Karen Karbiener

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Sep 2018

Reasons to take this class: - you want an easy A - you like walking around NYC for hours looking at bodegas and Starbucks where such-and-such used to be - you enjoy being treated like a middle-schooler - you like to read Walt Whitman, read about Walt Whitman, and generally share the same desire with the instructor to *be* Walt Whitman. Overall, this class was boring and easy (everyone gets an A!) to the point where one questions what the point of this course is. Professor Karbiener is plenty nice, but she treated the students as though we’re children. For example (only one of many), she spent the better part of an hour explaining what an argumentative essay is, what primary and secondary sources are, and how MLA citation works. At $1,800 per credit hour, it seemed quite condescending and a huge waste of everyone’s time and tuition money. The assignments were pointless; mostly it was creative projects, by which I mean glue-and-glitter arts and crafts stuff that was, frankly, beneath us as students at Columbia. The assigned reading was about the only saving grace, however it was rarely and only very briefly discussed in class. The majority of class time was used up with tangential stories about NYC and non-sequiturs about Prof. Karbiener’s personal and professional pursuits unrelated to the course material. Her poor time management made the class drag on every single meeting.

Aug 2009

That this course- and this-professor should somehow coexist disrupts the flow of the universe. If you Reader are wise, you will be less so if you take this class because it will inhibit the growth of new synaptic pathways. You will leave class depressed, and if the reason is not perceivable at first, don’t be too hard on yourself. Having to slow your thinking to the middle-school-pace of the class has affected your capacity for self-analysis. You’re depressed because you are wasting your intellectual and creative powers on this course: you feel degraded. ...If you’re in a relationship, take pains not to let these feelings get between you and the one you care for. Whether the class would be any different if taught by another professor is irrelevant, if only because this professor designed the course. And the professor, she is in critical need of evaluation regarding pedagogical ethics. To begin with, is it not a conflict of interest to ask that students purchase a book that she both edited and wrote the notes and introduction to; and of which, the course centers? Too, is it not a mistake to use the majority of class to ‘shamelessly promote’ one’s ‘friends’ and oneself? Should students at the university level be given assignments wherein they must design a book-cover, which it just so happens is for the same book the students have been asked to buy? (A note is called-for here: I have been told that a student asked to use a different edition than the one edited by the professor; they were informed that they could not, because their edition did not have the professor’s notes and introduction. Though this account isn’t verifiable, it’s mentioning is appropriate.) I have written at length if only because I feel one shouldn’t have to endure what I have experienced taking this class. I was-sent an email by the professor regarding her book-cover assignment, wherein I was-told my design wasn’t geared-enough toward ‘selling the book.’ That a professor grades according to what she thinks will sell - what will sell the book she has edited - is news to me. Finally, I should mention that the grade I received for this course is high, which is surprising given that my principles forbade me from following most of her instructions; so I do not write out of malice. I just think the course should be eradicated.

Aug 2006

This course is amazing, the teacher is engaging and the subject is Whitman and New York City! It couldn't get any better than this! If you take this class, you will leave a 'Whitmaniac'! She loves original ideas!

Aug 2005

WW & NYC is a wonderful class. Do not be intimidated if you are not a "Whitmaniac." This class introduces and examines the diversity of Whitman's writings. In addition, several NYC-based field trips provide a better understanding of Whitman's life circa the early 19th Century. This class is a wonderful way to spend the summer because of Karen. She is a great professor who exudes "WHITMANIA!"

Sep 2003

Karen Karbiener is a wonderful teacher and all her students quickly become Whitmaniacs. Her knowledge about her field and her way of communicating it to her students reflect positively on each other. Her teching is clear, well organized and she has a sense of guiding you in your answers that really opens your ideas on poetry the way you would not think you could manage to understand or be able to do it. She is fond of Walt Whitman and all the class will be too. The spirit of the class imprinted by its teacher is wonderful. We visit some NY sites relied to Whitman's work and that's a plus to the group, also to get to know each other. The work load is totally manageable; short (1-2p) weekly papers, weekly discussion board, 1 presentation and one final paper. The class is only taught during summer session. Sign up quickly because it fills up as soon as it is posted - If you are on a waiting list, send Karen an e-mail and go to the first class. All Whitmaniacs I meet are so sorry the class is over... I can only recomend this class

Jul 2002

Karen is the teacher from heaven. She loves her subject and it shows. She's more than fair with her grading, funny, extremely nice, and young enough that students can easily relate to her. Plus, she's full of crazy/original interpretations that make for great entertainment. Easily the best teacher I've had in Columbia.

Jan 2000

Karbiener is a phenomenal teacher. While it takes a litte adjusting to get used to her style, she is a fair grader, and she makes the class fun and interesting. She doesn't give too many papers, and they make up the entire course load. She is always willing to listen during her office hours, about the class or life in general. Perhaps one of the greatest introductory teachers there is.