Amanda Claybaugh

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Apr 2009

all around great lady and an awesome professor. she was very clear about what needed to be done for the class. she was very detailed and prepared - every class she brought handouts of an outline for the lecture that made her thoughts easy to follow, which was definitely necessary for the amount of information she was throwing at us. yes, she sometimes talks very fast and covers A LOT of material, but the information is brilliant and the product of original thinking! she makes these novels come to life. in my section we often discussed how effectively she shed light on things we otherwise wouldn't have thought of. if this class or some incarnation of it is offered again, by all means take it! you'll want to do the work and if you do you'll get a good grade!

Dec 2008

Amanda Claybaugh is in love with the sound of her own voice. I imagine this is useful if you're lecturing several times a week but I found her fairly insufferable. She lectures so breathlessly fast that keeping up longhand is nearly impossible. A laptop is de rigeur. On more than one occasion, she was snide and condescending when a student asked a question that she deemed unworthy. In response to one poor fellow, she actually rolled her eyes and said, "I can't believe you're asking me that!"— I couldn't believe her rudeness. Her most common tactic, in dealing with questions from the class, was to interrupt before the questioner finished and then complete what she imagined the question was herself. She did this to me once and her response to my unfinished question had little to do with what I was actually aiming at. The overall impression was that she already knew where the question was going (although she often didn't) and that it probably wasn't that important anyway, such was her rush to get back to her priceless analysis. All of this was annoying but the mid-term and final were absolutely infuriating. In the exam instructions there was a Strict Injunction against parroting her interpretations of the texts when giving your answers. Then, in lieu of returning exams with comments (which I think is the least one can expect at Columbia), the TAs instead handed out a compendium of the best answers they had culled from the lot—sheer laziness. And what do you suppose those creme-de-la-creme answers were? Yep. They were, note-for-note, regurgitation of Claybaugh's text interpretations. I wanted to scream. I had made every effort to avoid repeating what she had said, which wasn't easy since she had said a great deal. When it came to the final I simply repeated every point about the texts that she had made in class and—surprise!—I got an 'A'. So you got penalized for following directions and they couldn't be bothered to actually make individual suggestions/comments on your exams. Isn't the point of a lit course to come up with your own ideas about the text and have your work critiqued individually? Not in this class. How sad that a professor's ego should take precedence over a student actually thinking for herself and learning something. I have had other lit professors that actually took the time and trouble to engage the students and attempt to draw them out when discussing the texts as opposed to Claybaugh, who seems to regard the class as a distraction at worst and a fawning audience (just read the other reviews here to see what I mean) at best. Clearly she is hyper intelligent and a master of her domain but the way that she ran this class left a lot to be desired. Oh, and in case you think I have an ax to grind here, I got an 'A' in the class.

May 2007

Amazing! I loved this professor.She can convert whatver dumb comments you make into insightful observations on the fly.She helps you analyze books on your own.You will be amazed by her indepth lectures.

Apr 2007

Claybaugh is one of Columbia's treasures. She's brilliant, funny, engaging and everything a professor should be. She is passionate about what she teaches and makes the sometimes obscure readings accessible and immediately relevant. With her acerbic wit and dry humor she kept me on my toes all semester, and made me wish I wasn't graduating so I could spend more time milking her for all she has to offer. Don't miss a class with Claybaugh. . . even a lecture class. She is simply too good to pass up!

Dec 2006

There are no other words to describe Prof. Claybaugh than brilliant. I'm not sure what it is about her, but everyone in my seminar was simply awestruck by how intelligent she is. It's as if she is superhuman and her superpower is clear-thinking. Claybaugh is able to grasp complex concepts very quickly and articulate them incredibly clearly. I have never seen any professor be so on-the-ball all the freaking time. Having said that, her seminar was absolutely wonderful. The material was good, the discussions were good, and the homework assignments helped tremendously. The only tough part about her class was the she demanded so much out of her students in terms of thinking and writing. I don't think I've ever had a professor expect such logical and well thought-out papers. In the end, though, you'll appreciate the difficulty. Take any class this woman offers. You won't regret it.

