Could not agree with the review from 12/23/10 more. I read it before signing up for this class, and thought, "Eh, that can't be that bad, easy prof and somewhat mellow classes are fine." Unfortunately, "easy, but probably not worth it" sums up this class perfectly. SA, as she signs her emails, began class with some historical context, often writing the Greek or Latin term for words on the board. She would usually call on people to read passages aloud that would sometimes last two to three pages. This was always marked by the uncomfortable glance up from the reader, who assumed that they were done, but Stamenka would still be staring at the book, expecting more. We read all 95 Theses of Luther's 95 Theses. She was the master of asking the obvious questionâ€”for instance, after having read aloud what a philosopher's definition of something was, she would askâ€¦ what his definition of it was. But our class was so confused that nobody really raised their hands. This led to lots of awkward silences and overall very slow discussions. To her credit, I do feel like I learned the significant points of each reading, but only from the summaries that we got in class. We never, ever made it through an entire reading. When I did do the readings (not often, since we read so much in class), I never went beyond the first chapter or so, because I knew we wouldn't discuss it. The midterm and final both had IDs and one essay. Unlike Lit Hum, where my professor tried to pick very obscure passage IDs, all of the IDs on Stamenka's tests were the "obvious" passages from that text (e.g. the word "kallipolis" was mentioned in the excerpt from the Republic), so you basically just had to know the main ideas behind all of the readings and define them in an interesting way. The class started to pick up in the last month as we all bonded over how little we were learning, but I couldn't stay in it another semester.
While Professor Antonova often shared many interesting historical facts and wisdoms about the texts we read, especially religious works, she was unable to lead an engaging discussion throughout the entire semester. The beginning hour or so of every class period was always more of a lecture, and SA is one of those professors who ask very specific questions, giving students little room to begin an engaging debate. We rarely made it through an entire work, and often skipped over some of the most important issues of the text for lack of time. All in all, it wasn't the worst CC section, but class discussions were rarely engaging or interesting. Easy, but probably not worth it.
As far as her mastery of the material and subject matter as a whole, Stamenka was an incredible professor. However, with a 9am section of Lit Hum, I often found it hard to stay awake (which was partly the early time, not the teacher). Her voice is often monotone and quiet, very rarely engaging the students in the classroom when they are already very drowsy...which often led to her calling on random students to answer her questions. Sometimes it's awkward when you don't have an answer... Her apparent inability to wake me up aside, I must give credit where credit is due. She is always willing to meet to discuss essays, and usually grades them leniently, so long as it appears that you are putting in an effort. Advice: if she gives an opinion or suggestion on your essay topic, INCLUDE IT IN THE ESSAY!! Also, she always makes an effort to facilitate classroom discussion, as opposed to only giving her opinion and expecting you to write it down. I found that the questions she asked were usually spot on, hitting on the central themes of each book. All in all, if you get Stamenka for Lit Hum at a normal time, expect a very solid class!!
I truly enjoyed Professor Antonova's class. Her ability to encourage class discussion while also teaching made for a very interesting Contemporary Civilization course. The workload is fair: 2 papers, weekly postings, a midterm and a final. She is very understanding and genuinely cares about her students. I highly recommend taking her as a CC professor. You will struggle to find another CC professor that possesses her warmth and her ability.
While discussion at times was slow, Professor Antonova tended to bring in contemporary applications to the texts that brought out really heated discussions. She has a very quiet approach to things but that really allowed people to speak when they wanted and she always tries to be constructive when responding to comments. in response to the other reviews, the people in our class make it interesting, and she's not bad at facilitating...maybe others just had boring classmates? she's also open for office hours and open to discusssion so if you ever mess up, she's pretty understanding if you go talk to her personally. i enjoyed her class so far, and its a light workload.
Stamenka Antonova is the worst professor I've had at Columbia. I disagree with the other reviewer, who said she is knowledgeable about the texts. She offered no insight or opinion into the texts we read, and her role in class was translating what authors said into a more colloquial form. She failed to tell us some basic things about texts (like the Quran dealing with Civil law as well as religious law), despite being a professor in the religion department. But the worst part about her was her complete lack of enthusiasm, her monotone, her inability or refusal to inspire any kind of excitement in the class. I wonder if she herself was interested in her books. I stuck with this class because its an EASY EASY A, and the workload is a weekly 2-3 paragraph post which you will do fine on even if you narrate parts of the text. So in short, this class is the quintessential trade-off between learning and and an easy A. She revealed herself to be pretty mean as well; whenever attendance was low on a given day she'd promise to put emphasis on that day's texts on the exam, and she wasn't kidding.
Stamenka is very nice and actually very knowledgeable about the subject matter. Her problem is generally that she just isn't very good at stimulating discussion and poses questions in such a way that you're often afraid to answer them. She does give you a good grounding in all the ideas that you should draw from CC, but she won't engage you the way some people's CC teachers seem to. If you talk in class a little bit to break up the long awkward silences, she'll start to smile a bit and probably like you. Say anything remotely insightful in your posts and papers and you'll probably do well. If you want to feel something liberating and mind-bending from your CC class, this ain't it, but it's a solid section to learn the basics and get a decent grade with an average workload.
This class was a total waste of my time. While I have no doubt that it could have been taught well, Professor Antonova rarely said anything which helped me better understand the readings and was incompetent in getting any substantive discussion going. Even when I had enjoyed the readings I found myself in class the next day bored out of my mind. To be fair, Stamenka did get better and more organized as the class progressed, but I still would not recommend her. I also should mention that she is generally an easy grader (based on how people did on assignments,) and for some people, this might be reason enough to take the class. In short, if you want to really get something out of the Core, do not take this class. If your looking for a good grade, take it.