I took this course remotely in Fall B and loved it. Professor Hutchinson is such a sweetie. The readings can be fat at times, though the course content is genuinely engaging. She made an effort to bring in weekly guests, none of which felt forced, and each assignment was unique. The 5-page reflection at the end of the course was tedious, though, there wasn't much work besides weekly readings in the first place. Take this class!
Let me tell you why I really liked this course. So many Art History courses cover huge topics-- Roman Art, The Arts of China, etc. While undergraduate seminars often deal with interesting smaller topics, they are, well, undergraduate seminars, which can be exhilarating, but too often feature a couple of people in love with the sound of their own voices, two people who really donâ€™t have the background for the course and slow things down by asking naÃ¯ve questions, and at least three people who werenâ€™t quite able to do the reading that week and spend their time avoiding the professorâ€™s eye. Tourism and the North American Landscape is a welcome chance to see a very intelligent professor interact with a controlled topic at a high level for a semester. She keeps the focus on Landscape representation and Tourism, and gives a reading list full of interesting approaches to the two. Unlike even some very good professors who have given their lectures so many times you feel they are going through a routine, Hutchinsonâ€™s lectures show she is consistently engaged with her material. (She even sometimes acts as her own Greek chorus, making sly asides as she hears something she herself has just said that amuses her or which wasnâ€™t as airtight as she thought when she said it.) I came away with the same heady feeling I get when Iâ€™ve visited a professor in her office and watched her brainstorm a topic. My only complaint is that sheâ€™s so concerned about being a Good Teacher that she pitches discussions of the readings at too low a level for a 4000-level course. Too often she spent the discussion time making sure that people understood the key terms in a selection, and left no time to discuss whether the argument actually was convincing, or how it might contradict something else we had read. So we lost much of the potential benefit of being exposed to a spectrum of (often controversial) approaches.
After taking Visual Culture of the Harlem Renaissance, I swore that I would never, ever take another class at Barnard again. It becomes evident early in the class that Professor Hutchinson favors the Barnard students and pretty much thinks that whatever they say needs to be nurtured and valued. There was one class when she showed a famous photograph from the 1920's of a well-dressed African American man and woman posing by an automobile. Hutchinson asked the students their opinion and what followed were negative statements about these two folks either being dangerous hoodlums or terrifying drug dealers, Really? I thought those were really racist statements given that the two people posing were well-dressed and standing by an expensive car. Hutchinson said nothing. However, I am also embarrassed because in retrospect I could have said something as well. I also don't understand how she has any expertise with African American art. The issue that truly amazed me was that she rarely mentioned female African American artists. I thought that was odd given that this class was at Barnard, one of the seven sister colleges.
This was the most boring class I have ever taken. I fell asleep every other class, and skipped just as many. The problem, however, is not Professor Hutchinson's. It is a very detailed topic, given at a bad time, in a large, dark, room. The readings are unnecessary and the sections a waste of time. The format of many different lecturing professors makes it hard to follow, you never really get a feel for a single professor. On the one hand you ocassionally get great lecturers, but more often than not you have no idea what they are saying, and they presume upon a base of knowledge (especially in the second semester) that you may not have. This class is NOT an easy A.
Professor Hutchinson seems to elicit a wide range of emotions from her students: love, hate, and indifference. Okay, so she's not the best art history professor at Columbia, but she's certainly not the worst--she's passionate about what she teaches, and manages to incorporate her love of Southwestern and Native American art into her lectures without lapsing into p.c. bullshit. She led a walking tour of Downtown Manhattan and a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a lot more effort than most professors put into undergrad classes. Her sense of humor and knowledge of her subject makes an otherwise typical art history class tolerable, and even enjoyable. This particular semester, however, know-it-all grad students and matrons plagued the class. One 50ish man loved to raise his hand and quote maxims in Latin or French, then spend 15 minutes discussing a tangent. Another old woman, despite the tape recorder squeaking noisily away on her desk, constantly asked the professor to repeat herself. The list goes on and on. Professor Hutchinson's problem was her unwillingness, or inability, to curb these pretentious bores.
One of those rare courses that will actually change your mind about a lot of things. Most people in the class, myself included, came in with a vague sense of contempt for American art and for leftist (gender and racial) art historical readings. Over the course of the class, without even realizing a change was occurring, however, American art started seeming interesting and a lot of Native American, African American and female-produced art started seeming important. It was a great experience due almost entirely to Hutchinson's lively teaching style, full of light comments and jokes and energetic and original arguments. Her assignments were always interesting and included three short papers (she gave a total of five assignments and allowed students to choose which of the five to write on...a great help during midterms) and a final. Previous comments have addressed the role of "non-traditional" students, which, on the whole was very negative. Hutchinson let them get away with murder as they each eagerly offered their (often comically shallow or pretentious) five cents on every slide, apparently forgetting that the class was a lecture and that, surprise, they were not the professor. A plus, however, is that the rest of the class bonds as it engages in collective eye rolling. A great class not to be missed!
This is not a class but instead a women's social club that meets twice a week with Art Slides in the back ground. I'm all for Barnard classes, but this is not a class. Instead of ever actually addressing the slides on the slide list, Professor Hutchinson talks endlessley about one slide for most of the class only to hastily put up three more slides in the last 2 minutes. Her knowledge of the material is great but her accent makes me want to go to sleep, which i often did. The only thing which truly kept me awake was the two lesbians that I routinely sat behind and stroked each other's arm the entire class. Besides me and the lesbians, the other members of the class continually interrupt the lecture to ask questions which only display their own knowledge of art history and actually do not care what the answer to the question is. There are many people over the age of 50 in this class. This is not a bad thing except when discussing a walking tour one older women suggested that the 65 of us all put on our pearls and "brunch" downtown before hand. Hutchinson is a likeable enough person but her class is miserable. Ever wonder what it would be like to attend Vassar College? Look no further than this class.....
I could not disagree more with the flip and overly hasty person who previously reviewed Elizabeth. She is a magnificent professor, one of the best whom I have had the privilege of taking at Columbia. Her lectures are generally fascinating and are always tempered by an excellent sense of humor. She is funny & lively & interesting, bringing even duller topics, such as landscape paintings, to life by making them historically and culturally relevant. She is particularly interested in racial & gender issues, which often spices up her interpretations of works. Elizabeth really utilizies NYC, organzing voluntary "class trips" to the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the public sculptures in Central PArk that are fun, light, and interesting. The papers for her class are generally based on an original visual analysis in addition to academic reading, which gets her classes into museums & gives her students opportunities to build relationships with pieces of art. I really enjoyed the field trips and museum visits (for which she offers confidential departmental subsidy if the entrance fees are tasking). Though she somtimes assigns heavy amounts of reading, Elizabeth often intersperses applicable fiction pieces and lighter articles through with the dense academic work. Her assignments are always thought-provoking and generally a little off the beaten track. To help with those, she reads voluntary rough drafts and is generous with her time, often meeting with students outside of regular office hours. I found the work challenging but very stimulating, and I thought that she was extremely receptive to student concerns. Her exams are fair, her projects are manageable. You can't sleep through her class and get an A, but A's are attainable, and why would you want to sleep through such a good class?
Professor Hutchinson is generally a nice person, but her lectures are often dry, and she thinks that she is God. Go back to Barnard.