Modern France and its Empire

Aug 2014

I cannot recommend this course highly enough. It made me decide to turn my concentration in history into a second major. While like any history course, it has its fair share of dates to memorize, Professor Saada emphasized overarching themes and questions over factoids, and emphasized primary source reading over a textbook narrative. This span of this class stretches from the French Revolution to the present, so it essentially encompasses everything within the Revolution's legacy, industrialization and urbanization, post-colonialism, Nazi collaboration, the building of the EU, the influx of Arab immigration, etc. Not only was the information in this course incredibly relevant to understanding modern European history, it was very useful for thinking about current events. Professor Saada also screens films for the course; last year, it was Au Revoir les Enfants and the Battle of Algiers. This was by far the best class I've taken in the history department, and possibly one of the best courses I've taken at Columbia. Also, the TA Allison Powers is wonderful; sections with her were the highlight of my day.

Jan 2014

Professor Saada, is, quite frankly, awful. The course itself began promisingly - albeit apprehensively, as the course material covered is large (French history from 1789 to 2005). However, the sheer number of irrelevant readings and droning lectures meant the course ended up being a huge disappointment. The readings were about 150 pages per week, most completely irrelevant to the course and just what Saada considered necessary. Her teaching style is haphazard and she cannot answer questions directly. The TA, Allison Powers, however, was awesome. She helped us with our papers where Saada lacked, and constantly fought for us to get higher grades when Saada felt our papers weren't up to her standard. Do not take this class.