Jan 2006

Prof. Claybaugh singlehandedly validates the study of literature. She is, quite simply, astoundingly brilliant, and made our seminar into the most intensive and rewarding lit class I've taken here. Any professor who can make Nathaniel Hawthorne seem new and exciting is doing something really amazing. As a seminar she completely managed to provide her own insights and encourage student discussion - I never felt like anyone was monopolizing class time, although I could definitely watch her draw character diagrams on the chalkboard for hours. She has an endearing sense of humor and a very warm personality. I don't agree with reviewers who called her "pedantic" or "pretentious", although she definitely does not stand for wasting time or intellectual laziness. This class pushed me more than any other in terms of making connections and observations, and Prof. Claybaugh really nurtured an open environment of intellectualism. I'm in awe of her brilliant insights and her desire to encourage her students' intellectual development, as well as her dedication to her classes. I could go on, but any English major who doesn't take a class with Prof. Claybaugh is doing themselves a disservice. If you're willing to do the mental work necessary for her classes, the rewards are quite worth it. She completely deserves the awards that she's won, and hopefully she'll stay at CU for many years.

Nov 2004

I completely agree with all the wonderful things that were said about her. While I was at the lectures I didn't even realize how much I was getting out of them. This year I'm studying Victorian lit at Oxford, and it's amazing how much easier it is for me to analyze even the books I hadn't read before, just because Amanda really teaches us how to analyze. I can now make connections I never could have made if this were my first time taking this subject. I had never really practiced her type of analysis before: Instead of a thematic analysis, we do a structural one in which we learn how the book is put together. While that can seem limiting and sometimes not as interesting, it's incredible how much easier it is to do thematic analysis after practicing taking apart the structure so many times. Not only is Amanda brilliant, but she's such a nice person. I was so nervous when I went to talk to her at office hours, but she made me feel so comfortable and went out of her way to make me feel relieved and good about myself walking out. This has definitely been the most rewarding class I've taken at Columbia.

Nov 2004

words cannot describe. she is awesome. i was too terrified to speak in class because i was so awed by claybaugh. fantastic - though taxing - syllabus (if you like victorian lit). TA's graded pretty easy, but even if i'd gotten a C I would still be writing a glowing review because Claybaugh really influenced the way I think & write about literature. She is impossibly smart. lectures were totally fascinating - try to keep up with the reading, but she brings up the layers of the text you wouldn't have gotten anyway, so if you get behind just keep going.... i wish i could take this class like 9000 times.

Sep 2004

Professor Claybaugh's class was hands-down the best course I've taken at Columbia. She provided extensive, useful historical background on different aspects of each novel; her lectures were completely engaging; she learned each of the sixty or so students' names and would send back a lengthy, friendly email every time you had a question or comment about a book or paper topic. Claybaugh expects thorough, thoughtful analysis of plot and style; you'll be more than happy to try your best. TAKE ANYTHING SHE TEACHES!

May 2004

There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe Prof. Claybaugh -- she is truly one of the finest professors at Columbia. Her classes are insightful and entertaining, and while she may seem "intimidating" at first, she warms up quickly and you will soon feel comfortable talking about anything with her. She will encourage you to analyze texts to a much greater degree than ever before, and she will point out aspects of the formal structure that are quite intriguing and fascinating. You will come out of her classes a better student, a better reader, a (much, much, much) better writer, and generally, a better person. Seek her out during office hours and get to know the real Prof. Claybaugh -- she's wonderful!

May 2004

Prof. Claybaugh got a teaching award this year so right off the bat that should tell you she's worth taking. She's very insightful, and like the other reviewers have said, she makes you want to read the books. She takes pride in her lectures, too - they were always well thought out and prepared. The reading list is great: Mansfield Park, Jane Eyre, Bleak House, Middle March, Jude the Obscure, Picture of Dorian Gray and Heart of Darkness. My only complaint is that she's very...historical. Which is fitting, I guess, but I was looking for more of a thematic analysis of the books. We'd never discuss WHY someone did something but the historical context around that decision. So, too, her expectations are different. In exams and papers, she asks for a formal analysis of character, plot and narration rather than a structural one. It was so foreign to us that the TA actually had to get up and explain what a formal analysis was! Bottom line: her style takes a little getting used, to -- but it was definitely an enjoyable experience. She gets excited student response to literature, she's lerned, and is SO helpful during office hours.

