professor
John Rosenberg

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Jan 2013

jI'll cut down the redundancy and agree that most of the previous reviewers for Rosenberg have hit the nail on the head regarding his teaching style in class. But seriously - how many other professors will you encounter have such a deep understanding and appreciation of the classics, arts, and literature? After all, you're being taught by the dude who wrote John Ruskin's biography and turned his analysis of Tennyson's "Idylls of the Kings" into something akin to a religious text. Yeah, he repeats himself from time to time. Yeah, he does pick and choose favorites (and in my experience, he seems to favor the ladies more - I guess chivalry ain't dead in Rosenberg's turf). Yeah, he doesn't like it when people don't do the reading (but thankfully, he never gave our class pop quizzes. But if you are one of the fortunate freshman to have been placed in his section, I urge you to give Rosenberg a chance. He'll definitely challenge, if not change, your perspective from the Iliad to the Bible. Gradewise - I felt he was very generous with my final grade. I ****ing flipped out when I got my first midterm back (somewhere in the B+ range, which nearly gave this pre-med a heart attack). But as the semester dragged on, I appreciated more and more his "fluid" grading style. A lot of Lit Hum teachers will tell their classes that this midterm/paper/quiz/final/etc is worth a certain percentage of your grade, which in my opinion, can actually stress out and discourage a student even more especially if they have done poorly on any one of the assignments. But because Rosenberg (much to the class's chagrin) always said "I don't know how much each assignment is worth," we basically tried our best on everything, from those random pain-in-the-rear pop timed writes to our first (and last) take-home paper of the year. And I feel that in the end, he evaluates your work and your progress as a whole. So if you happen to be that student who struggles with writing (or just don't give a rat's ass about Diomedes or Pericles or Harpagus), yet you consistently participate in class and try to follow his instructions on the timed writes, you'll be on your knees singing Hallelujah once your final grade comes out (right in the middle of your other finals :) haha). As much as I enjoyed Rosenberg's class and teaching style, what I didn't appreciate was the fact that he didn't prepare us AT ALL for the IDs portion of the final exam. What I recommend is highlighting and marking any important quote (aka. quotes and passages that Rosenberg specifically discusses in class) so that you'll at least have something to review for come finals. Also, talk to your friends in other classes - chances are, their more "normal" Lit Hum teachers will have provided practice passage IDs that you can look at/borrow/test yourself to prepare for the final. Rosenberg's midterm, after all, didn't contain any IDs. So I apologize for this long review - it turned out to be a little redundant, I'm afraid. But if you are that frightened and uncertain freshman who turned to CULPA as soon as you found out your Lit Hum instructor was JDR, I do hope I've assuaged your concerns, if only a little. Good luck!

Aug 2012

Prof. Rosenberg is an old school literature professor. Think "stereotypical Ivy League". While some of what he says/emphasizes is a little trite/repetitive (he often repeats himself from class to class to class...), other points that he has about the texts are extremely insightful. He whips through the required readings at the speed of light, so be prepared. If you want to do well in the class, be sure to dominate the discussions of the books early in the semester; later on, Rosenberg will primarily rely on those people who contributed to class discussions a lot in the beginning of the semester. One of Rosenberg's pet peeves is people not reading the assigned readings. If you didn't read the book, either skip class, Sparknote, or just sit/take notes/be quiet, because if he catches you, he will not hesitate to harshly reprimand you in front of the class. If he catches any one person in the class who has not read the book, he'll start pop quizzes. (and will institute them for the rest of the semester faithfully, which is annoying)

