professor
Maire Jaanus

May 2019

Since none of the reviews are recent, I needed to write one. Please do yourself a favor and do not take a class with this professor. Professor Jaanus is older, which is fine, except her worldview is entirely outdated. She would frequently say racist and otherwise bigoted things in class, not even realizing the implications of what she was saying but also not willing to listen to the class' point of view. She constantly mis-gendered and dead-named a gender nonconforming student after being reminded multiple times. Whenever we tried to critically analyze the perspective of the wealthy white male authors we were reading (no female authors in the syllabus -- except one who she ended up cutting!), she would immediately shut us down and change the topic. This class was entirely nonproductive, and I wish I had not taken it. Her class was a poor representation of the English major at Barnard.

Apr 2018

Jaanus is a bore and a racist. Her class was absolute torture to try to stay awake during. She also behaved terribly towards the (few) African American students in the class, bullying them about their writing and saying horrible things about them behind their back to their classmates. Trust me -- she loved to talk shit to me in office hours about my peers. I've never been so uncomfortable in my life. I could not recommend any class less.

Apr 2014

Where is this professor's gold nugget? This professor is by far one of the best professors that I have ever had at Barnard or Columbia. She genuinely seems to care about how her students are doing, and she is extremely nice in her office hours. Though she doesn't give much feedback (if any!) on your work [she did in the first semester, but not in the second semester], she will definitely meet with you one on one to go over any questions you might have about your grade. She responds to all of my emails promptly [sometimes, even late at night] and writes back with thoughtful responses all the time. The workload is not bad at all, she structures her class in a way that you don't have to do all the readings on the syllabus (the only ones that you do have to do are the ones she assigns to you every two weeks)! (Although I highly recommend reading most of them, otherwise you could end up screwed at the end of the semester playing catch-up [but this is easily remedied with ebooks]).

May 2008

This is somewhat lengthy review, so for those of you who just want the take-away message, here it is: Professor Jaanus is far and away the most brilliant of the professors whose lectures I have attended over the last several years. And, more importantly, she distinguishes herself from many other brilliant individuals by being a respectful, dedicated teacher and an excellent communicator of ideas. Now, I am well aware of some of the less glowing reviews given to this professor on Culpa, and I do believe they require some sort of response. Professor Jaanus teaches the work of Jacques Lacan, the most impenetrable, idiosyncratic and fascinating psychoanalyst-intellectual of the last century. Many in the field acknowledge his brilliance but will readily admit their unwillingness or inability to read his writing. Much of his work is focused on demonstrating the impossibility of using language to convey the reality of human subjectivity. In choosing to teach his work, one is saddled with the responsibility of familiarizing ones students with Lacan�s own personal language and jargon. There is no way around it. So, it is only natural that Professor Jaanus�s lectures require immense concentration because they deal with incredibly complex ideas and terms. What I do not agree with is the assertion that her lectures are incoherent. Far from it. In my opinion they are deeply thought through, elegant, and interesting. More importantly, as they wend their way from one powerful idea to the other, passing through fascinating references and memorable asides, one is struck by the fact that Professor Jaanus is not simply repeating well-worn clich�s and presenting the class with old ideas, but rather the products of a life dedicated to deep thinking and learning. Professor Jaanus also makes herself extremely available to her students, holding office hours to continue discussions that have spilled over from class time. Although this may sound a bit over the top, I must say that attending Professor Jaanus�s classes and speaking with her privately have changed the way I think and altered my life�s course. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to take one of her classes, seize it. It is an experience not to be missed.

Jul 2005

Her brillance, combined with her teaching abilities, makes Ms. Jaauus one of the most fascinating and competent teachers at Barnard or Columbia. After witnessing all the over-inflated egos of the mostly insipid crew in E+CL, her accessability is a welcome relief. You actually want to talk to her and I never missed a class because I knew that teachers like her are very rare. The work is hard but I never regretted any of it. Highly recommend this class.

Dec 2004

First off, Prof. Jaanus is simply an extremely nice person. The class in general tended to drag when we looked at theory (all Lacan) and the theory-based readings were terrible. When discussion focused on a literary text, however, the class was almost enjoyable (for a thursday 6-8pm class, thats a feat). The course load was extremely light (can easily get away with reading practically nothing), just some response papers at the beginning of the semester and then the thesis on topic of your choosing (20-25 pages) at the end.

Nov 2003

I have to say that this was the most frustrating academic experience I have ever encountered. I vehemently agree with those students who say that although she may be brilliant, she should exercise her intellect and education in an arena other than teaching. She can not complete a linear thought. She goes off on incomprehensible tangents and speaks what can barely be construed as English. Steer clear!!

Jan 2003

just had to put in my own 2 cents- although i didn't like this class much at the beginning, i must say that it really grew on me, as did prof. jaanus-- by the end of the semester it was one of my favorite classes. although prof. jaanus wasn't very well prepared and did ramble, she is clearly brilliant. She won't expect you to grasp all the finer points, so don't worry too much about it- just get as much as you can from the material. Another huge bonus-little work involved- we had one paper and a straightforward final; she seems to be a fairly easy grader.

