Andrew Schonebaum

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Jul 2007

You know those people you think about when you're gnarled and old and thank God you learned from? Andrew Schonebaum is one of them. He has a contagious passion for anything East of the Ural Mountains and displays it with humour, erudition and a genuine interest in his students' opinions. To illustrate, he always encouraged discussion, and on the rare occasions when (usually during midterm season) he was the one doing the talking, he would reprimand himself and pass the baton to someone else. The readings were generally very light, and class discussions were focussed on themes, not details. There were weekly posts, and it was evident that Andrew read them carefully because he would bring them up in class. It's a pity that Andrew will not be teaching at Columbia anymore, because he is truly the stuff of a Great Teacher Award, and this is my minor tribute to him. I truly believe that my classmates and I made an effort to work for this class because Andrew was so understanding and easy-going: he didn't frighten us into performing, but rather encouraged the cultivation of the intellectual skills that he believed we all had and were capable of using.

May 2007

Hey Andy, what happened? It's true that you are definitely one of the best professors I've come across here at Columbia but why make life difficult for (the most of) us? I'm satisfied with my grade, but I think it's lame that you are so inconsistent with the requirements of the course. First, you mentioned that the final was going to be a 2-3 page take home essay. Then it suddenly became a 4-5 page essay at the last minute. It was supposed to be due 5/9. Suddenly, it was due on 5/7. And then you were trying to persuade us to sign us for your summer courses! Why? Is it because when 20 or more students enroll in your summer course, you'd be eligible for a bonus from Columbia? This was definitely one of the most interesting classes I've taken but remember Andy, not all us are EALAC majors. You can't expect us to cough up supreme essays, especially when you've mentioned how much you hate teaching this course! (And if you are one of his prospective students this summer, make sure you are able to regularly deal with Andy's many last minute changes to the course syllabus)

Jul 2006

Andy is such a smart and great professor. He's very interested in what he teaches and obviously loves to share his knowledge. He is very relaxed and understanding. Don't have any reservations about him, he's wonderful. Reacting to the Past itself is a very good class, it's informal and really helps your speech-writing and speaking skills as well as your ability to tear one text apart over the course of a few weeks.

May 2006

Andy is awesome and this class was the best one I took this semester. It was a ton of reading (the book is 2500 pages long), but it was well worth it. Every class discussion was interesting; not once did I fear falling asleep (unlike Lit Hum class, the hour and 50 minutes flew by every time!). Andy is approachable and very enthusiastic about the book. He has a good sense of humor, too. He responds quickly to emailed questions with helpful answers. I also met with him outside of class once and he was very patient and helpful. Because I have a quiet/shy personality, I struggled with participating in this seminar-style class (often discussion was dominated by one half of the class while the other half said nothing the entire time), but I learned so much just by listening and Andy did a good job with keeping the discussion focused and on track. The book itself is amazing--one of the best I've ever read--and Andy's knowledge of it is extensive. I hope Andy stays at Columbia because I would take another class taught by him in a heartbeat.

Mar 2006

I <3 Daiyu and I have a T-shirt to prove it thanks to Andy. Just one example of his hands on pedagogy that does wonders. He is a stellar teacher. He makes students use information, rather than regurgitate it. The aura of his classrooms is smooth and laid back, which makes it really stimulating for those who attend college to learn new things. He is the kind of professor who gets students to perform to high standards because he creates a space where they want to and he lets them figure out how to on their own, not by providing a formula. In response to the complaints about china civ etc... i think their quips have more to do with the nature of the class than with andy's pedagogy. Don't take china civ if you don't want to engage with a few thousand years worth of information. As far as other classes go, he teaches mostly seminars/ colloquia. His syllabae are crafted as artfully as chocolate made with cayenne... at first it sounds like a strange combination but the taste melts in your mouth.

Jan 2006

Horrible! Don't take for major cultures. Boring and stupid. Totally unorganized and harder than it should be considering you learn nothing. They force you to bs by not teaching you anything and then grade you poorly for it. Avoid at all costs

Jan 2006

His lectures are very condensed (not his fault, since the class covers thousands of years of history in one semester), but his sense of humour really adds some life to it. The lecture is basically just history, and the readings are mostly primary sources. Sometimes they just seem ridiculously irrelevant (translating Chinese can be hard, but sometimes the translates are just plain bad). It's hard to truly appreciate the primary works, especially if they require a large amount of background. Readings are excessively long, but it is not necessary to read everything. Of the two books of primary sources used, Ebrey and Mair, it seemed everyone pretty much just read Ebrey. The class was mediocre, but the professor made it more enjoyable.

Dec 2005

The class really isn't too bad, but it's not that great either. I didn't jive very well with Schoenbaum's lecture style. For the most part, he stands at the podium and reads his lecture, inserting random (and sometimes hilarious) comments here and there, while everybody else copies what he says. It was fine, I learned what he said, but it just wasn't that great--I was usually thinking about how much my hand hurt from all the writing instead of the material. Some people brought laptops to type instead of pen and paper. As for the actual class, there was a real split between what was said in lecture and what was assigned for reading. Schoenbaum give the history and context in lecture but the reading was all primary sources. There was really a big gap between the lecture and reading because nobody tried to make any connections between the two. It's a fine class, but I would have to disagree with all the other reviewers that say Schoenbaum is amazing--he is just ok.

Nov 2005

Andy is awesome! His quirky humor always keeps the class moving along, and his extensive knowledge of China makes the class interesting. While his lectures can usually be found in the book, it is still worth going just to hear his take on the subjects. Also, he doesn't mind being asked questions, and will always look up the answer if he doesn't already know it.