Dec 2009

Professor Rosenberg is a good -- not great -- teacher. As many of you may have noticed, the end of the semester tends to bring a certain nostalgia, which I think many of the reviewers under me may have been suffering from. Professor Rosenberg is most assuredly brilliant, and his incredibly insightful comments counted quite a bit towards my enjoyment of the class. But at 9 in the morning, his slow and somewhat monotonic speech did not help my 4-hours-of-sleep induced somnolence. He is, however, *extremely* nice, and probably the sharpest 83 year old I have ever met. He is also a no-bullshit kind of guy -- if you give him one of those vague, I-haven't-read-the-book-so-I'm-just-gonna-make-some-shit-up answers, he will shoot you down for it, just like you deserve. Another (previously mentioned) issue with his class is that the essay and test questions tend to be extremely simple. He would ask the kind of questions that were apparent from the second you read the book ("What is the significance of blindness in Oedipus Rex?"). While this may sound like a good thing (simple equals easy, after all), It actually made things more difficult, because you find yourself struggling to give a meaningful answer when the obvious (and clearly oft-repeated) one is looming so large. The trick to doing well in Professor Rosenberg's class is to show him early on -- via class participation -- that you are a smart and intelligent person who deserved to get into Columbia. If you do, he will respect you for it, and that will reflect in your grades. If you don't, well, you will probably be on here 3 months later writing a review like the May 2005 one.

Sep 2009

The combined evidence here points to a common conclusion. Even people who seem awe-struck by him try to warn you that certain current Columbians are a terrible match with JDR. There’s no question of “professor ability.” John D. Rosenberg is one of the great minds of the last century. The match between JDR and you is what’s at issue here. You got into Hogwarts and—though the odds were 57 to 1 against you—they assigned you to Albus Dumbledore himself. Infinitely experienced, quiet, faint British accent from BA and MA at Cambridge, deadpan wit, so brilliant he can be a little frightening. If you’re Harry Potter, your life is about to change. But if you’re like the poor soul in the May 2005 review below who writes “definitly,” and “essey” you’re in trouble. Unless you have already had a superb education at an elite secondary school—run! Trying to follow JDR you'll only be confused and bored. JDR is 82 or 83. He has taught Lit Hum nearly 50 years. Columbia used to be as proud to be “exclusive” as it now is to be “inclusive.” For the first 30 years, JDR could assume his students had an education which is now given only by elite institutions. Notice the remarks about his digressions or “ramblings” below? They’re the main point of the lectures. Others work on only one piece of the puzzle. JDR shows you how all the pieces are related in one big picture. Discussing Dante, he might abruptly show you the connections to painting or sculpture, using Raphael or Donatello. JDR can’t guess that you’re just thinking, “How’d we get to Ninja turtles?” You’ll be confused, then bored. I can't prove it, but I hear that if you ever tell your advisor that a professor's vocabulary and references are so hard to follow, you’re dreaming of dropping out of Columbia, they’ll transfer you fast to some very bright 25 year old grad student who starts the class, “What you know about Dante? I know all about Dante!” You won’t fall asleep and you’ll free up a seat for someone whose life can be transformed by JDR’s lectures; as mine was. In every course after this a specialist will show you one piece of the puzzle. Only a John D. Rosenberg can show you the whole picture. Go see him in the office, and try out all your ideas. If he says, “I like it, and I’ve never heard anybody say that. Good job” --you’ve struck gold! It’s like getting time on the world’s greatest search engine. Before Google, there was John D. Rosenberg. And Dumbledore.

Jan 2009

I agree with many of the previous reviews, but I also believe that Professor Rosenberg is not for everyone. He is very nice and considerate, which is sometimes a hinderance to the class. If you are looking for a more in-depth, intellectually stimulating Lithum experience, you should consider other sections. He talks extremely slowly and asks very basic questions on texts that could be explored much further. The workload is fair but his grading is sometimes difficult to understand. I worked very hard in the class but I feel like I could've been more enlightened. However, I do like to point out that Professor Rosenberg has been here since, literally, the beginning of time so I have no doubt he knows everything, just how much he chooses to discuss with the class...

Nov 2007

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. Rosenberg provided the best possible introduction to the Core. He welcomed our class of freshmen with genuine warmth, compassion, and humor, providing invaluable insight into every single text we read. Having taught at Columbia for over 40 years, it was inspiring that he still approached the texts with such enthusiasm, and never once felt the need to boost his ego by belittling his students, as is often the case with very accomplished professors. I also found it particularly remarkable that he never once rambled, despite being very advanced in his years. Every word seemed carefully thought out and aptly selected, which is a rarity in professors. He is the standard to which I hold all subsequent core instructors. He made me want to get out of bed for our 9 AM class every single day.

