Introduction to Major Topics in Asian Civilizations: East Asia

Dec 2016

Overall, Connie's class was a blast. I saw some people falling asleep here and there, but everyone loved him. You really need to love to read translated old Chinese philosophical texts and need to remember a bunch of Chinese and Japanese people's names which may be a bit difficult for some people. You would sometimes need to speak louder so he can actually hear you, unless your TA is super nice and repeats what you said to him. Even though his lectures go really off-topic sometimes and not consistent, he is everybody's favorite grandpa!

May 2015

Professor Gentzler is great. Loved his class. I don't know why he doesn't have a gold nugget. He is so sweet. his TA Chirs is very helpful too. There's a lot of readings but as long as you do enough to produce a response paper every week, you'll be fine. Go to the discussion section, it's really helpful.

Dec 2014

This is a history course. If you are interested in East Asian history, you will probably enjoy it. The course mainly focuses on the history and culture of China, Japan and Korea. You will learn how the philosophies, such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism, influenced people in the three countries in different dynasties, as well as how Buddhism developed in East Asian context. You will also be trained to think critically and write a history paper. The course also covers some contents in modern East Asia and how East Asian countries managed to keep their identities while being influenced by the Western philosophies and technology. The instructors, Sixiang and Allison, are very helpful. They are approachable and are able to give you valuable advice on your essays. If you go to their office hours, you will have a better sense of how to construct your paper. They will give you some guidance such as the materials and books that may be helpful, as well as how to find a topic that makes sense. You are not required to remember many detailed things in this course. However. It will be better if you are able to comprehend the materials and see how they influence the three countries as they developed. There are two classes every week. One is for lecturing and the other is for discussion. If you are too busy to finish the textbook readings, then you should make use of the lecture since it will cover the basic history of the weekly topic.

Dec 2014

This is a history course. If you are interested in East Asian history, you will probably enjoy it. The course mainly focuses on the history and culture of China, Japan and Korea. You will learn how the philosophies, such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism, influenced people in the three countries in different dynasties, as well as how Buddhism developed in East Asian context. You will also be trained to think critically and write a history paper. The course also covers some contents in modern East Asia and how East Asian countries managed to keep their identities while being influenced by the Western philosophies and technology. The instructors, Sixiang and Allison, are very helpful. They are approachable and are able to give you valuable advice on your essays. If you go to their office hours, you will have a better sense of how to construct your paper. They will give you some guidance such as the materials and books that may be helpful, as well as how to find a topic that makes sense. You are not required to remember many detailed things in this course. However. It will be better if you are able to comprehend the materials and see how they influence the three countries as they developed. There are two classes every week. One is for lecturing and the other is for discussion. If you are too busy to finish the textbook readings, then you should make use of the lecture since it will cover the basic history of the weekly topic.

Dec 2013

Townsend is a very nice professor who's very understanding. Since this class is heavily discussion-based, she does her best to facilitate discussions regarding the readings for the week. She doesn't lecture too often, although she will review concepts if necessary. If you have Townsend for this course, Intro to Major Topics in EA Civilizations is a good course to take to satisfy part of the Global Core requirement. (my only complaint is that my class was all the way in Knox Hall. Hopefully it won't be for the rest of you guys)

