Great teacher, always showed the littest movies/paintings, ones see myself coming back to (like Courbet, Chris Marker,Varda, and Frampton). The teacher I would want to be, always encouraging and willing to discuss whatever. My second class in art history department and both were probably the best I've taken here (other was 20th century art by Alberro). I'm graduating but see myself coming back to talk to him/sit in on his lectures.
I just want to make it public that after classes went online post-Spring break, Crary never once held an online session because of supposed difficulties on his end and lack of access to his materials. All he did was send out readings and a couple of bullet points, which in no way is a substitute for what ought to have been a two-hour-long weekly engagement. Now, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and maybe he had a lot to deal with, but he could've ad-libbed some of the content (this course has been offered for at least a decade) or at least turned the lecture into a seminar-style discussion. There was just no pedagogical commitment at all.
Johnathan Crary is a classical Establishment Art Historian. He wouldn't know postmodernism (let alone a pomo reading of somethign) if it bit him in the ass! He wouldn't know modernism if it bit him in the ass. 1. I and another girl had our hands up for 5-10 min while he called thrice on some white guy named J**** before calling on either of us! He is either blind as a bat (Perfectly probable— J**** was right beside him, we were at the opposite end of the Schermerhorn Art History Classroom Seminar Table™) or he is a bigot. 2. Bigot: equally possible, given that he uses the world 'problematize' as though colonialism is problématique when you pint out it's flaws and not the result of an inherently problematic system. I remember my UW porfessor told us, if you're ever in a classroom with a professor who says, "problematize," get out. Now I see why. 3. When students are talking he seems to be literally shaking with eagerness waiting for them to stop talking so that he can say his own thoughts. If what you said dosen't match what he wanted you to say, he will either put an end to to the topic you brought up asking a leading question of his own as soon as you're done talking, or flat-out say what he was thinking after giving you a nod and smile despite never making eye contact with you. 4. You will show up to a seminar with him and hear him say he is "interested in what you all have to say!" A lying snake! 5. He's a lecturer, not a discussion-moderator.
Professor Crary is amazing. I don't know why he does not have a gold star. This is a must-take course for any art history major and a worthwhile one for anyone who even has a passing interest in art.
If I could have Crary's children, I would.
I just want to issue a disclaimer: he does not necessarily follow the syllabus. I took this class solely because of my interest in impressionism. This midterm (which was slightly after the middle of the term) was almost entirely late 18th century art with some that went into the 1830s. We spent maybe 3 classes on the impressionists. From what I've heard from other students and seen on culpa, this isn't an isolated incident. If history paintings spark your interests, then by all means, take this class, but don't take it for the sake of impressionism.
Overall, I really enjoyed this course. I had never taken any type of art history course before and jumped right into 19th century painting with Crary. This course made me fall in love with studying art, and now I am strongly considering the Art History major. I would say that showing up to lecture is crucial for succeeding in the class. First of all, Crary is such a genius and we should all feel privileged to have the opportunity to listen to him talk about major works of art. Second of all, his insight on each of the paintings can be helpful for writing the essay and for the exams. You get points on the midterm and final if you discuss the lectures, and you are expected to discuss them in the essay. The course also involves weekly readings, which need to be read carefully and possibly more than once to be fully understood. In weekly discussion sections, you are expected to discuss points from these readings. The lecture itself could get tedious at times, but the weekly discussion section was always engaging and was a great place to delve into certain topics and paintings of the course. Try to get into Brigid Von Pruessen's section. She is super nice and very helpful! I also heard she is slightly more generous than other TAs with grading. Many people thought this class had very harsh grading, but I disagree. You have to put in the study time for the exams, but if you do, you will be successful. I studied two weeks in advance for each exam and did well. Overall, good class! Wish we spent more time on impressionism and less time on David...
I took Nineteenth Century Criticism junior year with Professor Crary. I had read some of his work, and so couldn't believe I was being taught by him in a class with only five other students. Professor Crary is one of the most articulate and fascinating speakers I have come across. Even though our seminar was much less discussion based than I had expected, I did not mind because listening to Professor Crary speak about the texts was illuminating in itself. I thought the selection of texts was really great as well. There were very few written assignments, which made it hard to know exactly how you're doing through out the semester, but he is fair, and really just wants to see that you're engaging with the texts. Another thing that's worth mentioning is that the syllabus was organized around a very specific central point, one that he himself had written about, and so, in a way the discussions were much more directed and focused than other seminars tend to be. Crary is not the most accessible professor, which was understandable, but often frustrating. I wished I would have been able to go deeper into the discussions, and even in class time it always seemed like we were running low on time.
Class and Professor: This class was really fascinating, and Professor Crary has an interesting and unique interpretation of 19th Century Art. The problem is he takes far too long to say it. We did not finish his syllabus, and, after spending 3 or 4 whole classes on David (who worked mostly in the 18th century...), we skimmed over Impressionism, skipping Post-Impressionism and the end of the century entirely. We missed a lot of the big paintings that you would expect to cover, but I think the "road less traveled" is more his style. He was a little disorganized too, and didn't allow computers at all, which made note taking (and sharing) very cumbersome. TA: Eliza Butler is amazing; she is by far the best TA I've ever had. She is very laid back, and seemingly without effort can produce some of the most productive and interesting discussions. She encourages independent thought and criticism. She's a very fair grader, and is realistic (and lax) about student attendance. She manages to be informal, but still commands a sense of respect. I have had her for two discussion sections, and am signing up for a third, and planning on taking her Art Hum section next semester (if I can get in). And she's smart as a whip!
It's true. Crary might be a genius. There are times in this class that you will sit in awe. This man is amazingly articulate and creative, and he really knows his stuff. He is interested in the theory of early modernism,(Think: CC but for art texts,) but he's totally aware that a lot of the people in his course have never taken art history before, so he makes sure that the concepts are super clear. If you take this course, DEFINITELY take the discussion section with Emerson. This Prof-TA duo is really something.
Ohmigod, this guy is awesome. And I'm not one of those fanatics who is writing this review because I think the professor is awesome - truth is, I can probably tell you that 90% of the kids who took this class thought it was good if not great. Crary has a way of explaining paintings in a vocabulary that you would normally not understand but which makes sense when he makes his presentations to you. Also, the paintings that we cover in class are amazing: take a look at his slide list and find out! He's also very accessible and approachable and even makes an effort to go to the Met in the 19th Century section in order to be there to talk to you about the paintings towards the end of the semester. All in all, a great class - probably one of the best classes in the Art History dep't at Columbia.