May 2003

What a pedantic woman. She assigns way too much reading, is far too arrogant, and has this cute, self-conscious way of acting like she's a teenager to relate to her students. Right afterwards, of course, she launches into a multi-syllabic tirade to remind you that she went to good graduate schools. A ridiculous woman. Take her only if you appreciate pretentiousness.

Apr 2003

I HAVE to agree with the other good reviews. I did not know a book could be interesting until I had her as my literature teacher. She turns into an exhilirating "investigation" of what the author is trying to tell us. Not only that, but she makes the class feel as if everybody is in it together. She doesn't portray herself as the all-knowing professor; instead, she's seems more to be another student trying to get to the books true message. Keep up with the work, though! Oh, and she had a great idea: one of the required papers is a study guide for a book. This you disrtibute to your classmates. In other words, you get a summary of all the books in the semester.

Jan 2003

Professor Claybaugh is clearly the most brilliant woman to have ever lived. She can make something as dense as the Iliad into a radiant portrait of humanity for you. She sincerely believes in the Artfullness of literature and works hard to make you see this. It is true that you do more work than friends in Lit hum but it is totally worth it. Several times in the semester Claybaugh held the class spellbound and speechless with just a few of her insights into the texts.

Nov 2002

There's not much I can add to the overwhelmingly positive reviews that are already posted about Professor Claybaugh, except to reiterate this point: if you get her for Lit Hum, DO NOT DROP. You'll do more work than your friends, but the payoff is so much greater. This woman makes it her mission to make you a better writer and a clearer thinker. She holds her students to a high standard, but holds herself to an even more exacting one, and believe me, that really matters.

Sep 2002

Professor Claybaugh will dissect your early papers, separating the mass of bullshit from the one or two actually relevant things you say. Diverging from the usual practice of a few 5-7 page papers, she instead looks for 6 2-page papers. She shows you how to fit a 5 or 6 pager into just 2 pages, and make every sentence count. Is she overqualified to teach Lit Hum? Perhaps, but in the end it works out better for the students who have her in the class. You *will* feel guilty about not reading all of the books (I certainly did), but if you keep on top of everything, she'll reward you by referring back to interesting points you made again and again. She can make boring books seem enthralling, even if she does preface it by expressing her disdain for said book. If you get her for Lit Hum, you lucked out - don't switch classes.

May 2002

This woman is a nightmare. I'm almost certain that Amanda Claybaugh herself wrote all the positive reviews you see here. The workload is just idiotic. How much can a person read? If I had no other classes, and, say, 36 hours in a day, I'd never finish her required reading. Do yourselves a favor and skip this professor altogether.

May 2002

Get ready. If you were assigned into Prof. Calybaugh's Lit Hum class, you are going to spend the first few weeks of the semester hating your friends and roommates. She is definately more demanding of her students than other Lit Hum teachers, but there is a method to it all. You will come out of this class a better writer (she did more for me than my L&R class), a better reader, and a better thinker. She is in no way unrealistic of her student's abilities, but she will push you to get results. If you want to read the sparknotes before class and talk about tripe, then get out, but if you want to be exposed to a brilliant teacher (with a GREAT sense of humor) who will improve you as a human being, then this professor is for you!

Apr 2002

Very intelligent professor. She doesn't let you repeat the dumb, ritualistic, shallow literary analysis from high school. She takes stake in each individual's improvement as a writer and thinker. She comes in with her own ideas of each text, but above all she is very receptive to listening to new ideas if those arguments are built out of solid analysis. Claybaugh is unashamedly a bit of a booknerd, and if you're willing to engage in the readings as much as she does, then the class is awesome. oh, as for the comment about her being a knee-jerk feminist, I have never seen her impress any "crazy feminist" ideas on the class in any discussion ever. She is a very flexible and knowledgeable person, and I've never thought of her as someone with a myopic view of the world.

Apr 2002

Incredibly demanding but well worth it. She is undeniably brilliant and she will push both the strongest and weakest student in the class to their intellectual limits. Claybaugh is serious about her role as a professor, but she is above all FAIR, DEDICATED, AND SMART AS HELL. Her office hours are great, and she really cares about her students as people. Jump at the chance to take any class she teaches.

