Prof. Avgousti is an excellent Core Lecturer. He clearly conceives of himself not only as an academic but also as an educator. His classes are entertaining, and he provides a clear analysis of each text. In contrast to Lit Hum, CC requires some instruction and exegesis, which he provides well. He is incredibly responsive to email and engages well during office hours. He has thought seriously about his pedagogy and enacts it well. Prof. Avgousti often spent between 15 and 45 minutes lecturing, which I found interesting and helpful to my understanding of each text. He was adept at managing discussions, which were generally strong, although not mind-blowing. On the whole, it's not a mind-blowing class. But it is an engaging class, and it's one from which you'll walk away with a strong understanding of each text, an ability to write about works of philosophy, and a measured approach to discussion.
Like another reviewer said, Andreas should not have a silver nugget. DO NOT TAKE HIS CLASS. I originally switched into the class because of the good reviews on this page and because a friend in the class (who also ended up hating it) recommended him based on the good culpa reviews and his good first impressions. I was genuinely excited to take CC with Andreas but was very quickly disappointed. I switched out for the spring semester as soon as possible. Do no disregard the negative reviews about this professor and don't fall for his marketing techniques. Andreas makes a good first impression, presenting himself as fair and open minded. He is not. Although he encourages questions and engagement with the texts he really only encourages these things as long as they fit into his plan for the class and his narrow conception of what CC should be. The essay questions he poses seem open ended but given the stringent restrictions he imposes, his students are really pushed into corroborating the viewpoint he espouses. There is only the illusion of freedom with his prompts and for most of his assignment. Though he says he is not looking for specific answers, students will do far better grade wise if they regurgitate what he preaches in class rather than forming other arguments, even if those arguments are valid and supported by evidence. He is arrogant and the quirks that seem intriguing at first really turn out to be those of an overly pedantic professor with an axe to grind. All of this would be somewhat mitigated if he offered good insight and analysis of the texts and their significance, but that is not the case and the class discussions are often basic, limited in their scope and sometimes just downright illogical/nonsensical. Overall, this has been the most intellectually impoverished and frustrating experience I have had at Columbia.
was in Andreas's section for a semester. okay teacher. -watches family guy and has fabulous hair -makes fun hand motions and paces as he talks. tried to tell us, on the first day of class, that the texts were "serious" since they've "killed people." -very dedicated to his students, in a kind and also neurotic and overbearing way. commutes from philadelphia but is willing to skype with you, in his pajamas, and send you weird emails about your potential -begins every class with a lecture, though occasionally experiments with entirely student-led discussions. -described the quality of one of these student-led discussions as "mediocre" -as a previous reviewer mentioned, his lectures could be a little unclear/completely nonsensical, although they got better as the term progressed. -sample quote from lecture: "Judith butler would say you can't know whether this is a water bottle." (from a class on hobbes) -likes machiavelli, and augustine, although plato is his favorite. -doesn't like "jargon." thinks that words like "ideology" and "heteronormative" are jargon. -used the c-word in class while reading a translation of a bizarre and very explicit letter machiavelli wrote about having sex with a prostitute (purpose of letter-reading was somewhat unclear, might have simply been to demonstrate how funny misogyny is). -recently got his Ph.D -i wanted to take philosophy away from this man
Don't know how this man has a silver nugget. DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. I entered expecting Avgousti to be competent and challenging, and while he was certainly challenging, his lecture style is far from competent. I'd often leave class with a jumble of nearly incomprehensible notes that were absolutely useless for studying for his midterm and final. He would get stuck on exploring a paradox within a work and never get around to lecturing as to the big picture and the actual objectives of the authors. Also, he picks names out of a jar to introduce something interesting to start off the discussion, but it was never clear exactly what he wanted from these presentations, and as the semester progressed (and less people did the readings), they became absolutely horrendous. Perhaps worst of all, he has an incredibly rude and condescending way of speaking in class (needs to show his students who is in charge or something). Switched out for the second semester and now I have an equally challenging, but much more illuminating professor!
