professor
Kate Brassel

Jun 2020

Kate is not the worst professor but she has a few issues. First, she has an unpleasant attitude to kids who don't agree with her views, especially on social issues. She seems to think that most of the Core texts (other than the ones she adds to the syllabus herself) are problematic, and added a total of 8 texts to the syllabus. She did pull out a few, but we definitely had to read more than other classes. It was cool to read some obscure Christine de Pizan or Islamic homoerotic poetry, but I bet many other students would have liked to read the texts chosen by the Core Committee, like Dostoevsky and Shakespeare. I will agree with other reviewers that her grading can be harsh, but I believe if you write according to her views she is not entirely unfair. She does grade harshly at first to make students work harder. Not the class for kids just wanting a good grade and a full core experience.

Jun 2020

Kate is definitely a good teacher for many students. And I'll begin by listing her positives: - she does offer a critical eye to many of the Core texts, meaning she'll be great for students who are more inclined to critique these works. - she does not overtake the discussion, and students have plenty of opportunity to speak. - she's not stuck-up, and often swears in class in a very casual way. She creates a welcoming atmosphere where students, especially students new to the Ivy League, do not feel left out or inadequate. However, Kate does have a few issues, in my opinion. She tends to show a bit of favoritism among her students, and tends to let her own political leanings slide into the class discussion. More than one student in my class noticed her slight preference for girls in class discussion, and slight dislike of boys, especially athletes. Again, this wasn't overwhelming, but anybody taking the class over two semesters would notice it slightly(I'm a girl and I noticed). Kate is an unapologetic feminist, and her class was unique for assigning Pizan and and a few other feminist texts for us to read, which was welcoming and offered a perspective counter to the mostly white and male other texts. Another was her grading. Brassel is the definition of a subjective grader. She is not one to hear any arguments about why a grade should have been better, and is more apt to give better grades to essays which critique social justice/racial/feminist issues in the texts we read. I performed this experiment personally in my first semester. I did receive multiple A's, but there were times I felt my grade was undeserving. Overall, I would not take Brassel if you are a non-feminist, male, athlete, or somebody who wants a more easygoing professor. Not that Kate isn't often lighthearted, its just that she believes a bit of harsh grading will motivate kids to do better. I would recommend Kate for anybody who shares views similar to hers, as you'll definitely find her class entertaining and thought-provoking.

Apr 2020

I think she’s okay. Her teaching style is more reminiscent of a mini lecture rather than a seminar, which didn’t sit well with some people. Her writing assignments are geared more toward creative writing, so you might have to rewrite passages from Pride and Prejudice and Crime and Punishment in the style of the other author, for example.

Nov 2018

The hardest grader. She is a very nice professor but she purposely tries to fail you from the beginning so you "can experience growth." Lit Hum is a lot of work regardless and with a harsh grader it just makes it that much more difficult. She does want students to attend her office hours for help but she is very misleading and will not give you direct answers on what she expects out of your writing.

Dec 2017

Kate is one of the best teachers I've ever had. She passes all the standard tests by which we judge teachers with flying colors. She has great knowledge of the subject material. She is familiar with the Keller & Russell textbook. She is a fair grader, and returns assignments very fast. She is incredibly available: she holds two office hours a week, and schedules extra times to meet with her before big exams or during particularly difficult parts of the course. She gives very personal feedback; she intimately knows each of her students' strengths and weaknesses, and will tell you what to focus on to improve. She is remarkably consistent, and to her credit never let tiredness or personal problems get in the way of her teaching. Beyond all of that, though, Kate is one of the most passionate and caring instructors I've ever met. She clearly loves Latin, and does her best to share that love with her students. She's a genuinely funny and interesting person, and she will make you want to go to her office hours. Because Columbia gives comparatively so little reward for taking Intensive Elementary (it is worth the same number of credits as the regular Elementary course), the quality of the professor teaching it, and his/her ability to generate enthusiasm for it, is especially important. With a different professor, I could easily have come to see this class as my biggest chore of the week. But because of Kate, even at times that I didn't do the work and knew I would fail a quiz, I still unfailingly looked forward to class. Kate is the kind of teacher that you wouldn't mind getting an F from, just because she's so great. All of this isn't to say, though, that Kate is just passionate and nice. Her greatest strength comes from her fairness. She knows when to be tough and when to be understanding. She is not afraid to challenge students and call them out when they make avoidable mistakes or arrive to class unprepared. But she never does this in a mean way—she does it because she really cares, and everybody can tell. More than not wanting to fail the course, I ended up not wanting to disappoint Kate.

Dec 2017

10/10 Professor. If you can get past the whole having to learn Latin part she's extremely knowledgeable and interesting to listen to. She always has something worth hearing to say, and she leads classes wonderfully and with a great sense of humor. She assigns a lot of work in this class but that's because it's intensive, not because she sucks. Her grading is actually very generous, but an A is hard to get because of the rapidity of going through the material and the fact that there are concrete goals we have to reach in the class. I recommend the teacher, not necessarily the class; it would be wonderful to have had her knowledge and spirit in a class where I didn't have to learn basically the entirety of Latin grammar in 1 semester.