Apr 2005

The name of this class is a bit of a misnomer; it should really be "East Asian Influence in America". There is really very little discussion of American influence in East Asia because there is no time for it. I hope Andy changes the class' name. Also, Andy is a tad disorganized - but hes been improving that steadily through the semester and now writes the topics for every class on the board, and similar small steps to organize the information. Those are the two flaws of this course and professor. That said, Andy is THE BEST PROFESSOR I HAVE HAD AT COLUMBIA. He knows his stuff thoroughly, and yet is open to different interpretations of the same texts. Many teachers tell you that they do not care about what conclusions you reach in your writing, they only care about your logic. In my experience, most teachers do not put that notion into practice. Andy does. He strongly disagreed with the conclusions I reached in a paper - and told me - but graded it based on its style and reasoning (thats not me being arrogant - its the only conclusion I can reach since he disagreed with my thesis, but gave me a decent grade). Furthermore, he combines sophisticated theory with personal experiences and observations - giving the whole discussion a feeling of being academic yet grounded. For example, when we read some work on linguistic theory and translation, he provided us with the simple fact that, in taiwan, people dont refer to McDonald's as "American food" the way we do with Chinese; they simply call it "food". Thus, the concepts associated with McDonalds (everything from burgers to globalization) have been succesfully translated into and embedded in Taiwanese culture. Also, he knows his stuff. He spoke off the cuff about everything from Motzi to Kerouac and his words were only confirmed in the reading (though, of course, the readings often included things that he didnt mention - theres only so much you can cover in 2 hours per week). Theres really little more to say on this matter. He knows how to lead a discussion; even though some people make less-than-intelligent commments sometimes, he neither laudes them nor marginalizes them. Most often he leaves it open for another student to contradict, and if no one does, he will do the contradicting. But I've never seen him condescend to anyone or make anyone feel bad for saying things that I personally consider to be categorically banal. Andy is also young and energetic, so in class (and in office hours) he can be very engaging and often uses humor to enliven his explanations. The last major thing to say about Andy is that, in a place like Columbia which (in my epxerience) if filled with so many professors who are knowledgable but inaccesible, Andy is one who knows what he is talking about AND is exceedingly easy to talk to. Andy might have thought that some of my questions (in class or office hours) were unintelligent, but I never felt stupid in front of him, because he was always very patient and underrstanding in explaining things. He is always respectful to you and furthermore (and this is key), he really cares about his students learning and developing an interest in the subject matter. It shows. Finally. from what I understand, there is a tiny but growing group of undergrads who have developed a bit of a cult of personality around Andy. They have good reason to do so.

Jan 2005

Professor Schonebaum just began teaching this course in the fall of 2004, and began with little organization and speaking skills. However, he quickly gained footing and covered not only vast but interesting material in his lectures. He is amusing, for he sticks in funny historical anecdotes here and there in his lecture, or makes his own comments which bring the material alive or at least gives you a chuckle or two. Your grade basically depends on your TA, however. Seminars meet once a week for fifty minutes to an hour. This class covers from ancient China to modern day cultures and politics, and is worth taking.

Jan 2005

Prof. Schonebaum is quirky, open-minded, and well learned. This class is all about making cross-media connections and critically exploring the social constructs of different times and places. We watched a mix of film classics and weird, obscure visual pleasures--from Ingmar Bergman to The Animatrix. Similarly, readings ranged from Foucault to obscure stories about 17th Century Chinese myths. The class was valuably unorthadox and refreshing and so is Professor Schonebaum.

Dec 2004

Schonebaum is a funny, weird person. This is his first time teaching this course. In the beginning, his lectures were disorganized and he would skip over a lot of material because he didn't think it was that great. I didn't like it how he did not write things on the board because he would sometimes talk very fast and I would get lost. But overall, he has a great sense of humor and he made Chinese history very interesting. As he says, remember to stick to traditional characters because they're the coolest. I'm glad I took this course because he made it enjoyable and it was a breeze.

Dec 2004

It's Professor Schonebaum now, congrats to him, and he teaches the course he apparently once ran sections for. What reviewers said about him is still pretty much true; the course is pretty easy work-wise, and it sometimes seems like he doesn't want to be there anymore than the students do. Since this is his first time teaching, it took him a while to develop his style. At first, he would stand at the podium reading his notes, skipping over major sections of them because he didn't want to just read to the class or make Chinese history seem too straightforwardly simple (that and show pictures of Chinese artifacts). The class actually got better in some ways when he decided to read verbatim once in a while (we got more information, at least). The curriculum doesn't really demand that you go to lecture though. Most of it was based on two books that weren't required for the semester, but are really really valuable. Once in a while I could swear he was quoting them verbatim, but at any rate they cover a lot of material. The other thing is, while the course is easy, Prof isn't excited about teaching it. Some of the stuff he gets really into, but at first I was really disappointed when he would skip over things and gloss them over. Professor Schonebaum is fun, accessible, and good with responding to questions, but he probably won't convince anyone to switch majors to EALAC.

Jan 2004

Andy is just the best. There's no other way to describe him. His section of University Writing (a class which should be just a HUGE drag) was fantastic. Not only is he phenomenally brilliant, but he's so down-to- earth and...young. He was working on his dissertation while teaching this section, so he's totally sympathetic to the role of student. Andy was always accessible when I needed help on anything or had any questions and made this stupid course a hell of a lot of fun. He's an amazing professor and just an awesome guy. He's a winner.

May 2003

Andy is nothing short of an awesome TA. If you can work his discussion section into your schedule then absolutely do it. He knows his shit and is really helpful reviewing anything that was unclear in the lecture, and he's actually quite funny. Additionally he really doesn't want to be there much either, so once the questions are through, the discussion section will probably end (at least towards the end of the semester). He's also wants his discussion section to have higher grades than any of the others, which means he gives really solid tips on the exams, which is always a plus.