professor
Matthew Keegan

Dec 2020

This course was interesting, but not because of Prof. Keegan at all. He is super smart but his powerpoints are super confusing and he rambles a lot. He also teaches a lot of philosophy, theology, and poetry without going over the basics of "Islamic civilization" so if you don't have any background, it can get super confusing. He is an extremely harsh grader and is agreeable enough, but super unkind when it came to COVID. A lot of my classmates were complaining about how they were working multiple jobs and couldn't keep up with discussion posts and there just wasn't a lot of understanding from the Professor? Synchronous lectures during COVID with exit tickets were also very inconsiderate. Overall, highly don't recommend it. This man should just stick to research.

Oct 2020

Professor Keegan seems nice enough and the course material is definitely fascinating. However, I don't really like his lectures, powerpoints, and general teaching style. As someone who has never encountered any Islamic civilizations, I was truly looking for an intro course that would just give me a crash course on all the basics or at least walk us through the history. Which this course somewhat does. There would be upwards of 300 pages of reading a week that covered all of these things. But in lecture, he wouldn't really cover any of the topics in the readings but rather explore more abstract / philosophical viewpoints. For example, the reading might be about the basic structure of Islam, the different schools of thought, etc. Then lecture would be about whether or not we can/should trust historical sources. Another thing that I really disliked about his teaching style was the extreme focus on Islamic poetry. I think his specialization is in Islamic literature? So rather than spending time on learning customs, history, or other concrete knowledge, he would spent entire classes analyzing individual poems or pasting a variety of poems into slides. Nothing against poetry -- many pieces were extremely beautiful -- but I wish that I had more of a basis / hold on this world before analyzing random poems from its time. As for my TA, he was incredibly incompetent. Discussion section would literally just be lectures, among other complaints, that I won't get into. Overall, I enjoyed the course but it wasn't because of the teachers -- the course topic itself is just interesting.

Aug 2020

I do not recommend taking this class with Professor keegan. I don't think I actually learned anything from his lectures. He is a very harsh grader and explains things in a pedantic way so you never get an answer to your question. You can tell he is very passionate about the texts but has no actual clue how to teach them. I started off really loving the class, but by the end of the semester, I absolutely dreaded it. Keegan is a super harsh grader (I can't emphasize that enough). Your entire grade is dictated on the comments you make and whether or not he likes them (incredibly subjective). If you say something Keegan disagrees with, you'll be admonished for it. Trust me, don't take Keegan's course. he is such a subpar professor it's not even funny.

May 2020

Prof. Keegan started this class by telling us that he didn't like the course title and wasn't planning on following the description. I was hoping to gain a knowledge of contemporary issues and politics within the Islamic world, as well as to learn about a few Islamic schools of thought, but that is not what this course is about at all with Prof. Keegan. Rather, he takes you on an incredibly abstract tour of how modernity is constructed in Islamic civilization, which involves learning about different Islamic schools of thought and conceptions of power, or at least the theories behind them. Very little is actually learned for fear of "making normative claims", such as when we discussed the sociopolitical conceptions of Sufism, but never actually learned what Sufism is, or when we talked about what attitudes towards sexuality weren't, but never discussed what they were. I do not think I gained much from taking this course, and don't really think I learned much concrete. However, I do know that when I disagree with somebody now, I can yell at them for making normative claims and being problematic, two of Professor Keegan's favorite sayings. Prof. Keegan is very strict, and will yell at you for being on your laptop in class. He takes attendance at the beginning of every lecture and yells at you if you are late and miss it. Attendance is also required for discussion sections. I would not recommend this class to anyone looking to fulfill their global core requirement, since there are much easier courses available. I would also recommend having a strong background in Islam and Islamic politics, since some of these are assumed, or not covered in much depth. This course also might be a lot better with a less strict professor.

Jan 2020

Class is very informative. Lectures can get kind of boring but the readings are very interesting. The class offers a great scope on philosophy, poetry and art in the early Islamic period. A lot of people tend to drop the class because the first reading was a bit challenging, but the class gets more interesting.

Dec 2009

Matt is an incredible teacher. I've taken plenty of mind-numbing Basic Drawing classes through the years and I was dreading being forced to take one more. Luckily, Matt's class in nothing like your typical "draw the shoe 60 times and let me suck out any personal identity you have as an artist while I'm at it" intro course. He teaches a broad range of mediums, and encourages students to push themselves out of their comfort zone. For some people that means teaching them to draw to life, for some it means trying new media, and for others it means encouraging them to break away from realism. He actually looks at the individual student and where they are in their development as an artist. Granted, if you want a class to simply teach you to draw a pretty still life or portrait, then someone else's class is probably a better choice. But Matt is an working artist and he will teach you to approach art as a working artist would--you will learn technique but you will also learn how to think and talk about art. Note: Syllabus is very flexible, and the class included both fieldtrips to other galleries (MoMA and Chelsea) as well as visits and lectures by current artists.

Oct 2009

Matt Keegan is a fascinating artist and a pretty cool guy. It's true that this basic drawing class is not quite as traditional as one might expect, but I found this to be much more of an asset than not. He encourages his students to play with art and try new styles and mediums. The artist that walks into the classroom on the first day will not be the same artist who walks out even a week later. I would highly recommend this class to an artist at any level. I'm very glad not to have opted to pass out of it.

May 2007

Matt Keegan is a prime example of the CRIMINALLY BAD ART TEACHER! This was a BASIC DRAWING CLASS, and for the second project, he had students create a COLLAGE. I cannot understand the justification for this. The course title "Basic Drawing" implies that the student will be taught how to DRAW, not be instructed to cut pretty pictures out of magazines and stick them onto a sketchpad. Keegan offered absolutely NO teaching of drawing to students WHATSOEVER, and his attitude toward evaluation of work is "I'm ok, you're ok." Any work made by students, good or bad, was received equally by Keegan. This attitude does absolutely NOTHING for the student. Since he seems so afraid to teach, he should be BARRED from doing so. I am not at Columbia to waste my money to be told that my drawings are fine. I want to have the strengths and weaknesses in technique pointed out to me, and I expect the instuctor to offer insight into how I can improve my technique. I took basic drawing to LEARN HOW TO DRAW, and I am really irritataed that I received absolutely no instruction on this at ALL. I was not even given pointers on how to approach the aesthetic problems that arise in basic drawing. By far, the biggest waste of my time and money at Columbia.