Paige West

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Jan 2021

Paige is an incredibly gifted professor. Although ultimately the class wasn't really for me, I can see how other students would get a lot out of it. I learned so much information in the first half of the course that really expanded my worldview and helped me better interpret was I was learning in literally all of my other 3 classes this semester. That on its own made it worth taking. Paige is a great lecturer and passionate about what she teaches. In the second half of the course, the content became less concrete and I honestly didn't learn as much. I can see why someone passionate about pursuing anthropology would love the second half of the class, and I think the reason I didn't is just because I figured out this wasn't the discipline for me. Paige also brings in a lot of guest lecturers which is so amazing and takes a lot of effort. However, I found a lot of the value of a guest lecture was lost over zoom- more so than a standard lecture. In addition, Paige devotes a lot of class time to answer questions from students. I love that she cares about student input, but I just didn't find the questions the other students asked to be meaningful, and with 75 students it took up a lot of time. A large part of the reason why this wasn't my favorite class was because I had a terrible TA- they were nice but inexperienced and completely unable to structure a discussion, and never had anything valuable to say about the content. And although the assignments were easy and designed to be fun, they felt like a waste of time to me. Overall, I don't want this review to discount all the glowing reviews on here- they all ring true. It wasn't for me but I can see why people love it.

Nov 2020

I cannot recommend that you take this class highly enough! Especially during virtual classes, this class is an absolute joy. Prof. West is one of the kindest, funny, and brilliant professors on this campus, and her exuberance makes the class a delight each day. Prior to every lecture, she plays a song that never fails to put me in a good mood. Prof. West makes sure that you leave every day with more questions than you came with -- if you're looking to spend a semester changing the way you view the world, this is the class. This is not to say that she imposes a certain view on you, but quite the opposite -- you are encouraged to think for yourself, form an informed opinion, and speak up as a confident academic peer. By the end of this semester, I feel more confident and informed in my world view. If you take this class virtually, she also brings in countless interesting guest speakers from organizations and universities around the world. I also had a WONDERFUL TA and so much fun in my discussion section (which is a rarity). Take this class!

Oct 2020

TAKE THIS CLASS. SERIOUSLY. Professor Paige is by far one of the best teachers I've ever had at Barnard/Columbia. She's brilliant, quirky, so delightfully funny and makes everyone feel at home. Assignments are a breeze (2 pages double spaced? Yes please) and her class is so thoughtful. I don't know if this class would be handled as well by anyone who is not her because it can be a lot to take in. Whether you agree with her politics or not her class will leave you with a million and one questions; you will think about global power dynamics, indigenous rights, orientalism, white supremacy, anti-racism, colonialism - all that good stuff and even though she believes certain things, she's very very open to hear what everyone thinks and is very respectful of all opinions. If she gets mad - which is super rare - it's because you most likely have a problematic opinion. Not only does this class fill in almost every Barnard requirement - which makes sense because it's just such an amazing class, but you'll also actually leave feeling like you've learnt something about the world and being a better human in this class.

Jun 2020

I took this class in spring 2020, when the pandemic was happening, so the contents were not the same as normal. That being said, Prof. West handled this change like a champ. She told us that we would all pass the course no matter what, made all the rest of the semester readings optional, and pulled in guest speakers for all of our Wednesday classes for a change of pace. She's such an amazing teacher that despite essentially making class optional, almost the entire class showed up to her Zoom lectures, and the class was still relatively engaged despite the fact that we had no obligation whatsoever to do so. Paige West is an amazing teacher who ultimately just wants to see her students succeed. She gave us her phone number to contact her if we had any concerns or just needed someone to talk to about the pandemic, and she plays music to dance to at the beginning and end of every class. Her positive energy is contagious. Please take this class with Paige! Workload (pre-pandemic, of course) was pretty reasonable. Pretty reading-heavy class: 30-50 pages usually per class. She didn't have a set predetermined length for papers ("write as much or as little as you need to get your point across"), but told us to shoot for around 4 pages since she said that she knows Columbia students like guidelines. Very enjoyable class, especially when you take it with Paige. Would highly recommend whether you intend to study anthropology or just need to fill a requirement!

Apr 2020

She's amazing.

