Vlad was a teacher who knew his stuff, but was kind of no-nonsense and his classes leaned more towards lectures than discussions. Vlad, a Dante scholar, is extremely knowledgeable about every text on the syllabus and the contexts historically in which they appear. The analyses of the texts was very thorough and was able to cover both specific points and broader themes about the text, though from what I heard about other sections he taught with more focus to detail than other classes. He likes to go through a text from start to finish, rather than teach from theme to theme, and often we dwelled too much on context in the beginning or early points or passages and had to rush through the latter parts of the books in order to keep on schedule. Vlad often imposed his opinions upon the class and overrode or ruled out some provided by students. The section seemed to be more about him divulging information than all of us tossing ideas around, which I felt the class should have been (or it would have been more fun/interesting). Kind of to demonstrate this, Vlad never once in the entire year actually sat at the table and was on level with us. He either stood or he would sit on the back of his chair, ensuring he was head and shoulders above us at the head of the table. If you're in Vlad's section, you'll probably learn what you need to for Lit Hum, but it will definitely be through Vlad's lens.
Being in Vlad's class has been great. As a grad student in Italian with an interest in Classics, he indisputably knows his way around the works we read (especially for the first 3/4 of the year), often making connections and references between texts, even down to specific cantos/chapters/books etc. He expects you to work hard, it's true, but that's why we came to Columbia right? Vlad encourages you to develop your own views, but he will make sure to present his own reading, and he is not afraid to shoot people down if they are way off track. Papers are relevant and interesting--Vlad is a fair grader and he doesn't dish out false praise, so you'll have to work hard to get good marks. Overall my experience in this class has been exceptional--I learn a ton about the texts, and discussions in class are always contextualized and productive--Vlad keeps the bullshit to a minimum.
I did not like this class. Vintila extremely restricts your thought process to only what he thinks you should know. The papers he gives are very narrow in topic and every class is work, work, work from start to finish. He hardly provides you room to breathe. It honestly stressed me out being in his class. The workload isn't so bad, but I often found myself not wanting to work that hard out of spite. At first I thought Vintila was a great guy, and he is outside of the classroom. But he slowly became more antagonistic and felt the need to assert his authority. I would recommend searching for a more experienced professor.
I hope Vlad gets a job here after he finishes his PhD, because teaching Lit Hum was exactly the fun challenge that led me to Columbia. He may be a harsh grader on papers, but he is willing to meet and make you earn your grade on that paper, which is a lot more rewarding in the end. But it was the classes that made it such a delight. He would start a book with about a 15-30 minute history, giving the necessary context in which to understand the book, and then lead us into an often entertaining and brilliant discussion. Because he was young, he understood the pain of having to read so much, and was often lenient. Also despite being Romanian and doing undergraduate studies in Italy, his English was never misunderstood. He didn't teach this year because of his dissertation, but if he returns and you need to switch classes, I would highly recommended it.
Solid grad student lit hum instructor. He told us it was his goal to make us better writers, and he probably accomplished his job. His grading can be tough, but you'll get plenty of comments on how to improve your paper. I think the grading ended up being a little skewed at the end in your favor, so that's good. His midterm was quite difficult, but he graded accordingly -- just another example of how he tried to be reasonable with his students. He's getting his PhD through the Italian Dep't, so he's a monster with anything coming from Italy -- you can tell, he gets really excited about teaching the works from good 'ol Alba Longa (I was only in his class for the 2nd semester, so I don't know about his excitement for the Greek classics). An enjoyable experience
Overall he was fine and tried to keep everyone interested. Vlad speaks excellent Italian and makes certain to enunciate in class, which is very helpful for your accent and aural comprehension. Also, since he has excellent knowledge of Latin he can answer some questions about word etymology and give you a bit of the language history, which was what I found to be his main strength. Regarding weaknesses, he caved into student pressure several times and spoke English in class too often. Although he has an excellent, sophisticated grasp of grammar, he failed to help those in the class who were clueless understand it. One wonders if they were beyond help. Additionally, he let the class get WAY out of hand at times and some people demonstrated amazingly immature behavior. Also, rather than hear him complain so much about all the things he hates, it would have been nice to hear about his research, since his is a medievalist and studies Dante! He should have told us a little something about that in Italian! If you already speak a foreign language and are really interested in learning Italian, I would highly suggest taking the intensive language course since the normal beginner course seemed rather watered down and very slow.
The previous review doesn't do Vlad justice. He is a fun teacher and a great guy. Since the class is an elementary language he is confined by the syllabus and basically had time to kill in the class so he joked around with the students. I have to agree that he can be kind of moody a lot of times and brings it into the classroom.
Vlad was awesome! He was so easy and after the first half of the semester we spoke English almost all the time in class! He tells you all sorts of weird stuff like how many times a week he washes his hair and that he cuts himself shaving all the time. He really likes to go out dacing.
Vlad is a decent teacher and does what he has to. The quality of his teaching really depends on his mood. Sometimes he was really good and lively and other times he didn't hide that he hated teaching the class and couldn't wait to get out of there. He really acts like one of the students, though, by making jokes, dressing like us, and telling us all about where he likes to go dancing. So, he really lost control of the class and there were some sessions when people just acted really loud and crazy.