professor
Manu Vimalassery

Dec 2018

For some reason reason, CULPA continues to not publish my review, so here goes again. - It's an easy class. If you want an A, take it. That said, I recall a particular slide in the class that I felt summed up most of what I listened to throughout the semester. Manu concluded the semester with the same slide. I took a photo and here's what he had. Whiteness: - Protection - Exclusion - Owner - Valuing - Subject - Person - Citizen - Self-interested Blackness: - Vulnerability - Inclusion - Owned - Exchanged - Object - Property - Alien - Being for Another Manu is well-read and presents well. However, he has his beliefs and probably won't change in the near future. From his class, I learned that some of his beliefs are factually true. But, as you can see from his binary state of mind, Manu also has the dangerous tendency of crossing the extreme, nearing delusion. I felt that, if you are sufficiently prepared to have your own thoughts, this is a class that can be worthwhile. If you work through his numerously false and exaggerated logic, you can find some real truth. And that truth is what makes the class worthwhile. But frankly I found that most people in the class weren't prepared for this kind of thinking. Most of them were there to either feel solace for their exaggerated sense of marginalization and hatred or get an A. Frankly it made me feel sad that this semester's worth of diatribes was brainwashing 200+ students from my community. Sometimes, the truth hurts. But I find Manu is maybe too afraid to accept it. If he accepts, most of his beliefs fall apart. It's all-in-all a sad sight. That said, I personally got something out of the class and I hope Manu is able to continue his studies and eventually learn to understand the frailties of his mind as well. None of us are perfect thinkers and he'll be better off realizing that sooner than later, if not for himself, at least for our community.

Dec 2018

It's an easy class. If you want an A, take it. That said, I recall a particular slide in the class that I felt summed up most of what I listened to throughout the semester. Manu concluded the semester with the same slide. I took a photo and here's what he had. Whiteness: - Protection - Exclusion - Owner - Valuing - Subject - Person - Citizen - Self-interested Blackness: - Vulnerability - Inclusion - Owned - Exchanged - Object - Property - Alien - Being for Another Manu is well-read and presents well. However, he has his beliefs and probably won't change in the near future. From his class, I learned that some of his beliefs are factually true. But, as you can see from his binary state of mind, Manu also has the dangerous tendency of crossing the extreme, nearing delusion. I felt that, if you are sufficiently prepared to have your own thoughts, this is a class that can be worthwhile. If you work through his numerously false and exaggerated logic, you can find some real truth. And that truth is what makes the class worthwhile. But frankly I found that most people in the class weren't prepared for this kind of thinking. Most of them were there to either feel solace for their exaggerated sense of marginalization and hatred or get an A. Frankly it made me feel sad that this semester's worth of diatribes was brainwashing 200+ students from my community. Sometimes, the truth hurts. But I find Manu is maybe too afraid to accept it. If he accepts, most of his beliefs fall apart. It's all-in-all a sad sight. That said, I personally got something out of the class and I hope Manu is able to continue his studies and eventually learn to understand the frailties of his mind as well. None of us are perfect thinkers and he'll be better off realizing that sooner than later, if not for himself, at least for our community.

Dec 2018

It's an easy class. If you want an A, take it. That said, I recall a particular slide in the class that I felt summed up most of what I listened to throughout the semester. Manu concluded the semester with the same slide. I took a photo and here's what he had. Whiteness: - Protection - Exclusion - Owner - Valuing - Subject - Person - Citizen - Self-interested Blackness: - Vulnerability - Inclusion - Owned - Exchanged - Object - Property - Alien - Being for Another Manu is well-read and presents well. However, he has his beliefs and probably won't change in the near future. From his class, I learned that some of his beliefs are factually true. But, as you can see from his binary state of mind, Manu also has the dangerous tendency of crossing the extreme, nearing delusion. I felt that, if you are sufficiently prepared to have your own thoughts, this is a class that can be worthwhile. If you work through his numerously false and exaggerated logic, you can find some real truth. And that truth is what makes the class worthwhile. But frankly I found that most people in the class weren't prepared for this kind of thinking. Most of them were there to either feel solace for their exaggerated sense of marginalization and hatred or get an A. Frankly it made me feel sad that this semester's worth of diatribes was brainwashing 200+ students from my community. Sometimes, the truth hurts. But I find Manu is maybe too afraid to accept it. If he accepts, most of his beliefs fall apart. It's all-in-all a sad sight. That said, I personally got something out of the class and I hope Manu is able to continue his studies and eventually learn to understand the frailties of his mind as well. None of us are perfect thinkers and he'll be better off realizing that sooner than later, if not for himself, at least for our community.

