepared for quote identification/passage analysis on the midterm and final exams. Trust me, you want Dalia for LitHum.

Aug 2012

Review: Professor Stalnaker is one of the quirkiest and learned professors you'll probably get in Lit Hum. First off, she's extremely considerate of the work from other classes her students gets and often moves her paper deadlines in response (in fact, I don't think that we ever ended up handing in a paper on its original due date). Also, she always asks where the class is in the reading and tailors the class on the spot accordingly, which is nice. She really makes the class discussion-based, and only lectures only to provide background or a more scholarly aspect of the text (one you can't just get from classroom analysis). She's really open to student input and participation, but be forewarned, she does not take BS. Not that you'll ever see that side of her. She has a somewhat annoying habit of not calling people out on their BS, and when she doesn't really give much direction for how much she expects in papers, not knowing how good your BS is can be a problem. Or you just not BS, I guess.

Jun 2012

I wholeheartedly I agree with the brilliant reviews given below me for Professor Howley with a number of additional comments. Whether it was using frequently the resources on the Core website or the Batskolnikov comics or the video game Dante, I loved the way he encourages students to think outside of the box when it comes to literature as he often connects the works to other artistic mediums in a very entertaining and interesting manner. Moreover, he does an outstanding job, especially with the Roman-Greek works, in placing his students in the adequate context and thus strengthening the cohesiveness of the Core narrative. For instance, his introduction to Thucydides and Herotodus proved to be essential for understanding the zeitgeist these works represented and made the readings much less fragmented than they seem. I also loved the concise but surprisingly informative account he gave of Roman history just before we tackled the Aeneid. Above all, I would like to echo some of the comments on how easily approachable and relatable Professor Howley is, especially when it comes to small digressions about video games and college life :)

Jun 2012

If you're in JKW's class: congratulations, you just won the lottery for Lit Hum profs. If you aren't yet in JKW's class: switch in ASAP. I took Jon's Lit Hum class as a freshman and it was by far my favorite Core class. Four years later, the class and Jon still keep in touch, and we even had a reunion! Jon leads highly engaging, fun discussions that made two hours twice a week fly by-- even in the shitty room in Hartley to which we were relegated. He is understanding (I screwed up a paper assignment, he let me redo it and I still got an A), makes time for students (there is a standing invitation to grab a drink with him to discuss Lit Hum or anything else), and cares about his students and their experiences in the course. I can't say enough good things about Jon's Lit Hum section!

Jun 2012

I'm a science major and LitHum was hands down my favorite class freshman year. Obviously all LitHum classes are a lot of work and Jeff really expects the entire class to do all the reading but it's worth it in the end. It'll help you stay awake for what might at first seem like a really tangential discussion but end up being completely mindblowing. He is undeniably extremely smart, funny in a kind of awkward but genuine way and humble (even though people might not think so immediately). Also, he makes a HUGE effort to get to know his students and make the class work. He met with us at least twice for 20 minutes individually in order to discuss our own progress, concerns, or suggestions for the class and tries really hard to implement anything we recommend. He plans a ton to make the class informative but also interactive and discussion based. Also if you have any type of concerns, he's super nice about coming in to see him during office hours or through email. And just to top off all that dedication, following every single essay we wrote, Jeff wrote an entire single-spaced page filled with things that we did well in our essay, but also things that need to be worked on. I'm not sure about other people, but Jeff was super specific about what he wanted me to work on throughout the year, and really helped and pushed me to do it throughout both semesters either through his 900 word emails or his lengthy office hours discussions. He also gave midterm reviews and finals reviews (with food!) for us and it was decently helpful though pretty long. Finally, like the other people said, go to the trips he plans! He'll be upset if you don't and they're definitely an experience that you won't forget. We were his first LitHum class so there were some kinks, but I think almost all of us (if not all of us) were incredibly sad that we couldn't have him again for CC.

May 2012

I had Yasmine for the 2010-2011 academic year, and we were the first class to have her. I can honestly say that Yasmine is a double edge-sword, and that is is possible to do well in her class, but it is also possible to do badly. First off, Yasmine was really sweet. She is a really nice person that does a hard job at trying to cover the material albeit she does not know the texts in a super in-depht way and does not have much experience with western literature. She gave cookies to us, and also held class dinners where she was really nice! However, some people with bigshot LitHum professors with PhDs and the works who were extolled for being amazing professors in fact did poorly on the midterm and final because their professors really try to make the class to focus on random and narrow topics that are rather silly and too much like a debate class in my opinion, and I do believe the broad and comprehensive review of all of the material in Yasmine's class was beneficial for preparing for the final and midterm. I did pretty well on both exams. So, she was an "average" professor as the first LitHum reviewer said (rather arrogantly and condescendingly), if by "average" you mean covers as much as she can to try to prepare us for the exams and cover as much important and pertinent information as she can. I find this good and preferable to arrogant experienced professors that don't focus on the bigger picture.. That being said, Yasmine is a ruthless, biased and cruel paper grader. She would spew out Bs on my papers incessantly, despite all of my efforts on trying to improve my papers from the previous bad grade. However, students around me, who got As on their first papers, continued getting As, despite (as they said) making no effort to improve or having rushed on the papers and completing them last minute. Thus, in my opinion, Yasmine was a biased grader and didn't really grade on improvement, but rather just how you did on your first paper. Compared to some other nicer LitHum professors, who gave As on papers and graded based on actually seeing improvement, Yasmine riddles your essays with unnecessary comments, and gives rather stupid justifications for your poor grade. Obviously, she is suffering from "grad student power syndrome." The papers, unfortunately, account for a large chunk of your grade, more so than the midterm and final. Thus, based on whether she likes you or not, and your first paper, your grade can be an A or a B. A lot of kids, including myself, were upset that we ended up with a B. The papers make up about 60%, the midterm and final 30%, and there is a short presentation on one of the readings every student has to do (5-10 minutes). She never gave us the grades, but I assume she probably she probably gave a ruthless grade on these as well -_-. Participation also counts, and all these percentage values are approximate.

May 2012

Professor Howley was an awesome Lit Hum professor! Literature Humanities is every Columbia student's introduction to the Core Curriculum, and in many ways, Columbia itself, and I was very fortunate to have such a great experience in this class. The class was interesting and engaging, and Professor Howley really made sure we contributed a lot to the conversation; this class was definitely not a 2-hour lecture, though he would contribute his knowledge of the texts to help give us context and a starting point for discussion. Especially during the first semester, Professor Howley never hesitated to give a "latin lesson of the day," as the classics are his speciality. He was always available to meet with, either via email or outside of class, whether it be to discuss your essay or just questions in general. Everything is fairly graded, and often will have a rough draft or always will have a review session before exams to make sure everyone knows exactly what to expect. As the class progresses from the Greeks to the modern world, Professor Howley does a great job connecting all the works of literature into one long continuous story. It becomes clear how the more modern works, for example, are influenced by the older ones. His enthusiasm for the course really comes across in his interest and knowledge of the material, and his love of the texts certainly rubbed off on us. I can almost say with confidence that everyone in my class had pretty much the same experience as I did, and really enjoyed Professor Howley's class. And to anyone who loves video games, he is an enthusiastic gamer, especially when it comes to Skyrim.

May 2012

I'm going to start this review with a quote, against all writing advice: "You bludgeon a cow, and then you bury it, and then bees." This is a pretty accurate summary of how Prof. Howley teaches. It's just sort of vibrant. He's passionate about teaching Lit Hum--he's a classicist by training, specializing in reading during the Roman period, so a lot of the material is his what he would be studying anyway--and is really interested in hearing the ideas of the class. Whenever someone would make some really great point, he would try and get either them (or the class) to expand on it, but it didn't just increase the class' understanding. It seemed like he was learning along with us. (Not in any bad way. Maybe it's because I had him during his first year at Columbia...) Anyway, this kind of teacher, at least for me, is exactly the kind you want for Lit Hum. He's young enough so that he's relatable (he was still telling us stories about his college roommate), but knowledgable enough that he could really teach, not just connect. You're lucky if you're assigned to his section. He really cares about Lit Hum (we begged him to teach CC, to no avail), and he really cares about how much of his class gets out of it. I haven't put much abou how he actually teaches in this review, I guess because I didn't think it was too important. I'm not saying that he wasn't a good teacher, but that his teaching was informed by his personality. Howley controlled the classroom and connected to the class through his youth, through his vibrancy, and through his passion. He facilitated discussion for most of the 2 hours, with lecture ONLY WHEN NECESSARY, and, if he did lecture, it was always brief and to the point. Overall, this was a great class. Be happy if you get it, but be ready to participate.

May 2012

I was SO excited to have Tatiana after reading all the CULPA reviews about her and realizing I got lucky with my LitHum professor. I thought class was going to be exciting and discussions would be great and on top of that, it wouldn't be hard to get a good grade. This thinking was a bit premature--because I was very very wrong about how classes would be. The same two or three people would talk each class (and they often grew annoying) and no one new ever volunteered. She's extremely passive and doesn't really call on people to do anything except when it comes to reading passages from the texts. Thus, as you can imagine, she's awful at facilitating discussion. She asked vague questions that didn't really lead to any substantial discussion and I feel that I ultimately got very little out of the class. She often spent at least half of the two-hour class lecturing on the background and the historical context of each text (which is valuable but when you only get two classes maybe to discuss a text it's really not a focal point whatsoever). It's true that the class is easier than other LitHum classes (possibly--I wasn't ever in a different LitHum class so I have no basis for comparison), but I think this was incredibly detrimental to the class. After students realized that you basically didn't have to do any of the reading and could skim Sparknotes for an hour a week and still probably pull an A- in the class, there were just such low expectations for the class that basically no one did the reading (made the lack of participation even more pitiful), students slept in class and she didn't call you out on it (unless you slept every minute of every day), students always had their laptops on and clearly were not paying attention, basically the entire class was checked out (save for the two or three people mentioned above). This is not what a discussion class should be, and certainly not what a Core class should be. Personally, I did maybe half of the reading (less and less as the year went on). I wanted very much to get a lot out of this class, because I think having this literary background is very useful, but when you don't need to do the work to do well in class, and you have so much other work to do for other classes/extracurriculars that you actually do need to do, this class is just not a priority. And if everyone thinks this way because the professor has allowed the students to do so, then the class just becomes a joke. So in case I haven't been clear: the class, simply put, was boring. I got virtually nothing out of it, and most of what I did learn was simply from reading the texts. Tatiana is incredibly nice and sweet, but that doesn't make her a good professor. She wasn't interesting and she was unsuccessful at engaging with the class. If you have her, stay in the class if you're not looking to put a lot of work in or get a lot out of it, or if you hate reading or something. But if you're looking to really learn and you were excited as an incoming freshman about the Core this is one class I do not recommend. I guess I'd still go to the first few classes and see what happens. Maybe your class will be better than mine (the lack of participation was of course not entirely her fault).

May 2012

I am so glad I was in Yerkes' class. Like many have said below, it is like no other section, and when it comes to Lit Hum classes, not being normal is generally a good thing. We were not subjected to a grad student working her way through the discovery of how she wants to teach. We did not have to write responses on Courseworks or take reading quizzes to prove that we had a superficial understanding of what we read. Instead, we didn't read, and worked from there, which led to a surprisingly interesting class. As much as I loved it, I can think of a lot of reasons why you might not want to take this section. As I said, it is not really Lit Hum. For the most part, you will not discuss themes or plots or images. The usual class was at least 75% Yerkes talking, with at least 75% of that being things completely unrelated to what we "read." When we did open the books, it was almost exclusively to look at the first page alone and trying to understand very specific word usage (Major Note: Yerkes' field is English Language, not English). If you're really into the idea of Lit Hum as it is presented by the admissions officers or tour guides, this probably isn't the class for you. Yerkes hates Lit Hum as it exists now. He correctly says that college students today cannot be expected to read a dozen books a semester and actually understand them, that we either try to read them, but do it so quickly we don't gain anything, or do not read them at all. His solution would be to read one or two books over the course of the semester, but really read them and dig deep into them, rather than frantically hopping through the entire Western canon. The class is built around the idea that you don't know anything, that anything anyone says has to be justified logically from the ground up. Yerkes clearly hates when people use words they learned in AP English, because simply saying something is an example of synecdoche is meaningless if you don't know what the word is; he would much rather have you say exactly what synecdoche means and never use the word itself. It is incredibly common for someone to begin talking and immediately be shot down for having an unclear idea or making a generalization that isn't true. You are forced to think and speak precisely (using too many words is a cardinal sin), justifying everything you say with logic instead of your knowledge of AP vocab words. There is so much more to say about this class, but I think there are definitely plenty of reviews below that pretty accurately sum up Yerkes and what he's about. I can very honestly say that I loved this class and have no idea what I'll do in CC next year with a non-Yerkes teacher. Even though we did not do Lit Hum the Lit Hum way, I still think we learned more about how to think than any other class did.

May 2012

I loved this class. Prof. Howley is smart, personable, and eloquent. He is a classicist with lots of enthusiasm for Greek and Roman literature, but does not fall short in the second semester with the modern works. He facilitates class discussions, and walks the fine line between teaching and allowing students to develop their own opinions. It's possible to go through the course without reading all the texts, but he does not go over all the plot points of each book, so you really need to do the readings to know what happens. By doing so, he allows discussions to be guided by ideas rather than facts in a way that makes the class fascinating. Throughout the year we would draw connections between what we were currently reading and what we had previously read, and creating an understandable progression from Homer to Virginia Woolf. My notes are filled with little phrases he's said during class that provide tremendous insight into the books and are food for thought even after we've moved on to other works. Consider yourself lucky if you're sorted into his section, and if you have the chance to switch in, do so!

May 2012

I came into Derrick's class fully aware of the high demands he places on his students, and I completely agree with the reviews below. After a few weeks, classes became fairly routine but comfortable: rich discussion carried by about 5 people every class (quality drops noticeably when a key member of the class is absent), with occasional writing exercises or group presentations. I will concede that he can be very intimidating; you can tell when he isn't in a pleasant mood at the very start of the seminar, and it will affect the atmosphere for the rest of the class. Nevertheless, when he is truly engaged in the discussion, he will enable you to make the connections between paragraphs and ultimately the various lit hum texts in ways that you could not previously conceive of. Regarding his grading, he does ask for a lot, and it's likely that your midterm/final grade will not be up to your normal standards. Nonetheless, the fact that he is willing to look over his students' drafts reveals his genuine desire to help his students succeed; take advantage of this. Though I rarely attended his office hours due to schedule conflicts, I did commit myself to narrowing a topic and sending him a draft for every paper I wrote. Another piece of advice that I discovered but can't completely confirm is that if you write on the books he enjoys, you get bonus points; this is the only way I can explain his uncharacteristically generous grading on my latter 2 papers of the spring semester. Of course, Derrick is headed off to South Africa next semester, so this review will probably be moot and unseen by future lit hum students. Nevertheless, it was a great pleasure being in Derrick's class, and I wish him the best in his new position at Capetown.

May 2012

Professor Rosen is very thoughtful, approachable, and enthusiastic. Definitely the best instructor I've had at Columbia so far. She is so genuinely excited about all of the works we read that after each class, I ended up liking even the works that I had initially disliked. She encourages discussion and lets you make any point as long as you can soundly back it up with specific details in the text. The other reviews are pretty much spot-on, but I just want to say that Margo is a truly wonderful Lit Hum professor. Take her class!!!

May 2012

Derrick is an incredible Lit Hum teacher. I was so worried about the Core as a first year in the college, but Derrick reminded me why I chose the school and I really appreciate that. He's very charismatic and passionate about literature, and class discussions are often both insightful and entertaining. He's a tough grader (I think most people got C's on the first draft of their first paper), but never unfair and always willing to meet with you for one or two writing meetings if you schedule in advance. A few things to consider -- he can be moody sometimes, especially in the winter. And if he's not satisfied with the class's analysis, he makes no show of hiding it, which can be incredibly intimidating. Sometimes it's frightening to the point where it's hard to speak up in class. Also, you can definitely tell when he does not like a text. Our classes on Montaigne, Pride and Prejudice, To the Lighthouse, and Angels in America were all fantastic, but it was quite difficult to get through Don Quixote. All in all, an incredible Lit Hum experience. Most of the time, I walked out of the class feeling like I had just experienced a literary breakthrough. I tend to be silly like that, but my point still stands.

May 2012

Do not ever take this woman's class. This is a solemn warning. If you are a masochist then you will definitely enjoy her lectures because all she brings is pain - mind destroying pain. Your Lit Hum experience will be ruined and your self confidence along with it. Every student in this class was psychologically scarred after one semester, except of course for those one or two sycophantic teacher's pets. She has not only yelled at people in class but also "anonymously" ridiculed every member of the class by reading parts of their first essay in front of all of the students. Wait, there's more! She then proceeded to ask the students to criticize the essays that were written by their peers. Save yourself.

May 2012

I enjoyed Frederick's class very much, although I knew others who definitely did not. He is incredibly smart and you can tell he is knowledgeable and passionate about all of the works on the syllabus, which was why I liked his class, but sometimes this means that he talks more at us than with us; the discussion was very one sided a lot of the time. This could also have been because probably three people in the class ever did the reading though. I felt like he had better things to say than people most of the time so I actually liked him lecturing on the reading. He is really fair with the papers. He requires you to meet with him before you turn them in to discuss your topic, and he basically tells you what you should say in them (so take good notes if you go!).

May 2012

Prof. Forbes should definitely not be counted among the easier Lit Hum teachers. She can be demanding, and it's true: she *will* eventually lead the class towards her own conclusions, and you as a student towards writing the paper she wants you to write. More often than not, you'll come to the individual writing conferences with her and find yourself leaving with a completely new essay and an argument that she has basically laid out for you. Most of the times, all I had to do was find quotes that demonstrated her own argument, write in my own words and expand/analyze a bit, and my essay was done. Having said that though, I think I definitely appreciate all she did for me as a student. I think it a bit arrogant to call a teacher "horrible" because she gives her own input or treats you somewhat "condescendingly". It's true, sometimes I felt a bit uncomfortable, and she would quite openly dismiss our interpretations/ comments with an "okay..." or, even sometimes: "or maybe not"; discussions eventually gravitated towards what she wanted them to, and at one point she *did* admit that she was being a bit harsh in our individual writing conferences. BUT I think in the end she had a good plan and I got a good taste for all the works. More importantly, I left the class with a genuine interest in literature, and a much better approach towards analyzing works. In the end, pretty much every single Lit Hum teacher has a plan they must all stick by; it's part of the class itself. So do not in any way feel discouraged because she doesn't consider your comments extremely valuable or important. She will *always* give you the chance to speak no matter how many stupid comments you've made. In the end, we're all here to learn, not to have our opinions validated or applauded every single time. Sometimes we'll be right, sometimes not. If I knew everything about literature before Columbia I wouldn't be here, and I think in the end Prof. Forbes gave me a great new perspective on all these classic works. In the end, what may seem as condescending attitudes or forced discussions are part of the learning process. It might be a bit unconventional, but at the end of the day, I'm sure I'll look back and miss Prof. Forbes. She always gave helpful comments, was interested in seeing us learn and grow, was *always* available to write recommendations and help out with any applications, baked us sweets and brought food for us sometimes, etc. So to sum up: a. I won't sugar coat it: sometimes you'll feel frustrated with her class, sometimes you'll feel embarrassed or even dumb. She's tough and sometimes you'll consider changing sections. But: b. we're all here to learn and grow, and though she may be a bit rougher or less nurturing than one would like, that's part of the college learning process every new student should quickly get used to. Prof. Forbes is definitely not suited for everyone. If you like to hear your thoughts validated, feel like you're the smartest person in the world who knows how to interpret all of these works already, then you're better off steering away from this class, and--if I may-- steering away from Columbia, period. No one here's going to make you feel adored or particularly intelligent; if you *were* actually that smart, there's no need for you to even be here. However, if you're willing to stand up to the challenge, face this class like any real, dedicated student should face any college class, and come into every discussion with an open mind and an attitude to learn, you'll really grow a lot as a student and as a person with Prof. Forbes. It may be tough love sometimes, but at the end of the day you'll appreciate her work, and the hug you give her when you turn in your final will be genuine.

May 2012

I know it's ben said a million times before, but this woman is amazing! I switched into this section after my first semester professor left (I thought I loved her). I had low expectations considering that I didn't think LitHum could get better than first semester. As many people say, there is a heavier workload, but it's one of those times when I don't mind the workload because you know every hour you're putting in, she is at least matching. Every single response paper was returned with a plethora of useful comments, quotes from the literature, and passages I might find interesting based on my response. Plus all the work one puts in for these response papers makes studying for the midterm and final much less of a time commitment. Her ability to engage with the texts is phenomenal. Beyond the fact that she speaks pretty much every language ever and her zest for knowledge is amazing, she has the ability to ask questions that make one look at the text in a whole different light. One thing though, if you don't want to participate don't make eye contact because she'll often call on whomever is making eye contact with her at the moment. I sincerely hopes she gets to teach more Slavic courses, as I would take anything to be in the same room as her again.

May 2012

What does it take to get a gold nugget? If there's anyone who truly deserves one, it's Professor Mendelson. I don't think a review can possibly express how great of a professor he really is. His class will make you think of the world in a way that you probably never did before. With his years of experience at Columbia, he knows what he's talking about. If you happen to be in his class, consider yourself to be amongst the luckiest of freshman at Columbia. It is classes like these that you will be constantly reminded of, mainly because of how much you genuinely learn about individuality and how the world works in general. At the beginning of the semester, Mendelson assures his students that his section of LitHum will be a completely low-stress section. His reason being that he believes that in doing so, it allows the students to feel more comfortable in class, which in turn results in clearer thinking. Coming into the class, I didn't know how well it would work, since it allowed those students who didn't want to do a lot of the reading an opportunity to slack off. However, in the end, it proved to be an effective method of fostering a highly efficient academic environment. Top top it all off, not only is he (arguably) the best professor you can find for LitHum, but he is also a pretty lenient grader. He usually assigns two (arbitrarily unimportant) grades: one each for ideas and writing, the latter of which he'll probably rip apart most students for. However, he does this because he truly understands how one needs to write to effectively get their ideas across to their audience, whomever they may be. Get ready for a great year with him!

May 2012

Jeff is awesome. He adds things to the syllabus that add so much to the curriculum. Do yourself a favor: go on all of his weird excursions, because they're helpful, unforgettable, and really bring the class together. He is enthusiastic, funny, and really knows what he's doing, and by the end of the year, the entire class loved him. I really feel like I learned a lot in Lit Hum, and not everyone leaves freshman year feeling that way.

Apr 2012

Liz is a remarkably insightful person, and if you are willing to engage with her she will elicit that insight in you. That said, it is very easy to sail through the class half-asleep; Liz is incredibly kind so she'd never call anyone out — but she wants you to get out what you put in. Whether that is sleeping through every lecture (admittedly 9 a.m.) or talking through every paper extensively with her one-on-one is up to you. The reading was definitely the best aspect of the course, but I don't really distinguish between the time I spent reading and the time I spent in class discussing — the class worked together (at least, most of the class) with Liz to understand the texts with both depth and context, making seminar a very rewarding two hours. LitHum is all about what you're willing to bring to the table, especially with Liz. Some people in the class definitely did not get much out of it, but it certainly gave me a new appreciation for literature and close analysis.

Apr 2012

This woman has helped me grow as a thinker, as a student, and as a person. She fosters discussion, she contributes her own thoughts on the subject, and she always tries to make sures that students are not only understanding the subject matter but are enjoying it. She is a quirky instructor and often amusing to watch, but she is just as amused by us. I especially respect and appreciate when she admits her own limitations in a subject; for example, not fully understanding a scientific concept and asking if any students are familiar and could explain better than she. She does this because we have our own limitations and it gives balance to the class. She does not penalize; she just asks for better behavior. This is not an easy class to teach because the material can be very dense and the students can often lose interest, but Carole maintains our focus and engages us and challenges us every step of the way. She manages it with such grace and I know that I am not alone in my great respect for her as a teacher and as a mentor. We were never assigned anything extra. She would add or remove items from the syllabus as needed, which could be frustrating for one's own personal schedule planning, but overall made the course much more manageable and effective. Essays were standard and exams were appropriately balanced.

Apr 2012

--First things first, I had this class at 9am and I am not a morning person at all. I could have switched classes at the semester, but chose not to, in order to stay with Prof. Myers. If you read no further, consider that.-- I quite liked Prof. Myers as my Lit Hum instructor. It might be telling that it kind of feels weird every time I actually type "Prof. Myers"--he, and his class, are laid back in that sense, but at the same time I just didn't really call him anything, I always just approached him and started talking. I can't even remember if he did the stereotypical write-name-on-chalkboard-introduction thing at any point. Also, he's technically not a professor (yet?). No matter. Point is, he's super approachable, and won't ever get in your face. For some people, this is the perfect combination for a core class. He will cater to your every inquiry, provided that you actually bring it up or go to office hours. For many freshman at Columbia, this can be an intimidating prospect, especially considering Prof. Myers' vast and readily apparent knowledge of the material and his slightly more reserved style. But go anyway! He's super approachable. That being said, there's a clear sense of responsibility in this class. If you approach him in want of an extension or help with a text, you better have actually put a morsel of genuine thought into your proposal. I don't mean to say that he'll mad dog you if you don't--far from it. He's always very polite and looking out for the interests of his students. But don't expect to fool him by showing up to office hours and expecting to be given "answers" or making specious comments in class to pad your participation grade. In my opinion, this, combined with his ever-open attitude toward student responses, resulted in a somewhat strange, restrained classroom environment where everyone felt compelled to make the most profound statement ever (But then again that kind of thing is common at Columbia). He was totally interested in honing our analytical and reading skills, and sometimes I think that came at the expense of actually being familiar with some of the material. Students are naturally going to really focus on some texts and skim over others, so it's natural that we really do want to know (at bare minimum) appropriate cocktail party lip service about each text. I'm not sure if I know that for all of them. Ideally, I would have liked for him to construct a bit more of an introductory premise to the texts. I think that might have preempted some of the slightly lingering after-question silences too. Also, I would have liked him to shut down the pompous always-slouching kid that joined our class at the semester, but he was too nice. Alas.

Apr 2012

Though her class was easy to get an A in (especially if you write longer papers than required that she assumes must be good) but I transferred out of her class after the first semester and it has been the best decision I've made yet. Discussions never left me feeling better informed about the texts, only that I had just wasted the past two hours. Professor Cavallo has no idea how to lead a discussion. She doesn't bring up any questions and merely asks students to merely find specific quotes in the text, and then punishes anyone who tried to actually interpret the texts. The same is true for her papers. Class discussion normally died once the few people in our class that spoke had exhausted themselves and it always seemed like she struggled to even have enough stuff to discuss in the full class times. That said, she certainly graded quite easily, everyone did fairly well on the midterm, and I did well on both my papers, but that A wasn't worth regretting every week why I had chosen Columbia and its core.

Apr 2012

Anjuli's sheer brilliance and enthusiasm for the course material made each two-hour seminar engaging and enjoyable. Her method of teaching/class structure was refreshingly organic- classes never felt forced or too calculated. A typical class would begin with 5-10 minutes of free-writing on a particular passage of the text, followed by a discussion of the passage. Anjuli would build off of our discussion, by posing insightful questions here and there. Despite her obvious brilliance and clear intelligence, Anjuli never took on a condescending tone, as many professors at this institution tend to do...instead she was unfailingly encouraging, and was always somehow able to insightfully build off of every thought. Anjuli is a fair grader, and it is clear from her comments that she takes ample time and consideration when assessing papers and exams. Anjuli is easily the best professor I've had thus far, and I'm quite sure this will remain true through my next three years here at CU.

Apr 2012

Jeff really is great. I'm afraid we might be building him up too much, but it's all genuine enthusiasm. We really love him! He's funny, excited, young, well-read, approachable, witty, and willing to make fun of himself. He makes you want to do the reading because you don't want to disappoint him. He pushes everyone in class and doesn't let anyone get away with a half-baked generalization. Bottom line: if you get Jeff, you're a lucky duck, and your friends will soon be jealous of you.

Apr 2012

I am sure there are other people out there who think that their LitHum teacher is better but Tatiana is the ONE AND ONLY best LitHum teacher you can wish for. For some lucky reason I ended up in her class and it was a blast. As long as you do some of the reading (which she doesn't have much control over since it is dictated by the core) and show up to class you WILL get an A (or even A+) in her class. If you are lucky enough to have her then keep her and if you are looking to switch into her class, DO IT. She is cute, intellectual, witty, kind, and an absolute genius. You come to realize how fucking smart she is but you never feel intimidated or looked down on. Have fun!

Apr 2012

Darragh is great. He's witty, challenging, thorough, and sets up a schedule so that a different student brings in snacks every day so that we can eat cookies during our five minute break. ;) I agree, he is a pretty tough grader----I received Bs even after working pretty hard on my papers. Recently I've been meeting with him several times prior to each paper, though, and it has definitely helped me to do better in his class (currently have an A/A-, so it's not impossible to get As). I do most of the readings, but there are definitely those in the class who don't. Sparknotes/Shmoop works. If you feel seriously unprepared (i.e. haven't read or Sparknotes'd at all) you can go talk to him in the beginning of the class and he's understanding about it. You should be glad to have Darragh; he guides the discussion well with just the right balance of asking questions/giving us info/letting the class discuss.

Mar 2012

Professor Rosen is absolutely fantastic. This is pretty much all you can ask for in a lit.hum class, and Margo delivers. She is genuinely excited about legitimately every work we read and it shows. Discussions are really innovative and fun. Rosen usually spends a little bit of the first class on a new work going over the author of the text, his time-period and other possible social impacts of the time, but after, discussion delves right into the text. Rosen is an advocate of what she calls "close reading" where she breaks down text sometimes word for work, and ends up coming to some really unexpected but amazing conclusions which definitely provide an entirely different perspective on a work. Discussions do proceed mainly on her guidance but she respects every point brought up, and is accepting of other readings of the work as long as they are appropriately backed up by textual evidence. She is really knowledgeable of every work and this shines through her discussions and opinions. In terms of grading, she is pretty tough on essays. She asks for relatively short essays (3-5 pages) because she advocates for concise and to the point writing. She one time told us it was her job to get us to stop "bullshitting" on essays because we had been so conditioned for that in high school. She hates repetition in essays, and will really shred an essay apart if it is obvious no work was put in and there was no discernible conclusion. Some people complained they didn't get what she wanted out of the essays, but she makes it really clear she wants strong close textual analysis building up to a conclusion in relation to the topic. She gives 4-5 topics for essays, but always leaves the possibility open for any other topics. Since she is so knowledgeable of the text and advocates close analysis so much, the midterm and final seemed relatively easy--including the passage IDs because we spent so much time understanding the different writings of each work and what makes them distinctive. In terms of workload, the essays are pretty short and second semester there were only two of them. First semester she had a short analysis piece due on Tuesday and online discussion posts for Thursday, both of which are pretty short. Second semester she changed it to only Wikispaces posts online for every class. Professor Rosen is definitely one of the best professors I've had at Columbia and taking Lit. Hum with her is the best.

