I'd like to strongly disagree with some of the negative reviews on Professor Laxton. First of all, she knows what she's talking about: the earned her Ph.D. under Rosalind Krauss (with distinction) and knows the material front to back. Just about the furthest thing from pretentious, she tends to bring an honest excitement to the material, always willing to drop in a funny biographical note about one of the artists, share a little tidbit about a work, or reveal the lay of the politics in the Art History department at Columbia. That said, her interests trend toward the theoretical, which can be an early warning to prepare to sleep through some classes. However, Prof. Laxton is generally more than willing to enter theory from a very basic level, meaning that you can walk understanding something new about art (and culture) from Mulvey, Debord, and Lacan, even if you haven't read them closely and/or extensively. Really, what more could you ask for from an undergraduate class? Highly recommended.
Boring. Boring boring boring boring boring boring boring. Painful. And boring. God, so boring.
Though undoubtedly quite knowledgeable in the field, I found Laxton a pretty horrible teacher. She seemed to have a lot of difficulty in facilitating class discussions and would rather allow the same two or three students (in addition to herself, of course) speak the entire time rather than get the rest of the students involved. Since this was a class in which your class participation was graded, I found this quite disheartening (and hypocritical.) Also, her continuous comments about how accomplished in modernism she was were just more and more annoying and snobby as the semester went on. Beware that Laxton has no problem reading a paper, making minimal comments on it, and telling you itÂ’s perfect in structure and content aside from a few typos and points that need to be clarified and then giving you a C on it. She has incredible difficulty in articulating what is wrong with student writing but will let you redo it as many times as you want. She is unbelievably slow in grading papers; it took her an average of four weeks to turn back each of the papers that she assigned (giving us only one to two weeks notice to complete each) and took seven weeks to grade a re-write that I handed in, after asking three times (two emails, once in person) about its whereabouts with no response! With minimal office hours and her habit of evading student communication, Laxton is practically unreachable, not to mention the fact that she gives the impression that she just doesnÂ’t care at all. Moral of the story: steer clear of Susan LaxtonÂ’s classes at all costs.
I think everybody was a little disappointed by the sudden departure of Buchloh and thus might have come into the class expecting Laxton to fail. Of course it would have been impossible to measure up in her first year here, yet she shows promise to be very humorous and thorough as an Art History professor. Here lectures did feel as though she was reading from someone elses notes--she could have been more impulsive and spontaneous, or at least given that illusion better--yet all in all the class is worthwhile due to the amount of artists and movements it will familiarize you with.
i really enjoyed this class in the beginning and thought laxton was very intelligent and well spoken. By the end of the semester I was really sick of the class (and her) and found her to be pretentious and a little obnoxious. THe material began to bore me and i didn't think so highly of her in the end and from what I know other students felt similarly. I guess it really just depends on the student. I don't think she was terrible, I wouldn't warn anyone not to take this class. But my personal experience wasn't great. She's ok, not one of Columbia's finest.
I think the other review's critique is a little harsh and perhaps just embittered. The fact that Professor Laxton wasn't scheduled to teach the class, I think, explains why she changed the material around and I thought the course as a whole was a much more thorough study of modernism. It was a summer class and 3hrs 2ce a week can be quite a bit...but that's not really Professor Laxton's fault. I guess I can't be a judge of sexism because I'm a female and I did well in the class, but I'm not an art history genius either. The reading material was interesting and Prof. Laxton was very approachable.
When I signed up for this, it said "one by one focus on each artist and their life" and i was excited because i don't know tons about the first 3 listed and there was NO MONET because i'm sick of him, then, we show up, and Susan hadn't originally been scheduled to teach the class, and she changed it to "modernism" didn't talk about the artist's one by one or really at all about their life, it was more a french history course set to art, and most of that art was by monet! it really was hell, and it was 3hrs long because it was a summer class, and she clearly had no idea what she was doing, and i truly believe my grade suffered because i was male (i checked around, women did significantly better in the class), i turned in my first paper and she gave me a C, and when i discussed why with her, she told me everything was perfect except my structure, so i thought the grade was really harsh, anyway, never take with her if possible, i thought she was a bad instructor and a snob