course
General Review

Apr 2015

BLANCHARD = GOLD NUGGET Blanchard is by far my favorite teacher and Columbia and I try to take as many classes with him as possible Admittedly, he's way better in smaller classes than lectures. Intro to IR with him can be boring, but in the way that every poli sci intro class is. But at least he has a witty personality, makes jokes, organizes his content in powerpoints (which he posts on line), and is fairly straight forward. His grading on exams/papers can be harsh, but the class is curved in the end so it doesn't really matter (at least I'm assuming, because I had a B+/A- on everything and ended up with an A in the class) Bonus: he's a feminist IR scholar (of which there are very few), so if you're interested in this aspect of IR then definitely take one of his more focused seminars or go to his office hours - he's fascinating and full of knowledge Blanchard is "the man" - although he would object to this classification #GenderIR Last thing: follow him on twitter @BlanchardIR he's the coolest

Jan 2014

Urbinati embodies the problem with a lot of professors at institutions like Columbia. Yes, she is extremely knowledgeable and well-respected in her field. However, she is a horrible professor and lecturer. Her lectures are disorganized and confusing, she often goes on long, seemingly disassociated tangents and never really does a good job of fully answering student's questions. She has clearly spent a lot of time studying political theory, but she literally can't communicate her ideas clearly. If you have to take one of her classes for a requirement, prepare yourself for a bumpy semester.

Aug 2012

Charming??? Try creepy. I found it unsettling that Professor O'Keeffe seemed to actually enjoy explaining to my class that Little Red Riding Hood is about child sexual predation. As if that weren't bad enough, Professor O'Keeffe would snicker about incest and women losing their virginity, allude to his previous night's sexual encounter as if that was something the class might want to know about, and joked about "everything being fine" when going home with someone too drunk to consent. If you don't mind feeling violated, then you should definitely take his class. Otherwise, reconsider.

Jun 2008

Here was my chance to take a class with a well-known scholar of Roman history! Myles McDonnell was probably my favorite teacher because he actually CARES about the information and has been to Rome so many times that it is impossible not to think of the social attitudes of Rome. There were many reasons that I liked Myles, mostly because he raises questions about the subject (Etruscans, Political Leadership, Vestal Virgins) that you don't often find in your reading. If you have an appreciation for the material, he will pick up on that facet and try to draw that out of you. Yes, there are things that he spends more time on..namely walls, and buildings and less on Livy and issues of women, but that you will get with every scholar. He's also a real person, so if you have an issue of not getting the work done, he will understand that. My laurels really go off to him! Vale Magister!

Dec 2007

Wow, it looks like the same person has been reviewing Professor Heicklen at 10 day intervals. Just kidding. I did like her two lectures on development in the Mowshowitz, which made issues like somatic nuclear transfer (Dolly!) and the histone modification code very accessible. Some people complain about the way she phrases things, but, on the whole, I found her to be very understandable. However, she does cover several transcription factors and their binding to DNA in the course of development. She says that we should not bother to know what they do. I do wish that, at least for FYI purposes, she had explained what each family of transcription factors does. They keep coming up in the news, and I wish I knew what it is they do.

Apr 2006

Professor Rabinowitz clearly understands what he is talking about. But unfortunately, that doesn't mean you will. He's a very, very nice guy, but his being nice (a) does not mean he can teach, and (b) does not justify one's taking his course. In fact, I would advise avoiding his Stat Inference course at all costs. The thing about Dan is that, unlike any normal stat/math professor, he seems to believe in the power of abstract explanations wholly divorced from concrete examples - which is really quite useful in an APPLIED field. This is the first and only class that has made me ashamed to be a student at Columbia. Save yourself a few credits and read http://www-stat.wharton.upenn.edu/~dsmall/stat512-s05/ .

Apr 2005

I can't believe some of the negative reviews for Professor Urbinati. I just have to say that her lectures are wonderfully clear and precise...but you can also tell that she is exceptionally insightful and knowledgable as well as enthusiastic about the material. She is truly inspiring. Even if you have never thought about studying political theory, I would recommend Professor Urbinati. Her syllabi are well thought-out, and the themes she wants to address throughout the course are clear from the beginning; she is very good at making connections/comparisons (and contrasting) between different texts. She is always well-prepared for class and enjoys grappling with difficult questions. What I mean by all this is that Professor Urbinati gives her students all the resources to be able to learn political theory well, to engage with it and to enjoy it thoroughly. If you want a class that is a challenge but will expand your mind, take any course with Professor Urbinati.

Feb 2005

In my opinion, Weiman is a haughty and arrogant professor. Yes, one can tell he loves what he's teaching, but he doesn't seem to love his students...or even respect his students. This is a problem. He's unapproachable and he's pretty boring. Do not take his class if you don't have to.