Feb 2012

WARNING! Don't take this class if you're concerned about your GPA! That's the very thing I wish someone had told me when I took Lilla's class. As I'm applying to some summer programs right now, I had to go get my transcript, and as you all know, Columbia lists % A range on the transcript. Here's a comparison: Lilla gives 23% A range grades (I only had him 1st semester) 2nd semester Lit Hum teacher gave 44% My CC teacher gave 71% A range grades UW 58% Art Hum 97% (yeah I know wtf...) Music Hum (84%) Now obviously as you can see there's a huge difference in grades in the core classes with what Lilla gives compared to other teachers and other core classes. Lilla gave some speech about how he's willing to email your parents if they're angry at your grades, telling them that grades don't matter, but as a premed applying to med school, while your science gpa is most important, overall gpa counts for a huge amount too, so GPA matters a ton so don't buy his BS I got a B in Lilla, and got an A- or higher in every other core class (I got a solid A in 2nd semester Lit Hum with another teacher)...meaning pretty much I should have gotten at least an A- in any other teacher for 1st semester Lit Hum. Lilla is tricky and deceptive. he made us do some coursework posting (before the core class drop date) and he told us how we all were good writers and he was expecting a good semester. After the drop date passed, he stood up in front of the class and then berated us for being terrible writers. Here's the thing. Lilla sent us two model essays of what he considers great writing and they were goddam awful. Basically the essays were like "My thesis is this. In my 2nd paragraph I will talk about this. In my third paragraph I will talk about this. The following sentence strengthens my essay in this way." I'm not even joking. One of the essays was on Gilgamesh and Enkidu and basically the writer straightforwardly says stuff like "the purpose of this paragraph will be to explain this" as his opening line. Of course, it's easy to see why Lilla considers this good writing as he has told us again and again that when in doubt, think "the cat is on the mat," meaning you should do as SIMPLE and straightforward as possible. I can see the logic in that, but personally I don't consider that good writing. Of course, all that said. The man is amazing and brilliant and he will not take BS in discussion. However, he'll call you out on it and attack your statements and say things like "well that was a great thing to say, if you had assumed none of us read the book," or stuff like "do you even know what you're saying?" It's not cruel, I'll admit, but very disheartening and if you don't have thick skin, it makes the 2 hours a nightmare. If you don't care about your grades and you want an amazing, intelligent, and inspiring class, of course take it by all means. But make sure you can stand up to his harsh criticisms and insane standards. Oh yes...did I mention how after our midterm (an essay), he printed out various sentences from everyone's papers and passed it around, spending 30 minutes laughing at us and saying things like "terrible, just terrible. How could someone write this?" in order to give us examples of what was terrible writing.

Feb 2012

I had a really great experience in Professor Wilke's Lit Hum class. He is incredibly nice, very helpful, and really understanding, especially about absences and missed work. I missed something like seven email responses in a row and he let me make all of them up and still gave me a really great grade. If you're absent, just shoot him and email and apologize and he's usually okay with it. He is german though, so try and avoid being late to class because he counts every two latenesses as an absence. He asks really thoughtful and conversation-inducing questions. The only problem is that the class I was in wasn't really able to handle them as at least half were asleep or doing calc homework in the back. He really likes it when students participate and will definitely up your grade if you are always willing to be part of the conversation. That said, don't be "that kid" who never shuts up or gets really heated about whats being said. Overall, Wilke's a really great Lit Hum professor and overall great guy.

Jan 2012

Silva is an excellent LitHum professor and you are lucky if you have him. He has high standards in grading written work but it is by no means impossibly to get an A in class as he is willing to consider a student holistically for the final grade and appears to want them to do well. He does not overload the class with unnecessary information but immediately tackles the big issues of the texts with gusto. You will either be very tickled or completely bewildered by his unorthodox sense of humor.

Jan 2012

Jeff is truly an amazing teacher. If you find yourself registered in his class, don't even think about switching. His undoubted passion for literature coupled with an astonishing brilliance makes for a challenging yet rewarding experience. If you want to take lit hum, go through the motions, and put it behind you after freshman year, then don't take his class. But if you want your lit hum experience to help shape you as a person, a writer, and a thinker (as Columbia hopes), then Jeff is your guy. His youthful energy and witty humor will make the most boring classes a positive experience, and his high expectations for you will motivate you in new ways. He is always trying to improve as a teacher, so he is very approachable and open to suggestions or revisions to the class structure. Almost every class, we rush through the last 10 minutes to cover his lesson plan because he gets so immersed in discussion along the way. Do yourself a favor, and take lit hum with Jeff Brown. He loves the material and truly cares about his students.

Jan 2012

Professor Meyers is amazing. He's a funny, understanding, kind, and helpful guy. He is strongly invested in students and their literary growth. As stated before, he's always makes himself available and gives more than enough feedback so that you have something to go off of. He encourages discussion in a way that's enjoyable. Also, before each class, you're given a class preparation sheet so that you'll have a guide for where to focus your reading. This is extremely helpful considering the amount of text we have to read sometimes. It's also helpful when studying for midterms and finals. As for the difficulty of the midterm (made up by Professor Meyers), it's not that hard if you take his study advice, do the readings, and participate in discussions. He's a fair grader, and is always doing his best to get us the highest grade possible. The final isn't made by him, but he grades fairly.

Jan 2012

I agree with the reviewer below. Derrick is extremely difficult to please and this can be frustrating. He writes extremely in-depth comments on papers, which is both helpful and infuriating. He's also very moody and occasionally throws sulky fits. On the other hand, he really does teach and force you to actually think about what you're saying. Under no circumstance can you spit out something from SparkNotes and expect to get away with it. You need to do the reading- all of it- and you need to be prepared to support and argue everything you say. Meet with him one-on-one whenever you can- in that setting, you realize that he's actually very funny and interesting, and genuinely wants to help you. You just have to do your part, and try not to be too intimidated.

Jan 2012

This is a retroactive review from fall 2011 I don't take issue with any of the reviews on this website, however I will give a significantly different view in perspective. I did not do all of the readings and did not find myself and significantly better writer because of Derrick's teachings. However, I found Derrick to be a very tough if demanding teacher. This class will not be an easy A I will say right now. I an no genius, but with in depth thinking and actual analysis of passages/works i ended up with a B+ average for the two semesters I had with him. I was happy with this for the amount of work I put in, but make no mistake, Derrick will make you work and think for every point you put in so I would not recommend this class for those who just want to squeek by because a few of my friends who were in my first semester ended up sorely disappointed with their grades. That being said I personally loved Derrick's teaching style and felt that even when I didn't complete the reading for the class that I got a lot out of the discussions. He constantly directed conversations in ways that made classmates argue and protect their original views of passages or ideas that further garnered conversations about modern styles of thinking. His focus on how we could adapt the old age of the material to the present made it possible take and interest even if you find the ancient texts outdated. Personality wise Derrick is harsh and has no problems telling you that you are wrong. I personally believe that you had better come with a thick skin to his class because if you are easily frustrated you will have a hard time. Furthermore, Derrick is very very gay, which, while not a bad thing, flavors his opinions on certain subjects and some should be taken with a grain of salt when analyzing works critically. Ultimately, I enjoyed my time in class with Derrick and even when i switched class times my second semester of freshman year purposefully placed myself in Derrick's class. It is no easy grade in any way shape or form, but if you are looking for a teacher that knows what he is talking about and won't take any bullshit from hotshot wannabees then you should enjoy this class.

Jan 2012

Oh, Derrick. This class is not for the weak-hearted. Dr. Higgenbotham knows his stuff and while his demeanor can sometimes be intimidating (he made a girl cry in my class), he definitely challenges you to go above and beyond the usual discussion and analyses over a text. He greatly improved my essay writing because he tore my essays apart. Not to denigrate Derrick by reducing his attitude towards the class in one simple statement, but the man is hard to please. It’ll be clear whom he favors in the class and whom he’s not so keen on. I unfortunately had to switch sections at the semester due to a scheduling conflict and I cannot stress enough how less lenient I found Derrick to be than other teachers. While it’s easy to get away with just reading parts or summaries of the works in other classes, rest assured that Derrick will know if you’ve done so. Derrick is sensible, however. You can take any position you wish in whatever argument, so long as you have textual evidence with which to substantiate. That’s as reasonable as you can hope in a professor. Finally, just a random tip that I remember from my section: never, for whatever reason, argue that Oedipus is about fate. Even if you think it so, best to keep it to yourself.

Jan 2012

By far the best professor that I've had or heard of in all of my schooling. Bold, potty-mouthed, outgoing and brilliant, Nathan taught Lit Hum his own way--criticizing inconsistencies and revering great passages with equal amounts of enthusiasm. He ensured that class was nothing less than a seminar, forcing each student to speak not by calling on them, but by making each conversation irresistible. Paper topics were never easy, but were far from impossible as Nathan makes himself highly available in and after class, answers emails usually within a few hours, and is extremely flexible when it comes to meeting after class. Athletes and working students also need have no fear--Nathan is one of the most understanding and accommodating teachers that you'll ever have. Whether you need to have a deadline extended, want to talk about how much you love or hate the Symposium, or just don't understand how this whole college thing works, this professor is the man to see. A true southern boy, complete with accent and salmon-colored pants, Nathan made it a point to get down to the true, real-life, how-this-relates-to-you point of each work, and I couldn't have asked for anyone better.

Jan 2012

The review below is correct. Darragh's class isn't as easy as some Lit Hum sections. However, his style of teaching is clear, he's pretty funny, and a nice guy. He's an understanding professor whose humor and cool drama exercises at least keep you awake. Admittedly, the grading is frustrating. Breaking a B on a paper is difficult, but he does give a lot of feedback on your writing, and makes his expectations clear. I'd rather have Darragh than some Lit Hum section where you sit and listen to some old guy talk for two hours. I'd suffer from B+ syndrome for it.

Jan 2012

She was my favorite professor for my first semester; I absolutely loved her. She was thoroughly enthusiastic and seemed to care about her students. A large part of your grade is three papers that you have to write in the class, which are all limited to three pages in length. She grades them fairly, and they each are progressively worth more (with a revision being worth typically 60% of your paper grade, which is helpful). She responds to email very quickly, and has an "email deadline" for contacting her before each paper is due. When I took advantage of this, she sent absurdly detailed and helpful feedback. Additionally, she often extends her office hours during weeks where papers are due, and she is encouraging and clear about what she's looking for there. The quizzes are either explication (close reading of a text) quizzes or factual quizzes (or a combination of both). The first fact-based quiz of the semester tripped me up a bit because I was iffy-er on factual parts of the reading, although I had done all of it. I recommend doing all of the reading for the class, but also reading through the SparkNotes summaries of texts in order to cement the factual points that you might have missed. The nice thing is that she drops your lowest quiz grade, and is a fair grader. The midterm doesn't involve any passage identification, which is a plus. There were at least two extra credit opportunities in the class, and they were based around going to an event and then responding with a 3 page paper. Finally, I'm unsure how academically relevant this is, but she often brought delicious cookies to class.

Jan 2012

Mark Lilla should be the prototype of Columbia professors-- and all professors. He almost has super powers. I visited his office hours and within half an hour I was a different student. We chatted about life for twenty-five minutes, and then he solved virtually all of my writing problems in the remaining five. His class was the most engaging two hours of my semester's schedule. It was a little tough to handle in the beginning of the semester, but by the last class I wished we had another hour for discussion. Because the class is discussion-based, it's almost a treat when Lilla decides to lecture, but he wants to learn as much from us as we do from him. He will speak for a maximum of fifteen minutes straight. Then he will ask for individual interpretations and opinions, and he values them. Some of my classmates didn't enjoy his criticism. He will rarely let bad writing or an unfounded argument slip past him without acknowledgement. It's okay. That's a good thing. In my case, his criticism was so humorous and dead-on, I could only laugh at myself. He let me know what was bad, and I was sure not to repeat it. He wants his students to be a little self-sufficient. Lilla's class is not an easy A, which is awesome. I didn't come to Columbia for an easy A. I came to learn and think, and learn to think-- and this class is perfect for that.

Dec 2011

Jeff is such a fantastic teacher who truly cares about his students. He brings such enthusiasm to the works we discuss and provides for a very interesting and fun discussion. He is such an awesome teacher who will really help you develop your close reading skills as well as your writing skills. He's young, but brilliant and such an inspiring professor. If you land him for your first year, you are a lucky kid. Also, he's a very fair grader.

Dec 2011

Profesor Forbes wins the award for the most discouraging professor at Columbia. The discussions she "led" in class were dry and non-engaging. As far as meeting with her during office hours she was 20-30 minutes late in each of my sessions and then proceeded to rip everything I had worked on to pieces without suppling a reason as to why my work was faulty. If she doesn't personally agree with your interpretations or opinions don't expect to succeed in her class. Professor Forbes takes sick pleasure embarrassing students during discussions. The only thing I learned in this class was how to stress out in more ways. Professor Forbes has quite possibly ruined my experience with the Core at Columbia. Obviously I would NEVER recommend her to any students. In fact, if you are enrolled in her class get out as soon as possible. Do not expect to have a fulfilling experience or enjoy Lit Hum (as much as that may be possible). I feel fortunate to have survived this class with Professor Forbes.

Dec 2011

"Joe" North is the only graduate student I would ever consider recommending for Lit Hum. He is always engaging the class from start to finish and is meticulous with his critiques of papers. My first 3-page paper had about a page and a half of notes and it didn't let up through the final paper. His speaking style is clear and deep and oh so creamy-dreamy. If he has a fault, it's that he suffers fools too lightly and permits the long-winded of the class droll on and on with perfunctory platitudes and wikipedia regurgitations. Honestly, fellow Columbians, we all know what you're trying to pull and it won't help your grade. State your peace and shut the living fuck up. We want to hear Joe's velvety voice, not your bullshit. GO JOE!

Dec 2011

A very awkward class where the discussion can veer off topic and ends up being one two or three people talking to each other. She starts to call on the quiet people when she asks a question and no one raises their hand because they do not understand the question. Three essays that are graded quite harshly and the essays are really vague in that the topic is formulate your own question and answer it. For the midterm and final, she prepares you pretty well as she devotes a class to review. However, since her discussion lags in class, the passage analysis and essays are hard to do. Seems like she does not curve the class at all so she does a straight calculation on your essays and midterm and final and participation. She has pop quizzes in the beginning that are moderately hard.

Dec 2011

It is a goddamn travesty that Stephane Charitos won't be teaching LitHum next semester. On the off chance that he comes back to teach it next year and you have the opportunity to be in his section, TAKE IT. Based on what I've heard from other students talking about their professors, Chariots seems to be one of the few profs teaching LitHum who has a genuine interest in teaching the class as it's meant to be taught: as a collaborative exploration of the Western canon, not a content-based literature class that teaches towards a final. He likes to hear student participation, but he also has a wealth of knowledge to impart. At the beginning of the semester, he would usually divide the class pretty evenly into an hour of lecture and an hour of discussion; as the semester went on, however, things tended more towards lecture. His lectures are great, though he's not a great lecturer; I don't remember him ever using an outline to lecture. Instead, he usually just jumps from topic to topic. That means that if you're taking notes, you need to pay close attention to keep up with what's going on. He shares tons of useful and interesting background information and context and I highly recommend that you pay close attention to what he says. It will probably never show up on a test, but it's good information to have. Charitos is clearly more interested in student learning and engagement than he is with assessment. He doesn't care about grades and will frequently rag on LitHum pedagogy that tends towards rigid expectations for mastery of content. He doesn't expect that everyone has read every word of all of the texts, but he expects that everyone will know enough about them and have read enough of them to grasp the main ideas of each. Class discussion usually focuses on distilling the main themes of a text rather than harping on about minutiae. Charitos would rather see that we have the skills to analyze a text rather than knowledge of the content without depth of understanding. He is a very, very generous grader, especially if you follow his instructions exactly. He is also very open to having students drop in at office hours to talk about the course (or anything, really - as he says, it gets very lonely in the International Affairs Building). Future first-years, if you're preregistered for Chariots' LitHum section, thank your lucky stars.

Dec 2011

I love Margo. She's honestly exactly what I want in a Lit Hum professor. She's frazzled and energetic and passionate about everything we read. Classes are very much about the discussion. Margo will interject or steer the conversation, but in the end, we're usually the ones to arrive at big points in the text. She's also something of a renegade in her interpretations of texts; she's very willing to go with conclusions drawn from the tiniest of passages and reinterpret the entire text based on just that small section, and you can change her perspective if you have the passage to back it up. That said, this won't leave you unprepared for the final, you'll just have a unique perspective on the texts. Margo's tough on essay grades, but her feedback is always spot on, and if you deserve an A, she'll give it to you.

Dec 2011

First of all, I would like to point out that the December 5th reviews all came in a bunch on the same day. Yes Lilla is good, but not so good that I would write 5 positive reviews for him. (Although this was probably a group of overzealous students in my class) Here is a more realistic point of view... Lilla is a great teacher, the guy is brilliant and will create an incredibly engaging class. You will want to read the books just so you can be prepared to participate in the thought provoking discussions. With Lilla you are getting what you paid for with your Columbia tuition. He changed the way I think about the world and single handedly made me a better writer. All that being said, be careful if you are interested in going into finance or getting into that med school you've been dreaming of. The class is harshly graded. Lilla is one of those professors who does not like grade inflation. For you mathy people out there, the GPA-converted average on our midterm (worth a third of the grade) was around a 3.1. Final grades have yet to come out, but in all likely hood the vast majority of our class will receive B's or lower. I completely understand where he is coming from, but we have to compete against students who have that easy A teacher and unfortunately we are punished a little bit for taking this class. To be fair, if he had a standard curve (1/3 of students get A/A-, and the rest are B/B+) this class would be one that I would highly recommend to all.

Dec 2011

If you have any inclination of getting a good grade in lithum, DO NOT PICK DARRAGH. He is the hardest grader, giving half the class C+ and below on the first essay, claiming the grades would raise for the second half, and then giving out B- and C+ yet again. This class is a GPA killer as opposed to some other lithum classes that give out solid As on essays, Darragh's you'd be jumping for joy at receiving a B.

Dec 2011

The way Professor Whittington taught the core was the the exact reason I chose Columbia. She was enthusiastic, passionate, and so insightful. She gave us lots of supplemental materials so that we could appreciate the texts that we read better, and the class discussions that she led were usually very interesting. She was a tough grader, but I don't see why anyone would expect anything different. I learned a lot from her comments on my essays and understand why I got the grades that she gave me.

Dec 2011

There are already many accurate, good reviews of Professor Horejsi below. I personally recommend taking her class if given the choice. Here are a few more specifics and tips on the coursework for the first semester of Literature Humanities with Professor Horejsi: Participation: 10% - Basic stuff: bring your books, come to class, raise your hand and talk once in a while Papers: 1st 5% (3 pages), 2nd 15% (3 pages), 3rd 20% (3 pages) - All focused on close-reading/explication (changes for second semester) - For the first two papers, you submit two drafts. The first is weighted at 40% your total essay grade and the second (you get about a week to revise) at 60% your total grade. - Before writing a paper, try to meet with Professor Horejsi at least once to discuss your topic. This is both helpful for developing your topic and improving your grade. - You must do 2-3 required peer revisions. These can get kind of annoying, but it's more than survivable. She provides a questionnaire online to do the peer revision. - Be careful, especially on your first paper. Professor Horejsi has a pretty specific style and structure that she looks for, so pay attention to how she says to format/write your essays. Quizzes: 5% (you get to drop lowest score) - 3 quizzes this first semester - 2 had basic reading comprehension questions. Be sure to read or at least sparknote text beforehand. All 3 had some sort of explication. They are graded fairly. Midterm: 20% - No identifications (IDs) and two essays (one close-reading/explication and one cross-genre essay) - Grading is only about average (most people had B's), but she allowed us to revise one essay and write another essay to earn back up to 10 point (out of 100) on the midterm. Final: 25% - 10 or 11 identifications, 2 essays (standard) - The final is not really worth cramming for. The best preparation is just to keep up with all the reading as the semester proceeds. Extra Credit Opportunities: ?% - There were a few times that Professor Horejsi presented extra credit opportunities. Be warned that she does not disclose how much they are worth and that you usually need to write about 3 pages.

Dec 2011

I honestly couldn't have asked for a better Lit Hum professor. Nathan is a loud, foulmouthed, and astoundingly intelligent classicist from North Carolina who will take you through the syllabus as only someone who has read every (yes, EVERY) work in its original language can. He has high standards for in-class discussion and papers, yet didn't seem to be a particularly harsh grader--which, in my book, is exactly what you want in a professor. I found myself looking forward to class and even to writing my papers. Take this class, you'll learn a lot and enjoy doing it.

Dec 2011

A very difficult teacher. Sometimes, classes seemed to go on forever, like the catalogue of ships in the Iliad. Grading wise, she is very VERY VERY strict. If you go to see her to talk about an essay, she will tell you what to do. If you do this, you will get a B/B- on your essay with comments of "great work!"; leaving students puzzled with just how to do well on her assignments. Midterm was very difficult as well. Be wary. It seemed like no matter how much time you put into the class, you can't really do very well.

Dec 2011

Prof. Forbes is an unpleasant teacher to work with. Her discussions seem forced, as if she must arrive at her own conclusion if we are to move on. If a student contributes an opinion that she disagrees with, she will often answer with a condescending, "Ok...". I find it very demoting and rude. You will often find yourself trying to find that magic sweet point that she deems is "correct" analysis. Meeting with her during office hours can be a hit or miss. If you can somehow please her with your essay ideas, she will usually agree but then alter it to fit her agenda. If she doesn't like it, however, she will ruthlessly tear it apart. You'll have to come back and give it another shot in a meeting. The best way to learn from Ms. Forbes is to simply let her change your ideas. It is not worth it to risk a paper that she doesn't find satisfying. I honestly would not recommend Prof. Forbes. She is not an inspiring teacher that really wants you to become engaged in the texts. Rather, she likes to adjust things to her own personal agenda without any room for the incorporation of other people's ideas. Take notes about the passages in class and incorporate her analysis, not the one the class you and your peers discussed about, if you want to do well.

Dec 2011

Professor Whittington was the best professor I had freshman year. She is absolutely brilliant. I looked forward to her class more than I did any other, as she lead fantastic, engaging discussions. She demanded college-level work, which clearly a few of my classmates were unwilling to do. She was always willing to meet with students multiple times to help them with their essays; evidently, some of my classmates didn't put in the time or effort necessary to do so. Dinner at Symposium with the whole class was one of the highlights of my college experience thusfar.

Dec 2011

Professor Whittington is an up-and-coming academic powerhouse. She is the most widely-read person I have ever met, and is extremely knowledgeable about the material. I had many great professors this semester, but she was my favorite. She brought out the best in her students during the two-hour seminars, which despite their length were never boring or fatiguing. She never lectured to the class, but got students to discover the texts for themselves. I am usually quite shy and have absolutely no classics background, but Professor Whittington drew me into the discussion more than any other professor ever has. She is an extremely fair grader. My writing improved dramatically over the course of the semester, as did my grades on essays.

Dec 2011

Professor Whittington is fantastic. She is the best professor I have ever had at Columbia. She has an incredible knowledge of the lithum material and leads wonderful and engrossing discussions every day. Professor Whittington expects good, college-level work, and does not give students A's on papers just for trying. Arguments must be clear and cohesive. However, she is always willing to meet with students and help them improve their drafts. Students who do poorly on her papers have no one to blame but themselves. For example, I didn't do well on the first paper. For my second and third papers, I met with her individually a couple of times and she helped me improve them dramatically. I got As, and I expect an A or an A- in her class. I am a much better writer now than I was at the beginning of the semester. Gold nugget for sure.

Dec 2011

Professor Lilla is a great. If you are really looking to be engaged in conversation and if you are looking to really learn from the core, then his class is perfect for you. While he encourages class participation, he doesn't force it, and even when sitting in class and listening, it is easy to become absorbed. Mark Lilla knows how to spark insightful questions that you may not have considered prior, and while his class may differ from others, you're really missing out if you don't stay.

Dec 2011

Beware naive freshmen! There are wrong answers in this class. That said, I really enjoyed it. Or rather, I enjoyed it as much as one could at 9 in the morning. (9 IN THE GODDAMN MORNING.) Matt really knows what he's talking about, knows how to keep the conversation going, and also has the benefit of a British accent. British accent + knows what he's talking about = sounds like a genius He has a policy for participation grading (equal to a midterm in weight) by which he gives you either an A, C, or an F. Unfortunately though, I think this inspired a lot of mindless banter among those who needed to repeatedly assure themselves that they were going to receive an A. I was one of them--that's how I know. He didn't add back the texts that were eliminated this year (Gilgamesh, etc.) which I really appreciated because Lit Hum has enough reading anyway. The way he arranges the syllabus made it (mostly) manageable. He gives pop quizzes to ensure that people are doing the reading. They're not as easy as he thinks they are, but they're also not monstrously hard. Figure if you read the text you're guaranteed at least a 6/10. He's a cool guy. I don't like mornings. You might as well stay in his class if you're placed into it.

Dec 2011

Professor Lilla is one of the best professors I have ever had. He often challenges students with philosophical questions that I have never thought about. He is always well prepared for the class. The discussions we have in class are inspiring. He shares with us his brilliant ideas and is good at facilitating the discussion. He is also very enthusiastic about the works we talk about in class. Lit Hum is a class I actually enjoy. All the readings and assignments are manageable. However, Professor Lilla is very strict about writing. He would find every single little mistake you make in your writing and ask you to fix your paper again and again until it is right. His methods have been really helpful to me. English is not my first language and I have trouble with grammar and diction. I have gone to writing center four times in this semester for my Lit Hum class. And my writing improves a lot by the end of this semester. Although he is strict, Professor Lilla is very patient, approachable and encouraging. When I brought my paper to his office hour, he went through it with me thoroughly, pointing out all the problems and suggesting how I can fix them. He also provided me general tips of writing, which were very helpful. Professor Lilla deserves the golden nugget. I would like to take Professor Lilla's class again no matter what time it is.

Dec 2011

As has been said by many before me, if you got into Lilla's class, don't switch out. His classes are discussion-oriented, which in general terms means either great or disastrous. When it comes to Lilla, it's the former. By deliberately posing certain questions at certain times, while allowing for the discussion to partially determine its own course, Lilla teaches his class very much like Socrates would; you reach certain conclusions (or identify the reasons why you do not share a given opinion) without having someone else explaining them to you. As with many professors, you can tell what Lilla's opinion is on many subjects judging by the emphasis he places on certain ideas or the way in which he explains them. I believe this, however, is actually a good thing; you can infer where your professor stands on many subjects, yet he always allows room for dissent. In this sense, he is more concerned with how you reach your conclusions than with what your conclusions are. Perhaps the only downside is that, since Lilla teaches three courses during the fall semester, you don't get as much feedback on your writing as you could. But then again you could probably always get more feedback, and (at least in theory) that's what UWriting is for.

Dec 2011

Mark Lilla was the perfect introduction to what the Columbia Core Curriculum is all about. In this class, I learned to question my ideas in ways I did not think they could be questioned. He facilitates class discussion incredibly well, balancing your input with his own incredibly well-thought out ideas of a text. It is a tough class, and he can seem extremely intimidating at first (for good reason), but the amount you learn from him is entirely worth it. Bi-weekly Courseworks posts may seem like a lot, but it helps you engage more actively with the text, and he reads each post and uses it in class discussion, which is incredible. At times you can feel belittled and will doubt yourself, but he gives you the tools and confidence to rebuild yourself as a student. My writing and ability to flesh out ideas have drastically improved in this class. My only wish is that he would have taught two semesters, because I'm feeling a bit jipped out of the continuity of a LitHum class with a single teacher all year. But if you want to see everything you loved about the Core when applying to Columbia actualized, get yourself in this LitHum section.

Dec 2011

Professor Lilla and his class were central to my first semester at Columbia. The class is discussion and writing based, guided by Lilla; in very few classes did Lilla actually lecture. This is not an easy class in terms of how much it demands intellectually, but it's more than worth it. Lilla and this class challenged the way I thought, wrote, and lived; I mean that honestly, even if it sounds melodramatic. At the end of the semester, I know that I have a significantly deeper understanding of the ideas and themes at the heart of the works. This is evident especially when I compare my notes to those of friends in other classes. Lilla himself truly cares for his students, doling out advice whenever asked. I am touched at the level of attention (in class and personally) he gives to his students, even the ones in Lit Hum. I wish I had Lilla for the spring semester of Lit Hum, and I would not hesitate to take any class he offers during the rest of my time here.

Dec 2011

she is just a bad bad bad nugget. she is a recent harvard grad and thinks she is better than anyone at columbia which means bad essay grades for all. i did not think it was possible to get below a b- in a core class but behold i got a d on an essay. if you enjoy getting bad grades and falling asleep in a class where participation matters go join this class immediately

Nov 2011

Jon is impressively erudite and his pedagogical approach is shaped around the modern minds of students. Very rarely do Columbia professors taylor their teachings to make lectures enjoyable and beneficial for pupils. He fosters a dynamic discourse and he encourages students to think outside-the-box concerning the literary context at hand - meaning, he does not limit interpretations of the texts to mere anachronistic level, but pushes you to apply concepts to modern life. Furthermore, he is very understanding of students' personal/academic situations; thereby, he is always willing to work with you. He is a gentleman and a scholar.

Nov 2011

To summarize this review, Sara is one of those teachers you either love or hate: 1) She is generally very bubbly and engaging. She is also very good at facilitating discussions and keeps them flowing and interesting. 2) However, there are little things that make her explode (in a passive aggressive way). If you have Sara, here are some things NOT to do: NEVER say the word "impactful" around Sara Murphy. She will bite your head off. NEVER ask to write in bullet points on the midterm. She will turn into the Hulk and pwn everybody. NEVER use abstractions. Sara = Achilles. You and your abstractions = Hector. Nuff said. There are other things on this list but these are the main ones. 3) Class discussions are OK and she tends to break the class up into groups to discuss specific topics/ideas then we reassemble. 4) Sara used to be a UW teacher. Thus, she will rip your papers (and your soul) to shreds. However, you will be a better writer because of it. (good luck putting your soul back together) 5) To make up for this, though, she is really generous with the midterms and final. 6) There are also ID quizzes on a regular basis (one every 1-2 weeks). She is increasingly nitpicky with these as the semester progresses but she always includes extra credit on them so that helps. PROS: She is very generous with extra credit and gives us lots of opportunities for it. We always have a 5 minute break in the middle of class with snacks. You get 5% in the class just by showing up.

Nov 2011

After taking a half-semester's worth of CC, I can without doubt say that I miss Kathleen so much. Her ability to guide class discussion without being too overbearing, the way she never shoots down and even develops the most inapplicable responses from students, and the fact that she is able to build a personal relationship with every student in the class. Out of the classes I took freshman year, I can proudly say that I learned the most from Kathleen's LitHum class even without doing all the required reading, and of course there were times when I didn't want to go to class (not because of her teaching but just because it's LitHum), but once compared to the CC professor I have right now, Kathleen Smith is a god. Take her if you're one of the few 20-or so lucky souls who have been blessed with a chance to be enlightened.

Oct 2011

She is one of the worst teachers you can have for lit hum. Very biased toward students who she doesn't like and will give you an undeserved bad grade. On all the essays she writes "great job" and then will throw out a c/b without giving you one negative comment. The general vibe of the class was that she was one of the worst teachers you can get. Class consisted of long discussions that seemed to drag on forever that had almost every student in the class staring at the clock counting down the time to the end of class. Bottom line is AVOID her at all costs.

Oct 2011

You don't know what you have on your hands when you get Sara as your teacher. She's bubbly and nice for some time and then suddenly she'll flip. Her two second long spurts of obnoxious laughter aren't the most welcome thing either. Her grading is weird too: her goal seems to be to break in freshman who expect to get As--by giving everyone bad grades. And the reasoning she gives is very unclear. Basically, beware if you get Sara Murphy for Lit Hum, it's a roller coaster ride.

