Caterina Pizzigoni

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Apr 2021

Professor Pizzigoni is by far one of the best professors at Columbia. She is one of the kindest and sweetest souls I've ever met. She takes the time to really get to know you and every one of her students. During COVID-19 she has always been very understanding and has never hesitated to cut down on work when it gets to be too much. Not only is she just an amazing human being, she also knows her stuff really well. Take any class with her, you won't regret it.

Apr 2021

Caterina Pizzigoni is an absolute angel. She cares about every single one of her students and her kind spirit shines through in every class. She genuinely wants you to do well and will do anything in her power to help you. I can't recommend her enough.

Apr 2018

A new course for this semester, Colonial Cities has absolutely blown me away. It is taught by two professors who are adorably married. Professor Pizzigoni is a Latin American history scholar, while Professor Baics is an urban studies scholar. I have thoroughly enjoyed how their two minds combine, in a form greater than their sum, to provide us with an interdisciplinary perspective of how the colonial urban form has developed and differed across civilizations. The class progresses chronologically, beginning with the Maya and transitioning towards medieval European, Aztec, and Incan societies. We study how cities form in North America, analyzing the differences between Spanish, British, and French development, and South America, again seeing how different cultural, economic, and political systems between the Spanish, Portuguese, and other colonial powers defines how a city forms. Both professors are brilliant scholars and lecturers. I have been so impressed with how every lovely nugget of knowledge which leaves their beautiful minds ties back to the larger themes of the course. I am...almost inspired (?) by their lectures. I'll find that my notebook lay blank because I have become so enraptured with what they have to say. As I mentioned earlier, they are also so cute - they'll each take notes on the other's lecture + will smile whenever an interesting point is made. The class is worth it just for that. I have found both to be incredibly approachable during, after, and outside class. Take advantage of this approachability when you inevitably take this class and fall in love with them. Half the class has already taken a course with one of them (either Caterina's Latin American Civ or one of Gergely's urban studies courses), which is a strong signal that they've got a bit of a (well-deserved) cult going.

Dec 2017

I don't care what class she's teaching, take whatever you can with Caterina Pizzigoni. Her passion for the subject, ability to make the subject interesting, and level of attention/care given to her students are absolutely unrivaled. Don't care about Latin America or Spanish/Portuguese history? You will. Have a tough time dealing with accents? So do I, but it wasn't a problem. Don't like reading a lot? Good, because you won't have to in this class (relative to other global cores). Register now, thank me later.

Dec 2016

Caterina is literally the nicest person on the planet. I read all the other reviews about how amazing she is and how wonderful her class is but somehow I didn't believe them, and went in thinking that this class would be really challenging. It's not. It's a suuuper easy global core, all you have to do is memorize the terms she puts on the board in lecture and be able to recognize some documents and images on the midterm/finals. There are usually two papers, but she took one off this semester (and anyway they're both very short, like 5 pages). Caterina will do anything in her power to raise your grade and make your experience in her class positive. She cares so much about what she's teaching, but she's also extremely reasonable with her requirements and expectations. She understands that people have lives outside her class, and she really takes that into account with the workload. You never have to read the textbook, just go to class. But DO go to class, because literally everything she wants in the exams is in her lectures, so you'll never have to do any outside work if you just go to lecture (you won't even have to study much if you memorize the terms as you go along). She makes an effort to get to know everyone's names (especially if you come to class regularly) and if you participate a little in lecture it makes her day and will definitely boost your grade (usually she discusses a primary source doc for 10 minutes with the class). Also, she's brilliant and her lectures are always fascinating and she gives a great overview of a really crucial historical period. Sometimes she talks a little fast, but you don't really need details, just the broad themes from every lecture, so don't stress about that. Also definitely go to her office hours for any reason, even just to say hi. Basically, if you want a thematic, not-date specific, light workload global core, this is the way to go. And Caterina will make it absolutely a pleasure to attend class and be engaged in the subject.

Sep 2015

Dr. Pizzigoni is an extremely knowledgable professor and it's obvious that she truly loves her job. Dr. Pizzigoni is one of the few professors at Columbia -- at least in my opinion -- that is prepared every single class. She clearly has a direction that she wants to take the class in and points to make along the way. As a graduate student, I was unsure if I wanted to analyze 'colonial' documents. Walking away from Pizzigoni's class, I have decided to write a thesis using exclusively colonial documents. I do caution graduate students to err on the side of caution with Dr. Pizzigoni when deciding deadlines for final papers as she is not very flexible, despite understanding that graduate students are writing papers in every course (which was really disappointing). Regardless, I highly recommend Dr. Pizzigoni as she really opened doors and changed the way I approach all forms of written history.

