professor
Sarah Cole

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Jun 2014

Prof Cole is nice, pleasant, and well dressed, but I don't think she was particularly excited about this class. We never really got beyond basic analysis, and by that I mean we would often read passages out loud for as long as 10 minutes, only for her to ask us simple questions like what we thought, make a banal statement, and then quickly move on. I was shocked that out of the three days she dedicated to Mrs. Dalloway, she only taught one of them - the other two were doled out to the TAs for their own training. I'm all for the education of graduate students, but Mrs. Dalloway, perhaps Woolf's most acclaimed work, was not the right book to give up to them for experimentation. The course also was structured around quasi-mandatory, downright confusing participation elements like "reading responses," "online posts," and "on groups," and it was never clear whether or not any of it was actually graded. We got comments back on the reading responses from the TA but they weren't attached to any grade. If you want to read all of Woolf's books in one semester, and like to impress people by showing off your knowledge of unfamiliar texts like Jacob's Room (which I realized was not often read for a very good reason), by all means take this class. Just know that it is unlikely you will actually learn anything about Virginia Woolf beyond what you could have otherwise read on sparknotes.

Dec 2013

I just finished Literature, Culture, and War in the 20th and 21st centuries with Professor Cole and sadly it was a bit of a mixed bag. The readings were engaging and Professor Cole is clearly a brilliant woman, but the class was far too big (sophomores, wait your turn seriously), and I often felt like students were competing to speak over each other. The reading is pretty heavy, and because the class was overenrolled, we didn’t even get to discuss many of the assigned secondary readings (or even primary texts). Pretty frustrating to be expected to read material that isn’t even covered. Additionally, the final paper assignment was an absolute mess. We were all required to hand in prospectuses for our paper topics, which is great. But when the only comments you receive are “Awesome! This looks good!” it makes getting a trashed final paper back even more annoying. If my paper topic wasn’t where it needed to be, why wasn’t this communicated during office hours and on the prospectus? Needless to say, this was an issue several students complained about, and it really does make one wonder if Professor Cole actually read the prospectuses we handed in. Anyways, the material in the course still yields a recommendation of the course, but I have some real doubts about Professor Cole’s ability to manage class discussion/clearly outline expectations, and I have to say that I am walking away relatively disappointed.

Mar 2013

Sarah Cole is perfect. Someone in an earlier review called her a goddess, and this is completely true. Her lectures were both intellectually stimulating and hilarious every time. She loves Joyce like an old friend and knows an immense amount about his life and contemporaries, as well as other Irish and British literature, which was really helpful to contextualize Joyce's work. We spent the first few weeks reading Dubliners and Portrait, and then spent the rest of the semester on Ulysses. This was the perfect set up, because even considering the book's enormous size, we were able to go at a decent pace and usually had time to thoroughly discuss each section. The class had about 70 people or so, but Professor Cole somehow fit in time and managed discussions fairly often. She would stop at certain points in her lectures and ask for students' opinions—and she was great at cutting off annoying, long-winded people! She is also very accessible and seems to care about what you think. While the discussion sections vary in quality based on which TA you have and who is in your section, Prof. Cole grades the final paper, and her comments were very interesting. Also, can't leave this review without mentioning her wardrobe. I wanted to steal everything she wears (well, most things—some of it is just insane). But she has a new outfit for every class, and they are all fabulous. She may look like she's going clubbing sometimes, but she's hot and pulls it off, and still sounds incredibly intelligent. So.

May 2011

SC is such a wonderful instructor! I think a lot of first-years will agree that the first few weeks of school are intimidating in a number of ways, but I always felt like Professor Cole made it her priority to make the entire class feel comfortable contributing to class discussion from the very beginning. Dynamic, articulate, brilliant, and fashionable (who doesn't like when a tenured member of the faculty shows up in knee-high boots and tights?!), Professor Cole really challenges you to think about the texts in new, interesting, and diverse ways. She doesn't force-feed you anything, but rather, encourages you to construct your own individual interpretations. Her willingness to grant paper extensions, read and comment on rough drafts, and offer her assistance on endeavors outside of the academic classroom all paint a picture of a professor who truly cares about her students as intellectuals and, more generally, people. Professor Cole will change the way you think, read, and write. What more could one ask for?