Dec 2011

Gentzler is one of the more fantastic professors I have had. He is one of the cutest old men you could ask for, likely in his early eighties right now. Yet he is as sharp as a very sharp stick. You will wish he were your grandfather. During class, Gentzler lectures for much of the time, but some students asked questions and he responds to them in a very poignant manner, that I really don't know how to describe. He says things in a very serious manner that turn out to be 'jokes' (things that just seem funny to him) and then all of the sudden he will shriek out a loud "HAH!" and slap the table with his hand. The first time he did this, it took the class completely by shock, because he seems so harmless yet can make such a piercing laugh, almost a clarion call to arise from zoning out. By the end of the semester, we had all gotten pretty used to it, and I still treasure that laugh. It was the greatest. It was the type of thing where I can imagine someone saying something egregiously politically incorrect, pausing for a bit, with everyone around very uncomfortable, and then just cracking out a "HAH!" that would make everything all better. This all was the most unique part of the class along with his crazy stories and quotes. I started writing them all down because they were so wild, so I share some of the gems here: ------------ Gentzler told a story about how he was talking with one of his friends, who happened to be the mayor of a small village in rural India. The mayor was telling him that he had been informed via telephone (the only one in the village) that a huge flood was rushing in and would destroy the village in 20 minutes. The mayor proceeded to sit down and make himself a cup of tea. Gentzler's response: "If it was me, I would have bought up all the rowboats in the town and sold them at a very high price". Presented completely seriously. Pause for a second. HAH! On human nature: “If there’s only one seat on the subway during rush hour...well, that’s why you bring a machete.” On question regarding subtle difference between actions and intentions: “You’re not on a slippery’re in a pool of jello” “Even though I fully know that Democrats are right and Republicans are wrong, I go out of my way to say good things about Republicans...for example, Ronald Reagan has nice hair” “As soon as I see a bamboo leaf, I know its not a lizard...or a Maserati” “In 50 years there’ll be sniggles, and you’ll be paying a lot of money for them” on the ineffable path of technology On things you should learn to be able to do in college: “Compare and contrast the New York Knicks to an elephant. You can’t. They’re too close” “It’s a lot easier to paint a dragon than to paint a puppy dog” ...because no one quite knows what a dragon looks like. “Today I won’t say anything good about Reagan but I’ll say some bad things about Marx” One of his very best, that caught the class very much by surprise: “It’s no use being corrupt if you don’t enjoy it...there’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing a little old lady kicked out of her house” on how power corrupts and corruption yields power Also one of the best: “Would you feel you were home if there were 4 new puppy dogs, new furniture, and the kitchen was in the basement?” on what constitutes a true home He also had an ineffable disdain for French people and New Jersey of which no one could tell if he was being serious: “I don’t understand why French is still taught at Columbia, to tell you the truth” “What’s the difference between Germans and French? Germans take baths” ----------- Last night, I was really high and was looking at my list of quotes that I had written down. For every one, I can recall how Gentzler almost seems to not just have a twinkle in his eye when he says them, but to have a twinkle in his whole person. He is so wise and knows so much that I realized that in 30 years once I've begun to live my life and just acquire experience and wisdom about how the world works, all of the sudden I will realize that I can't after all find differences between the Knicks and an elephant. Or that the difference between the mayor making tea and Gentzler buying all the rowboats will prove to be an astounding insight that I will only fully understand then. So my gushing about how interesting of a person he is aside, the course was pretty good. The course ostensibly covers China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet, but we spent only a few classes on Korea and one class on Tibet. Everything was interpreted through its relation to China, which seems a pretty fair way to me of giving a survey to East Asian philosophies and history considering it was always the significant player. He presented the class as the Eastern version of CC. It helps to be interested in the subject matter, because although the class is global core, you might get fatigued with so many recurring themes, and much of the class did not attend lectures during the last few weeks of the semester. There is allegedly a recitation section that I don't know if anyone actually went to. In summary, you will get a very strong holistic understanding of East Asian schools of thought and their progression in relation to one another over the past 2500 years. You may not be able to remember who was Zhu Yi and who was Zhi Yi, but you get a very good feel for a different type of thought. He grades pretty easy and does not require you to know the reading for class discussions. You could just show up for class and not put much effort in and just listen to him talk and be enlightened. Do it for the unique experience.

Jul 2011

Overall this course was enjoyable and quite manageable... And I took it 2nd semester Junior year as a Chemical Engineer. (*queue the incoming flame war about majors in CE...*) First off, I apologize if the professor's name is wrong, but I think SSOL listed her as Xu, Man. But on the first day she told us how her name didn't translate perfectly to English, or something like that. So I think she actually goes by Dr. Man, as in Xu Man. Secondly, she's very kind and really tries hard. She very much wants everyone to understand and appreciate the material. There's a ton of material. You are forced to cover China from day 1 all the way up to Mao Zedong. Needless to say, you skim the surface of a ton of historical details very rapidly. But don't let this stress you out too much. The reading is significant, but essentially, it's largely optional. There is a weekly response paper due (< 500 words), so as long as you read the core of each reading assignment, you'll be fine. She says that there will be a discussion every other class where students share and discuss their responses, but honestly, due to the immense amount of material that needed to be covered, this discussion rarely occurs. I think we did it 2.5 times all semester. Her slides are mostly walls of overstuffed powerpoint text, dotted with a few pictures and maps. I found that taking notes verbatim on my computer was helpful. It was mindless and easy, and it was a good way to get some of the info in your head quickly, so you could understand major trends without having to memorize a ton of little details. In terms of evaluation, she grades very fairly and prepares you VERY WELL for everything that contributes to your grade. Highly recommended as a non-tech if you have any interest at all in China (and Korea and Japan).