Jan 2005

Emily is extremely organized, and gives most thorough explanations for grammatical rules. She also includes a lot of cultural, historical breadth during class, so it makes lessons much more interactive and interesting. She is one of the few instructors who really, and happily, encourage you to participate. Most instructors want you to, but cringe when you make mistakes. She's not like that. She's young, energetic, flexible, and is extremely personable. Highly recommended!

Jan 2005

He's smart, funny, and has a British accent. He's laid back, relaxed, and he makes the class fun. Highly recommended!

Jan 2005

Professor Hymes is very intelligent, but he's also super arrogant and if he's having a bad day...be careful. He rambles on and on in class; he's smart and likes to shows off. To be fair, he's is a relatively good listener (unlike many other Profs. at this institution) and won't shoot you down if you're sorting out your thoughts outloud during class discussions. But, nonetheless, he's not a "A" grader and watch your grammar (he HATES grammatical errors). I don't think his new promotion to Chair of EALAC has helped...it has just made him more pompous and hard to approach.

Jan 2005

He is a wonderful teacher. I had him for my first semester of college-level Spanish and I just remember that I was never bored by him. If you like Spanish, he will engage you and try to make you speak as much as possible (I remember a number of skits and other like group presentations). Even if you don't participate in class, the group skits will make up for it. I pursued Spanish because of him. Wonderful guy. (and easy grader)

May 2004

I have never written a culpa review before but I feel that I must do so for posterity. Yes, she must have some good ideas, but she does not take her role as a teacher seriously. She discourages. Blindly. She does not approach students' work with an open mind or actually try to help if they have questions about her opinions or grading methods. If your approach to film is not identical to her's (from a very academic, concrete perspective) she will not try to understand where you're coming from. Instead of helping to teach you her way, she'll just compare you to other students in the class and hint that you'd never understand or be capable of performing up to that level anyway. I really thought she was rude. I'm sure that she used to be a better teacher, but she just made me feel bad about myself and my work for no reason. If you want to take her class, just make sure that you think she's a genius and you totally understand her method and you'll do just fine.

Apr 2004

I tend to agree with most of the other reviewers. Zelin is pompous, arrogant, and quite self-important. I have no doubt that she would assign exclusively class readings that she had authored if it weren’t so out of line; still, exhausted references to her The Magestrate’s Tael can be expected. Her dry lecturing style can be come a little irksome as well, although it would be hard to say that her discussion sections didn’t sometimes develop into quite disciplined and interesting reflections on Qing history. It’s funny because I get a sort of misguided maternal vibe from her, as if she’s trying to care about her students (but they keep making it so DAMN hard). All and all, I would recommend taking another class. I can’t imagine that her “Sprouts” (her word, not mine) of Chinese Capitalism could be anything but extremely painful.

Jan 2004

marilyn ivy is both one of the top in this department --quite a club actually--and (bonus) one of the nicest and warmest people you'll meet in a classroom. but while she smiles at you, welcoming your thoughts, you can never forget that you are in the presence of a truly brilliant mind and tough critical thinker. read her book and you'll also see what a great writer she is. it will wow you and cow you. her ability to use and explicate theory clearly and carefully is obvious on every page. she also clearly likes to teach students of all levels. her subtlety and presence is such that she can discipline you with her eyebrow--as if to say, do you really think so? she will expect you to read and write as carefully as she does, or to try to learn to do so. make the most of it when you get your 20-30 minutes of office hours. absolutely top notch, and delightful to know.

Dec 2003

Rothschild's culpa critics have got it wrong. She is brilliant but quiet. She does not show off, she does not try and talk above anyone. She is a great teacher and one of the best people in the anthropology department.

Nov 2003

Do not take any course with Kroeber UNLESS YOU'RE WILLING TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. For the person who write the terrible review for Origins of Literary Imagination (which I haven't taken but I have taken 2 other courses with Kroeber in the past), Kroeber does promote free thought as long as you are willing to think outside of the box. In fact, he forces you to think as much as possible. Perhaps he won't agree with you, but he has enough respect for (and interest in) his students to argue with them or grill them for ten minutes. Kroeber really likes to analyze literature from the standpoint of what your reactions to it says about you. He does do the more general analysis (and he always has great things to say, and I have to say that honestly, everytime I come out of class, I am completely inspired, having learned something or learned to see the novel from a different viewpoint) but he won't let anyone get away with BS answers (thank God--why can't they get teachers like that for the Core?) or responses that are not thought through. His expectations of writing is also really different than probably any other professor. It takes a while to get use to this. He doesn't really care about organization or structure; he mainly just wants you to get your ideas out there and explore it FULLY and not oversimplify things (I don't think he'd doesn't even care if it's stream of consciousness--he told us to give "free reign" to ourselves for our final paper). I find that it takes a lot of thinking to write a good essay for him. Office hours are a great time to talk to him. You can sit there for 40 minutes and talk to him about random things, but he's also extremely helpful on how you can improve your work. He is pretty critical, but in a good-natured and unself-righteous way. He's probably one of the only people where I don't get offended if he makes a lot of critical remarks. Many of my classmates have mentioned the same thing. However, he is still incredibly encouragin and caring and accommodating. Honestly, if you're ready to be challenged and to think a lot in a really different way, do not graduate unless you have taken a class with Kroeber.

