professor
Melissa McCormick

May 2005

Melissa McCormick is an extremely talented lecturer, who inspires you to want to learn about the topic. Her language is full of imagery and will keep you riveted to the slides for the most part (people may disagree, since many laptop users didn't seem to be paying much attention). She is generally very nice. She tends to wait too long for class participation though, often times she would ask a question and we'd sit in silence as no one answered. Overall, an interesting class if you have any fondness for art.

Mar 2005

Great class taught by a great professor. Prof. McCormick is organized and kind, and very personable. Her lectures interesting and captivating and sprinkled with humor. She obviously put a lot of effort into her preparation and delivery. She is a more "rational" kind of art history professor, by which I mean that even though she may (and most probably does) appreciate the artwork aesthetically, she rarely goes "oh, look at that, so beautiful" in lectures like some others do. Instead she tells you why an artwork is great and interesting: the formal qualities, cultural context, production techniques, and so on. In short she skips the useless art historian's sigh and goes straight to what students really need to know. I also like the fact that she is young and can relate to us. She likes manga and anime! Again, she is great! I love her. Everyone should love her. Take this class. Yes.

Jan 2005

It helps a lot to have a good background in Japanese history and culture. The Tale of Genji is so different from our culture that more often than not, the explanations given by the professors arenÂ’t enough to fully understand what is going on. The main problem I had with this course was that it went back and forth between literature and art history, and the course itself just seemed too disorganized. It wouldÂ’ve been much better if, say the first half of the semester was devoted to literary analysis and the second half was about art. At least, it wouldÂ’ve been less confusing. Otherwise, the course was decent. Each week, we briefly summarized the chapters that we had to read for the day, where Professor Shirane would discuss key topics. Then we looked at some paintings, etc. that were associated with the scenes from those chapters, and Professor McCormick would lecture on their significance, etc. Each student had to present on one scroll painting from the 12th century scrolls, where he/she would talk about the artistic as well as the literary significance of that painting. We also had to do individual presentations on one article from the course reader, where we summarized and led the class discussion. Neither of them were that bad, though they took way more time than was necessary. Professor McCormick was usually well-organized. She was approachable and was quite nice if you had made the effort to go see her for advice. Don't expect to be entertained by her, but she is not mean or angry. It's just the way she is.

Jan 2005

Don't take this class if you are not already a grad student or expert in Japanese art and literature. I learned a lot - but the class was more like whorlwind than any sort of meaningful examination of the Tale of Genji. Prof. McCormick is disorganized and often late for class. Her lectures are disorganized. The only saving grace of the class is Prof. Shirane. Worst of all, Prof. McCormick often seemed exasperated and like she didn't want to be teaching the class: not a good dynamic when most of the class is drowning in the amount and detail of the course work.

Nov 2004

Very competent, but slightly emotionally distant, teacher. By that I'm not saying she's mean--far from it. She's a actually pretty nice person at base. (She brought us candy from Japan one class.) It's more like she's always preoccupied and a little flustered, and so she may seem hard to approach in an academic setting. I doubt she has a thing against ignorant undergraduates. (Though I wouldn't be thrilled to teach Art Hum either.) I think that's just the way she is. Also, she's probably very busy trying to get tenure, etc. On the plus side, she loves and knows her shit. She's generally organized; her articles are among the clearest I've read in art history courses. She's pretty lax about deadlines as long as you don't act ridiculously. In short, a good teacher, but probably hard to befriend. This class has some logistical problems (see "Workload"). But with some modifications, it would be absolutely fabulous. We're basically cutting into the heart of a thousand years of high Japanese culture by focusing on Genji and cultural products inspired by it, including manga and some GREAT 20C literature. The Tale is superbly poignant, and the whole Japanese aesthetic culture is just very fascinating and beautiful. This is hard work, as the president likes to say, but it's worth it.

Nov 2004

if you love japanese art and literature, take this class. if you don't... well, i would advise you not to take it. i am an art history major and i was very excited for this class, but Prof McCormick makes the details of Medieval Japanese art boring and painfully excructiatingly obscure. there is a ludicrous amount of reading to be done and you will be totally lost in the class if you don't do it (even though it is impossible to complete it all). This class was a disaster. Professor Shirane was the saving grace of the class; the man is brilliant. just let me say: you were warned

Nov 2003

This woman is an art history professor who knows her stuff. Her lectures are well organized, to the point, and interesting - worth going to class for. She is by far the best art history lecturer I have ever had. The discussion sections are tedious for the most part but are bi-weekly. She really makes an extra effort; teaching everyone how to pronounce Japanese and taking field trips to tea ceremonies and such. Highly recommended

Sep 2003

Overall I thought Professor McCormick was good. Her lectures were interesting, well prepared, and included plenty of slides. The material it self was awesome and the required reading was bearable in both content and quantity. It is advisable that you do the reading though because she will ask you about it and test you on it. I got the sense that Professor McCormick wasnÂ’t thrilled to be teaching undergrads. She was available and willing to answer any question but I donÂ’t think she want to spend to much time on that.

Jun 2003

Professor McCormick seems ok at first but after about five minutes she gets really boring. She obviously knows a lot about Japanese art but she fails at making it interesting for the students. however, her lectures, though boring, were extremely organized and easy to follow.