May 2011

I'm sorry, but this class was just kind of a bust. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Professor Gentzler- he's good-natured, loves to engage with students both in and out of class, and really does know everything about the subject matter. So if you're interested in the subject matter, then take the class. It is possible to get a lot out of it. But to give you an idea of my class, I think the main problem is that most of the students were, like me, just taking the class for global core credit. There were 30 people registered for my section, and about 13 wold show up regularly for class. Of the 13, 4 genuinely engaged, and the other 9 would be on their laptops, sleeping, or doing homework for another class. There's a lot of reading, but after the second week, I only did the little reading that was necessary to complete the papers. But this meant that by the time the final rolled around, the whole class shared an "I'm screwed" chuckle. It really wasn't bad though. I would highly recommend meeting with Professor Gentzler about the papers outside of class- if you listen to his suggestions and do what he says, you'll do well.

May 2010

He was a very good professor, and I agree with a lot of the positive things written below about him. I'm really writing this review because of the reviewer who claimed that he's semi -senile. He's most definitely not senile in any way, shape or form. I'm not sure why he/she wrote that - he is old, but very very smart. Excellent memory too. Gentzler is not the most organized lecturer, but that makes sense, because he's not teaching some engineering class. His lectures are based on what he finds interesting, and he makes the things he find interesting interesting and accessible to the class, as long as you're smart and pay attention

Sep 2009

This was a so-so class where people clearly weren't interested in the material, but Gentzler could only do so much about that. I liked Gentzler in the way that I like old, not-quite-senile men who aren't completely out of touch, but definitely in their own generation. He tried to make ours a discussion class, but it was a lecture. He commanded the material well, and drew comparisons between ancient philosophy and modern encounters. I'd only take the class if you want to get a survey of things like Confucianism and Legalism (and he has an adorable laugh), or for Core credit.

May 2009

Professor Schirokauer is a nice old man and, having written one of the textbooks that we study out of, he definitely knows his stuff. One thing about this class is that it covers ALL of East Asian "topics" from the earliest writings to the present time. Furthermore, it covers China, Japan, Korea, and (less so) Vietnam. With all this material, it is impossible for him to go over everything in class, so the readings are where you learn the most in terms of breadth. In class, Prof Schirokauer tends to focus on a few of the readings and ties them together with more depth. Since I am in seas and do not know what others might consider this reading load, but I'm going to estimate that there are around 30-40 pages of reading each class and it took me about 4 or 5 hours to finish (to do it all). The readings came from two main sources: the textbook and the compilation of primary sources. However, to participate in class, it's only really necessary to do the primary source readings. Here's the breakdown of grade: participation (a web posting every couple weeks + class discussion) [about 30%], two papers [about 10% each], five quizzes [about 5% each], and a final [about 25%]. The papers are 5-7 pages each and you can write about basically anything. The quizzes are 4 out of 8 questions and can be very random, but if you pay attention in class, you should be able to answer at least the four that you need to. Keep in mind that the quizzes have very limited time, so just stick to the main themes/ideas. For the final, he gives you a list of questions beforehand and takes the final's questions (2 short essay, 1 long essay) from that. In terms of grading, it's difficult to do stellar (A to A+), but it's not too difficult to pull of something okay (B to A-). I myself got an A- You learn a lot, so I would recommend this class if you have the time to spend on it.