Dec 2018

A brilliant thinker and a phenomenal role model for young women like me. You can see by some of the reviews how scary a strong woman can be for misogynists and the like, whose bad reviews are substantiated by judgements about how she dresses.

Dec 2014

i don't get why there aren't more reviews here! west is a brilliant professor. she is no-nonsense, which i really appreciate. she has a great sense of humor and is always spunky, and knows the right time to be professional and the right time to be herself. i really liked seeing a mix of that in the classroom, as i felt that she was both a great person and a great professor and researcher. she has so much knowledge, and is great at explaining things. she also is chill about deadlines - if you need an extension, she will give it to you. she understands that her students have lives and in that regard she really seems like she cares. she hates email, so its best if you go talk to her in person after class or in office hours or even by phone, she says. overall, she made class enjoyable and fun because she is witty and frank and loves intellectual critiques.

Dec 2010

Professor West is a great lecturer. I feel like I would have hated this class had I not had Professor West. You must go to lecture if you want to do well in this course because most of the material from lecture is not covered in the readings and you will have to know it for the exams. The projects were fun and a nice way to get to know another part of the city. As long as you study your notes, the exams are definitely do-able. Overall a good course to take especially to fulfill a requirement.

Jan 2009

As awesome as everybody says, though a lot of it depends on the rest of your classmates. My seminar last fall was filled with really bright people, and so discussion was something you looked forward to each week.She starts out trying to be intense (she says she refuses e-mail, etc. etc) but it's all a pose. This class is always full, so she winds up kicking out non-anthro/non-seniors the first day. Readings were great, but don't buy the books - she changes the syllabus OFTEN.

May 2008

paige is pretty cool. i enjoyed the class, and the TAs were good, but i have to say that i think paige's seminar classes are better (although i heard her interpretation section is the best). the lectures were interesting (more so in the second half of the semester). a problem i had, however, was that the readings were never discussed in lecture, or in section by the TA, so i had little ambition to actually do them. and you kind of need them for the midterm and final. i just scrambled during reading week to skim all of them. the assignments, especially the second one, were really fun. it seemed that because they were so open ended, involved traveling and investigation, and actual thinking, not regurgitation, some students had issues with them (sorry, but not everything's spoon fed). the second one was a participant observation and left a lot of room for creativity. being an anthro major, i loved it.

Apr 2008

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS!!!!!! Paige West is by far the worst professor I have had in my four years at college. She is incredibly unprofessional to the point where students outright laugh at her during lecture. I took this class because I was interested in taking an anthropology course, and had read relatively good reviews on CULPA, however I am incredibly dissapointed in the class. First, Professor West is constantly changing the syllabus and assignments. Most recently she pushed back the due date on an assignment, so that it fell during midterms-no thank you. In addition, because she is constantly changing the syllabus around (we've received two revised syllabii so far), towards the end of the semester the reading load is incredibly heavy-roughly 300 pages a week--completely absurd for an intro-level class. Second, she takes forever to grade assignments--we received our first graded assignment the week after the p/f/d deadline. Third, she teaches with a clear agenda-if you disagree with her extreme Marxist rantings, like myself, you will find her completely one-sided lectures unfulfilling. Also, be warned-Professor West does not allow you to use a computer in her class-if she sees you with a computer she will make you put it away. Professor West is incredibly scatter-brained in lecture, and often goes on lengthy tangents on completely unrelated subjects to anthropolgy. Our TA had to correct her numerous times in lecture on key names and dates--an indication of her style of teaching. Also, regarding the many comments posted on her style of dress, I must say that wearing see-through t-shirts and tops that expose your bra are not a style to emmulate in a classroom environment. If you want to take an introductory Anthropology course look elsewhere!