Apr 2011

SARAH COLE: A LIT HUM GODDESS Incredibly engaging, encouraging, and intellectual, Sarah really knows her stuff, and most importantly, knows HOW to teach. She spends time both on general themes of the works, but also closely analyzes passages and examines characters in great depth. She guides her students through each text, pointing out important elements and relationships, thus leading the class to their OWN understanding of the book, instead of force feeding them with the traditional views of the text as some professors mistakenly do. Sarah focuses on making the class enjoy the texts as much as she does, and often links contemporary events, novels, ideas, etc. to the lit hum books. Even if you don't enjoy the book, you will love hearing Sarah lecture about it. You will immensely enjoy this class. In addition, Sarah is understanding of what it means to be a college student: stress, stress, and more stress. Extensions are attainable and she does everything she can to make class relaxing to prepare for (besides the insane amount of reading). Although good teaching does not directly result from a good fashion sense, I feel that it's necessary to briefly outline Sarah Cole's everyday attire. She is the queen of high heels; flats are an anomaly. Dresses are essentials, as well a big earrings that scream sassy, independent, woman. She is the epitome of what girls want to look when they're forty, and who guys dream of dating... at any age. Nugget? I think yes.

Feb 2011

At first I loved this class and by the end of the semester had very mixed feelings about this course. Sarah Cole is an EXCELLENT lecturer and knows her stuff. I enjoyed coming to class and learned a lot from her lectures. That said, she wanted the course to be "seminar-style" and this was very difficult considering that she lectured for most of it and didn't really offer many opportunities for students to speak (and definitely favored a few). I also found that while she meant to be encouraging, if students didn't directly make a comment she agreed with she was a little dismissive and moved on. I enjoyed the syllabus of this course and felt that Professor Cole defended and made each work exciting even though I didn't love all of the Modernist texts. Professor Cole clearly has a passion for what she teaches and makes that very clear when she lectures (such a rarity in many professors), but I also found her to be a little disengaged from her students. She had a TA for a class of 15. While the TA was lovely, it was difficult to navigate whom to talk too about the papers, especially since the TA graded everything. Which is fine, but in a small class, I would prefer to work with the professor. Also, the TA and Sarah Cole grade pretty harshly. I worked VERY HARD in this class and my writing did improve significantly, but I felt that at times I was given grades significantly lower than what I had encountered as "fair". There is a lot of writing and if you do work hard you'll learn a lot, but it can be frustrating. I think Professor Cole is someone who absolutely loves what she does, which is so refreshing, but also presents so much material and tests you on so much that it's overwhelming. The exam was much harder than I expected, with 10 out of 12 IDs that were very difficult and 3 essays with 3+ texts per essay. All in all, she is an excellent lecturer, you'll learn a lot, be challenged, admire her clothing style (and perhaps take some tips), and will work hard.

Dec 2010

This was a lecture course with only around 18 students in it, which was slightly bizarre. Cole lectured as though to a large audience, but provided additional opportunities for class discussion. Unfortunately, the course didn't explicitly engage in its own very explicit project. Rather than actively challenging conceptions of "modernism," the course merely alluded to these conceptions at times. Perhaps, Cole intended students to just be thinking about how the syllabus framed modernism as a fragmented body of work, I'm not sure. Cole does put together a really entertaining syllabus. Ranging from Dora to Burmese Days, the syllabus generates some interesting thematic arcs. I felt like I left the course with a richer understanding of British modernism. Cole's lectures are extremely dense and proceed relatively quickly. She tends to free associate during the lecture, despite coming to class with copious (19 pages!!) of lecture notes. Sometimes, this free association results in profound observations regarding the texts. Sometimes, not so much. Still, the lectures enhanced my understanding of most of the texts. An enjoyable and interesting course.