Mar 2007

I had the pleasure and the privilege of taking several courses with Professor Rosenberg. He's brilliant, truly.

Jan 2007

The best parts of Rosenberg's teaching style are his a) obvious enjoyment of the material read, even though he must have been doing this for decades b) few but really exceptional insights into the works, which he shares with us in an almost off-hand manner c) ability to speak articulately and to the point (a godsend in any professor and unfortunately rare). d) willingness to politely point out when students are rambling e) sense of humor The most frustrating parts of his teaching style are a) that instead of trying to build on student comments or encourage group discussion, he simply absorbs anything we say with a nod and word of praise, or a smile and disagreeing comment. It made class discussion very (although this improved immensely by the end of the semester. b) that his grading is not objective and seems to favor mediocre students, so that those at the top of the class are held to a higher standard and those at the bottom, a lower. c) tendency to adopt a less-than-animated speaking manner that makes it hard to pay as close attention as his fascinating comments deserve. This class improved drastically from the beginning, although I find it hard to put my finger on what actually changed. I think it was that once we had proven our intellect a bit, Rosenberg opened up, made it clear that he wasnÂ’t totally disinterested in what we had to say, while at the same time keeping the buffoons quiet long enough to fit in some of his own lecturing (which I quite preferred to open class discussion, which was a bit lacking).

Dec 2006

The best parts of Rosenberg's teaching style are his a) obvious enjoyment of the material read, even though he must have been doing this for decades b) few but really exceptional insights into the works, which he shares with us in an almost off-hand manner c) ability to speak articulately and to the point (a godsend in any professor and unfortunately rare). d) willingness to politely point out when students are rambling e) sense of humor The most frustrating parts of his teaching style are a) that instead of trying to build on student comments or encourage group discussion, he simply absorbs anything we say with a nod and word of praise, or a smile and disagreeing comment. It made class discussion very (although this improved immensely by the end of the semester. b) that his grading is not objective and seems to favor mediocre students, so that those at the top of the class are held to a higher standard and those at the bottom, a lower. c) tendency to adopt a less-than-animated speaking manner that makes it hard to pay as close attention as his fascinating comments deserve. The topics assigned were good, with both enough guidance/structure and enough freedom to work with. I did feel that there weren't enough of them total, so that a bad grade on one could really mess up the entire semester. This class improved drastically from the beginning, although I find it hard to put my finger on what actually changed. I think it was that once we had proven our intellect a bit, Rosenberg opened up, made it clear that he wasnÂ’t totally disinterested in what we had to say, while at the same time keeping the buffoons quiet long enough to fit in some of his own lecturing (which I quite preferred to open class discussion, which was a bit lacking).

Jan 2006

GREAT PROFESSOR. Really sweet, incredibly smart, and very willing to help you out. This class was really interesting, even though the reading was a little boring and dense at times. Rosenberg is a great guy and seems to know just about everything.

Sep 2005

As far as this reviewer is concerned, Rosenberg is the man. So yeah, he's a traditional academic...but boy, he's brilliant. And by the end of the class, if you really listen, some of that shines off on you and the reading you will do for the rest of your life. As a senior looking back, this was the best class i ever took at columbia...even if it was at 9 am. John is a figure at columbia. An institution. Like one of the statues. He embodies this place and all our good fortune to be here. But at the same time, he truly cares about his students even after all the one's he's gone through over the years. Take this class, listen to this man. He's as old as some of the books we read, but from his comments, it seems like he knew the authors personally. Thanks for everything, John. I will never forget this class.

May 2005

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. Hes a nice man but MIGOD is he boring. He offers no enlightening points at all (unless you have never heard anything about philosophy and being inquisitive about literature styles and what it means to be analytical). Hes an english prof. and often gets stuck on commenting on the brilliance of the author;s writing style...which is self-eveident honestly. Anyways, he boring and utterly doesnt offer profound points at all as some (why I dont know) think he does. He calls on you when you are helplessly falling asleep on top of it all. One good side-- made the midterm a few weeks before the final so I was well prepared for that. Not too harsh of a garder but I definitly deserved an A+ for sitting through his dull class.