Sep 2006

"I know you guys will rate me down on CULPA, but..." -beginning of every class/explanation of homework assignment with Paige West (sorry Paige) This class is grossly overrated. Paige West's lectures don't do as much to grab your attention as her clothing (her blinding sequined shirts can even be a distraction). After taking this course, I know little more than I did when I started about anthropology. Professor West went through the history of anthropology for about 3/4 of the semester, then crammed a few current topics in at the tail end. As for the readings, not once did she mention them in class and in discussion the TAs struggled to relate them to the lectures. If you do take this class, don't even bother buying any of the books. It's pointless (and Growing Up Global is quite possibly the worst book ever). It was frustrating to hear Professor West being so hypocritical all the time. Although the lectures often centered around being nonjudgmental and recognizing differences within groups of people, Prof West insisted on making sweeping generalizations about the studentes in the class and Columbia U students in general. She often told us that we were all "so stressed out" and over-obsess about grades, or that we all got 1600s on our SATs, which is just... annoying. (And false, from personal experience...) Basically, if you want a supereasy class and you can stand Paige West's cutesy attempts to relate to us young people, take this class. If not... don't?

May 2006

I seem to be in the minority, but I really don't see why people love this course so much. Prof West is intelligent and funny--yes--but it takes more than that to make a good class. Her teaching essentially consisted of assigning pretty dense economic texts to a bunch of social science majors and then letting them present on the texts themselves with little interference from her. Of course, most people didn't understand (or read) the texts, so this led absolutely nowhere, and inevitably half an hour into every class we'd start talking about OUR consumption patterns: i.e. the consumption and struggles of privileged Columbia students, as if that's what matters on a global scale. We addressed pressing questions like, "Why do we seek 'authentic' ethnic food?" and "Why is it girls can't order whiskey at bars and guys can't order cosmos?" and "Is it wrong to buy products because you like the advertising story behind them, even if they cost more?" An utter waste of time--and, worse (?), I felt like Prof West kind of knew that.

Apr 2006

This is my semester at Columbia, and out of all the courses I have taken, Paige West's class is the best one thus far. I made a fuss about being sent out of class for assignments off campus about 3 times, but now I understand and those times were very important to better understanding her concepts. She doesn't BS you at all and is young, sharp, articulate, super down to earth. She refuses e-mail because of the issues involving human contact , but she has office hours and people do see her. This class requires no previous experience with Anthropology, just an open mind. The stuff that we deal with in this class (Count Chocula, Hipsters, WB shows) would surprise most non-anthropology majors. Even if you're not an anthro major, I would reccomend this class anyway. Courses like this and professors like her are why I applied to this college in the first place.

Dec 2004

Ah, Paige West. Here is the thing about her: she is the perfect combination of smart and daft (can discuss semiotics but can't work the room lights), tough and girly (she does karate and surfs but wears pink cowboy boots), and professorial and cool (she runs a killer class discussion where you have to keep on your toes, do the reading AND make smart comments and she has the class over for dinner at the end of the term and thinks it is funny when a student brings a case of Bud).

Jan 2004

I read reviews of this class before taking it, and until after the midterm I wasn't quite as excited about the professor or the way class was run as other people were. The beginning texts, although when read again were fantastic, at first read were confusing in combination with her jumbled lectures which never really corresponded with what was being assigned to read. The other thing, everyone in the lecture hall used laptops for about two thirds of the semester, and finally she banned them. She kept saying how we didn't need to take all the notes we were taking, and she was right. Lectures are important to attend, but very little of it will be necessary for the midterm and final. Using a notebook all semester will force you to cut out all the things you will end up studying for no reason. But the woman is incredible, I couldn't have asked for a more eye opening person to begin my undergraduate career with. It's clear that all she wants is for the class to learn what she loves, and it's her enthusiasm that pushes everyone over the edge into loving the material themselves.

Jan 2004

This is a great professor and a great class. West really knows her stuff in terms of anthropology, economics, sociology, and philosophy that she has you read in the class. She is very smart, very articulate, and very funny (both at times that she means to be and at times when she has no idea that she is being). She is also one of the most engaging and charismatic speakers I have ever encountered. I walked into this class simply wanting to take a class with West. As an anthropology major I had heard that I had to take one with her before I graduated. I walked out of the class wanting to study consumption issues for a Masters or PhD. I can't say enough good things about West and this class. Every anthropology major (and everyone else for that matter) should take a class from her before they leave Columbia. I also feel the need to comment on some of the other reviews that state that she is "openly left" or "political" in class. Actually, I thought that she was the most neutral professor I've had yet. She was equally critical of the left and the right (when it came up). She seems to see the world as ultimately f**ked up because of the way that capitalism and its agents have created a set of social relations between people where everything is about buying and selling things (ideas, people, images....). I sort of see this as neither left nor right but rather as a true intellectual way of seeing social life. She is just a wonderful professor and a wonderful person. My friends and I ran into West and her husband at the West End one night. She stopped by our table, introduced herself and her husband to my friends and talked to us for about 10 minutes. She seems to really care what we think about things, who we are, and what we are studying. How many Columbia professors can you say that about?

