professor
Winston James

Jan 2005

Professor James displays interest in and an immense knowledge of the course subject matter. Unfortunately, he chose to lecture from the top of his head in most classes and did not allow for much discussion in what was supposed to be a discussion class. Those who really wanted a participation grade often jumped in with an irrelevant comment or one that just furthered the professor's lecture. While he did bring in the first edition of "The New Negro" and the magazine accompaniment, most lectures were boring and without any blackboard/powerpoint/handout/etc. support. It's a good thing this wasn't actually a lecture class because James does not speak above a whisper, which made it hard to stay focused. A bitter man, he often talked about the dead-end Black culture of the present and how there would never be another New Negro Movement. He definitely played favorites and valued attendance at office hours over class. Despite this, grading was fair, but the lack of discussion made the class a huge disappointment. Just a tip- don't say anything negative about Marcus Garvey, he is James' idol.

Jan 2004

This class is pretty boring. The material, in general, is not, but the teaching is dull. If you're interested in the topic, take this as your fifth class because you don't really have to do a damn thing. You could do the reading, but there isn't really a point. His lectures are almost always summaries of the reading without much insight or perspective added. The midterm and final are essay question which you can select from a list of about 10 questions. Conveniently, the questions all correlate to the lecture topics, and a regurgitation of the main points will certainly suffice.

Jan 2004

Winston James is a bit monotonous, but informed, intelligent, and occasionally really funny (i.e., he sung reggae in class). Lectures can be dry and disorganized, but usually they are pretty solid. The readings are occasionally unrelated, but you can get away with doing not so many of them, and some are interesting. The course focuses heavily on the economic side of things, and solely on the British Caribbean.

Nov 2003

By far the worst professor I've ever had. He'd show up late every week, gives the boring lectures--and takes attendance, rarely talks about Harlem, never uses any media(even though the majority of the period discussed is after film, recordings and video are invented), completely avoids the Harlem Renaissance(mainly in my opinion because there weren't enough socialist involved) and gives readings that are only loosely connected to the course.

Nov 2002

Harlem??? James didn't even mention the word. Well, that's not entirely true, but James makes every effort to push his own political views on his students rather than educate them on the history of Harlem. Frankly, I have never taken a worse class in my four years--even if the grading was ridiculously easy.

Nov 2002

Professor James's exacerbating carribean nationalism ruins this class!! He is so pro-carribean that he fallaciously accredits any black radicalism in the US to Carribeans (in my opinion). He is so ridiculous in his historical disquistions that he traces the ancestry of any black leader back to the carribean (also, in my opinion). He basically makes the class read his book, but to appear modest he does not put it on the list of required texts-- even though you end up reading a few hundred pages of what I think is carribean bigotry. He also does not give students the opportunity to ask questions. Finally, he is escruciatingly boring. You don't have to come to class to do well in this course, just read the books--he basically reiterates the assigned readings almost verbatim. He also intensifies the rivalry between african-americans and afro-carribeans--with the latter being the ingenous victors and the former being the ignorant victims. If you do decide to take this course be prepared to travel down the road of fabricated black history. James will spit grandiloquent bull shit about the greatness of carribeans, but make sure that you investigate his fabricated facts prior to believing them. Remember: Correlation does not equal causation.

Nov 2002

Prof James has a lot to say. Although it's not always about the history of Harlem, it's usually pretty interesting and was all new to me. Yes, the class does turn more into a history of black radicalism, but James is a quite an expert in this area. The readings are a pretty mixed bag--some engaging, some very dry. But skimming a lot of the material got me through the semester just fine. Overall, not the best class I've taken in the history department but worth it nonetheless.

Apr 2001

This class would be much better if titled "Twentieth Century Black Radicalism." Prof James is incredibly knowledgable and enthusiastic about the topic of black radicalism, but it takes over the entire focus. He spends several lectures just talking about damn Marcus Garvey - interesting, yes, but not over the course of two weeks worth of lectures. He completely glosses over the topic of the "Harlem Renaissance," introducing it by saying that he doesn't really believe in it, and then proceeding to basically trash down all the scholars who have written about it. Harlem itself is rarely the focus of a lecture, but usually relegated to a sidenote as a center for the radical movement. Prof James has a voice that's soft and oddly soothing, which makes falling asleep in class a real possibility. But when he gets riled up - watch out. He shouts, he's completely unafaid to argue outright with students, and he's stubborn as all hell. It's classes when these sorts of things happen that make it all worthwhile.

Jan 2000

I guess Professor James is a pretty unexciting lecturer, but he's extremely clear, presenting one topic per lecture (which makes studying for the midterm and final easy). Also, this class is <i>really</i> easy. The miderm and final require you to choose 1 or 2 essays out of about 12, and the questions come straight from the lectures. Do <i>not</i> bother to do the readings.

Jan 2000

A pretty bland but solid course. If you do a smidgen of the assigned reading and attend a couple lectures you can easily ace this class. James is meticulously organized and much more relaxed in the smaller setting (compared to the gruesome-sized Harlem class) and offers a wider range of topics. However, the class focuses mainly on the British Caribbean and gets lost in the fluctuations of sugar trade for most of the pre-midterm lectures. After that it picks up. Still, I didn't learn all that much and the section was the absolute <i>worst</i> experience i've ever had at Columbia University.

Jan 2000

Remember when history was just names, dates, and a few generalizations? If you're willing to sit through it, here's some schedule padding. Easy but boring.