Mar 2009

She is very demanding and didn't give a damn understanding when i told her i suffer anxiety and other ailments. As an international student this class approach almost to the impossible. The final exam is HARD, u have to write like the who historical development mao from his meager beginnings to hiim rising to the top of the party and explore this thing called the great cultural revolution All in one of the essay question on the final

Jan 2009

Professor Cohen is a really sweet teacher. The class however, has a LOT packed into it. Therefore, you may begin to find the class taking over bits and pieces of your life. The heavy reading is because the class chooses to focus on not only 1 East Asian country, but 3: China, Japan, Korea. Unfortunately, not as much information is provided on Korea, but this is due to time constraints. Nevertheless, a heavy amount of history is covered for all three countries. You begin with the creation myths all the way up to the 1970s. You have weekly posts which are graded, a map quiz, a midterm, a paper, and a final. It is no doubt a heavy load. But in the end, you'll probably feel that you really got something out of it. So as long as you're on top of things throughout the term, you should be fine. You'll come out of the class with a better understanding of East Asia, for sure.

Jan 2009

Overall, it's a great class. But there is so much knowledge packed into so little time. She covers so much history, and plus, it's regarding 3 countries in East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea. Note: Korea isn't focused on nearly as much as China and Japan. Professor Cohen is a very sweet teacher, but the work can be heavy. Nevertheless, at the very end of the semester you will feel like you know a lot, although you start to realize that you may forgotten the earlier info by the end of the term. The TA can also be very helpful for this class.

Jan 2009

Professor Nicole Cohen is both a horrible lecturer and unreasonable in her demands. Totally unengaging and poorly prepared, Professor Cohen conducts a large lecture course as a discussion section, expecting everyone to participate and fill in the gaps of her lecture. The course itself is ENTIRELY TOO AMBITIOUS, covering the histories of China, Japan, and Korea (all three!) from antiquity to the Korean War. Do not expect a B.S.-able, broad midterm and final, however. For both exams you will be expected to memorize 70-80 terms, covering the span of hundreds of years, for three different countries. Members of the class joked that we were expected to memorize the entire history of an entire world region, but it was not so funny when the grades came back. Professor Cohen was highly condescending, particularly in her Discussion Post comments. Overall, the readings were not only huge but boring and the lecture did not complement them. The discussion section, since it accompanied a lecture that was conducted as a discussion section, was totally useless, boring, and a pain. Jenny, the TA, was nice and helpful enough...but we had nothing to do. I implore you never to take this course, ever.

Dec 2008

When I say, "Spawn of the Devil," I wish I was exaggerating. This Professor managed to make us memorize the entirety of East Asian history from pre-civilization to the Korean War, for three countries, with no details left out. She didn't even give us the entire time for the final exam to write the entirety of East Asian history in blue books. Furthermore, she treats her lecture class as a discussion because she needs assistance filling the gaps in her presentation. She literally reads a speech to you everyday in class that she cannot even deliver. Every week, a discussion post is required. If you do not write the sequel to War and Peace on the post, you will be marked off. She grades on quantity, not quality and blatantly favors students with previous knowledge of the subject matter. Sorry I didn't grow up in Japan! In conclusion, this course is designed to cover the entire histories of three, distinct countries; you don't get anything out of this course except maybe a newfound friend in Jenny Wang Medina, the TA. She courageously counteracts the catastrophe that is Cohen. She receives the MIP(Most Invaluable Player), of the century.

Sep 2008

Well she is Korean first of all so I guess you are getting a genuine Korean-taught Korean civilization education, except that you really are not. Her lecture is focused so much on the literature of Korean civilization that you will hardly learn anything factual. She will go onto wild tangents about how some of the important people were described in Korean literature, which is understandable given that she is a pretty famous scholar on Korean literature and have written many books that you will be forced to read. Second, her English is kinda hard to understand. If you are Korean you will have no problem, but I wonder how other students will perceive her way of describing things. She often employs various gestures to make up for her being unable to quickly come up with descriptions and with her skeleton-thin (she looks like the undead race in the World of Warcraft honestly speaking) physique everything looks exaggerated. She is also kind of short on temper, she got really mad couple of times through the semester, both times which students could not understand what she was mad at. Her not having a good TA to clean up the mess is another problem. Given that, class is seemingly easy, but be aware if you expected to get an A in this class, as majority of the class failed to get even A-. There is no curve and everything is counted numerically. FYI sucking up on her will not work either, she went on a vacation about two days before final and she will not answer your e-mails whatsoever. Try to avoid this class if you can unless you are immensely attracted by Korean literature, this class will not boost your GPA.

