Professor Marcus gives lectures that make you never want to leave class. At the end of a very stressful semester, my notebook from her class was the only notebook I didn't throw out. Her lectures are so organized but never dry and she knows her stuff. It didn't hit me until I took her class how important context is to unpacking any work of literature. I loved that she took just enough time to go over the most important pieces of context we needed before diving into lecture. Despite the class being a lecture, I didn't feel as though she gave away "everything" at all. She leaves a lot of room for students to pick their own topic in order to close read for their essays. (The TA was also very wonderful so it was a plus.)
She's amazing. She's so passionate about her subject. Her lectures are really clear and interesting. She takes time to know all the students individually even in a large class. I highly recommend her courses. The novels were really fun, ranging from Dracula to Jane Eyre. We really focused on Gothic literature. Oliver Twist was the worst book we read -- super anti-Semitic, but that just reflects the time.
If you have Prof Marcus for CC, you are very lucky. She might be scary at first, and requires written responses emailed in before every class (with citations!) but this is to make sure the majority of the class has a good enough understanding to have a good discussion. She leads discussions amazingly well. Even if I barely got a text reading it myself, I always came out of a class with a much better understanding of the author's argument, assumptions, weaknesses, and how it relates to broader issues. I took this class spring 2014, and now looking back and reading some of my responses and essay, I realize how much the class has prepared me for other philosophy courses by teaching me how to think creatively. Prof Marcus really brings out the best of her students! This being said, the workload is definitely heavier than other CC courses, but you will be rewarded for your work. If you are interested in philosophy and willing to put in effort, this class is for you. If you want to blow-off CC class, then it's not. This class probably embodies what the Columbia core wants to do for its students. Prof Marcus also stays after class every time if you have questions for her. She's pretty accessible despite being the dean of humanities, but if you want to meet her outside class you'll have to schedule and not just drop in.
I can't say enough good things about Sharon Marcus. I took her 19th Century English Novel class this semester and, despite my initial misgivings about a 60-person English class, I ended up loving this class and this professor. First of all, she is an amazing lecturer. I've always liked small English classes with a lot of discussion, but every day I would walk into this class and sit there entranced for 75 minutes. She clearly spends a good deal of time preparing her lectures, and they are brilliant and cogent and really elucidated the novels. She still encouraged class participation and was receptive to questions and comments. Despite the large class size, she was always available during office hours to talk about anything--life, career paths, religion, you name it--and just generally had a lovely demeanor. She gave a ton of feedback on the papers (though you might have one of the TAs as your grader) and offered extra credit assignments to give us opportunities to improve our writing/analytical skills. The novels themselves were fantastic; she introduced a few literary theories on the novels every class, but mostly focused on the novels themselves. Going to lecture really helped with the final because the prompts all addressed ideas discussed in class. (You should also never miss a lecture, because, as I mentioned above, Marcus gives fantastic lectures and you're doing yourself a disservice if you miss them). Don't take the class if you want an easy A or if you think you can skip the lectures and still do well. If you do the reading and attend lectures you'll be fine. And go to office hours!
Professor Marcus is an AMAZING professor. She is a fantastic lecturer, nice in office hours, and unbelievably knowledgeable in her field (seriously, this woman's a genius). I don't think she wastes even a minute of lecture, ever -- I was basically taking notes the entire time to get down everything she was saying. She provided really thorough analysis and insight into the novels we read (the structural analyses she does are really amazing) but still made some of the more daunting novels (i.e. Daniel Deronda) approachable. We read six novels over the course of the semester, with 3-4 classes (about 2 weeks) devoted to each. Marcus cut the seventh novel because she realized less and less people were keeping up with the reading, i.e. she's very understanding (the only time she wasn't was when she expected us to have read 200 pages of the next novel the same day one of our papers was due). She covered a lot of different themes/ideas (like marriage plot, realism, gothic elements, technology, etc.) and introduced a bunch of literary terms like physiognomy and exegetic/diegetic time, etc. She also did a really great job making the course come together, by showing similar themes in novels and how each author related historically to one another. Workload (mostly reading) got heavier as the semester went on, because the novels got longer and other classes also simultaneously got busier. The first we read was Northanger Abbey which is fairly short so we were only reading 60-80ish pages for each class, but we read The Woman in White about halfway through the semester which was like 150-200 pages per class. However, novels were enjoyable and reading was flexible in that she would say to read x amount of pages for a certain class day but if you were a bit behind it was alright. She tried to not spoil the end of the novels for those who were a bit behind. Two 8-10 page essays, one after the first three novels (around midterm season) and the next due at the end of the semester. She always gave topics pretty far in advance (around two weeks, sometimes more) so you have plenty of time for brainstorming, running ideas by her/TAs in office hours, and if you bring in an outline or a draft to office hours/class (no email) she'll look it over. The TAs are super cool and super nice, also. The same person (either her or a TA) grades both of your essays, and then I think the grades are streamlined at the end since each person reads every essay. Essays are graded kind of difficult (you have to have a really flawless essay to get the A, I believe), but the final is easy and she offers some extra credit opportunities, if you're on the borderline of a better grade she'll bump you up if you've been going to/engaging in class. Overall, the class was amazing, and I'll definitely be looking out for more of Marcus's classes in the future. I'd agree that she sometimes covers the material so thoroughly it's hard to find something to write about (she tells you not to write your papers about anything discussed in class) but the paper topics are good and more importantly, there's a lot of learning both on the reading and writing fronts. She seems a little intimidating in lecture because she's such a genius, but super nice and helpful during office hours! Also syllabus was fantastic - Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Eliot, etc.
Sharon Marcus has an amazing wealth of knowledge about Victorian fiction. She makes what can be extremely complicated novels, such as Daniel Deronda (Eliot) and Barchester Towers very approachable.The only issue is, sometimes, Prof. Marcus gives such a thorough lecture that it is hard to choose a paper topic which doesn't address examples or examine similar themes as those Marcus discusses in class. Professor Marcus was very willing to meet with her students outside of class, and made even non-English major students, such as myself, feel fully equipped to discuss and write about masterpieces of 19th century fiction.
Wow. If you like reading and don't like writing, this is the class for you. Seriously. All we had to do was read a book every week/week and a half and write 500-750 words on it. I'm not sure she realized how little work that was, but it was her first semester so she'll probably change her ways. She delivered very interesting and organized lectures, though mainly on the same topic (marriage), and used discussion as well. She made an effort to get to know everyone's name, which I guess people here think is great. So overall, take a class with her, it's worth it b/c you don't have to do much but read enjoyable books.
Professor Marcus just arrived from teaching at Berkeley. She is articulate and well organized. She managed to keep me awake and keep my attention even though class was at 9 am. Her choice of novels was diverse, and her lectures always enhanced whatever novel we were reading. She came off as slightly severe in the beginning of the semester but softened as time went on.