Julia Siemon

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Apr 2020

Professor Siemon was really good and the lectures were really engaging! Even if you're not into art/art history (especially since it's a core requirement), you'd probably still enjoy taking this class. Highly recommend professor Siemon for Art Hum!

Jan 2020

Julia is sooo great! She genuinely cares about her students, is very flexible with due dates and only wants her students to learn about art and enjoy the class rather than giving them a hard time. She's a good lecturer, knows her art stuff and makes the class very enjoyable overall. And the workload is super light! Highly recommend her for Art Hum, even if you're not interested in art at all she'll make you be into it.

Aug 2016

I was really not looking forward to taking this class, as I've always dreaded art, but Julia did an absolutely amazing job at making me finally appreciate art! I took this during the summer so classes were 3 hours long, but she was really good at making time go by quickly. I gained knowledge in art that I think I might actually use in the future and also gained a ton of art analysis skills I never had before. Participation is VERY important, but Julia makes it a very low stress and chill environment. Previous reviews make her sound like she's a bit cocky/bitchy, but that really isn't true, i think she might just come off like that at first because she just knows so much. She also really cares about ALL of her students (one of her reviews says she is biased against guys. Speaking as a straight dude with a penis, I strongly disagree with that reviewer's comment). It's also a plus that she gives SUPER SHORT READINGS (like 5 pages per class MAX) and is a lenient grader—but maybe that's just cause I was taking her class during the summer. I'm a lazy premed science-oriented student, but this was easily one of my favorite classes taken at Columbia. If you can, switch to her class. Trust me. She deserves a gold nugget.

Aug 2015

Julia is THE BEST. She's interesting, funny, and relatable. She maximizes learning and minimizes work (*best of both worlds*). You will do well in the class if you are engaged with the lectures (which isn't hard to do because she makes them interesting). I can't imagine a better art hum professor. She deserves a gold nugget.

Nov 2012

"I would like to be part of the "Everyone Loves Julia" bandwagon, but I'm not. For the record, I got an A- in her class, and was disappointed with that; so you can factor that in when evaluating my review. In fact, I would be okay with the grade, but she fairly clearly gave me the grade without ever having read my final paper - which unfortunately became clear when I asked her what she thought about it. (Moreover, she became stunningly bitchy, truly beyond anything that I have ever experienced with any other professor or teacher, when I asked her for feedback: "You're almost saying something intelligent here. Did you plagiarize this?" No, and you're out of line.) Anyway, to stick with art for a second, Julia's lectures are pretty damn good, though she's not a particularly good listener, and she has trouble when a student notes anything subtle or that she herself has not thought about before. She also fairly clearly hasn't spent much time looking at some of the paintings that are in her slides. I also would warn you that you will get marked down a half grade for being a guy (if you are one), or at least you'll have to compensate for that in some way. On the other hand, since she processes things heuristically (intuitively and superficially), you can probably use that to your advantage if you know that going into the game.

Nov 2012

The previous review deeply saddens not only because it simply looks like an angry kid who didn't get the grade they wanted but also because it doesn't reflect at all the kind of teacher Julia Siemon is. When writing these reviews surely your own sense of injustice shouldn't seep through? I had studied art history for two years before college, and had a great skepticism when coming into Julia's art hum class but by the end of it, I was very much impressed by the simplicity in her approach. She just made you look at the art. So many of the works are and will continue to be bound up by the essays and books that surround them and often weigh them down but she managed to get us to look at them personally and see the works as themselves before looking at the art historical scriptures. In the first class I remember her questioning key assumptions that have been engraved in our minds such as "why do we think bigger is better" (re: the parthenon) which I think even the greatest professors often forget to bring up. She managed to revitalize a core class and solidify what it is to study such a subjective topic as art into a personal connection and curiosity. To me she was innovative in her language when talking about art and didn't regurgitate the overworn associative language that grad students and professors both, often fall into because its the easy way out. Julia also was approachable and simply talking to her afterwards to discuss art was just as enjoyable as the class She also tries to get to know the individuals in her class, and what does show through is how much she cares about the class, even making the final a take home because of the late time our class was held.