Aug 2007

This professor is amazing. He is engaging, dynamic and smart, and there is nothing he does not know. His lectures are filled with wonderful anecdotes and you learn so much. He grades all the responses and papers himself, and always has really helpful comments. TAKE THIS CLASS.

Jul 2007

You know those people you think about when you're gnarled and old and thank God you learned from? Andrew Schonebaum is one of them. He has a contagious passion for anything East of the Ural Mountains and displays it with humour, erudition and a genuine interest in his students' opinions. To illustrate, he always encouraged discussion, and on the rare occasions when (usually during midterm season) he was the one doing the talking, he would reprimand himself and pass the baton to someone else. The readings were generally very light, and class discussions were focussed on themes, not details. There were weekly posts, and it was evident that Andrew read them carefully because he would bring them up in class. It's a pity that Andrew will not be teaching at Columbia anymore, because he is truly the stuff of a Great Teacher Award, and this is my minor tribute to him. I truly believe that my classmates and I made an effort to work for this class because Andrew was so understanding and easy-going: he didn't frighten us into performing, but rather encouraged the cultivation of the intellectual skills that he believed we all had and were capable of using.

May 2007

Hey Andy, what happened? It's true that you are definitely one of the best professors I've come across here at Columbia but why make life difficult for (the most of) us? I'm satisfied with my grade, but I think it's lame that you are so inconsistent with the requirements of the course. First, you mentioned that the final was going to be a 2-3 page take home essay. Then it suddenly became a 4-5 page essay at the last minute. It was supposed to be due 5/9. Suddenly, it was due on 5/7. And then you were trying to persuade us to sign us for your summer courses! Why? Is it because when 20 or more students enroll in your summer course, you'd be eligible for a bonus from Columbia? This was definitely one of the most interesting classes I've taken but remember Andy, not all us are EALAC majors. You can't expect us to cough up supreme essays, especially when you've mentioned how much you hate teaching this course! (And if you are one of his prospective students this summer, make sure you are able to regularly deal with Andy's many last minute changes to the course syllabus)

Apr 2007

I highly recommend this course. Schirokauer is an extremely knowledgeable and extremely friendly professor. I also found him to be rather quirky (in a good way). The course is taught more like a seminar than a lecture (one of the reasons I opted for this, rather than the China/Japan/Korea 80+ people courses). I am personally very interested in the material, so I never found a second of the class to be boring. There is a good balance of East Asian thought and philosophy and history. Schirokauer does a good job of engaging the class, though some may complain that he does catch people off guard when he calls on you with a confusingly-worded question (a valid complaint, but it happens to everyone). Definitely one of the better courses I've taken here, both for the subject material and the professor.

Jan 2007

Overall a good professor. She knows her stuff and is usually engaging during lecture. Most classes involve her talking about a certain subject (not necessarily related to the readings, but pertinent nonetheless), and some discussion with the class. However, she tends to lag a little in terms of following the syllabus, and it had to be updated quite a few times to reflect the new readings/assignments. The readings are not actually necessary for the lectures, but if you do them (at least skim) when you're supposed to, studying for the quizzams would be a breeze. She is very nice and accessible - if you ask for help or an extension on a paper, she'll probably give you one. She is also a lenient grader, so if you're somewhat familiar with the material, you'll be fine.

Aug 2006

Professor Moerman has an incredible sense of humor, which is why I was so surprised to find that he has the personality of a rock as soon as class begins. He does not, I think, give a good outline of East Asian History. It is easy to get a good grade in the class without reading the texts. It is superfluous to ask to go over essays or exams with him, because he does not respond to e-mails. I can sympathize with the fact that he teaches a course which most students take to fulfill the core, but the class falls short so often when there's an opportunity to exceed expectation. For example, the samurai class was bland, and the course on sexuality was cancelled. Furthermore, I lost points on essays for using words that, it seemed, exceeded professor Moerman's vocabulary. I do not recommend this class.

