I only agree with the previous review to the extent that there could have been a better title for the course: Japanese materials were really minimum. However, as far as the quality of the instructor is concerned, Professor Denecke is great. She is very knowledgeable of the subject and extremely approachable. Her responses to emails were always prompt, helpful and personal. At class, her questions were thought-provoking though the phrasing could have been a little more conversational. She listens to what people have got to say and never cuts off any comments even when some of them are really dumb. The reading assignments were heavy but I still found them manageable. The weekly meetings were all based on the readings, so if you couldn't catch up with the readings, the class could be a real drag. I like how she prepared everyone for the final project; indeed, I thought my final paper for the class was the best project I had ever done. Since this was a new course, there were things to be improved. The original focus of the course was kind of lost toward the end of the semester. The instructor needed to be aware of people's different knowledge base especially those with Japanese background. She also had to improve her ability of time management. Overall, Chinese EALAC students will find the course an exciting challenge. But I don't think it fits those specialized in Japanese.
First off, the name of this class was totally innapropriate. Just name it the Power of Words in China, because maybe 5% of the class covered Japanese subjects, and then only briefly. The class load was very heavy, and since Professor Denecke decided not to have a reader, I spent over $160 over the semester printing out the readings for class. The readings were obtuse and difficult, and it was often hard to understand what Denecke was looking for. She is very jargony in class, often using so much academic language that the students cannot understand what she is asking. We were often stumped in class as to what she was looking for in the discussion, and she would simply let the silences stretch instead of re-phrasing her question. I did not find her approachable, and her comments on our papers were quite cutting and almost rude, and vague to the point of unhelpfulness. I would NOT recommend this professor to anyone.
The class covers a lot of history in a short time, but it is interesting. I wish it had been a little more interactive though, as every single class was a lecture with little participation opportunities. She is definitely knowledgeable. The TA session was helpful, but often silent as no one participated. It is a fairly good, although not easy way to fulfill your major cultures.
Where do I begin? I took this class Spring 06 because I wanted to learn more about my own culture. I was hesitant to take this course because of the previous reviews on her.. but holy cow can CULPA be deceiving. Professor Denecke was not only regularly available to speak to you on the subject, but she was always just so nice and helpful! She really knows her stuff and she tries to give you a full 360 view on Chinese culture by incorporating primary documents--other professors could careless and just throw facts at you, but not Professor Denecke! They already spoke about cutting some reading out, so don't panic. Readings are assigned, but you will find out which are important and which you can just skim. Sure, I had to make this class the focus of my semester but it's because Chinese civilization began soo long ago, so of course it's a lot of stuff you have to know. You have weekly recitations so be sure that you have a good T.A--it'll help. I highly recommend taking Intro to East Asian Civ: China with Professor Denecke!
Hard as a brick, this woman will not spare you an inch. You had better make this class the focus of your semester at Columbia, and you will then do reasonably well. Unfortunately, expect little from this wolf in sheep's clothing.
tons of reading. class was taught by 2 teachers, wiebke and mingwei song. structure was rushed, hard to follow. convenient that the class only meets once a week, but makes it hard to learn everything and to totally understand. **i found this class to be very hard, primarily because i had no previous knowledge of the subject. i would only recommend it to students studying ealac.
this is a fabuluous class. I recomend it to anyone who wishes to not only satisfy the Major Cultures requirment but also learn a lot and enjoy a fascinating class. Prof. Denecke is the sweetest, kindest woman. AND a really good teacher. She does an excellent job of leading discussions and encouraging students to say what they think. she even includes creative assignments. despite her kindness, the reading is rigorous. the class is easy as is the grading. you can slide by, but Professor Denecke's passion makes you want to do the best you can. Do the reading, attending class, get an A, and learn a lot. what could be better?