Dec 2003

West is an anthropology "rock star" and her class is outstanding. Like everyone has already said: she is funny, smart, and has an excellent off-beat sense of fashion. Interpretatin of culture with her is not for people who want The Discovery Channel (an she tells you this the first day of class (no exotica and erotica is what she says). It is about the history of the idea of why we (in the west) think what we think (or think at all for that matter) about the rest. It is a fun and important class and West is the woman for you.

Dec 2003

I don't care what anyone else says, Professor West is an amazing teacher. Yes, she is openly left-leaning and has very strong convictions that come through in her lectures, but she frequently encourages students to dissent, debate, and disagree with her, to form their own opinions and not just accept hers blindly. The outside reading is not completely relevant as they're not discussed in class, but the T.A.s are really helpful in the discussion sections in terms of forming connections between the readings and broader anthropology. Anyway, I would definitely recommend Professor West, and not just because she plays cool music as people are filing into class, wears great clothing (like a mini-skirt and cowboy boots), and shows "Bladerunner" for two classes. She is smart, funny, interesting, and incredibly passionate about what she does. Definitely take her class.

Dec 2003

This woman is amazing. TAKE THIS CLASS! You wonÂ’t regret it! Not only does it fulfill a number of requirements, but also Professor West makes the class fun to go to. What can I say? Her lectures are enthralling and sometimes I wish I didnÂ’t have to take notes just so I can sit and bask in her speaking. Though for an intro class, there is a whole load of theory, which sometimes gets confusing but donÂ’t worry about it. Professor West and the TAÂ’s make the material highly accessible for those who never had background in anthropology. I feel like sheÂ’s the only professor IÂ’ve had that truly understands her students, telling us once or possibly more times that as Columbia students we should have a little fun and not worry so much. SheÂ’s funny, sheÂ’s hip and sheÂ’s just so cool. Her lectures are clear, organized and yes they do relate to the reading (though sometimes it did not follow the syllabus). I recommend that you take this class or any class Professor West is teaching, though she is on leave next year. This class changed the way I saw the world and itÂ’s really how I imagined a college class to be and more so. Though, there are some students that complain about this class, maybe it is because of the question and answer times, but I say itÂ’s all worth it. The class is easy, but you will have to do the readings (most of them anyway) if you want to do really well. I'm really going to miss this class.

Dec 2003

This is the only class that I have had where after the last lecture of the semester the entire class applauded the professor. West will make you think. West will make you laugh. West will sometimes REALLY make you laugh. West will remind you in about a million different ways why school is cool. West will make you want to go out and read all the crazy theory shit she brings up in class. She makes you want to find out more about social theory - that is huge! The class is all based on the idea that social relationships, social instutions, and "culture" are made (she tells you this the last day of lecture - but you kind of have to be an idiot not to get it from about the second week after the mid term). It is about learning how to disect, disconstruct, understand, and think about - the world. Also, West loves anthropology. Loves it. LOVES IT. She tells great stories about her work in new guinea, gives the dirt on what it is really like to do fieldwork, literally jumps up and down when she is telling you about some stuff, and gives a couple of lectures on consumption that were so good that everyone in the class forgot to take notes - she was so freaking interesting. TAKE THIS CLASS - you will learn and you will walk away wanting to be an anthropologist.

Nov 2003

Paige West is really an amazing woman, and not because of her clothing. The class is all about ideas and theory, but it is masked in a large bombardment of fact. Dont let it fool you! Also, many of the students in the class are laden with internal agendas which make them either love or hate the particular works selected. Remember folks, its just an intro class, not an in-depth study, and no one is expecting any more. If you take it all in and make judgements for yourself, totally worthwhile. this class changed the way I think about the world and made me want to take more anthro classes, and thats exactly the point.

