The Americas

Dec 2020

PLEASE AVOID THIS PROFESSOR. Not only is the class not rewarding, but the professor also went out of her way to undermine and degrade me as a student, person, and learner. I am still healing from the constant harassment and discrimination she put me through.

May 2018

Professor Watson is really nice and you can tell she enjoys being an English professor. Even though The Americas was my last choice, I am very glad I took that class because we read very interesting books like Passing and Jazz and Love Medicine and had important discussions. The class taught me a lot, especially with how to close read a text, and the three essays we did were very helpful. However, she is a harsh grader. When I got a B+ on my essay, she told me there wasn't much wrong with it and it was one of the highest grades in the class- she just gives A's to published work. Although I was one of the very few students that had a high grade in her class (96%), I still got an A- overall because a 97% and above is an A which is impossible to get if she doesn't give A's on the essays. My biggest advice is to actually spend a lot of time on the drafts because that's the only thing she comments on and the more developed it is, the more you can get out of her on how to improve it. Go to office hours and talk through every comment. Good luck!

Jul 2015

Prof Mehta encourages you to find your own voice and seek out your own interpretation and meaning in the material, which makes her a rare gem among the overly pedantic, egotistical English teachers that we all know too well. I wasn't interested in Latin American literature at all before taking this course but Prof Mehta made me fall in love with it. She's open to a more creative slant on assignments, and she believes in pushing you to find the beauty of the written word. She is one of the best professors I've had at Barnard and I urge you to take her course-she's one of those "life changing professors" that the Barnard recruiters were telling us about when they convinced us to come here.

Jul 2014

Please, please do not take this class - it will cause you to hate English, hate Barnard, and, without a doubt, hate Professor Amanda Springs. She is, in every sense of the phrase, an awful educator. As many others have stated, I went into the course loving reading and enjoying intellectual conversation - two predilections Springs sought to destroy with all of her might. Springs offers virtually nothing as a professor - she arrived to class very late, she typed on her iPad the entire course while insisting we "talk amongst ourselves" about a theme. When we went to reconvene, she remained seated with her eyes down, looking at her iPad (texting? playing Angry Birds? writing comments about us? The world may never know). The class was student-run to the extent that the professor was absent, not even directing conversation but just seated, occasionally looking up. Springs was not unfriendly necessarily, but she was wholly inaccessible - in lieu of office hours she exclaimed we "email her." For the 8 emails I sent Professor Springs I received one response in which she called me by the wrong name - Ariella, when our class only had 14 people in it and none went by that name. On the upside, the class is not hard - because Springs does legitimately nothing during class time, you don't really have to have read to be able to participate because you're only speaking to your peers. The essays are graded mercurially, but Springs will give you as many extensions or rewrites as you want. Overall, I sincerely hope that Springs is replaced ASAP as she offers nothing to Barnard first-years and actively detracted from my spring semester. Her attitude and lack of teaching ability or ambition, who knows, made even the classic, excellent texts we read (Marquez, Faulkner, Neruda) seem dull. She is the worst educator I have ever had as a teacher in my 14 years in school.

Apr 2010

Linn Mehta is a great professor. She knows so much about her field and all the readings that she is always happy to clarify or help get the discussion started. Also she is extremely helpful in improving writing skills. I was lucky enough to have her for both semesters of my first year and my writing improved immensely. I started out as someone who would write about something boring and safe just to make sure it made sense and by the end of the year I could write about much more complicated topics with more confidence and clarity. I would highly recommend this class and Professor Mehta. She is such a nice person, always willing to meet with you to go over drafts or simply to talk about ideas. At the end of the semester, she invites you to her apartment for Indian food which is also very fun. If you have the chance, definitely take this class! It's full of interesting reading, discussion, and writing.

Mar 2010

I have her for first year english: The Americas. If you are debating taking this class and manage to know whether or not she is your professor: run away as fast as possible. Never before have I ever been so uninspired by my teacher. She assigns a VERY heavy reading/work load. This wouldn't be so bad if the classes didn't move at glacial speed. This causes everyone to be so unmotivated that when she actually does try to make up for lost time, no one is prepared. She is also very poor at seeing the subjective side of English as a subject. While she may be very good at forcing you to make a direct connection between the reading and your points, her interpretation almost always in the only interpretation. She is very knowledgeable, but that is her tragic flaw. She tries to do too much, all the time. She'll bring in 20 page essays and add it to our 100-300 page reading assignments for the next class. She also tries to bring in other type of media, movies and computer presentations, which I admit are nice. However, I feel like often these come to the expense of the class. I find myself often lost in the reading, without any explanation. Even when I go to her office, I usually leave feeling no more reassured. I even asked a student who had her last semester if she had any tips for me. She told me that even after she went through the entire course, she has absolutely no idea what Estreich wants from her students. She is always disorganized which reflects in the class.

