professor
Esra Akcan

Jun 2007

My remarks shall be terse and candid. Esra Akcan is kind, as others have noted. At the same time, she is also completely unqualified to teach such a course. She brings no fresh insight to the texts under discussion or to any philosophical topic whatsoever, and her lectures are peppered with vapid assertions of ideological supremacy. A semester with Akcan is an odyssey through an intellectual Sahara. Those of you who wish to learn should look elsewhere for a CC intructor.

Jan 2007

The previous reviewers were incredibly harsh on someone who makes an effort to make a class like CC as painless as possible. I understood how good of a teacher she was after the final when I realized how I, a rather apathetic "non-humanities person," had quite a coherent understanding of the material (and only having read about half of the books!). Yes, she makes it clear when your comments are in violation of the accepted interpretations of the texts, and that can come off as condescending or offensive sometimes. She won't hold your hand and tell you how brilliant you are. However, she encourages discussion and reads the weekly posts very carefully. She meets every student in the beginning of the semester in Avery cafe and also serves cookies during the final. Esra won't change your life, but she definitely won't make it any more painful. I enjoyed her class. If you don't have incredibly high expectations for CC, I definitely suggest taking Esra.

Dec 2006

Taking CC with Esra made me dread those four hours each week. While many CC readings are dry on their own, Esra's teaching style and personality did nothing to make the readings or "discussion" any more bearable. Class "discussions" were really Esra giving outlines and then skewing the conversation to her own personal ideas about the text. While she complains when you don't contribute enough to the text, if she doesn't agree with an idea you offer, or if that discussion simply doesn't fit with her agenda for the day, she will make you feel stupid and basically pretend you never spoke. If you disagree with her ideas but do not back down with your own, the demeaning conversation and skewing of your words will continue until you simply give up. For her, these works have one interpretation, and that interpretation is hers. On another note, Esra has a very thick accent, and often times it is difficult to make out what she is saying. Although she is fluent in English, she often simply didn't understand questions brought up in class, and becuase of that they were just never answered. Also, personality wise, I never saw Esra crack a smile - she has no sense of humor and just generally seems to hate everyone. As for papers, try to make sure you stick to ideas that she would share. Also, while her papers are short, She expects you to cram as much information into those pages as possible. Sometimes I felt as though she expected me to regurgitate entire philosophies, but only gave 3-4 pages to do so. In general, I would never recommend taking a class with Esra. This class was my least favorite this semester, and I'm thankful it's finally over

Dec 2006

Yea so, I thought she was borderline evil for the most part of the semester- but she's actually a really great teacher. Maybe she was playing devil's advocate with us the whole semester- rarely were our opinions in line with hers- but in the end of the day shes a great CC instructor who gets the point of what CC is supposed to be about. Maybe a little more factual information about the books... but then again she didnt give it, and then she didnt test it, so who really cares? Yea, if you're neurotic and you want to get the most for your money, maybe this isn't for you. But if you're not one of those Columbia philosophers, don't think you're gonna wanna put 150% into the class, actually have other classes to worry about and are willing to do some but not all the work, go for it. At times she may frustrate you but she's a really great teacher and worth the A- you'll get. (Plus, she gives out good cookies)

Nov 2006

I feel the need to amend what the previous reviewer said about Esra. It is true that she is extremely easy. But there's a reason for that: the material is never actually discussed or taught in a meaningful way. Her paper topics are too broad and open-ended to be handled in the 3 page limit and often leaves students feeling confused as to how to broach the subject appropriately. Her midterm was a joke...but sometimes her questions aren't asking what she thinks they're asking. For a couple of questions in post-midterm review she described what she wanted to hear in a response and no one understood how that's the response to the question asked. There are a lot of illogical jumps in her thinking, which are never fully explained. She's distant both in and outside of class; though she did hold a picnic to get to know her students better it only resulted in the few people who went getting to know each other better rather than her, which I was disappointed by. On top of that, while she attemps to keep the class on topic often times we get distracted and discuss things that don't really lead to a greater understanding of the text. She also has no issue completely putting down your contribution to discussion in front of the entire class if she doesn't agree with it or doesn't understand it. All in all, I can tell she's really trying to connect with her students and maybe the difficulty level is a part of that desire, but something just isn't connecting.

Nov 2006

Trying to decipher exactly what is it that makes Esra such a bad professor is like trying to untangle a massive, nasty knot that's been clogging your shower drain for months. Simply put: there's nothing good about her. If you take her class, you'll experience a semester of tense and strained discussions that will destroy the texts for you. She's awkward, she's inarticulate, and she can't bring anything to or derive anything from the course material. Esra is genuinely uninterested in her students and yet manages to take every comment as a personal affront. Whereas in other classes disagreement fosters debate, in her class opposing views are personal challenges she has to beat down (creepily enough, she'll smile when she thinks she's won an argument with you). The final issue, and this is minor compared to her other defects, is a very basic language barrier. You'll be able to understand her English, but she won't really grasp yours. More often than not, she'll rephrase what you've said and completely misrepresent your views, which is a problem in a class based on the subtleties of language and expression. Honestly, I would advise you to develop a crack addiction before taking this class.

Nov 2006

Esra is a good teacher to take CC with. She's not the best professor at encouraging class discussion, but in CC that isn't always a bad thing since often students don't know what to say about some of the more complex philosophical works. She would give a very good outline of each work and author at the beginning of the class and those were always incredibly helpful in allowing us to understand the main points as well as allowing us to do well in the exams. She is a more than fair grader; if you work at all, you should get an A. Be warned: she can come across as pretty biting in some of her written comments on peoples' papers, and she definitely has strong opinions, but just because she doesn't agree with you doesn't mean she'll give you a bad grade.

Nov 2006

I was very unhappy with Esra as my CC teacher. I think many students felt she was always unwilling to accept views that she did not personally hold, and that she had a good deal of trouble not completely twisting what you say into something you certainly did not mean, and then making you feel stupid for it. I did not learn anything from her, and she was especially unhelpful in helping the class access the readings. Boring and obnoxious, I would never recommend her.

Apr 2006

Esra is amazing. She is the easiest CC teacher that I know of. I did not read one single book and I did great in the class. All you need to do is pay attention and take good notes. She doesn't care about participation. Each semester we had a take home midterm. First semester we had a series of 3 short papers. Second semester we have one 10 page paper which is kind of a bummer. And she gives really easy finals. Take her if you can and CC will be a breeze.