professor
William Kaizen

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Jan 2006

At first I was afraid that I'd loathe the class because it seemed like Prof. Kaizen (or Bill) was a jaded grad student in his eighth year who really didn't give a hoot about teaching a bunch of kids basic Art History. And when the course ended I still believed that he didn't really care too much. But I got a heck of a lot out of the class and actually enjoyed Kaizen as an instructor. First off, the reading was really light. Really, really light - no more than 10 pages per class, if that. And he "tweaked" the syllabus - instead of doing everything chronologically we did Architecture, followed by Sculpture (both covered on the midterm) and then Painting (which made up the final). Teaching the class conceptually was a great idea and really helped me understand changes in Art History and recall different artistic mediums even when we went from Architecture to Painting. Since he's a seasoned modern art student, we cut a lot of the older works (especially during painting) and spent a lot of time on the more modern artists. For example, we skipped Michelangelo & Bruegel in the Painting section, but spent 2 days on Warhol and a day on Sherman (not commonly on the ArtHum syllabus). If a Music Hum prof tried pulling that and adding lots of Crumb and Schoenberg to the syllabus while deleting Beethoven I'd be pissed, but for ArtHum it worked well - probably because people had great comments and analyses on Warhol & Sherman and it was really Kaizen's area of expertise (most of his thesis is on Warhol. Second, he really demands formal analysis. He doesn't take people's fluffy answers that just beat around the bush. Instead he made us look at works in more depth and didn't accept mediocre answers. He isn't going to give you a glowing review - even an A paper won't be loaded with compliments - but he is very to the point and will help you in office hours and online. The papers are not exactly unique - one is a formal analysis either between St. Paul's chapel and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine or Alma Mater to the Thinker and the other one was a comparison of paintings at the Met (ranging from Monet to Picasso to Pollock & Johns). They were doable and it was clear from the beginning what he wanted. The exams were very fair. At the start of each class Kaizen handed out a slide list and on the bottom were 2-6 key terms. Those terms made up the IDs for the exam. Then we had some painting IDs, some formal slide analyses and and an essay that included the readings. The exams were not cumulative, and our final wound up being a takehome exam of 4 essays but only because of the Transit Strike. In the future I'd suspect that it would model the midterm. Overall, I'd recommend Kaizen as a good professor - I came out of the class learning a lot about Art History and actually APPRECIATING art, whereas other core classes made me really dislike the discipline. Kaizen won't be all cheery and nice and overaccessible and give you an A+ for minimal effort, but he will teach you a lot and I think he is better than many full-fledged professors who teach core classes.

Jan 2006

Bill is very strict about attendance and lateness. However, his reading assignments were so light!!! You have to do them for the midterm and final but they are so short that you cannot complain. The material he chose was pretty interesting (a lot of Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman- Michelangelo got cut) but you better be ready to participate in class. If you don't volunteer he WILL call on you. If you give the wrong answer he might shut you down pretty harshly, but in the end everyone gets cut down everyonce in a while. Its shocking at first but you get over it. Overall, I didn't find him very painful.

Dec 2005

At first I was afraid of Kaizen. He is a well-seasoned grad student in the Art History department (he's been there somewhere between 6-8 years), told us that he was defending his dissertation really soon, and I had the first impression that he was just going to be one of those "I hate teaching this because I have to and I don't care about this class at all." Having had my fair share of apathetic grad students in Core classes, I didn't expect much. However, Kaizen used his past teaching experience and knowledge to actually make the class palatable. Sure, he wasn't super enthusiastic about papers (like us writing about St John the Divine vs. St Paul's chapel), and the readings were much less than any other Art Hum section (which I really didn't mind), but he actually was really really interesting. Instead of having a chronological mish-mosh of artistic works, we did architecture, then sculpture, then painting. He also tailored the syllabus to his areas of expertise (modern painting). We skipped artists like Bruegel and Rembrandt but spent a lot of time on Picasso, Pollock, Warhol & Sherman. I think this was good because people in the class were more insightful about the modern works. I think that the class was good - definitely the best Core class I took and I had NO art history background. Kaizen may not be the most approachable person (though he will meet with you outside of class) nor come accross as the most enthusiastic but the class was good, he taught the material well, and it was (surprisingly) very interesting. I'd recommend him in an instant.

Dec 2005

Good instructor. Always required the participation of everyone in the class but was never intimidating about it. Had an attendance policy like every other instructor, and had assigned reading, which wasn't too long, for every class. Graded a little bit harder than I expected but I don't think many people got below a B. I would recommend him.