professor
Michael Paulson

Sep 2020

I highly recommend having Prof. Paulson for your Lit Hum class. He is super chill, and although yes the class is more of a discussion, I really enjoyed it. He's a great facilitator of interesting conversation while also being very understanding. When classes switched to online, he was super understanding of everyone's unique circumstances while also continuing to maintain a really interesting classroom environment. He often gives opportunities for creative essays, like style imitations, and he also cuts some of the texts in the syllabus to give more room for discussion of the remaining texts (which we all were happy with because, you know, less reading). He seems like such a genuinely nice person. I would 100% recommend him as a professor.

Aug 2020

TLDR; Paulson is a good professor, the class is engaging, take this section! As a transfer to CC, I had a few semesters under my belt, and Paulson is one of the best professors I have ever had. Lit Hum has great potential to be an absolutely boring class and Michael made it one of my favorite classes. I 100% recommend him to anyone. His face may always look disappointed, but he's actually just really pensive because he tries to engage with his students with a high level of respect. He is an excellent discussion leader, making clear the connections between these texts and our own experiences. Michael is also a saint. He is so understanding and accommodating of everyone's circumstances and one of the few profs I had who understood that things weren't business as usual once everything was moved to zoom.

May 2020

Paulson was probably the best decision I made in freshman year. I personally thought he was a great lit hum professor—he's light on the lectures, and as previous reviews have correctly pointed out, he's more of a discussion leader. However, while other reviews make this seem to be sort of a negative thing, I can definitively say he's fantastic at questioning and encouraging his students to think more deeply and develop their own thoughts about the texts. Saying this, he's extremely open to different ideas and somehow finds a way to bridge contrasting opinions, which broadened my understanding of the texts. Other than that, he's a very fair grader, quite often brings snacks to class, and our assignments are pretty open, giving way for writing something you actually want to write. Some of our assignments included imitations of different authors, interpreting art pieces in relation to texts, and the typical passage analysis. One thing I really want to emphasize is that he is super understanding and obviously cares about his students. When classes went online he was very lenient with us, especially the international students who were in extremely different time zones. He kept in constant communication with us to check up on our wellbeing, made a point to find ways to make online classes more fun/interactive, and overall made the experience so much easier. Basically, I would 100% recommend choosing him as a Lit Hum professor.

Apr 2020

Professor Paulson is SUCH a good professor! I would highly recommend taking his class if you can. He cares a lot about his students and is very accommodating. His classes are sometimes a little boring, but it is definitely worth it. He realizes how tough the syllabus is and took some texts out to be able to really focus on the important ones (he makes his own midterm). The two writing assignments are also flexible--you're able to choose from different options of what you want to do. Having switched into his class for the second semester, I really wish I'd been in it for the whole year.

Apr 2020

Michael is AMAZING. 10/10 recommend. If you have the option, take his class. Probably the most understanding professor I've had so far at Columbia. He does a really good job taking the texts we read and finding a way to make them interesting and applicable in today's world. I was rarely ever bored in this class, and the discussions were always eye-opening and entertaining. He understands that not everyone is in love with older texts, so he has discussion posts that he uses really as a framework for class and this really allows the students to have a say in what they do or do not discuss in class. He even omitted a few texts from the first semester so that we'd be able to discuss the ones we kept more in depth. Cannot imagine having anyone more chill than he was. Midterm was not bad at all if you prepared, and final was the same. For essays you'll typically have the option of doing 1 creative project that can be really exciting if you give it your all, and he's there with you every step of the process. Over the semester, our class grew super close and I think Prof. Paulson had a really big role in making that happen. Overall an amazing class and would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Jan 2020

A very nice and standard LitHum prof—classes sometimes had quite a bit of lecturing + writing on the board (which is good if you like that style of teaching, like I do), and his grading was very fair. Office hours were also really helpful in terms of essay planning + writing. I took him for both semesters of LitHum and thought the midterm (passage IDs + short in-context explanations) for both semesters were very easy if you attended class, because they were almost all quotes that we discussed in depth. Second semester assignments were also fun because we got to do "artistic interpretations" of texts (like a painting or a song) instead of writing essays.

Dec 2017

Paulson is a solid Lithum teacher, he's easygoing and seems to actually enjoy speaking with students. His section is very light on him actually talking though, he seems to prefer just letting the class talk among itself, which is a plus if you're one of those people who likes the sound of their own voice, and a minus if you want a teacher instead of a discussion leader. He brought food to class and generally has interesting and useful things to say when he actually speaks. He writes very useful class breakdowns/agendas on the board before every class if you like taking notes. Pretty average grader talking to my classmates, not overly easy but also not likely to hit you with a C on your first essay. Would recommend.

Aug 2014

Professor Paulson is a very capable and approachable University Writing Professor. I thoroughly enjoyed his classes, although some of my classmates found his classes somewhat challenging. To be fair, Professor Paulson is not the best professor out there, but he gets the job done. Paulson used to work as a journalist, and you can still find some of his articles online. You can get a good sense of his personality and teaching style by just reading his articles. He's a fairly articulate and straightforward lecturer. His University Writing section is very well-structured, and the information is delivered in a very organized manner. Class can be a little boring at times, but it really depends on your classmates. Paulson really tries to be objective and make everyone feel comfortable. Everyone was encouraged to speak and offer feedback. Professor Paulson can be a little harsh with grading, but he's pretty lenient with due dates. He frequently holds office hours, and he's always quick to answer emails. I'd recommend seeing him at least twice for feedback each progression. He offered some very insightful and useful feedback on my papers, and I feel that my writing has improved. In short, Michael Paulson is a solid teacher. He may not be the most exciting lecturer, and his grading may not be the most lenient. But, for the most part, he's a fair and approachable University Professor. Not the best, but certainly not bad.

May 2014

Paulson is a fair instructor. One of the downsides is that he assigns "Writing Exercises" every Monday and Wednesday to be finished by the next class. These exercises include readings, summaries, outlines, peer review letters, and drafts. These can be time-consuming and taxing, especially for assignments that are assigned on Mondays and due by Wednesdays. However, some of them are quite useful in making sure that you are keeping up with the work and not procrastinating on final drafts. Depending on how you see these writing exercises, they might actually be a benefit. He provides useful criticism on drafts. However, I'm not entirely sure if addressing those criticisms actually help, since my grades on the essays have remained fairly consistent (example: Paulson writes suggestions on the formal draft. I follow his suggestions and turn in the final draft. I get back my final draft with some extra criticism that he didn't mention on the formal draft). His criticisms are valid for the most part though. In class, Paulson reserves some time for group discussions and peer evaluations. As a result, the actual class is not taxing - only the assignments themselves are. No computers are allowed except for the very last class of the semester. Paulson also requires students to meet with him to discuss certain progressions. Most of his suggestions will revolve around making your essay more focused (versus a claim that is overly broad), so keep that in mind. Personality-wise, Paulson has a very even temperament. He won't make you laugh or cry, but what can you really expect from University Writing?