The TA sections were extraordinarily helpful and really the only reason I could understand what was going on in the class. Readings were not that heavy and somewhat optional, especially if you pay attention in lectures. The lecture felt a lot like a summary. The grading on the midterm/final was pretty harsh and because both were essay tests the grading was pretty subjective. The midterm/final questions were also difficult to understand. However, the class is curved. I think it would be hard to get below a B, but this is not an easy class to get an A in. I took this class online, so maybe it's different in person.
I had high hopes for this class given that Prof. Higonnet is considered a legend at Barnard, but maybe it was zoom/covid/TA strike/every other problem of the Spring 2021 semester but I was left disappointed. The zoom lectures left something to be desired. She was hard to follow at times and moved around the set works without doing deep into any one. I came in with some knowledge of art history, so maybe that's why this course didn't really satisfy me. I think it was interesting that she brought in a number of modern works throughout the course. If you are taking it on zoom be aware that there will be two breakout rooms each class with a random assortment of people from a 300 person lecture. The grading policy was all over the place. Some TAs were nice some TAs were mean. There was no overall grading policy and they were very heavy-handed. I would not say that this was as much of a cakewalk as I had hoped. Also, you didn't even need to attend the lectures to write the papers, they were 100% analytical. Can't really speak on the final because it was canceled due to the TA strike. As an individual, Prof. Higonnet was very accommodating to the strike, shifting the point values around, setting up some limited in-person events, but overall, I wasn't "changed" by the class. The grading policies and lack of really getting into the material makes it less likely I would take this class again.
Professor Stokes is the most self-centered professor at Columbia. This class should be about creative thinking, instead, it's a way for Stokes to affirm that her 'model for creativity' is superior to any other (and it literally makes no sense). She is harsh, unkind, and doesn't at all foster good conversations. The only good thing about this class is that you read great books (Kundera, Calvino)... But just read those this summer and don't take this class.
Although I do not regret taking the course, I do regret taking it with Professor Foley. I often had the impression that Professor Foley was bored in class. It seemed like she was teaching because she had to, rather than because she wanted to. It was semi-difficult for the class to engage because of this. Besides this, she is very nice. I absolutely suggest taking advantage of her office hours (esp before the midterms) because it will help you expand your ideas.
Most of my classmates would disagree with me here, but I really, really appreciated his class and his teaching style. Although the exams were definitely long, I found them to be fairly straightforward and easy if you studied a lot. That's the thing about his class - you REALLY need to know the information super well. But the professor provides all the resources you need to succeed: clear class notes, well-structured lectures, and complete explanations of the information and math involved with the course concepts. Because his teaching is so well-organized, I always knew what to expect going into lecture and it was very easy to follow what he was covering. He is very much a down-to-business type of professor, he didn't ramble or take up half of the class talking about some unrelated topic. I think some people made this perceive the class as super intense, but I really appreciated that about him because it meant that (unlike in some other econ classes I have taken) I didn't have to spend an enormous amount of time outside of class teaching myself the material or trying to organize it so I could study - all the time I spent on the course outside of class was in learning the information, which is how it should be. You do have to spend a lot of time studying the information, but if you do it will show on your exam performance and you will learn a lot. Also, another thing to mention about his teaching style is that he cold calls. When he told us this on the first day of class I was freaked out because I tend to not do so well under pressure but I have to say I ended up actually liking the cold calling because it kept me engaged despite the zoom format (which can be draining) and it felt so good to see all my studying pay off when I got questions right (as a side note, it also taught me not to be embarrassed about getting questions wrong when called on because it happened to everyone in the class at some point - we were all in the same boat so I’m sure no one was judging). He’s also super blunt so if you need someone to pat your back and tell you how great you are even when you’re wrong, you shouldn’t take this class. The only problem I really had with the class was that the exams were really long. The midterms were 2 hours (we needed the full time) and the final was 4 hours (although I think most people finished in less time). Also, the TA was absolutely terrible. She responded to emails very late (in fact so late that her response was no longer even relevant), her recitations were kinda confusing and it seemed like she graded the problem sets and exams differently every time and for every person.