Brian Larkin

Dec 2018

People! Please Please Please read this post before thinking about taking this course!!!!!! DO NOT TAKE IT DO NOT TAKE IT DO NOT TAKE IT. The only question you have for the lecture is " IS THIS PERSON FUCKING SPEAKING ENGLISH?" All the lectures are super super super confusing that you don't understand a word. The readings are boring, long and dense. The finals and midterms and assignments topics are so fucking vague. You will hate anthropology b/c of it. And professor Larkin is not considerate at all!!! He talks a lot before giving us midterms. which take up a lot of our time!

Nov 2018

DO NOT TAKE IT!!! The lecture is super confusing, long and boring. No one understands what he is saying in class!!!!

Jan 2014

Professor Larkin is very intelligent and loves Indian and Nigerian cinema, which one can clearly tell when listening to his lectures. That being said, sometimes it was difficult to follow his lectures. Not only does he have an accent, he talks quickly and the material isn't the most clear in the first place. But, the redeeming quality was the cinema. The Nigerian films were hilarious but I wasn't in love with them. The Indian films, though, were fantastic. They had me watching a crap load of Indian films on Netflix during the break, and I now plan on taking a Bollywood class next semester. I have to give it to Larkin for his excellent film choices - not typical, boring films that other classes may require us to watch. They -almost- made it worth being in the class from 6 - 10:15 pm. Tuesdays are my earliest and my worst days but I hardly ever fell asleep because all of the films were so entertaining. But be prepared to stay super late when you watch the three-hour Hindi films, because people will talk and talk and talk (like I'm clearly doing right now - except you have a choice in whether or not you read this) like it's not 10 pm on a Tuesday night. And according to Larkin, despite the fact that on the schedule it says that we're only supposed to stay from 6 - 9, we have to "commit to the time"...yeah, okay. He takes attendance too, and decreases your grade if you're absent 2+ times. It's worth showing up just for the films. Plus, the readings were screwed up sometimes and so was the media. This resulted in an extra film analysis being cancelled (one of them never had to be done because of the shot analysis of a short clip) and the shot analysis got pushed back. Good stuff. So, he can be lenient. The grading was a bit harsher than what I was expecting. Fortunately, one of the weekly film analyses is dropped, and it's typically the first one because Larkin didn't exactly make it clear what he wanted until we got it back. In addition to Larkin, there is one TA. If you take all of her criticism seriously (and his because sometimes he grades them), you will do really well on the assignments. But the midterm surprised the heck out of me. First of all, there was one essay question and we had an hour to respond. The TA gave us like 5 - 10 extra mins and then had the nerve to say "I gave you guys 5 extra minutes, so..." If only one essay determined the whole grade, it shouldn't have been just an hour in the first place. But, despite how rushed I felt, eventually I began to feel confident in how I did. Little did I know. I got a C+ on the midterm and that was the surprise of the semester. Tuh. BUT, given that the midterm is worth 25%, I figured that if I did well enough on the take home final (40%), that I could still do well in the class considering how well I did on the analyses. I got away with a B+, which is a lot better than what I was expecting based on that midterm. So even if you butcher the midterm, it is possible to do well - just make sure to apply all of their feedback so that you can do well on the analyses and the final. Good for you if you read all of this. Good for you. You'll do well reading the articles. Overall, I would recommend this class if only for the films. I will always be happy that it introduced me to Indian cinema...and Nigerian, even if I don't take it too seriously.

Jan 2010

Never mind the name: this course is not Africa-in-a-box, codified and prepared for examination by undergrads hungry for a taste of the exotic. As I often explained it to my friends, "We don't really talk about Africa. It's more like talking about how people talk about Africa. And it's amazing." Professor Larkin is brilliant, but perhaps not for everyone. He takes serious time and care to ask (and answer) questions of the class; however, this practice may result in lectures feeling a bit like they start and stop (the class often ended with 5 minutes of frantic lecture-note reading as he ran out of time). The course is colored by Larkin's professional work in Nigeria and interest in media, which offers a good balance to some of the more heavy theory (the course was also a great introduction to some big names in contemporary African scholarship, at least for someone like myself with little-to-no background in African Studies). You'll *learn* stuff about Africa, no doubt, but more importantly, if you're as enraptured by Professor Larkin's eloquence (okay, okay, and piercing blue eyes...) as I was, you'll learn how to ask better questions - about anthropology, about history, about modernity, about urbanization, about corruption, about development, and well, yeah, about Africa in a contemporary, global context. Ever have one of those "THIS is why I'm at Columbia (or Barnard, sorry!)" moments? Twice a week.