Apr 2015

She's amazing! She truly wants every single student to understand the material. Yes she has an accent but seriously get over it! We're in NYC a town known for its diversity and people are complaining about an accent? She's very passionate and has visited almost all the sites she speaks about. There are readings you have to do for both the lecture and "lab" you have to go to. There are also some written assignments however, they do not have to be formal or try to fix any world issue. She's just looking to see if you read it and understand it.

Feb 2015

I took this class my freshman year as a potential chemistry major. Thanks to her, I'm studying Latin American History. Professor Pizzigoni loves what she studies (it's the lives of indigenous peoples in the colonial era in case you were curious) and loves to teach it even more. I wouldn't skip lectures as she doesn't put notes online, but I can't imagine why you would want to in the first place. Her lectures are fascinating, and with her delightful Italian accent she draws you into the material you can't help but gain an interest in. She very much encourages class participation (not an easy feat when lectures have 150+ students), but she fosters such a warm and open atmosphere that it's almost natural to do so. Also of note: she's one of the most approachable professors on campus. She takes an active interest in getting to know her students, and is always ready to help out in any way that she can. She has a playful personality and childlike sense of wonder that is exceedingly rare, but make no mistake she is one of the most intelligent people you will ever meet. I adore her beyond words, she will forever be my favorite professor.

Feb 2013

Incredible class. Professor Pizzigoni is inspiring and incredibly enthusiastic. She obviously loves what she studies and loves teaching it. Her lectures are worth going to, they are also necessary for knowing the material since she does not put the information online, however they are never boring since she has an endearing personality and is energetic throughout lectures, constantly moving around. Although it is a large lecture class, she makes an effort to learn names or at least recognize the faces of people who attend lectures and participate. She is very approachable, always open for comments and questions. Sometimes her Italian accent can be a little difficult to understand, but she likes to make fun of it and admit that she has problems with pronunciation, personally I never found it to be much of an issue. As a Latin American and Caribbean Studies major I found the material to be fascinating, however even if the subject matter isn't something you would normally be enthusiastic to learn about, I think that Professor Pizzigoni makes it something that you will begin to take an interest in. If you go to lecture, do the document readings, and participate in discussion, it is an easy and enjoyable class.

Jan 2013

Just reiterating what other posters have said in hopes of boosting Caterina to a gold nugget. She's passionate about what she teaches and it shows, very engaging, and makes coming to class a pleasure. It's worth going to class because Caterina is very methodical in the way she lectures and if you attend, you really really do not have to do the readings. Go to class and the only readings you really have to do are the Documents which consist of primary sources that she asks you to ID on the midterm and final. At the beginning of class she also writes down key terms on which you're also tested on the midterm/final (asked to define each term), so write those words down at the beginning of each class and you'll be pretty set for the exams. Also, the final has art/photograph IDs based on pictures she displays on slides in class and discusses. I first heard of these art IDs when we were 3/4 of the way through semester, so I was sort of screwed because I usually tuned out that part of the discussion (didn't think it was important, they were almost always discussed at the end of class, and my concentration was waning), so don't do what I did. Really, moral is GO TO CLASS - Pizzigoni is a fantastic lecturer and it will make your life ten times easier. Grading is done by the TAs, but she will review any grade you want her to. She also sends personalized emails mid-semester to let you know where you stand in the class and signs her emails "un abrazo," which is just so endearing. I did, however, think the TA section was lack-luster (just my TA section, I didn't attend any others for comparison). Just going to class regularly and reading the documents will get you a B+. Participating frequently in the TA section will bump you to an A-. You definitely have to put in that extra effort if you want an A, though.

Feb 2012

As everyone before me has said, Professor Pizzigoni is amazing. She absolutely loves to teach, which shows through in her lectures. She truly cares about her students and even in a large lecture would call people by their names. I don't know how she did this! I disagree that this class is an easy A though. Maybe an easy B+ or A-, but you really have to put in that extra effort to get an A because her grading scale is really different. However, don't let this discourage you from taking her class. If you go to the lectures and pay attention to what she says, in her lovely Italian accent, you'll be fine. The papers were graded a bit harshly, but you can easily get an A- on them last minute if you've been paying attention in class. THE FINAL IS NOT CUMULATIVE!!!