Apr 2005

Professor Rosenberg definitely is the realization of the traditional academic. Very deliberate and soft-spoken with this quiet manner and affectionate treatment of each poem. He really emphasizes the sentiment and experience of each poem rather than the versification and structure. Of course he'll mention the latter and delve into it as well as entertain your explorations. But you can tell his passion is the sentiment and feel of the poem rather than dry semiotics. I still can't tell if his drawl was British or Southern. I'm sure most students were afraid to ask questions so as not to appear uninformed or waste his time, but he'll happily field any question in class and even more so in his generous office hours. He really wants you to interact more or ask more detailed questions in class and office hours. Meeting with him will definitely help your participation and probably your grade. The only time he showed some frustration or disappointment was when we couldn't pick up the Hamlet and Shakespearean references in Tennyson. He dryly said, "Well, kiddies, it's from Hamlet." But in all fairness, I guess we deserved that.

Dec 2004

Ok Lit Hum can be one of these longest class periods ever and although he doesn't make it exciting, Professor Rosenberg at least makes sure you know all the important things about the book. Though the pop quizzes were annoying since they came after some of the most boring readings, the midterm and final will certainly boost your grade. The class isn't so much a discussion as him lecturing about the book, a style that I don't normally enjoy, except he often has interesting and insightful points that come from reading the books for decades on end. For his class you won't have to know stupid stuff, like dates, chornology, or geneology as in some other classes, just the main stuff about the book.

Nov 2004

Although I loved the reading for Lit Hum, Rosenberg made me hate it. His class "discussions" consist of him talking (without saying much) and asking leading questions with obvious answers. I started off the semester answering a lot of them, and expanding my thoughts, thinking that he wanted to open up discussion, but alas, he just wanted to make sure we read. His quizzes are an insult to students' integrity; a good teacher creates an environment in which all students feel free to participate and demonstrate that they have read. If you cannot create an environment such that you as a teacher can see who has done the reading, you are doing something wrong. Whenever someone in my class made an insightful comment that was out of the order that his sheet of notes prescribed, he would ignore it completely. This is the worst literature "seminar - style" class I have ever taken. The only saving quality is the fact that is an incredibly easy grader. I felt like you could write utter crap and get an A. Switch out if you get him, unless you care about your grade instead of learning. In that case, keep him, and bring a pillow to class.

Jul 2003

John D. is the man. Period. An acquired taste, quiet and mellow, but the knowledge he shares, along with the love of learning, is a treasure. Take anything he offers.

May 2003

If you have the chance, definitely take professor Rosenberg's class. While his books are so old that the pages are turning yellow, the fact that he has apparently been teaching Lit Hum forever only means that he knows more about the books. He doesn't always lead the most exciting discussions (he often asks too many questions with short answers, making the discussions choppy) but the insight that he brings during his sometimes rambling, five to ten minute, mini-lectures during class is phenomenal. He made me want to do ALL of the thousands of pages of reading. He is an easy grader and the workload for his section is much lighter than other sections. If you want a good grade, easy work load, and a lot of great insight into some amazing books, Professor Rosenberg's class is the way to go (and who doens't want those things?). TAKE HIS CLASS!

Jan 2003

I have been inspired to write this quick review because of the negative review of January 2003 that will now come below mine. I was in Prof. Rosenberg's Lit Hum class last year, and I promise anyone who is truly interested in literature and learning that the man is a wonderful teacher. Prof. Rosenberg's insights are profound and to the point. He is an old man, so he does not lead discussions very dynamically, but he does one better--he leads them beautifully. Ideas flow smoothly, the essence of every work is felt and understood. And as for his being a stickler for grammar...I suppose it is my sad duty to inform the previous reviewer that, yes, literacy is a prerequisite for Literature Humanities.