Andreas is quite literally the best teacher I have had at Columbia so far. Brief bio - he's from Cyprus, and is brilliant. I mean brilliant. He's a PhD candidate in political theory, and he specialized in Plato, so he know his shit, and he communicates his knowledge EXTREMELY well. I have learned so much from this class. However, he is formidable, and he doesn't take bullshit. You have to do ALL the reading, because he has a lottery system at the beginning of every class where he pulls your name from a hat, and if you're called you have to give a 5 minute lecture on the points of the reading. Also, he calls on random people in class, and he can tell when you're bullshitting and he will call you out in front of everyone, because he's dead serious about the text. You have to come into this class well prepared, and thought out if you want to do well. Overall, if you keep up with the reading, prepare questions in advance, and go to office hours when you have questions about the text, you will gain SO MUCH from this class. If you're prepared and you ask him for help, you will do well. But this is not a class for the faint-hearted. You HAVE to put in all your effort. I strongly (really, REALLY) recommend taking Andreas for CC. It's tons of work, but his teaching is incredibly rewarding.
Not my favorite course. To begin with, Professor Smith is a perfectly nice woman. But something about her teaching style just didn't work too well for me. She is a lecturer not a notes giver so you kind of have to make your own guesses as to what's important. The readings were the only part of the this course which I particularly despised. For a 1000 level class, this class had ABSOLUTELY excessive amounts of reading for every class along with pop quizzes for those readings. The papers were graded kind of harshly by the TA, and not so much by Professor Smith herself. The one thing about essay prompts is that they are very unspecified while the TAs look for specific things. It's hard to do well when you are playing a game that you don't know the rules to. Conclusion: This class is not for the weak-stomached.
Despite the last positive review, I would like to return to the tone of the previous reviews. I'm not going to say don't take this class because ultimately my experience will not be the same as that of every single individual who takes this course. However I think you should have strong reservations about taking this class if you are an intellectual risk-taker and, throughout your entire college career, have gained favor by writing papers, not to please your professor's selective taste, but rather to make insightful connections of which he/she might not have previously thought. My problem with the professor is that he writes off any argument that does not conform to his narrow taste as invalid. I thought some of the reviews for this professor were a fluke so I decided to take the course, however, for once I think people's negative experiences were perfectly on point. 1) The professor's grading system is, for lack of a better word, stupid. After going to his office hours to object to the final grade he gave me, I spent 20 minutes trying to explain to him what "weighted grading" is and why his system misuses numbers to compose an arbitrary grade. However, the only conclusion he came to was that he was not going to waste his time arguing with me about "what adds up to 100" and that nobody had ever complained about this before. I agreed that the discussion was a waste of both of our times (but ostensibly a bit more sad on his end), and told him to read his CULPA reviews for honest opinions on the matter. 2) I believe this quote from one of the professor's lectures perfectly exemplifies what he is looking for from a student in this course, and why you should not take this course if you somewhat disagree with this philosophy: "You should to a certain extent try to figure out what I had in mind when I made the topic..." (11/16/11). In fact this is not just a suggestion but a requirement; the professor will automatically start your grading from the point of an A- if he "likes" your argument - that is to say if you make an argument he would have made. I never realized that I have been lucky to consistently have professors that can admit to the integrity of an argument, even if it does not entirely align with what they believe/would have written themselves. I Feel strongly that this philosophy as an exclusive barometer on which to base grading is completely contrary to the educational experience we seek here at Columbia. The workload in this course is standard, most of the readings were engaging, the lectures are even interesting for the most part despite the professor's occasional tendency to butcher the English language. But if your philosophy about learning and writing papers is anything aligned with the reasons why I object to this course, then I think you should think twice about taking the gamble on having your grade determined by two EXTREMELY subjectively graded papers. Perhaps you might write this off as the impassioned rant of a hostile student, but I have never received less than an A- in a high-level political science course, and somehow as a senior I received my first B because of my "inability to write a clear paper." This seems to have been the experience of previous students as well. Of course this cannot be everyone's experience in the course, and I believe that many relinquished their right to produce an intellectually stimulating paper for a good grade, or perhaps never aspired to write an intellectually stimulating paper in the first place, but just keep in mind that next semester this could be you...