Jan 2012

Caterina is absolutely fantastic. I'm a senior history major and took this class as an afterthought to double as a global core and my last breadth requirement. I ended up loving it. Caterina is perhaps the most endearing professor I've had and my only regret is that I could not have her more to myself, as in a seminar-type setting. I agree with the previous reviewer: there is a kind of curiosity and enthusiasm that just radiates from her and infects you. She really cares and is extremely fair. She also appreciates students' input and tries to encourage student discussion whenever feasible (admittedly difficult in a room with 100+ students). I can't think of a more approachable history professor. The course has one core text, from which 15-25 pages were assigned each week. At no point did we discuss these readings in lecture or sections, but I found them helpful to review and go a bit deeper than the lectures. We also had to review a short book for the first paper (really easy and the only other required book). In addition, there was one primary-source document (2-5 pages, to be discussed during lecture) per lecture and 2-3 articles per week. For the exams, only documents and the lectures are necessary to know, but the articles are helpful. There is only one small aspect of the course I did not especially like, and that was that for the exams, you need to know the who/where/when for the documents. I found Foner's approach to documents on his exams to be a little fairer, namely, suggest a plausible who/where/when and justify your answer. That's a minor detail though, and only counts for a small portion of one element of the overall grade.

Dec 2011

TAKE CATERINA PIZZIGONI. I'm a first year and prospective history major, and Caterina was the person who made my first semester at Columbia. She has a great sense of humor and a timid nature, but under her innocent and playful veneer is an incredibly intelligent and remarkable individual. Lectures were interesting and engaging. Even the driest material was brought to life by Caterina's style. If you come to lecture, she will get to know your name (among around 130 students), and when you see her on the street or around campus, she'll make a point of talking to you about life and your classes. Wow. I'm going to miss this class.

Dec 2011

She is my favorite professor ever and I'm a junior at this school. She has a sense of innocence and curiosity that is extremely rare. She never gives off a hint of pretentiousness yet she is extremely knowledgable on the subject matter. I took Latin American Civilization as aglobal core requirement because I had to, but by the end of the semester, through her amazing lectures, I fell in love with the subject. I am in love with her. Everything about her. She is the greatest. She is beautiful in every sense of the word. I adore her. I will never forget her. She almost cried during the last lecture because of how much she loved teaching us, and we in turn almost did too. Truly a diamond in the rough. They need to create a diamond nugget just for her.

Jun 2011

I took Latin American Civ I Fall semester 2010 thinking it would be an interesting Global Core requirement, and someone suggested Pizzigoni. She is absolutely wonderful! She comes to class with a slideshow that is very detailed and a good reflection of the material learned/read. She doesnt just read out a prepared lecture to the class, she truly tries to explain everything and her passion shows through in the class. Although the class is a lecture she asks questions and tries to engage students as much as possible. Also the TAs were good (in my opinion)

May 2011

Where is Caterina Pizzigoni's Golden Nugget? I took her Latin American Civilization class and her seminar on Nahuatl culture. In one semester, we were reading the Nahuatl language, or what many people would label the Aztec language. Caterina is by far the most compassionate historian and teacher I've ever met. While taking her class, my mind was on an incredible journey. I had several epiphanies learning about the people of Mexico and did not want to return my library books at the end of the semester. I have never been so sad to see a class end. Caterina loves what does, and it shines through her. She is both a great historian and a great professor. In my experience at Columbia, you don't always get both, a person who publishes many books doesn't always make them a great professor. Caterina is both, I used her book Testaments of Toluca when writing my research paper and found it to be a fascinating topic. I will never forget how much this class did for my mind and my soul. In the end, we all become a part of history, what other reason is there to study history but to connect to the people who are no more and apply these lessons in our own time. Many thanks to the History department for choosing some one like Caterina Pizzigoni, I will never forget her.

Mar 2009

Caterina is a great professor--she was very available and friendly (always encouraging us to come to office hours), she's extremely knowledgeable about the material, and unlike previous reviewers I usually didn't have any trouble understanding her. This is definitely a good class to fulfill major cultures, since 50% of the class got some kind of an A. HOWEVER: choose your TA wisely, since whoever you get will completely determine your grade. My TA (Omar Sarwar) was absurdly pretentious, and always seemed annoyed at having to put up with our lowly non-PhD-level comments/questions/papers. For a class that's mostly major cultures kids, he graded way too harshly--I had friends in other sections who said most of their section got A's on the papers, and very few people in mine did. This could all be solved by making sure the grades across sections are normalized, but I don't think they were. Please fix this!! My other complaint is that sections weren't used to review/clarify lecture material, which would have been actually useful since Caterina covers a ton of material, so it's easy to miss some facts here and there. Instead, we had to do a few hundred extra pages of reading each week (my stack of printouts is about 3 inches tall, and I'm definitely missing some) that were related to the course material, but didn't make anything easier to understand. Overall, the material is interesting, and Caterina is great, but make sure you get a good/easy TA!