Jan 2003

Hated the class. I expected more on the literary aspects of each novel; but most of the class was focused on the psychoanalysis section. Heavy focus on Freud, and how all his theories are seemingly validated by parallel examples from novels like Wuthering Heights. To me, it sounded like a load of BS. Do not take this class if you're not in love with Lacan, Freud, and all the nonsense about seeing phallic and sexual symbols everywhere. Her grader also doesn't seem to know the requirements for the class, either. Not a hard class, but be sure you're patient enough to withstand praises on ridiculous theories. Be prepared to fall asleep from time to time.

Jan 2003

Don't go into either of Professor Jaanus's courses without extensive preparation in philosophy, literary history, and psychoanalysis -- Lacan in particular. She's probably the most intensely intellectual member of the department, and this does not work to her advantage when she's teaching. She tends to ramble, and I'm being generous -- sometimes it borders on the insane. Her instructions for paperwork are unclear -- but use it to your advantage: her grading's incredibly lax. If you don't get an A minus from her you must not have handed anything in. And all her quirks aside, she's goddamned brilliant. I lived for the gems that she'd just toss out in the middle of all her extraneous thoughts. She's so smart she can't organize her lectures into something coherent, but this actually allows you to watch her think, and to see how an incredibly intelligent person's brain works. If I had to attend a lecture in the Barnard English department, and I had my choice of speakers, I'd choose to listen to her, because she not only passionately believes in her work, she exudes a sense of intellectual passion that is unmatched. If you can handle her nature, and you actually want to think, take her classes.

Jan 2003

Professor Jaanus may be a literary scholar in her own right, but she simply cannot teach. There was no clear structure to the class, and it was not clear how work was being graded (or even what exactly was expected for the work). Classes were boring, and the professer's comments did not inspire at all. The worst English class I've ever taken.

Jan 2003

This was the worst class I've taken at Barnard. Some of the books we read I found interesting, but the class "discussions" were virtually never enlightening. While this was supposed to be a small discussion group, Professor Jaanus let everyone who showed up on the first day in, so there were about 27 of us in the class (since there were not enough chairs for everyone around the table about a third had to sit in chairs around the outside and balance notebooks in their laps). The class consisted in listening to Jaanus ramble for two hours. She was very disorganized and never seemed prepared. On any given day the majority of the class would be dozing, doodling, or looking otherwise like they were about to disintegrate into bored heaps. Also, we never got any feedback in the course. While we had to post 8 one page online responses she never told us what she expected from them. I never received a single grade or comment until I saw my final grade online. The guidelines for the final paper were so vague they were almost a joke. She gave us a lot of readings. At the begining I read them all conscientiously, but after a while I realized that it didn't matter if I did or not, since class discussions were non existent, classes were not enlightening, and online postings could be written on virtually anything. I never felt I understood the connection between the readings, or how they connected to what was happening in the Renaissance then, how they influenced contemporary writers, or even what the point of the class was supposed to be. It was disorganized, vague, and worst of all boring; I resented having it as a requirement. To be fair, Jaanus in a nice person and enthusiastic about many of the books we read, but somehow she was unable to convey that enthusiasm to the class. I'm sure she is well meaning, but that does not erase the fact that this was a horrible class. It seems clear that she does not put much effort into her teaching.

Nov 2002

In response to the other review on Jaanus - it is a love hate thing. She is incredibly knowledgable about the renaissance and equally incredibly disorganized about the class. While she knows what she's tlaking about her subjects don't seem at all connected and she does not leave room or time for discussion which is the point of a seminar/colloquium class. Also she is a bit too into the dead white male thing for a female professor - its downright weird. Take her if you are interested in random knowledge about the renaissance but be weary if youu expect her class to be understandable and the requirments straightfoward.

Nov 2002

I found prof Jaanus at times brilliant and other times completely incomprehensable. When she grounded what she was saying in the text she was insightful and interesting. However, she tends to become abstract and consequently confusing. Her thinking and explanations were sometimes disorganized and hard to follow. I wouldn't recommend her classes to anyone who doesn't have an extensive background in philosophy/english/Lacan. She assumes you know everything she knows which is sometimes flattering but often unhelpful

Jan 2002

Lacanian Goddess from above. She has so many amazing insights each class - and apparently spontaneous too - you'll be transported. She is the woman that can explain anything (novels, life, kant) in a way which you'd never thought of before but you recognize as true the moment you hear it - maybe it's that whole unconscious thing. Don't take her though if you like some logical/analytical approach close to the text - she's not about that, and if you let go of your reservations you'll emerge a new human being. so, if you couldn't tell, her class has changed my life. I did meet someone though who didn't adore her, and just said "I didn't like it" - it must be an either love or hate thing.