Mar 2002

THE ABSOLUTE BEST CLASS I'VE EVER TAKEN!!! In my opinion, this class is a must for anyone who enjoys great literature and a great professor (a definite for English majors). Claybaugh is enlightening...I just can't say enough good things about this woman. Her lectures are riveting and I never missed a single one...ever. Her lecture style is captivating and she always makes the most fascinating points concerning the texts. I particularly enjoyed her contextualization of the novels. It's also nice to be taught by a professor who has true passion for the material. Claybaugh's personal attachment to these texts is apparent and really helped me to engage in the books. As my fellow reviewers have noted...this class comes with a very heavy workload. Each of the 7 texts are remarkable, however. Well worth the time put in. In the middle of the semester, we read two EXTREMELY LONG (1000 pages each) and dense texts (Bleak House, Dickens and Middlemarch, Eliot). Reading assignments were heavy, but reasonable. You can catch up on a week's worth of reading during the weekend, but DO NOT make this a regular practice...DO NOT let your readings slip!!! You will feel guilty about it and the lectures will frustrate you (because they're wonderful and you won't know what the hell everyone's talking about). Of course, you'll be screwed in the end if you've let more than one book slide, cause the final will be impossible. The workload is two papers and a take-home final. About the papers...they are a real opportunity for you to "show your stuff." Claybaugh really encourages her students to explore the texts, NOT to re-hash class discussion. The topics, at first, seem insipid (in the vein of "pets" or "acting") but their minimalist nature really allows you to do with it what you want. And, of course, you can always come up with your own topic, provided that you give advanced notice. Hint *Claybaugh is big on close readings of the texts as far as the papers go. I was frustrated by the fact that Claybaugh doesn't grade the papers. I am not a big fan of TAs and try to avoid them at all costs, but the TA from this course actually proved to be pretty helpful. Grading was more than fair. Take a class with this woman if at all possible. She's phenomenal and her lectures are truly inspiring. I can't praise her and this class enough!

Feb 2002

This woman is absolutely BRILLIANT. I would come out of classes completely spell-bound and blown away. She is incredibly intelligentis and fit for the job. The class was never ever boring (I know! hard to believe, but true). She stretches your mind to think in ways you would have never thought of before, and is able to articulate herself extremely well. If you can take lit-hum with Prof.Claybaugh, jump at the chance. She's INCREDIBLE

Jan 2002

Great class! Great prof! Great TA! Great books! I loved it.

Jan 2002

I LOVED THIS CLASS!! The books were fun to read, lectures were interesting, and the professor was really helpful. I also disagree with what the person above me said about talking to the TA. I went to see her before both my papers and got a TON of great information that helped me write better papers, and her comments on my paper were very thorough and really helpful. I also want to disagree with the guy who seemed to think Professor Claybaugh was pushing a feminist agenda. Sure, we did talk alot about women's issues, but AS PROFESSOR CLAYBAUGH EXPLAINED the 19th century is the age of the great domestic novel. Maybe if he doesn't want to talk about women's issues, he should have enrolled in another class. I didn't feel at all like we spent more time talking about women's issues than was justified.

Jan 2002

Professor Claybaugh may as well have her degrees from Yale and Harvard stamped on her forehead. Her lectures are always bookish and embarrassingly esoteric. Also, if you're a guy, prepare to take a few shots in the ribs. She's a feaux-friendly feminist.

Jan 2002

Agreeing with the previous reviewer, I'd add that if you don't take this class, definitely get Professor Claybaugh for something else. Her brilliant lectures make you feel guilty for falling behind on the readings, and she consistently manages to brighten texts that seem awfully dull when you're reading them at 2 in the morning. Try to make it to her office hours; what she has to say is far more interesting than what you'll get from the TA.

Dec 2001

This class was great! Filled with lots of interesting information about the 19th century and with one of the most fun reading lists I've seen yet. Professor Claybaugh has a way of making lectures both entertaining and informative, and I never minded coming to class. On the down side, these are 19th century novels, so they are HUGE, and if you get behind on the reading, you will never catch up. Grading was tough, but very fair. This isn't a class where you are going to be able to get away with writing a paper in 2 hours the night before it's due and pulling an A, but there's nothing mysterious about the grading, and if you put some effort into writing a decent paper, you will get a good grade. The heavy reading and real grading standards may make this class a bad choice for seniors looking to blow off their senior year, but I'd highly recommend it for anyone who wants an interesting and stimulating class where you'll actually learn something.