Dec 2008

I decided to take this class in partial fulfillment of my Major Cultures requirement, largely based on the very positive reviews I saw on CULPA. After doing so, I can only conclude that these reviews were written by a few disturbed individuals or that Professor Pizzigoni wrote them herself--I cannot otherwise account for their astonishing lack of accuracy. Let me provide a couple of personal details about myself. I am a senior, a history major, and a native English speaker. I was let down by Professor Pizzigoni in each of these capacities. As a senior, this was the worst class I have taken in three-and-a-half semesters at Columbia, without a doubt. The lectures were unspeakably dull, the textbook was beyond poorly written (hint: it's a bad sign when your writing style is less comprehensible than Hegel's), and the class actually made me like history less. Professor Pizzigoni is extremely difficult to understand while she is lecturing, and many of the choices she made in teaching the course were incomprehensible as well. For example, 20% of our grade was our participation in our weekly section with the TAs. In these sections we did not review the poorly presented material from lectures or attempt to decode the textbook's jargon, which as a history major, I can say is inexplicable. Instead, students had to do presentations on the additional readings assignments we were given for these sections (about 200 pp/week) which were not tested on either the midterm or the final. The amount of material these TAs were teaching was equivalent to the amount the professor was (supposedly) teaching. Nor are these the words of a poorly graded malcontent; I will get an A in the class, almost certainly, and when I looked around at the extremely poorly attended lectures, two in three students were either sleeping or holding conversations with their friends while the professor was lecturing.

May 2007

I love this woman! This was a seminar class and she did a great job of balancing discussion with making sure major themes were covered and us getting the most out of the readings. She is so nice and approachable that her classroom is an environment where you want to talk and keep talking. She really knows A LOT about Latin America and is always wanting to know more. She relates with students very well and is quite available outside of class. She really cares about her students and it shows in her prompt and warm responds to e-mails and willingness to help. She is the type of professor you WANT to write papers for because there is such a level of mutual repect in her classroom. If you are at all interested in Latin America this woman cannot be missed.

Mar 2007

I highly disagree with the last review. Caterina is an AMAZING professor, genuinely interested in teaching her subject to her students. It's hard to find such enthusiastic professors nowadays and I hope that she doesn't change anytime soon. Basically she just needs to keep up the good work. The lectures are amazingly interesting and she clearly prepares a LOT for them. And she's even fluent in Nahua - an indigenous language from Guatemela and with that she's able to provide us with wildly varying and novel perspectives on Latin American history that at least I hadn't thought of before. The books are great, the lectures are great, the workload is manageable. make sure you get carlos as a TA

Feb 2007

Amazing professor. Extremely knowledgeable. Great lecturer. Young, Italian, smart, good-looking. what more could you want from Columbia. She's also very accessible during office hours. I greatly recommend her. this is a great course taught by what I feel will one day be one of our "famous" cc profs like sachs and phelps.

Jan 2007

Hint: you know the class is not going to be hard when the teacher signs her emails with "big hugs!" This is a good class to fulfill the major cultures requirement with if you don't want to do much work and don't mind being occasionally bored. Make sure you're interested in the material, though: I didn't realize the class only went up to the year 1800 or so, meaning that all you learn about is the colonization and early development of Latin America (and the destruction of the Native American empires). If you're at all interested, then take the class: the lectures are okay (not great), the required reading is light, and don't waste your time doing the extra reading (in fact you don't really need most of the required reading, just the primary source documents). Plus: no research papers! Just two "book reviews" which take almost no thought at all. And the grading in the end is pretty light. If you have no interest at all in the material, then you shouldn't take the course, since you'll be bored and frustrated as very little of it applies to modern day Latin America.

Jan 2007

Caterina is wonderful! She is new this year from Italy and isn't used to the system so the class was disorganized but her animated and engaging lectures more than make up for having to stakeout on the reading assignments (there are A LOT) on Courseworks. While undoubtedly scatterbrained, Caterina is extremely knowledgeable and knows what she's talking about. Besides, the absentmindedness is endearing rather than an annoyance. Take any class with her if you get the chance. She's very interested in both what she teaches and her students' view.

Dec 2006

She can read Nahuatl, she makes the indigenous people of Peru and Mexico exciting. You can go into her lecture exhausted and go out exhilarated. she obviously prepares a ton for lecture: they directly correspond to the readings, and she makes sure they are organized. She's self-deprecating about being Italian and having to work in English. It was an awesome class, she was more about themes than dates and specific names. Examples of the themes in individual case studies are stressed in the class. Plus, she actually uses interesting art and photos for lecture. You might not want to take her, though, if you love European history; she admits that it's not her field, and tends to gloss over European events that are probably Napoleon.