Pablo has been one of my favorite teachers at Columbia so far. He's super chill and incredibly smart. I absolutely loved him for CC because discussion was always interesting and he guided it very well while also allowing everyone to share their own thoughts. He's definitely not THE easiest CC professor, and you do have to do SOME work, but that being said, you can easily get an A in the class without doing much more than the sparknotes readings. He's lowkey pretty lazy as far as grading goes; he assigned us a "group essay" second semester which let's be honest we all knew he just didn't want to grade 20 essays. But it's nice because CC shouldn't be about a heavy workload. The class is always super engaging and I thoroughly enjoy going to it. 10/10 would take this class (or any class with Pablo) again. He's incredibly intelligent and interesting to discuss texts with and this class was the highlight of the core for me.
I loved this class. Professor Piccato is smart, humble, insightful, and engaging. His accent is not a big deal at all and he is incredibly knowledgable. He's an expert on crime. And he is super adorable. You get out what you put in to the program--Piccato gives you the hilarious minutia that is 20th century Mexican history, and you string together the tragic themes.It was a great class. Chock full of information, but never trying. Highly recommend.
dissapointed with this class. Pablo has a lot of depth and is extremely intelligent, but the class is not structured well! In fact, there is almost no structure...Mexico history is fascinating, but the assigned readings were irrelevant (the only helpful reading was the supplementary bethell book which you should buy even though its no required if you want to pass the class), section was annoying and did not spark interesting discussion. every now and then, pablo will have very interesting lectures, but the power points were totally unorganized. how can you teach history esp mexican history through powerpoint and graphs that are too small to comprehend! still, pablo is a nice man and is very helpful outside of class if you need a scholar on mexican history-he is definitely approachable, its just too bad his class isn't more engaging. if you want a dry history lecture, go for this class, just be ready to bring your lap top and play solitare.
This was a fantastic class that traced Mexican history, politics, and economics from Independence in 1810 to the present. Prof. PiccatoÂ’s lectures were both engaging and amusing. The TAÂ’s were also helpful and available when needed. Ignore the previous complaints regarding PiccatoÂ’s accentÂ—I had no trouble with it at all. My only advice would be to attend every lecture and do all the required readings. I also recommend that you read the Bethell book. While not comprehensive, it did an excellent job at complementing the class lectures and provided an overview of Mexican historical concepts.
One of the best classes I've taken at Columbia. What is this about not understanding him???? He barely has ANY accent. What's wrong with you? This is an amazing, funny, interesting, engaging class that takes some pretty boring history and makes it come alive. Take any class you can with this professor.
Look, there's only one thing you need to know about this course before opting to take something else. It is irrelevant whether or not you hope to find the material interesting, whether you think (and I can't imagine why anyone would, but judging from previous reviewers....) that Pablo is hopelessly adorable, or whether you are just shopping for a Major Cultures req that fits your schedule (big mistake....BIG mistake). The fact is - THERE IS NO WAY TO ACCESS THE COURSE MATERIAL aside from going to class. I'll just let that sit with you for a moment. Okay, so the solution to the problem isn't as easy as it seems. You're probably thinking - "That's not such a big deal. I'll just go to class, no problem." No. You can go to class all you like, the likelihood that you will not understand a WORD Piccato says is far greater than the likelihood that you will make it to every lecture. I attended every class and I can't even recall for you a single thing we discussed. I'm not sure if things have changed since I took this course in Spring 2002, but as far as I'm aware, Piccato doesn't even go as far as to make availabe to students an outline or anything resembling an outline. Nothing with names or spellings of Spanish or Portuguese words. You can amuse yourself by guessing as to what these may be, as you will surely need to find things to do to amuse yourself to keep from passing out from utter boredom. I chose to focus in great detail on my penmanship, as Piccato will zip so quickly through facts that, were I to understand him, or have a clue what he was talking about, I could never keep up with him for the purposes of notetaking. This is particularly difficult because, as I said - THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO ACCESS THE COURSE MATERIAL - comprende? No text, no lecture notes, no outlines, no required reading that is even tangentially related to the course material. You are left without the option of referring back to notes for clarity, (because you will never succeed in taking notes), nor can you refer to any relevant text-like resource. (If you happen to have a keen enough ear to understand the words that come out of Piccato's mouth, I hope you also have a POWERFUL memory because the only way to review concepts or study for the exam is to sit for a few hours and see if you can't remember everything ever said in class. Another technique, which I implemented, was to write down random words and use those as a guideline for the exercise in memory, the sole study option.) There are suggested readings from something like 13 books which, if you are looking for a new and innovative way of buring several hundred dollars in less time than in would take to actually set fire to your credit card, you might consider doing. Or you have the option of being the only person at the Butler reserves, poring over absurd amounts of "suggested" reading that will never resurface in class, on papers, or in an exam. You may sit through class wondering how you'll ever succeed in coming up with supporting information for your two papers, which are based on outside readings, if you have no idea what goes on in class. I am here to tell you not to worry. Not only are the readings irrelevant, they are downright strange. One of the books was about a slave revolution in Brazil, and that was alright, but the other was Kiss of the Spider Woman - which is heavy on the homoeroticism, but light on, uh, HISTORY.