Sep 2009

I loved this class and I loved Prof. Mehta. She helped my writing skills so much. I know that for some people in my class she demanded quite a few drafts, which I can understand can be annoying, but it's only because she wants your writing to improve and she wants to give you a good grade. For me, she was always open to me sending her as many drafts as I wanted and she really helped me clarify my writing. After each rough draft she would always write detailed notes and critiques as well as engaging in a 10-15 min long meeting, where instead of speeding through it and looking at her watch like most professors, she acted as if she could give you as much time as necessary to really help improve your writing. With the class being only 16 girls, she molded herself into more of a member of the discussion than an overseeing professor. When we (as a class) were really getting into the nitty, gritty analytical parts of the literature she was always helpful with her thoughts and helped to move the conversation along. That being said, there was some amazing girls in my class who honestly made the course that awesome. Being a lover of analyzing lit myself, there were quite a few of us in this class so we didn't really need much guidance when it came to discussion. Mehta didn't even really lead the discussion (which I appreciated), she prompted us with a few questions or thoughts but other than that my class was pretty self-sufficient. I know a lot of people hate their seminars and whatever, but I was so lucky. This class was amazing. On the last day of class, everyone was saying how this was the way people imagine college classes: deep, interesting, expanding and engaging.

Oct 2007

There have been a lot of nasty things written about Karen Weiser, and I wanted to balance it out a bit. I do agree that Karen has a problem facilitating good discussion about the literature. And yes, it can get monotonous to sit through a class without her contributing much constructive analysis or guiding the class in a meaningful direction. HOWEVER, Karen is an excellent writing instructor. She is always willing to meet with students outside of class to discuss papers, and will work with you until your writing is the best it can be. You will come out of her class being a stronger reader and writer, which is basically what FYE is all about.

Sep 2007

I love love LOVE this woman! She knows everything about the subject matter, genuinely cares about her students, and rewards those students who show her how much of an effort they are making. There are not enough nice things I can say about this professor. The class was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I would take it again if given the opportunity. I only wish I were an English major to be able to take more classes with her. At the end of the term she invited my class to her apartment to have an Indian lunch. She's just so great. Take classes with this professor! I can't fathom what anyone WOULDN'T love about her.

Aug 2007

Very bland professor who tries to prove herself because she's almost as young as the students. I have had young profs before who were amazing however she was pretty bad. She wasnt that educated and was a hard grader in addition. Class discussions had no order and consisted of us just talking (the students) with her nodding. Nothing insightful and certianly not worth the 40k this place costs.

Mar 2007

Professor Mehta may seem too timid to direct a class at a first glance - but don't be fooled, she is an incredibly strong and knowledgeable professor. Once she begins to lecture on the course material, her reserved demeanor disappears, and you realize she houses a vast expanse of knowledge on everything literature-related. She comes to her lectures very well prepared, equipped with all sorts of hand-outs to complement the material being read. Her lectures are interesting, not just for the literature chosen, but also because of her own enthusiasm and engagement with the material. In addition to her intelletual prowess, she is a very sweet and caring person. She will meet with her students whenever needed at whatever time. She is very kind with her criticism and honors differences in personal style. She makes sure she gets to know her students as individuals outside of the class setting, and is willing to serve as a mentor for any questions you bring to her. BOTTOM LINE: The course material is interesting and thoroughly taught. My writing style also improved under her gentle, guiding hand. Despite having the class at the early hour of 9 a.m., I always looked forward to it because Professor Mehta made the small seminar room a warm, comfortable, homey environment for her students.

Mar 2007

Professor Ratekin's probably a very nice guy outside of class, but he seemed fresh-out-of-grad-school. He didn't really make sense most of the time in class even though most of the class tried to pretend like they understood what he was talking about. Also, in terms of papers, he's very "this is how to interpret this piece of literature and this is the only way." Don't fall for this, write what you think even if you'll get a B instead of an A for it (unless you're not trying to learn anything and only trying to get A's.) Then, go ahead just agree with him and he'll love you.

