Madeleine Dobie

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Apr 2013

While I think Professor Dobie is a very intelligent professor, this was by far the most boring class I've ever taken at Columbia. The readings were entirely too long (think 100-200 pages of reading a week), and most of the time while I was reading them I was wondering how they would ever possibly be relevant to my studies. It only focuses on the Mediterranean, fyi. Besides the reading, the workload is light, three responses, one big (12-15 page) paper. No exams. Take it if you care passionately about the Mediterranean for some reason. Skip it otherwise.

Jan 2012

Professor Dobie was the first French teacher I had at Columbia and from what I have come to understand since then, she is very reflective of the entire department. She is very French and if you don’t quite know what that means, it might be later than sooner that you find out. She’s nice, but more like polite than warmhearted. She’s knowledgeable, but will not exhibit any visible passion for the subject material. She’s easy going, as in she tolerates blatantly bad accents and she’s flexible about dates and assignments. Overall, she’s blasé (...does one add an E in English?) about the class and life in general. She was often late to class yet had that easiness about her attitude and even wardrobe that is just. so. French. The class on the other hand, at least for me, was fascinating. Professor Dobie mainly lectures, so if you’re looking to brush up your speaking and grammar, go elsewhere. It’s basically a history class. Simple as that. You must be able to understand French perfectly and write fast, because she talks for 74 of the 75 minutes. She’s not particularly engaging, but the texts are still worthwhile. Another word of advice: this class deals primarily with France and political, historical and social developments therein. The follow-up course (Francophone Studies Part II) is ENTIRELY about French colonies (read: AFRICA). They do not have to be taken subsequently but it’s advisable.

Mar 2007

Pros: Madeleine Dobie will look after you: she takes OH seriously, and schedules appointments without any humming and hawing. She gives solid advice to those who enquire before writing a paper, and follows up afterwards with every student, by default She is extremely well-read in all aspects this particular course, does not limit herself to literature (and includes history, political science, social philosophy, etc. etc.), and shows none of the wishy-washy naiveté of the typical CCLS scholar. You will learn the subject inside out, from two centuries of immigration, to post-colonialism, to youth culture, to the riots of 2005. Madeleine will let your research just about anything you want, within or without her areas of expertise: she grades on the argument, use of material from class in testing assumptions, and, it seems, thoroughness and originality. Her opinions are strong, but her prejudice is not. You will be taking this class in French. This is not a negative, in that Madeleine will not mark you off on your papers for misemployment of the language, as long as your argument is intelligible. This is a plus in that she will mark every error she can find and explain to you how you can improve your writing. Madeleine Dobie is the director of undergraduate studies in the French and Romance Philology department (on leave now, but generally this is so) and has some significant ties with CCLS. She is always looking out for job opportunities to pass on, too. Few faculty members would be more useful to know. Cons: If you read poorly in French, you will be in trouble. W3505's readings outnumbered my CC readings at least three to two, page for page. Not doing the readings is not much of an option, as class participation is a huge part of the assessment. While you could read a few pages and think about them really hard, you won't be able to bullshit a point without stepping in it: the texts you will be reading—novels, complex theories, and convoluted histories—resist skimming. As most Columbia students of French aren't fluent French speakers, this course is structured around a lecture. Dobie fosters enough participation to keep the room awake, but not enough to bring about a full-blown discussion. If independent research isn't your bag, you're out of luck: the two papers you'll be writing use the contents of that collosal reading list as a jumping-off point; the papers range over new material.

May 2005

This is a rewarding course to take if you're looking to satisfy half the Major Cultures requirement or to get some credits for Comparative Literature and Society. That it falls under List A (meaning it works for Major Cultures but has no pre-requisites and can be taken in addition to ANY other List A course) is another definite plus. Professor Dobie is an excellent, rather hard-core professor. Her TA this year was very nice and graded quite fairly. (Professor Dobie grades your exams and one of your essays, and the TA grades your other essay. At least that's how it was this year.) The material is interesting, the syllabus is meticulously assembled (or so it appeared), and the lectures are informative (although sometimes scattered and rarely linear). My only complaint is that the material was not always presented chronologically, since the course dealt with so many regions and histories. You'll probably find "Islam and Europe" interesting if you like postcolonial studies. Other topics covered in depth are Spanish history (Andalusia/Al-Andalus), Islam (although Professor Dobie doesn't go in depth into doctrine), the Crusades, and immigration issues in modern Europe. You read very interesting material. I recommend this class especially to people interested in literature, since you'll learn a wealth of surprising information about Arabic and Islamic influences on canonical "Western" classics, even some Christian texts. The class, I think, prepares one well for the political climate of humanities courses at Columbia. That's not to say that Professor Dobie is any kind of political crusader - just the opposite; she welcomes diversity in class discussions - it's just that she thoroughly introduces you to a bunch of topics that will probably come up in other humanities courses. But I'm just speaking from my own experiences.