Nov 2003

Great Class. This is the second seminar I've had with West and she is amazing. The class is too big (most of her classes are) but she really lets you work through the readings in class and does not have a heavy hand in leading the discussions. She is super smart but never makes you feel like you are not. I will take a seminar from this woman every semster I have left here.

Nov 2003

West is young, beautiful, brilliant and she seems to love anthropology. This class, and this professor, will literally change the way that you see the world.

Oct 2003

Professor West tries to hard tp be hip, and in the end you learn nothing. Her take on anthropology makes it seem like a pseudoscience, a thing that quasi-flowerchildren do because its hip, and generally a supercilious field- all of which is sad because anthropology is exactly what our polarized, ethnocentric campus/tomorrow's society needs. Generally speaking her class is unengaging especially if you want to hear an academic contemporary's (her) take on the reading material. Her lectures are disjoint to the point where I question whether or not SHE thinks what shes saying makes sense and as a result, people also ask stupid quesitons and by the end you just want to scream.

Aug 2003

Excellent class - one of the best, if not the best I have had at Columbia. West forces you to think about the reading, the subject, and the state of the world in new ways. She is smart and is a good professor- enough said. Other reviews seem to be obsessed with her personality, style, and youth. This seems silly to me - I'm paying to learn and to think, not to find a new best pal or a "role model" One review says that she does not give good feedback - perhaps it was the class they took. West commented, extensively, on my reaction papers and we had several long discussions about the class outside of class. I recommend the class for serious students who like to think new thoughts.

Jun 2003

As another reviewer said, this was the first year Paige taught this course. And it shows. The amount of reading was ridiculous and although she realized that and tried to cut it back, it was still heavy duty especially considering most anthropologists really can't write coherently. Paige is extremely passionate and to a certain extent that is wonderful and engaging, however it does at times go over board and become almost unprofessional. She is very open to students' ideas both in class discussion and in formatting projects which is good but hard for a non-anthro major with no background. It would be better to take this course with anthro experience, something it would be nice if the course book said. However, it is entirely possible to get an A in this course by bullshiting, or at least it felt like bullshit to me. And Paige does seem lazy in ways, particularly the in returning a draft of a paper with a perfect grade and absolutely no comments and the corner of the paper by the staple was not even crinkled. It's always nice to get good grades but...comments would be nice too. She is nice, but I completely agree with the other reviewer's point that a truly, confidently nice person doens't have to point out how nice she is every lecture! There are certainly good aspects to this course and Paige, but I would recommend it only with many, many reservations.

May 2003

Paige is an engaging and intellectually challenging professor. But apparently her critics on CULPA only care to comment on her fashion habits and their supposed contradiction with her Marxist orientation. Perhaps this criticism reflects more on their own superficiality than hers. I had Paige for many classes, and she was not "lazy" - rather she was quite dedicated to the materials. Yes, her lectures are a bit unorganized - all the more reason to take the seminars. For those who complain about her "politics", they should consider the responsibility of all scolars to wed academics and politics. She is engaging and actually challenges her students to consider their responsibility for their place in the world. No wonder Columbia/Barnard students are uncomfortable!

May 2003

This is the best class I have taken here at Columbia. West is brilliant, the material is fascinating, and the discussions will blow your mind. She assigns too much reading, but it is so interesting that you want to do it all.

Mar 2003

While most students found Prof. West to be "cool & hip," as well as an "incredible dresser in vintage clothes with pink cowgirl boots," I was not impressed with her constant projection of her political views during almost every class. My goal was to learn something about culture and anthropology - not hear an endless diatribe on the horrors of capitalism (from a woman so concerned with her appearance this seemed somewhat ridiculous & less than honest) and the greatness of Marx. Overall I would recommend taking this class from someone more interested in teaching the subject than in making sure the "correct" moral/political projection is being made.

Feb 2003

The previous reviews and reviewers are insane! West is smart, hilarious, cool, and a fantastic professor. I am majoring in anthropology because of this class. The whole deal with the class is that it is not so much about learning a bunch of useless facts about anthropology but more about how to use theories from anthropology to understand the world. What is cooler than that?

