professor
Zachary Roberts

Sep 2020

not that I need to say this but Zach was GREAT!! such a nice guy, makes the class interesting and he's really chill and helpful. He's an ok grader, he won't be easy on you at first but he'll give you enough to get u to achieve an A. His feedback is really great and he's generally super easy going and understanding. TAKE HIS CLASS IF U CAN!! A is very manageable.

May 2020

Zach is a sweetheart. I cannot recommend him enough. He's cheesy sometimes, and occasionally his passionate nerdiness about classics can get in the way of class discussion, but it's always entertaining. He hates how college grading is done, so he goes easy on everyone and seems to genuinely love reading essays. He had our class make memes instead of do a midterm, and he dots fun creative projects throughout the year. That's not to say his class is a joke, though--if you are looking for serious intellectual inquiry, Zach offers that too. He's extremely available as a professor and as a friend and I've had some super eye-opening conversations with him in and outside of class. In general, I noticed we go through texts much faster than most other sections with other professors, while reading more books. He is very concerned with the content of the course and has no qualms modifying the syllabus to better reflect what he sees to be the purpose of Lithum. In that vein, he took off Macbeth and Crime and Punishment and replaced them medieval Islamic poetry and an opera, and still took time out of his schedule to have an optional discussion group about Crime and Punishment which was one of the highlights of my year. The best part about his Lithum, though, is how he makes the class into a close-knit family. The way he cares deeply about his students rubs off on the class and everyone becomes good friends. Take his class. You will cherish it.

Jan 2020

Zach is a cool dude. He's down-to-earth and gives students a lot of freedom and responsibility in the class. His discussions are always interesting (if sometimes only surface-level) and his knowledge of the background of texts is quite good. He is extremely passionate about literature and these works in particular. This is a really valuable trait in a teacher. He cares a lot but his expectations and grading are reasonable. He makes the class fun and relaxing and like a conversation where you share impressions and ideas about the books.

Dec 2019

he's a really good professor. Engaging in class discussions and pretty chill but not at all boring.

Jan 2019

Zachary Roberts is an amazing Lit Hum professor -- if you get him, you are lucky! He's very nice and funny, and class discussions feel low-stakes. Lots of laughs and insightful discussions. Seems to be pretty standard in how he grades. This class seems perfect because it's not easy/blowoff-y like other LitHum classes, but it's also super reasonable unlike other crazy LitHum classes. Midterm for first semester was passage identification.

Sep 2017

Fantastic professor, if you get Zach for your LitHum section, consider yourself lucky. He's an easy-going guy, but also knows his stuff, and always begins class with some interesting background on the text. He's also really respectful of student's opinions and listens carefully to what the class has to say. Discussions were often flexible and diverse, but always engaging and interesting. He's also a fair grader and gives a lot of helpful input on essays.

Nov 2013

Had Roberts for University Writing American Studies section my first semester at Columbia and he was fantastic, by far my favorite teacher of the term. Spent a ton of time with all the students individually talking about papers, was very relaxed about policy, but partly because he was so respected by students he didn't need to be strict about it. He's incredibly interested and passionate both about writing and American culture (he's an English major working as an advisor in American Studies, so he was the perfect fit for the course). Classes usually consist of a table discussion he leads talking about cultural criticism essays we've been reading, a class style I'm usually not a huge fan of but enjoyed in this context, partly because in addition to the class discussion, Roberts is so willing to meet on an individual level and talk one-on-one about your writing.

Aug 2013

I took this class in fall 2012 but haven't had a chance to add my two cents about the class until now. Delbanco is a pretty great lecturer with a great handle on the material and very interesting points. My only complaints are that (1) he doesn't follow the syllabus really -- by the end of the semester we were pretty behind on what we were reading for lecture, so sometimes lecture/discussion plans didn't match up exactly and some things we had to speed through and (2) I took the class in NoCo 501. Anyone who's ever taken a class there knows that it's almost impossible to stay awake every class. There's something about that classroom (the desks? the stuffiness? the heat?) that makes learning so much harder in there. I took another class there in the spring and it was the same deal. Avoid that room if you can!! The reading list is great, I think the course title is pretty accurate. There's a lot of variety, from Puritan sermons to Emily Dickinson to Moby Dick/Melville's short stories. I really enjoyed the later works especially (Melville is great and there's a lot to think about there, plus Delbanco is an expert). I'll agree with the reviewer that you get what you put into it -- you don't have to do all the reading (I didn't, but wish I had had the time to) or attend lecture (no attendance). You do have to sign up for a discussion section (attendance mandatory). I guess maybe I should have tried to get it with Delbanco but you just sign up for a time slot and I got Zach (Roberts). He was incredible -- a pretty laidback guy, very approachable, very knowledgeable, clearly invested in the class and the texts. I'm really glad I was in his section and I felt like I got a lot out of the 50 minute discussions because he was open to people's ideas and also tried to get our input on what we wanted to talk about. A decent grader and he left very insightful comments on papers. He was pretty flexible with paper topics -- there's one provided in the class syllabus for each paper but he let us explore whatever we were interested in in the text, and also he understood if we were a little behind on reading. I've heard that the other TAs were pretty good too, but obviously I'm biased toward thinking Zach was the best. All in all, I really enjoyed the class. The discussion section definitely made it for me -- I don't think I'd have liked the class half as much without it (or understood the text half as well).