In short, Professor Kurnick is excellent! Most of the people I talked to in class professed their love for him. Expect to really enjoy any class he teaches -- he's smart, eloquent, and conducive to students really learning a lot! **I should note that the only class he'll be teaching at Columbia after this Lit Hum class is Promiscuity & the Novel in Spring 2007 ... after that he's leaving to teach at Rutgers (boo!!).
For those interested in his Promiscuity & the Novel class, but are wondering what Prof Kurnick's like, here's the scoop:
Grading: Very fair. He won't give you an A or A- unless you deserve it, though: especially on the papers. He seems to look for both grammatically well-written papers as well as interesting, well corroborated content. If you do (most of) the work, participate in class, and really believe in the stuff you write for him, chances are you'll end up with a good grade =)
The Man's Specialties: 19th- and 20th-century novel; Victorian theater; theories of narrative and performance; sexuality and gender studies. Very cool ^_^
The Man Himself: I thought he was just spectacular. He's some sort of great blend between facilitating discussion from the class, pointing out interesting nuances to the text & how it relates to larger themes, and sometimes when the class was just too tired he'd be OK with just talking to us for awhile about the important points we needed to note about the text. He is the kind of Harvard/Columbia-educated man who is widely read & He's nice, but not in a sugary sweet kind of way. He enjoys using words like shit, fuck, ass, and bitch when it is necessary to 1) lighten the mood of the class 2) help us better understand a particularly vulgar text =P This man can also talk at a rate of 500 words per minute and still be sufficiently understood by the class, especially when time is running out - another comical effect. Oh, and he brought us these crazily pretentious cookies on the last day of class! (as well as "punished" various students during the semester by asking them to bring in cookies as well: their cell phone rang in class, haha)