Professor de Aguilar is hands down the best professor that I've had at Columbia. The breadth of her knowledge never ceased to amaze me. Despite being able to sing 13th century songs and recite obscure poems, she was not pretentious, but instead focused on sharing her knowledge with students. Discussions on the texts were always interesting and informative, and comprehensive, extensive feedback was given on all written work. Grading is fair (it seems harsh at the beginning, but she boosts grades to account for grade inflation at the end). Overall, I wish I could take another class with de Aguilar.
She is so awesome, she knows everything, and she makes class enjoyable by default, not by jumping up and down and putting on some crazy show.
FANTASTIC PROF. i think she has memorized the entire contents of western literature, seriously. she relates what we're discussing in class to a broader historical/social/literary context -- and quotes from memory everything from obscure poetry to dickens. she also has really interesting ideas about the work, and is not afraid to present them, yet is encouraging and respectiful of dissent in class. she likes lively discussion and participation counted for 35% of the grade. Many complain about her grading, but I found it fair. She definitely tries to scare students off in the beginning by making her class seem uber-intense. And it's definitely intense -- but it's a great intellectual experience. It is more work and is graded more harshly than the other sections, and Aguilar likes it that way.
The best, funniest, most intellectual professor here at CU. She is the ideal humanities woman - knows everything.
Take this class. It's the best I've taken here so far. The material is fantastic. Professor Aguilar is brilliant and funny. She once said she is "nothing if not associative", which is very much the case- she ties modernist literature to all of her favorite poems, which she'll recite, or songs, which she'll sing. If this kind of thing bothers you, then don't take the class. Also, she can be harsh, so make sure that you come prepared and go to office hours if you need help.
Professor de Aguilar is excellent. She is extremely intelligent, and peppers class discussions with insighful connections to other literature and art forms. She embodies the intellectual experience, and is why students should come to Columbia. Enjoy this class!
I think the other reviewers have done adequate justice to Aguilar's multiple personalities. One thing I wanted to add for people considering taking this class is that while it is a good introduction to Latin American literature, you will learn nothing about Latin America itself. Aguilar is a very traditional intellectual, and for that reason she is completely uninterested and even sometimes repulsed by discussion of politics and context in literature. Still, she's a smart lady and it's interesting to see what the old school has to say.
Helene is great! If you participate in class (make sure you say smart things, as she's brilliant and has no qualms about correcting you) and work hard, she'll be on your side. I found her to be a lenient grader on essays because although she disagreed with many of the things I said, she respected the way I argued my ideas...how many professors will do that? She's SO SMART, has a dry sense of humor, and drops the names of random philosophers and thinkers that you probably haven't read left and right. If you make an effort she'll be supportive and respect you. A brilliant professor who loves the material she teaches and wants you to love it as well.