First-Year Seminar

Dec 2012

I must disagree with the previous review. Pat Denison is NOT useless. Yes, sometimes her tangents may seem irrelevant in the beginning, but she always ties them back. She did an absolutely stunning job arranging the syllabus so that the readings related well and the class maintained a very nice flow. She contributes in discussions because she is interested in the material and has valuable knowledge and experiences to share. In this class, I always felt encouraged to share my thoughts even if they weren't fully developed yet. PD respects her students and recognizes how crazy life can be for them. I left this class with a great deal of knowledge and insight without once feeling overwhelmed by the workload. At the end of the semester, she invites the entire class to her apartment for a nice brunch. I felt like I developed a beneficial relationship with a thoughtful woman, not just a professor.

Nov 2012

Professor Denison is, unfortunately, useless. She is a nice enough woman, but she is actually incapable of making some very interesting readings useful to you. Her teaching style is RIDICULOUS - this is a seminar class, and so discussion is supposed to be encouraged. She interrupts everyone, even the person making a presentation every lesson (which everyone has to do), and makes discussion virtually impossible. When she interrupts, her points are virtually useless - she is off-topic, she rambles, and she tells long, irrelevant anecdotes about her life. Really, it makes this class SUCK. If you can avoid her, do. If you can't, I'm sorry.

Dec 2011

Professor Pagano is a brilliant man. He has a vast arsenal of quotes memorized that he uses in class frequently and his way of speaking is so interesting. He really cares about the subject matter and his tattered copies of all the books just show his dedication to what he does. My only criticism is that he will occasionally dismiss ideas that differ from his own. No matter how much analysis you show him, he seems to place his specific standards before anything else. I personally never had a problem with it, but I noticed how it affected other people in the class. The syllabus he chooses is great - where else can you read Lord of the Rings for a class? - and I thoroughly enjoyed the new in-residence option because all the students in the class were in the same hallway in the dorms. Overall, I love and highly recommend Professor Pagano.

May 2011

Chaos was AMAZING. Prof. Harrison is brilliant. She explains the material well and covers a wide variety of topics. I didn't really know what to expect from this class; I thought it would be interesting but I had no idea what we were going to talk about. We ended up talking about pretty much everything; we'd learn about math one day and have deep, philosophical discussions the next. We did have to read Paradise Lost, which was a pain, but we also got to read Jurassic Park, which was totally kickass. The workload sounds bad but it really wasn't.

Oct 2010

I had Professor Ciolkowski for both Intro to Women and Gender Studies (Fall 2009) and for Women and Culture II FYS (Spring 2010). In the lecture format for the intro course, she taught with Professor Valenze as well. I'm not a bra-burning feminist in any sense of the word, but that's not what this class was about. It was a great intro course that covered not only women's rights, but also other ethnic, social, and cultural norms that are extremely problematic. Professor Ciolkowski is very intelligent and her train of thought is sometimes difficult to follow, but if you can extrapolate her main point you'll learn to really enjoy her lectures. I definitely learned a lot, and I learned to question everything around me. The class is extremely informative to say the least, and Professor Ciolkowski is very kind and understanding to her students, always willing to coordinate your schedule with hers if her office hours do not coincide with your availability. For FYS, it was obviously a smaller format, and the discussion was to be mainly held by the students. However, Professor Ciolkowski definitely had an idea of where she wanted the class to go with our discussion and tried to keep us on track. She does tend to talk a lot, but that's because she's obviously very passionate about the subject matter. Needless to say, I would recommend her to anyone!

Apr 2006

This class was awful. I expected chaos to be an interesting topic to discuss in the various texts that we would be reading, and it was somewhat stimulating, but only for the first three classes. There was no depth beyond "does God control the world, or is it chaos theory?" I did not expect it to turn into a repetitive discussion on different religious beliefs. Harrison hardly ever lectured, just threw in random stories about her daughter, despite the fact that she has a heavy background in mathematics. She didn't offer any new insight on chaos theory after those initial three classes. There were a few breaks in the boring discussion: one time she had a rabbi, priest, and expert on buddhism present to the class, another time we watched Pi (the most obnoxious movie ever made) with the producer come and speak to us, and one friday we took a trip to the NYSE. Despite these extra activities, I still didn't stop hating the class. BARNARD STUDENTS, DO NOT TAKE THIS SEMINAR.

Jan 2005

The reviewers who attack Pious for his arrogant and controlling ways would do well to remember that "it's not bragging if you're telling the truth." If anyone deserves to run a classroom the way he or she wants, it is this man right here. My first semester was dismally uninspiring save this twice a week lecture and I unabashedly admit that I now worship the ground this guy walks on. He is brilliant, experienced, and if you're a snob who likes to be pampered and reassured that you're smart, he will walk all over you. This was a small seminar that required a lot of class participation, and he got it. (Even if he had to sit there in silence and glare until someone cracked.) Sitting in his class, I got the impression that I was listening to one of the most informed and wordly people I had ever encountered. He missed one class to attend a panel in L.A. and was out of town the next weekend lecturing at Oxford. His real-life experiences of the themes we discussed in class brought them into greater light and relevence, and his critical (in-class!) corrections to our papers were harsh but very helpful. Do yourself a favor and put away your ego long enough to learn from Pious. You won't regret it. (P.S. Go to office hours!!! He is a completely different person outside of class and very helpful.)

Jan 2003

I took a first-year seminar with Lalith (who prefers to be called by his first name), and despite my initial doubts, I got a whole lot out of the class. True, he is a stickler for preparation and doesn't mask his opinions about comments made, but he presents the material from Marx to Nietzsche to Freud to Orwell in an interesting and refreshing way. Lalith is a tough grader, so expect to work very hard. I know some people have reservations about Lalith, but if you're willing to do the reading on time and carefully, contribute to class discussions and take his constructive criticisms seriously, you will learn a lot about the subject and about yourself as a student.

Sep 2002

AWESOME PROFESSOR! Of all of the professors that I interacted with, Prof. Pagano was the first to live up to the ideal of the college professor. He is passionate about his subject (and even a bit eccentric, in a good way), but he is more interested in his students developing their own academic identities than about preaching his own position. He will get to know you on a more personal level, if you are interested, and he will notice if you are missing and express genuine concern. Also, he's flexible and understanding if you are having problems balancing your workloads. He's great! And he uses fantastically interesting material.