Sep 2011

Professor Mercer is definitely one of the best professors I've had so far at Columbia (I am a junior). While she demands a lot from her students, it's not a huge burden and it's only because she's clearly passionate about the texts. Plus, it's worth it because her teaching style is engaging, laid back, and (gasp) fun because it's infused with a sense of humor. She's incredibly open to different opinions and questions, and encouraging and instructive regarding analysis and paper writing. She even had our class over to her home for a delicious Italian dinner and casual discussion of what we were reading. Additionally, it's obvious she knows her stuff--chair of the department and incredibly knowledgeable in the fields of philosophy and feminism as well (plus I'm sure others I don't know about). You will learn a lot from her--it might come from constructive criticism or the pop quizzes, but either way your quick reading/analytic skills and writing skills will improve.

Sep 2011

All in all, I would describe Erica as a great teacher. During the first semester, I sometimes felt that she was TOO nice - basically accepting what everyone said in class and not contributing as much of her own interesting insight as I would have liked. But during the second semester, it seemed like she stepped her game up and we really dug into the books in a more stimulating way. As other reviewers have said, she is certainly a very kind woman who is eager to guide you towards a deeper understanding of the texts; at the same time, she is open-minded to the extent that the class seems to be just as much an exploration and process of discovery for her as it is for the students. All around a great class, fun to be in, and stimulating in all the ways that LitHum should be. Personally, I didn't love the addition of Chekhov, but I suppose that's a matter of taste; other people seemed to like it very much. Highly recommended.

Aug 2011

Seeing that two of my classmates have already written some very enthusiastic and positive reviews, I scarcely think it necessary for me to write another one. But I can’t help it. Professor Mercer is just too brilliant as a teacher and as a person in general. She is one of those professors who are able to stamp their marks on you, changing the way you think and feel. With her affectionate (sometimes maternal, and not in a creepy way, mind you) personality and unique sense of humor (she tells jokes that range from cutely awkward to head over heels hysterical), she makes it an absolute pleasure to go to class and discuss the readings, and you truly get the feeling that she cares about your learning from details such as the way she listens to and comments on your remarks in class and the cookies she brings to keep you focused. The class itself is not a breeze—the readings can be tough and the weekly quizzes make skipping them pretty much an impossibility if you care about grades. But if you simply do the reading and pay attention in class there is not much else you need to do to get above an A-. Bottom line: if you are looking for an easy class, look elsewhere; if you are looking for a stimulating and hilarious learning experience, look no further.

Aug 2011

If you got Freddy for Lit Hum - do not fear! I was pretty scared after reading the reviews for his section of University Writing, but there is really nothing to be afraid of. He does tend to talk A LOT, which definitely meant class discussion was shortened and somewhat superficial. However, I don't know how much of this was because he dominated class discussion and how much was because the students (besides the one or two who dominated every discussion) were reluctant to talk. Contrary to the reviews for University Writing, I never found him condescending (even when kids said dumb things - which was often). His paper critiques were thorough and thoughtful, though he did take a long time to return papers. Before and after every paper we were required to meet with him to discuss what we wanted to write about or go over his paper comments. I don't know if this is standard for other sections of Lit Hum, but I thought this was the most helpful aspect of the course. Grading-wise I thought he was pretty generous, but he does say a paper needs to be particularly good for it to get above a 90. This is probably not the easiest section of Lit Hum (I think for fall semester about 25% of the class got an A), but as long as you do enough of the reading to make a few substantive comments and can write with some degree of competence you should be fine. Overall, I would recommend his section if you're interested in getting a good overview of the readings with a fairly light workload.

Aug 2011

I had Joanna for LitHum both semesters, and while I agree with many of the other reviews that she is extremely nice, I disagree with many of the past reviews about her ability to lead a class. Her discussions were extremely dull, and often never required anyone to do the reading. She never told students when they were wrong, and often led discussions in a manner in which she would talk for 15 minutes, and then let students ramble on for 30 minutes unchecked. This would then repeat throughout the entire dull hour and 15 minutes. She is undoubtedly nice, and undoubtedly works very hard to help us to understand the material, but the class is very dull, and I felt that I missed out on the amazing LitHum experience that many speak of. Her analyses and commentary on many of the texts was very generic, and things were never really brought full circle, in my mind at least. On a separate note, with grading, Joanna's class was extremely unorganized, and we as students, often never knew what we were getting. She grades unfairly, subjectively, and gives little explanation for her grades. You can go to discuss things with her, and even persuade her that the points she made on your paper were somewhat moot, but she is offensively stubborn, and almost condescending to the point of arrogance. Her grading system is largely unfair, as it rounds everything to whole number points, and she is very inflexible with any change of grade. If you are looking for an enjoyable and enlightening LitHum Experience, I do not recommend taking Ms. Scutt's class. If you are looking for a class in which you can fairly easily obtain a B+ or A- while being bored out of your mind, look no further.

Aug 2011

I had Alex for all of my freshman year and at first I was disappointed with his teaching. I expected someone much more experienced at teaching. But by second semester I really grew to appreciate his willingness to help his students. Unlike other teachers who are terrible teachers and put you to sleep in class, Alex really puts effort into becoming a better teacher. He is not a hard grader and is always open to meeting up with you after class to discuss how to approach and write your paper. If you take his class, you most likely will not regret it.

Aug 2011

After realizing that many people in the academic world are truly brilliant, but that doesn't make them good/great teachers, I am so grateful to have had Derrick for LitHum because that's exactly what he does—teach. This was my favorite class the entire year, and I feel like I learned how to read and write again, which sounds weird until you experience it for yourself. I feel confident in my writing now in a way I wasn't before Derrick's help, and not in my style or voice of writing, but actually in my ability to produce a quality academic paper. And literature is so much more exciting and meaningful now that I feel like I understand what I'm reading, not just the plot or identification of 'literary devices,' but truly seeing a piece of work in depth. Derrick taught me all of those things more than any other class or teacher I've ever had, and especially for a class like LitHum, it's exactly what I wanted and more than I ever expected. He expects a lot out of you, sometimes in a way that might not be clear or might be more than you've ever been asked of before or think you can do. But he also rewards your effort in way that makes you feel incredibly proud of your work, and you truly get the grade you earn. He's completely fair and his guidelines are very clear. If you ever have any questions about what the guidelines mean he's more than happy to answer them, and if he feels like the entire class is missing something, he often will provide examples or take time out of discussion to clarify. He's a tough grader, but he's not out to get anyone. He doesn't treat grading like a game, as is often the case among students. Take class seriously; show up prepared (which means reading! you really need to read the books!) and ready to work/discuss. Class is very much based on discussion, and Derrick acts more like a referee than anything. He'll pose questions or give some brief background info about a text, then it's up to the class to talk it out. And where the being a good teacher comes in is knowing how to control this atmosphere: if a conversation is getting off topic he'll put it back on track, if it's petering out he'll revive it with a new direction. He keeps his own opinions about specific texts to himself pretty much, although sometimes bias comes out, but mostly in an entertaining way and never to intimidate or stifle someone else's thoughts. He can be a little scary the first couple of classes, but I think that's mainly bc students come in scared of him, not bc he's actually scary. One class he talked about where to buy the best rainboots before beginning—I promise he's an incredibly nice guy and friendly. Go to office hours (which is sometimes required for writing assignments) and talk to him about your work! His insight is helpful and he takes the time to individually asses your work term and long term. But do come prepared; if you're asking him to look at a draft, send it to him ahead of time and let him know what you want out of the critique. Go to office hours and talk about the books! Let him know what you think, if you are confused, to continue a thread of conversation that started in class. He'll take or make the time to talk to his students, and is always open to meeting outside of office hours if it's more convenient. Just come prepared to work if you're in Derrick's class. It'll be a fantastic experience if you're willing to put the effort into it and one that will pay off wonderfully. It's hard, but never daunting, and even though you're grades might be less than desirable in the beginning, he'll work alongside you to help you produce better work that will receive the grade it deserves.

Jun 2011

Okay look, she's very nice and intelligent but her class was like pulling teeth. It might have just been my section, but it was really difficult to get through those 2 hours. She's also a harsh grader and scales everything out of the percent of your total grade it's worth. For example, our discussion essays are 5% of our grade and therefore graded out of 5 points. You either get a 5/5 100% (rare), 4/5 80% (attainable), or a 3/5 60% (likely). I don't really see why she has a nugget, yes her understanding of the material is thorough but her ability to excite discussion was pitiful and awkward.

Jun 2011

O'Meally is not for everyone (he was definitely for me, though). He's always smiling, quite well-dressed, and excited about teaching, about learning, and about the things he holds most dear (as far as I can tell, literature and music). The man founded the Jazz Studies department (the academic one, not the performance-oriented one) at Columbia, so if you're into music, snag a class with him, and talk to him. I will admit that we spent a bit too much time going over peers' papers in LitHum. However, LitHum was one of the best classes I've taken so far precisely because the time we spent critiquing each other's papers, I'm pretty sure, helped us open up and engage more in discussion, which is what the class is all about. You have to really listen to what he says when he lectures, because he talks a lot and thought it is mostly very precise and interesting discourse, it can be tiring. Go to his office hours; he's smart, really helpful with paper revisions, and a great conversationalist. He has lots to talk about, especially (again) if you're into music.

Jun 2011

Tobias is certainly an intriguing character. I cannot say I enjoyed his class 100% of the time, and I do not think the discussions were comprehensive enough to grasp the true character of Lit hum. Nevertheless, Tobias unequivocally deserves a silver nugget, especially considering his unwavering engagement with the students' welfare and the development of our literary minds. Although I thought his grading of the papers focused a bit too much on the "writing" criteria, he will certainly guide you towards a better direction in writing a well-rounded Lit Hum paper. His mellow character and extremely kind disposition will draw you closer to this professor as the semester continues. Be prepared for the exams however, they are not easy.

Jun 2011

I had Soloski last year, and all in all she is a very enjoyable professor to have. As other reviews have stated on here, her theatre background makes the texts, especially the plays, interesting as she gives special insight into things from the Greek play competitions of the time to the intricacies of Greek man loving (usually not penetrative, is the answer). As for downsides, at times there will be long, long, awkward silences if no one knows the answer (or is usually too tired to talk as it was a 9am class) but after that she will accept the first thing that someone says even if it is utter rubbish. Since you can't really choose Lit Hum professors, at least at first, if you end up having her I would say you are lucky, because I really enjoyed my two semesters of Lit Hum. And all but one of the people in the class stayed at the start of the second semester (when you CAN choose to opt out of your class). Finally, grading is very fair (I got good grades both semesters) with a decent percentage of the class getting A's. I would advise meeting with her/emailing her a lot when doing an essay though because it will make you a lot clearer on what exactly she wants.

May 2011

Prof. Siegel (who asks that we call her Erica) is good teacher. She has a lot of passion for her class and you can tell she cares about your learning and your success. The tone of the class is reasonably lighthearted, with moments of humor and short anecdotes. Discussion in the class is decent, though it did fall a bit flat at times. Essay prompts were for the most part interesting, and you're given many to choose from. All in all, if you're placed in her class, you'll have a good time. Also, her dad is Robert Siegel from NPR. Coolness +1.

May 2011

If you end up in Erica's class, consider yourself blessed and one of the luckiest freshmen at Columbia!!!! Although I am not a humanities major, and literature by no stretch of the imagination is not my forte, I loved this class!!! The readings are dense and sometimes make no sense (Beware of Thucydides), but Erica has a way of clarifying anything we read which made studying for the midterm and final a breeze. Her discussions are really relevant to both the individual works as well as the course in general (Look for kleos in every book). She really enjoys teaching, leading discussions, and pushing her students academically. While the discussions can sometimes drag (that's just the nature of a two hour long class), it is so worth it to attend every class session. She's not the easiest of graders. In fact, it is rather difficult to get an A for the semester (especially first semester); however, it's the core, and it is not supposed to be a stroll through the park. Her class is well worth it. A bunch of my friends had teachers who were easy graders or treated the class as a joke. I feel I got my money's worth with this class!!!

May 2011

Sam made Lit Hum worthwhile for me. He is incredible knowledgable and provocative. You may not always agree with what he has to say, but he is usually just trying to spark an insightful conversation. I highly recommend this class. Sam was the only teacher my freshman year that actually cared about me and took the time to get to know me outside of the classroom. He also loves talking about television shows, and he is Canadian - it cant get much better than that.

May 2011

Clarice is great. Looking back, I am so, so glad I had her as a teacher for Lit Hum. She is extremely nice, and she did a lot of things as a teacher to make our lives easier. Whereas a lot of other Lit Hum instructors require extra work beyond the basic requirements for Lit Hum (Wiki postings, answering questions about the reading for homework, etc.), Clarice did not ever make us do any of that. She also did not add an extra reading at the end of spring semester, unlike most instructors (which, I think, is completely the right decision. I mean...Lit Hum already spends WAY too little time on each book in Lit Hum as it is, so why exacerbate the problem by adding yet another reading?). In terms of grading, she is completely fair. I would say she is right in the middle in terms of difficulty: not obnoxiously easy, but definitely not an extremely difficult grader either. At the beginning of the year, she said something like, "It's not impossible to get an A in this class...It's just that it's unlikely." Do not believe this, and do not get scared. When I looked on my transcript from last semester, it said that 57% of the class got A range grades (A, A-). There were 14 people in the class, which means 8 people got A range grades and 6 people didn't. I'd say that's way more than fair. However, I will say that the midterms both semesters were pretty tough. You will probably walk out of them feeling completely demoralized, and the finals will be a piece of cake in comparison. But don't worry about it because she clearly curves the grades in the end (in her words, she grades "holistically"). In terms of her actual teaching, she is very solid. I've had one or two teachers before who have changed my perspective on life with the things they taught me. Clarice was not quite "life-changing," but those teachers are a rarity anyways. Overall, I really enjoyed her instruction. I sometimes felt like our class discussions did not really help me to gain much insight from the books that I couldn't have gotten just from reading the book myself. However, they were still solid. Also, I really appreciated how she was always so open to meeting with students about their essays and other things. She gave great feedback on our written work. In general, Clarice was a good instructor because she really seemed to care about her students. She understands that we are sleep-deprived. She understands that we may have not done the reading. She understands that we would rather be somewhere else than in class. Almost every class, she let us out at least 10 minutes early. Sometimes, she would let us out 20-30 minutes early. Also, she often brought us breakfast (I think three times first semester, and four times second ). And not just a couple of muffins or bagels...but a full spread. Bagels, cookies, croissants, fruit, juice, etc. It was just a really nice gesture, since it was not necessary for her to go to all that trouble. It's a testament to how nice of a person she is.

May 2011

After a hellish experience 1st semester I pulled an A- in this class but only because I did extremely well on the exams as she would still give me B's on the papers even if I had previously turned them in for review. I thought I would rough it another semester because I had gotten a good grade but the class is so painful I switched into a random section in January which was a good call. Specifically, she has favorites. Don't take this class if you didn't attend Horace Mann for high school. For the first hour of class she would talk about herself- her thoughts, dreams, past. She's also quite scary. The next hour she allowed a few students to dominate the conversation in any way they wanted and honestly I never learned anything about the book, and I was one of those students who dominated the conversation. In all honesty, I never read a book until the weekend before the exam and still participated and still got a good grade.

May 2011

Good teacher but... My complaints: 1) He would ramble. Once he got on a point, he'd go on and on about the same thing over and over again. Granted, you then knew what he wanted in papers and on tests, but it was pretty boring at times. It was hard to engage the class when he was just spouting out what sounded like a 20 page thesis to us. 2) He didn't take grades seriously. Granted, a lot of people liked this. During the final he left the room and basically allowed us to figure out the quote IDs as a group. He grades the papers fairly, though, and treats his midterm with respect. When he's looking for a specific answer and you don't give it to him in the essays on the midterm, your grade is docked, which I found annoying. 3) He is callous about working. He repeatedly admits that he doesn't actually expect us to read the amount that the Core has assigned. Hence leaving the room for the final. He doesn't really expect much from us, so it's hard to be motivated to actually read everything. Yes, it's cool that his expectations are low, but that doesn't mean that you're not going to be held accountable for your reading. That said... If you read everything and actively engage with the text, you can get a LOT out of his lectures. Sure, sometimes he pulls some background information that you know nothing about, but that enriches the text without making you read more. He constantly refers to the "original language" when he's analyzes, tweaking our translations, which can be both annoying and cool. He's a really nice guy, too. Super sweet, super intelligent. Seems a bit phased with the whole bureaucracy at Columbia, but he's a nice guy. Would I take this class again? Yes - but that's because I read everything and engaged with the text in a way that earned me a good grade. P.S. Although he seems like he wouldn't, he takes Virginia Woolfe seriously, so read it!

May 2011

Professor Watts was an overall good professor. He brought in a lot of context to the books which we read, and this context was extremely helpful in understanding the full meaning of many of the Lit Hum readings. He also was very good at getting kids in the class to speak, even those who were naturally very shy. That being said, one thing that Professor Watts did in class seemed to get on my nerves. Every Lit Hum class has one or two students that just go on and on when they are called on, and they "speak without saying anything." (Think Agathon in Symposium.) We had this one person that was just OUT OF CONTROL, and it looked like he kept encouraging her. I would have liked to see him challenge the claims the students make in class.

May 2011

Professor Grieve is a very cheerful and pleasant professor, who also made the long 2hr classes seem relatively short. I would suggest taking notes in class as your move through the books and she points out specific passages, because those are likely going to be on the midterm, and even a couple show up on the final. She has been the chair of lit hum a few times, and definitely has a more methodical approach to teaching this class. Her questions that she asks in class are very pointed to a specific answer she wants, and at least for our class, we did not stray away from her teaching itinerary much. She discusses themes pretty well, but what I felt was that we did not connect the themes and ideals of the texts to our own lives. We usually only reached a literary analysis instead of critical thought about personal relevancy. Overall she was a pleasant Lit Hum professor, and I think it might have also been our own class that stopped the analysis short, because most of the people in it seemed pretty over it by the second semester of reading the texts. The books are much better second semester than first semester in my opinion, but they are also much longer and more difficult to finish. Don't let Don Quixote set you back for the rest of the semester like it did most people. Like others have mentioned, if you are concerned a lot about grades (like most are), make sure to go to her office hours and talk to her about both papers to make sure she likes your thesis. I know our class overall did poorly on the first paper, mainly because she did not like the specific theses/topics chosen. Also, she adds Old School on to the syllabus, which is a great book and she allows it to be used on the final for the essay or passage analysis. A lot of people, however, use this on the final, so it might make grading a bit tougher/more competitive.

May 2011

I racked my brain trying to think of a nice thing to say about her and came up with, she's usually on time to class. In short, she has the unmatched skill to suck suck out the life in all of her students in the span of 2 hours. She makes the moderately interesting Lithum syllabus an insurmountable burden. She is unengaging and not very receptive of student's comments or ideas which disagree with hers. I'm not sure which Slade the reviewers before me encountered but maybe something happened between the semesters because the woman I had was not at all sweet, nor did she ever seem to be on my side (or anyone else for that matter) grade and material comprehension wise. I got a not so perfect grade on her first paper and discussed what improvements I could have made in her office hours. I then made sure for her second paper, I made every improvement she suggested (some of which were very obvious mistakes) and discussed my ideas with her before beginning it. I even changes a great deal of my thesis arguments to fit the ideas she suggested, went to the writing center and was told my paper was excellent, EXCELLENT, only to receive the same EXACT mediocre grade as on the first paper. In short AVOID HER. She's not here for you...

May 2011

I took Lit Hum with Joanna for the whole year, and I'm very thankful that I did. She's a bit of an awkward discussion leader, but she's brilliant. She knows so much about the literature, is a highly observant reader that draws attention to details that can easily be skimmed over, and she wants her students to succeed. She helped change how I think in a way that I thought the Core couldn't. I actually am a more critical reader, writer, and thinker because of her. Class can seem a bit dry at times - she's not the most animated teacher. However, I wouldn't have traded this experience. I know that my next three years at Columbia will be shaped by what she taught me.

May 2011

I really enjoyed being in Prof. Cavallo's lit hum section. She asked interesting and relevant questions in class that helped us review main and important points and quotations from the texts. She really encouraged all students in class to participate in the discussions and led insightful discussions that triggered me to reflect more on the texts. She always respected and listened to students' opinions. Prof. Cavallo is very nice and approachable. She gave us ample time to work on our essays and returned them with useful comments and room for improvement. I would recommend her as a prof for lit hum.

May 2011

Christia Mercer is an amazing teacher, and really made me appreciate the core and what it has to offer. She is an extremely knowledgeable woman, who not only teaches about the amazing literature we have to read in Lit Hum, but also the important lessons in life. I have learned so much from her, and would recommend everyone that takes Lit Hum to try to get into her class (if she ends up teaching it sometime soon). Nonetheless, she's is a very compassionate professor, and always thinks about her students. The class was very enjoyable, especially with the cookies we get to eat every time! There is one thing to keep in mind. It would be a lie if I said Mercer is an easy grader. You really have to work hard in the class in order to do well. The quizzes are made specifically to test if you have read the 300 page book last weekend and can remember the details. However, her methods work because she does make you read everything, which is the least you can get out of the class if you're taking it, right? Although the class was tough, I would gladly take it over again (I know this review is really cheesy, but it's straight from the heart!).

May 2011

I had Alex for a year, so I haven't really been exposed to too many other profs. That being said, if you are lucky enough to get Alex for Lit Hum, do yourself a favor and take it. Out of the 10 teachers I had freshman year, I'd say he was probably the best. Engaging discussion, most of the people participate, and Alex knows exactly when to jump in when discussion is sparse. He also is very 'forgiving' on comments; even if you give a chip shot comment, he'll be kind enough to acknowledge it and, even if you're wrong, at least consider your point of view. On the major spectrum I'm pretty far from anything english/classics or philosophy related, but i must say that the philosophy aspect of this class was really great. doesn't hurt that Alex is a philosophy phd student himself, and this definitely adds to the discussions. There are reading quizzes (on average once a week, but I don't think we had even one the last few weeks). this may be different from most other classes, but the quizzes (especially when we go over them as a class) surprisingly provide good topics for papers or exam essays. plus, the quizzes go into a huge eclectic cauldron of 'participation' so if you participate well in class, attend most of them, and do most of the extra credit opportunities (of which there are a lot) great instructor. great class. incredibly different than your high school ap lit class

May 2011

Even though she is relatively new, Prof. Murphy is among the best I've had here at Columbia! She doesn't lecture too much, and strongly encourages comprehensive class discussion. Always available to meet outside of class or via email, and very approachable in general; she also takes our feedback to heart, and teaches the course based our suggestions. She always goes the extra mile to help organize (optional) events outside class that are both fun and engaging to us -some are even worth extra credit! In class, she's really fun and upbeat, and has a great sense of humor. Most importantly, she SINCERELY CARES about her students, and will do anything to help us through both the course and our freshman year. I'd highly recommend her, both for lit hum and any other courses she may be teaching next year!

May 2011

Professor Moyn is quietly brilliant, so it may take you a class or two to realize that he is likely one the greatest professors you will have the pleasure of taking. Our Literature Humanities class was based primarily in discussion, relying on contributions from our class. Moyn nevertheless manages to infuse his fascinating and worldview-changing insights into every discussion. He leads the class in such a way that each and every person feels comfortable and does contribute to discussion. Our entire class was enamored of him and his class. He is also a genuinely great guy who invited us to numerous lunches and even to his home twice for dinner and a movie. That's all just icing on the cake that is his constantly engaging class, to use a terrible analogy. Samuel Moyn should absolutely have a gold nugget. Take a class with him if you can, you won't regret it.

May 2011

I know it has already been said, but I just want to reiterate it. This woman is FANTASTIC. She puts so, so, so much enthusiasm and effort into this class. She creates an internet page for every reading we do with study questions (we pick one to respond to), a passage from the reading to think about, and additional optional links to articles and other sites that relate to the reading. She is incredibly knowledgeable and adds so much insight to the texts that we read. I looked forward to this class every morning on Mondays and Wednesdays, and couldn't wait to discuss the readings. Professor Workman is also super sweet; she was five minutes late to our midterm because she was baking cookies for our class, and she invites the whole class to her apartment to have a study session for the final exam. She is also completely reasonable about papers, letting students do a rewrite for their first paper with her. Yes, she makes you write responses to the texts, but they really don't have to be anything formal or super well-thought out. Their sole purpose is to get you thinking about the text, which they completely do. I felt so much more prepared for class because of writing my responses. I know a lot of my friends hated Lithum, but that is completely unnecessary. One's enjoyment in this course is based strongly on your professor, and if you get a good one, this will be an eye-opening year. I can honestly say that next year I will really miss waking up to this class. Take Nancy Workman--you won't regret it.

May 2011

The bottom line of this class is it's about pure luck. Some people thoroughly enjoyed it and did well. Others, however, were brutally insulted by her on their papers and she never gave any feedback on how to improve. Professor Ladenson looks for a particular writing style in her papers and has no trouble completely bashing the papers that don't fit her standards. On the day our papers were returned, she immediately announced that our papers "were crap" and she felt like she was reading "seventh grade special ed" which she said wasn't her job, among other insults. By the end of the semester, about half of our class transferred out. Although I think it's important for teachers to let students know when they need to improve their writing, Professor Ladenson just told us we were horrible and didn't give us any feedback on how to improve. Once I realized I couldn't figure out how to please her, I decided to transfer out. My teacher in the spring semester returned my first paper with comments all over it, and a grade that was much more reasonable. Because of my new class, I was able to drastically improve as a writer, something I don't think I was able to accomplish at all my first semester. My advice is don't risk slaving away over a paper, trying to figure out if it will fit her criteria--your freshman year should be much less painful than that. Take a teacher who actually wants to help you grow as a student (i.e. not Elisabeth Ladenson).

May 2011

If I had to use one word to describe Ladenson's class, it would be "nightmarish." Class discussions mainly involved her and her one or two favorites, leaving everyone else somewhat removed. She also picked the most obscure paper topics, which seemed to be an attempt to make us learn to write by struggling and suffering. All the while, she dictated exactly how we should write, asserting that we should not make any claims about the writing because, since we can't call them up and ask them, all attempts to look at the authors' intentions are futile. Dull. Boringness aside, I am still at a loss as to why she found making fun of and insulting her students to be beneficial to anyone. The highlight of the class was her telling us that our papers were all "crap" and that they sounded as if they came from a 7th grade special ed class. Criticism was seemingly mean-spirited and never constructive or helpful. Needless to say, more than half of the class switched out after first semester.

May 2011

I cannot imagine a better professor than Samuel Moyn. His lit hum class was an absolute joy, and I looked forward to it every day. This seemed to be the general consensus of the class--we got together for lunch after every class and, for the entire time, talked about how much we all loved lit hum. With his brilliant insight, Sam will make you love every book you read. He manages to share these insights while still keeping the class exciting and discussion-based. Sam removed Crime and Punishment and the Decameron from the syllabus so that we could have a chance to look more carefully at the books we did read, and with less of a time constraint. He also added two Tolstoy stories and David Mitchell's "The Cloud Atlas" all of which were all awesome. I would absolutely recommend that anyone try to take a class with this guy before graduating--it will completely change your college experience for the better.

May 2011

Professor Dames is the best teacher I have had so far at Columbia! He is extremely intelligent and it rubs off on the class. Our analysis of the books we read are truly enhanced just by listening to Professor Dames' ideas. He truly sparks our interest in the literature and is extremely approachable and kind. Although he does not take attendance, I attended all of the classes and enjoyed every second. The weekly Courseworks postings on the books we read are very easy and help us synthesize our ideas on the book for that week. He reads them through to make sure we have done them, and I'm sure if you do them well, you will get on his good side. I can't recommend Professor Dames enough! He is an awesome teacher!!

May 2011

Edward Mendelson is undoubtedly one of the best Lit Hum professors you could get, if not the best. You get the best of both worlds: his insights into the books are fantastic, and he's a completely reasonable, understanding person (i.e., he is an easy professor). Mendelson wants you above all to think--he won't take any bullshit (anything you say in class should be grounded in the text), and he wants you to think of things that are actually interesting. If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and google him. You'll quickly discover (by the length of his wikipedia page and the many books he's published) that Mendelson is quite famous. The fact that he's teaching a core class to freshmen when he could be doing whatever the hell wanted (publishing more books, teaching grad students, etc), says a lot about how much he cares about his students. You might be intimidated by his first e-mail and your first class. (I think the e-mail forbade laptops, food, giving yourself intellectual authority by categorizing yourself, etc.) I definitely was. But in reality, he's the most understanding professor I've ever had, or ever will have. Need a few day's extra to finish that no-longer-than-1000-word-essay? No problem. Need to miss a class? No worries at all. If you're lucky enough to be placed into section, do NOT switch sections. Compared to other sections, you will not sweat. Mendelson doesn't exactly hold you accountable for the work; rather, he makes classes genuinely interesting so you want to do the work in order to engage in discussion and critical thinking. Sure, there were times when probably two people did the reading--I think Don Quixote was the worst--but Mendelson totally understands how stressed your life can be and doesn't take it personally (like other professors often do). As other reviewers have said, he wants you to read because the books are genuinely interesting--not because they're part of some curriculum. Where is his gold nugget? This man is the nicest, most understanding, easiest, most fascinating professor (throw in as many great superlatives as you want) to teach the core. More importantly, though, he made me think.

May 2011

What the other person said is completely true. A very average class in terms of analysis of text with a very nice and sweet professor. Yasmine is not extremely familiar with the texts in question, so it is completely possible to come in to class and BS your way through, especially as she doesn't call out people who don't raise their hands to speak. To be completely honest, I sparknoted everything the entire first semester and made an A. The only time I read the books was the week before the midterm and final to get ready for the quote ID sections. Still, a very decent class if you want a good grade with some general, broad discussion of the LitHum texts. Also, she does a phenomenal job preparing everyone for the final - the midterm is awesome and she had an entire class beforehand devoted to review.

May 2011

Prof. Johnson knows the works that we read very well, brings up some fascinating points in class, and if you choose to come to class having done the readings, Lit Hum with Prof. Johnson can be a rewarding and intellectually satisfying experience. She's a wonderful person who's extremely approachable and is always willing to meet with her students. Now it's important to be mindful that her Lit Hum section is what you choose to make of it. She doesn't try to encourage the entire class to participate in discussions about the books that we read. She is soft-spoken, she doesn't modulate her voice, and her class is more lecture-based than discussion-based. So yeah, if you haven't done the readings, aren't paying attention, and/or don't come to class prepared, you may find this particular Lit Hum section to be pretty boring. A sizable number of people feel this way. If you come to class prepared, you'll be able to appreciate the many interesting ideas and points that she brings up in class. My own recommendation: if you're in her section, STAY. Especially if you don't have much of a previous background in the Lit Hum texts (as is my case) and are okay with a Lit Hum section that is more lecture-based than discussion-based, you may find this particular section to be satisfying. While her section and her teaching style isn't for everyone, I thought I learned a ton from her and enjoyed her class very much.

May 2011

Professor Johnson knows the Lit Hum texts backwards and forwards, she just doesn't know how to teach them. Our "discussion" consisted almost entirely of her listening to herself talk. Johnson's feedback on my papers and tests was discouraging and I gave up utilizing her office hours after a couple of times because she seemed completely closed off to my concerns. I felt appalled by the amount of favoritism she showed for certain students. If you choose to take this class, you will learn a lot (so long as you can stay awake) but you could also be setting yourself up for several months of frustration.