I love history, so overall I enjoyed this class. BUT...and this is a biggie...Pablo is boring as all heck. The material is interesting, although it often seems super general and super basic, but Pablo is just not an interesting lecturer. He is indeed adorable and very approachable, but not interesting. I think that if I weren't interested in the subject in the first place, I'd find this class a nightmare. Covering 200 years of history about a continent and a half is simply impossible, and it showed. It seemed like the most important things I'd heard of before and hoped to actually learn in this class were left out. I was shocked when Piccato never mentioned the names Salvador Allende (who magically appeared on the final exam for the first time!) or Augusto Pinochet. He did go on at length about how sugar cane is processed into consumable sugar in Brazil, the significance of baseball in 1960s Cuba, and the extent of prostitution in Mexican cities. These are admittedly important topics, but that doesn't mean he should have excluded other obviously important info to go on about that. But I digress...Very important: make sure you go to lecture--there's no other way to pass this class, since the readings are basically supplementary. His lectures did not come from anything we read for the response papers.
Piccato seemed to grow on the class as the semester went on. He wasn't a great teacher, but he is a nice guy and he generally has clear and interesting things to say about the material and occassionally he asks good questions. Conversation often lulls, though, and people often drone on and Piccato is rarely critical, but the atmosphere is at least always relaxed and open. Basically, Piccato seemed to put in as much work as the class did, which is to say, not much, but believe me you could do a lot worse for C.C.
Ignore the previous two reviews. This class is unbelievably dry. Piccato is a nice enough guy, and he has a decent sense of humor, but his lectures are hopelessly unorganized and students spend most of the class time just trying to copy down the powerpoint slides before he jumps to another unrelated subject. The readings are manageable, if unnecessary. TAs grade everything both strictly and arbitrarily. Plus, pretty much any problem in Latin America over the last two centuries was blamed exclusively on America, with contrary opinions being shot down in the discussion sections (both by the TA and by fellow students). Take any other class instead, preferably something without such a ridiculously broad focus.
This was probably my favorite class this semester. Pablo is, admittedly, not the most engaging lecturer, but I think he got much better as the semester went on. He is incredibly approachable, charming and obviously very passionate about the subject. He's also adorable - in the way that a puppy is. He does a very good job of covering the material (I found his powerpoint slides to be pretty comprehensive, contrary to what other people here have said). Covering 200 years of history for one and a half continents is not a task necessarily easily done. The TA's (mine anyway) expected a lot from you, but were incredibly approachable and understanding about late work, etc. The readings varied in quality from ENTHRALLING to dry and unbearable, but they were a minor part of the class for me. Overall, this was my favorite class this semester, and I always found it a pleasure to go to class. I highly recommend it.
This class is not fun, but it is informative. Piccato does an adequate job of presenting his PowerPoint outlines, but is not a particularly compelling lecturer. He is not intimidating, however, and he responds to questions in the middle of lectures. I would find another Major Cultures List A course.
Some days this class equals death and other days it is extremely interesting but on the whole it is often confusing and overwhelming. It's way too much information for one class; I mean, come on, 200 years of history for over 20 countries in one semester? Whose idea was that? Professor Piccato actually does an impressive job of organizing the information and focusing on the most interesting things. At first he comes of as a little dull and pompous, but he is actually charming and has a great sense of humor. Tis true, the TAs do all the grading, including assigning the participation grade which is determined in the section meetings (hosted by the TAs). And sometimes the grading seems arbitrary but I came to realize that all they are interested in is accurate historical information, and if you don't have that then all the fancy rhetoric in the world won't save you. This class really gets better at the end of the semester so try and stay caught up and your rewards will be sweet...
Prof. Piccato does an excellent job trying to put together an enormous amount of info. His classes are well organized and the reading material is great. I just can't believe that some people here are complaining about Piccato's accent!!! Grow up people!! This is college, and if you're living in NY and have a problem with people w/accent...then I think you're in the wrong place!!
Pablo Piccato is a cute puppy, but this class is...not fun. Lectures are comprehensive but disorganized and the weekly readings are dry to the point of being useless. The TA's grade pretty tough, forcing you to devote a lot of time to the papers...which is hard to do, as the topics tend to be uninspiring, at best. Getting an A in this class isn't impossible, but it definitely isn't easy...skipping classes is enticing, but not a good idea since there is no textbook. But Pablo is a nice guy...I would just steer clear of this class.
Don't pay attention to the previous reviews--the department revamped the course and now it's completely different compared to what it was last year. Piccato is a PAINFULLY boring lecturer, his powerpoint slides are bad enough to put even the most avid student to sleep. His lectures are unorganized, uninteresting, and did I say boring? The material is fairly interesting, but Piccato presents it in the MOST UNINTERESTING manner possible. You discuss the same aspects for every country and you have trouble while studying trying to keep each country straight. And unfortunately, there's no textbook, so if you skip class often (which you definitely should do, I regretted going to most of the classes in semester), you need to get notes from someone else. The TAs are tough graders despite the fact that the assignments for the book reports aren't difficult--nearly all grades in this class are in the B/C range. Pray that you get an easy TA.
