Iran: Film Fiction Poetry History

May 2015

Worst class I have ever taken. Dabashi clearly has some kind of big-shot rep, but this class was no evidence for why. I have seen Facebook posts from him that show more effort than this entire class. This class was pain, and everyone spent the entire thing on Facebook He arrives with no notes whatsoever, says 'What are we doing today?' and riffs on a couple sentences unhelpfully for the rest of the class. There is no structure or substance. The syllabus was a hilariously ambitious list of history books, films, poetry collections, books and blogs - none of it organized by date or session, in no particular order, and with no excerpts, just whole works. Some of this impossibly large collection of assignments was at Book Culture - I bought the books; we ended up never reading them. We were, however, apparently meant to read things that were out of print, unavailable from Butler, or from Book Culture, or anywhere in New York. Dabashi would say things like 'Isn't it all on the internet? You'll find it.' At any rate, that didn't really matter, because the class's absurd 'presentation' format meant we were never accountable for doing the reading anyway. The class was entitled 'Film, Fiction, Poetry, History'. We spent about half the class on history and about half on film - or rather, on Dabashi's book about film, with no watching of the actual films, apparently. Fiction was barely skimmed over, poetry just did not happen, and the 'blog'/internet section we were meant to get to at the end obviously did not happen either. I was taking the class for fiction and poetry, which we just didn't do. On the second to last session, Dabashi expressed surprise at the date, and tried to get through about half the syllabus in the last class. If I were convinced about a kernel of this man's supposed massive genius and well of knowledge it might have been OK, but he actually seemed to know nothing whatsoever and have the least sophisticated thought process of any prof or TA I've ever had. The midterm paper was never graded, so the class has ended and I have no idea how I'm doing. The sum of what Dabashi actually said during the class would probably fit on two sides of paper. He has 2 or 3 spiels that he trundles out, more or less verbatim, now and then, in extensive monologue, apparently without remembering that he has already said them. (Once, we spent about 20 minutes discussing a film scene and watched it in class; several sessions later, Dabashi brought up the scene apparently thinking it was entirely new to us, introduced it, and summarized the whole thing to make the same point.) These spiels can be found in his books, which he assigns. Neither sheds any light on the other, it's just more repetition. On the rare occasion that Dabashi manages to elicit a comment from a student, he tends to misunderstand it. His response is usually patronizing, and tends to consist of side-eyeing your supposedly problematic phraseology before launching in to rant A, B, or C, as outlined in one of his books. NEVER TAKE ANYTHING WITH THIS AWFUL MAN