May 2011

She is kind of amazing...get her if you can. She doesn't lecture too much but she guides the discussion expertly. Doesn't force you to talk but always encourages your thoughts, and she is very fair and flexible. Always available to talk, answers emails quickly, and very approachable. She's serious but lets you joke a bit, so her class is not high stress. In general, Erica's class was quite fun and you learn a ton from her. She deserves a gold nugget!

May 2011

Professor Workman is absolutely fantastic. Literature Humanities became one of my favorite classes ever because of the insight she provides. Despite the fact that she does try to tug her students in certain directions, sometimes seeking for specific answers, this is a class where the depth of your thinking is fundamental. Albeit the extra work, the weekly responses are a great way for you to actively become involved with the text. During discussion, the responses will help you consolidate your thoughts and, with the tremendous input from Prof Workman, will ultimately lead to multiple epiphanies. Prof Workman puts a TON of effort in this class, and that's part of the reason why it is so special. She will have plenty of comments on anything you input into the class-- whether it be a comment during discussion, a weekly response or an essay. At the same time, however, she expects a lot of work from you. If you want your Lit Hum experience to be truly inspirational, Prof Workman is the perfect teacher. I am sure she'll get the GOLD NUGGET she deserves sometime soon.

May 2011

SC is such a wonderful instructor! I think a lot of first-years will agree that the first few weeks of school are intimidating in a number of ways, but I always felt like Professor Cole made it her priority to make the entire class feel comfortable contributing to class discussion from the very beginning. Dynamic, articulate, brilliant, and fashionable (who doesn't like when a tenured member of the faculty shows up in knee-high boots and tights?!), Professor Cole really challenges you to think about the texts in new, interesting, and diverse ways. She doesn't force-feed you anything, but rather, encourages you to construct your own individual interpretations. Her willingness to grant paper extensions, read and comment on rough drafts, and offer her assistance on endeavors outside of the academic classroom all paint a picture of a professor who truly cares about her students as intellectuals and, more generally, people. Professor Cole will change the way you think, read, and write. What more could one ask for?

May 2011

Dr. Workman is awesome, and one of these days will earn her already-deserved gold nugget. She loves Lit Hum, and her enthusiasm is infectious. She knows these texts inside out--and she should, because she's been teaching the class since the '90s. Her love for the books, paired with her high expectations of the class, stimulates actually fruitful discussion. I honestly learned things not just from her, but from my classmates. And sometimes there were snippy comments back and forth because people disagreed about each others' readings! It was awesome. She has a hilariously dry, sense of humor. She's a solidly UWS person who reads the NYTimes and swears by Absolute bagels over Nussbaum--and she doesn't take herself, or anything else, too seriously. Some professors might have better things to do, some grad students might not care about Lit Hum. Dr. Workman has nothing better to do because she loves Lit Hum so much she chooses to focus on it exclusively. She wholly devotes herself to the class and expects the same of her students, who will be better off for it by the end.

May 2011

I love Professor King. He's really intelligent and gives a lot of insight into the literature aside from the standard stuff the Core office wants him to say. He's really open to class discussions and the ideas students bring. Plus, he'll question or challenge what students say so the discussion is actually substantial, not just a person speaking to get their participation points. He's also good with extensions if you ask for them, just don't get carried away and ask for too many; in his own words "i don't like feeling like i'm being taken advantage of." He allows rewrites so take advantage of those to help your grade. i've also found that they help me understand the text better so i recommend doing at least one Enjoy your year with Bruce

May 2011

Katherine Biers was an absolutely fantastic Literature Humanities professor. She has great insight and leads a discussion better than any professor I've encountered at Columbia. Instead of coming into class with some message she wants to convey, Professor Biers brings in something she herself wants to work out. This may seem not as informative at first, but it means that she is so much more genuinely interested in what everyone has to say, as everyone's contribution can count towards a greater picture we are all trying to see. Professor Biers paper topics can seem intimidating at first, but she gives a lot of guidance at the beginning of the year for how she likes her papers written (begin with a quote, put your argument in contrast or in support of what could be said about the subject you're arguing). I found her grading very appropriate to how I felt about the quality of each paper, and also found her feedback very insightful and helpful. Unfortunately, she is not teaching the course next year, but I would highly recommend anything she teaches. She is AMAZING.

May 2011

Professor Uden was fantastic. He has an uncanny ability to remember everyone's contributions to the discussions, so he would keep drawing you back in when conversation was even somewhat relevant to what you had said minutes or even days earlier. He knew the texts really well, but still let us lead discussion and argue with him about the interpretations of the books. He handled being disagreed with very well, and encouraged us all to approach him for help studying or with our papers. Even the books he selected to add (Plato's Apology in the first semester, a collection of short essays for the second) were great additions and worked well with what we were already reading. All in all, a perfect LitHum experience!

May 2011

Jessie Conrad is absolutely amazing. If you are reading this because you just found out that she will be your teacher for Lit Hum or Art Hum, commence your celebratory jig now and get ready for an incredibly class because Jessie is a goddess. A brilliant, brilliant goddess. Her ability to handle discussion astounding, so much so that we would talk from beginning to end without a lull in the conversation or awkward silences, constantly analyzing the texts and challenging each other. Discussion was so sustained that when she asked us if we wanted to take a break halfway through class this semester we all just gaped at her, unsure what to do with ourselves. Granted, we had a really strong class, but that just augmented Jessie's already great teaching. (Side note: she substituted for another section as well at the end of the fall semester and the students in the other section flocked to our section the next semester after realizing what a good Lit Hum class is like.) As the other review mentioned, Jessie is a really tough grader. I got a B last semester and barely scraped an A this semester, but I definitely could have gotten better marks had I taken better advantage of her offers to read drafts of papers beforehand (yes, as in if you send her your paper before it's due she'll read it and give you comments that guarantee you'll get a higher grade on the next draft). The imperfect grades are totally worth it, though, because I wouldn't trade her humor, brilliance, and kindness for an A+ any day.

May 2011

I suppose all of you will find yourselves drawn to Yerkes because you don't want to do the reading, and you do want a good grade. Well, then, you probably won't be disappointed, because he doesn't mandate that you do the reading--although when you don't do the reading you relinquish any control over your grade--and gives pretty good grades. The other posters are right about his non-sequitur-heavy class discussions that touch on NBC's comedy lineup, Matthew Arnold, and the Yankees more often than, say, Ovid. But who's Ovid anyway? It's a tolerable, and easy, class, especially if you don't want to do the reading. But I think some of the kids in my class, certainly, were too cynical and allowed some of Yerkes' actually valuable lessons to drift in one ear and out the other. That is to say: you're wasting a spot in the class if you just want a gut course. Yeah, the man might look checked-out, but he really isn't. Not in the least. He will press you to come up with original ideas, and maybe, just maybe, you'll realize that whatever academic malaise you've had in the past comes from parroting plot summaries. Seriously: I write good English papers now. And good history papers, all of them with original ideas that took me more than five minutes to come up with. And that's the lesson you get in Yerkes' class, even if you don't read any of the books. You'll learn to think, to come up with original, good ideas, and you'll question a bunch of stuff you thought you knew. Which, if you learn anything in this class, you'll find to be much more important and meaningful than knowing exactly what Iphigeneia morphed into. I think it was Tina Fey, maybe?

May 2011

The negative review two reviews down is understandable. However, it was written at the beginning of the Fall semester, and Yerkes gets much better over time. He does go on tangents, he does often make fun of us (but only because he knows you can take it; if you can't, he won't be surprised when you leave), he does tend to rip apart our first essays of the semester, and he does pretty much think he's always right. But come on, the guy has been here for 35 years--he's seen and accomplished a lot. On the other hand, in addition to what the previous reviewer said, Yerkes actually understands us as college students. He knows that even if he gives us a month to do a paper, we probably won't start it until the day before, and tries to prevent that by assigning an in-class draft. He put up a fight this semester to cut down the LitHum syllabus to 6 books, because he agrees it's way too much reading, which inevitably leads to cheating (sorry 2015, it didn't work). He spots the usual BS in an instant, and makes you be specific, clear, and concise. He actually values participation highly, and tries to push people to speak. Another good thing is that if you get one or two bad grades, it doesn't proportionally bring down your grade for the class. He's fairly nice about grading in the end. In short, he's an unorthodox teacher, but you can actually get a lot out of this class, just by listening to what he has to say. If not, well, the workload's relatively light.

May 2011

Nancy is easily the best professor I've had at Columbia. She has really mastered all of the texts that she teaches, and she expects that you'll get close to that level of mastery, too. This was such a refreshing class to switch into after a semester with a professor who would point to sections that befuddled her and let the class debate about it without guiding or providing any insights. Nancy's method of interrogation is leading- she's looking for specific answers that will send the discussion towards the ends that she wants to get across, although she will allow for slight diversions. This is off-putting for some students, but the quality of her insights into the texts have you by the end of the class feeling as though you've had an epiphany. Every. Time. Nancy, from what I gather, is fluent in English and Russian, has significant working knowledge of Greek and Latin and has at least dabbled in German. She's incredibly wry and current, referencing tumblr and youtube memes to lighten the mood. And she really cares about Lit. Hum. Even at 9 am, I was always engaged and excited to be there. She invites you over to her apartment to watch Akira Kurosawa adaptations of Macbeth, takes you on interesting tours at the Met, and finds awesome productions in the city for her classes to see. Really, I just cannot say enough about her. Where is the gold nugget?

May 2011

Uri is the shit. And takes no one's bull shit. If you're like me and really despise students in your class who talk frequently and profusely while their contributions consist of nothing but hot air repeated in various permutations, then Uri is your man. If you get him as your LitHum professor, consider yourself lucky as he only teaches the fall semester. :'( His discussions are very entertaining and interesting, and somehow he seemlessly and effectively integrates pop culture references into his lectures. His choice and interpretations of passages/topics to discuss within each work seemed unorthodox and unusual to me in the best possible way. I really recommend actually doing the reading because he knows if you didn't. The questions he asks of the class are generally very difficult and relatively bullshit proof. Also, watch The Big Lebowski before you take his class. 1) Because it's one of the greatest movies ever and you should just watch it. 2) Because it seemed as though he mentioned it in about half of his lectures. You will come away from his class with the notion that this movie somehow captures the main themes from the some of the most important literature of Western civilization.

May 2011

Great class. Yes, she definitely has favorites and lets them interrupt her throughout class, which can be frustrating. But she clearly cares about Lit Hum and has great insight onto the books we read. She altered the syllabus, adding Paradise Lost and Lolita (awesome books), and removing Pride and Prejudice and most of Boccaccio. Highly recommend the class. Also, no pressure to participate, as long as you pay attention in class, take notes (or pretend to), and don't totally bullshit the two papers/semester. Take her class!

May 2011

Marina is/was totally awesome and rules. She is very British, but this does not mean that she is uptight or anything. In fact, she is incredibly down-to-Earth and willing to talk about any topic or idea a person has in class. She is not afraid to reference bad movies in class (see: the Cagey classic Face/Off when talking about The Odyssey), and you will not feel intimidated by her mannerisms in any way. She maintains control of the class not by dressing in suits or lecturing extensively (although most classes have an extreeeemely helpful 20-minute history/background she leads, which would have been more helpful before we read the book), but by being ridiculously knowledgable. She is scary smart. I think she mentioned once that she spent her graduate years at Oxford toiling around reading obscure theology. If someone is discussing theology, philosophy, or literature as a whole, Marina will respond and develop the ideas. The format of the class is all discussion, and Marina does a pretty good job facilitating. While our talks were somewhat dominated by one or two folks, she recognized this and tried to encourage other people to contribute as well (and loved when they did). Marina basically made lit hum what I wanted it to be when I came to Columbia. I wanted to come to class (at 9 AM!!) every day, and never missed one. To end I'll leave some Marina quotes. "Today, we're going to talk about dildos. That's right, dildos. And you can't escape it." (As we walked into class for the Lysistrata) "His crazy-ass nutso awesomeness was pretty interesting" (In regards to William Blake) "If you don't like people, you won't have friends, and maybe will blow up a federal building." (In regards to who knows what). I didn't write every one of them down, but there's usually one or two quotes every day during class that will make you laugh.

May 2011

I disagree w/ the other reviewers. She tries to be clever, but is not. She's overly opinionated and postures as someone who cares and is knowledgable, when she's a dud. Maybe the other reviews were written by first year students. I'm looking back on the course as a more advanced student and I see how banal and shallow her class was. I made an A, thought the class was okay at the time, but have had so many more thoughtful and engaging profs since. It depresses me that I liked it at the time.

Apr 2011

If you want an easy A, do not take this course with Nanor. She's just as harsh as everyone else says she is here: not only does she give low scores, she also has very high grade boundaries. She doesn't curve. In fact, after she'd finished grading the first paper of the first semester she spent forty minutes giving us a grammar / punctuation lesson, telling us that we were writing as if English were our second language. So be warned -- she's one tough (and rather terrifying) lady. I cannot stress that enough because so much of the Columbia population is grade-centric. One last comment on this subject is that we had around 20 people in the beginning, around 18 by the end of the first semester, and we went through the second semester with six people who were there from the beginning, and three new kids (she let us around half an hour early after that). For those of us who care more about what we learn than our GPAs, I would advise you to try out her class for a while. The workload honestly isn't that much, our exams (midterm counts for 5% of the grade, final for 10%) are just formalities and I learned a lot from this year. I talked to a few kids who switched to other sections in the second semester, and the general consensus is that although other professors are much more lenient, their discussions aren't nearly as interesting.

Apr 2011

If you are lucky enough to get randomly assigned into Edward Mendelson's Lit Hum section, don't be intimidated by the first class. You quickly learn to like him and realize that he's actually kind of amazing. He is really everything you look for in a Lit Hum Professor. He's ridiculously well read, he's engaging and most of all he's very supportive. Our classes on To the Lighthouse and the Bible especially interesting because he just knows so much about them. He made me love the books that he loves. He has very specific requirements for how to write his papers that can be frustrating at times, which he understands so he encourages everyone to come to office hours. His class is all about discussion. He assumes that you've read the book so you spend very little time going over plot. He's only interested in talking about the bigger (often very abstract) ideas in each book. He's loves hearing your interpretation, though he's not afraid to tell you that he thinks its wrong or that you're "reaching" as he calls it. But if you're point is interesting, he'll continue to talk about it and turn it into a much more sophisticated point that you had originally intended. It's also not hard to get away with not finishing all the reading. The few times he noticed that no one had finished the reading, he didn't seem to care that much. He wants you to read the books not because they're required but because they're worth reading. Mendelson seems like the stereotypical pretentious professor, but he's not and he acknowledges when he's being like that. He's not afraid to say something controversial and regularly does (sometimes with his favorite "irony light" on). He also is open about the problems with the Lit Hum syllabus. We would spend a chunk of class talking about them towards the end of the semester. Sometime in the semester you'll realize that the majority of the stuff he talks about are his own ideas, and that other professor actually reference him. Oh and he brings you apples every Thursday and jokes about how the apple you pick says something about you.

Apr 2011

Words cannot describe how amazing David Yerkes is. Disregard all the comments below on him being disrespectful, as he is clearly engaging and truly listens to people if they are making an interesting point. There are no stupid questions but rather stupid people. Yerkes really makes his students think, choosing to concentrate on academic skills that will benefit students long after they forget all of the useless plot summaries from the dozen or so books on the syllabus. He not only deserves a silver nugget, but he should have a gold nugget. I honestly believe that my writing has improved substantially because of the focus and clarity that Yerkes rightfully demands from his students. Overall, he is an incredible and quirky instructor, that leaves his students to read at their own pace, but cares immensely for them. Besides this, he is hilarious, often bringing up crazy topics that really turn an useless class into one of the best english experiences I have had in a long time.

Apr 2011

I decided to write this review while procrastinating writing my 8-10 pg lithum paper due in 12 hours because silva is that great. he's new a columbia this year, so i had no idea what i was getting into first semester, but i am so glad i wound up in his class. lithum has been my favorite class over this entire year, and i can't help but attribute that--at least in part--to professor silva. the texts are amazing, the discussions are amazing, and he really pushes everyone to close read, close read, close read. i highly recommend this class.

Apr 2011

Nancy Jean Workman is honestly one of the most fascinating instructors that I have ever had. She is definitely one who assigns more work than most instructors by assigning responses, but these responses complement her teaching and oratory beautifully. Workman's passion for the works that are studied in Literature Humanities is one that inspires her students and motivates one to read. Workman's course is definitely my favorite of the year. Her energy is just so thrilling, that students did not mind the fact that the class was held at 9 a.m. One of the most important doings as an instructor is that Workman organized the readings rightfully: the assignments were neither overwhelming or unmanageable. Workman has so much insight, due to her years of teaching, and I loved her commentaries on all of the works. I switched to her class after noticing that my first instructor was not good and I heartedly believe that that is one of the best decisions that I made during my first year of college. Workman prepares one for the midterm and the final quite finely, and ignites a yearning to learn in her students. Her Ph.D. in Russian Literature made Crime and Punishment an amazing study. Her vast knowledge of literature, in general, made its way to the studies of most works. I constantly found myself reviewing various eras of literature that I did not know about before. Nancy Jean Workman is truly fascinating. I hope that she continues to serve as an instructor of Literature Humanities for Columbia College. Her involvement is a blessing for the school, and I hope that she feels loved and welcomed. We love you, Professor Workman.

Apr 2011

SARAH COLE: A LIT HUM GODDESS Incredibly engaging, encouraging, and intellectual, Sarah really knows her stuff, and most importantly, knows HOW to teach. She spends time both on general themes of the works, but also closely analyzes passages and examines characters in great depth. She guides her students through each text, pointing out important elements and relationships, thus leading the class to their OWN understanding of the book, instead of force feeding them with the traditional views of the text as some professors mistakenly do. Sarah focuses on making the class enjoy the texts as much as she does, and often links contemporary events, novels, ideas, etc. to the lit hum books. Even if you don't enjoy the book, you will love hearing Sarah lecture about it. You will immensely enjoy this class. In addition, Sarah is understanding of what it means to be a college student: stress, stress, and more stress. Extensions are attainable and she does everything she can to make class relaxing to prepare for (besides the insane amount of reading). Although good teaching does not directly result from a good fashion sense, I feel that it's necessary to briefly outline Sarah Cole's everyday attire. She is the queen of high heels; flats are an anomaly. Dresses are essentials, as well a big earrings that scream sassy, independent, woman. She is the epitome of what girls want to look when they're forty, and who guys dream of dating... at any age. Nugget? I think yes.

Apr 2011

Yasmine's class was average, nothing more, and sometimes a lot less. I switched out after a semester. She picks up on the standard themes in the texts, but doesn't really go any further. She'll accept students who make big claims about themes in the text without really requiring them to back up their claims with solid, textual evidence. In essence, if you talk a lot and spout off bs, you can actually do fairly well in the class. Yasmine doesn't really call out people that don't participate, which resulted (in my case) in a class where the same three or four people talked every class. After a while, it gets pretty repetitive, and (if you're one of the few people talking) pretty exhausting. Also, because she wasn't as familiar with the texts as some professors, students could do fairly average work on papers and receive very good grades for putting in mediocre effort. One of my classmates, for example, copied and pasted quote analysis from Wikipedia for his last paper, and he received the best grade he'd gotten on a paper that semester. If that's the kind of class you're looking for, then Yasmine works just fine. To be fair, she's really nice. She cares about the class (and brings in cookies for students' brithdays!) and is pretty lenient with attendance. She also prepared us very well for the final: the midterm was essentially the final in miniature, so it was a good litmus test for how people would do.

Apr 2011

Professor Fields really ought to have a gold nugget. She is likely the best Lit Hum professor you'll get since she knows the Classics so well. But more than being a Classics scholar, her understanding of the Lit Hum texts overall and her clever, interesting ways of interpreting them means that you get a solid basis in the not just understanding these particular works, but in literary interpretation in general. She does a great job of balancing between lecturing to give the appropriate amount of information and anecdotes and possible interpretations and fostering student discussion. I only have two somewhat negative things to say. First, her grading/notes on the papers can be somewhat frustrating since she doesn't give very lengthy responses as to why you got the grade you did or how you could improve, but after taking an English class this semester I learned that she gives a lot more feedback than some Humanities professor here. And second, she can come off as somewhat standoff-ish and aloof initially. She does seem to have a sense of humor and is nice, but it takes her a long time to warm up to you/for you not to be worried that she finds you really tedious and obnoxious. If you do get Prof Fields, consider yourself lucky. She is one of the best!

Apr 2011

Cavallo is, to be honest, pretty terrible. This isn't a reflection on her as a person (she's quite friendly), but her classes were uniformly bland and uninspiring. Rather than stimulating discussion, contributing thoughts of her own, or even structuring conversation between students, she let the class run as a series of disassociated and often fairly crude observations. She would serenely acknowledge each comment with, "Hmm, yes, OK" before moving on to the next student. I did most of the reading and contributed a bit to class discussions, but couldn't help feeling that I was really missing out on what these texts had to offer. Sure enough, our class got a new teacher the following semester and it was a revelation––suddenly, we looked forward to Lit Hum and had genuinely interesting and thought-provoking discussions. It made me realize just how bad Cavallo was. I know this kind of literature isn't for everyone, but you have to work pretty hard to make it as boring as she did. Luckily, she allows laptops in class, so at least you can be doing something useful while you're forced to sit there (she takes attendance).

Apr 2011

I have to say Tobias is easily one of my favorite First Year professors. He's brilliant, of course, but what makes him truly exceptional is just how much attention he's willing to devote to you individually. He encourages us to meet with him after giving us back our papers, and writes many, many comments so you'll always have a general idea of how to improve. He isn't the easiest grader but not a super hard one either. If you talk to him and get an idea of what he's looking for, you'll be able to do well in the class. He never makes you feel stupid, even if you make subpar reflections.Instead, he'll comment on what you've said, and help you complicate your thoughts with his responses. That being said, he takes great caution so as not to influence you with his viewpoint, and encourages you to develop your own perspective. He warns you against reading online analyses/introductions to texts, asserting that each of your individual opinions can be just as if not more valuable than the interpretations of others. He's made me love discussing literature and even improved the way I read.

Apr 2011

Professor Johnson is absolutely the best teacher I've ever had. I've been wanting to wait until the end of the semester to write this review, but the sheer magnitude of her awesomeness compels me to write it sooner. First of all, she is incredibly brilliant and well-versed in just about everything you could possibly hope to study. On the enormously rare occasions that she is wrong or blanks, she demonstrates a level of humility that you would never expect from someone of her intellectual prowess. If that weren't enough, she is hilarious and will make you crack up just about every class. She truly makes the texts come alive with witty and well-timed jokes and extremely insightful references to contemporary culture. It seems like she truly wants each and every student to understand and to succeed and is a member of that rare breed of teacher who legitimately will dedicate time outside of class to helping you. Much has been said of the contribution she makes to your writing. I could not agree more. She's really taught me an important lesson in argumentative writing, and I am sure I think back to what she taught me for years to come. In summary, if you pass up the opportunity to take a class with Prof. Johnson, the angels will weep for you and bad things will happen.

Mar 2011

I can't express how much I love Nanor's Lit Hum class. I will admit, however, that it took some time for me to get used to her (first semester was pretty rough) and I thought about switching sections for second semester. I'm glad I didn't. She is absolutely brilliant, probably one of the most brilliant teachers I've had in my entire life. She never fails to reveal some exciting and insightful facet of whatever text we're reading. She's also helped my literary analysis improve dramatically. With all this praise, however, I also have to point out the negative aspects. Like I said, it takes some time getting used to her as she can be quite intimidating. If you come to class with some weak, BS interpretation about Homer or Dante, she'll call you out on it and make you look like a dumb ass in front of everyone. She has extremely high expectations for her students, so if you want to cruise by in Lit Hum, this class probably isn't for you. In my opinion, it's a wonderful class, and if you want to get something out of it, then you should definitely sign up for Nanor's section.

Mar 2011

give this woman a gold nugget!!!!! best ever. warm, knowledgeable, flexible, forgiving, interesting. our entire class loves her, and the feeling is pretty mutual. she's a pleasure to spend 2 hours with every tuesday and thursday. she concentrates in russian literature, so crime and punishment is obviously fantastic for 2nd semester. erica likes to keep a lively discussion going, but never forces you to talk. past reviews have mentioned that she gives out a heavy workload, but that's not really true.. it's typical lit hum stuff: a lot of reading, the occasional essay and a midterm and final. besides that, we have to post one discussion question in the class wiki every night before class. it literally takes like 5 minutes total. easy.

Feb 2011

Nancy is amazing!!! She really deserves a gold nugget, and I think after this semester she will get one. Everyone in our class loves her and loves it in spite of the fact that it is in the 9 am slot. I am a relatively jaded English student, used to simply reviewing the texts with most teachers while they clarify it for others, but Nancy causes revelations every day. She is incredibly enthusiastic and incredibly attentive, her responses to both our essays and our daily assignments are insightful and genuine. She really loves her job and makes you love it too.

Feb 2011

James Uden has to be one of the best educators I have had the pleasure of learning from throughout the course of my academic career. His unbounded knowledge and deep connection to each text allows every one of his students to become engaged and active in discussion. Despite this profound understanding, however, he is very humble and is always open to new ideas and interpretations. It is Lit Hum, so there is plenty of reading assigned, but James makes everything manageable and never gives extraneous assignments. He is a fair grader who always rewards effort and enthusiasm. On a side note, he may have one of the best memories of anyone I've ever met, able to easily recall an argument you may have made from many weeks earlier (one you may have even forgotten). All in all, he was able to make a two-hour class at 9 a.m. one of the most enjoyable of the year.

Feb 2011

Jon is a wonderful professor, very very smart, informative and fun. I feel very lucky that I was in his section. His lectures are delightful, the discussions are always very lively and he turns the material into marvelous animated lectures. The enjoyment is translated into a drive to study the material and it makes the reading so much easier. He poured a lot of information about the works. When we were discussing The Metamorphoses by Ovid, he brought Ovid's complete works to class. He read parts of The Art of Love and The Tristia. The art of love was hilarious and it gave us a broader understanding of Ovid. It was a wonderful addition to the class. Besides being brilliant, Jon is a very very nice person, he is very understanding and willing to help. Lit Hum is the epitome of the Columbia University experience and Jon contributed in making this class an even more memorable Columbia experience, one that will be remembered as a highlight of my entire time here.

Jan 2011

When I sat down the first day of Lit Hum, I was super nervous because of what CULPA had to say, but I left at the end of the year feeling like I had a rewarding experience. Yes, Professor Kebranian/Kenderian (for some reason both get used, I think she prefers the former) has a somewhat severe look about her, and I'm sure if a class started to give her too much shit she'd shut it down hard. But the Nanor that we had in our Lit Hum was just as likely to make a joke as she was to chastise you...actually probably more so. To be fair, a lot of people participated in class, which kept the discussion going, which is the way she likes to run things...she probably gets a little more testy when greeted with nothing but silence. I actually thought she was a great Lit Hum teacher, definitely above average. Don't try and get out of it just because of what you read here...give her a shot. Her style's not for everyone, but we had quite diverse personalities in our room and most people seemed to get along just fine.

Jan 2011

I agree pretty much with everything said in the previous review. Just wanted to point out that the final is only 20% - 15% is for participation. Also Tobias is super-smart, a great teacher and a nice guy so if you get the choice, take his class. The first semester of the class is probably a bit more fun than the second but that's probably owing to the fact that Tobias is classics guy so he really knows his Homer and like.

Jan 2011

I had Professor Wirkala for Lit Hum at 9 AM. I was planning to switch out of the class simply because of how early it was, but on the first day I had really enjoyed her teaching style. She is very engaging in discussions and actually sparked an interest for me about the books we were reading (I'm not huge on humanities). Though you don't really have to read all of the books, you should at least skim through them to have a general understanding so that you can engage in class discussions. The workload is simple, one presentation one midterm, and one final per semester, but because of her slightly more challenging grading it's important to work hard for those. Personally though, Professor Wirkala's class was my favorite one of first semester

Jan 2011

This was Jessie's first time teaching Lit Hum...and she is freaking brilliant. Just, wow. I honestly was not looking forward to Lit Hum, but she made it my favorite class this last semester. Of course, I've never been in another Lit Hum class, but I believe that she teaches it the way it's supposed to be done. We dive right into the work at the beginning of class. She'll bring up passages and highlight lines that she thinks are important. She briefly hints at the depth of the analysis, and then immediately, we all start discussing it. Our class is great because we're respectful in the discussion and do the whole raising hands thing. Once we all say what we think and respond to each other, she responds to us individually and also teaches us on a much deeper level than any of us could've brought to the table. She manages to keep the discussion part that is integral to Lit Hum without us losing her valuable input as a ridiculously intelligent and interesting person. She has very, very high expectations for students, but she lets you know of these expectations immediately, and then prepares you to meet these expectations. She grades pretty harshly, but they're often the grades you deserve at the Ivy League level (ie an B+ versus an A-) Jessie is amazing, and I'm so glad to have her.

Jan 2011

TAKE TIMBERLAKE'S LIT HUM CLASS! If you're in his section, under no circumstances should you switch. If you're not in his section, switch into it immediately. This is one of the best classes I have ever taken. Ever! I came to Columbia in part because of Lit Hum, so I had very high expectations, and this class by far exceeded them! It was the perfect combination of every aspect of a college class: Timberlake was engaged, both with his students and the material, and absolutely brilliant; he was caring and kind and made an effort to connect to every single one of students; and he gave very little work (see Workload), and the work he did give was very well thought-out, so that one got a lot out of doing it--I learned the most in Timberlake's class by far out of all my courses, and had by far the least work. He's very understanding and knows that you don't get around to doing all the reading--but, that said, you want to, because the class is basically just a discussion, so in addition to participation being important, you simply want to participate, because the class is so interesting and you want to impress him, and that's kind of hard to do if you haven't done the reading, of course. The point is, don't sweat it. He's a lenient grader on exams and papers, and is mostly looking for original or interesting ideas that are supported by the text. Not difficult. The ONLY downside to Timberlake's class (okay, besides the 9 am time slot--but that IS SO WORTH IT!) is that he doesn't teach the second semester.

Jan 2011

If you're looking for an easy A, Sacks is not your man. If you're looking to really better your knowledge and understanding of literature, Sacks is everything you can ever ask for. Sacks is one of the most hardworking professors I've ever seen. He does not take his job lightly at all and he really feels like he owes his students the best. This is evident when he apologizes for not being as on top of his game as he wanted to be in the last class. It's kind of endearing, really. I think it fundamentally comes down to what your academic ideology is. If you believe that you came to Columbia to learn and leave as a wholesome person, then Sacks is THE professor to take. You won't forget this class.

Jan 2011

I generally agree with the below reviews. Prof Kucukalic is a very interesting teacher with a fascinating life story. The discussion was very unstructured and student run but generally good. However, perhaps because she motivated her students to work hard and they all do generally well she is a very strict grader. She curved my midterm down from A- to A range to a B+ and gave me a grade at the very low end of those which I had received over the course of the semester. If you really want a good grade you have to go well beyond simply doing all of the readings, doing a pretty good job on the essays and studying for the tests.