Jan 2006

If you want to stay devoted to anthro, stay AWAY from this course, take another intro course so it doesn't sour your experience right from the get go. Supremely disorganized, lectures that are more rambling, endless tangents (sandwiching in his reading of random quotes) and TAs that are utterly useless and confused during section. Didn't mind the readings but they weren't incorporated into the course very well at all, it was all for naught. The class was so disorganized that the TAs had trouble handing out the blue booklets for the exam, much to everyone's amazement. Oh, and the whole starting 20 minutes late (but getting no extra time) thing was kind of ridiculous. I mean, what? I can deal with instructors that are chronically late, but not for a FINAL! You don't need the head ache.

Jan 2006

I was excited to take this class because most of Larkin's reviews were fairly positive. BUT, though the class started well, by the end of the semester I wanted to kill myself! The readings were long- some were interesting and even complicated, but others were utterly irrelevant and just plain painful to get through. The second half of the semester was all over the place- nothing was tied together, and I didn't really see how any of those books even tied to Anthropology at all. Larkin CLEARLY is obsessed with Africa, which is interesting at times, but REALLY gets out of hand towards the end. He doesn't focus at all on the rest of the world. His interest ends painfully with the final 400 page book about an African prostitute that's more or less written in ebonics. Seriously. The TAs were nice, and meant well, but the sessions were essentially useless and have no direction.

Jan 2006

Getting through this class was the most painful experience in my academic career thusfar. The readings were boring and dry, the lectures weren't mindblowingly enlightening, and the TAs, though nice, were not that helpful in conveying information. First of all, Professor Larkin was ALWAYS late for lectures. I can understand if the professor is late one or two times during the semester, but he was late so much that students who arrived 5-10 minutes later would still be in their seats before Larkin was in class. Alas, his lack of punctuality wouldn't have been a big deal had it not affected our final examination. He was LATE 20 MINUTES to our final, and worse, he refused to give us extra time, which really sucked since the final was supposed to be three essays in three hours. There was also a lot of reading for an introductory course, which I thought seemed unnecessary especially since it was extremely boring. Anthropology seems like a field that has a lot of flexibility and is applicable to everyday, modern life, which could be really interesting to learn. However, Larkin really killed the field of interest for me. The old Antropological studies that he had us read, albeit helped shape the field and very important to the understanding of Anthropology, was focused on too much. It would have been better if he focused on older studies in the beginning of the semester and then brought in some modern applications of Anthropology to the latter half. I think what Larkin needs to understand is that Anthropology can be introduced to students as a study that can be applied to every society in every time period, not just the indigenous tribes of wherever today or 50 years ago. It doesn't always have to be applied historically or geographically. It can be applied to modern society. Culture is everywhere, not just in Africa. If there was enlightening information that I may have missed and that would have allowed me to appreciate the readings, it was not revealed to me by the TAs during discussion section. The TAs were nice and tried to help prepare us for the exams, but when it came to discussing the readings, we never finished understanding the major points. Someone would ask a question, and we would go down a spiraling tangent of random facts and anthopological thought. Of the 55 minutes we spent in section, probably only 15-20 were really devoted to undersatnding the readings. If you're going to take this course, definitely take it with a different professor. I've heard of other professors giving much more interesting assignments and readings to introduce the field to students (i.e. Prof. Sharpe). But as long as you understand the major concepts Larkin is trying to get through, you'll do fine on the paper and exams.

