professor
Simon Porzak

Nov 2018

Porzak is a genius who actually cares about teaching. He'll make sure you walk out of that classroom with all the necessary skills and more knowledge than you came in with. He's more concerned with you actually learning to be a great, interesting writer than with your grade so he's not too strict with deadlines or stingy with extra credit opportunities. He's an overall cool dude and it is rare to find someone as smart as he is who genuinely cares about helping others learn and improve. Take advantage of his brain while you can and you will walk out of that class better than you walked in.

Oct 2018

Simon Porzak was a phenomenal UW instructor and probably the best professor of my three semesters at Columbia thus far. My writing improved immensely, and his sense of humor made coming to class a lot of fun, even in the depths of winter. Beyond his quirky and kind personality, he took his pedagogy very seriously. Despite its status as the most nebulously-defined course in the university (i.e., it's not "about" anything in terms of content - only one of the four papers for my music-themed section had a music-tangential exhibit), Dr. Porzak had the most consistently useful and organized classes of any professor I've taken. For each paper draft, he records a 10-15 minute private YouTube video of feedback and annotated comments, which were immensely useful in the revision process. His section was hard. Dr. Porzak is meticulous about his craft and expects a lot of you from the beginning, but it was this demanding nature that improved my writing. All in all, I cannot recommend Dr. Porzak highly enough. He’s brilliant, organized, and a great teacher. If you’re just looking for an easy A, there are probably better profs out there, but if you want someone who is invested in making your writing better, take UW with Dr. Porzak.

Feb 2018

Simon Porzak is such a sweetheart. I know some people in my class found him to be unnecessarily sarcastic and brusque but if you do the work and don't bullshit about in class, you'll totally be fine. He's very sympathetic and I really felt like he was out to help you improve your writing and to remind you of the choices you make as a writer. I took the contemporary essays section and you can expect a lot of dense philosophical readings (Barthes, Baudrillard, Nietzsche and not their more famous texts cuz he's cool like that). They're tough but the reading list is exceedingly well-curated. He also always has clear lesson plans, witty turn of phrases and fun little activities.

Dec 2017

Simon Porzak is intensely smart and articulate in many areas (rhetoric, science, writing, French, critical theory, pop culture...) and witnessing this intelligence in the classroom is an honor. He's also absurdly funny and full of wit. His syllabus and each day of class are meticulously planned and organized, yet he somehow combines this attention to detail/coherence with an approachable, laid-back attitude and sense of humor. He is also really helpful with drafts, and I think my writing has evolved a lot for the better in his course. I definitely recommend him even if just for the laughs.

Jan 2017

I cannot recommend enough. Professor Porzak was a delight to behold, and (I felt) he guided me through my first semester. He is at first snarky and fun (our class spent most of our time chuckling), but is most of all desperately smart. He thinks critically at an inspirationally high level. He would be played by Billy Eichner, but Porzak would sooner diss Decarthes than Sienna Miller (I believe Porzak would also like me to note that he is more handsome - sorry Billy). If you like wit in a teacher you'll be pleased. Notably he gives his notes on drafts in youtube videos where you can see your draft as his voice gives you notes on it. I found this to be extremely valuable. Nobody else does that! My favorite Porzak moment of the semester was when I went to his office hours to last minute switch the exhibit (subject) for our P3. In an instant he told me the root of what I was really talking about and without leaving his chair he handed me his copy of Walter Benjamin that had an annotated chapter that became the core of my argument. It can also be noted that the copy of Benjamin was annotated in multiple languages! Also that I still have it, but I plan to return it Friday with a batch of homemade soft pretzels because I'm lame and also I can't thank him enough for all the time and care he put into our class.

Nov 2016

I had Porzak for a GS section of UW, and I loved him. He is a writer by trade, so he really knows what he's doing. He's incredibly knowledgeable about so many seemingly unrelated topics, but he doesn't make his students feel dumb. In addition to being brilliant, he's also very funny. I genuinely enjoy his class. The greatest aspect of his class, though, is the way he helps students revise. For each progression paper, he makes ~11 minute personal YouTube videos with his comments for each person's essay along with annotations on the text itself. His comments are insightful, personal, and helpful. I really feel like I've improved as both a reader and a writer this semester.