Arts of China, Japan & Korea

Nov 2020

I hated this class. It was incredibly boring and I didn't learn anything, which was a bummer because I'm genuinely interested in the topic. I took this class because I'm Asian but don't know much about my country's culture/history/art and wanted to know more, but this class was terrible and also made me a little uncomfortable. She spoke about Asian art and culture in a way that made me feel very awkward, especially as she is a white woman (always talking about how "exotic" and "different" Asian art was, and that it was okay for students to laugh or be weirded out). Not to mention that the actual class and lectures/discussion was so painfully boring to sit through. If you're okay with all of that and just want an easy A though, go for it.

Aug 2020

Worst professor. Course load is fine as well as how she teaches yet her grading is terrible. She marks the essay solely on grammar - her own grammar. It's basically UW all over again.

Dec 2017

TLDR; Interesting material, low workload, awesomely smart professor, but very bad grading practices. I took this class as my global core elective to complement the Asian lit course I took. You definitely don't need to take an Asian lit but it helped a little bit with some of the artwork connected to literature. The material could either be very interesting or very boring, depends on how into pottery you are, which is half the class. Personally, I found Prof Delbanco very knowledgeable. She really knows what she is teaching, but sometimes this can cause problems. When talking about certain art pieces, it seems like I am not learning to analyze them on my own observations, but hers. When it came time to write an essay or take an exam, if you do not regurgitate the same interpretations as given in lecture as pure fact, you will lose lots of points. In this class, the world of asian art oddly becomes NOT open to interpretation, I was criticized on every single essay because the TA disagreed with my analysis. Making logical points and connecting the dots in your own analysis does not save you!! The TAs are HARSH graders, with very little to justify their grading. I handed in well-thought and polished essays that should have been As, but was given Bs. For a course that has easy and enjoyable material, it is made artificially difficult through intentionally low grades. The intention of low grades, like other liberal arts courses here, is to incite students to produce better work in the future and show a sense of improvement. My art analysis did get WAY better from this course and I can confidently speak on the subject, but my grades do not show this. If you are thinking about taking this course, don't expect an A. Expect your grade to be low on essays and exams based on arbitrary things. If you don't make the exact same points in your exam essays as outlined in a pre-made answer written by the professor, you will lose points. If your interpretation of a painting or word does not align with theirs, you lose points, even though these things are open to interpretation, the prof and TAs expect you to know specific symbolism on a variety of subjects, some of which are not discussed in class at all. Take this class if you : -don't mind getting a B or a B+. -want something with a pretty low workload. -are interested in the material. DONT take this class if you: -cannot regurgitate information -think art is open to interpretation

Nov 2016

Since she is teaching this same course next semester and there is a choice between taking it with her and with another professor and also since we have just gotten back our mid-terms and first papers I will comment on what the experience of taking this course has been like up to now. She is a pretty good teacher. I would say she isn't particularly good or bad....she gets the job done, nothing special. This class is supposed to be a sort of East Asian version of Art Hum and she even said at the beginning that participation would be important but it seems like the same handful of regulars do 90% of the commenting. The first half of the course deals with Buddhist art in all three countries which unite the region and then goes into what makes the three countries distinct in the second half. She went off syllabus in the first half and so didn't get to everything. Personally I was left feeling like I didn't get so much from the first half, maybe this had to do with her choices of objects to analyze. For some reason at Columbia T.A.'s are brought into a class basically to just lighten the load for the teacher as far as grading goes so in a class of 19 people we had a T.A. grade the paper and Professor Chusid grade the mid-terms. This makes it difficult to predict what will be looked for in the final paper and final exam if they swap, which is frustrating. The paper was graded fairly lightly by the T.A. Just make sure you have an actual thesis statement in your introductory paragraph even for a short 3 page formal analysis. I thought Professor Chusid graded the mid-term a bit severely, so def. prepare a lot for that and hit all the points she mentions in class when discussing a piece, even then you probably won't be able to get a perfect score because she looks for very specific things about each piece, some of which may not seem very important. I was hoping this class would be a really engaging experience because it was so small but I'm not sure it is that much better than the 70 person session which is held by other professors who teach this same course.

Oct 2016

So, I took this class to fulfill the Core Curriculum Art Humanities requirement. I'm Chinese, so I thought it would be cool to learn more about my culture, rather than something focused on Western Art. DO NOT BE LIKE ME. Look, this class actually has a really interesting subject matter. But the professor is so awful that it totally ruins it. Chusid is just NOT a good teacher. She treats everyone like they're still in high school. Everything consists of memorizing dates, dynasties, etc. and random facts she tells you about pieces - there is no synthesis as to what larger scope any piece has as it relates to the culture. I honestly could better teach myself from the assigned readings. Everything is just short-term memorization; I know for a fact that I will not remember anything I learned in this class by midterms next semester. The other thing I really have a problem with is that I feel that Miriam has no respect for her students. We are a week past midterms now, and there are 3-4 students that she still cannot call on by name. She has asked them each repeatedly what their names are, we have turned in assignments, there is just no excuse. I really don't know how she is employed by Columbia. She is truly the worst teacher I've ever had, and I've had a lot of bad teachers. Bottom line: DO. NOT. TAKE. HER. CLASS.

