Olick is an intelligent, witty and energetic lecturer. Between the interesting subject matter and his own style, including some funny annecdotes, you will never be bored in this class. Of course, this may also be due to the fact that you will be frantically scribbling notes for the entire hour and a quarter. For me, this did not at all detract from my enjoyment of the class, and i would reccomend it almost unreservedly to anyone. As a bonus, it is obvious that despite the fact that he teaches the class repeatedly, he isn't bored either. Some advice: First, while he may seem like a hardcase at times, he does make exceptions if you give him a really good reason. Second, trust his structure and the topics in the syllabus, take REALLY good, fast notes (learn shorthand?) and cross reference them, and go to the review sessions, and you are golden.
This is one of those classes where you'll learn a lot, but not from readings. Olick really has a lot of interesting things to say, and if you put in a little effort, the class has a logical flow with well-drawn conclusions. You're not going to get a whole new world view from this class, but it is an interesting Sociology elective.
I really liked Olick. At times, his lectures were hard to follow and I often felt we debated the same issues over and over again without really getting anywhere...but overall, a really smart, entertaining professor. There is quite a bit of reading...no need to do it all (knowing one article from each section will suffice), but most of the readings are really interesting anyway. Overall, Olick is not at all pretentious...really down-to-earth and often fabulously entertaining. Also, he was the first male professor at Columbia to take a maternity leave-how cool is that?
I don't really feel like reviewing the class; plenty of people before me have done it. I just have these words of advice for the midterm and the final. The first section of the midterm is IDs. In class he will claim that you can answer the IDs in a few lines and that is enough. Well, it simply isn't. There's no length limit on the IDs as I realized when I received my grade and saw my answers and other people's answers. You have to write as much as you possibly can about the term to get full credit. Luckily my mediocre grade on the midterm did not screw my final grade, as on the final I wrote between 3/4 of a page and a full page for each ID. Yes, it took me longer than most people to take the final, but after getting a B on the midterm I ended up with an A- in the class (I also got an A on the paper).
I loved him!!!! For my final semester of LIT/HUM CC tract, I finally had a teacher who i was excited to go to class for. He really posed insightful discussions and was not afraid to go off topic if it interested the class. He allowed everyone to speak, but it was not a class of all student participation and no critical analysis, he would let us give our opinion and then tell his take on the book, helping us to learn one interretation and try to incorporate it in are view points. I understood all the books after the discussions. He would not cut short a book because of time, and although we didnt get to all the books, I benefited more from the ones he put the effort into teaching us. Uusally it is rushed through. HIGHLY recommend
I waivered a lot on Olick throughout the semester, but ultimately, I liked him. I thought we spent too many classes not talking about the books, but when we did talk about the books (or even when there was a mix), the class was great. He's not a guy that you would be interested in going to dinner and shooting the shit with, but he knows his stuff. All in all, we learned a lot, if he wanted us to know it. One other complaint is that he completely glossed over wollstonecraft, woolf, and dubois.. i hope that was a coincidence.
Like any CC or Lit Hum professor, Olick loved to indulge dialogue around his focus -- sociology. For CC, this is actually a nice perspective to have. My only regret during the course was that I felt we did not delve into the texts enough. Most classes seemed to barely touch upon the writings at all. However, when it came time to review for the final I was amazed at the amount of meat Olick had lifted from the works in the course of our seemingly disjointed (and often heated) discussions. Something that became tedious were the anecdotes that had little relavence -- and were sometimes repeated.. and repeated. This is an extremely picky detail, however, for the anecdotes always manifested themselves when Olick was obviously excited about the topic at hand. Olick also loves to incite class riots, promote nervous break-downs, send people running from the room in tears as their belief systems have been shattered -- all in all, an effective means of teaching. The work load was extremely light for a CC class. There were two papers and a final -- NO MIDTERM. The paper topics were... well, there weren't paper topics -- for CC I found this extremely annoying figuring the breadth of material to pick from. Some direction would have been appreciated. Regarding the final, per Olick's promise, if you attended the classes it was a piece of cake. However, I say this after extensive studying.
Loaded with BS tangents. Completely disorganized lectures. He will let a talkative student totally take over the class. Talks on and on about the columbia tenure process and his wife and kid. Take it if you are interested in a discussion session type CC class with not much insight given by the professor.
A very intelligent guy, very warm personality, and very very into theory. So if that's not your thing, be forewarned. Maybe it's different in his other classes, but in Sociology of Collective Memory it's ALL theory, which isn't intrinsically bad. Yet there are other professors in the department that may seem more "practically-oriented." If you don't mind a little exegetic, mental masturbation, then go for it. But from my advice, if theory wasn't your thing at the get-go, then you may get seriously turned off by the end. If you're all about theory, then this is the professor you want as your graduate advisor. At some point though, you may start saying to yourself, "What the hell does this have to do with not just MY life, but real life in general?"
This course was a big waste of time. While some of the readings are interesting, the lectures mainly consisted of laundry lists of pretentious academic terminology. Olick himself runs the gamut from charismatic to downright arrogant. While he is a very very smart man, Olick should realize that he is not in fact the center of the universe. What made this course unbearable, however, was it's utter self-evidence. Any reasonably creative person who hasn't recently suffered from major head trauma could simply think for him/herself about the effects and implications of mass media and popular culture in lieu of taking this poor excuse for a class and save both time and sanity. If you have any intellectual self-respect, do yourself a favor and stay far away.
Taking this class is like trying to decode theoretical concepts being explained by the MicroMachine Man. It's extremely difficult to keep up with lectures, PACKED SOLID with 15-letter words, and notes end up looking like a jumble of words you've never seen before. The material is very interesting but is analyzed theoretically which can be frustrating. Olick is a brilliant, insightful professor and his ability to relate HUGE concepts from memory in a matter of seconds is impressive, but bring a tape recorder, or something...