John Isham

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Feb 2007

There's a nerdiness about this professor's enthusiasm for the material which somehow puts the student on an equal footing with him in intellectual exchange. You will never or very rarely (even then, very modestly) hear him disagree with a comment, an opinion, an interpretation - something that cannot be said of other LitHum professors. When you make an insightful statement, his face lights up as if at that moment he, too, shared your Eureka. Contrary to most English-sort classes I've had in my life, Isham's classes are not structured to sway a student towards a "righter" or "very probable" interpretation of a text. The comments he welcomes in class are eclectic in nature. As long as you have something that may reveal a tad bit more about the text, it's taken for just that. Furthermore, he's EXTREMELY helpful. (From personal experience)If you ask him nicely, he would take the time out to read a rough draft of your essay a week before it's due to point out some ongoing flaws you may have in your writing. This, I believe, is as much as one can ask for in such a busy university with its equally busy professors.

Aug 2003

he is amazing. the original professor of my class left after the first semester - he was a big name, an established professor around campus, and his class was easy. isham, a virtual no name, came in and totally revolutionized class. we had to call each other by our last names, do daily homework, and volunteer to bring cookies, all of which really made us like a lithum family. plus i learned more than i could have dreamed about crime and punishment

May 2003

Mr. Isham is a g-dsend! I only had Mr. Isham for one semester, as I had transferred from another class in December - the best decision I have EVER made. He is so enthuisiastic about the texts and the class, and he is so knowledgable in Lit Hum. I gather that some of this is from experience - he's taught Lit Hum for awhile, and he really knows his stuff. I believe he's getting his Phd this year, but, if you're lucky, Columbia will keep him, and you'll be the one to benefit. Perhaps what I like best about Mr. Isham is his reluctance to ever say "no" to an idea about a book. He'll usually push an idea farther, and explore it. And, unlike my past professor, he's not afraid to acknowledge there may be something that even he didn't realize. To do well in his class, you really don't have to read the books, but beware: he'll make you want to. And, if anything, there's always the daily cookie breaks. :-P

Jan 2003

Excellent excellent instructer. Although not a big name, he more than makes up for it with his obvious enthusiam for the text and intellectualism in general. He takes a thorough approach to work and is extremely responsive to student inputs while generating a fair amount of class participation himself Makes you want to read your texts and participate -- a pretty amazing achievement!

Jan 2003

Mr. Isham sets up an intellectually stimulating atmosphere. I was lucky to have him as one of my first teachers at Columbia. He makes you want to read the books and get into the plot. Also, if you are lucky enough to have him, he is always there if you want extra help. Don't hesitate to ask.