Jan 2011

I really enjoyed Prof. Johnson's Lit Hum section; it was one of the best classes I have ever taken. I can see why some people don't necessarily like her style of teaching. She is very soft spoken, could perhaps modulate her voice a little more, and probably spends more time lecturing than other Lit Hum professors; you can tell that not everyone in the class is engaged (or paying attention). It really takes time to get used to Prof. Johnson's style of teaching. Since the pacing of the class can be a little uneven (sometimes 25 pages a night, other times you have 100+ pages to digest in 2 days), you may want to consider reading ahead. But ultimately, almost all her students will find Prof. Johnson to be a laid-back, quirky and very approachable teacher who goes the extra mile to help her students. While she's soft-spoken, she has a great sense of (deadpan) humor and can be very, very funny at times as well. Prof. Johnson is incredibly smart, and the things she says are insightful and original. Having taught this class for decades, she knows the course material amazingly well, and her focus on examining key themes in the works that we read (the Big Picture) and searching for modern-day connections makes taking Lit Hum with her incredibly rewarding. Later on in the semester, Prof. Johnson decided to have us prepare presentations for each class and lead discussions that she would help guide; it was quite effective and made Lit Hum a class that I would look forward to. If you find yourself in Prof. Johnson's section, consider yourself very lucky. You're in for a great class.

Jan 2011

Professors like Sacks make Columbia University the highly acclaimed academic institution that it is. With such teaching skill and a vast body of knowledge in mythological texts and literature classics. Professor Sacks is a sharp, analytic professor who is fantastic at what he does. Professor Sacks delicately balances contributing his own ideas while engaging his students in intellectual discourse. He clearly has an impressive knowledge of the subject material and conveys that to his students. But at the same time, he is constantly challenging his students to challenge HIM and provide the alternative argument. This balancing act always impressed me. Many tenured professors like the sound of their own voice and just want to hear themselves lecture. Not Professor Sacks. He is constantly engaging his students in debate and picking their brains. Daunting at times, yes. But he truly teaches us to think with an open mind and confront all possibilities. His feedback on both exams and papers is excellent and it is obvious that he spends time grading each piece of writing meticulously. The effort he puts into both the class discussions and writing feedback is very impressive, and it is clear he wants to see improvement among his students.

Jan 2011

Here's the Deal: She is a nice teacher and always has time available to answer questions. However, lecture is very dry and boring. It isn't ever surprising to see at least one person falling asleep in class. She does not encourage participation at all, and answers your question with another question (most of the time). However, if you take out time to go to her office hours you will get an idea in what she wants to see in your writing. She always has time to see her students which is a plus. Overall recommended, but warning : she is a harsh grader.

Jan 2011

Sam is awesome. Honestly the only person that could make me laugh, stay awake and learn at 9 o' clock in the morning twice a week. He's entertaining and allows you to form your own ideas about the readings while making sure you stay on track. He's not a terribly hard grader and he really cares about teaching and wants you to like lit hum. I enjoyed taking his class and I genuinely feel like I learned a ton. I would recommend his class 110%.

Jan 2011

It's difficult to write a negative review of Professor James. She has a sunny personality and a powerful intellect. Her insights on your essays and class discussions can be extremely stimulating, if she understands you clearly. That said, she is not right for everyone, and she certainly wasn't right for me. I came to Columbia expecting the core to be taught by venerable, old professors who had been teaching their whole lives and were therefore capable of illuminating the assigned texts in a unique way. Pretty normal freshman notion, I guess, and I was sorely disappointed after my first few classes with Ms. James. She began our first class by putting us all in a circle and asking us to go around one by one and give our names, birthdays, birthplaces, and...wait for it...zodiac signs. She explained that this last tidbit of information would satisy her "New-Ageiness". I knew from that moment Ms. James would be an informal, unconventional teacher. Here I was expecting an ancient professor/ess with an encyclopedic intellect to bring the Western canon to life, and instead I got a New-Age graduate student doing her PhD in modern American literature (we read ONE modern novel in Lit Hum). But it wasn't her lack of expertise that got to me. I believe this is her second year teaching Lit Hum, and her lack of experience is very obvious to students who try to take the class seriously. Her disregard for historical context was the greatest evidence of this. She simply did not have any interest in placing the ancient texts in some historical context in order to better understand them. Ms. James only went so far, for example, as claiming that the "guest-host relationship" in ancient Greece was really, really important. No significant discussion of ancient Greek culture ever took place in our class. Instead, Ms. James ran the class like a typical high-school English class, and despite her Socratic inclination to ask her students questions instead of giving them the answers, I did not feel stimulated for the majority of her class. Other times, I was simply confused by the triviality of her discussions. Most of the time, I was just bored. I may not believe in the goals of Lit Hum 100%, but I know that it is at the very least a chance to learn about humanity in a multitude of its distinct historical phases as they are captured by some of its greatest authors, from Homer to Dostoevsky. Professor James could be a good teacher one day, because she is intelligent enough and truly cares about her students. She lacks experience and confidence in herself, and must work to learn how to better lead a classroom of high school kids who are becoming college students. Only take her at this point if you don't want to work that hard and really don't care for Lit Hum too much anyway.

Jan 2011

Fantastic teacher! His knowledge about the classic elucidates meaning and makes reading the books fun. His charisma can be felt at all times and when Plato comes up, groups are created to discuss Socrates' rhetoric while he plays the role of Plato. He cares about the students and is available for help or discussion about any aspect of the course. I enjoyed first semester and cannot wait to start the second, knowing what a great teacher I have. He seems to be a very fair grader; I noticed that the amount of effort put into papers translated into better grades. I recommend his class to people that enjoy having a teacher that has intelligent comments and a funny attitude.

Jan 2011

I'm enthusiastic for Andrew! Enviably intelligent and impeccably witty, he does talk soft, so paying close attention is necessary if you wish to catch all of his informative and priceless LitHum “gems.” He is just wonderfully adorable with his giggle-ish personality, although he commands class discussions well. I loved his attitude during class. He doesn’t put people in the spotlight to contribute during class discussions, so there isn’t the pressure that characterizes other seminar classes. Participation during class discussion isn’t part of your grade, which is a boost to shy people who want an effective teacher for LitHum. But survival depends on reading the material. Andrew isn’t concerned with whether you do or not, often encouraging people who haven’t to admit it and move on. This attitude reduces tension during class but you really need to be personally motivated. The motivation thing becomes important when the midterm looms. Half the test was passage identification, and they required some sustained thought even though I read everything. Not reading guaranteed an underwhelming grade. I thought he was a fair but also gentle grader. He asks for two longer essays and five shorter response papers over the semester. For the response papers, he looks for people to elaborate on localized and detailed observations in the text while he expected the longer essays to respond to broader themes. His essay prompts seem vague at first, but an early start usually delivers some good ideas to write about. For his feedback on both essays he gave recommendations for further inquiry; for the longer essays his typed responses were quite detailed and always great to read and reflect on.

Jan 2011

This lady is seriously the fucking best. My favorite professor freshman year. Maybe still my favorite professor. She knows everything, and if she doesn't know the answer to your question, she'll admit it, and then return the next time you have class with a bunch of knowledge on the issue and some articles for you to read. If you come to her for help, she will help you, and she will be gracious and thorough and very engaging and really, really fuckin intelligent. She also works super hard outside of her teaching duties. Her phd thesis is baller and I think she was asked to be a dean of GS (?) and pretty sure she tutors kids from low-income communities (?) and she most likely fights crime by night. Honestly she is just brilliant and will always encourage student participation and involvement and then work with your comment to make it more thorough and more incisive, etc. Our entire class had enormous respect for her as an academic and human being. She was really, really funny, too, and the class had a great vibe and people even became friends in it, which was cool.

Dec 2010

Let's put it this way: Uri Cohen expects a lot out of you. Lit Hum in and of itself is not terribly difficult, but the way he wants you to think about literature or analyze the text can be very challenging and at times frustrating. As the other reviewers have said, it might take time getting used to his unconventional teaching style--he never writes on the board [and when he does, it's illegible scrawl as he points out] and class consists of him asking provoking questions that everyone most often struggles to answer. Rarely does the class actually arrive at the core point he is trying to make, though, so by the end, he will give his own creative, thorough take on the work. His interesting insights on all the works on the syllabus that help you adopt a new mindset about literature and develop acuity and perspective in analysis. This is also a class where BS will not cut it. As Uri says, our generation is one that "can say a lot without saying anything." In this respect, your answers in class or in essays need to be original and creative--something that is simply correct but too on the surface or conventional will not do, and your grade will show it. Also, stay away from Sparknotes because he says the people who write those are "stupid" and "miss all the good stuff." So yes, listening to him lecture on the Lit Hum syllabus can be insightful and interesting [he's a polyglot and started reading the Bible to us in Hebrew] but his brilliance also means that your 4.0 may suffer when your analyses may not be as developed as he expects. However, Uri is willing to make himself available during office hours or by email to help [he also invited the class to his house for a bagel brunch]. He also does not believe in grades but must give them so roughly it's just his perception on how you fared within the context of your class...so "you get what you get and you don't get upset." That being said, it is hard yet not necessarily a section to stay away from, but rather be prepared to work hard, analyzing literature on a new level and coming up with profound insights [which is the point of Lit Hum anyway, right?] All in all, probably one of those classes that I'm glad I went through but probably wouldn't want to do again.

Dec 2010

Cristina Cammarano is an excellent teacher. She is extremely knowledgeable about classical literature and philosophy and always sparks interesting conversations in class. Make sure you actually read the texts, she can tell if you are reading spark notes. She grades fairly but she does have high expectations. If you want an A keep up with your reading, participate in class, and write thoughtful essays. She is a philosopher so she is more concerned with the development of your ideas rather than nit picky grammar mistakes in your essays. Overall, Cristina's Literature Humanities class is amazing and I will miss her next year. I have learned a lot from her so far.

Dec 2010

She is simply outstanding. I've never seen a teacher more effectively, dynamically, and, most importantly, organically, guide class discussion. She always comes in with an agenda for discussion, but does not insists on sticking to it, if the discussion promises to head in a an alternate direction. Even the plans that she makes are guided by the students' online discussion postings for the week, and she will call on certains students to elaborate on their postings in class on certain days. These postings, plus the two required presentations per semester, give even the shyest students a chance to be heard in a setting where, often, those who shout the loudest are the ones heard most. I know for sure that if I didn't have Professor Smith for Lit Hum I would have gotten substantially less out of the class. But, since i have her, it's basically my favorite class so far--and this is coming from a fully math/science guy.

Dec 2010

Prof. Slade is interesting, sweet, and a caring woman. She is one of those teachers who is "on your side" in terms of grades and is not out to try to make you fail. She is encouraging and very useful during office hours. She is very intelligent and adds resources outside of the normal lit hum texts to relate them back to the readings. I've enjoyed my first semester of lit hum w/ her thus far and I am looking forward to the next one.

Dec 2010

Lejla Kucukalic is seriously one of the most amazing professors I'll probably ever have. She used to be an olympic swimmer for the Yugoslav Republic until the Balkan Wars started. Then, she was under siege and in hiding in Sarajevo for a year, before being smuggled out of Bosnia by journalists and finishing a PhD in science fiction in the US. Now she teaches science fiction here, and she also teaches lit hum. She's funny and entertaining, insightful, powerful, commanding, tall (6 1, i think?), good looking, and basically every good adjective you could think of for a professor. Her venerable womanliness even gives Moody-Adams, that profound and veritable student of the world, a run for her money. She also cares a lot about her kids--she once pulled me aside to ask why my comments in class weren't as interesting and insightful as they were before. She'll take the time to meet with you, to take the class out to some bomb-ass plays, and she'll ask great questions. Also, she sometimes talks about war and about how similar the Iliad, Odyssey, Histories, and Thucydides are to the war she experienced, which can be a very humbling and shaking experience. LEJLA. IS. DA. BOMB. TAKE. HER. CLASS. WHAT. AN. AMAZING. WOMAN. deepest respect for her. for real

Dec 2010

Really great Lit Hum professor. He cuts out the worst readings so we can spend more time on the more interesting stuff and he discourages the superficial analysis of texts that seems to go on in other classes. Obviously a brilliant guy, but also laid back and funny. He somehow manages to hold my attention for the entire 2-hour class. He also understands that we have lots of commitments and makes the workload extremely manageable. Maybe a little harder on grading than I'd like, but his section is definitely still worth taking.

Dec 2010

Professor Slade is a very nice woman who grades fairly easily. She'll answer a question if no one answers. Also, if you go to her office hours and ask for help, she's always more than willing to do so. She knows a lot of history and has a lot of knowledge, but sometimes it's inevitable that people are going to fall asleep, given that it is an hour and fifty minutes. She grades harder on take home essays than midterms, so midterms are the chance to boost your grade. The final is also pretty easy after taking two different midterms of similar structure, so she prepares you pretty well.

Dec 2010

Professor Workman is awesome. She truly cares about the texts, and also about the class. After one semester with her, I feel like I read literature better. I dig deeper, because she showed us how in class. Professor Workman is hilarious, in her way, and also very nice. She is a great professor, and teaches Lit Hum the way it should be. When I see other kids struggling to memorize characters from the text for some grad student, they're missing the point of interrogating the text.

Dec 2010

Kirsten was an absolutely fabulous Lit-Hum professor. I've heard some awful things about other professors and feel so lucky to have gotten her. She's extremely awkward in the classroom, but it's so obvious that she loves teaching and wants her students to do well. She knows so much about each texts. She could awnser just about any question, regardless of how obscure, often times without even using her notes. Throughout the semester, she planned optional trips to museums, plays, and other outings. You've lucked out if you've gotten Kirsten for Lit-Hum.

Dec 2010

Professor Eisenbach is one of those rare professors with a gift for public speaking and ingenuity that actually listens to his students. Unfortunately, to really get out his true genius, one must do a bit of digging. He doesn't like to answer questions about his opinions very much but prefers to keep discussion going, which is great for discussion, but not-so-great if you really want to see him at work. I felt like a lot of this class was a teaser for his American Presidency class he teaches now and then. He has such a talent for drawing people's attention and keeping them entertained and stimulated that it's almost a shame that LitHum isn't a lecture course. A word of warning - though he was great to listen to when he occasionally spoke, because of the way he runs his seminar, the overall quality of one's experience will greatly depend on the people in one's class.

Dec 2010

Best teacher of all my first semester classes. gives very insightful comments. one of the only classes i enjoyed. go to her class, listen, go to office hours, talk to her. she's really nice even if you say somethings stupid. she makes lots of jokes in class and brings cookies to keep everyone awake. Best teacher of all my first semester classes. gives very insightful comments. one of the only classes i enjoyed. go to her class, listen, go to office hours, talk to her. she's really nice even if you say somethings stupid. she makes lots of jokes in class and brings cookies to keep everyone awake.Best teacher of all my first semester classes. gives very insightful comments. one of the only classes i enjoyed. go to her class, listen, go to office hours, talk to her. she's really nice even if you say somethings stupid. she makes lots of jokes in class and brings cookies to keep everyone awake.Best teacher of all my first semester classes. gives very insightful comments. one of the only classes i enjoyed. go to her class, listen, go to office hours, talk to her. she's really nice even if you say somethings stupid. she makes lots of jokes in class and brings cookies to keep everyone awake.Best teacher of all my first semester classes. gives very insightful comments. one of the only classes i enjoyed. go to her class, listen, go to office hours, talk to her. she's really nice even if you say somethings stupid. she makes lots of jokes in class and brings cookies to keep everyone awake.Best teacher of all my first semester classes. gives very insightful comments. one of the only classes i enjoyed. go to her class, listen, go to office hours, talk to her. she's really nice even if you say somethings stupid. she makes lots of jokes in class and brings cookies to keep everyone awake.Best teacher of all my first semester classes. gives very insightful comments. one of the only classes i enjoyed. go to her class, listen, go to office hours, talk to her. she's really nice even if you say somethings stupid. she makes lots of jokes in class and brings cookies to keep everyone awake.

Nov 2010

Great teaching and a really good guy - highly recommended. He was always really well prepared and got most of the class involved in discussion. He wrote more comments than any other teacher I've had. I really think he helped my writing. I couldn't go to his office hours but when I talked to him after class he was happy to talk and gave good suggestions. I feel luck that I had him for Lit Hum.

Nov 2010

Cristina is a wonderful person and adorable, but her timidity and slight language barrier prevent her from leading an interesting and productive lecture. LitHum was boring, which was unfortunate given Columbia prides itself in its LitHum department. Her inability to lead a good lecture was probably influenced by the language barrier-she was unable to understand grammatical sytax of sentences, which unfortunately actually keep her from understanding the true meaning of significant lines. If you want to get anything out of LitHum, I would not recommend this class. If you fall behind in the slightest it is diffucult to catch up in this class. Class is boring eventhough she is nice and always willing to help out a student. Hard to get in contact with her, however.

Nov 2010

Most amazing teacher I have ever had. She cared the most about her students than any other teacher I have ever had. For each essay assigned she returned a page and a half single-spaced review critiquing your ideas - for everyone in the class. Her discussion sections were truly amazing. It was the most fun I have ever had in any English class. I only wish she finished out the spring semester of 2010. If she ever returns to Columbia get her as a teacher you will not regret it!!

Nov 2010

Carol Slade is a gentle and sweet woman with a pleasant character and easy going attitude. But more than that, she's an amazing professor and resource. Some might say that she's an easy grader, but in reality she's just fair. She gave my class two exams instead of a midterm, which boosted all of our grades, and often hands out pop quizzes on which everyone gets an A, regardless of how well they really knew the material. While at times class can be slow, she's always amusing and fun, if for no reason than because she uses antiquated slang to try to fit in with the kids and always has cool sunglasses. I definitely recommend taking her for a class that's easy to look forward to, to participate in, and to enjoy.

Nov 2010

Erica is FANTASTIC. She is warm, eager to hear your thoughts, and genuinely fair and approachable. She almost always keeps a lively class discussion going in lit hum. She is clearly interested and excited about the material that she's teaching, and makes it even more enjoyable for her students (especially for dense texts that might not seem so stellar upon first glance). Her lit hum class isn't a breeze by any means, but it's really not killer at all. If you put in a decent amount of work, you will do well. Readings are long and can be pretty rough (that applies to almost all lit hum classes i assume...), but discussion in class makes struggling through the texts very worth your while. A wiki post about that night's reading is mandatory before every class, which is a bit of a pain, but really nbd. It's like 5 sentences total, and it's not even for a real grade. Her essay topic choices (there are usually 5-6 options) are good prompts and genuinely not too hard to handle. In grading papers, she expects you to put real, developed, complex thought into your work, but she's not looking to shoot you down by any means. If you work hard on your essay, you'll do fine.

Oct 2010

If you are looking for an breezy, easy, conventional, glory glory to the great books, kind of Lit Hum class, Musa Gurnis is not for you. She's one of the toughest, most earnest and most bad ass teachers I've ever had. She teaches with a bit of background on each author but the work in class is on your shoulders. As a gifted bullshiter myself, I would urge any other student with similar talents to drop your bad habits asap. They will not aid you in this class. Bring in good things to say every time. She gives good feedback, she's smart as a whip but most importantly she cares. You'll write better, think better, and 20 years after college, you will realize that it is teachers like Musa that you remember.

Sep 2010

I have never had a teacher as disrespectful as Yerkes. He doesn't care at all what any of his students are saying (even though he claims that he takes us more seriously than anyone will ever take us in out whole lives), loves the sound of his own voice, and interrupts and nitpicks at anything anyone says until they don't want to speak anymore. He goes on endless tangents after (or in the middle of) every comment a student makes, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with anything anyone is talking about and are sometimes even semi-insulting to the speaker themselves. He has no respect for the text either, constantly mocking the author and characters and, whether intentionally or not, acts as if nothing we read is really that great or important anyway. He constantly belittles and condescends to not only his students who are attempting to participate in "class discussion" (which is usually nothing more than him self-indulgently commenting on the half-made comments of his students and repeatedly coming to the conclusion that the original observation doesn't really matter or make sense) as well as the authors of the books that are supposed to change our lives. If you want to do minimal work and stay silent with barely any problem take this class. But prepare to be picked on.

Sep 2010

Uri Cohen is brilliant, funny, and a great teacher. That said, you will most likely be very intimidated the first class. It takes a while to get used to how he teachers, but you will leave the class a better person than when you started. He makes you think. What is sufficient in other classes just won't cut it in his class. He expects you to really understand the material and he will call you out if you don't. Uri is the kind of teacher that Columbia needs more off. He finds ideas in the texts that will blow your mind. The regular sparknote themes, ideas, etc. will not suffice. He is looking for something much deeper, which is harder to find, but much more rewarding and interesting. Take his class and you will come out a much better person. I only wish I had an opportunity to take his class again.

Sep 2010

I don't normally post reviews of anything but I can't believe that last review. I switched into Mark's section half way through and the difference was like night and day. He was totally motivated with a humorous approach, he kept the class really engaged with discussion. I always looked forward to it. There were a lot of strong personalities in our class and he was great at bringing everybody in without demanding a set way of understanding the text. The wiki was kind of time consuming at times but I liked seeing what other students were doing. Projects were a nice alternative to essays. He also added Alice in Wonderland to the syllabus, which I loved. This was the best class I had last year and one of the best I've had at Columbia. PS the pizza actually kind of sucked, but it was free so I can't complain.

Sep 2010

As part of the last class Mr. Rosenthal taught before his retirement from Columbia, I agree wholeheartedly with the previous reviews in many respects--his brilliant (and not far-fetched, as I often find) insights into literature, his wonderful wit, etc. However, I'm writing this review not only to add my praise but to disagree with a trend in the previous reviews: that Mr. Rosenthal teaches his own opinion and isn't open to others. He often spoke about different interpretations of a text, and as we formed judgments about the books both individually and as a class, it was as part of an intellectual journey, not due to the ruling word of a teacher. The class discussions were so lively that people would voice many different opinions, and Mr. Rosenthal would sometimes mention that he agreed or disagreed, or elaborate on the topic, but as one of the discussion, not as a supreme authority. That's really what made the difference for me--participating in a discussion with Mr Rosenthal was like talking to a friend, in the sense that your friends can disagree with you about the meaning of the Iliad without sounding dictatorial because your opinions are of equal worth. When Mr. Rosenthal disagreed with me, I didn't feel "shot down," just that I was part of the conversation. He also isn't stern about his opinions and the class was friendly, so that if he thinks you're completely wrong, it's a funny situation, not a shameful one. I wouldn't condemn Mr. Rosenthal for his viewpoints on the books at all--I WANT his opinions. Since they were always humbly offered and well-received, I have no complaints. I congratulate him on his gold nugget, which he joked about wanting last semester and finally got.

Aug 2010

I LOVED Professor Williams. Although I only had 8 teachers 1st year, Professor Williams was my favorite Teacher by far and will probably remain one of my most favorite teachers (he even trumps my few amazing high school teachers). Professor Williams has been teaching for how many years? (i know 15+ at least.. i think?) so obviously he's read the texts many times and has a clear and firm grasp on all possible aspects of the reading. He provides great insight and maintains a clear direction while teaching class, but he's also entirely open to students' own points of views. He encourages the class to dicuss views other than his own as well. Unlike my first semester teacher, who was an absolute nightmare that made you feel afraid of participating, Professor Williams was genuinely kind and encouraging. He made even the quiet people in my class speak on a somewhat regular basis. In my 1st semester's teacher's class, I was constantly sneakily looking at the clock (since i was scared he would catch me looking at the clock).. but in professor Williams' class I probably looked at the clock once a lesson and was shocked when there was only 10 minutes of class left since the class was so engaging. Now, instead of heaping the due praise Williams deserves, I'll mention other points. He's NEVER gotten angry at anyone. He understands other college activities, classes, and commitments, getting sick, etc. I came in late once 15 minutes because I was delayed at another class/speaking to prof after class and after class I apologized but he just said to me "you've always been on time, so don't worry about it." He DOES take note of who comes to class and whatnot, but he won't get mad at people for being late (and very rarely do people come late over 3-5 minutes to class because we all respect him). He doesn't even get mad when people are CLEARLY not paying attention. THis one time, one of the kids who sat next to williams fell asleep and started snoring REALLY LOUDLY. Gareth didn't even pause his lecture and ignored it. He didn't even get mad nor treat the kid meanly at the next lesson. Also, when he calls on some people and they go "huh? errr...." because they weren't paying attention, he makes a joke like "not enough sleep last night?" and moves on to call someone else. What I loved most about Professor Williams was probably his British accent haha. And his British humor and lack of "up to date" terminology. He calls the computer "the magic box." Sometimes his British humor is a bit dry but since he's so charming it's funny nonetheless and puts you at ease. Professor Williams also is VERY flexible about moving essay deadlines and midterm deadlines. Our midterm was originally before spring, but a kid in our class wrote on the board "PLEASE MOVE THE MIDTERM" and it was really funny because while he was writing it professor williams walked into class and was like "ahh... so you don't want the midterm before spring break?" and the kid was embarrassed but williams was really nice about it and he let us vote on it... and the class voted to have it after spring break. Same thing with essay deadlines. He moved one of our essays from being due on wednesday at class to Friday at 5 pm. And on another essay.... which was due in class on wednesday..... we also had to read like 200 pages of Montaigne by wednesday so obvoiusly nobody read the book and he called on random people since it was the first time nobody volunteered and no-one read the book so it was very awkward and embarrassing...and everyone was falling asleep from pulling all nighters. Probably a good 4-7 / 22 kids were falling asleep/asleep and he was like "none of you got sleep last night? oh wait.. you were all busy writing the essay since you put it off until the last moment." and then he told us "well, I'm assuming none of you read it then? haha" and then he told us we'd just go over the book... kind of summarizing it. Not mad at all, just amused. Wonderful man and prepares you VERY well for the final (since he's the chair of lit hum and decides ultimately what goes on the final).

Aug 2010

Although he may not be for everyone, Professor Sacks is exactly why I wanted to come to Columbia. If you really care about the core, and want to take it seriously and do the heavy lifting, Lit Hum with Sacks will be incredibly rewarding. I don't want to write too long a review that will get boring and turn people away with too much detail. BUT please please give this professor a chance if you have his section or are able to switch into it. Professor Sacks has put a tremendous amount of thought into both the content and method of the core curriculum, and all I can say is that the more that you are willing to put into the class the more you will get out of it. You will be hard pressed to find a more knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and fair teacher across the board on all of the books. Remember that he has been around in the English department for a long time, and has discussed the minutiae of works outside of his immediate expertise with many of Columbia's greatest professors from other specializations. His own is Homer, a real treat for any classicist, and a great way to start off the year with Homer. It also means that if you stick it out for two semesters, you will get to read Omeros, Derek Walcott's epic poem set in St Lucia, which was one of the most astounding and beautiful things I have ever read, an experience infinitely enhanced by Sack's enthusiasm and knowledge. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Richard Sacks. Lit Hum was made for guys like him and you should consider yourself very lucky to be a part of it.

Aug 2010

I don't understand why everyone says that Professor Lodge is awkward. I didn't find her awkward at all, but very friendly and engaging. It was a great class! The discussions were amazing, and there were all kinds of extracurricular activities. She is a fair grader and gives lots of feedback on papers, and she is always willing to meet with you to discuss your paper or anything else. I highly recommend taking her class. I learned a lot.

Aug 2010

Stephane is the homie. Possessing an intimate knowledge of the books of Lit Hum, he leads the class ably in far-reaching discussions of theme and meaning. He seems to have lived in nearly every place known to man, and his experience with other cultures and locations is a huge asset in our discourse. Additionally, his extensive knowledge of film contributes to a continual exploration of narrative devices and structure. One comes away from the class with a keen sense for the evolution of literature and storytelling, understanding well the way in which Virgil's work progressed into Woolfe's. It is obvious that he wants students to leave his class having learned something both useful and meaningful. Even beyond his role in leading the class through the western canon, he is the coolest guy. His travels supply him with endless stories of adventure in far-off places, and his role as head of the Language Resource Center give him a unique perspective on language and learning. He is exceptionally willing to meet outside of class, whether to discuss the material, give advice, or just hang out. It is almost guaranteed that you will leave his office having learned something entirely unexpected. His taste in music is on point, as well.

Aug 2010

Really, you don't need me to add anything to the many glowing reviews already posted here; until he's nominated for sainthood, there really isn't going to be much else to say about this kind and brilliant man. But let me add a couple things to keep in mind when taking a seminar class with Professor Kitcher, especially Lit Hum: (1) If, like me, you are unbearably shy, and the thought of taking a seminar in which "participation" is part of your grade is among your worst fears, then Philip Kitcher is your man. He is exceedingly understanding in this department, and will gladly allow you to submit written responses to readings before class if you ask his permission at the beginning of the semester. Best of all, though, Professor K is so thoughtful and receptive a discussion leader that, by the end of the semester, he'll be able to draw out even the quietest students in class. (2) If you aren't willing to scrutinize every sentence you put into an essay and ask yourself, "What exactly am I saying here?" then Philip Kitcher is most certainly not your man. He is brutal—I mean this in the best way—when it comes to picking apart every aspect of your argument, which means that you will learn more about writing from his red ink and meeting with him during office hours than you'll ever learn in UWriting (which may not be saying much, but you get the point). Don't expect to get away with clever turns of phrase and self-important words that add nothing to what you're trying to say; this may sound like an obvious lesson, but Professor Kitcher will assure you that it really isn't. In short, give him no bullshit and Philip Kitcher will give you unconditional love. What more could you ask for?

Jul 2010

I had an overall positive experience with Tobias. The guy knew the LitHum books inside and out. He was for the most part always well-prepared, and asked many conversation-inducing questions, although we were not always up to the task of inducing said convo. I thought he graded fairly for the amount of effort I put in (which was minimal.. woops), but I'm sure if you talk to him during office hours and / or email him with drafts of your paper he would be more than obliged to help you, and it would probably make you just look good in general. He was a chill guy though overall, very understanding if you forget to respond one week (just tells you to make it up) or miss class (for a legitimate reason) and is just looking for some semblance of effort from his students. Good guy, enjoyable lithum experience

Jul 2010

(ON GENESIS) Kathleen mentions food; someone draws an apple with shimmering meaning Kathleen is a very memorable person. And when I say that, I mean it in the way that if you take a class with her, you will learn all the necessary information and then some, because every other thing that comes up in discussion will come from your own breadth of knowledge and let you discover hers. Class topics came from postings we did the night before, which had no purpose other than to let us think about the material independently and show her what we were interested in. They were required, but led to more thoughtful and interesting discussions. When she felt as though we could handle the material and that discussion was going well, she was always the facilitator and never the dictator of a conversation. When she did lecture, she came in with mounds of prepared material for us to read at our leisure and her own researched presentation, frequently a visual and auditory one, that brought us more in touch with the time that we were reading about. Above all, her efforts were purely for our benefit. It's amazing to think of how she did it on top of her extremely busy schedule which includes writing her dissertation. I had such a great time with Kathleen's assignments. The main work in this class was keeping up with the readings (~100-300/wk, depending on the book), but we also had to do two essays during the course of each semester. The prompts were usually some delicious mind-candy, either being generally intriguing or encouraging to think of the work more creatively. In fact, our last assignment of the year was creative projects of our choosing, which was not as easy as it sounds. Each member of our class probably spent more time on these projects than they would have writing an essay, and I believe that's a testament to how much each of us like and respect Kathleen. Kathleen, in short, genuinely cares about each of her students. She is quicker to understand a problem than criticize it, doesn't play favorites, and will foster your strengths and help improve your weaknesses. You will work hard, but you will feel that everything you are doing is productive and worthwhile. She will add some excellent overlooked passages. She will bend rules or even break them or when it means improving something or having the chance to seeing it in a new way. And did I mention that she's hilarious? I still think and talk about the ideas we learned in this class at least once a week, if not every day. Maybe it's because our class had a great dynamic. But it's also because of Kathleen made sure we wouldn't forget.