Nov 2012

I had Julia for Art Hum my freshman fall and as an Art History major, I was initially a little skeptical about taking an introductory course - but Julia opened my eyes to looking at the hallmarks of art development in completely new ways. She was clearly extremely knowledgeable and a natural teacher. She was young and yet managed to both treat her students as equals in the learning process and also command respect and seamlessly guide us through new concepts. I cannot recommend taking this course with her enough!

Nov 2012

Ok I have no idea what the previous reviewer was thinking, he must have been the kid that sat in the back of the class picking his nose the entire class or something because JULIA IS AMAZING!!!! And I’m not saying this just to say this, she really is (trust me). Julia completely brightened my semester in the midst of a really hard semester filled with math and science classes. She is the professor you have come to Columbia for, honestly. She challenges your thoughts and makes you think about art in a way you had never thought about before. I tell all my friends that if they are able to switch into her class to please do because you won’t regret it. I remember I went to office hours a couple of times and every single time she helped me with my essays and allowed me to write sophisticated and intellectually enticing essays, that I never thought I could write before. If you are in her class, consider yourself lucky. I wish I could take more classes with her (and I’m not even an art major). She gives minimal amount of reading, which most of the time help you to know background information. She will teach you not only art itself, but how to write and think about art, which are things that I had no idea how to do before coming to this class. She deserves a gold star, no joke.

Nov 2012

I couldn't disagree more with the review below. It was my experience that Julia walked a very fine line, and did so with great success, between holding firm on the scholarship and encouraging broad participation in a classroom of students with widely divergent experience, taste and knowledge of art. Most importantly, she was accessible; she was able to draw students into the conversation and to provide them with a sense of how to step into the world of art, how to gain some footing in an area of scholarship that many people are quick to say they know nothing about. She was also tremendously helpful and always willing to supplement the lectures with other notes and discussion; she was a great resource in drafting the final paper. And at the end of the day, she is cheerful, knowledgeable and generous, which is just about all you need to be a successful teacher. If I ever get the chance again, I won't hesitate a minute before taking another of her classes.

Oct 2012

It was painfully obvious she was desperate to play the role of "brilliant professor" who was supposed to "open your eyes" to the unknown but marvelous world of art; but it fell flat and was painfully easy to see through. As a result of her need to compensate for some kind of deficiency, she assigned very bizarre and tiresome assessments (most notably the final), and felt the need to elevate herself with harsh, picky grading. She fails to make assignments clear, which unfortunately, you get penalized for in the end. Just another grad student who wants to play the hard professor, I suppose. Many of her analyses were wrong or so forced that you had to accept them with hesitance. They were very strange, unconvincing, and dubious. In a futile attempt to be uniquely insightful, she'll give you artificial analyses that will make you think "Ehh, I don't know...but if you say so..." (Books I read gave contradictory analyses so it was confusing when I was trying to study.) You could draw a picture with your left foot, and she would feed you the most ridiculous but superficially artsy analyses. If you knew anything about art, you'd see she's a fake, but apparently many are impressed by her. Disregard this review if you please, but you have no one to blame after getting a hard-earned B.

May 2012

I totally agree with everything the previous poster said. Julia is just fantastic! I knew nothing about art coming in to class- and honestly, I didn't have a lot of interest, either. That changed after the first class. She brought it all to life, and made it so interesting! Class wasn't about dates and trivial things (although dates were on the midterm), but about digging deep into what the art was really all about. It was fascinating, and I was hooked. I thought the visits to the museums were going to be a pain, but I actually wound up staying after our tour was over so I could look around more on my own. Julia gave me the tools to understand and appreciate what I was looking at. I'll never be an expert on art, but I will carry this appreciation for the rest of my life, and I know I will continue to visit museums in the future. Julia is not only a great teacher, but a really, really nice person. I'm so glad I had her as a teacher. She definitely deserves a gold nugget!

