Gregory Mann

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Nov 2020

This class is horrible. Professor Mann is so disorganized, and the lectures make absolutely no sense. The bi-weekly assessments are easy enough, but I literally completed bullshitted the midterm because I had no idea what was going on in this class. This is the only lecture class that I have ever struggled to take notes in, simply because it is so disorganized. Luckily the TA is a really easy grader, and gave me a B- on the midterm. I am averaging a B+ halfway through the semester, but I think I am going to p/d/f it because I don't know if I can continue to do well in this class. I have no idea why Professor Mann has a silver nugget-- it makes no sense. Anyway, I would rate this class 2/10. So incredibly disorganized and nearly impossible to do well in.

Apr 2015

so....he's fine. Very nice, knows what he's talking about but the class is super dry, incredibly bland, and underwhelming in most aspects. Theres a few papers, midterm and final, recitation once a week and you won't know shit for any of them because you haven't paid attention all semester. Good thing he loves curving. I legit made up bullshit historical facts on my final because i had no idea what to write about. Like just straight up lied about history so that I could put down something for the essay. Had failed the midterm, guaranteed failed the final and did fine on the paper and got like a B- or something just to fill the global core req. If you want to learn don't take this, if you want to get by and fulfill a req this is your go to. Don't be afraid midway through when you don't know shit and feel like you're failing, you'll be fine come post finals.

May 2014

Avoid. Professor Mann put very little effort or energy into this course. The students were responsible for running every two hour seminar by discussing the readings and leading a class discussion, which was a big portion of your grade.There was very little or no context for the readings, so the discussions often felt painful with half the class tuning out. Overall, this was a missed opportunity as the subject matter is fascinating and I would have welcomed more work if it would have given me a better understanding. Professor Mann could have done a lot more.

Apr 2013

Avoid. Interesting subject matter, rest – not as serious. Mann is soft-spoken, confined to his opinion and a pretty mundane lecturer altogether. Discussion never passed name-dropping. It was a very mediocre experience. The lectures were awkward and slow. I wish I could have engaged with the topic more, as African History is truly fascinating and important to know about; especially in Columbia's narrow West-centric universe. I would recommend getting the syllabus and read some of the literature instead.

Aug 2011

Professor Mann is very knowledgeable about francophone Africa and very knowledgeable of French history. The texts we read in "Africa & France" were intellectually challenging. We read Sartre and Senghor, listened to Sekou Toure's speeches, read Conklin about the French mission civilisatrice etc. Professor Mann was approachable and easy to contact, he was interested in his students' ideas and class discussions were enriching. He is usually a quiet speaker (complete silence is needed to listen to him), but sometimes he also gets carried away in class discussion! I strongly recommend this class to those who are interested in the intersection of French and African history, French colonialism, 20th century Africa and intellectual history of the first half of the 20th century.

May 2007

This class is essentially an upper level survey course and like all survey courses it is inherently muddled and broad. Prof. Mann only contributes to the confusion with his meandering lectures and inability to effectively touch on (ironically) the “main currents in African history.” That’s not to say the class is completely uninteresting, at many points I found myself feeling like I was learning things that would be valuable outside the class for many years to come. That being said, the nitpicky grading and all over the place lecture style made those moments more difficult to treasure. This is one of those classes where you think you’ve nailed the exams but when you get them back you have a “what the f*#?!” moment as you stare at your blue book. Overall, this class is definitely not terrible but it’s certainly not great. If you were looking to find a class to meet the breadth requirements of the history major I would look elsewhere. If you were looking to learn in depth about African history I would look elsewhere. If you absolutely HAVE to take this class for some reason plan on spending way more time on it than you think you have to and you MAY do all right. This class is a GPA buster of the most annoying kind, one where the prof. asks the students to be perfect but falls far from being perfect himself.

Jan 2006

I heavily disagree with the previous review, because Professor Mann is confusing and disorganized. There is no outline in his lectures, so he wanders and meanders around important points. The lecture is littered with unnecessary details, making it convoluted and hard to decipher. Additionally, Professor Mann never makes his position clear on major topics, like slavery and colonialism, so views are not challenged. Instead, he weasels around those issues and becomes very politically correct at times. He neither condemns, endorses nor truly presents the white man's burden, just takes a safe alternative to discussing it. The discussions, on the other hand, are very informative and interesting if you are assigned a good TA.

Oct 2005

Simple and short...he is amazing and so is the course. Prof Mann is extremely knowledgeable and interesting. The lectures are intense, and he goes off on a tangent sometimes when he really wants to get into it. This course is definitely recommended!