Dec 2005

Very, very nice man. The lectures themselves made me sleepy, but it's the material itself that was boring, not his teaching style. You have to keep up with the massive amount of reading, though, because come final time, you will regret having slacked off. Other than that and the standard weekly responses, not a hard class. The final was not that hard, and I did not even study that much. If you have done most of the reading, you should do fine.

Aug 2005

Hard as a brick, this woman will not spare you an inch. You had better make this class the focus of your semester at Columbia, and you will then do reasonably well. Unfortunately, expect little from this wolf in sheep's clothing.

Jun 2005

Prof. Gentzler is a great professor and an extremely nice person. He made us fudge and brought a multitude of other treats on the day of the final! He obviously knows his stuff and, as the first reviewer said, is full of annecdotes. He goes off on a tangent sometimes, but usually about something quite interesting or comical. He is very approachable and gets every assignment back in a very timely manner and with lots of feedback.

May 2005

Prof. Chung puts great effort into the class. She makes herself readily available to talk on the phone for help outside of class and tries to explain difficult concepts of the often unfamiliar east asian cultures. Shes very sweet but a little intimidating because she isnt very, sall we say, down-to-earth and approachable. But if you ask her for help, she'll always be willing. She tries very hard to strike up discussion in class, which sometimes doesnt steer the class in the right direction. Theres too much reading material to cover in class and the text is HORRIBLY not concise and easy (or enjoyable) to read. The in-class presentations kinda sucked because some students didnt present well and so you wind uo sitting there for an hour listening to not the most important info. The paper was fun to write since it was a tpic you choose yoruself. Ther class is great (but you gotta work hard) if you are takign MAJOR CULTURES or for your own knowledge of fascinating East Asian philosophy , culture, and history. Great class overall--highly recommended teacher.

May 2005

This term was actually smooth because we had no TA. It was nice not going on courseworks every week or talking in discussion. But he had some favorites who sat in the front and raised their hands all the time. I guess it's not really important to read the assigned readings for the midterm because it's just IDs and one essay. You can look them up on instead of reading the text. But for the final, you have to start reading because there are difficult ID passages. He loves Mencius, Confucius, and Xunzi, so beware. His final was hard because some of the material was from the midterm and he listed IDs that were about books. As for his lectures, he is very dry and boring. I suggest to still go to lectures to know what's going on. He is very intimidating and arrogant, so don't bother going to his office hours unless if it's necessary.

Apr 2005

Gentzler is a comical, funny, full of anecdotes, and a very understanding prof. His classes tend to turn more into lectures, but rather dynamic lectures. His knowledge of Asia is impressive, and he always has a great story to tell about something he has seen or someone he has met in asia. I am not a EALAC major, and chose this class for major cultures requirement, but i really enjoyed it! Bring a drink, snack to class, and you will easily enjoy attending. An easy/painless/enjoyable way to fulfill your requirement. He is very understanding about scheduling, and is very approachable outside of class. Bonus: Talk to him about Maseratis, he loves them for some odd reason.

Jan 2005

Professor Chung is amazing. I enjoyed her class a lot because she is an interesting lecturer with a wonderful knowledge of Asian history. She makes students work hard and asks many insightful questions. The best part of the class were her lectures and class discussions. She is passionate about the material though she is very challenging. Though there is a ton of reading, having her as a teacher and learning about the material are worth it!

Jan 2005

Bonnie is an extremely intelligent T.A. who really cares about her students. The class itself is difficult (all that reading, so much material to cover), but I thought she wrapped it up nicely in weekly discussion sections. She is focused on Korea, but this makes up for a lack of Korean coverage in the course as a whole. After the first draft of our papers, she came down on us hard, but lets get real. Almost half the section turned it in late, and nobody bothered to use MLA--she should expect more from us. Overall, I thought she was a well-spoken, knowledgable, and one of the very best T.A.s.

