professor
Vidya Dehejia

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Dec 2017

Masterpieces of Indian Art was an excellent class: entirely straightforward, interesting material, with an insanely low workload. Take it for a quick and painless way to fulfill global core! Dehejia is an exceptional, lucid lecturer, and clearly a star in the field. She was associated with pretty much every site we studied in class in one form or the other, as a scholar or curator, and it was fun to hear her personal anecdotes. Class got a little awkward at points when she’d try and get the students to participate at the end of lecture, but that really wasn’t on her. The midterm and writing assignments were extremely upfront, nothing that tries to trip you up, and all material that was highlighted in lecture, as well as the weekly meetings with the TAs. Discussion section with Tara, was one of the highlights of the semester. I’m a senior whose had my fair share of TAs, and I can honestly say she is one of the most talented grad student teachers I’ve ever come across. She is warm, funny, and kind, and incredibly dedicated to the course. She was extremely accommodating with office hours, organized, and clearly worked her butt of to make sure we all understood the material. She obviously loves to teach, and her enthusiasm for the subject made the discussion sections all the more stimulating. I wouldn’t say she’s the easiest grader, she tends to be a little critical on papers and push you to perform to the best of your abilities, but I do expect to land up with an A- in the class, at the very least. I 100% recommend taking this class, and Tara’s section if you get the chance! Like so many other reviewers note, you won’t regret it.

Jan 2014

Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture (AHUM V3342) was a good class with a manageable work load and somewhat interesting course content. Take it if you need a Global Core which isn't too heavy, yet you still want to learn something sort of neat. Dehejia is a good lecturer who is concise and straight forward in identifying important characteristics and theories about Indian architecture and paintings. She covers Buddhist, Hindu, Mughal, British and contemporary art in India over the course of the semester. The first half of the course has a lot of religion in it since it shapes the architecture of the period. The class isn't very interactive and pretty much just involves her putting up a PowerPoint presentation and talking about the art in the slides. It's very important that you take good notes on everything she says since it will be on the test. For the most part, the TAs were responsible for this class, not Dehejia. In addition to the lecture, we had hour long discussion sections on Mondays (make sure this fits in your schedule, they're not flexible with the timings) about the topics covered in class and the readings for the week. Arathi Menon was my TA and will be teaching this class in the future I hear. She is nice, but strict and expects her students to actively take part in discussions and do the readings - no BS will help you here. The TAs graded both the exams and the papers. Grading on exams wasn't bad, it's not too hard to get an A. However, paper grading was pretty harsh - very few people got As. The requirements to do well in this class are very straight forward. If you put in the required effort, you should do fine. Expect to do about 50 pages of reading a week. The reading is not too dense and is very similar to what's covered in class, so if you do after the lecture, it's not that bad. Exams ask for definitions and slide descriptions and essays. Slides of art and architecture seen in class are put up. You have to identify the site/piece, date and talk about the theories from the readings and class about it. The exams were mostly verbal diarrhea requiring you to just spill whatever information you memorized about the work. Your hand will definitely ache by the time you're done writing the tests. On the bright side, it's pretty easy to spew various facts on the slides she puts up. To do well on the exams, you must do the readings and pay attention to important points brought up by Dehejia and the TAs in class. I advise summarizing the readings as soon as you do them so you don't have to read them again right before the exam. If you're really lazy, you can manage to do all the readings about 2 days before the exam, but be warned, many of the books are on reserve at Avery, so you might not get the book at the last minute. Dehejia covers most of the important theories in class. Pay attention to those in particular and look for them in the readings. Note them down as points, and make sure you mention them in your exam responses. Everything else is extra material which isn't as important. All in all, this is a pretty decent class to fulfill the Global Core requirement. If you're an engineer, this is a good class. No vague BS nonsense, just straight forward facts. It's a guaranteed A if you do what is expected of you, which isn't much: about 2-3 hours of effort a week on average.

Dec 2013

This is coming from a math major who took this class as a global core not knowing what to expect and trying something completely outside of my comfort zone. Who knew I would elect to take another art class outside of art humanities? And let me tell you, it was damn well the best decision that I ever made. From the first lecture I knew that I found my global core class - her power points are so well put together, and the class is so interestingly organized - we started with Buddhism art, Hindu art, Islamic art, then Modern art. It was such a fantastic way to set up the class and I learned so much than I ever thought about these interesting religions. She is by far the best lecturer I've ever had, speaking very clearly and connected (actually this isn't saying much considering I'm from the math dept, but still). Also the work load is very manageable - low, even.

Mar 2012

Professor Dehejia is first and foremost one of the top art historians of Indian art and architecture...in the world. She is cited in almost every article and book that has been published since she began her career. It's kinda scary but true. However that's not to say that she is above and beyond teaching a smallish lecture class. The class is structured in such a way that almost every class she presents a powerpoint, gives out a handout with important dates/names/info and perhaps discusses an assigned reading (articles relating to the temple site that's discussed). Her powerpoints are clear yet thorough and it is obvious that she knows her shit. As someone who never studied Indian ANYTHING, she made it incredibly easy to understand. Granted the articles may be a bit confusing, given the wording and the fact that you have to read them before the lecture so have no idea of the site they refer to, Dehejia does a great job clearing that all up in class. She strongly encourages class participation and it's somewhat expected that everyone will at least comment once if there is an article for that class. She does not necessarily judge you on how smart those comments are however, she will give you a look if it's clear you haven't done the reading. She was familiar with all arguments of the topics brought up and most of ones that students diverged on. That being said though, it really didn't matter what you said although, she really does love to hear new theories. The powerpoints were very informative and if you go to class and take notes or write down whatever it is that will help you remember what she says, you will be golden for the midterm. She clearly is very passionate about what she does and wants her students to have as well-rounded views on the topics as she has herself. Given how little most will know going in and how foreign the concepts were, it doesn't take too much effort to get a decent grade.