Dec 2005

I really enjoyed this class and it made me want to be an anthropology major. Larkin was great - I thought he was well organized, he asked for classroom engagement which can spice up lectures every once in a while and really seemed to do a great job applying what we read in class to the real world in a way that made everything, even the most boring and confusing readings, really interesting. There were also really interesting readings: Boas, Geertz (though probably not enough of him), Evans-Pritchard, etc. THe TAs were really nice and understanding (Caroline and Katie) and each taught one lecture. I highly recommend this class and Larkin.

Dec 2005

The first day of class, I was stunned at the brilliance of this man. The points that he was bringing together and relating to each other just blew me away. While some of the lectures can be a bit boring (especially if you're exhausted and haven't had that morning cup of coffee), they were always worth going to-- even for the two sentences that you did make out through his English accent. Make sure you raise your hand a couple of times to show him you've done at least some of the huge amounts of reading and you should be fine. Also, for the first readings for the first exam, ask him what you should be reading for, I wish I had!

Aug 2005

Brilliant, interesting. Made the class fun, and lectures were great. However, he expects a lot, so try to be a genius. You have to be able to connect many different things from many different theories.

Apr 2005

although i read all the reviews about how disorganized he is, i just didn't see it in the class. He comes very prepared with pages of notes and specific quotations. At times, it seems that he's saying the most brilliant things off the top of his head. He does a very good job of relating the readings to everyday observations that anyone can easily understant. Definitely do the readings, but the discussion sections are mandatory for a reason. They help a great deal. It's true that he doesn't answer his email, but office hours are there for a reason, so he can get to know you, which is definitely does do if you make that effort. Definitely one of my favorite professors.

Feb 2005

Don't take this class unless you have a genuine intrest in Anthropology, I took it thinking it sounded easy, but it was both very boring and not as easy as I had hoped. The reading is pretty dry and at times very long, and Brian Larkin is as the other reviewers have said, quite unorganized, which I found obnoxious.

Aug 2004

Larkin's class was disorganized, as the other reviewers have said. lectures were a bit rambling, and he would forget what he was talking about when he tried to come back from tangents. But for all that it was one of my favorite classes the semester I took it. The readings were both broad and interesting, ranging from writers who founded various schools of thought in anthropology to contemporary writers who question the assumptions of the anthropological method. Towards the latter part of the semester we began using the methods of anthropology to investigate contemporary issues and modern technologies, such as globalization and amniocentesis. I also found that his tangents were actually some of the most interesting ideas I've heard. If you've already taken a bunch of anthro classes, maybe skip this class, but as an introduction to anthropology it's pretty good. As for the disorganization-quite frankly, the class is easy enough that organization is not actually required.

May 2004

Although the material for the class and the readings are interesting, the lectures tended to be somewhat disorganized. Discussions that should have been conducted in sections were conducted in class making the class slower and more confusing. Prof. Larkin is alright but in my opinion he needs more practice in teaching a lecture class.

May 2004

1.) Really cool English accent 2.) He's never taught this class before, so he didn't seem to realize that it was a 1000-level intro class. His expectations were WAY too high 3.) So it was hard. The readings are dense, his lectures are disorganized, and he doesn't answer email (go to his office hours). In general, I hated the class, but it wasn't totally his fault. The subject is hard, and too large in scope to cover in a semester. He needs to lower his expectations a little, but he's a nice person, and maybe with the TAs on strike, he'll read the finals and realize that everything was way over our heads...

Apr 2001

At some point in college, every student should get to have a professor like Brian Larkin. Every week, I have walked out of anthro of media arguing ideas with at least one of my classmates. Run like a true seminar, reading is fairly heavy and often rather dense, but almost all of the readings are interesting and bring something to the class. Larkin is also flexible enough to allow students to bring theory from other classes into the discussion. At the beginning of the semester, everyone is assigned a group and every couple of weeks the group is in charge of presenting that week's readings. In the rare event that discussion gets boring, Prof. Larkin's colorful sock choice and British accent prove to be adequate distractions The overarching goal of the class is to undertake an ethnographic project relating to media. The product is a 15 page paper and a brief presentation the final week of class. Larkin is incredibly approachable and a most enthusiastic and helpful guide both within class and for individual research.