i think meredith is an intelligent, well organized and enthusiastic teacher. i found her a bit intimidating but she warmed up by the end of the class. she obviously loves the material she covers. she's well spoken and the selected readings and lectures were always worth my time and very informative. i'd definitely suggest taking this class if offered again.
First, whatever you say about her character, Meredith is a great teacher. If nothing else, she got me super interested in the class--and I had never even been to the Met for my first three years ago. She is definitely a very effective lecturer who cares about quality not quantity; she didn't make us memorize exact dates (just approx. periods) and eliminated a lot of unnecessary readings to make our lives easier, and even today I remember most of the things she said. Personality-wise, she's not really mean or arrogant as some others suggested. She just has a lower tolerance for certain things than your average teacher. These things include not paying attention to her in class (which she seemed to take personally) and bad writing. If you speak often and put some thought into your papers, you'll be fine.
Yes, Meredith comes off as both arrogant and mean. She did introduce herself as a professor even though she's only a grad student and does have an aversion to e-mail. But once you accept her, her lively personality makes class quite interesting. I was always wondering what she would say next, sometimes relating to ArtHum and sometimes not. She didn't assign much reading at all and expected her students to grasp the small amounts she did assign. My biggest problem with her was that the class was perpetually behind the syllabus. We didn't even finish Picasso before the end of the semester... Meredith just likes to talk about the each painting to such an extent that you dont cover too much in each class. Her lectures are also all over the place in my opinion. She jumps from topic to topic and what she is saying often doesn't correspond to the slides she shows. Also annoying is her inabilty to remember what order she loaded the slides into the projector. Despite the ranting by others, I found her grading to be more than fair.
Meredith is really really NOT THAT BAD. Promise. In fact, she's pretty awesome. She knows her stuff down cold, is articulate, bright, and entertaining. She wants to make Art Hum more than just the standard two-dimensional couse and enriched the class with field trips to the Met and review sessions. While she can be grating, I learned a lot from her as a person and an instructor
DO NOT listen to the other reviewers; they're far too jaded. I would go as far to say that Meredith Davis is actually one of the best (if not the best) teacher I've had at Columbia. I am in no way an art history buff, but she made the class interesting enough that I only skipped one or two classes. I really didn't notice any of the arrogance that the other reviewers mentioned. The discussions in class were generally interesting and Meredith accepted the majority of students' views on a piece while voicing her own perceptions of the art. The workload wasn't difficult at all, and I got through the class without doing any of the readings. The papers were short (6 total of 2 pages each) and the midterm and the final weren't too difficult. I got through the class with an A without much effort.
The previous reviewers are far too hard on Meredith Davis. She is, deep down, actually a very kind and helpful woman. She really does want her students to learn, and she does a pretty good job of making the course interesting. As the semester progressed she eliminated many of the readings or and replaced some of them with very interesting material. The response papers stimulate original thought if you actually put time into them. As far as her being critical of the class, from what I saw she was completely justified in doing so.
I have no idea why this Prof is getting so many negative reviews. Class was really exciting and even fun at moments. And I stayed awake despite the fact that it began at 5:30. Professor Davis said she expected excellence and, from what she said, got a lot of really sloppy papers at first. She took the time to go over what was wrong with the papers but I didn;t resent that , since I went from a B- on my first paper to an A on my last two, by following her directions. She IS a hard-ass and I think she felt she had to be tough because we had some real slackers who made discussion rest on the few of us who were actually awake and doing the (very light) reading. She made funny (bawdy) jokes now and then and really loves the art - this comes accross and makes it more interesting - atleast she was not bored with the material - ever! Even though she talked tough she had very fair grading practices that she was completely open about, and was flexible (even though she said she wouldn't be) when I had trouble with a deadline. She was very available despite being allergic to email. AS for content, I appreciated that she eliminated a few readings as we went along, and she did try to get class discussion going. She was tactful about taking a really dumb comment and trying to turn it around into something valuable. I dont know about the other reviewers, but in my section, people said some really inane things at times, and I dont resent the Prof for redirecting the conversation. I dont mind if the prof has a point to make int the class - in fact, I expect them to!
I agree with the other reviewers, but i didn't think the class as a whole was as bad as they said. meredith is very arrogant and self-absorbed, but i didn't think her attitude affected most of our class time. yes, she'll shut down students' opinions in favor of her own, but she doesn't do it harshy, just with the attidute that she's better than us. in fact, her favorite thing to do is insult the class' writing skills because she wanted us to know that not only did she know more about art than us, but that she was smarter than us too. i think one's impression of the class comes down to how they're affected by that kind of attitude. if you can ignore it, you get a decent understanding of the material with fair class time and an easy workload, if not, she'll just make you angrier as the semester goes on.
As the other reviewer said, "mean" is a good word to descirbe Meredith, but I might also include "self- absorbed" and "arrogant". She started the class off by telling us not to e-mail her, that she was a professor and didn't have time to answer student mail. A quick look at the directory proved her to be merely a grad student. Way to win your students' affection and respect, Meredith. She proceeded through the semester to ask for opinions, only to interrupt her students, pretending to elaborate on what they had just said, and go off in another direction with her own thoughts. She didn't really listen to students' questions, either about artwork or assignments. In addition, her assignments were notoriously unclear. She assumed her students would have a great deal of foreknowledge about how to analyze art, despite the fact that no one had studied art before. Even when asked to explain her flawed essay questions, she failed to listen to what students were actually saying, and in the end she was disappointed in the results. An unbelievably frustrating class. I did learn something about the art we studied, and Meredith does know something of art. But the knowledge I gained was not worth the aggravation of each class. If you end up in Meredith's section, you could probably do worse, but not much.
If you have a choice between taking Art Hum with the reincarnated soul of Genghis Kahn and with Meredith Davis, go with Genghis. Simply put, she's a mean person. Occasionally she'll crack a smile and perhaps show a bit of humanity, and then instantaneously she's barking at you again. She likes to give directions for papers and exams and then grade them according to completely different frameworks. Likes to say "no, I don't see that at all" after saying to class "what do you think about this work? any ideas, there are no wrong answers." Has a tendency to refer to students' work with words like "awful" and "terrible". Art Hum has the potential to be a wonderful class; Meredith slaughtered any last chance of its success.