Jan 2003

Beware! He's a terrible teacher, a big bore, and since he's been teaching for over 50 years, he thinks he knows everything. He's also a stickler for grammar and spelling, which stinks because most of his asignments are in-class. When I met with him to discuss my papers he was very unhelpful. Don't take him if you have a choice!

Jul 2002

Rosenberg does read much of his lectures off stacks of yellowing looseleaf, but my God, I want to get my hands on them and send them to a publisher. I loved this class. I walked in every day and for a glorious hour and fifteen minutes let that mellifluous and undefinable accent stoke my interest in Victorian literature and in the sheer joy of language. Rosenberg's relish for language comes out in his obsessive close readings, in those lectures which ought to be published essays, and in his constant asides which betray an incredible wealth of knowledge and a droll, understated sense of humor. The class covers essays, social criticism, and poetry, rather than the usual novels, and very quickly does away with the widely accepted view of all Victorians as repressed hypocrites. (With that out of the way, they become much more interesting.) One downside to the class: Rosenberg relies almost entirely on office hours to get to know his students, so go or he won't know you from The Lady of Shalott. But even if you don't get chummy with him (and I didn't get the chance, since I had a class during his office hours), the Victorian Imagination is a marvelous, intellectually stimulating, enjoyable experience.

May 2002

Great analysis of King Lear probably because the man is of that age and looks a bit like Laurence Olivier in the movie production. A Jewish Santa Claus complete with the slight belly. His beautiful monotone voice is a cross between genteel southern and an affected british accent. This is the kind of college professor portrayed in movies. Super nice. Super well-read. Super insight. The sort that recites sonnets in class to make a point. Expects class discussions but rude people will sleep. Arrive on time out of respect to the man.

Apr 2002

This is a pretty good course, for the most part. The syllabus is engaging, and Prof Rosenberg, although he can be overly slow and laid-back at times, is pleasant to listen to. His lectures vary in quality, but he always manages to adequately communicate the important points in the reading, particularly when closely analyzing texts. Furthermore, his sense of humor and aesthetic perceptiveness make each class very enjoyable, even if it may not be tremendously stimulating.

Apr 2002

After I realized that Professor Rosenberg was reading all of his lectures word for word off a thick sheaf of handwritten pieces of looseleaf, I was about to drop the class like a hot potato. But within a few weeks I found that it was my favorite class- he ruthlessly emphasizes close reading and spends entire class sessions on a few verses of Tennyson or a paragraph of Ruskin. I learned transferrable skills: what English major doesn't need to close read, while in other English classes I just learned broad thematic and forgettable material about American national identity or imperialism or whatever. It can be slow though, there is little class participation and unless you hit up his office hours he won't know your name. Full of genuine insights and sardonic little comments. I love this class...once I gutted through the first few weeks.

Jan 2002

Professor Rosenberg should have lived in the mid-19th century. He's the embodiment of a learned Victorian gentleman: vastly knowledgeable, widely read, and possessed of an indefinable accent that seemed to be a combination of Coastal Southern America and Oxfordian English. Yes, he's a little slow at times - never boring, just slow - but his insights are remarkable. He's not going to make you love 19th century British poetry if you don't already, but he'll make you respect it, which might be the harder task. Proof in point: I left with a grudging appreciation of Tennyson. Now that's a good professor.

Apr 2001

I was terrified when the first class of my Columbia career was painfully reminiscient of the classic "Bueller....Bueller...." It took me until halfway into the semester to appreciate Rosenberg's teaching style and very dry wit. He enjoys going off on tangents, and occasionally emits these sparks of profound philosophy which make you doubt his decorated position in the English dept; he should've done Philo instead. He's very steeped in CU/Core tradition- he's been teaching the class practically since it was invented. He comes in with yellow-paged ear-marked books- in a word, he's classic. I've read 3 books all year- keep up on summaries and you'll do fine. He gets really passionate about the books, I just didn't have the time to read them this year. He did make me want to read them sometime in the future though. If you want to get the essence of Lit Hum and not do the readings, he's your guy.