Jan 2015

I had some mixed emotions on this course. While Prof. Delbanco is very knowledgeable on the topics she chooses to cover (and many more, of course), and I really appreciated the perspectives on non-Western art, I'm not sure in the end whether the class was worth its troubles. But first, my minor issues with the course: - Expect a LECTURE course that focuses mostly on Chinese art with some relatively brief looks at Japanese (and even more rarely, Korean) art. If what you liked about Art Hum or other art history courses was the discussion, you won't really get much of that here. Any times students speak up in class is either to answer questions prof. Delbanco asks which are so obvious there's usually a good amount of awkward silence after them because no one wants to answer them, or when someone goes out of their way to ask a question to potentially analyze what we're seeing. In short, while you learn a lot, it's mostly through what she tells you and not what the class works together to find, which is what for hopefully many people, Art Hum was like. If you like to discuss things a bit more (specially when the class is in a dark room, usually early in the morning), then this may not be the ideal course. - She talks a LOT. Most of the class consisted of her droning on and on for the full 75 minutes (and as the semester unfolded, sometimes 5 or 10 extra minutes). This may not seem that bad, but as previous reviewers have said, this can get quite boring. She also reviews a lot, which is great but eats away at the time and makes her rush through things towards the end. Because she reviews and rehashes her claims over and over so much, you barely have to study that hard, the material is really ingrained if you attend. But again, people usually looked quite bored. - Like many other Columbia courses (specially art history courses), this is obviously NOT a survey of all art in China, Japan, and Korea. While a lot of the themes I assume extend from period to period (she will make the case that this is so), you definitely won't come near to seeing a large amount of art. Instead, you'll learn really in depth on a smallish selection of topics. This also sadly means that literally more than half the course is composed entirely of pottery. May not seem that bad, but 14 or 15 lectures on ceramics can get to be a bit... much. And we actually didn't even move beyond the 12th century or so with Chinese ceramics, so there was still a lot to say. - The class feels a little bit too involved at times. There's two papers (involving Met trips and, for one of the papers, sketching two landscape paintings), and the final includes two essays, one of which is a topic of your choosing you have to pre-clear with her, so you're really writing a third paper itself for the final. On top of that there's two other Met trips that are not mandatory right before the midterm and the final, but I'd say 90% of the class attended. There was also a tea ceremony we attended which was nice, but also did take up a bit of a Saturday afternoon. In all, expect a moderate amount of time dedicate to the class. Now, my major issue with the course is that, while I really appreciate art and art history, most of the class felt like a stretch. It was actually a bit frustrating in how predictable some of the statements were ("At first glance these paintings look radically different, but I'm going to show you how they're actually quite similar..."; "In essence, these two traditions then are not so different...") I almost would have liked for something a little more unexpected from this course than the typical art history analysis. It's like Delbanco pulls every trick in the book of talking about art history. Other times it honestly just felt a bit too much like a stretch: "this calligraphy character is in essence an abstract representation of this central mountain in this painting", "it's as if these trees become a self-portrait of the artist himself", "He places his signature with his inscription close to the trees as if saying 'look here are the trees; this is an image of me'.") This really may not be that big of a deal, but trust me, by the last several weeks, it gets tiring. Lastly, it felt like there wasn't much room for free thought in the papers or the class in general. For the papers, if you went to her office hours with an idea, she would not-so-gently suggest not to do that and instead, write something that she would pretty much write out for you on the topics she chose (for the second paper, she said she only thought one painting in the Met was worth writing about, so there wasn't even a choice there). This is great in that she almost writes the papers for you and tells you specifically what to focus on, but it felt more like her imposing her viewpoint in very leading essays, and it also meant that if you didn't go to office hours, or made a statement in the paper that she didn't in essence pre-clear, your grade might be affected because the analysis just wasn't what she had thought of. In a way, I almost learned not necessarily how to think about Asian art, but how to think about what Dawn Delbanco thinks about Asian art. Now, if that's the mainstream way of thinking about Asian art, then great! You've learned it. But sadly, it was hard to tell sometimes. To be fair, I'll end with the positives: - You learn a lot - She gives you ample opportunity to learn and discuss outside of class, with Met trips, office hours, etc. (That may translate to the class being too involved, but if you need it it's there) - She's really smart and seems like an authority on the subject - The grading is weird (she said she doesn't like giving many grades above a B+ early in the semester), BUT it's fair and she CURVES so it's not that hard to do well in the end. Don't worry if at the beginning you're seeing B's and B+'s on your papers or midterms. TL;DR: Though there are some positive elements to the class, like the tea ceremony, and how in-depth she goes into the class, and for some the lack of discussions may be a positive (though you still need to attend lecture, she takes attendance!), I'm still not sure if I'd take this class if I knew from the beginning what it'd be like... I'm not saying don't take it, because it's still a good class academically-speaking, the material is interesting and worth studying, and the workload isn't horrible at all (most weeks you won't do anything at all other than show up for class, which you have to do because she takes attendance and she'll spew out the answers to what she asks you in essays and tests), but it really may not be that enjoyable... All in all I give the course a B-... It's okay, but it could be a lot better. Others have raved about the course, so this was just my impression, but this course may not be for everyone.