Food and the Social Order

Dec 2013

Guys this class rocks. It was by far one of the most interesting subjects I've looked into thus far. I wasn't super sure about sociology before I took this course, and now? I want to minor in it! Either she read her culpa reviews and revised the course from what it was in 2010, or the old reviewers weren't on point. Either way, it's clear she loves the subject and she wants you to love it too. Yeah, she has readings from her own work, but since she's great at making her points, her readings were incredible help in preparing for the exams. As long as you write down the key words she puts up on the board and relate them to the readings/class discussions, then you will be perfectly fine. She had us analyze a variety of things, from songs to essays, from creative writing to movies like Kung fu Panda, Ratatouille, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. If you find that she is talking about a certain subject 'a lot', it's because that subject is one of the best examples of whatever key word she wishes to support. She welcomes participation and listens to what you have to say. If you get an answer "wrong" (though she doesn't put you down for it EVER) then she will find some way to tie it in to what we're talking about and then move on. She is attentive, smart, and really nice. She talks quietly sometimes though (gets louder later in the semester) so unless you have bat ears don't sit in the back of the class. Guys take her class you won't regret it.

Nov 2013

I found this class to be really, really interesting - certainly unlike any class I've taken at Columbia. Professor Ferguson is very well-respected in the field of food sociology which has attracted a few interesting lecturers to the class. This class has really given me a new perspective on the food culture of the city. Make sure to write down the key terms that she puts on the board everyday, they're SUPER helpful when studying for the midterm. She talks really quietly so try to sit close to the front. Overall I am definitely glad that I took the class. Prof. Ferguson is really available to speak to and despite the class being a good sized lecture, she seemed to have learned everyones name by the end of the semester.

May 2010

This class is awful. She needs to learn how to give a decent lecture. The readings were generally pretty interesting, but she really has no idea how to discuss them, except those taken from her book, which she generally regurgitates during lecture. The class is basically all about French food. All the time. She believes that in order to engage the class she needs to ask super specific questions that will then cause students to share stories no one else wants to hear, instead of just actually discussing the texts we read. Additionally, the TAs were a bunch of stuck up sociology grad students who gave a ridiculous midterm where the class average was a C+. I took this class hoping that it would be a light, fun, sociology class on food and instead a bunch people just kept trying to prove to the class that sociology is really serious and important to life. Honestly, a C+ as a class average in a sociology class is really unheard of. fyi, I got way above the class average, but it's still just unnecessary and ridiculous. The final was much easier since they realized that they were idiots and gave the class a midterm that could only be successfully completed in about 2.5 hours. Worst class ever. Oh and Professor Ferguson doesn't allow computers in her class, which only adds to the chaos of her terrible lecturing. And she smacks her lips really loudly while she is speaking, which really only adds to the nuisance that is this class.

May 2010

This class should be renamed "McDonald's, Sushi, Passover and French Food". That's all that is really talked about. Besides comments like "some say violence is as american as apple pie" by the professor, the class offers nothing of interest. The lecture is simply a re-hash of the reading with a lot of stupid questions thrown in by Ferguson-who is in love with her idea of the French (she wrote a book about French food). Don't buy the books on the reading list, you can get by without them. But the reading has to be done, because the midterm and final are basically a test about how well you can cite all the authors. Terrible class full of anecdotes from students and ignorant comments about foreign foods.

Feb 2009

This subject of this class seems really interesting and then once you get a few lectures into the course, you begin to realize that Ferguson makes it rather boring. Instead of focusing on things that we would find pertinent, you spend like half of a semester on how India developed a national cuisine. This left me with one question: Who cares? I agree with another reviewer of Ferguson in that she is pretty bias: she gives you the grade she thinks you deserve rather than what your work/ amount of effort shows. Easy midterm that tests basic concepts; the final is the same thing except longer. Participation counts which is bizarre since there doesn't really seem anything requires or benefits from a discussion.