May 2010

I enjoyed this class mainly because I happen to love the works of Virginia Woolf. We read 8 Woolf novels in their entirety, plus Conrad's Heart of Darkness (snore) and some of Woolf's essays. Professor Cole is very nice, but her lectures seemed a little shallow considering her noteworthy scholarship. The lectures might have been better if she had focused more closely on specific passages, rather racing through all of the major themes from each of Woolf's writings. A lot of the time I felt like she was telling us things that aren't exactly difficult to figure out; however, I still learned a lot in the end because of what I put into the class myself. If you do the reading, think, take notes, and let your curiosity lead you into further research, I think that it ends up being a good class if you appreciate Virginia Woolf.

May 2010

Professor Cole definitely knows what she is talking about. And she is in great shape. And her wardrobe is great. And you will get pizza on the last day of class. That being said, Virginia Woolf is painful to get through. Unless you've already read some Woolf and you know that you like her style of writing, I would advise not taking this class. You have to read like 7-8 Woolf books, cover to cover. However, this class size is large enough that you don't really have to go. If you know how to find good JSTOR articles on the books and can teach yourself some basic themes and symbols, this class is a breeze. I didn't read most of the books and still did fine. Overall, Cole knows the material and is a decent lecturer. She seems nice, but you better hope that you get a good TA as a grader.

Aug 2006

Sarah Cole's waredrobe is amazing. The ideas Sarah Cole teaches in lectures are fairly similar to those found on sparknotes. Sarah Cole's syllabus is interesting: overall excellent authors, but usually their worst work.

Oct 2004

Second semster was much better than the first. Prof Cole was friendly and academically competent, but the material was often quite miserable. Keep her if you get her (you could do much, much worse).

May 2004

Prof. Cole is smart, picks good books, and loves to talk (though she wants you to talk as well, which is why she splits the class into thirds and makes you write a one-page response paper once every three weeks and encourages you to talk in class that week). She has smart things to say, picks good readings (Heart of Darkness, A Passage to India, World War I poetry), but I feel the class was missing something to make me eager to go every session. Perhaps it was her constant emphasis on "violence and sexuality", or maybe it was the one or two students/Life Long Learners who would never shut up. Prof. Cole is nice, loves when you comes to office hours, and certainly wants to get to know you (though that doesn't imply that she'll grade easily) In the end, I liked the class but didn't love it, and in a department with so many good lectures it might be better to take something else and try to take a seminar with her.

Nov 2003

Professor Cole is probably better than a lot of options (not that you get to shop around for lit hum). She is funny, energetic, and fair. However, she tends to dominate class conversations, and is inflexible when it comes to topics of discussion. Social and historical context is an absolutely forbidden topic of conversation, which at times is a pity. If she doesn't like an opinion, she quickly steers the discussion away from it rather than addressing it. For that reason, the class can be immensely frustrating. You could do better, but you could also do a whole lot worse.

May 2003

The syllabus would have been much more enjoyable without the lectures. Professor Cole gave the class a topic to think about pertaining to the next reading assignment almost all the time, and the topics were - invariably - extremely simple. She also divided the class in thirds by alpha listing and rotated said groupings into the first three rows on a weekly basis to discuss the texts, so the rest of the class had to listen to brownnosing peer discussions for the entire semester.

Aug 2002

Sarah Cole is definitely one of the best professors of my Columbia experience. This woman knows her sh*t. She lectures almost entirely without notes and can reference specific page numbers without incident. Genius. She lectures with a charming and often hilarious modern take on novels - hearing her complain about Tess of the D'Urbervilles "damn peony mouth" is refreshing. Moreover, however, every class is her own personal fashion show and one can't help but wonder if she intentionally strolls into a class named Violence and Sexuality in Modern Brit Lit wearing fishnets, thigh high boots and tight shirts. Also, she is incredibly understanding about paper deadlines, computer problems etc and, if you can stand the wait, wonderful to talk with outside class.

Apr 2002

Fascinating syllabus- Freud, Woolf, war poetry- and really interesting thematic elements, but her mode of literary analysis is much like her widely-renowned fishnet stockings. Interesting looking at first, but then you realize its not entirely useful because its full of holes. We try to do close reading every class but only stay on the actual text for two minutes before getting into vague, repetitive and utterly frustrating analysis. Most of this isn't her fault at all, but can be attributed to the disgustingly pretentious students this course seems to attract: they repeat everything she says in the form of comments and she goes "Wonderful! Brilliant!" Hardly shocking, since they're just parroting and to some extent I feel that she plays favorites. I would love to read this syllabus with her in a seminar setting, but I can't stomach going to this class and I only go once a week.

