professor
Margot Bernstein

Jan 2021

Margot was an unfair grader and obviously caught up in her own little Art History world, at least during the pandemic. She decided this would be a great semester to give one more assignment than she usually does. She did not even use any hesitation in her voice when saying she was adding an additional, real assignment to a COVID-19 semester. Very tone-deaf. I am a literature/history person and have gotten solid As all across the board at Columbia in these subjects (not bragging, making a point), and it was not because the material was "easier" than MOWA..actually, I've taken far harder lit/history classes than this. And let me tell you....no one was more critical than Margot. But her comments were solely subjective and stylistic and had nothing to do with actual art history content. The only times they did was when I did not properly "regurgitate" (literally) what she said in class. Margot is the type who does not like to give out solid As, not because she feels no one deserves them, but because it makes her feel like she is the one in charge if she does not. There is what can only be called obvious intellectual insecurity when it comes to her "domain". And she is a bright woman, no doubt--but it is there. Don't be fooled by her personable nature...the passive aggressiveness only comes out on paper comments. If you are juggling many classes and life issues, especially during this pandemic, and want to receive a solid A if you do in fact deserve it, do not take this section.

Jan 2021

Professor Bernstein is an amazing professor. She is clearly passionate about the subject and cares a lot about her students.

Jan 2021

I'll start with Margot's positives because she does have a lot. You can tell Art History is not only her passion but pretty much her entire life. She is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Art History. She's clearly well-traveled because she's been to nearly every museum mentioned when speaking about where specific works are housed. She has all of her prior, renowned professors on speed dial and was besties with one of the authors we had to read for the Picasso lecture. Now, was he included simply because they were grad school besties and his work was somewhat relevant to the course, or because he was a standard read for all of the sections? Hard to tell. But she is clearly bright in this field and hangs around with other bright folks. If you love art and/or history or even better are on the art history track, you'll love this class regardless of the grade you'll get because you'll learn a lot about the things you're interested in. You'll walk away feeling generally more knowledgeable about your chosen path/interests. And that's all well and good. But if you're not really an artist, a historian, or an art historian and are simply taking this because you have to...and are juggling organic chemistry and calculus III or some other really tough, demanding classes...and could really use that "solid A" because any bump to the GPA helps, and any hit to the GPA hurts...we're at Columbia after all, so we all get it... This is not the section to take. Full disclosure: I have a natural aptitude for writing. I'm on a science track; however, I'm that person who has taken literature courses just for fun. I'm a late junior credit-wise, so I'm taking this on the later side of my Columbia career. And I'll tell you, no English/Lit professor at Columbia has ever marked up my margins like Margot! And that's all well and good if it's necessary. But, I found most of Margot's critiques to be very subjective/solely stylistic, and not really content related. My grades only got better (and they weren't bad, just not A range) when I conformed to her writing style...which was, well, hers, and entirely subjective. Though outwardly very pleasant (you will enjoy her class because she does have a wit and a charm), she does definitely have a chip on her shoulder when it comes to "her domain". When my critiques were content related they were mostly about how I had my own idea about a topic. But no, she would comment in the margin, it was actually "xyz" because that was what she said in class; essentially, she sought only regurgitation. And that's tough because her classes are unnecessarily lecture-heavy and there is a lot of stuff to remember. Solely based on her commentary, I was able to glean that: A) she really does not want to give out solid As because that's perfection, and let's face it, only she knows this stuff "perfectly" and B) she's a bit intimidated by people who aren't as dedicated to this field as she is and yet can still pull off pretty damn good papers. In this way, she is almost quietly passively aggressive, if that's even a thing. And the grading scheme was a bit ridiculous. She once gave me a B/B+. What does that even mean? An 86.5? An 88? And there's no outlined grading scale e.g. a 93 = A, 92 = A-, etc. I found myself loving but not loving this class. I walked away with an A-, but that really wasn't through learning anything in particular but kind of kissing up in my papers. And that's not fair. And it's not fair that this semester, out of all semesters, she chose to give five assignments instead of "her usual" four. When I heard her say that without hesitation it came across as very tone-deaf. But I'll give her *some* credit; she did give us a day to complete a relatively short take-home midterm and once gave a free extension out of the blue on an assignment. But I feel like those sorts of things aren't really necessary if the class is well planned and fair, or I suppose, fair to the people who are juggling really difficult classes/current circumstances and could use that solid A if they've earned it. And I was one of those people who did earn it, but sadly did not receive it because I was not "her type of student"; not the art historian, basically. However, if a receiving a B+/A- when you deserve an A doesn't bother you in any way, and/or you have even a tangential interest in Art History, this is your class, so take it.

Dec 2020

Professor Bernstein is pretty great. She's an excellent lecturer and clearly cares about the class a lot. Even on Zoom, she finds a way to engage everyone in the course. While the reading is heavy, it's not really necessary to enjoy the class and I definitely didn't read each class reading. Overall, excellent professor.

Sep 2016

Professor Bernstein is amazing, she is one of the best professors I have had. She is very animated and keeps Art History fun and energetic even though some of the material can be pretty dry. Works great with students, but big on punctuality so do not be late to class. This was one of my favorite classes and she is definitely the professor to take for art hum. The class is a lot of memorization and not intensive with daily homework, just need to study for exams.