Jan 2005

The review made on the 22 December 2004 states, "Nothing to worry about if you keep up with the readings". Let me begin my review by saying the "keeping up with the readings" is like keeping up with an airplane. There is often, no joke, 300 - 400 pages of reading per week, which when combined with other reading intensive classes, gets very impossible very quickly. So, after giving up on the reading, I looked toward paying extra close attention in class. Professor deBary's dry lecture style didn't really help. His knowledge of East Asian culture and history is so vast that he lectures as if he's reading out of a textbook. I fully blame my coffee addiction on having to chug two large coffees before each class just to stay up for the first half of the class. Keep in mind that the TAs of the class will decide your grade and not Prof. deBary. This is VERY important because if you have a really tough TA, you're screwed for the class. What kills me is that Prof. deBary seems like such an interesting guy, but unless you have a good deal of time to go to office hours and really do the reading, you don't get a good picture of East Asia or deBary himself.

Dec 2004

Prof. Schirokauer is very nice and extremely knowledgeable, and I learned a lot from this course. He insists on making the class a discussion, however, and this normally wouldn't be a negative aspect, but I found that he did not lead the discussion very well. Sometimes he would ask questions about works or authors that we weren't asked to read, and sometimes his questions were cryptic (they could be either complex, with no correct answer, or very simple and somewhat irrelevant...the result was that the class was reluctant to answer even simple questions, thinking they might be more difficult than meets the eye. Schirokauer would assume we hadn't done the reading, and discussion would move painfully slowly). The structure of the course was also somewhat unhelpful. The material covers a wide range of topics (philosophy, art, history, etc.), and to make sure we remembered everything, Schirokauer had five tests in addition to a paper and a final. Personally, I would rather have had a few papers than the five tests; they were very difficult to study for, with approx. 6 questions per test, on topics or facts that were largely unpredictable because of the wide range of material that had to be studied. I learned a lot more writing the paper than studying for the tests. That said, I did learn a lot, and Schirokauer was helpful when I had questions, and he was always available outside of class and very approachable. Also, despite the difficulty of the tests, he's a pretty lenient grader.

Dec 2004

Don't be fool by her own disheveled appearance, when it comes to her students, this TA expects perfection. Nevermind the 9:30am recitation time, if you are not participating she will not hesitate to put you on the spot. Being a Korean speicalist, she's not shy about expressing Korean pride, this is perfectly fine except that she attempts to cram so much info into the lectures she gives throughout the semester that it almost becomes incomprehensible rant. And if there's one thing you must remember it is the term paper, she will be ruthless in criticizing it, resulting to not so discretely referring to a student, and being a group of 9, it's not too hard to figure out who it is. If you take heed of the above and stay out of her way you may have an enjoyable experience.

Dec 2004

De Bary is not the most invigorating lecturer, but then again, he's probably reciting from heart the same lectures he's been giving for the past fifty years. His academic interest lies in Neo-Confucianism, which, along with other Asian philosophies like certain arcane strands of Buddhism, he will devote a lot of time and attention. Unless you spend years trying to understand these texts, you won't. Just accept it. What impressed me most about de Bary, however, is his depth of knowledge and his commitment to comprehending all that he can, even at the age of 85. And his many experiences and almost fanatical committment to Columbia College (he's missed 2 football games due to illness since he returned from World War II). Go to his office hours. Talk to him. His class is as much about him and his experiences as it is about the material.

Dec 2004

The class was good because he expected a lot out of us. Which is good because it means he has faith that we are capable of doing it. Though, you really have to be able to keep on top of your sh*t. I worked very hard and I am still a bit worried about my grade. Which I feel is unfair on his part.

Nov 2004

True, this class is small like the CC and lit hum classes. However, taking this class is the equivalent of taking a history class, CC, AND lit hum all in the same semester. For each major eastern Asian civilization, the readings encompass history, philosophy, AND culture. The philosophy is DEFINITELY NOT a survey: you are expected to really understand Neo-Confucianism, just knowing its definition is not enough. You learn a lot, but unless you are genuinely interested in the material the class will be a miserable experience. Professor Schirokauer is very kind, and he is extremely knowledgeable, but beware, he is not afraid to tell you that you are completely wrong. He is funny, but sometimes he just goes on and on and it's difficult to keep up.