Nov 2001

Really wonderful class. Professor Cole geuninely cares about her students and enjoys teaching. The later part of Lit Hum is a little more interesting--after all her specialty is modern literature. Be prepared to talk in class because she likes lots of discussion. If you just sit there, silently for a couple classes she'll start randomly calling on you.

Apr 2001

BOO! Sarah Cole may be a great professor, but because she takes on a relatively open-ended "discussion" format, the class is often interrupted by unintelligent comments, which are usually made by the same--and more often than not pretentious--individuals. Professor Cole also has a way of feeding questions that generates exactly the answers she wants to hear--answers that are obvious if you actually read the text. By the end of the term you not only want to kill everyone and anyone who confidently states the obvious, but you walk out of lectures wondering whether you are getting anyting out of being a witness to public displays of brown-nosing. The themes covered are tried and true, in other words, dull and unsophisticated. If you are looking for an illuminating literary experience, take Prof. Delbanco's Foundations of American Literature I.

Jan 2000

Prof. Cole is an incredible teacher. She is enthusiastic and captivating, and extremely knowledgeable about the lit hum texts. She encourages everyone to participate, and her job about the texts definetly rubs off. She wants to teach this class and loves real discussions and thought-provoking questions. If you get her for lit hum, consider yourself lucky.

Jan 2000

I can't say enough about how great a teacher Professor Cole is. She gets the class to participate, she is very enthusiastic, and knows the material extremely well. She grades fairly, and will help you out with any trouble you are having. If you landed Professor Cole, consider yourself being taught by one of the best LitHum instructors.

Jan 2000

If this were a high school yearbook and I was giving out superlatives, Cole would definitely win for best-dressed. Her up-to-the-minute fashion sense and phenomenal physique will leave you wondering how she ever had the time to receive her Ph.D. All that aside, her lectures were sometimes disorganized. She drew a lot of binaries (i.e. male-female) from the books, which unfortunately made her lectures seem simplistic, when they really weren't. She tried hard to encourage discussion among the nearly 100 students of this enormous class, an attempt that inevitably produced a number of windbag ass-clowns. She also brings cookies every once in a while, although I definitely do not think she eats them herself. GO TO HER OFFICE HOURS. Not only will she provide you with endless hours of help, she also likes to chat about all sorts of things. But don't take that as a sign that she'll grade leniently. Her TA's are fierce graders as well.

Jan 2000

Prof. Cole is personally very appealing, but I felt that her lectures were a bit too disorganized and occasionally unsophisticated. This is a good class for someone just beginning to fulfill the requirements for the major, or someone not ready to do advanced work in the field but looking for a relatively challenging elective. (n.b., The class is by no means an "easy A", mostly because the TA's assigned to it the semester I took it had unusually rigid standards and did much of the grading; she's no push-over either). Despite the challenge of the un-inflated grading, the class can feel tiresome to those who have already had extensive experience with literature classes. Although she places great emphasis on students synthesizing all of the texts in the final exam, her own lectures feel fantastically scatterbrained. I have to give her credit for being a great performer: the classroom is her stage as she gestures theatrically, makes frequent eye contact, and extracts responses from even the quietest of students. I don't wholly regret taking this class because her anecdote peppered lectures and sincere concern for her students were refreshing, but I can't say that I learned much in the classroom.

Jan 2000

Simply the goddess of British Lit. Cole's class has perhaps the greatest syllabus I've seen at Columbia, and she knows and loves each and every piece on it. Tangential and stream of consciousness yet still brilliant and comprehensive, Cole makes the class fun. Somehow in a lecture class of eighty people Sarah Cole manages to know everyone's name and stir up an actual discussion without losing any information contained in the lecture. My one criticism is that there are so many works covered that often a given work isn't covered in enough detail. Still, the class is incredible, the lectures interesting, and the syllabus wonderful. And she's cute.