Katherine Balkoski

Mar 2018

She is a very fair, lenient grader who is very helpful when you go to her with paper ideas and understanding when you need an extension. Some LitHum professors give pop quizzes, require blog posts, etc. but she never does anything tricky. Each class is straightforward. It consists of close reading, casual discussion, and small group work. If you don't like routine, then you could get bored, but, personally, I say if you were placed in her section, stay in it, cause she's a good professor.

Jan 2018

Kat is the absolute best LitHum professor I could have asked for! I was originally assigned an 8:10am class and, in my desperation to switch, ended up in her class. Honestly, thank god! She's so chill in class and with grading. Compared to my friends' stories about LitHum professors, she seems downright easy. We stick to the standard LitHum syllabus, but this is her second year teaching the class (she's getting her PhD in the French department I think) so she's familiar with the texts and always has interesting information about them that enhances the reading experience. She also went to Columbia for undergrad, so she took LitHum as a freshman herself.The class also makes really interesting points about the texts. Every time we finish a book we have to pass in an ungraded, one-page, double-spaced close reading of a passage from the book, which honestly takes me about ten minutes each time, and we could skip the response for one book. We had three four-page essays over the semester. I talked over my idea with her each time, and her expectations, both in class and in office hours, were quite clear, so writing the essay was not hard, even though she did not give us prompts. For the midterm, we had the option of voting on take-home or in-class, and the quotes she chose for the quote IDs were very reasonable based on what we talked about in class. The final was not decided by her, but she did try to prepare us. I do wish that she maybe spoke a little less in class, but she seems like she wants the best for students and wants them to understand what goes on in class and participate. If you get the chance, take Kat's class!

Jan 2017

Great professor. She is very helpful when you write your essays. She takes drafts and will give you a lot of notes and suggestions. She also teaches the material well, focusing on specific scenes and what they reveal about the culture, values, and context of the author(s) of the texts and what the scenes reveal about views on a range of subjects. She goes exactly by the standard syllabus in terms of books we read: nothing more or less. She also has a take-home midterm that's very doable.

Dec 2016

Kat's the absolute BEST! She's really chill, funny, and she's just an overall pleasure to be around. She has a fantastic attitude toward her job in ensuring that our conversations were dynamic, productive, and applicable- not esoteric, too philosophical, or difficult to relate to- as can be the case when discussing some of the works that established the way we currently think and learn. She also loves group collaboration, so many times instead of just having one long extensive conversation about a book, we would break up into smaller groups; and each group concentrated on a particular theme or event- later presenting to the entire class. Kat's also a pretty generous grader; she has a simple set of expectations, but if you don't take her incredibly helpful comments seriously to actually improve your writing- you can easily end up with the same mediocre grade on each paper. Kat also seems a bit disenfranchised with the whole "core mentality." She doesn't really buy into the whole idea of everyone having the exact same final, which made her expectations for the exam slightly unclear. Regardless, after spending so much class time with her, you get to understand what she expects and all is well. Also, Kat's just an incredibly pleasant person- and likes to make sure everyone has a part in the discussion- so even when people spew absolute nonsense, she never rejects or shuts people down (which probably doesn't do those people any favors). Either way, if you're lucky enough to get Kat- enjoy! You'll have an incredibly positive experience. And, as Kat loves to say... Cheers!

Jan 2014

Great teacher! Very chill, homework is a ton, but that is normal for all French classes. She wants you to do well, so she grades with partial credit and extra credit opportunities. Downside: You won't learn much French, so even though you do well on everything she gives you (40% of the grade) the rest is department wide, and it will be hella impossible, so the final and especially the oral review and one of the tests in the semester where a grade downer...