Jan 2012

Julia is the jackpot of Art Hum teachers - entertaining, inspiring, yet still fairly easy. I was hesitant of the class as it met so late into the evening, but from the beginning, Julia kept me on the edge of my seat, always entertained, often inspired. She has a way of seamlessly weaving art history and artworks into these fascinating, grand narratives that kept me on my toes, excited for what works were going to pop up next. I was often left speechless at an end of a lecture, after some incredibly poignant point or another. With Julia, it's not about dates and other trivial information, she truly teaches you to view art in a more nuanced, a more critical, a more interesting way. I feel I can engage with a painting or sculpture so much more deeply after this class, something that Art Hum aims to do but not always achieves. She teaches using the Socratic method, and forces you to back up the points you make. The questions she asks are not hard, per say, but they do challenge you to work through your thoughts and thus develop better, more complicated ones. She deserves a gold nugget for wringing so much out of the syllabus, and teaching new ways to look at the world.

Dec 2011

Julia is young, but speaks with commanding maturity as well as charismatic energy. She teaches classes in a way that is almost suspenseful, and has a powerful way of unveiling and exploring key moments and connections in the material (which is Western art history from Parthenon to Pollock). Going in, I was slightly worried because I have little (as in no) artistic background. And this may be why I appreciated Art Hum with Julia so much - she taught in a way that continually inspired interest, never made one feel alienated or hesitant to try, and ultimately encouraged one to intellectually stimulate ONESELF. This is the best quality a liberal arts teacher can have. It strengthens you, your peers, and your learning capacity. Before I knew it I would find myself reading up online about architecture movements, agonizing over who was more godlike between Michelangelo and Da Vinci, gathering and adopting different perspectives on the Elgin Marbles... You will do well in Julia's class if you have good speaking & writing skills, have the patience to look at and think about a bit of art, and are not afraid to genuinely engage yourself in what is really not a nightmarishly difficult course. If you're planning on scraping by, be warned: Julia does not eat bullshit, leave space cadets uncalled on, etc. She's not a hardass, but just not some pushover mother goose who will gently lullaby you if you are not taking her/the class seriously. She is actually nice, sometimes joking freely and poking fun at herself. She maintains a balance between pleasantry and intensity. If there is one agreeable downside to Julia - by which I mean a potentially problematic upside - it is that, speaking objectively, she is the most attractive teacher I have ever seen. I imagine it would be torturous to take this class, do badly, and feel like you got Avada-Kedavra'ed by Emma Watson. Same goes for taking this class if you have a girlfriend but know you are prone to developing crushes. If you think one of these grisly fates could befall you, then maybe you should steer clear!! I am half joking, half serious. If you genuinely work and genuinely enjoy, you'll have nothing to fear in Art hum with Julia. There are plenty of good Art Hum teachers, some probably even better, but anyone who's had Julia should know that she is more than worth it.

Sep 2011

Please take this course with Julia. Granted, it is much less intense over the summer than how she teaches it during the fall. However, if there was ever a teacher who could keep you interested in slides for three hours at a time, in the dark, during a hot summer afternoon, it's Julia. I am not a humanities type of guy, and I still found a lot to like in this course. A little effort goes a long way, as she is there, above all, to teach, which unfortunately can be a rare quality in instructors these days.

May 2010

Julia is just amazing as an instructor. You never know what you will get in the core classes but I have to say that she is BY FAR the best core instuctor I have had the entire time at Columbia. She is so engaging that you really get involved and learn to enjoy even the art that you never liked before. She teaches you a new way to look at it to see value where you didn't before. I loved art hum and regret that I took it so late in my undergrad career leaving me unable to partake in future art history classes. Although I had no previous knowledge about art history or analysis, I really enjoyed going to class each time and learning something new. It was fascinating to hear about the progression of not only the artist himself but also the progression of art through the times. Julia was an effective and engaging lecturer who actively engaged her students. Her constant encouragement and enthusiasm for art allowed students to confidently believe and explore their own analyses. Everyday I came to class wondering what amazing new artist I would learn about especially because Julia's presentation was always very well prepared and intriging. Because of Julia, my only regret now leaving Columbia is that I did not take Art hum sooner, though I suppose I would not have had her if I did. She is a jewel. If it's any consolation, I now will approach museums with more enthusiasm and the greater ability to appreciate art.