course
First Year Writing: Women and Culture

Nov 2020

I absolutely hated this class. I started off liking it, but if your opinions do not completely match hers, she disregards you completely. The reading was somewhat interesting, but I would not recommend taking this class with Vrinda unless it is the only class your schedule allows for.

May 2020

I found this class to be very beneficial to my writing. Going to her office hour is very very important for this class because you get to flesh out your own ideas in ways that you might not even think about before. I would say to get a good grade in your essay you need to be very clear by what you mean. She definitely values clarity more than your style. I would also recommend to hyper-close read and find patterns before jumping in your essays. Although a lot of people think this class isn't enjoyable, I think it will be if you make it! Personally, I think Vrinda really encouraged me to explore further and more depth in my writing because of her questioning-based rather than thesis-based style of writing.

Apr 2020

Vrinda is an absolute icon. I truly don't understand where the negative reviews are coming from. I feel like anyone who gets a bad grade in her class must really just be putting in no effort or be completely unresponsive to any of her criticism. She's super understanding about her students' circumstances. I asked for an extension on an assignment without giving any reason whatsoever and she told me I could absolutely have one. The workload is a bit heavy, but the only reason she gives so many assignments is so that her students will be thinking about and workshopping their ideas in advance rather than leaving an essay draft until the last minute (which I greatly appreciated as someone who tends to procrastinate). Overall she's so sweet, so understanding, so open to questions, so willing to help every student gain a better understanding of each piece. And she has so much fun teaching!! There were so many times when I couldn't help but smile because she just got SO EXCITED about the material and analyzing it with us. This class improved my writing skills but I think more importantly it greatly improved my analytical thinking skills. I also genuinely enjoyed almost all of the works that we read.

Nov 2019

The thing about Vrinda is that her class isn't wonderful, but she is. I had a horrible first semester, as I was dealing with family tragedies, personal health issues, and a myriad of other issues. However, Vrinda was always kind and understanding when I had to miss class or wasn't as engaged as I should have been. The class is incredibly boring and she definitely babies her students, but she does it with love in her heart and cares deeply about the success of her students. It is annoying to have to write a million drafts for every essay, but she does give decent feedback (although sometimes I believe that it isn't really warranted tbh). Regardless, Vrinda is wonderful, and if her class is the only one that fits with your schedule, don't freak out! I was nervous after reading the other reviews, but it seriously isn't that bad and she is wonderful.

Nov 2019

Now that I completed her class, I liked this class, but I will admit it is one of the hardest classes I've ever taken. I was constantly stressed about this class as I felt like I would work and re-work as essay and still get a mediocre grade Even though the work was hard and the essays in particular are graded harshly, I do think Vrinda is a good teacher. Before this class, I honestly had started to think my skills in writing were as good as they were going to get given my natural ability. Like I was a decent writer but not great, and I just didn't have the natural skill to be a better writer In her class, however, the way she teaches writing helped me feel more capable of writing better and more sophisticatedly. Her class also helped me think more complexly and the material we read and the way we had to engage with it was very interesting and different from anything I've thought about before. It honestly has shifted my perception of gender and race completely. I personally felt like she was very open to my ideas and really welcomed struggling with opposing ideas and not having fully formulated opinions as part of the process. A semester later, I am still reference things I talked and thought about while taking that class because it really did have such a deep impact on me. Basically this class is admittedly not that fun while you are taking it, but in retrospect it was definitely worth it because I learned a lot and became a better thinker and writer. Pro tip: Definitely go to her office hours when you can. She gives really good advice and helps you work through your ideas if you're feeling kind of lost. A grades are definitely obtainable in this class.

Oct 2019

I personally love Vrinda. She’s funny and kind, and is incredibly supportive. I missed a lot of class for a family emergency, and she was willing to work with me on my time despite the fact that I was missing like 6 assignments. I personally love her, although she is a harsh grader and going to office hours makes everything more confusing.

