She's the GOAT. Enough said.
“For the effect of genius is not to persuade the audience but rather to transport them out of themselves. Invariably what inspires wonder, with its power of amazing us, always prevails over what is merely convincing and pleasing. - Longinus, *On the Sublime* “The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know *what* it is - what it was intended to do and how it is meant to be used. - C. S. Lewis, *A Preface to Paradise Lost* *Poetics of the Warrior* is a top offering at Columbia and one of the few courses (that I’ve taken) which gets the ‘for the pure pleasure of learning’ stamp. Whether you are a student of literature or looking to fulfill a Core requirement, Prof Giordani leads engaging and insightful discussions of some of the most powerful, imaginative, and beautiful works ever produced. From Homer’s *Iliad* to Milton’s *Paradise Lost*, her comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter and poetic conventions make the class truly enjoyable. She is a tremendous resource for anyone looking to expand their knowledge on epic genre - or battle literature in general. In addition to the ‘primary readings,’ she provides a substantial amount of ‘recommended’ readings which are great for during and after the course for personal use and reflection. Prof G begins each class with a short introduction to the material (poetic devices, structure, historical context, language, etc.) and then opens the remaining time to discuss the poems based on students’ informal writing or wherever the conversation leads. The weekly discussion posts serve a few functions. Primarily, the informal writing generates conversation in seminar, as each student will select one small passage of text from the assigned reading and produce a short essay (325-650 words). Concision is key. Also, these essays help Prof G better understand students’ thought processes and writing styles for graded assignments, and she is more than willing to edit and provide feedback for students looking to improve their writing skills and textual criticism. Overall, the short essays are low-stakes (even allowing some creative risk), helping students engage with the poems and contribute to participation. For the midterm and final, you may select a prompt she provides or come up with a topic on your own (with her approval). Even after extensive conversations in class, these topics still provided new insights and considerations. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement, as the prompts gave me new directions to explore at my leisure. In all, each week felt like a treat to sit down and just talk about poetry and literature and read great stories under Prof G’s guidance. If the CU Directory offered a ‘Campfire and Whiskey’ seminar, here’s the closest thing to it.
Prof. Giordani prefaces her course by explicitly stating that she does not allow recording devices or electronics of any sort in her class. This is due to potential academic retaliation via reviews from students, or potential recordings of her class being submitted to academic affairs. If this is something that you are unable to comply with, this class is not for you probably. The style of class is meant to be discussion, but is almost entirely lecture based, with Giordani controlling the flow of any conversation.The course follows a series of 8 epic warrior texts from mostly western traditions, with 3 Japanese texts on war/warrior heroics included, but not discussed at all. Otherwise, most of the material is covered, but she provides extra reading material if you so choose to read it. Readings are really not mandatory, and some people are able to complete the course having never even purchased any of the books for the course. Your mileage may vary. While Prof. Giordani may espouse a support for veteran students in her class and on campus, she takes great effort to show how "in the know" she is with military culture and lifestyles. She often includes personal anecdotes that are at best tangentially related to the texts being discussed. These stories feature mythical officers, special forces types, and all sorts of seemingly made up details that no veteran could believe to be true. On the subject of the warrior ethos itself, Giordani is well versed, covering the Iliad, Paradise Lost, the Song of Roland, Beowulf, and Henry V in class with great detail. However, when relating these stories to modern society, Prof. Giordani will take detours of up to 30 minutes of greater where she rails against modern societal ideas such as allowing women onto the battlefield, feminism, what gender roles men and women should have, etc. Another primary target of hers is the anthropology department at Columbia, which is ironic given she states she doesn't want to judge works she is not an expert in herself. Overall the class is quite easy. If you can put up with Prof. Giordani's off topic, oddball rants, it is a relatively painless way to fulfill a core literature requirement.
TERRIBLE.AVOID AT ALL COSTS. At the beginning of the course, she came off as very lively and engaging and I had high hopes for the semester. But unfortunately, that quickly changed as time went on. She picks favorites in the class arbitrarily and if you're not one of the lucky ones, then you're going to be extra scrutinized on all assignments and there will be a cap on how good of a grade she will give you. During her office hours, she's fairly rude and doesn't hide the fact that she doesn't care about her student's growth one bit (She's an adjunct, so her paycheck is a far greater priority than her students). The department has some great professors, which makes this terrible experience all the more disappointing. I can't stress this enough: AVOID, AVOID, AVOID!
Agreed, this is one of the best courses I've taken at Columbia so far. Prof. Giordani seems like someone who's stepped right out of the 18th century- the readings she gives are critically insightful, but also shed light on the emotional and spiritual elements of these works. she made the coursework-which could easily seem intimidating, highbrow, and inaccessible--deeply personal. Giordani clearly loves to lecture, and the small size of most of her classes means that she can give a lot of individual guidance to her students--helpful, as most in the class hadn't read these authors before. the material can be difficult, but she's happy to help you along the way.
The semester's not quite over, but I feel compelled to leave a review, since it's registration time... Suffice it to say, Professor Giordani is AMAZING. She is completely brilliant, chooses great poems and background texts, and gives wonderful lectures. She is honestly one of my favorite professors at Columbia, and this course was fantastic; you get to read so many poets you would probably never find out about otherwise. You also get to talk about spleen and melancholy and, of course, imagination (three fascinating topics). Also, Professor Giordani is generally a really wonderful woman. Her lectures are often genuinely funny and always insightful, and she provides great biographical anecdotes about the poets we read. Prof. Giordani makes them come to life as people--not just as revered poets, and you really gain a sense of their own philosophies and poetic choices. Finally, she's a great role model for anyone interested in academia. She really cares about her students and presents an engaging and wonderful course. Definitely take a class with her if you get a chance!
This class was fascinating but not an easy ride. She is brilliant and her insights are often beyond the average grasp, but if you push you can gather a tremendous amount from her. She will help you in one on one if you want and she is a fair grader. Provides a good overview of the period historically.
TERRIBLE. There are no words to describe the pain that was this class. A better title for this course would be "NOT-Blake," since we spent the majority of class time talking about things completely unrelated to the course material for some inexplicable reason. I was bored out of my mind and wanted to shoot myself every minute I spent in this seminar. So did everybody else, except for one annoyingly enthusiastic sophomore. Save yourself now and do not register for anything with this professor. You will thank me.