Jun 2005

First off my grade was a B. I got a B+ on the first midterm and a C+ on my second midterm. I will say this. I thought I ROCKED this class but apparently I was wrong. I had a genuine interest in the class and the content. I did all the readings save one book, The Joys of Motherhood. The class is structured through Prof. Mann's lectures in which he outlines some topics at the beginning of class which he may/may not get to but you are expected to learn. I will admit that I found the lectures most interesting when he had pictures and movies to watch. Otherwise I was just distracted because he doesn't turn the projector off. The lectures were ok. If you haven't done the reading they will definitely help. But if you have you rarely learn anything new although he will sometimes hint at things that you are definitely expected to learn. Since I was only interested in the content I was most fulfilled by the readings which are def. worth the time. I don't plan on selling any of them and even plan to reread some. My TA was Rodney Collins who had been in Mali I think with the Peace Corps. At first I thought he was a little high and mighty but I think he was actually trying to challenge us to break outside of our stereotypes of Africa. You could definitely see that some students got it but others I don't think really learned or began to care anymore about Africa. Quite possibly the most effective experience I've had in any class was when Rodney called me out on a slightly patronizing description of Malian culture. Other than that uhh the final wasn't too bad although the maps were whack. OH and the midterms and probably the final had NO partical credit. It was either right (or in most people's case) wrong. The TA's asked Mann to give us back some points but still it sucked.

May 2005

This class covers some interesting topics and Professor Mann is a genuinely interesting lecturer, but many students found it very hard to do well. The first midterm was based heavily on the lectures and most people did reasonably well on it. So, for the second midterm, everyone spent most of their time studying their lectures notes, only to discover on test day that the exam was, this time, heavily based on the readings. The final exam, was based mostly on lecture, again. Further confusing about the exams is that the first one is counted as 15% of the final grade, the second one 25% and the final as 50%, but each of the three tests covers about the same number of lectures and amount of material, so it's as if to say that modern African history is more important than earlier history - found that confusing and conflicting! Moreoever, the discussion sections were poorly managed. They were scheduled to meet every other week, but my TA changed the schedule around so many times, that by about the midterm point no one knew when we were having section and when we weren't - they were held so irregularly that people would show up when he'd canceled it and then wouldn't know to come when he decided to hold it. Overall this class was a dissapointment for me. I had been really looking forward to it, because I was genuinely interested in the topics, but the inconsistencies in the exams and discussion sections really ruined it for me. If you really want to learn about African history, you're probably better off pursuing it on your own as a personal interest!

May 2005

I wanted to like this class and for a while I did. However, while his early lectures were organized and easily comprehensible, his latter lectures lacked coherence. The basic thing he does in lecture is this: he writes some terms on the board and introduces the topic of his lecture for most of the class, declaring what he wants to talk about but never getting to the meat of his lecture and often leaving the terms on the board undefined. Some of it isn't his fault as the main currents in African history ended up being that there are no generalizations you can make about such a large continent and it would be an epic and impossible task to take on historicizing and linking all of Africa in one semester. Discussion section was a pain, especially because it was a section for a Major Cutures List A class in which no one does the reading, though the reading was definitely a redeeming factor for the class. Good class if you are interested in the region or get some breadth, however don't expect enlightenment on the subject that is Africa. Still, the lectures weren't necessarily empty, which may mean either that people didn't wanna do the reading or that I completely misinterpreted the class.

Nov 2004

Professor Mann is an entertaining and very knowledgeable professor. He is young, hip and has a nice reparte with the class. The structure of the class is kind of loose. We read articles and then have discuss them. He rarely straight out lectures, which is good for people who find that teaching style boring and not so great for people who want to hammer down the issues and the facts. He is not a very easy grader on papers but not unfair either. He takes the class to see a movie and eat Ethiopian food which is cool. He is approachable for the most part. The only thing that is a bummer about the class is the longer paper we have to write. Otherwise I like him and definately take his section over Felicity's.

Jan 2003

Mann is good. Not great, but good. You'll learn a fair amount about West, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe in this class. Addtionally, you should pick up some of themes in the present debate over the political and economic direction Africa should take. Mann is a sarcastic, occasionally too much so, but overall he's a nice guy and fair teacher. Overall, an fun, informative way to fufill Major Cultures List A

May 2002

Professor Mann is one of the most outstanding professors I have had at Columbia. The man knows a ton and presents it in that Chomsky way, where even his asides are loaded with meaning. There is a lot of reading, but most of it is really interesting. For a workable overview of colonialism and resistance in Africa (with cursory pre-colonial and independence stuff), this is absolutely the class to take. Great class.

Jan 2002

It's not an easy class. It's 4 points for a reason. There is a good deal of reading, and Prof. Mann expects you to able to discuss in class. Mann also expects you to show up; he's very strict on attendance. But a good deal of the reading is interesting, and Mann is a fun discussion leader. He lets the conversation go where the class wants, and he's incredibly knowledgable. If you're not going to find Africa at all enthusing, than the class probably isn't for you, but I took it just to get an A list African class out of the way (so I could get into the African-American B and C list classes) and I got a lot out of it.