Do not be fooled by his initial gruffness; Andreas is a teddy bear. Although he seems kind of intense in the beginning, he loosens up quite a bit as the semester progresses--but without ever actually lowering the standard of work he expects from you. He has a lottery system which basically means anyone can be picked to present on a work any week during discussion section. That was always enough motivation for most of us to do the readings. It also meant I lost a lot of sleep the night before section trying to catch up on readings. He's the best TA I've had at Columbia, and the best teacher too. He actually takes the time to really help you, either in person or over email. He always had feedback on all my work, and seemed invested in helping me improve. I think the one week I worked on writing my first paper with him taught me more about academic writing than with any of my professors here. He's kind of a tough grader, but not insanely so. Take a class with him! He's a little tough but really cool and a great teacher.
Either Prof Hornqvist radically changed his approach to grading or these 2 reviewers are outliers, because I really enjoyed his class and I did alright. The content itself was really interesting and very diverse material. We read some of the ancients, some medieval writers and modern thinkers, so that's some of (in random order) Plato, Thucydides, Polybius, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Arendt, Said, Camus, Fukuyama, Qutb, Tocqueville and Nietzsche. There were also four films. He's a smart guy and he clearly knows his stuff, and drew interesting connections between each of the writers. It's a lecture style of class but he opened it to discussion most days. In terms of the work--he was very clear on what was expected of us in each of our papers. I'm pretty sure we spent at least half a class discussing paper topics each time he handed them out, and was available by appointment and during office hours. I dont think he was a tough grader at all. I actually scored less on the paper graded by Andreas (the TA) than the one graded by Professor Hornqvist (which was almost perfect). Overall, I highly recommend the class. You'll learn a lot and, if you work at it, prob do well.
I love reviews like the one below this because they remind you how useful the 'Disagree' button is in CULPA. Professor Vogt was an amazing professor: sweet, funny, smart, accessible, and (in this reviewer's opinion) pretty attractive for a classicist not interested in beauty as existing in the realm of sensible things. Honestly, this is one of my favorite classes I've taken here yet. The first few days I was at a loss for what was going on, excited that I was clueless but still worried for my prospects in the class. Vogt asked the kinds of questions that you really have to think about before answering, and didn't shy away from making the class participate on her terms â€” through substantive analysis and thoughtful consideration of the texts. She wanted us to read Plato on his terms, so the smart-ass philosophy majors who feel better for knocking the tangential details about classical philosophy were left speechless almost every time they tried to use 18th century rebuttals against the Man, the Legend. She did a great job of guiding discussion and of engaging the large classroom so that it felt cozy. The reviewer below was correct in saying that some of the students in the class stopped participating toward the end, but the one time I came late and had to sit in the back I saw why: I was surrounded by Angry Birds and Facebook profiles â€” if you're only willing to look up and pay attention between page-loads, you're bound to end up dazed and confused toward the end of a 3000-level course. Her assignments were clear and the she usually did well to pick topics for the one-page assignments that weren't overwhelming while picking topics for the longer papers that invited in-depth analysis. Several of the papers I wrote went against her approach to the dialogues; not only was I not penalized for having an opposing opinion, but I honestly feel I was graded more generously for being willing to think beyond class discussion in my essays. Also, a note about my TA for Plato, Andreas Avgousti. This man is brilliant and affable. He was always available for office hours and before and after class â€” I saw him stay with a student for half an hour after class once and go over her paper in detail to show her were she did well and where she could use work. He was always willing to walk with me and discuss things tangentially relevant to the text and he gave detailed reviews that explained exactly why I earned the grade he gave me â€” no higher, no lower. Having him as my TA felt like I had been given my own personal professor and I never felt at a loss when going to him for clarification instead of Professor Vogt.