May 2005

Mme. Dobie is an incredibly knowledgeable person with regard to this topic. She has strong opinions and lets you know when she doesn't agree with your interpretations. She is very soft spoken and although she tries to stimulate class discussion, it can get a bit like a monologue sometimes. Still, everything she has to say is interesting and fascinating. She grades fairly. Your French must be good in order to take this class because of all the higher level reading and paper writing.

May 2005

A stimulating class that covers a long period of history. Dobie assigns lots of interesting reading that includes perspectives from both sides of the two cultures. The class is a mix of lecture and discussion, although a few people would just speak for eternity. The impression I got from Dobie is that she is a true scholar: very careful with the words she uses and very meticulous with her selection of reading to try to enable us to learn as much as possible. She has a witty sense of humor and good interaction with students. She actually put in the effort of learning everyone's name! She's also very approachable outside of class. A great class to take for fun and for the major cultures requirement. If an engineering student like me could say this about a humanities class, that speaks volumes =P

Mar 2005

Prof. Dobie is an incredibly intelligent and resourceful professor. However she lacks personal charme which is reflected in her lecture style..The class is interesting and taught entirely in French. I took it as a preparation for Reid Hall in Paris and it was a great combination of subject and language study. If you have any interest in cultures this is definitely a good course to take as it looks at many interesting theories and all in French. But i wouldnt say it was THE CLASS to A is possible but only if your French is up to it..

Dec 2004

The course covers a lot of time, so be prepared for a lot of information. I had already taken a class on European history 250-1050 and CC, and there was quite a bit of overlap with both. Most of the class time is lecture, but from time to time she will make it a discussion. This happens most often towards the end of the semester, so try to keep up on the reading then. The course focuses on where Islam and European culture meet, so you spend most of the semester on Andalusian Spain and British and French colonies in the Middle East and North Africa. The course was really interesting and Professor Dobie knows the material inside and out. The reading load is heavier than most major cultures courses, but if you've ever taken a history or literature course and done most of the reading, you'll manage fine. If you ever miss a class, send Prof. Dobie a nice email and she'll send you her lecture notes. Beware, they're looong. My class shared our copies of her notes, so we pretty much had the semester covered. A note of caution: Prof. Dobie has been studying Islam for a while and from a European perspective. If you hold views that are outside the mainstream, be prepared to defend them, especially in your papers. That being said, she won't argue with you in class, so leave your soapbox at home.

Dec 2004

Madame Dobie is a reserved lecturer, but has an enormous amount of knowledge. She is a no nonsense type, but her witty British side does shine through at times. She refuses to bullshit and she refuses to listen to bullshit, which is a welcome change from many French professors. You will learn a lot in this class, and you will find that you know it cold. It's refreshing, really.

Sep 2004

Prof Dobie is a VERY sweet, kind, soft-spoken person. She's also the undergrade dept advisor and someone with EXTENSIVE background in F&F Studies, so she's a great person to get to know if you have a real interest in the subject. As a professsor, however, Dobie's class was pretty dry; she wasn't great at provoking conversation, and most of the class was a Q&A type session, where she asked a question and class time was spent trying to direct students to the exact answer she had in mind, rather than discuss topics/issues raised in the readings. Nonetheless, it is a an interesting subject and definitely throught-provoking, even if much of that "thought" won't get expressed in class.

May 2004

This was one of the most interesting French classes I've taken at Columbia. The class is taught in English and French with readings in French and English (including translations of Spanish books) to reflect the works from the Caribbean. Prof. Dobie is extremely intelligent and leads insightful discussions.

May 2004

Madeleine Dobie is a brilliant woman (Director of Undergraduate Studies for French!) with a wonderfully dry sense of humor and a very lulling Franco-British accent. She picks a wide variety of interesting material for this course, but be forewarned, it's a LOT of reading, and you pretty much need to do all of it before the midterm and final. Professor Dobie is a very good, efficient lecturer as well, but sometimes she throws out so much information at once that all you're left with in your notebook is "Arabs! Spain." If you aren't satisfied with your notes for a given day or you were absent, ask to take a gander at her lecture notes. They're invaluable. This is a great course overall, and I do recommend it, but do keep in mind as you go through it that the exams are much more factually oriented than is the class itself.

Nov 2003

Professor Dobie is an incredible professor. She knows her material like none other and is extremely intelligent. She knows exactly how to bring about keen observations from students and is perceptive to one's class comments. Professor Dobie also teaches with a smile, and at this university, i have come to find that to be important. Her french is fabulous and her own work is actually interesting!

Dec 2002

Prof. Dobie is a fair grader but has terrible handwriting. Most likely, you'll have to ask her what she wrote in her comments. She is nice overall and the atmosphere in the class is relaxed. She doesnt' push anyone to participate but it helps if you do. However, don't be discouraged when you try to respond to one of her questions and discover that your answer is not the one she's looking for. Her class wasn't the best i've had but it's certainly not the worst.