Take his class if you have a chance!!!! He's great.
Lars Thimo Heisenberg is the best instructor I've had at Columbia. Because of him, I had the peak of the possible CC experience. There's a chance I'll end up in as an instructor in academia, and if this ever comes to be, I will model myself after him.
Thimo (Prof. Heisenberg) somehow made class discussions flow naturally, and yet kept them informative. My grasp on the texts was always much more solid after class discussion; Thimo would consistently clear things up, seemingly by doing very little, and I understood the fundamental structure, argument, and methods of the texts as a result. At the same time, our class laughed- together- more than any other I've been in at CU. Consider this: I was always overloaded and sleep-deprived this semester and yet always looked forward to my 6-8 PM CC session. (I actually had Columbia-subsidized tickets to a concert during a session a couple weeks ago and resold them when I realized I had few sessions of CC left and didn't want to miss one.) Thimo also somehow perfectly balanced direct explanations and discussion-moderating; we got enough clarification that it cleared up some of our mis-readings and enough discussion to actually think through the texts and analyze them critically.
Another thing Thimo did perfectly was nurture diverse opinions in the class and get people to treat them seriously (with respect), and he did this naturally, without invoking rules or authority. In other words, he’d prod us with questions, directing the discussion simply by calling on people, and sometimes he’d say “To summarize...” and then a nuanced summary of developed ideas and how different people disagreed, structured in a way that would clear things up and highlight the strong points and crucial parts of the thoughts. We’ve noticed that Thimo, crucially, really listens to our comments, as if he expects there to be something interesting in what we say, which allows him to challenge the points honestly. The discussion was thus usually beautiful, and we got the most out of both the texts and our fellow classmates’ differing opinions and backgrounds.
Thimo's always incredibly prepared. He’d come to class with some background information about the authors and the texts (he told us about Nietzsche’s linguistics background, and the complex history of “Ain’t I a Woman?” as a text, etc.), and then after an analysis of what the passages were doing (their arguments, methods, assumptions, conclusions drawn), he’d bring up some common criticisms of the works to put on the table for the discussion (this also often happened when a student criticized the text). Sometimes passages were unclear, so we'd ask, and Thimo would either clear things up or provide some theories “in the literature” about interpretations, often also telling us his personal opinion. Obviously, Thimo sometimes did not have exact answers, and he was very upfront with this, usually offering to find out what he could.
Thimo is also truly invested in our experience in CC and simply as humans. He really wasn’t treating us as just a job (although I’m sure we often tired him out). He’d stay for a long time after the classes talking with us, was available to talk outside of class-time, offered help with papers in office and Skype meetings, organized midterm and final review sessions, etc.
My only complaint is that now my expectations are completely ruined, and so I will probably wait for a long time before another instructor manages to meet my new standards. Also, Thimo has genuinely terrible handwriting. (Seriously, it's chicken scrawl.)