Outstanding. Easily my favorite professor: his humor and enthusiasm make every class a pleasure, and the pleasure he clearly takes in fostering the development of his students' ideas is unexpected and inspiring. In spite of occasional bouts of absentmindedness (and notwithstanding the tendency to be a rather infrequent visitor to his email inbox), Sylvere will do everything he can to help a student understand and perform to the best of her abilities. Forgiving with due dates, and compassionate regarding a student's intellectual (metaphysical?) reservations, quandaries, etc. And: if you have any interest in modern/postmodern philosophy, he IS the DEFINITIVE authority. (See the website for his publishing house, Semiotext(e): http://semiotexte.com/home.html ). His recent book (a collection, really)--Hatred of Capitalism--is brilliant.
Having class with lotringer was really an easy pleasure. All you have to do is come and hear him speak when you feel like it. He will surely captivate your interest because he is knowledgeable in really almost any subject. He has never come to class with any notes and REALLY knows his stuff. Like for the Dada and Surrealism class, he actually knew the people we were talking about personally (Dali!! baudrillard, Guy Debord, Yves, Klein, and many more) He is very understanding and very nice, like if you're not so comfortable with the french language, you can write your papers in english. He is really a genius when it comes to contemporary american society, and will allow you to explore any subject of interest to you.
Professor Lotranger is one of the gems of the french department. An internationally renowned theorist in his own right, taking a class with him is a totally different experience than you would have in a typical literature class. Just auditing his upper level classes (or enrolling in them if you're brave enough) is an enriching experience. Listening to him lecture is like watching someone write a book on the spur of the moment--he speaks well and is always interesting. Obviously, if you aren't interested in theory or philosophy, this class might not be for you, but if you try to take a class with him while you still have the chance!
Prof. Lotringer clearly knows what he's talking about. This is both a blessing and a curse: on the positive side, you can expect any possible question you have to be answered in great detail, and lots of background information (I never saw him once bring in notes--everything came off of the top of his head). On the negative side, he expects his students to have a graduate-level understanding of tons of different books and different literary schools of criticism (he is particularly fond of post-modernism). Thus, most of my class struggled to keep up with him as he started jumping from book to book towards the end of the semester. Overall, I learned alot, but I wish he had made more of an effort to engage his students and to make sure we knew what was going on.
Prof. Lotringer is obviously an extremely intelligent man, with worthwhile things to say. Unfortunately, this class did not showcase those features particularly well. I had the impression early on in the semester (when I was keeping up with all the reading) that my class and I were a constant disappointment to Prof. Lotringer, b/c we had not kept up with obscure French literary criticisms of the past 100+ years, nor random French novels from all centuries. Being thus disappointed, he then proceeded to rarely ask for any input or discussion. The class lacked any direction or focus. We spent probably half a semester on Madame Bovary, leaving the rest for the roughly 7 other books he had planned. In general, I feel if Prof. Lotringer had given us some idea of what we were supposed to be getting out of the class, and what he expected from us, the class could have been greatly improved.
Prof. Lotringer's class on B+M was definitely challenging--my hand shook while taking notes for the first two weeks! But, quite honestly, the course was one of the best I've taken at Columbia. Sylvere is brilliant--his lectures on Mallarme's poetry make the words and the language come alive. I've never been so impressed by a professor before. A caveat for the lazy--this is NOT a mickey mouse course. You are expected to read, to research, and to think at a higher level than other literature courses. It was, by far, the most difficult french course that I've taken in my two years as a french major. However, it was also the most rewarding.