Prof. Piccato prepared interesting, organized lectures that grew better as we delved father and farther into the 20th century (apezed around the Cuban Revolution, which is saying SOMETHING). However, the terribly chosen class time, the ugly, sterile room, and the rude students at the back of the classroom made the okay experience of being in this course much more unpleasant. He is a good lecturer who is able to present the overall historical picture. However, the TA's are terrible (this broad class should definetely have a weekly recitation) and the readings (what few we had) are not enough to fill in the blanks that his survey course lectures leave gapping. Should you take the course? Yes--if you are interested in the subject.... Piccato's class could be super if he had more readings, particularly a course text book or general history, weekly discussion sections, and if he used more cool lecture add-ons like music and pictures. On second thougt, skip this course, quickly brief yourself in modern latin America through Skidmore's classic survey, and take a Piccato seminar!
Lots of bitching in these reviews, but most of it is unfounded. Pablo does indeed attempt to cram a HUGE amount of information into his lectures, but there is a tradeoff because he doesn't require you to do a lot of outside readings or go to sections like almost all major cultures classes. I'll conceed that he is not the most animated lecturer, but he got better as the semester went along (even cracked a few jokes). He is extremely thematic in his lectures, which helps because you can ignore dates and picky details (they won't be on the tests) and focus on the big picture. I'll be honest and say that this is a pretty outstanding way to get through the major cultures requirement, consisting of both low work and low expectations (I could tell on the first day of class that it had a good reputation based on the number of overgrown jocks that had decided to take the class together). All and all go for it. If you can string together a decent CC paper you will get both an A in this class, as well as a general understanding of Latin American Civilization. Cheers Pablo!
This may possibly be the most boring class I have taken at Columbia. Professor Piccato definately knows his stuff but its hard to concentrate on his lectures because they tend to be unorganized. The only saving grace is the power point slides he puts up that give you an idea of what he is talking about. Still its hard to follow along because he tends to jump around a little bit and you soon get tired of trying to write down every little thing he says. The TA's aren't much better either. They want a critical interpretation of the books you have to read but its hard to do because they really don't make it quite clear on what exactly what they want. All in all, I suggest taking a different class if you are trying to finish off the major cultures requirement. However, Professor Piccato is a very nice person and very responsive to students questions.
Piccato definitely knows his shit. However, he tries to do WAY to much in this class. I feel like you walk away not knowing very much about anything because it's IMPOSSIBLE to talk about Latin American since 1850 in one semester. His lectures are relatively organized and you'll never take a history class with less reading, but it's easy to feel like you don't know what's going on. The papers are weird- they're based on one book and they discourage you from doing any outside reading, even though you don't know much about the subject. It has it's pluses, but I wouldn't take this class again.
Pablo's class is my first horrible columbia experience. 5:40-6:55 on THURSDAY night, it not only caused me to miss that really chill feeling on campus on Thur post 4 pm, but I was forced to listen to a heavily accented voice speak with a simultaneous power point display. The power point BS is the only thing in the entire room that makes it somewhat easy to focus and take notes on what pablo is saying. I'm done with the class now and I can honestly say I don't even know whether Latin Am Civ is interesting or not b/c I didn't learn a damn thing that I will remember past the final.
Just saw Pablo in the list of the top 15 Major Cultures teachers and wanted to throw a caveat in there. This course is 4000-level, and he means it. You are expected to know a great deal about the history of Mexico, Peru, Argentina, etc. before even stepping into the class. Readings and lectures are extremely focused and worthwhile for the Latin American scholar but virtually impenetrable for the average Columbia undergrad who took Spanish in high school and wants to just get through with the Major Cultures requirement. I hated this class. Readings are dense and boring, and Prof. Piccato's lectures, while insightful if you know the history, are plain awful if you don't have the information in context. Very disorganized, monotone, and (given his accent) tough to understand lectures, throws out information haphazardly.. you're lucky TA's are grading exams and papers, because they have no clue what he's talking about either, half the time. Skip this class and take the 3000-level one instead unless you're a masochist or are really into the minutiae of Latin American social and class structure.
This course gave an overview of Latin American history from 1810 to the present, tied fairly well to global context. Professor Piccato is somewhat difficult to understand because of his accent, and he reads what he has prepared in a somewhat monotone manner... BUT his ideas are presented very cohesively (so stay awake! when you reread your notes at the end of class you'll be surprised) and he always has a very good analysis of deeper levels of history, such as class analysis. So many professors (I think it's a U.S.A. thing) are afraid to acknowledge class antagonisms; he's not. The class is stronger for it. The readings Piccato chooses are almost always great. No Mickey Mouse history here; rather, a lot of strong social analysis... a lot of the readings are labor-centric. Also, I should add that Picatto is a very approachable man. I would reccommend this course to anyone; It satisfies a Major Cultures credit if you want. You can take part one, which is Latin Am Civ up to 1810 as well -- I didn't, but it's also supposed to be a good class. There are people who hate the class because of Prof. Piccato's delivery style. Ignore them and tough it out; you'll be glad you did.