Nov 2004

This was one of the best classes I have taken at Columbia. First of all, it is small, more like a CC or Lit Hum class than a lecture class. It is also discussion-based: instead of lecturing on and on, like other EALAC professors do, he involves the entire class, and seems genuinely interested in what you have to say. He's also full of funny stories. The difficult part of the class is the breadth of the material: there is a lot of reading (on par with CC or Lit Hum), and it covers an immense amount of material. (This adds variety to the class though, because the more random readings are really pretty interesting). If you do the reading, you'll have a great time in this class. If you don't, you'll probably be lost.

Aug 2004

Under Prof. Borrell's instruction, the class was truly an eye- opening experience. Professor Borrell is obviously passionate about the subject and has a good sense of humor, which helped the two hour seminar class fly by. And although he often worries he is talking too much, Prof. Borrell actually conducts the class as a discussion loosly based on weekly questions about the readings. He only pipes in to correct or add something that is truly helpful to the understanding of the texts and concepts.

Apr 2004

D. Max Moerman is a very nice guy...jokes around a bit, takes class very casually (ask to implement a "snack attack" system). The workload was pretty light, and I found working with the Barnard writing tutors helpful (which was required, to the dismay of a few students). However, I cannot say I learned very much. Moerman kept the discussion going about as well as your average professor, but did not often bring to light any wonderfully enlightening ideas. You get to watch some movies, and can probably pull off a good grade without too much trouble.

Jan 2004

Great Professor and great readings! He does both class discussion and lecture style teaching. He's relaxed and funny and he really knows his stuff. Sometimes he goes into his quirky-mode and tends to digress. A lot of prep work for class ie, discussion boards, and a couple of very short "response" papers (if you could call it that). Don't take this class just for the hell of it or for credit b/c it covers A LOT of material and requires serious commitment. You will be miserable if you are not genuinely interested in this stuff. Most of the readings are interesting with only a handful that are drop-dead boring. Some people say that just reading the Brief History will give you a good idea of what's going on in the course.

May 2003

Prof. Lurie is a fantastic, caring teacher. He faciliates the class discussions well, although you sometimes wish he would contribute his insight more. I can see how this class might go wrong if you have a bad mix of students because of the freedom he gives you to just spout off and go on tangents. But overall, it's a solid section for Asian Hum, with a good syllabus and taught by a thoughtful professor.

Mar 2003

At first, I was really lulled into sleep by his lecturing style, thus affirming the truth of W.H. Auden's statement that a professor is someone who "talks in other people's sleep." But when the TA took over the class for a day, I realized how much I appreciated the style of a lecturer supremely confident and entirely well-versed in his subject (as befits someone who wrote or co-edited nearly every textbook the class used). He has a fixed view of how each of these civilizations--Chinese mostly, Japanese, Korean to some extent, and Vietnam barely--functioned and progressed, both internally and relative to other countries and civilizations. However, he is entirely open to questions, and is warm and respectful when answering. It's sometime hard to stay awake, but it's definitely not difficult to feel a sense of awe that this lionized professor in his field is lecturing to a class of undergraduates.

May 2002

very interesting professor, well versed in everything she teaches, constantly adding insight to the text. she appreciates when you participate, though is more interested in people making a few interesting comments, then constant jabbering. encourages people to write papers with a new perspective. I found her to actually be an easy grader, then again, I went to class, read, and learned. quite a difference from what most columbia students are willing to do.

May 2002

Prof. Lurie is an awesome teacher. The readings that he selects are very interesting (although sometimes a little long) and he poses good questions to our class, which makes for excellent class discussion. He is also an incredibly understanding person. He is very flexible with deadlines and encourages students to rewrite their papers. He met with me on multiple ocassions to discuss my papers and his suggestions were very helpful. Because of Prof. Lurie, Asian Hum was a very enjoyable experience.

Dec 2001

Great professor! Although sometimes the class was boring, the overall experience was great, b/c he made it like a discussion class for the whole sem. It wasn't structured like a lecture or a class-room, which made the class a little more interesting. Although he does tend to pick on people, I think he is still a great professor. I would suggest him to anyone as a teacher, and people should definitely take the class. Thanks.