James Chamberlain

May 2021

I failed his course and that's the only course I ever failed. Not worth it to say anything else, take him if you want. There are other professors that are better in the sense that you won't hear anything polarizing about them, on an introductory art course. Go take him, I'll wait.

Mar 2021

This class isn't that much work, especially if you already know a little about art history, but Colby makes it infinitely worse with his teaching style. Every class he just cold-calls people one by one to ask specific questions about elements of the painting or the readings, often trying in a rather condescending manner to lead them to his preferred answer (even when it's aspects of the work that might be open to different analyses or opinions). He's not interested in creating a discussion or anyone offering ideas or insights, you're just ticking a box to prove that you attended that day and did the reading (or are a good enough bullshitter to get away w/o having done it). The readings vary in quality, though if you try to do all of them thoroughly you'll be wasting a lot of time since he pretty much never calls on EVERYONE in the course of a single class. The nicest thing I can say is that at least his writing assignments and exams are fairly short and easy. You could learn the same amount as you will in this class by dicking around on Wikipedia for an afternoon.

Jan 2020

Colby is not a bad person, but he isn't actively nice. If you were to look for a word to describe him, it would just be "some man". He doesn't try to connect with you or really have any personality apart from an overt air of seriousness with which he takes the class and himself. This isn't a crazy class where everyone gets C's. But the fact of the matter is that even if you work pretty hard, you'll only end up with a B+, unless you're an Art History or whatever other majors we have at this school in this field. I have a 3.9+ GPA and only got a B+ in this class. Again, don't take this with Colby unless you're an art history major.

May 2019

Super unhelpful feedback on essays, and very harsh grading. Generally a very unapproachable professor and expect yourself to feel killing yourself (note- mental health is a real problem and if anyone has any issues, Nightline is an available resource) every single class entirely due to Colby's self-centeredness, condescension, and lack of any sort of care for students.

Aug 2017

James (goes by Colby) was a really nice, young guy and a pretty easy grader, at least in my experience. I submitted the weekly reading responses late multiple times and wrote the final paper without having actually read the articles that I was writing about and still got an A-. It's annoying that he places so much emphasis on the readings, but you don't really need to do them to get an A-, and he does make an effort to explain them before assigning them so they're easier to understand. However, like one of the reviewers below me, I absolutely hated the way he structured class. He calls on people and asks them to make comments about very specific aspects of the painting, which means that you'll be forced to speak about something that doesn't interest you while you actually might have something interesting to say about some other aspect of the painting, but his need to control the conversation won't allow you to take it into another direction. He also asks questions based on the readings, so things can get a little awkward if he calls on you but you have no idea what he's talking about b/c you didn't do the reading and you're not good at making things up on the spot. As a result, class discussions were incredibly boring (unless you enjoy listening to people nervously spewing BS while trying to guess what a professor wants them to say). TL;DR: The class is easy enough, but Colby managed to suck all the fun out of Art Hum. Pretty disappointing. BUT he doesn't actually require you to go to the MET for one of the essays like most Art Hum Profs do! He'll also throw in a joke here or there to try to keep everyone awake, and he doesn't seem to mind if you have to submit something late.

May 2017

Don't take this course. Chamberlain was nice, smart, available when needed, and a good lecturer, although I strongly disliked the way he structured the course and assignments. He placed enormous emphasis on the readings (very dense and difficult to understand articles). Not only do the weekly reading responses add a great deal to the workload of the course as a whole, most of the assignments were based on the readings (midterm included a "relevant references" section, essay #2 was entirely based on the readings, final exam was a critique of an article). Most art hum sections don't actually require students to do the reading, and for good reason. I feel like this introductory course for non-art history majors made me detest art history. I would much rather focus on the actual art works than on articles that discuss the artworks. I ended up reading more for this class than for Lit Hum. The vast majority of the class is spent on students answering questions, as Chamberlain calls on everyone once every class. This led to unproductive discussion as, instead of learning what Chamberlain has to say, we spend most of class listening to a scared student trying to bs something.

Dec 2016

Colby is likely the best teacher I've ever had. His assignments are thoughtful and not labor intensive. I learned more about art history then I ever have before. He is a wealth of knowledge spanning a wide variety of topics - it was such a joy to listen to him. He's incredibly passionate. I feel lucky to have been randomly placed into his class. I highly recommend you seek out this class if you want to come out of it having learned something.

Dec 2016

To disagree with the other review, I highly recommend anyone who has the opportunity to take this class! The readings are not 80 pages as stated below, usually 2 are given a week and if uninterested, you can really only read one (about 20-30 pages each.) Seriously engaging class with someone who is highly informed and passionate about his subject - pretty much any question you have will be answered with incredible insight. The classes are super interesting and, quite often, funny, and the essays are short, few and far between. Definitely my favorite class of the semester (and I am a science major!)

Oct 2016

Good teacher, too much work. Change if you get him, unless you want 80+ pages of reading a night, intricately critiqued essays, and a whole lot of weird speech emphasis on the "ct" sounds in words and the word "right?" after every single sentence.