course
Essay Writing

Nov 2013

This class used to be called Essay Writing - I believe it's now called The Art of the Essay. The singular best course I've taken the Columbia system. Shelly will not only teach you how to write better papers, but also how to consider your emotions and daily life occurrences in creative ways. I learned to write in ways I have never even considered before: one such technique, which she informally calls "juggling balls," works by carrying a metaphor from one anecdote to another and using the two to develop a common theme. She'll teach you these writing methods through example though - no lecturing on a blackboard. All techniques and stylistic methods that Shelly teaches she'll teach by pointing out specific usages in an the example reading, and then working with you to use them in your own writing. Take a look at Jo Ann Beard's "The Fourth State of Matter" via Google. She teaches you to write like that. The course is seminar style, with approximately 15 students. You'll get to know your classmates (and Shelly) incredibly well due to the personal nature of the essays, and you'll become really close friends who help each other improve. Class meets once a week, which is a pity, because I wouldn't have minded if it met more often. Disclaimer: I'm a biochemistry major, and have no extensive background in writing. I still loved this class more than anything else - it's simply that amazing. Take this class. You won't regret it.

Apr 2011

I really loved Professor Schneider's class. He gives really good, clear feedback on essays, and the assignments are really flexible- he just wants you to improve your writing. For one of the assignments, all he said was "compare two things." You really get to make it your own. He is so EARNEST, seriously that's the only word I can think of to describe him. I also never write on Culpa, but I wanted to because I feel like the other two reviews are really misleading. All the reading is interesting. We don't read books, just short stories and excerpts. Anyways, I love the class and I think he's a great teacher. But the reviews are right when they say the best part is the feedback on essays. I highly recommend him for essay writing.

Nov 2010

I took this class last semester and it was utterly disappointing. I don't think anyone in the class actually improved her writing. Mostly, we spent our time reading New Yorker articles and talking about the various dramas of the Professor's life--she is always late for some fantastic excuse. She doesn't ask much of us (10 typed pages for the whole class), and doesn't give much back either (she frequently loses papers and only returns them towards the end of the semester). If you actually want to learn how to write, do not take this class. Also, don't take this class if you are a non-native speaker, have an accent, or are first-gen college. She will be condescending. Take this class if you want to engage in petty conversation about horses and whatever other anecdotal poo poo the class decides to share. It's a pity that she's teaching at this school.

Nov 2009

Essay Writing is a wonderful class and Professor Schor-Haim makes it even better. She is willing to speak with all of her students and really wants them to succeed. I recommend this class to any student interested in learning how to organize their thoughts and create the best essay possible. The focus is on short essays written by essayists such as Susan Sontag, Annie Dillard, and Langston Hughes. The first essay is an interpretational assignment (giving your interpretation of an essayist's argument). The next two are more personal. Professor Schor-Haim is open to all types of writers and will help you as much as you need. Classes are extremely relaxed. One word to describe this class: enjoyable.

Jun 2009

To be honest, I am really surprised that Runsdorf has so many positive reviews. Yes, he is an incredibly nice man and helpful dean. Yes, you read The New Yorker i. And yes, he allows you to revise everything so it's an easy A. That said, I wouldn't take the class again if I had the choice. I thought it was painfully boring, and I wasn't the only one. Though I enjoyed reading the TNY articles, I didn't think I learned much in the class in general. If you are a non-native speaker or really struggling with writing, you might enjoy the course; otherwise, I would look elsewhere if you want to learn about writing and improve your own. As a relatively strong writer, I found that Runsdorf didn't particularly help me with my writing; also, class time was boring, and though it was a small class he didn't really creative an environment open to class discussion. All in all, I didn't particularly enjoy the experience or get much from it. That said, he's nice and knowledgeable, and if he ever teaches a lecture, do that...but I would take this particular course with another prof (try Ellsberg or Wendy S.)

Jan 2009

Professor Schneider does mean very well. However, this class was painful. I was looking forward to the course, but found the experience to be somewhat like pulling teeth. He is such a nice man and extremely committed, but the time spent in class always felt like a waste of time. His comments on our essays were very helpful, however, and perhaps I am better at using semicolons now. The midsemester meeting was also helpful. Schneider's strong points were editing our papers and providing direct feedback.

Dec 2008

I <3 Dean Runsdorf. He is the nicest guy in the world - incredibly helpful with editing papers and incredibly open to anyone's comments in class. He's also a great source for recommendations, so make sure to speak up and establish a relationship with him in office hours. That said, the class itself is incredibly boring.. Two hours of straight talk about punctuation and sentence structure will make you fall asleep, but the easy grade is worth it. Plus, if you pay attention, you might actually learn something..

Dec 2005

Dean Runsdorf is an amazing professor. In class, he always brings up good points and he always has something to say which is good for a 9am class. He doesn't force participation which I love. Outside of the class, he was incredibly helpful with my writing, pointing out patterns of mistakes and suggesting many things-he even takes a look at papers not for his class if you ask him. As the other reviewers said, he is really lenient with deadlines and he always allows rewrites. An essay due each week (around 3 pages), reading (not heavy at all-a lot of it comes from the New Yorker magazine) and conferences outside of class to discuss your essays.

Dec 2004

Professor Schneider is a very nice & well-intentioned man &, that said, his class was the most singularly boring academic experience I have ever had. For two hours every week he would ramble about grammatical and stylistic conventions ("I don't want to get philosophical about semi-colons, BUT...") that could be much more easily and succinctly obtained by flipping through any major English style guide. The assignments were broad, easy, and utterly unrelated to anything else you will ever have to do in college; in-class discussion was forced, painful, and repetitive. Prof Schneider does, however, give lots of feedback on all assignments, some of which was helpful and all of which clearly displayed his devotion to his students.

Dec 2004

BEST CLASS I HAVE EVER TAKEN!! barely any work and all essays you write are short and fun. she will improve your writing more than you can even believe and the classes our always enjoyable and exciting.

Sep 2004

Professor Ellsberg is GREAT!! She is the sweetest lady, and loves what she does. Whether you're one of her favorites or not, you should easily receive an A.

Jan 2003

Ellsberg is a strong professor but her strengths are outweighed by her perpetual lateness. Her class focuses on building editing skills which are helpful, but a general consensus is that there are not enough assignments in the class to be effective

Jan 2003

The lady is smart and throughout the course, she tells you more than just a few Jeapardy worthy facts. As far as improving your writing, this class will certainly help, but you will have to tolerate Prof Ellsberg's perpetual tardiness and saccharine sweet stories about her family. She is an engaging lecturer and classes are enjoyable and go by fast. It is just too bad this class has to be graded because it would function better as a nonevaluative writing workshop...any grades are a subjective evaluation of who you are, and if you roll your eyes everytime she talks about her daughters like I did, don't expect an A.

Nov 2002

Very nice lady. Gives you time during class to write reflections (not to be handed in). Generally gives constructive criticism about your writing. The only thing I was disappointed in was that she didn't cover everything she handed out. She gave out a packet with writers, including Langston Hughes, but never went over it. (Don't have your cell phone go off in class.) Overall, a good class and you read interesting stuff.