Jun 2010

Just wanted to largely agree with the reviews below: Judith is not a great teacher, although she is not, in fact, an evil reptile out to swallow your grade whole. I do want to point out that previous classes, as evidenced by the culpa reviews from years past, have not had such a violent reaction to judith's teaching style, and I will note that one of the classes from which this slew of negative reviews comes actually got judith only for the second semester of lithum after having a fantastic, amazing, wonderful teacher. That said, many of the reviews come from people who did not have said fantastic teacher at all. I'm going to try to be as fair as I can in this review, but I must say that before I sort of detached myself and stopped caring, Judith's course annoyed me about as much as it annoyed some people who have written particularly virulent reviews. But I don't feel that her course is one that you should immediately switch out of, and hopefully by giving an account of my experience of her class, you can determine if you are a student more like those she has had in previous years (who, from all I know, have really enjoyed her class), or a student more like those from my class this semester (in which case, RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN as fast as you can, make up an extracurricular activity, lie and say that you have a different major, do whatever you have to, but don't take this lithum section). Here are the main issues with Judith's teaching style, so far as I can tell: 1) Overemphasis on facts. She speaks as if certain interpretations of texts can be stated factually: some that I found particularly distasteful were her claim that Aeneas definitively loved Dido (I mean, that may be a great interpretation, but it is by no means the only one), her claim that Dante held that the placing of the virtuous pagans in limbo was arbitrary (again, a great interpretation, but not the only one), and her claim that Gloucester's fake "fall" from the Cliffs of Dover is an unambiguous symbol showing us that life is always worth living, no matter what. Oh, and she claimed that Boccaccio was a feminist. Which leads me to... 2) Apparent shallowness of interpretation. I'm not saying her interpretations were actually shallow. But the way she communicates them, with so many lovey-dovey up-with-people sentiments... it just makes them sound shallow. Some things that particularly bothered me in this regard were again the bit about Gloucester and the cliffs of Dover (okay, I gotta say, that pissed me off), and her claim that the ending of King Lear, wherein Lear points to Cordelia's lips and says, "look there, look there" means that Lear is telling us to pay attention to what Cordelia says, i.e., look at her lips, and learn from her wise example. That may be true. But come on. Possibly the most depressing tragedy ever, or at least the most depressing tragedy we read in this course, and she wants to say the meaning of it is listen to good people? There was another time when she was having one of her guessing-game pick-the-word moments (more on those in a minute), and the question was something like, "what words do characters x and y symbolize in the novel," and the answer was "yes and no." Again, might be a great point. But the way she presented it was just made it seem random. Honestly, more than anything else in the course, these two things bothered me the most. I just felt like she didn't leave enough room for complexity, rather than "lessons" or "facts," in her readings of the texts. She was too black and white in assigning definitive answers to questions that the authors themselves left open, rather than allowing the class as a whole to jump in and try to find our own answers to these difficult questions. 3) Unfortunate Socratic Guessing Games. She tries. She really does. But at some point in the course, fairly early on, her inability to guide the class towards the answers she is seeking (and her inability to deviate from her preconceived notion of where the class is going to go in order to adapt to the questions and ideas the class itself is interested in that day) results in a class-wide guessing game. So say she wants to know what Mr. and Mrs. Bennet symbolize in Pride and Prejudice. Well, people will just throw out a bunch of words, until, seemingly randomly, one will be the phrase she wants, and then the class is finally able to move on. This might be okay if some of these guessing games didn't waste ten minutes of class, only to make the answer seem completely random, whereas if she had offered her interpretation to the class and let us ask questions and respond to her ideas in a dialogue, rather than a fill-in-the-blank word guessing game, she could have explained how this particular set of words was useful for understanding the characters, and if we disagreed, she could have defended her ideas. 4) Favorites. Every lithum teacher I know of picks favorites. But Judith is fairly obvious about it. I will confess that during the semester (especially early in the semester) I was one of said favorites, and it did seem like she was just picking my answer to some of her guessing games because she liked me. And although I felt proud(ish) of the papers I wrote for her class, which parts she would like and which parts she would dislike seemed entirely random to me. She would think something was a good point that I thought was exceedingly obvious, and then she would be unimpressed by and ignore something I thought was actually a valid insight. It was horribly confusing. I will note that being a favorite does not = an automatic A. I mean, I got an A-... but the point is that even if you're her favorite, you're going to have to work hard to get an outright A, participate in every class, show up at the extra-curricular things, etc. 5) Unclear instructions. This goes back to Judith's central issue as a teacher, which is NOT, I want to stress, the quality of her thought. Judith is actually a very good thinker with interesting and worthwhile perspectives on each text we read, even if they do tend to focus on parts or qualities of the texts that I personally find less interesting or important. The central issue of Judith's teaching is her communication. She simply does not know what she has to tell us and what she does not. First of all, I want to address the infamous "modes of critical thought." This was the crux of a paper topic she once gave ("discuss modes of critical thought in four books we've read so far" or something like that), and the trouble was she acted as though "modes of critical thought" was some sort of unambiguous critical term the entire class should have been familiar with. Now, I don't want to be conceited, because I haven't read that much, but I've read a little bit of literary criticism outside of class, and I have never come across the term "mode of critical thought" as some sort of official terminology. I'm sure there's a critic somewhere out there that uses the term in the exact same way as Judith does. But if it is not ubiquitous enough for someone who actually explores literary criticism to have heard of it, how on earth does she expect someone who doesn't care about literature, is only taking lithum as a requirement, and uses their extra reading time to read scientific journals or something rather than literary criticism, to have any semblance of a clue what a "mode of critical thought" is? Actually, scratch that. I'm sure anybody could guess what a mode of critical thought was. But almost no one in the class had a clear idea of what she meant by the term, and she meant something highly specific. A number of very good students were asked to re-write their papers, essentially because they looked at all the million different things a term like "modes of critical thought" could mean, and failed to guess the one that Judith had in mind. I did OK on the paper, and I still can't define for you what on earth a mode of critical thought is (for the record, neither can Judith, or if she can, she certainly refused to do so when we asked on repeated occasions). Another example of her unclear instructions is when she asked us to do a reading journal on St. Augustine. Now, she said that we were just supposed to read Confessions and keep a log of our thoughts. So I did just that. I sat down, and every time I had a thought or question or something in Confessions reminded me of something, I wrote it down. So, I finish writing, and I have several pages of ideas and questions about the topic. Easy A, right? I mean, it's not like you can grade someone's unfiltered responses to the text, right? Wrong. Even in this assignment, Judith expected certain answers, certain types of responses, attention to the themes and ideas she found important. There were also several questions on the midterm with equally unclear wording which left it wholly ambiguous as to what sort of answer she was looking for, despite the fact that the answer she was actually looking for was highly specific. Even adding the phrase "that we talked about in class" to a few of her questions could easily have resolved some of the confusion on these questions, which tended to be super broad, like "name some reasons why Dante wrote the Divine Comedy in tezra rima," or "name the technique Virgil uses to manipulate time in the Aeneid." Now that I've enumerated all my problems with Judith's teaching style, I want to note some of the things I really feel that she got right in teaching me last semester. 1) She always provided extremely useful and interesting context. While sometimes she would allow her discussion of context to overrun an entire class, reducing time for actual discussion, I do feel that the context she provided really enhanced my understanding of the works. It's important to know, for instance, that Caesar Augustus was undertaking a massive renovation of both the city of Rome and of Roman culture, and that he commissioned Virgil to write his epic as a part of this renovation. It's important to know about the Spanish Inquisition, and the relationship between Spanish and Islamic society if you're going to read Don Quixote. All this is very valid and helpful. 2) Her ideas were almost always good. Even if they pissed me off, like her reading of the Cliffs of Dover bit (I know I keep going back to that, but only because it really frustrated me, because the explanation she gave seemed so simple and so shallow for SUCH a defining moment of complexity in literature), they were solid, interesting, defensible readings. Even some of the most out-there ones, such as the "artists are stealing from God" idea, I have found to be not only correct, but very useful to my own thinking and speculation in general, not just in lithum. The ideas are almost always good; it's the presentation that's off, and that causes the good ideas to look ridiculous or shallow or cliche or random. 3) She really cares about her students. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to write, if not a positive review, at least a more balanced review, is because I know Judith would probably be hurt by hearing her students speak (or write) about her so negatively. She really cares about making Lithum count for people, and she is frustrated when people don't seem to respond to her efforts. She does go the extra mile as a teacher, not only organizing a tour of the Metropolitan Museum for our class, but also staying afterward to have coffee and tea with some of the students, just to chat. That was a real "blue book" moment, and it was very kind of her to do. She also arranged a class picnic. That I slept through (yeah, I'm giving away who I am, who cares). But I hear it was very nice. Now... all that said... go to a class or two with Judith perhaps. You should fairly quickly be able to tell if you are her type of student or not. And if you're not her kind of student, seriously, please, don't take her class. There are people who could really benefit from it, and I think it's really unfortunate that last semester, she was stuck with a class of people who, by and large, were unable to benefit from her strengths, and who were particularly irked by her weaknesses.

Jun 2010

This was definitely not an easy class and Prof Forbes certainly demands a lot from her students. But she is more than willing to put in extra time to help you improve and overall I think I learnt more from her class than I have from many of my other professors. I also really enjoyed it. I would certainly agree with her statement that you should expect to improve over the semester. My first essay came back with the lowest grade of my academic career so far, but having met with Prof Forbes and discussed her comments I think it was probably a fair reflection of the paper I handed in. And when I asked for help to improve she put in significant amounts of extra time to help me, culminating in two much better essays in the second half of the semester. And the disappointing first grade didn't stop me getting an A overall in the class. Classes themselves are a little more structured than some other lit hum sections, but Prof Forbes knows her stuff and does a good job of pulling out common themes and threads between the different books. The class atmosphere was usually relaxed and for someone who really isn't that confident speaking in public it felt both supportive and encouraging. Overall, if you're looking for an easy A this probably isn't the class for you. But if you're actually interested in the books and want to improve your academic writing style I think you would be lucky to get Prof Forbes.

Jun 2010

Great teacher, and an enormous irritation to deal with in your life. Just get out of her section as soon as possible. She will annoy you, I can guarantee it. She does not know how to deal with people. She is socially incapable. She knows how to talk in literary dialect, but not American dialect. She lives inside the world of books, not of people, which is why probably 80 percent of around 30 person class left at midsemester. I stayed because unfortunately my schedule didn't permit another section, but try to leave if you can. Literary smarts combined with social ignorance is not the right place to go.

Jun 2010

Wow, I also had Prof. Forbes last fall (2009), and I am really surprised at the below review she received. I thought most of the class was as sad as I was when Prof. Forbes was moved to a GS section of Lit Hum in the spring, but I guess her grading rubbed some students the wrong way. In my opinion, even though she was literally called at the last minute to teach this course in the fall and spring, she did an excellent job leading interesting and stimulating class discussions. What I most liked about her class was that the discussions were guided half by her and half by the students. She had an outline of what she wanted to discuss, so the discussions were definitely organized. However, she liked listening to different opinions that didn't always correspond with her initial interpretations of the literature, so she always welcomed tangential discussions on concepts that weren't on her outline. Whereas my spring semester professor asked us questions until he heard the answer he wanted and then moved on, she encouraged everyone to continue discussing what details made them agree or disagree with various ideas. My only complaint is that I wish she was a little more willingly to dismiss the occasional absurd ideas that held practically no validity, but I'm glad that everyone's opinions were heard. With regard to the essays, she told us what she wanted before the first essay was due and repeated it before the second one. In brief, she wanted focused thoughts based on a few key quotes from small portions of the text, and she wanted each paragraph to build on the prior one until a conclusion was reached in which something new was learned beyond what was presented in the introductory paragraph and the thesis statement. This "building" was the hard part for me and most other students: she did not want a middle school essay where we present a thesis and then a few supporting examples and then a conclusion that reiterates the intro; she wanted each thought to build on the one before it in a ladderlike progression. Prof. Forbes also went over other details on writing and editing essays for about half of a class period, so we were definitely given more guidance on what to write than most other Lit Hum classes. Moreover, Prof. Forbes made every student schedule a one-on-one meeting with her some time during the two weeks before the essay was due. Although all we "needed" to know was what book(s) we were writing about and a potential thesis, she recommended that we come with an outline of ideas, so that we could discuss where we were going with the essay. During both of my meetings with her, she saw that I gave serious thought to my unique papers, and she, in turn, spent a lot of time telling me which parts of my paper were strong and which ideas needed improvement. Before the second paper was due, she even scheduled an extra meeting with me because I had a lot of great ideas but problems choosing which to include and how to organize them. As a result, I think that "she [is] the model of caring and support" as both an adviser and a professor. She has high expectations, one of which is improvement, but she contributes a lot of her time and energy helping us meet them. If you put in the time and energy to critically read the books, write interesting papers with ideas that go beyond what was said in class, and listen to the advise she gives in class, in the one-on-one meetings, and in office hours, you will emerge as a much better reader and writer (and you will do well in the class too). I really did not find her cryptic or Nazi-esque at all, so do not be afraid to take this class; you won't regret it.

May 2010

Vlad was a teacher who knew his stuff, but was kind of no-nonsense and his classes leaned more towards lectures than discussions. Vlad, a Dante scholar, is extremely knowledgeable about every text on the syllabus and the contexts historically in which they appear. The analyses of the texts was very thorough and was able to cover both specific points and broader themes about the text, though from what I heard about other sections he taught with more focus to detail than other classes. He likes to go through a text from start to finish, rather than teach from theme to theme, and often we dwelled too much on context in the beginning or early points or passages and had to rush through the latter parts of the books in order to keep on schedule. Vlad often imposed his opinions upon the class and overrode or ruled out some provided by students. The section seemed to be more about him divulging information than all of us tossing ideas around, which I felt the class should have been (or it would have been more fun/interesting). Kind of to demonstrate this, Vlad never once in the entire year actually sat at the table and was on level with us. He either stood or he would sit on the back of his chair, ensuring he was head and shoulders above us at the head of the table. If you're in Vlad's section, you'll probably learn what you need to for Lit Hum, but it will definitely be through Vlad's lens.

May 2010

For the sake of all future classes, if you get this professor, SWITCH OUT! This man does not teach Lit Hum! Unfortunately, I, like many of my fellow classmates who read the last review, foolishly did not transfer out of his class. This man piles on the reading during class, forcing you to read several more "literary texts" throughout the semester than actually necessary. Ironically, I don't exaggerate when I say that it has likely been DECADES since he has read any of the books we're supposed to read in Lit Hum. He admits that he rarely ever reads a book from cover to cover, and will literally spend 1 hour reading two paragraphs while talking about the philosophers Marcel Proust and Ludwig Wittgenstein. His Lit Hum class is not about the actual Lit Hum books, but more about what he's completely comfortable with: Proust and Wittgenstein. In addition, his papers are graded with little explanation as to why you received the grade you received. The amount of work you put into this class has NO correlation with the grade you receive. In case you're still not convinced you should transfer out, here are some of the things he has said during class: Student: Professor, what exactly are you looking for in a paper, just so I can know for the next one. Robinson-Appels: Do you speak a second language? Student: Um, yes? Robinson-Appels: Well, that's probably why. You see, often, people who speak a second language tend to think slower. Not your fault, of course, but those who speak a second language tend not to have as much depth of thought Scene: Robinson-Appels and student are talking about the student's paper --- Robinson-Appels: Do you study physics? Student (an Econ major): No... Robinson-Appels: Hmmm.... And finally, he does not use computers and will not allow laptops in class at all (So say good-bye to your opportunity to register for classes if you have a registration time during his class period...). He claims to have "electromagnetic sensitivity," a "condition" you can read about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_hypersensitivity. So in case you're wondering how he checks his e-mail, he doesn't. He does not hold any office hours either, so you have to call him and see if he picks up.

May 2010

Prof. Sacks was great. He knows so much that sometimes it's hard for him to put all his thoughts together and convey them to the class. However, our discussions were for the most of it great and he leads in a way that encourages people to think about more in depth but cutting all the poetic and pretentious bullshit that usually constitutes most literature classes. He even invited us over to his house for brunch, and it's really a privilege to talk to a man that knows so much and is so passionate about it. Consider yourself lucky if you get him. If you listen to his advice for your papers and tests you'll be fine, he's a fair grader, and the nicest most approachable professor.

May 2010

Marijeta was definitely my favorite professor this year and thus far at Columbia. After plodding through the first twelve books of the Iliad over summer I did not expect Lit. Hum. to be the fun, interesting, and thoroughly rewarding experience that it turned out to be. Every class was an inclusive discussion, sometimes breaking off into groups, never overly structured but always covering everything we needed to know. Marijeta's incredibly knowledgable about, like, everything (I recall her apologizing profusely for knowing no ancient Akkadian), but sooo humble and helpful and willing to honestly invest in her students' learning. Outside events were surprisingly painless. She really did seem to care about us :)

May 2010

Initially concerned about having Daniel Leonard after having read old CULPA reviews, I was relieved to find that he was a fine Lit Hum professor. Lit Hum could have been a much better experience, but it also could have been much worse. He knows the material well, comes to class well prepared with discussion ideas and specific passages, and though the class drags on for the 2 hours, I did learn a lot. The workload was manageable - usual Lit Hum reading list, 2 papers, and second semester he added on weekly CourseWorks postings about that week's reading especially vital for the participation grades of those who do not speak much in class. He is by no means an easy grader, caring more about the nuances and development of ideas in essays than whether or not people can write well, but when it comes to the midterm and final he understands that people cannot write the most beautifully constructed responses given the time constraints and grades accordingly.

May 2010

Kavros will not provide the typical, quintessential lit hum experience, but he's certainly far better than most other options. He tends to run the class more as a lecture than as a discussion, going on about various vague and abstract ideas meant to help elucidate the texts. Fond of drawing charts and graphs on the board, Kavros rarely provokes spirited class discussion. Kavros did help me think in a new way and write in the academic style that many professors at Columbia prefer. Overall, I think that Kavros is genuinely concerned with the growth of his students and passionate about the texts. Beware, Kavros does make some syllabus alterations. But compared to the workload of other sections, Kavros' seemed light. If you make a definite effort to participate, do all the readings, and stay focused, there's much to be learned from Kavros.

May 2010

Tobias is a stand-up guy. He is incredibly mellow, which is fitting as he teaches some of the earliest sections of Lit Hum. Though he is a classicist by trade, he is well-read enough to intelligently guide classroom discussions in second semester and provide appropriate context for all of the readings. He's not a particularly harsh grader, so long as you make an effort to read his feedback on essays and incorporate his modifications into future drafts (these won't be controversial, they'll be more along the lines of appropriately arguing a thesis). If you stay on top of the reading, which can be a bit much at times, you'll do absolutely fine in his section. I recommend staying in this course if you can survive the early mornings (if you are in his class that means that you probably wound up with a nine o'clock start time). Try not to regurgitate Wikipedia or Sparknotes during class discussions. Though he'll never call you out for it, he is able to distinguish who did the reading and who did not. I really enjoyed the class; The texts are good springboards into meaningful discussions and Tobias masterfully keeps the class awake (much more difficult than one would think at nine o'clock).

May 2010

Professor Bier's second semester Lit Hum class is just as triumphant as the first, although student energy and participation is more flagging. To reiterate what's been said about this brilliant woman, I'll quote another student verbatim: "Lit Hum is boring, but she's fucking smart." Using the Socratic method to its fullest possibilities, Biers drives at the heart of the text, giving the class complete expositions of whatever themes she wants to explore for that two hours. In addition to delivering absolutely rivetting seminars, outside of the classroom Prof. Biers is very kind to provide us with helpful background information (but not always free from errors) and thought-provoking questions. In summary, most excellent professor. Be happy if you're assigned to her section (you've deserved it), but don't try to transfer in. You'll most likely never make friends there, hardly anyone will like you, and you won't benefit as much as students who have her both years. Good professor, good selection of books to read, good classroom location and times...but \horrible classmates in the 09-10 school year. A most untrustworthy bunch: they promised to throw a lit hum party, but that never came to be.

May 2010

Paola is the best! The reviewer below me really summed it up. I've never met a professor that cares so deeply for her students. She puts so much time into this class! Papers are edited IN-DEPTH and will be covered with comments; then, she'll ask for a skype date so you can discuss the essay/your grade on it. In class, she is enthusiastic and kind. She also prepares you well for the final exam with a huuuuge final review that goes over every theme you could think of. Seriously. Be happy that you have Paola! If you put the work in, you'll do well. And she'll love you!

May 2010

Patrick is a straight up Compton O.G. He knows Greek, loves all the classics, teaches with energy and humor, finds original ways to connect the texts across themes and language, proposes thought-provoking essay topics, and gives just two essays per semester with only one short writing assignment. His passion for the literature breathes life into a class which many of my peers found reported to be stale and tedious. Always responds well to student interpretation, feeds off our comments and helps people to understand the underlying questions at the core of writing, from Homer to Dostoevsky. He is an exceptional teacher, young and bright. Consider yourself extremely fortunate to be a part of his class.

May 2010

SWITCH OUT OF JUDITH’S SECTION. Before it’s too late. For your own sanity and well-being and for the sake of your education. Before I elaborate upon that, let me list Judith’s strengths, to be fair: - She provides a very thorough historical context for everything we read, which is usually quite interesting. - She seems to care about her students (in a certain way; if you go to her office hours you’ll see what I mean, maybe). - She knows a lot about the texts and is clearly enthusiastic about teaching them. But let me talk about her weaknesses, which, as a previous reviewer said, far outweigh her strengths. In a word, Judith is not dumb — she is a dreadful teacher. Let me break it down for you: a.) There is only one correct answer to every question Judith poses in class. b.) Class discussions are not discussions at all, but guessing games with her (see a.) c.) She blatantly plays favorites. d.) Her essay topics (as mentioned in previous reviews) and expectations for assignments are unclear and often make little sense. Allow me to expand: a.) This is the biggest grievance I had with Judith’s teaching style: as a previous reviewer described, there are "correct" answers to the questions Judith poses to the class. I agree that there are more-valid and less-valid ways of interpreting texts — the validity being dependent on how sound the interpretation's reasoning is — but the fact that, with Judith, there is ONE and ONLY ONE way to interpret symbols and themes, is absurd and frustrating. It is even more so when her interpretations make little sense. My three favorite (“favorite”) examples of Judith's interpretations: - One of the stories in the Decameron (Third Day, first story) of the gardener at the convent who pretends to be a deaf-mute so he can sleep with all the nuns, and when this gets to be too much for him he "miraculously" regains his voice. Judith told us that the "meaning" of this story was that, in order to be a writer (symbolized by the gardener regaining his voice) one must steal from God (symbolized by the gardener's sleeping with all the nuns, the "wives of God"). Even if you can take this interpretation to be anything other than completely ridiculous, there is no way anyone can prove that this is the correct interpretation, and it is absurd for her to insist that it is. - For a more serious (and grievous) example, Judith told us that in Part I of To The Lighthouse, Woolf does not, in fact, manipulate time; that all the actions take as long to be performed as it takes us to read about them. So, in the scene where Mrs. Ramsay holds the stocking she’s knitting up to James’ leg to measure it and spends about three pages narrating her internal monologue, Judith asked us, “how long do you think Mrs. Ramsay held the stocking up to James’ leg?” About five seconds, we all said. “No!” said Judith. “Mrs. Ramsay spends that ENTIRE TIME — five or seven minutes or however long it took you to read it — holding the stocking up. Everything happens in REAL TIME.” To suggest such a thing is to put words in Virginia Woolf’s mouth, i.e. to say what Woolf herself wanted to get across when she wrote the book. This is totally absurd because, as I think almost any other literature professor or person with common sense will tell you, there is no way to know for sure what the author was thinking. I had studied To The Lighthouse previously, and obviously the theme of the passage of time is one of the central and most beautiful things about the book, which does not deserve to be understood has having only one, rigid interpretation. - For my third example, (which will completely give away who I am, if it wasn’t already obvious): I had studied the Aeneid in high school in a Latin class, and my Latin teacher (a classicist) was of the very firm opinion that Aeneas and Pallas were lovers. I was skeptical of this opinion, but my teacher drew a parallel to Achilles and Patroclus — a pair which is widely believed to have been lovers — and I found this at least sort of valid, particularly because we were given textual examples to back it up. So, when we were reading the Aeneid, I asked Judith, OUT OF CURIOSITY, what her opinion on Aeneas and Pallas’ relationship was; I did NOT say that I agreed with the viewpoint I was asking her about. I was completely unprepared for Judith’s response: she sucked in her breath and looked the most insulted I’ve ever seen her, as though I had personally attacked her. She proceeded to rant at me for about ten minutes about how OF COURSE Aeneas and Pallas are NOT lovers, and neither are Achilles and Patroclus — “We are forgetting the value of FRIENDSHIP!” she cried, horrified. I’m not offended that she has a different opinion. I am offended at the way she responded to my question, as I feel that it was a legitimate one and I did not do anything to deserve being yelled at. I am also offended that she completely shut out the possibility of another interpretation being valid. I am also very sure that any number of other literature professors and classicists would be offended at her doing this as well. If Judith is going to expound her interpretations upon us, then fine, but she should at least give her students room to come up with and explain their own interpretations. I understand that Judith is the professor and that we are the students and that it is her job to teach us. But one of my fundamental understandings about literature in academia is that there is any number of ways to interpret a text, which is why, to this day, we continue to read the Iliad and the Odyssey and other historical texts — because we CAN formulate new and interesting ways to think about these works and there is not only one way to understand them. Judith once told me that, as a professor, she tries to focus what she wants us to “take away” from the texts, which is fine — as long as she doesn’t present her interpretations as the ONLY interpretations. Which is exactly what she does. b.) This is closely related to a). About a month into our class' semester with Judith, it became apparent to me that all of Judith's discussion-starters were formatted and conducted as such: "I'm thinking of a number between one and 1,000. What number am I thinking of?" You think I am joking. I am not. Her seemingly open-ended questions have included, "There is one important theme in ______. What is it?" "What is the role of the character ______?" Our class discussions quickly collapsed into us asking her "Is it ___? Is it ___?" with Judith looking over us, rejecting all of our answers. And then, of course, once the "correct" answer has been said, all the bells and whistles go off — "CORRECT! EXCELLENT!" — and the sayer of the correct answer is lauded as a hero. Furthermore, on my midterm exam, Judith's comments included, "You didn't discuss ___!" "Why didn't you talk about ___?" "What is the most important question raised by ___?" It is unreasonable of her to have such narrow definitions of “correct” answers. As the author of an earlier review described, Judith poses seemingly open-ended questions but demands extremely specific answers. c.) However, neither a.) nor b.) above would have been problematic for me if I had been one of Judith’s favorites. Alas, I was not (how did you know?). Judith CLAIMED to not play favorites (i.e. she personally told me that she didn’t), but anyone who spent about ten minutes in our class would see that this is blatantly untrue. The thing her favorites had most in common was that they were all very willing to come up with the answer that she wanted — or, actually, that they all had the miraculous ability to just say whatever came to their mind which Judith would then fawn upon them for. I never figured it out. In fact, I talked about this with one of her clear class favorites and even HE said he didn’t know why she always liked the answers and essays he came up with. Either way, her playing favorites is extremely frustrating, not to say unprofessional. d.) See previous reviews — I still don’t know what a mode of critical thought is. Also, after our first day (out of two days) of group presentations, Judith told one of my classmates (who hadn’t presented yet) that she was so surprised that the groups who had presented that day had failed to pose questions to the class during their presentations. Her surprise at this could be explained by the fact that she NEVER TOLD US that she wanted us to ask questions to the class. Also, while she did manage to tell us not to put titles on our first essays, she mentioned nothing of the sort for our second papers — until we were turning them in in class and she told us that we should have put titles on our papers. Such expectations would have been acceptable (if still nonsensical) if she had TOLD US PRECISELY the expectations she had for our assignments. Another example, mentioned by a previous reviewer: she told us that we would not need to refer to the books for the midterm. However, one of the questions asked us to cite specific canto numbers for examples from the Inferno. Such a discrepancy is extremely unfair. In conclusion: If you’re willing to take a 3/25 or so chance at being one of her favorites, then be my guest, for if Judith picks you to be one of her chosen few, she will love you to no end and you will get an A. But I highly, HIGHLY recommend you switch out of her section immediately, because even if you are one of her favorites, 1.) it doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy her class or 2.) that she’ll be any better of a teacher. Literature Humanities has the potential to be a great class, simply because all of the books on the curriculum are important in some way and many of them are enjoyable to read, but Judith simply ruined this class for me. THEREFORE — if you value: - open-ended and dynamic class discussion, - clear descriptions of each assignment, - grading that is not based on ridiculous and unclear standards, - and having each member of the class treated equally, SWITCH OUT OF JUDITH’S SECTION. For you will find none of these things in her class.

May 2010

Sam Spinner is awesome. His approach to lit hum is pretty much exactly what I wanted to get out of the class--he gives you the background, and then lets you form your own opinions about the literature, helping to shape your ideas and guide you toward deep thoughts, instead of just teaching you his opinion on various works. He manages to convince nearly everyone read most of the material, and encourages you to actually become a better critical thinker through the assignments he gives. I feel genuinely smarter after taking his class.

May 2010

Zane Mackin is a pretty cool teacher. He's not the best Lit hum teacher but he's DEFINITELY not the worst. The class is based on very casual, moslty student led discussion, which is great because you can participate as much or little as you want. My only word of caution is that he is a Dante scholar and therefore tends to go overboard in discussion for the Divine Comedies. We spent 3 weeks on them and then had to rush through the rest of the syllabus without time at the end for review. Other than that, the class was definitely easy going. The quality of each class definitely depends on student input.

May 2010

Wow, the best professor I've yet had (and probably will have) here at Columbia. Unfortunately, he is retiring this year, so this is more a tribute than a review. Plus, I want him to win back his Golden Nugget, as he 100% deserves it. All I can say is that he was an absolutely phenomenal teacher; always clear and engaging. He is brilliant and lets the students lead the discussion, grading heavily (and holistically) based on participation (he equates it to about 40% or more, though again, he said he does not grade quantitatively). Papers for his class don't need to be intense, just clear, concise, insightful, and though-provoking. He removes a few books from the syllabus and switches them out for a few of his own choices (the Bacchae, Faust Pt 1, Gulliver's Travels, and Benito Cereno are some), and they're all fantastics picks. He's always interesting, and usually quite funny (our class compiled an entire booklet of quotations as a retirement present), and he is endowed with the greatest of common sense. We read through the course quite quickly, which at times became overwhelming, but in those cases I could still get by in class discussion with Sparknotes. It's a tradeoff, because had we moved slower, we would've been able to enjoy some of books more, but we also wouldn'tve had such great discussions and read his supplementary books, which were usually better. Some, such as Metamorphoses, got only a day of coverage. I am glad he moved the pace so fast though (about 1 book/work per week), as it kept things from ever getting stale. When it came to writing papers, at first I did really well, but he is the professor who grades you to your own baseline, not his own arbitrary one. So, since my first paper was strong, he expected similar quality from all following, which generally coincided with high stress times like midterms and finals and other classes' papers. But writing in his class was life-changing; I developed an entirely new style from the stuffy prose I'd been taught in high school. I learned to be concise at no expense to content, and how to properly convey my thoughts in a college setting. My concept of the essay was revolutionized. The strongest component of his grading theory is the student's improvement. Again, he judges you against yourself and nothing else, and he wants to see you improve against that baseline. I sincerely believe that Professor Rosenthal is the greatest thing that happened to my college career, and his profound impact on my learning experience is immeasurable. This course was incredible, and this professor more so.