Nov 2003

Pass on Bulliet unless you want a class solely to be entertained. He doesn't strike me as a serious teacher. About half of his comments were relevant, and only a half of those seemed insightful. Tended to give longwinded answers to simple questions. Got the impression he didn't pay too much attention to the papers people handed in. Smart guy, not a great teacher if you want to actually want to intensively learn something, but pretty fun (and fairly easy) to take.

May 2003

Great teacher! Very enthusiastic, understanding, and approachable. He really enjoys teaching his classes and it shows. Although sometime his love for literature may be a bit scary for those of us who don't share the same passion, his courses are worth taking. One of (if not the) best English professors I had at Barnard.

May 2003

Paige is an engaging and intellectually challenging professor. But apparently her critics on CULPA only care to comment on her fashion habits and their supposed contradiction with her Marxist orientation. Perhaps this criticism reflects more on their own superficiality than hers. I had Paige for many classes, and she was not "lazy" - rather she was quite dedicated to the materials. Yes, her lectures are a bit unorganized - all the more reason to take the seminars. For those who complain about her "politics", they should consider the responsibility of all scolars to wed academics and politics. She is engaging and actually challenges her students to consider their responsibility for their place in the world. No wonder Columbia/Barnard students are uncomfortable!

May 2003

What a pedantic woman. She assigns way too much reading, is far too arrogant, and has this cute, self-conscious way of acting like she's a teenager to relate to her students. Right afterwards, of course, she launches into a multi-syllabic tirade to remind you that she went to good graduate schools. A ridiculous woman. Take her only if you appreciate pretentiousness.

Apr 2003

I've sat in on some of Professor Scharffenberger's Comedy Past and Present classes (I've met her outside the classroom) and she has always been very good. As far as grading goes, from what I've seen of graded papers from friends, her insights are helpful and she grades fairly. Recommended.

Jan 2003

OK, for all you whiny people who complain about how condescending Gail is and how she talks to the class like she would to kindergarteners, look closer. that's not condescension. that's her OWN almost childlike awe for the music and the stories behind it. and in a school full of jaded, "smarter-than-thou" profs, Gail's enthusiasm is incredibly refreshing.

Dec 2002

Ustadh Taoufiq is great! His teaching style is excellent, he's a linguist, and if you want to learn Arabic, and put in the effort, he'll be satisfied with you. He does seem slightly intimidating, and you can never really tell if he likes you or not...but his class is worth taking, especially since Ustadh Taoufiq will break out into beautiful poetry, and amaze you with his eloquence. Overall, all the Arabic classes in Columbia are the best!

Nov 2002

As the other reviewers state, Rebecca is fantastic. I took Roman Art and Architecture solely based on the fact that I knew she would be the T.A. Her lectures are frankly amazing -- we would all be excited when the professor would be gone and she would give the lecture. Do not miss her!

Nov 2002

His classes are a true pleasure. He's funny, articulate, knows everything, and loves hearing what his students think. Although, as someone else mentioned, he is sometimes hard to reach, I've found that he consistently responds to every other email I send him, so if you just keep trying you can get a hold of him. And when you do, he'll be happy to talk to you for hours about anything. He's a really kind, good-hearted person, the kind of professor that gives you fond memories of Columbia even years later. Take anything that he offers -- it'll be an experience you always remember.

Oct 2002

Li laoshi is the best teacher I have had since coming to Columbia. Initially, she strikes many students as strict (She IS a Chinese teacher). I think she's better described as professional and demanding -- she won't coddle you, though she's always willing to help. Her class requires more effort than others (coasting is difficult unless you're a native speaker taking the class for an easy A), but for learning Chinese, she's tops. Given time, her bonhomie and genuine concern for her students alight, melting her stern facade with charming Hunan warmth. Truly, she's a great resource.

May 2002

Max is one of the most fun teachers I've ever had! I had him for French grammer and composition, which doesn't cover the most exciting material, but I always laughed through half of it. If you appreciate that special European wit and a teaching style that's not exactly warm and fuzzy, he's the guy for you. He teaches different classes every semester, but they're all sure to be worthwhile and full of interesting conversation.