professor
Emmanuelle Saada

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Aug 2014

I cannot recommend this course highly enough. It made me decide to turn my concentration in history into a second major. While like any history course, it has its fair share of dates to memorize, Professor Saada emphasized overarching themes and questions over factoids, and emphasized primary source reading over a textbook narrative. This span of this class stretches from the French Revolution to the present, so it essentially encompasses everything within the Revolution's legacy, industrialization and urbanization, post-colonialism, Nazi collaboration, the building of the EU, the influx of Arab immigration, etc. Not only was the information in this course incredibly relevant to understanding modern European history, it was very useful for thinking about current events. Professor Saada also screens films for the course; last year, it was Au Revoir les Enfants and the Battle of Algiers. This was by far the best class I've taken in the history department, and possibly one of the best courses I've taken at Columbia. Also, the TA Allison Powers is wonderful; sections with her were the highlight of my day.

Aug 2014

Overall, a great class! Prof Saada is hilarious and makes class enjoyable while maintaining a good level of intellectual rigor. She’s not afraid to poke fun at herself and you can tell she’s really passionate about what she’s teaching. Intro to French Civ AKA France: Past and Present was a good class and I learned a ton. Saada is great at engaging the class and also takes time to lecture in order to clarify difficult material. This was a very well structured course and my knowledge of French civ wasn’t the only thing that got better (my writing did too). She grades the papers with a lot of care and even lets you rewrite a paper for a higher grade (so you learn from your mistakes). Overall, a great class with an even greater professor, I recommend taking this class or anything Saada teaches.

Aug 2014

Professor Saada is my favorite professor at Columbia. Here’s why: 1. Her energy and enthusiasm for the subject matter as well as her sense of humor makes her very relatable and creates a light class environment where you can feel comfortable participating. 2. Also, this woman knows her stuff. She is a wealth of knowledge and her excitement to teach will make you excited to come to class. This is such a treat since it’s rare to find a professor who can both engage and challenge you intellectually and on a personal level. I decided to take this class just because I like French but over the course of the semester, I became really interested in French history, thought, and philosophy and it helped prepare me for the second semester of CC. I highly recommend this class for anyone exploring the French major or concentration. Saada is also fair in terms of workload and understands that life gets crazy during midterms; she was flexible with setting the due dates for papers to accommodate our schedules.

Aug 2014

Emmanuelle Saada's classes are some of the best that I've ever taken at Columbia University. She stands out amongst other professors, because she is so attentive to her students. It's easy to get lost amongst the crowd at such a large university, but Saada is always available to work with undergraduates. Furthermore, she is a historical expert and one of the renowned faculty of the French department. Assigned readings are not only pertinent to the subject, but also connect well with Core Curriculum classes. I didn't find CC particularly useful until I took a class with Saada, who's familiarity with the Core makes for an incredibly enjoyable, engaging and connected class. Her interpretations of difficult readings are inspiring due both to her intellect and diverse background. She exemplifies what Columbia University is about. Run, do not walk to her class. It is an honor for any student to be able to take a class with her. I learned more in one class with Saada then in 2 years at Columbia. Expect fascinating lectures and a reasonable workload.

Jan 2014

Professor Saada, is, quite frankly, awful. The course itself began promisingly - albeit apprehensively, as the course material covered is large (French history from 1789 to 2005). However, the sheer number of irrelevant readings and droning lectures meant the course ended up being a huge disappointment. The readings were about 150 pages per week, most completely irrelevant to the course and just what Saada considered necessary. Her teaching style is haphazard and she cannot answer questions directly. The TA, Allison Powers, however, was awesome. She helped us with our papers where Saada lacked, and constantly fought for us to get higher grades when Saada felt our papers weren't up to her standard. Do not take this class.

Oct 2008

Professor Saada was engaging and had an excellent grasp of the readings. Her explanations were thorough, although sometimes she focused a bit too much on the historical aspects of the authors. Assigns lighter readings than most other classes and is very understanding of students' other obligations. Great personality and fun class.