Jan 2003

I would take Organic Chemistry for fun if Paige West taught it. What a terrific professor - brilliant, easygoing, down-to-earth, honest and fresh. Lectures can get a little monotonous, but if you're going to take Interpretations of Culture, this is the best professor to do it with. As long as you take good notes and attend every lecture, you'll be sure to do well on the midterm and final. Prof. West is very accessible and eager to talk to students after class or in her office (you can catch her running laps at Dodge, too). She assigns VERY heavy reading assignments, but there's only 1 course reader and it's not necessary to read it all thoroughly - just GO TO CLASS and her lecture will tell you what you need to know for the exam. (Besides, if you're thinking about majoring in Anthro, you might as well get used to heavy reading!!) I found her grading to be more than fair, especially since she'll let you rewrite a paper for a higher grade if she thinks you can improve on it, plus extra credit. Definitely an A+ in my book.

Jan 2003

I'm really not sure what some other reviewers were saying about this being a "ridiculously" hard class. While there is an impossible amount of reading, I didn't do one page of it and walked away with a B+. Prof. West covers all the points in class that are going to be on the midterm and final. Don't waste your time on the reading, just look over your notes and don't be afraid to ask questions in class. This is a great way to get out of some requirements, but may be better for some less obsessive students. Just enjoy the lectures and remember that its an intro/ survey class, so she won't go into much depth about any one topic-- if you want more detailed information, take a higher level class. Interpretation of Cultures is an easy class and she is a more than fair grader.

Jan 2003

She's definitely a really cool woman. Her flare and style come out in her fashion sense and the way in which she conducts the class. She acts like a real person who you can talk to and relate to, though unlike one of the posters I'm pretty sure i don't want to be her... Just for clarification, the homework was NOT overwhelming. Yes there was reading to do, but some were as short as 20 pages, and others, though longer, could be read easily within a couple of hours. Most of the students were Barnard students. Take that in whatever way you wish... If you put even a shred of thought into the homework and into understanding what she was trying to teach, then you can get an A. She did cover more information than she was going to test on, but she spelled it all out for you. Yes, even dumbed down the class at times, to make sure everybody understood important concepts. (Ex. Unilinear social evolution was discussed almost every other class, and EVERYTHING related to it. If that isn't enough evidence that it will be on the mid-term and on the final then I don't know what is. If you missed that, you have only yourself to blame.)... She did gloss over some very important topics but only because they did not relate to the class. Topics like Marxism were dealt with really briefly in connection with other areas discussed, but weren't tested, so what's the problem?... It's an introductory class, so no surprises that it covers a lot of information, most of which seems really boring. ... I think Prof. West is a perfect example of how hard work can overcome any obstacle. She's not the most brilliant professor I've met, but she obviously knows her stuff and really loves the subject... The class was huge, so her TA's helped her grade. No comments on anything, but everybody i talked to (which was by no means representative of the 100 people in the class) got full credit on all assignments. Yes, one of the TA's did grade much harder than the other, but Paige regraded all work that students thought was unfair. That seems as good a solution as I can think of considering the circumstances.... I think you could do much worse than to have her as a professor.

Jan 2003

While a nice person and probably not that bad of a lecturer, P.W., is unfortunately fresh out of grad school and v. against grade inflation/giving students a break. She calculates grades without any sympathy or sense of reality. You will get no break for trying or if you have a bad day on one of the exams. As in, you can get a C-, even if you show up to class regularly and actually do most of the reading/study. However, if you are good enough at bullshitting you will most likely get an easy A. She also tends to assign way too much reading, although you need not actually read any of it since no one else does either. While she has potential it would probably be best for those who havent fully developed their bullshitting techniques to be wary of her vicious grading until she gets more of a clue of how to grade like a non-robot.