Dec 2017

Manu was a great professor who treated us with respect and expected us to do the same. He was sometimes heckled by more conservative male students but he was never offended or flustered and instead just reinforced his ideas of respect and how disrespectful it was to be laughing during a lesson on the brutalities of slavery. I am sad that Manu is going on sabbatical after this year but when he comes back, anyone and everyone should take this class. It totally changed my worldview and made me understand that racism is not just a theoretical, but has actual foundations in all the systems in this country. Your grade is based on attendance and participation in discussion sections so show up! The midterm and finals are kind of pass/fail essays where you fail if your TA thinks you don't understand the material.

Dec 2017

Prepare to have any intellectual curiosity you have about race stifled. Like one of the previous reviews, this class is truly a detriment to the educational institution Columbia/Barnard stands for. Manu does not encourage discourse or opinions that are contrary to his own. I lost track of how many times he said, "this is the greatest class you will ever take". How conceited and insecure can one be to say this repeatedly to a 200-student lecture hall? Dial it down. FACT CHECK if you take this class (which you shouldn't). I couldn't believe how many times I heard Manu misquote "facts" or statistics. I've studied immigration policy extensively and during his lectures on the topic, I was shocked at how completely wrong he was about certain policies. Making me doubt the efficacy of the rest of his lectures. It is as if he copy+pastes CNN headlines and uses that as definitive fact to outline his arguments. He is obviously passionate about the material and that is fantastic, but you should take everything with a grain of salt. I genuinely feel bad for all the students that took (and will take) classes with him and suck down everything he says as unbridled fact.

Dec 2017

This class is one of my favorite classes of the semester and it is completely unrelated to my major. Manu really explores subjects of race and how they intersect with our economy. The grading scale is completely fair, all you have to do is show up to all of the classes and discussion sections and write the midterms of course and you are guaranteed an A. He really emphasizes the fact that is is a class meant for personal relflection rather than an Easy A so if you take this class please take it seriously as the stress relief of the grading scale is meant to provide that.

Dec 2017

This is the best class I have ever taken in my entire life. Manu is the best and most caring teacher I have ever had, and I don't expect anyone to surpass him, probably ever. This class changed my life. I left class every day feeling enlightened, inspired, and meaningful in my place in the world. I feel so lucky that I was able to experience this. He cares so unbelievably much about the material and instills that in every one of his students. If I never learn anything in my next 3 years at this school, this one class will have been worth coming to Barnard. He teaches a class, but it is part of a mindset that prepares you to be a revolutionary and literally change the way we define the human experience. This class gives language to everything you've ever struggled with, if you are an activist. Please, please, please take this class. I know I'm going to leave this review and wish I had said more, but please, take this class.

Oct 2017

Professor Vimalassery's classes are incredibly fascinating and comprehensible if you have done the readings, although lectures can be a bit monotone. He is very accessible and available to students. You start with a 93% and have your grade docked if you don't meet very easy requirements.

Aug 2017

I agree that Manu wants you to question and see the world differently, but I would also argue that he only wants you to do that if that different way of thinking is his way of thinking. I was frustrated with the idea of people taking the class and not taking it seriously because it is an easy A, but I found myself doing that. I ended up not doing most of the readings. I read a few in depth and skimmed a bunch, some were really interesting and educational and a lot were just weird and bull-shitty. Take my word on the readings with a grain of salt, because, as I said, I didn't do most of them. I did take the final project seriously, but I don't blame my group partners (who all took it seriously enough) for not caring so much about it because of the way he grades. It was really easy to say at the beginning of the semester that I would do all the readings despite it not affecting my grade at all because I would find enjoyment out of it, but when I was overwhelmed with everything else, the reading for this class ended up being far down on my list of priorities. Manu often times encouraged us to come to his office hours, which I appreciated, but I didn't feel comfortable going and expressing my differing opinions on subjects he taught. And I am pretty liberal, I just don't see things through tunnel vision thinking one way is the right way to think about things. I love his philosophies about education, but I felt that he spent more time talking about how important it is for us to question things than actually creating an environment for us to question things. If you see things in a very liberal way, want to criticize America, great, take this class. I found that taking notes during his lecture kept me engaged, and the lectures were interesting, but they really felt simple, repetitive, and lacking depth.

Jun 2017

I don't know why Manu doesn't have a gold nugget yet. He's the best professor I've had hands down. When people say a class changed their life, I usually don't believe them but this class 100% changed my life. I'm so grateful that I took a class with Manu because he completely alters the way you think and see the world. He is kind, funny, cares about his students and is also just a great instructor. The midterm and final are graded based on completion, your only grade is attendance so make sure you show up to class.