Sep 2019

literal icon. funny, sweet, and sharp as a tack. very harsh grader but you WILL become a better writer. she's super kind and understanding, and has required one-on-ones to go over every first draft you turn in before a final paper. i've never had a prof do that. vrinda is queen and truly cares!

May 2019

I did not expect much going into this class, but I ended up getting a lot our of this. Before this class, my academic exposure to feminism had been shallow and repetitive and I had grown to resent it. In this class, however, we read texts and discussed ideas that further nuanced feminist theory and my understanding of it, which I really enjoyed. Also, through Professor Benjamin's highly structured classes and assignments, I was able to improve my writing skills significantly and in various ways. This includes deeper analysis of literary texts, learning to write research essays, learning to better structure and organize my writing, and further developing my voice as a writer. Many sessions were dedicated to working on writing. This spanned from peer-editing to class wide analysis of writing and to lectures and handouts with specific methods geared at improving our writing. We worked with writing fellows for the second two essays, which provided an initial round of somewhat helpful feedback. After this, we turned in a second draft to the professor which she gave extensive feedback on and organized conferences with us to discuss it. Beyond that, students were encouraged to schedule extra meetings or come to office hours for additional feedback and help. I think the professor had high but fair expectations in regards to grading that required students' commitment and real effort.

Dec 2018

Professor Condillac is intolerable. Her disorganization, long time to get grades back, unfair grading system, and bias towards anyone who kisses her ass is unbelievable. It is a shame, really, that she is so awful, because the course material was fantastic. I had no motivation, and was often left very anxious and angry because of her shifting deadlines and inability to be flexible with any idea that was not her own. We all cranked out papers with topics and agendas she pushed, and ended with the same papers essentially because if our analysis and interpretation was not hers-- it was wrong. It is ridiculous this occurs, especially if she is supposed to foster creativity in young, bold women, and give them the means to express that. Instead, she beat everyone down. I know of only two people who enjoyed her class, and even they could see her flaws at the end of the semester when she completely unravelled. In conclusion: FYW Women and Culture has fabulous material, so take it! WITH ANYONE BUT VRINDA. She is definitely smart, but a bad professor.

Nov 2018

I think she is super nice and sweet but as a teacher she's pretty tough and ambiguous. She favors students and makes it difficult for the rest of us to understand what she's talking about. Her favorite advice on essays are these three words, "be more specific" but she doesn't really go into that we need to do unless you ask. If you happen to take her class go to lots of office hours and ask many questions in class and you'll be alright. I was just disappointed because as much as I try and I show how dedicated I am I was unable to get an A, which I did get for my other writing heavy classes. The readings are great.

Jan 2018

Meredith Benjamin is offensively boring. She makes no effort to make students interested in the material, or to want to write the painfully technical assignments she hands out. This class is an unfortunate waste of time. She is young and clearly very intelligent, but that's not all it takes to be a qualified professor. She has no substance to her teaching.

Jan 2018

I took this class as my first college writing class and it was an AWFUL experience. Professor Benjamin not only makes you feel like you can't write but you feel like you are thrown out on your own with no helpful comments from her in the essay writing process. Throughout the whole semester, I was given the same grade and same comments suggesting nothing had improved in my writing. As someone who came from a writing intensive school college prep school, it was hard to understand how my writing could receive such low grades. Her class itself feels repetitive and can often drag during awkward silences. As a professor, Prof Benjamin can often seem condescending and establishes authority by dismissing comments she finds not intelligent. Her favorites in class are evident and she does not try to help those who may not see the text as clearly. As a freshman, this class honestly ruined my first semester of college in terms of my confidence and mental health. I do NOT recommend this class.

