Overall, she assigned good readings but had some really huge misses. She should have never assigned William Bourroughs. I really don't know what she was thinking, but 1. that doesn't count as cosmopolitan or diasporic, and you would have to make a stretch to say it was transnational and 2. that's not a work of literature. That's a beat poet on acid who knew how to make it a best seller. As for the online discussion posts, Jin could've provided more structure by proposing specific questions about the book. She would very often cherry-pick the posts she liked the most and talk about them in class, consistently never mentioning certain students at all and certainly not making a very conducive atmosphere. The discussion is PAINFUL, and she particularly used heavy jargon in the last class, so much that NOBODY understood what the hell she was talking. She has a really thick accent but moreover doesn't enunciate well at all, or provide good segueways, or even good questions at all, and the discussions are so painfully awkward. She's an academic, not a professor. She should hole herself up in her ivory tower and never teach again. Take this class, but not with her.
Fantastic professor who helped make this class one of the best I've taken so far at Columbia. You could tell she put a lot of effort and research into preparing for each class, and it paid off--classroom discussions were rich and stimulating, and I walked away with ideas and insights that were often applicable to other classes or books. She made even challenging authors like Pynchon and Burroughs legible and interesting, and best of all, managed to relate every book to the overall thematic of the class (so many teachers half-ass this crucial aspect, turning English seminars into a book club). My only gripe is that she sometimes got carried away speaking at the beginning of class, sharing her ideas, and didn't leave enough time for us to chip into the discussions. However, this is a minor qualm compared to the rich material that she shared with us. It's also refreshing to take a class from a professor with a non-Western background (she is a native Shanghai-nese)--although she certainly knew her Western canonical references, occasional culture differences made for sometimes funny, sometimes enlightening observations into our own culture.
Prof. Jin is obviously very passionate about teaching Asian American lit and clearly enjoys discussing the books she assigns. Her lectures are dotted with refreshing observations about the readings (which are indeed great by the way), and she also offers general remarks about the readings' themes and issues. A bonus is her genuine concern for her students. The size of the classroom impedes student participation sometimes, so I would suggest a smaller room and movable chairs. All things considered, a great course to take.
Great reading list. Nearly UNBEARABLE lectures, about as fun as chewing on tin foil. Seriously, this class was nothing like described in previous reviews. Jin seemed painfully uncomfortable speaking in front of the class...it was often downright awkward, especially when she attempted to facilitate class discussion (unsuccessfully). She herself said she was not great at conveying enthusiasm - that's an understatement. Analysis of the books basically boiled these really complex works down to a few bullet point themes and her exams ask you to regurgitate and support the themes she argues for. Essentially, the whole experience felt like a poorly run high school English course, despite the fact that there were a lot of grad students and majors in the course. We also had to specifically request feedback if we wanted it on the "papers" we submitted to courseworks, giving me the feeling that she was committed to doing as little work as possible. My advice: don't waste your time here.
The class seemed experimental and Prof. Jin occasionally a bit befuddled by her own material, but it was still a great educational experience Iâ€™d recommend to anyone. Beware: the title is a bit misleading â€“ only (North) American novels are on the syllabus, which jumps from L. Frank Baum to William Carlos Williams and Kurt Vonnegut. Discussion sometimes strayed into entropy, mergers, and game theory before dependably boomeranging back to the topic at hand. Wen is firm and anything but overbearing with her own readings, she knows the books left and right, and her sense of humor pokes through winningly. The workload is ideal and light (who doesnâ€™t like to do one small paper and one big one?) and the grading is fair and just. Making a Courseworks post every week is kind of a pain in the ass, but itâ€™s worth it. Take anything with Wen Jin if the subject matter even remotely interests you.
Prof Jin Embodies a uniquely gifted transnational consciousness at Columbia University. Possessing the ability to adroitly apply both Eastern and Western methodologies to a text, Prof Jinâ€™s point of view on the humanities represents an invaluable perspective in discerning meaning globally. Prof Jin completed her undergraduate education in China and her graduate education in America; this educational pedigree is reflected in the cultural buoyancy of her analyses. While her analytical gifts enrich, it is the openness she demonstrates towards her students ideas that make her a truly wonderful professor. She orchestrates class in a manner where everyoneâ€™s ideas are given an opportunity to flourish and alternative perspectives are aloud to be voiced. If you are serious about literature, interpretation, and intellectual stimulation, take her class.
Wen Jin is a brilliant professor with a very bright future. Her syllabus is exciting, her discussions are extremely engaging, and most importantly, she owns that special intuitive gift of being able to simultaneously challenge AND encourage students. Most of the time, professors make you feel like your either being pandered to or dismissed. It's the rare ones, and the great ones, that possess the ability to, at once, both truly intellectually nurture and truly intellectually challenge their students. Take a class with her. Be prepared to read a lot, but be prepared for it to be worth it, because if you give her effort she will give it back to you four-fold.
Professor Jin is a great professor. She gives a mini-lecture, but then takes her class to task in discussions. She respects all points of view and can even see another side of an argument. At times, I felt that she hadn't seen all the sides of a piece of work yet, but that just means every idea is welcomed. She sets very good expectations for her class, and if you pay attention you should do well. She takes feedback very well and is concerned for her students. I really enjoyed her ability to bring up current events into the discussions. She offers a very diverse syllabus...but that said, the supplemental packet is awful and burdensome.