Sep 2008

While I can't speak for Professor Saada's grading during her first year of CC, I can definitely say that I was pleased with my grades in her class the second year. Sometimes the grading was unpredictable (I got my better grades on papers I thought less of) but I never got a grade that I thought was much too low. Her tests are pretty standard fare for a core class too: if you had a hard teacher for Lit- Hum, you'll be pleasantly surprised. As for her teaching, she can sometimes get too caught up in details, causing class to end before a concept is fully examined, but overall she's very clear and happy to explain the weirder parts of the readings. The fact that I understand Kant at all after reading it should convince you to pick her class. The discussion questions for every class got tiresome after a while, but looking back I admit that I have a better grasp of the work I did because of them. This may sound idealistic, but believe me when I tell you that nothing sucks more than struggling through a class, only to find that you learned nothing by the end of it. Saada's only trouble I can think of is actually a benefit for students: she's sometimes way too lenient in terms of deadlines. Late papers, missed discussion questions and tardiness don't have as much of a penalty as you'd think. I'll let the individual decide whether that's a plus or not. Overall, I firmly believe that half of how good your CC class is lies in the other students in the class. So far as teachers go though, I'd definitely put Saada on the recommended list. All of the troubles from last year seem to have been resolved, and I can say, tentatively, with a deep confusion within me, that I actually enjoyed my year of CC.

Sep 2008

Emmanuelle couldn't have put more effort into teaching this class. She went out of her way to make sure that all the students understood the writer's intended message. Sometimes this included playing the devil's advocate position but she always respected the opinions of the students. Some of the students would argue with Emmanuelle without realizing they were actually arguing with the writer who's position she had taken to make a point. This class was fun and I learned a whole lot. Not a lot of work compared to other CC sections. In fact my friend were angry at me all the time because I had less Writing than they did. Take this class and don't listen to the other reviews because they are probably from people who got bad grades (Which is usually the case on Culpa). She definitely lightened up on the grading.

Dec 2007

Not as bad as the previous post. She grades pretty fairly and gives lighter reading than other classes. Her midterm and final are easy. The only problem would be that she often talks about one certain topic for 2 hours, and never finishes the actual discussion.

Jan 2007

I'm not sure if 'run for the hills' would be adequate advice for students in Emmanuelle's class, because they are usually overcome with debilitating paralysis borne of boredom and fear before they have the chance to escape. Don't get me wrong. I think that she knows the books well, and that she is basically a nice person. Because she knows the books so well, it is difficult to write a paper without her citing obscure passages which, if interpreted in certain ways, disproves your thesis. Also, she makes very absolute interpretations of books, so if you disagree with her, your point will not be taken very seriously in class. One other really obnoxious thing that happens in class is that she will ask a question, and if you don't word the response exactly as she wants it, the class will hover at that question until she finally has to tell everyone. This is good except five people will have made that point over the last 40 minutes. Also, because she insists on this Socratic seminar style, which I don't think she is good at leading, you will usually discuss one major point in class until there are ten minutes left. At this time, she will hastily go over the 3 or 4 other points which we were supposed to have gathered from the reading. Although I believe that she has the best interests of her students at heart, she is not a good lecturer. Considering everything I've just said, I still don't think that you should switch out of this class. It is my truest conviction that traumatic core classes build character; moreover, they teach you the importance of internalizing your anger and anxiety against The Man.

Jan 2007

Emmanuelle is a great teacher, and I'm very glad that I took this class with her. She knows everything there is to know about French colonialism, and the class itself can be entertaining. I believe she graded fairly and is not one of those professors who refuses to give As on first drafts. Just be sure to do the readings as she will sometimes single a person out to have him/her participate.

Jan 2007

Emmanuelle was the worst professor I've ever had at Columbia. It's not that she was a terrible person- she was actually quite tolerable; she seemed completely ignorant of the fact that hers was not the only class we were taking. Emmanuelle either knew too much about the books and thus spent a two-hour class on one point, or she didn't know anything, and asked students of the class to fill her in on the missing points. I didn't feel like I actually learned anything from her class that I couldn't have taught myself, and most of our class switched to a new section for next semester. Emmanuelle is certainly knowledgeable but unless you're willing to spend 4 hours in Hell every week, get out of this section FAST.

Nov 2006

If you get Emmanuelle for CC, get out fast. While she is a very personable and often witty French PhD, the class is a total waste. She seems to know so much about the books that she gets overly detailed, and the class ends up never getting to a lot of the major points of the books. She might be better for French classes, but not CC.