Apr 2017

I'll make it short: Take this class. Your grade is completely in your control. If you don't leave with a solid A you should be disappointed in yourself. If you show up to every class and discussion section and then simply complete every assignment you get an A. That. Is. It. The material is also very interesting. He calls out the sins of our country and touches on material that is "edgy" or "controversial". And since the grade is in your control, you feel free to focus on learning and asking question rather than remembering and regurgitating information. It is very easy to just slack off and do the bare minimum and get nothing out of this class but I found myself very engaged in the material. Some of the readings are also interesting and worthy of at least a skim. Not many gimmies at Columbia but this is one

Mar 2017

This class is damaging to the nature of an academic institution. The professor starts with a singular thesis: America is a terrible nation of a privileged class that has wreaked havoc on the world, and presents each case to support this idea. In class, he said the following: “I do not accept that America is a legitimate nation… I’ve looked at the documents… there is nothing there.” After Trump was elected he told the class, “Just so you know, the way I’m approaching this… is that I’m not going to accept anything this man says or does as legitimate.” To have this man at the front of a classroom undermines the value of reason, critical thinking, and sound argumentation. If the Right wanted the shining example to criticize how academic institutions have leaned towards a moral fascism and no longer represent liberal values, this would be it. Any dissenting opinion was shut down by cries of privilege. There was absolutely no critical thinking or marshaling of facts or evidence that went on. This class is popular because you legitimately do not have to think to get an A. If you repeat the thesis over and over again that America is not actually exceptional because it has harmed certain people and certain nations, you get an A. This is the type of class that silences anyone with a dissenting opinion or factual argument. This is the type of class that makes students scared to speak out because they are afraid they will be labeled a racist, sexist, etc. This review is not at all out of malice towards the professor - he has strong ideological values that should be harnessed in political action. His passion and bias prevent him from facilitating any productive learning in the classroom but could be very useful in other realms. I truly hope that Barnard will not keep this professor on just because students like his class because it requires no thinking and makes them feel like their opinions are moral. This is not the direction universities should be going in.

Jan 2017

Manu wants you to develop your own ideas about what it means to be human. This class isn’t a lot of work. Manu is clearly really smart, but he doesn’t know how to give an engaging lecture so the class is pretty boring and everyone is on their computer. I felt bad not doing all the readings, but they are really long and he tends to try to summarize them in class. The class might be more interesting if you do them, but that’s up to you. Grading: you start at 93% and lose a small percentage every time you miss a class or a posting. There isn’t usually anyway you can make up what you missed. You will probably get an A- at best, unless you do everything perfectly. He doesn’t let you know your grade throughout the course of the semester so you need to keep track of it yourself.

Mar 2016

Manu is AMAZING. I honestly have never heard a major complaints from my classmates about him. He's the kind of professor that you love so much, you push yourself to do well because you don't want to let him down. He's kind, charming, and patient even when students ask dumb questions. He works hard to foster a community in his classes, even when they are on the larger side. Usually he starts the class asking if people have questions about the readings, hw, or upcoming assignments, and then he offers a space for students to make announcements about events on campus. He's an intellectual force who will drop knowledge bombs on you left and right. I think this is especially important since his classes often discus issues of race and American imperialism—topics that are not simple by any means. He always makes an effort to ground his statements with concrete examples, and asks us to stop him if we feel he is not being clear (which almost never happens). On days when I didn't feel like going to class I did anyway and was always glad I didn't skip. By far the greatest thing about him is that he wants to give you an A. As long as you don't skip too many classes, show up for the midterm and final, and do your weekly posting there is no way you can fail. He goes by a philosophy that everyone is in charge of their own education and that he is just a guide to help us better ourselves. So even if your essay is terrible, as long as it is clear a bit of effort was put in you will succeed. So far he is the only professor in my college experience who understands that heavy reading assignments outside of class does not translate into more knowledge. His readings are very reasonable in length, and are always relevant to the topics we are discussing in class. Because the workload is so manageable I was always able to do it and never felt drowned or overwhelmed. He is now set a standard for all my professors going forward, and honestly I don't think there is anyone who could possibly live up to him. I could rant and rave all day long about how great he is. No matter the subject or class title, if he is teach the course just take it. You won't regret it.

Oct 2015

I love this class. Professor Vimalassery is very serious but also very understanding and approachable, and his lectures are both easy to follow along and thought provoking. The work load for the class is really not that much, with medium sized readings and weekly brief discussion posts. This class really made me want to learn more about American studies, I highly recommend it!!!!