May 2010

Consider yourself SO LUCKY if you are put in Kathleen's section. Seriously. Literature Humanities was the most worthwhile class I took as a freshman- we read great books under the direction of an absolutely brilliant professor. Kathleen would give us a lot of historical background for many of the texts but was never too overbearing- just enough to contextualize the themes and she also often provided supplementary reading (that was always super interesting) if we wanted to know more. She was really good at gauging the direction of the conversation and asking thought-provoking questions- she also often asked us to consider contemporary issues in relation to the themes in our reading. Keep up with the reading so that you can appreciate the class discussion, you won't regret it.

May 2010

This review is likely utterly unnecessary, since Professor Mackin will likely have finished his dissertation and left by autumn, but I want nonetheless to leave it here for posterity's sake. The peevish commenters below mistake themselves. Professor Mackin is a very fine Literature Humanities instructor, whose jovial and easy-going manner, which makes coming to class a constant joy, matches the seriousness of his scholarship and his dedication to the texts we study. Classes move forward by common deliberation and discussion, not by his lecturing. His loyalty lies not in any interpretation of a text to which he is partial, but rather to the text itself and to our discussions around it. He is a fair grader, detects bullshit when he hears or reads it, prefers papers to exams, exacts the best of every student, and understands the inadequacy of grading in communicating all that has been learnt. His expertise is in Dante and Medieval literature, but leads every class discussion with insight and a flexible mind. I found literature humanities an excellent experience under his instruction, and, should any future students be so lucky as to have him as a professor, then I would be envious of them. Moreover, he has a very fine moustache.

May 2010

EXCELLENT. No doubt the best teacher i've had at Columbia thus far. Marijeta is so patient and open and she gives incredible feedback on essays so you actually improve your writing skills in the class (even more than U writing, ugh). Class discussion were always interesting and flew by which was due in part to the awesome dynamic of our particular class, and in part by Marijeta's facilitation. The best part of the class was Marijeta's sense of humor. She always had interesting articles, books and videos to aid the teaching such as the risque version of the bible and some south park and movie clips and was always the first to crack up when anyone attempted humor. She took a genuine interest in our lives even outside the classroom, offering her help wherever she could. Oh and did i mention that she WON THE AWARD for BEST LIT HUM PROFESSOR for 2009/2010? yeah...that. In short, if you don't have her for Lit Hum, switch sections....no really.

May 2010

I had this instructor for the second semester of LitHum, and I absolutely loved her. She is the most energetic, encouraging, and involved professor I have ever experienced and probably ever will experience. From day one, she has demonstrated a great knowledge of the texts, unending enthusiasm for these texts, and a real interest in every single one of her students. Basically, she has an awesome personality AND is incredibly intelligent. Paola is very friendly and approachable. She treats her students like they are her equals, and just as importantly she is never condescending (which is, in my opinion, a rare find in LitHum/CC instructors). Even when students make not-so-intelligent remarks in class, Paola finds a way to dismiss these remarks in a friendly way that never makes anyone feel inadequate (again, a rare find). Now I know that not every student is going to be as energetic or interested in the material as this instructor, but Paola is so nurturing (and overall likable) that pretty much every student in my LitHum class would vouch for how great she is. Even if you are simply not a humanities/LitHum kind of person, you will love the teacher and most likely catch some of her enthusiasm for the texts. Paola is deeply dedicated to this course and to her students, and in return she expects her students to also show a lot of dedication. Although she has high expectations, she definitely prepares you enough for these expectations. She is very available for help, and has even offered to Skype in order to reach us. Also, when you like an instructor, high expectations aren't all that hard to meet. I didn't mind actually reading the texts and participating in class because Paola is just so awesome. The main message I want to relay is that having a great instructor is absolutely worth the work and time you have to put into a course, and Paola is absolutely a great instructor. Having someone as dynamic as Paola as a teacher can truly change how you view a course, a subject, and college in general. That might seem like a stretch to someone who has yet to experience such an instructor, but I promise you it is true. I feel immensely lucky to have had Paola. Hopefully you will be lucky enough too!

May 2010

If you are an incoming freshman and you are reading the last two posts and quivering in your boots asking yourself "what kind of monstrosity could I expect when I walk into class", chill out. She's not a snake, or even a member of the reptile family. She is all human, part good teacher, part bad. As far as english teachers go, as you should know by now, you have to write like they want you to write (and even think like they want you to think) to a certain extent. Professor can sometimes take this to an extreme, but she has many good qualities as well. She is highly intelligent and appeared to me to be an understanding person. When I asked to skip class once at the end of the semester she said it would be fine. With that said, she can be a little pessimistic about the students at the beginning of the year, hinting that she doesn't believe you when you say "I read the book cover to cover". Make a good first impression. It's important. Seriously. All in all I didn't think she was that bad, and I found unlike some that I could disagree with her. If you make a point that isn't what she's looking for, she'll often shake her head or tut. While admittedly this can be bothersome, if you ignore and continue your point, respond to her criticism and make a decent argument, she will respect you for it. Most of the time she won't agree, and her response may seem deflective, but believe me don't give up on what you're saying. Expressing your arguments in spite of her (while remaining very respectful) is ABSOLUTELY the way to approach this course. Confidence is a must. Also, the classes themselves I found amusing, both for the content of the class and the shenanigans going on as well. Oh and be funny. An hour and 50 minutes is a long time if you're not funny.

May 2010

Dear Judith, I would like to apologize. I know I've let you down. And, frankly, I've let myself down, too. I really should have known what a "mode of critical thought" is. What is wrong with me? Why can't I speak your language? And I'm so sorry you were sick one day. I totally understand why you'd make us have a four-hour class on a Thursday evening to compensate for your absence. After all, you are really forgiving when students are sick or have other commitments. It's only fair I'd be sympathetic towards your situation, too. I'm sorry I wasn't able to read 500+ pages of Dostoevsky in one weekend. I wish, in retrospect, that I had sacrificed my work in all my other classes in order to read the texts for your class at a level you'd find only passably sufficient. I suppose my most burdensome regret, though, Judy, is not having been one of your favorites. I let us both down in my inability to win your approval. I only wish I could have sustained that twinkle in your koala eyes long enough to regain my confidence as a reader and writer. But, instead, because I couldn't attend a voluntary activity outside of class, I'm doomed to be haunted by my inability to win a "EXXXXXCELLENT" in response to an indirect, ambiguous question. I don't know what to do to work for your approval. I am willing to do anything, except go to the Cloisters or the Opera with you. But just let me know.

May 2010

If I ran Columbia, I will make it my goal to get this woman tenured as quick as possible. While only a grad student she is easily one of the brightest instructors I have had this year. I enjoyed going to lit hum every class, and with her present there was bound to be fruitful discussion. Unlike other lit hum classes she empowered the students, hardly did she talk, but when she talked she made each of her words valuable. And although she fully empowered students to take control of the discussion, she was in no way spineless. She has a very acute bullshit detector, and makes sure that if you intend to contribute that it is something meaningful. For every work we read she would have supplemental material to help our understanding of the work. Mind you she does not get paid to search, print, and bring extra things to class, yet she was always sure too. As if that was not enough, every now and then she would come in with snacks, and we would eat cookies while talking about Crime and Punishment or pie while debating over Woolf. The class was nothing short of amazing. I don't think there was a person in that class who didn't enjoy her presence. Now, I have to be honest, in the beginning she does not come off this way at all. She seemed...odd. She had this very unusual sense of humor and would laugh at her own jokes while the class just stared at her. And her laughs were very weird sounding as if she was half choking on laughter. Not that any of that matters but I thought it would be good to know in case anyone is put off by the first lecture. Any and all of you will enjoy her class, so please do yourself a favor and take her.

May 2010

Horejsi has been, by far, my favorite teacher here at Columbia. Remember the "Blue Notes"- that information guide to the university that spoke of brilliant professors with great experience and a driving force to instruct "the new citizens of the world"? Prof. Nicole Horejsi is the embodiment of that kind of professor. She is fully immersed in the readings of the curriculum and is totally knowledgeable in pretty much every aspect of the texts (it's ridiculous). From Homer to Virginia Woolfe, she will draw out themes and develop interesting points regarding sexuality, societal pressures, heroic values, familial relationships, etc. She is strict in the policies of the core and expects you to be reading what you are reading, so she is no 'easy A' instructor; however, if you really want to take a LitHum class that will make you appreciate literature and make your writing much more effective (the amount of feedback she gives you is far beyond what any of my peers have received from their professors), stay in Horejsi's section. P.S. She bakes wicked treats.

May 2010

The first thing I should say about stephane is he is a great professor. He knows the course material well and is good at leading discussions. While he was only here for the 2nd semester he was a really funny teacher who realized the bullshit that the core wants lithum to be and basically teaches what he wants. That being said he was always well prepared for lectures and is very knowledgeable. He also is very nice about office hours and is willing to meet with anyone at any time. He is a fair grader and I think the main thing he wants to see is that you care about the class enough to attempt the reading. If you get him you're lucky and if you need to switch, switch into his section, seriously.

May 2010

Musa really is a great teacher. Her reading load is relatively demanding, and she definitely expects quality from the papers you turn in to her, but I feel like she helped to make me a better writer. She also really put her all into reading the texts and into coming into class prepared for discussion and prepared to provide us with useful things for the mid-term and final. She was somewhat intimidating at first and I absolutely know other students who had it much easier in Lit Hum, but I enjoyed her class as a whole. She really looks for in depth analysis of texts in the papers that you hand in, but if you're stuck with what you want to write about she is very helpful in helping you clarify your own ideas to yourself. She is a hard grader, only one A I believe in the class and 2 or 3 A-s I got a B+ first semester and most likely second semester. It was a hard class to get an A, but once you figure out what she wants the class goes more smoothly.

May 2010

Professor Biers is a LitHum goddess sent down from Zeus to nurture the minds of uncultured freshmen. Unbelievably intelligent, patient, thoughtful, and caring, Professor Biers is everything you could possibly hope for in a LitHum seminar discussion leader. She is always concerned about the mental health of the class, constantly engaging us in playful banter before class to lighten up the mood, especially on days with dreary weather. The discussions flow extremely smoothly, as she always knows what we are trying to say and then repeats it in an even more intelligent form to help everyone else understand. Her thoughts are pointed, developed, and really just plain old brilliant. She is supremely friendly and is more than willing to meet with you before every single paper to discuss your ideas with you (believe me, I've done it) and help you process and develop them into a cogent and though-provoking essay that you never considered yourself capable of composing. Though her midterms were rather difficult and it's not easy to get above a B+/A- on any of the essays, I never considered switching out of her class for second semester because I knew there was no way I could get a better quality discussion anywhere else. If you are a freshman and reading this, you are probably already stuck in a LitHum section you can't get out of for first semester, but if you can, PLEASE switch to Professor Biers for the spring. I promise you will never regret that decision.

May 2010

I found Professor Grieve a refreshing way to return to Lit Hum spring semester. The nine oclock class was often hard, but she was always in a good and perky mood, which helped make us more enthusiastic (or at least that was the intent.) She was always available to meet outside of class, and was willing to look over paper drafts and outlines. She gave good comments and feedback to help me asses my own work and figure out what she wanted out of my papers. There are two responses to each book, but it really is not that much extra work (just a few paragraphs) and she does not grade them harshly. She is part of the core board, and so she often knows whats going on and how to prepare you for the coursewide final. Overall I was pleased with this class, much better than my first semester!

Apr 2010

The review directly below this one is superb. It is, in fact the best CULPA review I have ever read. I was planning on logging on and riping Judith a new one, but that has already been done for me in an absurdly clear, professional (which, as I'm sure you have realized by now is remarkable given the professionalism of this professor) manner. I can only add examples to the critiques of the previous student. Judith is like the opposite of a blessing in disguise. She is more like an extremely toxic snake slithering around in a beautiful pasture. You will start the semester off really well. Her discussions are directed in such a way that when you answer a question 'correctly' (a concept I find absurd in a literature class anyway) she will sing your praises and commend your intelligence. Savor the beautiful pasture while it lasts my friend, for the snake will bite sooner or later. Amidst all the incredible examples from the previous reviewer, I am shocked that he or she forgot to mention the first essay topic we received this semester (which was assigned with a similarly unreasonable timeline). Here it is in all its glory, copied straight from courseworks: Discuss a few different modes of critical thought represented in the literary works we have read so far. You should focus on the Aeneid, the Divine Comedy, the Decameron, and either the Confessions or Metamorphoses. Instructions: You can compare and contrast different modes of critical thought or you can discuss them independently from each other. Write an essay of no more than 6 double spaced pages (12 point, standard margins). The recommended time for the completion of this assignment is approximately 6/7 hours. Please read through your completed papers, making sure that the whole reads smoothly, and edit as needed. Be very explicit in the first paragraph about the direction of the argument(s) which you will pursue in the rest of the paper. If you can tell me what a mode of critical thought is, then I will applaud you and then tell you that, whatever you think a mode of critical though is, Judith probably has a different definition. If you guess right on any of her assignments then you get an A and become a class favorite. If you can't mystically match her opinion, the snake will bite, the venom will flow and all the joy of reading these amazing texts will slowly bleed out.

Apr 2010

Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome. Nina is easily one of the best teachers I've had in any academic setting thus far. She brings tons of knowledge of the classics, especially the Greek readings (she's Greek herself and takes a special interest in Aristophanes) to the table, as well as a thorough understanding of the works read later on in second semester. Every class it is clear that she has prepared to facilitate a great discussion with good talking points to bring up, but lets students take the reins. Also combines a good mix of classwide discussion with group work (smaller groups discuss a topic, and then when the class regroups to discuss it that group sort of leads). Really sweet and understanding personality. About half the time she posts questions online for you to be ready to discuss in advance, and the rest of the time asks students to create their own discussion questions about a passage they're interested in. Grading is extremely fair; for the papers, it's clear she gets to know your writing style (at least if you have her both semesters) and grades both on content and on the effort you've exhibited. Also, the midterm was very fairly put together. The passages she chooses aren't utterly obvious, but if you've completed the reading and payed attention to what she highlights in class, you're golden. She's very understanding concerning the coursewide final-if it includes a passage we didn't completely discuss in class/focus on, she takes that into account in grading. She can take a good joke in class, too, although sometimes doesn't always understand the references to American pop culture, which makes for some funny moments. She's a PHD candidate in the classics department (I think), along with her husband. Can't for the life of me figure out how old she is, but she's got an adorable daughter who's about 1, so take that as you will. She's just amazing.

Apr 2010

CULPA, tear down that silver nugget! I read over all the other reviews below when I learned she would be teaching me second semester, and I was truly torn. In the end I decided that the people who were complaining about her were slackers and whiners. I have regretted that judgment everyday since. SWITCH OUT OF HER SECTION. Period. End of story. Don't believe me, well, read on... My biggest problem is that she is totally unprofessional. First, let me get out of the way that she is clearly smart and an intellectual. She explicates the classics quite well. She can be stimulating half the time. However, her shortcomings do not justify her strengths. There are other stimulating professors at Columbia who are not unprofessional like she is. Switch into their section. Firstly, she had three extracurricular trips, which she never said were not required. Two of these trips are the weekend before reading week. I personally have three majors assignments due on Monday. I would speak any other professor to see if I could be excused, but I saw how she reacted to a student who had to miss the trip to the Met because he has an internship and another student who had a sports tournament, and I decided it was better not to even ask. She was very upset with these students and seemed to question their intellectual commitment. This is far too many outside of class trips. It is unfair and also not announced on her syllabus. For our trip to cloisters she made up keep two weekends totally open and only on Friday of the first did she alert us to the fact that the trip wouldn't be that weekend but the following. This shows totally disregard for her students. Secondly, she gives an unfairly short period of time to write the papers. This last paper she assigned Friday morning and it was due Tuesday morning. This was a paper on three texts. My professor last semester assigned us the essays three weeks in advances; before this she alerted us to the text on which we were to write. This discrepancy is absurd. Thirdly, her grading seems totally subjective. The problem is that she presents a totally open eneded question and then wants a very specific answer. There is absolutely ZERO way for the student to know what she wants as a response from her question. Students from the first semester say, "well I've learned how she wants the questions answered, so that makes it easier." However, this is not how a literature course should work. This is unfair. If the professor wants something very, very specific, she should say so. Here are some salient examples from the mid-term: ·The question was "Explain Virgil's new concept of destiny." I am not going to give my answer her because it would give away my identity (and I do fear that the professor would dock me out of revenge), but I gave a good answer that discusses destiny in the Aeneid. Her comment reveals her problem: She said she wanted a discussion of the differences between the Roman concept of destiny and the Greek concept of fate. If that is the case, she should have ASKED for that. That is a question I could have answered, but when it isn't asked for of course I'm not going to answer it! ·This will be my final example, the question was: "Can you remember one example of Dante's discussion of liberty in Purgatorio? Explain its relevance to the pilgrim's journey." She found fault in my answer because I used to word "freedom" to discuss an example of free-will instead of using "liberty" to discuss Cato. She said she wanted the Cato example. Is there really only ONE example of "liberty" in the entire text? Also, I do not think it is fair that I was penalized for using the word “freedom” instead of “liberty” in this case. The Oxford English Dictionary actually defines “freedom” as “liberty”: freedom, n. 1. a. Exemption or release from slavery or imprisonment; = LIBERTY n.1 1b. liberty, n. 1. a. Exemption or release from captivity, bondage, or slavery. So how in the world was I docked for this?! Fourthly, this mid-term I am discussing was given under quite unusual circumstances. She spent an extra day discussing a text, so instead of just adjusting her teaching, she insisted on using the final day before Spring Break for discussion and giving us a take home mid-term instead of allowing us to take the mid-term during class like every other first year. Not only did she give us a take home mid-term, but it was an unfair one, for several reasons. a) She sternly reminded us of the Columbia honor code and said we weren't under any circumstances to use more than three hours. This is absurd. Of course students will use more than three hours and I know of students who spent much, much more than three hours. Someone handed in a 15 page mid-term. b) She said the mid-term was designed so that we did not have to use the books; in fact we were told we weren't allowed to. This seemed fair of her at first, because I was unable to take all my books home with me for my mid-term. Fair, until it became clear that this wasn't the case. One question even asked for Canto Numbers! How are we supposed to do that without our books? So here I am at home without my books and I have this massive mid-term in front of me. Fair? I think not. Also, besides this one question asking for canto numbers all of the questions needed the books. How is a student supposed to remember "the particular words missing in the language of the savages" in Montaigne? c) As already discussed, her questions were a trap. They seemed open eneded but she really wanted a very specific answer. Fifthly, her prompts and questions are even interesting. They are actually just busy work of pouring through the text to find minute details. It is actually a little challenging to write an interesting essay because her prompts are so narrow and dumbed down. Sixthly, she will dock a student a 1/3 of a letter grade if they miss a class. I know this may be course policy on some level, but it seems absurd to me. I know she demanded to see a girl's prescription once to PROVE that she was sick. That seems unprofessional. Ironically, when SHE was sick, and made us have a make-up class on a Sunday (the Sunday before one of her absurd, huge, and opened essay was due), SHE didn't provide any documentation or so much as apologize. Seventhly, subjectivity is actually explicitly stated in her syllabus. She states that 30% of the grade will be reflected in her essays. The other 70% is EVERYTHING else. I have no idea how much my mid-term was worth to my grade. Finally, she cows her students in every way. She uses the Socratic method in the most aggressive and obnoxious manner possible. One girl was driven almost to tears because they disagreed about interpretation. Students are afraid to ask if events are required. She openly scolds students and tut-tuts them for reading things differently than she does. This professor needs to be spoken to. She is unprofessional and clearly oversteps her role. She is unfair. She is biased. I am glad she doesn't have tenure and I hope these errors are noticed before she gets it. I am a committed Dean's List student. I have a very respectable grade, despite her unfair grading. I am NOT writing this because I am bitter. I put all this effort into this response because I a shocked at her lack of professionalism and the fact that she is allowed to teach at Columbia.

Apr 2010

Being in Vlad's class has been great. As a grad student in Italian with an interest in Classics, he indisputably knows his way around the works we read (especially for the first 3/4 of the year), often making connections and references between texts, even down to specific cantos/chapters/books etc. He expects you to work hard, it's true, but that's why we came to Columbia right? Vlad encourages you to develop your own views, but he will make sure to present his own reading, and he is not afraid to shoot people down if they are way off track. Papers are relevant and interesting--Vlad is a fair grader and he doesn't dish out false praise, so you'll have to work hard to get good marks. Overall my experience in this class has been exceptional--I learn a ton about the texts, and discussions in class are always contextualized and productive--Vlad keeps the bullshit to a minimum.

Apr 2010

If you get Emma Lieber as your LitHum professor, you have been very lucky. She has made LitHum one of my favourite classes this year, simply because she is so lovely. Not only is she willing to listen and facilitate student-led discussions, but she also contributes revelatory points that prevent class from becoming a free-for-all. She is a fan of crazy, abstract diagrams, but these incomprehensible drawings always denote some profound structural or thematic idea. If you follow what she says, you'll reach a new understanding of the books. Emma really values what each student has to say, and will summarise each person's contribution to make ideas clearer for the class. She regularly invites students to start the discussion by pointing out what they found interesting, and this has led to some great conversations over the course of the year. She is passionate about the class and all the texts (especially Dostoyevsky) and genuinely cares for her students. She is one of the few professors I would consider talking to if I was finding things difficult, and it is the free environment of her classroom that engenders that. The work load is standard LitHum and she will meet with everyone before papers. There are minimal reading responses due the night before each class, which can be as detailed or short as you like. She can also be convinced to alter due dates if she deems it necessary. Midterms and Finals are really easy, provided you have done the reading. Every class I've had with Emma has been engaging and fun, and there is not a single one that goes by in which I have not laughed out loud. LitHum with her is the perfect example of acadamia existing in a healthy, happy environment. If I get a chance to take another class with Emma during my time at Columbia I will, as I doubt I'll find a professor as endearing or personable as she is again.

Apr 2010

Patrick is awesome. His quirky sense of humor and adorable teaching style make class fairly enjoyable. We were forced to rush through many of the books (especially second semester) due to the tight scheduling of lit hum, but Patrick was able to extract the main issues in the novels and present them to the class. Some people had a problem with Patrick's style of teaching. Most of our classes consisted of class discussion in which only a few people participated, with Patrick facilitating the discussion. However, this seems like an issue with the students in the class more than the teacher, and I personally did not usually find class time boring. If you participate, class is more interesting and goes by much more quickly. He's always available in office hours and is totally willing to help with any issues students may have, whether they are lit hum-related or not. If you're his class, you're lucky! Definitely stick with him.

Apr 2010

Professor Slade is a very nice woman. She knows a lot about the different books but has trouble getting class discussion. Usually when she asks a question if no one responds she simply keeps talking. On random occasions she calls on people if you happen to be making eye contact but for the most part she just continues talking herself. Two midterms, two papers, participation and the final are each worth 25%. She is a fair grader, not too hard and not too easy. Just listen to discussion and that is basically what the tests are on (same format as the final). Overall, she is a nice woman and a fair grader, just a little boring.

Feb 2010

Karen is a truly wonderful teacher - she's extremely laid back (she happily pushes due dates back all the time), she's very friendly, funny, and engaging. She treats the class like it really exists for the students' purposes, and she won't make you do anything that she doesn't think will actually benefit you. You will also quickly discover that Karen is an absolute genius. Basically everything she says makes perfect sense, and she's unbelievably insightful. She has each person lead a class discussion during second semester, but it's very chill and laid-back. She also doesn't add very much reading to the syllabus (unlike some lit hum teachers). She understands that the reading load is substantial, and she doesn't expect anything unreasonable from her students. Take this class! It's enjoyable and very reasonable.

Feb 2010

Although I think the previous reviewer summed it up very nicely, I have to add my voice to the (soon-to-be, I'm sure) crowd and remark that Andrew Lynn is a really fantastic teacher as well as a pretty entertaining human being. Andy seems to be always utterly engaged in the subject matter at hand, whether the discussion is focused on bees, sheep, or grammatical structure in the original Latin text. There was not a single book on the syllabus that (however long it took me to get through it) I did not feel glad to have read after the hour and fifty minute class period was up. The period is nicely balanced between class discussion and more lecture-type stretches, which is nice because he tends not to impose his ideas onto the discussion, but when he speaks he tends to have rather intelligent and insightful things to say. When he's in full form, he'll slip quiet little jokes into his address to the class. He doesn't seem to be looking for a response, just having fun with his place at the head of the classroom. This was his first year teaching this class, which made his insight all the more impressive. At times he seemed to be discovering the text along with us, which made for a really exploratory and rewarding environment. I could go on for a while longer about this truly enriching class, but I'll cut it short and leave it at this: he brought us cookies twice, and, yes, he made a legitimate connection in class discussion between the Iliad and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Suck it, tenured professors. PS: Make sure to visit him during office hours. He's great to talk through papers with, and just generally super nice.

Feb 2010

Had him for LitHum a few yeas ago, so maybe he has changed his style. Yes, he is engaging and energetic and looks like those hobo clown statuettes your grandmother has in her guest bedroom (well, mine does), but each time you looked back on each session, you realize he didn't really say anything after two hours. By the second semester, I had checked out-- not because the texts were uninteresting, and I was actually very happy that he assigned us some Joseph Conrad-- but because nothing was happening in the class. David Charles keeps his discussion very safe-- and hey, I don't mind safe, because I think the basics are vital to use as a springboard for further discussion. But we never got past that. Yes, he explained some of the knottier parts of the readings, but that was done in the introduction of the books if you had bothered with it. He kept calling on people who had stimulating comments like, "It's because Achilles? He was a warrior?" Okay, sure-- everyone should have their say, but to happily entertain such comments for 15 minutes as if it's something viable in the discussion makes for something more akin to spinning our wheels than striking forth into the magical world of deep and deeply felt textual investigation. On the other hand, if someone brought up something that was perhaps not quite what David Charles was trying to push but was still a logical, thought-out idea, he'd kind of skip over it and steer the conversation back to. . . whatever point it was he was making, usually one that got dragged on so long it had lost its meaning ("Don Quixote and the church-- the church & DQ etc" so by the end you thought, okay, it was the church, now what about it, did he mention that?) If he didn't skip over the comment he would disarm whatever point the student was making by finishing the sentence for him. This wasn't just when someone was bringing up something inappropriately off-track. This was when somebody was suggesting an alternative after 20 minutes of talking about the same thing. Basically, it feels like you are having a discussion because David Charles is so enthusiastic, but you're being tricked-- there was no discussion. Just parroting and approved embellishments to DC's first point. Nor is there discussion amongst the students. Rather, it is Q&A, with David Charles. At other times, he would build up to something really awesome and incredible (according to his mounting excitement & demeanor, admittedly infectious) and then when nobody could guess exactly what it was, he would either never tell us or just go back to whatever general idea we were discussing. We discussed, at one point. Coleridge, and after a fine, drawn-out monologue on how the wet hole is surrounded by hairy pine trees, he pointed at one of our sharpest classmates and said, "And what would that be a metaphor for?" Now, you know everyone was thinking "a vagina" but when the kid said it, David Charles said, "No!" and never told us what the wet dark hole surrounded by pine trees could be indicative of in a poem talking about a pleasure dome. That is really all we got out of Coleridge, or anything. Other times his humor would get in the way, making his statements confusing, and then he would take it out on the poor student he called on who thought that DC was either joking or saying something completely different. That and we spent 30-50 minutes every Monday listening to what people did over the weekend, which on one hand was interesting but on the other hand was wasting precious time and money, I know now. Though after awhile it was hard to tell whether you'd rather hear about the awesome times we all awesomely had or David Charles obliquely describe what was clearly not a representation of ladybits. That said, I would assume from his energy that he is a great lecturer, and naturally he has some interesting things to say-- he is a smart man and thinks well on his feet and is usually articulate. I almost wanted to take his presidents class just because of the topic but wasn't able to, or maybe scared myself off-- reading the reviews for that course looks like it was my mistake, because I can well imagine he would deliver a lively set of lectures. On the other hand, it's frustrating to hear about other people's challenging and stimulating LitHum experiences & realize that all I got out of mine were anecdotes about other people's lives and about David Charles, and how he used his charisma to push a few themes that were not much more than surface readings-- so maybe I can say this-- if you are looking for something "fun" but not really challenging, where you can get a good grade once you figure out David Charles' system, go for it! There's no shame in that. On the other hand, if you aren't worried about your grade, find a harder section and actually get a good solid understanding to go with that not-inflated-B.

Jan 2010

Not to be mean--because yes, she's "nice"--but this class bored me so much that instead of listening to the lecture/discussion about the books we read, I brought my own books and read some more, and I jumped at the opportunity to switch into another section when the first semester was over. The class is mostly lecture, in which she went over the events of the book and elaborated a bit on themes, etc. None of the things she brought up were new or interesting or entertaining to me, and, though this next part perhaps isn't as much her fault, even when the class had open discussions they were stunted, not engaging, and not many people participated. Another thing that really bothered me is that this is a *reading and writing class* and yet she wouldn't look over drafts of the assigned papers, no matter how early you finished the draft, because, and I quote, "it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the class who didn't hand in drafts and receive constructive criticism." Huh?? The rest of class could just as well finish their drafts early too if they wanted to! What kind of English teacher won't look at your writing? She also let her personal life interfere with her teaching (I'm tired from moving, I'm distracted from my kid, etc) and mentioned a number of times how she "has a life" and isn't always online to answer emails like us hip young kids and to not expect to always be able to reach her. I understand that teachers have lives too, but she definitely made her teaching seem low on the priority list.

Jan 2010

I went into this class a little nervous. I'm definitely more comfortable with literature than the sciences...but I was afraid that I didn't have the kind of background the other Columbia students around me seemed to have with Greek mythology, or the material in general. Karen quieted my fears. At the beginning of the year, she asked for a fifteen minute meeting with everyone individually. She just wanted to get to know us; she asked me where I was from, about my family, what I wanted to major in, and how I was adjusting to college. She is one of the most genuine teachers I have ever met AND she is without a doubt extremely knowledgeable. The discussions are lively and engaging. Consider yourself lucky if you end up in her lit hum class!!

Jan 2010

Emma Lieber is a wonderful grad student and Lit Hum teacher. She focuses on the students, and what we find interesting and captivating about the books we read. Though she doesn't leave it all up to us - she always has her own ideas and thoughts to share with the class that get developed through further discussion. She finds a great balance between thoughtful discussion and having fun as well! Emma's not a lecturer, her class thrives on the discussions that she initiates and that the students continue, which works out to be an amazing experience. She's excellent at grading papers and giving constructive feedback, and she's also always available and willing to help with essays. My writing has certainly improved because of her help and feedback. If you get Emma as your Lit Hum teacher, consider yourself lucky! She's a wonderful person and a wonderful teacher!