Jan 2018

I took this class as my first college writing class and it was an AWFUL experience. Professor Benjamin not only makes you feel like you can't write but you feel like you are thrown out on your own with no helpful comments from her in the essay writing process. Throughout the whole semester, I was given the same grade and same comments suggesting nothing had improved in my writing. As someone who came from a writing intensive school college prep school, it was hard to understand how my writing could receive such low grades. Her class itself feels repetitive and can often drag during awkward silences. As a professor, Prof Benjamin can often seem condescending and establishes authority by dismissing comments she finds not intelligent. Her favorites in class are evident and she does not try to help those who may not see the text as clearly. After spending three weeks writing drafts for research papers, students were asked to completely rewrite with only a week remaining before submission. As a freshman, this class honestly ruined my first semester of college in terms of my confidence and mental health. I do NOT recommend this class.

Dec 2017

I found that a lot of the work in this class was just busy work. She was very invested in helping us do better but I found meetings with her very frustrating and it was unclear what she wanted. She took forever to grade things and overall I found the course very frustrating as she was a very harsh grader.

Dec 2017

This class can be hard at times, but Professor Condillac is really supportive. The first essay you may be freaked out if you do poorly, but don't worry because everyone does poorly on the first essay. If you go to her for help and really try to understand what she wants from you, you can do really well. Overall the discussion in the class was great and Professor Condillac is great at teaching. I would go to her for help right away on all of your essays, and go over drafts multiple times with her. She is ALWAYS willing to help you and sit with you for as long as it takes.

Dec 2017

Do not take this class if you can try not to. She’s nice and you can always go to office hours but she only wants you to write in a certain formula and if it’s not the exact replica of the sample she gives you then it’s not good. This is a hard class that will make you think about every word in the book you’re writing on and if you don’t close read it’s not good enough.

Dec 2017

Just don't do it. There's only one right answer and its hers. Ridiculously formulaic to the point that writing has to be choppy, repetitive, and unnatural. Taught me only to be anxious as a writer and to avoid all out-of-the-box thinking. Save yourselves!

Apr 2017

Although incredibly nice and accessible, this class was a huge disappointment. Vrinda doesn't encourage discussion in any way although she likes to act like she does; she often imposes her interpretations of literary works on the class and dismisses other ideas if they don't exactly match what she's thinking of. We haven't had one in depth discussion all year, perhaps she'd be better as a lecturer but for a small 12 person class this really isn't enjoyable (an hour of her asking questions, ignoring the answers we give, and saying her own answer out loud gets a little monotonous). For essays: Prepare to have her give you her ideas on what you're trying to say as opposed to actually attempting to understand what you're writing about and guiding you in the right direction. She turns writing into a formulaic task, with hundreds of worksheets you'll fill out but never use again, and incredibly inflexible ideas about what an essay has to be. In my opinion, she teaches you to follow a formula of the essays she enjoys rather than actually providing you with tools to write original essays for a variety of classes. Meeting with her also isn't helpful, as she doesn't even look at your draft before giving you her own opinions and pushing you towards them or making you do activities like free writes and worksheets (in an hour long meeting) and then not giving you any helpful advice aside from writing down her own ideas for you to later regurgitate in an essay. She also made us buy an $80 book pack (5 books) from book culture and a course reader from village copier from which we've read two books and less than half of the reader.

Dec 2016

Catherine is such a sweetie and I recommend her to everyone!!! She is great at facilitating class discussions and she has a terrific layout to the course. I love the material we cover and she is so knowledgeable on the topic so we always learn extra stuff from her each class. The class surveyed the history of women and their role in society from ancient times to modern, jumping around in between. Catherine gives great feedback on her essays, though sometimes it will take a bit for her to return the essay. She is not an easy grader, but I think she is very fair. It is definitely a bit of a crapshoot on the first essay, but after that you will have a really good idea of what she is looking for. The essays aren't too difficult and the reading is hardly ever over 20 pages. Overall I highly recommend Catherine's class.

Dec 2016

She is amazing!!! Her feedback on essays and ideas are infinitely helpful and extremely constructive. She's extremely intelligent and articulate and it really rubs off on her students. She pushes you to improve your technical skills, while still encouraging creativity and imagination.