Jan 2003

If you are a Columbia student who is interested in an "easy" Barnard class, this IS NOT FOR YOU. This class is ridiculous. The lectures consisted of non-stop power point presentations and tedious descriptions of anthropological "history", all of which West expected the students to record. The copious readings were often unrelated to the class lectures, and although interesting, they were not discussed in conjuction with anything said in class. Furthermore, students were expected to provide detailed answers about these readings on the midterm and the final. Maybe this situation would have been improved with a discussion section, although the TAs were ridiculous in their own right. As for the grading of assignments, Dr. West vaguely defined an ethnographical, 5-page work, making it seem as though she just wanted you to attempt an analysis of a social interaction. She proceeded to grade the papers, without any comments, but rather harshly, especially after such a loose definition of what she wanted. As for the midterms, she had her two TAs do the grading, and one graded much more severely than the other. So, half of the class suffered as a result. Dr. West presents herself in a childish manner, even when conversing with a student during office hours. It is almost difficult to take this woman and her class seriously. Of all the classes I took this semester, this was by far the worst! And it is a Barnard class, none the less. Be prepared for lots and lots of undiscussed reading, and a petty teacher who wears butterfly sequined tops and pink boots, and who asks her students (over 100 in a lecture)to stop hurting her feelings during class.

Dec 2002

Paige West is the best! I had her when she taught her first semester here, and besides being probably the only professor to come in wearing a hot pink coat and outrageous vintage clothes to class, she genuinely cares about her students...if you make the effort in class. Lectures are interesting, though sometimes repetitive, and though she's not good with email, you can see you see her around alot and her office hours are flexible...overall, it's a fun class, but beware! you might find out alot more info on papua new guinea than you ever thought possible...

Dec 2002

Yes, I must agree that Professor West is cool like the other reviewers have stated. However, being neither an anthro major nor one of her seemingly many groupies, I was extraordinarily disappointed with this class. It was her first time teaching it, so perhaps I should not be so harsh, but the reading load assigned was preposterous (at least she realized as much) and her lectures in class were pointless and embarassingly unorganized. Another reviewer mentioned that she was lazy and I completely agree; she may be a little too laid back to be a professor. The topic of the class was really interesting for me and some of our reading extremely thought provoking, but she did little to devote any substantial time to them. This class has so much potential to be great, so I hope she gets her act together by next Fall when she teaches it again. Also, I beg to differ about the points that people have made in regards to her niceness. I've been to see her in office hours and she also seems to overstate a lot in class that she IS nice. Would a genuinely nice person need to be so verbal about it?

Dec 2002

Ah...Paige West. I had a mild obsession with this woman this semester. Not because she's incredibly brilliant, but because I wanted to be her (men might feel differently, obviously). Despite being an Ivy League professor she wears the coolest vintage clothes, talks about going to Billy Bragg concerts and anti-war protests, calls people she likes "rockstars," admits when she can't teach because she has a hangover, and actually complains that Columbia students work too hard and should have more fun. That being said, as a teacher, she's just alright. She tends to spoonfeed and dumb down (as in, she'll sum up Marx or orientalism in one slide of a powerpoint presentation) really interesting information that could be discussed much further. She also assigns really awesome reading, but never really covers it on the exams let alone in class. And, perhaps out of lazyness, she had a tendency to show movies or to bring in guest lecturers who frankly weren't as interesting as she was and didn't contribute much to the class. All in all, though, this class is a really easy and really awesome introduction to anthropology and you shouldn't miss learning from such an engaging personality. I'm definitely going to try and get into her seminars if only to have the opportunity to really hear what she has to say.

Apr 2002

Paige is awesome! This Southern gal is young, energetic, smart and down to earth...she is more like an older friend you would go out to have drinks with. She is unconventional in her frankness and relaxed attitude. You choose your own project for the etnography and choose a book on your own for your book review (apparently some people could not handle NOT being spoon fed and were complaining about it).She is a great lecturer, pours her heart out for her students, brings in movies, slides from her fieldwork in New Guinea, has great interaction with the TA and invited her to comment all the time, gives out all the dirty scoop about a career in anthropology and academia. Don't be afraid to ask her about anything: from fashion advice (she knows all about vintage clothes) to what to major in.

Apr 2002

Prof. West is new at Barnard, and is still getting used to the whole university scene. She is a very understanding person, always approachable, and she always tells you could come see her about anything. She does research in Papua New Guinea, so by the time you finish the class you'll know more about the place than you wished. You must be a good note taker, we had no textbook, only a reader. Overall, she is a pretty good prof for an intro course. Her tests were very easy, including the final. We also had to do a book review, it was only something like five pages long. There was also an ethnography that we had to write while observing a place anywhere i found it to be a an enjoyable activity.