Jan 2010

I am too very disappointed to see that Professor Lilla has lost his gold star. He is perhaps one of the best instructors at Columbia University. Instead of focussing on the style, rhetoric, and history behind the texts that we read, Mark Lilla focusses on the "bigger picture". He tries to get the class to determine the message behind a particular text and the implications of the message. However, although he is a very enjoyable professor, his class is rather difficult for those who want to get an easy grade in Lit Hum with minimal effort. The point of his class is to improve thinking skills and to learn to write and argue in a coherent manner. Do not expect an easy A. Lilla gives students the grade that they deserve. However, by the end of the course with him, your thinking and writing skills will have greatly improved. If you are willing to put the effort into this course and participate in class, then I highly recommend it. Mark Lilla is one of the most brilliant professors at Columbia.

Jan 2010

Stefan is a wonderful professor! I enjoyed his class and learned a lot from it. He may not be the most enthusiastic or bubbly person - but he is fair and straightforward. I definitely appreciated that. He likes to stick to the text, and has a lot of background knowledge. He knows ancient and modern Greek (along with German) so he raises some interesting points that other teachers wouldn't. His points are interesting (he REALLY knows his stuff) and manages to lead good discussions that are text-based and lead to important themes about the books. He also gives you a five minute break in the middle of class, which is much needed and appreciated. Before you read, he tells you what to "look for" or "pay attention to" -- do as he says, because this stuff is what will be discussed in class. This stuff also appears on his pop quizzes - I think we got about 4 the whole semester? Anyway, he is understanding, kind, and has a good sense of sarcastic humor. Definitely take his class.

Jan 2010

I took to heart Professor Lilla's life advice, such as to guide your own education and to decide what is important to you personally. I also appreciated his concern for students, his intense class discussions and his fabulous outfits. However, I feel that Lilla's major flaw is that he caters to students who have a background in philosophy and logic, while leaving less knowledgeable students in the dark. I found myself sitting in class attempting to guess what he was thinking instead of exploring my own ideas. A perk of Lilla is that if he sees improvement in your logic and reasoning throughout the semester he will disregard earlier failures, but good luck improving, as there isn't a lot of guidance or hand holding on his part. Basically, I do not absolutes hate Lilla, but I feel that I was not at the level that I should have been to take his class. If you take him be prepared to be torn to shreds, and remember to savor ant compliments that you do get... they are usually short lived.

Jan 2010

Fall Lit Hum Marijeta is fantastic and pretty inspiring. She made the class fly by, which is notwhat I hear about other sections. She is young, but so, so smart, and really approachable and open to students. Maybe one of the best teachers I’ve had. Class discussions were great, really alive, and covered a range of subjects that all the different students brought to the discussion. At the same time, you still have a sense of actually talking about something. Things are exciting and relevant, even if you're not a literature person going in. The Bible section was maybe the best part of the class, which is not what I expected...

Jan 2010

Vangelis is an awesome guy; he's entertaining, has a deep British voice, and his fashion choices are...interesting. He's Greek, so he often gives unique insight into the etymology of characters' names and book titles. However, his teaching style leaves much to be desired. His lectures have a soporific effect on everyone in the class, and not much that he says is worth remembering. We all felt pretty unprepared for the final and the midterm, but he seems to be a fair grader. The biggest problem one might have is, since he mostly just lectures, one could easily get away without reading, but not doing the reading will screw you for the exams.

Jan 2010

I'm disheartened to see that Professor Lilla has lost his gold nugget status. Lilla is an old-school style "professor." He knows his purpose: teach students how to think. Er, rather, how not to think. In any case, he does his job superbly. As the other reviewers point out, Lilla focuses on the big ideas - the things you go to school to think about before you need to start thinking about the real world. He is by far one of the best professors I've had (I'm a sophomore). At times Machiavellian, he is just as surely a Mentor. If you wish to take college seriously, find some time to take Mark Lilla. If you want to coast, skip him. But I guarantee you will notice high returns in all aspects of your life if you take his class and put in the effort.

Jan 2010

Lit Hum with Jenny James is ridiculous, but not in the good way. The discussions seem to be headed no where and she rarely knows what she is talking about. Though she is always prepared and gives plenty of handouts, her authority becomes diminished when students ask questions. She never answers the questions directly, rather she deflects them, changes the topic, opens the question to the class, or suggests it for "further outside study." This is either a clever tactic of attempting to get students to answer the question themselves OR she just does not have a clue what the answer is. She has no clearly set office hours and expects students to make appointments by email only. All in all, the class is far from the best.

Jan 2010

I come from a high school with a very strong background in the humanities, although I personally consider myself more of a "science" person and have trouble with analyzing literature and speaking up in class. However, I have had good training in writing papers (even if my theses are meh xD). So while I had some difficulty with speaking up in class and really understanding some of the books, I feel like taking Judith's class helped me with that, a lot. She demands a different level of analysis than what I had encountered in high school. We looked at the books in great detail and I felt like I really got to know the "essence" of what each one was about. Even if we never got to cover all of the issues raised in each book, as a result of the class I feel like I can talk and think about them in a more insightful manner. Of course, I can only say that, really, after taking a semester of her class. What the other reviewers have said earlier is true--she "forces" discussion, and when you don't say what she wants to hear she usually ignores your point (occasionally in a not very tactful manner).. or sometimes just says it herself. And she does play favorites a little, though I guess she's mostly justified in that because the ones that are her favorites speak out a lot in class and say lots of interesting things. Often class was frustrating for me because I wanted to make a point or speak up but she would move on to something else (especially when we did the Iliad). Or I would speak up and she would make a face like, what are you talking about? And say, "Okay..." Or she would misunderstand my point. Given that she's a bit intimidating in class I thought that her grading would be equally harsh, but I was very much mistaken. I'm not sure if it's because of the fact that I have had a lot of writing help, but I often got good grades on essays. I think part of the reason, though, was that the style that she seemed to like really appealed to me, because it meant that I didn't have to spend as much time on introductions and conclusions--she was okay with us just stating the thesis and our points. I sort of dislike writing introductions and conclusions, and my favorite parts of essays are body paragraphs. XD Plus the essays really gave me a chance to develop and describe my own ideas. I should really, really emphasize, though, that she gives you practically no time to write said essays. The first one she assigned, she gave us a week. It was a really painful topic. too--really broad and vague, and we had to talk about several books in the essay. The maximum number of pages was about six or seven, and of course she said, "this essay should take you five to six hours." +___+ The next essay was just as long, and she gave us approximately four days to write it. (Though I liked the books in the second half of the semester a little better than the books in the first half, so it was more interesting for me to write the paper.) And while I got decent grades on both papers, if you're not very confident about your writing skills, she gives very little support when you're writing them. For the first essay, we handed them in anonymously, and because she didn't want to know the authors we couldn't consult her about the actual paper except through email about general questions. And for the second essay we had so little time that it was impossible (unless you're super-hardworking and don't procrastinate XD;) to ask her to look at it. So the papers are extremely stressful, and if you have a heavy workload (I didn't, but I know people who did +_+), be prepared to die. However, asides from that (which *does* only take about a week of pain for each one) and a few small writing assignments, there's nothing else to do but read. A lot of people in my class don't really like her, and I can definitely see why. She's intimidating and demanding and while she does seem like a nice person it's hard to get away, mentally, from the slightly bitchy persona that comes out in class...But she knows the material really well, and I feel like I learned a lot from her. have a whole new understanding of the books that we read, especially ones like the Odyssey that I had read in high school. However, be wary about the papers, and the fact that class doesn't always leave you with a happy shiny feeling. And the midterm was sort of a bitch (almost as long as the final, but about an hour less of time), but if you know the material (and doing the first paper helps you with that a lot), you'll do fine.

Jan 2010

While Prof. Gould brings an interesting perspective to the first semester Lit Hum curriculum (she's a specialist in Middle Eastern languages and cultures and did a lot of undergrad work in Russian lit), she falls short in organizing discussions and conducting the class in a way that really enhances your understanding of the material. I feel as if anything I got out of the class was a result of my encounters with the texts, not the discussions. I was lucky for knowing how to close-read texts when I came into the class, because the way she made it sound a lot of students in the class didn't and from what I saw, she didn't do a very good job of teaching them how. The paper prompts were frustrating to most students - I would recommend running a thesis or outline by her before you delve into anything. If you just want to get through lit hum, hers would be a solid class, but if you're a little more serious about the material, avoid her section.

Jan 2010

I did not like this class. Vintila extremely restricts your thought process to only what he thinks you should know. The papers he gives are very narrow in topic and every class is work, work, work from start to finish. He hardly provides you room to breathe. It honestly stressed me out being in his class. The workload isn't so bad, but I often found myself not wanting to work that hard out of spite. At first I thought Vintila was a great guy, and he is outside of the classroom. But he slowly became more antagonistic and felt the need to assert his authority. I would recommend searching for a more experienced professor.

Jan 2010

She is an amazing teacher! She is the sweetest, most caring teacher you will ever find at any university. Using funny personal stories about her son into Greek Literature, she captured the attention and love of the whole class. She was so dedicated that even after being 9 months pregnant, she came to wish us good luck for the final exam! The essay topics are very general and easy. Also, class discussions are very interesting and the two hours pass by very soon. If your in her class, celebrate! 2-3 4-5 page essay. Very very fair grader! easy midterm and year wide final, both fairly graded.

Jan 2010

Professor Johnson was my absolute favorite teacher for my first semester, and I truly cannot wait for the next! She is incredibly insightful, quirky, and totally passionate about what she teaches. It's not some convoluted, dry, and useless mess of information that she throws at us but clearly researched and thought-provoking. Discussion was never boring, and for a 9 AM class, I was surprised at how engaged I could be. Her background knowledge (most notably medieval) was definitely helpful with the dense and/or boring texts, and her willingness to help us outside of class with any problems we encountered at Columbia was awesome. I wouldn't say she's a "tough" grader (because that might have some negative connotations), but she's not easy; she's very fair though! If you pay attention in class (which should be easy) and actually read the texts, you'll be totally okay. I would definitely recommend her for any class she teaches.

Jan 2010

She's no doubt an intelligent person.. however she shows up to class late every time, seemingly unprepared and very frazzled. She doesn't drive discussion nor does she explain the themes well. She will try to push certain texts on students.. mainly Histories, which was her favorite. She also doesn't answer her emails promptly and tells students that if they are shy and don't participate in the discussions (dominated by 2-3 students, usually), their participation points may suffer when considering overall grading.. If faced with a choice.. don't take her unless you want nothing out of the course other than an ok grade.

Jan 2010

Kirsten is a teacher which on first appearances seems extremely under-confident, and perhaps not in control of her classroom. After a few lessons and your first paper, this image is gone. Kirsten knows what's she's doing, is an extremely capable and at times even harsh grader, and genuinely cares about the intellectual well-being of her classes. She takes her students on multiple outings to plays, performances and screenings to supplement the texts, and is highly knowledgeable on the histories and deeper complexities of the curriculum. Give her a chance, and she'll certainly pull through for you as a great professor.

Jan 2010

While I couldn't agree more about what the previous reviewer said, it is always helpful to have as much information as possible. Rebecca really has a passion for literature, and although her academic interest is in literature not as well covered by the LitHum syllabus (she is in the MELAC dept) she definitely is knowledgeable. That said, she completely left class discussion up to us, only standing up and (shouting, really) saying something when it was some small point on translation or additional information. I walked out without feeling like I had gained anything every single class. It's a shame, because she is so passionate, you're inspired/impressed/encouraged. However, she really cannot relay her knowledge to the class and never really connected.

Jan 2010

Clearly, the previous post was written by Mark himself - please disregard it! Listen up, kids: THIS PROFESSOR'S A JERK (to put it nicely). I have compiled a list of reasons why one should not enroll in this guy's class...it goes like this: 1. It's true - He gets his notes from Wikipedia. 2. He's just, well, not that interesting! - although, he thinks he's super cool and funny. 3. If you pose a conflicting idea to the discussion, he WILL either dismiss it/you entirely or laugh. 4. His discussion aren't very thought provoking. 5. He doesn't communicate effectively - you'll never know exactly what he wants (truly). 6. Weekly mini essay assignments, which must be posted to a wiki; these become a pain in the butt, especially if you have a full load or aren't a good writer. 7. The mid-term is unreasonable, under the time constraints...you will be writing and writing and writing. 8. And, lastly...if you are an introvert, DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE! You will be picked on, receive poor grades, and/or worse - be compelled to go to his office hours WEEKLY (ugh)! So, the moral of the story is, kids: If you're smart...you won't take a class with Mark, unless you want pizza at the end of the term, that is! Bye.

Jan 2010

I was scared out of my mind when Professor Mendelson sent us the syllabus for our fall section of Lit Hum and a third of the second page of the PDF was taken up by a list of things he does not allow in class (e.g. electronics of any kind, eating, wearing hats). But it turns out that the list of things he does allow is much longer and far outweighs the first list: toward the end of the semester he brought in a bag of apples to pass around almost every class; he doesn't get all that mad if you fall asleep (discreetly) during a lecture once in a while; he doesn't really mind if you turn in a paper a few days late; and by the end of the term it was clear that he knew and didn't really care that not everyone had done all of the reading all the time. All in all, Professor Mendelson is amazing. Definitely do not be scared of him (though his booming voice and wild gesticulating can sometimes make him seem like someone to be intimidated by) but keep in mind that he is not a pushover. He was the only professor I had this semester that wasn't completely full of shit — after handing our first papers back to us, he went on for about ten minutes about how they were all bullshit (not his words) and that next time we should all strive to write about something real, something we actually care about, "something someone would ACTUALLY WANT to read," as he said. He told us he doesn't read the teacher evaluations we have to fill out, "because it is insulting for you to have to fill them out, and insulting for me to read them." He deals with obnoxious people in class in a satisfying way, because while he doesn't completely shut them down, he shuts them up relatively quickly so discussion can continue. I actually came to respect Mendelson as a person, not only a professor. He was also the only professor I had this semester (and probably the only one I'll ever have) who told us to not stress about the class AND ALSO actually conducted the course in a way which made this possible (an unprecedented combination for me). The last week of class, he told us continually to not stress about the final, and lo and behold, the heading of our final was "Lit Hum Final Exam: Now with reduced anxiety!" He told us an hour into the final that we should be finishing up at that point, which most of us were actually doing. It's really not difficult to get an A. But you'll get a lot more out of the class if you make an effort to read at least some of all the texts, and pay attention to what he says about them during class. His lectures, responses to questions, and input into the discussion are usually pretty interesting. He's extremely intelligent and yet unpretentious, another unprecedented combination for me. Professor Mendelson is great; I think our class was unanimous on this.

Jan 2010

Mark Lilla's class is what Lithum is supposed to be: discussion of important topics raised by or resulting from the books on the syllabus. It's one of those "uses of literature for life" classes; if you're willing, you genuinely think about important things by studying important books. I loved the class, and I feel like while I might not have gotten a perfect understanding of what Homer thought or what Herodotus thought, I got the beginnings of an understanding of what I think about the ideas Homer and Herodotus bring up. It's the kind of class Columbia pretends all Lithum classes are (hint: they're not), or brags about in the blue book, etc. Also, Mark Lilla is an extremely intelligent person, and so if he comments positively on your writing, class discussion, etc., it makes you feel like you're really smart too; I agree with whoever said this is a good class for people who get off on feeling like a teacher's pet. Also, while Lilla rarely lectures in class, he often contributes extremely insightful things, either by saying them himself, or by leading the class towards a specific idea about a given topic, so that it seems like you came up with the idea yourself, but really, Lilla was leading you there the whole time. It's kind of amazing. (If you can't tell, I liked the class.) Lilla's class is mostly discussion. At the beginning of class, he puts some words up on the board, and then class consists of him telling students to read passages out loud, asking a couple of question, and then class discussion. Then another passage, more questions, more discussion, etc. Occasionally Lilla will interrupt this pattern to lecture just a little, although normally to present a particular perspective (Aristotle on forms of government, for instance), rather than to "explain" the work we're reading. If you talk a lot, he'll eventually stop calling on you, so that everyone gets a chance to talk. If you don't talk at all, he might ask you specifically what you think about a given topic to force you to talk. Overall, the class is better for people who feel confident in class discussion. You don't *really* have to have read thoroughly in order to contribute in class because discussion rapidly progresses from the books themselves to the general themes they raise, but you really should read anyway. As for the question of difficulty/workload... if you're a good writer, it won't be a difficult class. If you're not a great writer, you'll have to work fairly hard on your writing to get a good grade. Aside from that, it's not hard, and it is true that you don't have to work exceptionally hard on the postings before every class, unless you have one of the longer (600-word) papers. Bottom line: if you get into Lilla's section, don't switch out. If you're looking for a section to switch into where you can sit and talk about what tragedy means, how cultures deal with death, the difference between Greek and Christian cultures, how empires work, etc., I don't think it gets better than Lilla. Also, Mark Lilla is a god. Just fyi.

Jan 2010

Professor Forbes had good intentions, certainly. A student advisor by day, she was the mdel of caring and support at the start of the semester. I remember, in her opening spiel, that she casually mentioned that students should expect to improve in her class. That perhaps, they wouldn't be happy with their initial grades, but that they should hope to do much better as the course progressed. This of course was an understatement. Professor Forbes only prescribed two assignments for the entire semester - one 4 page paper due around the time of the midterm, and one 8 page paper due at the end of the semester. At first, you'd think this was great. The problem was, Forbes took a Nazi-esque approach to the grading process. Without any precedent at all, she would grade cryptically and word for word, leaving all of us in her seminar more than a little dazed. To say she was misleading would be an understatement - I myself remember putting points I had discussed to her enthrallment in class in my paper only to have her rip them apart when submitted. I honestly would not recommend Forbes. At all. Her class was frustrating at best, and she left her true opinion to the worst possible times: when grades were at stake.

Jan 2010

I like Karen a lot; she is laid back about assignments, is flexible with due dates, and really makes an honest effort to let the kids in her class lead the discussions. She is extremely knowledgable about the literature and really believes that teaching and making good conversation about the works are more important than the grades kids earn. That being said, when it comes to grading I feel that she is extremely exacting. After talking with friends, it is clear that she is a pretty tough grader, especially on papers, and is not so lenient about the midterm and final (whereas other teachers might curve the tests or might change it around a bit to give their students an edge Karen sticks with the test, even when she herself admits that they are pretty difficult). If you take Uwriting during lit hum with Karen, you'll be okay for the papers but if not you'll definitely be disadvantaged. Overall, the class is great but just be ready to work extremely hard on the few assignments given out.

Dec 2009

After having Prof. Lilla this semester, I definitely agree with all of the previous reviews. Mark Lilla is the kind of professor that sparks genuine intellectual curiosity from his students; He is the kind of professor that Columbia brags about in its brochures. This class doesn't feel like a requirement at all, I actually looked forward to class because I wanted to listen to his words of wisdom. The class is great, he really knows what he is talking about, and he'll be more interested in teaching you about the philosophical and political themes that show up in the books, than the structure and literary resources of these books. As cheesy as it may sound, you'll learn the most about life in this course-making it a great introduction to the college experience. Don't expect easy grades, you'll receive 'real' grades.

Dec 2009

Professor Biers is great at leading seminar discussions. She is very knowledgeable on the Ancient Greek and biblical texts. Her classes are always well-planned, yet never stiff. She'd start off by posing some profound question that stimulates our discussion. Her true skill lies in her letting the students answer what she want's them to say. You never feel her Lit Hum degenerating into a lecture (as I know can happen to some other sections), but her invisible hand is always present to guide the discussion along. Her picking of students to speak is very strategic. Being a 19th-20th century drama specialist, she loves modern works about the classical texts we read. This is evident in her choice of additional readings: mostly recent literary criticism essays of the ancient epics and plays. Her paper topics are especially geared to prepare us for college level writing. She would often ask us to compare and analyze two different works and see what conclusions we'd come to. Clarity of voice, originality of ideas, and scholarly penetration are especially important to her. Overall I feel like I learned a lot from her first semester of lit hum.

Dec 2009

I was mortified when I got Professor Leonard as a teacher instead of Elizabeth Amann, who I was preregistered for. This was based solely on the CULPA reviews, which painted a really bad picture of him. We were all predisposed to disliking him because of this, but I had a very positive experience. I'm going to go ahead and assume he has changed in the past few years, so you should really consider the more recent reviews before you freak out. He's laid back, and he's not so caught up in the grandeur of being a core teacher. I even recall one of the older reviews saying he openly states he's not a fan of the core, which I can't validate (I could see it being true though). While Professor Leonard does like to talk and is rather dry, there aren't many ways to teacher these texts in an exciting way. Part of what is supposed to make it interesting is DISCUSSION, something that he is very open to but you have to facilitate. He does not give quizzes, or very many supplementary assignments (we had one). That said, in order to not be bored you actually have do the readings and participate. That's a pretty mature thing to ask of, for all intents and purposes, lazy high school seniors (first semester college, you're not that different) who probably still use SparkNotes, but it's worth it. To me at least, this sort of class is superior to other Lit Hum sections where you mindlessly get a quiz every class... Leonard isn't too big on deadlines- they're usually extended and he's pretty understanding with conflicts like sickness or sports. Oh yeah, did I mention he gives Extra Credit? And for the final review he brings Starbucks and to the final he brings snacks... he's a good guy, in that he feeds college students, if anything. It could be that he cares a lot, or doesn't care to the point where he becomes easy-going.

Dec 2009

Professor mendelson is fun and laid back. He makes sure that the class causes us as little stress and possible. The discussions are interesting but he tends to stare at you when you make comments in class. He really cares about his students and is always available during his office hours. He even brings apples for the whole class for more than 50% of all the classes. He has a different reading list so make sure you don't buy your books from the library boxed sets. Make sure you put effort into the essays and cut out all the fluff. He wants insightful and concise writing. You will enjoy lit hum if you are lucky enough to get him.

Dec 2009

Professor Johnson is by far the best teacher I had this semester (my first), and one of the best teachers I've ever had. I came to every class full of anticipation, and left every class blown away. She's incredibly brilliant and can talk at length on any given subject. However, she's very humble and quite funny. Her comments are always insightful and open the texts in completely new ways. She's also an excellent moderator for class discussion. She always came prepared with interesting and stimulating questions for the class discuss, and integrated them seamlessly into class discussion. She can take even the most dumb student comment and pull out nuggets of interesting ideas and opinions. This class convened at 9 AM, but I was never bored or tired, even on only a couple of hours of sleep. I came into Columbia confident that I wanted to be a Philosophy major, but because of her I've decide to major in English instead. I can't wait to have Professor Johnson for my second semester of Lit Hum, and I definitely plan to take classes with her again. Don't miss out on taking a class with her!

Dec 2009

Emlil rocked. But I don't understand why people seem to think he's god. Also, I do not understand why everyone seems to be saying "don't be a slacker." I had Lilla for LitHum, and I can tell you, this is a slacker's class. There are no big papers, except for the midterm, and the two hundred word nightly posts are easily bullshat. I did not read one book I didn't want to for first semester (I didn't have him second, only because he didn't teach). Odyssey? Nope. Iliad? We'll just call what I read "Selections from." He likes to discuss "the big questions," but because it isn't a philosophy course and professional jargon isn't used, what comes out sounds a little like stoner philosophy. All-in-all, great class, and especially if you haven't had a crack at discussing questions "big questions" before, absolutely take it...you'll enjoy it. He likes political philosophy. We often joked that the only books we needed to read were Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics. But most importantly, if you pride yourself on having been the smart slacker in high school, Lit Hum with Mark Lilla is your class. You should have already realized that discussions about the "big questions" often range away from the plot of the books. To participate you did not have to read more than one page of the books, if that. SparkNotes was beyond more than enough. The plot overview, not the chapter reviews. If you don't mind taking an opinion on whether stereotyping is ethically okay, the truth is more important than happiness, the afterlife gives life meaning, or any of two dozen questions along those lines, you did not have to read the books. I know I didn't

Dec 2009

Although she seemed intimidating at first, I gradually warmed up to Mercer by the end of the semester. Compared to many of my friends' Lit Hum professors, Mercer was a relatively tough grader and expects a lot out of her students. We had a difficult detailed quiz about 75% of the time we had new reading, however, she does give you (some) credit despite many wrong answers and, because we had quizzes over the reading all semester, we did not have to do the identifications for the final. We also had three short papers, all of which were graded harshly (half of the class got C's on the first paper), and she is experienced enough as a professor to know how much effort the student has put into their paper. Her midterm was difficult as well, asking students to analyze 4 passages in less than 2 hours, which was a ridiculous task for all of us to begin with, and was difficult to get an A on as well. On the positive side, however, Mercer is a very approachable professor. She is helpful in office hours, and even encourages students to just stop by and chat. She uses analogies like "Emory the Tree," which ultimately became a class inside joke, but nonetheless was relative to all of the works we read regarding human capacity and excellence. She brought us food on several occasions, and even brought cookies and grapes to the final exam. She lets you go outside on nice days to discuss the books rather than sitting in the classroom. She even took the class to Hamlet with Jude Law and took us out for soda after, and also invited us over to her apartment for dinner. I will truly miss Mercer next semester. Sure she interjects her social and political views into class discussion, but this didn't interfere too much with the class. Sure she has her favorites, but this doesn't get in the way when she grades. Sure she isn't afraid to give you a worse grade than maybe another professor would, but she makes you work harder and helps you to become a better writer and student. If you are really into getting A's like free lollipops, she is not the professor for you. But if you really want to learn something, she is a professor that you shouldn't miss out on.

Dec 2009

He has a wikipedia page, he's written for the new york times, he's an author of many books, and probably more than that. He knows his stuff pretty well. He's extremely smart and leads thoughtprovoking discussions and brings up things you'd never think about when reading the books for lithum. He exceeds the capability of most professors teaching lithum. All of this said, I must warn you... HE'S MEAN. I learned a LOT in the class but he's a monster to you unless you think, write, and speak perfectly. And trust me, if you're a freshman, you don't think, write, or speak perfectly, just accept it now. If you try hard, though, he's a little bit less than a monster. Just a little bit. You might think you're a great student, but Mark Lilla will make you think twice. If you believe America is the best country in the world, if you believe the literature we must read is glorifying only stupid white, old men, if you think you can outsmart him and be the best in the class, you're in for a rude awakening, So I hope none of you get him if you think this way. If you do get him as a teacher, just brace yourself. You'll have to think more and B.S. less, even though you'll have a lot on your plate. Accept his criticism as "tough love" as he calls it sometimes. Don't take anything in that class personally. One minute he'll say you're a terrible writer, the next he'll say you've improved a lot (as long as you actually have improved a lot). This might seem like the challenge you're looking for, but I'm telling you right now, its harder than it looks. All in all, I'm glad I had him as a professor because I learned quite a lot. Even so, I'll bear the scars of that class for a long time...

Dec 2009

Professor Rosenberg is a good -- not great -- teacher. As many of you may have noticed, the end of the semester tends to bring a certain nostalgia, which I think many of the reviewers under me may have been suffering from. Professor Rosenberg is most assuredly brilliant, and his incredibly insightful comments counted quite a bit towards my enjoyment of the class. But at 9 in the morning, his slow and somewhat monotonic speech did not help my 4-hours-of-sleep induced somnolence. He is, however, *extremely* nice, and probably the sharpest 83 year old I have ever met. He is also a no-bullshit kind of guy -- if you give him one of those vague, I-haven't-read-the-book-so-I'm-just-gonna-make-some-shit-up answers, he will shoot you down for it, just like you deserve. Another (previously mentioned) issue with his class is that the essay and test questions tend to be extremely simple. He would ask the kind of questions that were apparent from the second you read the book ("What is the significance of blindness in Oedipus Rex?"). While this may sound like a good thing (simple equals easy, after all), It actually made things more difficult, because you find yourself struggling to give a meaningful answer when the obvious (and clearly oft-repeated) one is looming so large. The trick to doing well in Professor Rosenberg's class is to show him early on -- via class participation -- that you are a smart and intelligent person who deserved to get into Columbia. If you do, he will respect you for it, and that will reflect in your grades. If you don't, well, you will probably be on here 3 months later writing a review like the May 2005 one.

Dec 2009

Mark Lilla is the man. He speaks eloquently, he encourages discussion, and he tears slackers apart. His class will make you appreciate literature. And your writing will improve by the end of the semester. He seems like a hit-or-miss kind of guy. People who aren't really looking to put in the work dislike him; people who are willing and earnest like him. Everybody respects him; some fear him. He brings to class a page of notes everyday that he uses to guide discussion. He will have read your papers and will sometimes ask you to share your ideas with the class. If you do not speak, he will call on you. If you're looking for an easy A Lilla's class isn't for you, but the class is worth the hit on your GPA. He appears to be the UChicago type professor. Purely intellectual plus two Harvard-Kennedy degrees. He dresses up to teach class everyday. I think he's a sweetheart in disguise, though.

Dec 2009

Leonard hasn't taught Lit Hum for a few years judging by his most recent Lit Hum Culpa reviews. If you have him, you're lucky. He might not be the best out there, but you get the full Columbia Core experience from him. I don't really know how to compare Lit Hum professors because they all seem to have different teaching styles and different specialties. Some like to turn every text into a message about women's rights, and some like to strip out the underlying philosophical arguments and spend the whole time analyzing those. From my point of view, Leonard is a straight up classic Lit Hum professor. We analyze the prose, characters, ideas, context, and author. We learn a little about everything. As some reviewers have said, Leonard likes to go on long speeches about something. I don't think that is the best use of time during a discussion class, but what he is saying is worthwhile. I think there is room for improvement with regard to class discussions, but by no means does he discourage people from asking questions and arguing. Sometime he brings in supplementary pictures and essays by people that add to the readings. You aren't required to read them, but they are interesting and there if you really want to delve into the subject. I think it shows that he really knows the context and impact of each text. He reads along with us every class ( I think). Although I've never been to his office hours, I think he has them for several hours after each class at Brownies (the business schools cafe). Don't despair if you get Leonard for Lit Hum! You will learn and have a good time.

Dec 2009

Ugh, what a waste of my fall semester of Literature Humanities. Rebecca has such a tremendous... desire (?) to do something great, but simply doesn't have the presence to be in a classroom of Columbia-caliber students. It's a shame, for there's no doubt that she's an intelligent, competent woman- but not suited to teaching first-years. She fails to explain her expectations for the course, can't accurately answer questions about the texts in question, and is inarticulate in class discussions. Although it was nice on occasion to have some leeway to lead discussions ourselves, we needed more definitive direction at times, and it was simply not forthcoming.

Dec 2009

Emma Lieber was a great person to have as a LitHum professor. Vibrant and interesting, she led interesting discussions, which let the class develop its own ideas. She provided great background information on each of the works, and let us develop the discussion, so that we could discuss the issues that we found the most interesting, not just what she though deserved to be talked about. Her interjections into the discussion were always helpful and constructive, and brought up new points that the class had not come up with yet. If you are looking for a class in which you are going to have knowledge forced down your throat, this is not it; Emma lets the students do the talking, and discuss issues ranging from Platonic Forms in The Symposium to phallic images in Lysistrata. Overall, a fun, fascinating LitHum class!

Dec 2009

Wilke seems like a nice guy. He has no major eccentricities, besides a mild German accent . The classes are good in that he gets students going in the right direction for discussions. That being said, class the classes are only exciting as students make them. When people come in exhausted/hungover/disinterested time can kind of go by slowly (it's nearly two hours per class). One major advantage of being Wilke's class is that he is a very fair grader. Most of the criticism I've gotten on my papers was spot on. I also feel he was very fair with the volume of reading assignments.

Dec 2009