Jan 2007

Writing in college is difficult. Few teachers have Prof. Mehta's patience and skill. This woman taught me how to WRITE. She really really cares about her students and allows rewrites. She meets with everyone after each paper and sometimes its annoying but trust me ull appreciate her. She is such a sweet woman and really facilitates discussion in her class. I would love to have another english prof like her.

Nov 2006

I never did the reading for this class after about mid-October and I still managed to have some insight. This professor gets excited when you say something is symbolic or vaguely connected to the topic of colonialism. She's not very good at leading the class in the direction the students want it to go in, but only in the direction she thinks it should go in. If you say something "unique" in your essay and provide a smidgeon of textual support for it she'll think you're a genius. To be fair, however, Karen Weiser is pretty accomodating. She gives extentions when you need them and wants students to be prepared to write the "big" research essay at the end of the semester, which, by the way, she gave the entire class a 5-day extension. The subject matter of the class isn't that interesting, beyond its sheer novelty. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was probably my favorite part, but it was read in English and the translations weren't very good. If you speak spanish, this professor loves anything you have to say on the actual spanish version of the text. Some of the stuff we read wasn't really relevant to the subject of colonialism, I thought, but hey, we didn't have to read Chaucer.

May 2006

Prof. Weiser is really intense. I don't know what the other poster meant about her not knowing her stuff, because she spends all her spare time reading literary criticism. I took this class second semester, when the syllabus is MUCH better and actually really interesting. She didn't do a very good job, always, of promoting discussion, but she had us come up with our own questions which was good and if you said something smart in class, she'd email you about it, which makes you feel good and encourages you to talk more. It was hard for me to judge how she felt about me. Not at all an easy grader; she told us in class that in order to get an A you had to do something really radical with your writing. And she grades rough drafts, which sucks. But the syllabus is fascinating and some of the writing assignments are actually fun. I came out of this class viewing my writing differently, and being a stronger writer and reader.

Jun 2005

Professor Weiser really isnt the smartest cookie in the jar. It was obvious that she had no idea about the historical background of most topics we talked about (i am pretty sure she googled them right before class because shealways referred to her little printouts). My favorite quote by her, summrizing her ignorance about the topic of colonialism (which was the main topic of the class): "But if it weren't for Columbus, we wouldn't be sitting here today!" (in shock that someone could criticize Columbus or the founding of the US...a thought i believe the syllabus is meant to provoke, but that she hasn't gotten to yet). I have also been told that she refuses to believe that there is still racism in everyday life in this country. Quite sad. In another review it was mentioned that she wants to "see everyone succeed". I agree, she is more like a kindergarden teacher grading "good effort". So don't worry you will end up with an A, even if she doesn't really get what you're saying.

Dec 2004

One word: frustration. If you can get survive Prof. Schmidt's unreliablility, sloppiness, and overall obliviousness, you can survive the class. While the readings are easy, Prof. Schmidt can't lead a discussion and relies on the class to research the background of the author in order to somehow stimulate discussion. From this discussion, or lack thereof, we are supposed to form paper topics. It is the end of the semester, and I still have only received one paper back. The second she was supposed to hand back today, but as usual, says it will be in her "cubby" at the end of the day, which it isn't. When she schedules a meeting, she always cancels and she hardly ever responds to e-mails. Arg!

Nov 2004

I really enjoyed her class; I found the discussions to be thought provoking and I liked how much she seemed to also enjoy the class. The material was a lot simpler than what I am used to from high school, but she made it interesting and allowed us to critique as well as add to the material. I found Prof. Schmidt to be an inspiring and intelligent teacher.

May 2004

I love Monica. So much. She is a ridiculously intelligent and genuinely compassionate. I always looked forward to class and it saddens me that she is taking some time off. When she returns (Spring 2006 I believe), I'll take anything she is associated with. She's that good. Classes were challenging (in a good way), engaging, and enlightening. Everything I thought college would be (minus the beer and stuff...)

Nov 2003

she's intense, but very good. a pretty demanding class (lots of reading, okay amount of writing). she's super intelligent, which is great because she adds a lot to discussions. class can be boring (mainly, when you dont do the reading...), but overall not bad.

Nov 2003

Monica Miller is not only brilliant, but she is kind, a fair grader, and a sympathetic listener. She's one smart cookie and a total badass, in my opinion. I loved this seminar, and I hear her lectures are great, too. I've spent many an office hour bothering Prof. Miller for help with various papers and also just to discuss the books we read in class---she's always patient and willing to help. So go to her office hours, people, and take her classes. This one is a jewel.

Nov 2003

Not so hot. Not suggested.