May 2007

The previous reviewer needs to find another forum in which to grind his obviously personal axe. Granted, he or she may have had real problems with Dehejia - whatever the nature of the bereavement - but how on earth is someone's choice of writing surface an adequate reason for resorting to name-calling ? Or the lack of differentiation between students: I'm sorry, but the proof's in the pudding. If the work doesn't cut it, no amount of in-person recognition is going to make a difference. Perhaps writing about "obscure caves" can be tough going, but that's what office hours are there for - then maybe you'll give the prof a chance to get to know you. Which will obviate the need for the vitriol and the whining. True, Dehejia doesn't exactly set the classroom on fire, but she is 1. a lucid speaker, 2. unassuming of prior knowledge (this both a pro and a con), 3. very fair in all respects, and 4. absolutely solid (and then some) in her scholarship and area of expertise. And this, I'm positive, applies to ALL students whatever their major.

May 2007

Vidya Dehejia is a miserable professor. She is often rude in class to her students. She plays favorites. And is completely lacking in warmth or any encouragement. But she will not fail in offering her students stories about how many beggars she has given money to India. Avoid her.

Dec 2006

I seem to be in the minority in my opinion here, so I am not going to write this review for art history majors, who, as far as I can tell, seem to have a vastly different view of what defines a 'god-awful' teacher. As an architecture student I feel that Vidya Dehjia is exactly that; God-awful. First of all she doesn't distinguish between her students at all. That might be fine for a grad student with experience in writing exausting paper on obscure caves, but for the undergrads it can be brutally hard. Secondly, when given a choice of blackboards to write on, she will invariably choose the one that impossible to see for as many students as is possible. Thirdly, she will make rather unpleasant insinuations about the (ficticious) nature of your grandmother funeral. You have no idea how badly I wish this last part wasn't true. The catharsis of sending off the final paper, and therefor NEVER having to have ANYTHING to do with this professor EVER AGAIN, has completely drained me of my will to spew obscene comments about how she has wasted her life doing a god awful job of teaching an absolutely horrendously boring and meaningless subject with no greater connections to the larger realm of art history (or at least no connections she was capable of conveying) but I must reiterate: Vidya Dehejia is a hack. If you need this class for a requirement, I dont care how hard it is to reschedule, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that you have exhausted all the other options you have for filling an art history credit.

Dec 2005

Professor Dehejia was terrific. I went into this class with pretty low expectations (looking to take care of the art history/cultural diversity requirements) and was pleasantly surprised. This class ended up being my favorite last semster due to the expert lecturing ability of Dehejia and the fact that the class was so well run. The lectures and the reading relate well to the exams and in the end if you do poorly it's your own fault. There's a fair amount of reading but not too much, especially for an art history class, and it all fits well with the course so you don't feel like it's all superfluous or a waste of time. The exams are a little daunting before hand but if you go to the review sessions and attend class (very important if you feel like slacking off on the reading a little). The TAs were great and always available for help. The papers were fun and fairly graded as well. My only complaint is that before the mid-term Professor Dhejia and the TAs kept saying they were looking for the broad strokes but when I got my exam back I wasn't very happy with my grade (particularly because I listed all the major points and nailed every ID). Anyway, I scored an A- for the class in the end and you should too if you attend all the lectures.

Dec 2005

Dehejia is an extremely competent teacher and well- versed in the subject. In addition to her quite literally writing the book, she expounds upon the subject in accessible and enjoyable ways. Subject matter is relatively easy to comprehend and the tests are not difficult. Essentially, the readings comprise the majority of the instruction, so pay attention when doing so. The class discussions are not as extensive as other classes, but lively nonetheless. The tests are a "name that tune" affair. Slides remain on view for 10 minutes as you write about the significance of the piece and detail any arguments and theories heard in either the class or in the readings. It is easy to fill 2 bluebooks front and back writing about the pieces though. I would wholeheartedly recommend this class. A perfect class to take for Art Humanities requirements and a fine one indeed for meeting people and making connections.

Jul 2005

Professor Dehejia is a very good instructor who clearly knows her subject about as well as anyone in the world. She lectures well, she is friendly when students ask questions, and she gives reasonable assignments and middle of the road exams that don't require an undue amount of memorization for an art history class. You can do well in this class if you pick two of the three: show up at every class and take good notes, then go back over the excellent course web pages and match your notes to the slides shown there -- they're almost all there -- OR do not just the reading from the pretty, but lightweight, main textbook but also the more serious academic papers from the course reader too - OR go to the TAs review sessions and cram, cram, cram all the IDs so you never get one wrong. If you're willing to do all three, you will do very well and learn a lot, too. Before I came to Columbia I was a Bacherlor of Fine Arts candidate (in the visual arts) at another university. Let me just sum this up by saying that if you don't like taking art history with Professor Dehejia, I could recommend a few instructors to you who would make you *beg* to go back to this class instead! The TAs seem to do most of the grading, but they are well managed and seem quite consistent. No real complaints there either.

Jan 2005

You will not regret taking this course. There is no BS here. Everything is straight forward. The subject is quite interesting. If you know nothing about the subject, you will be pleasantly surprised. Prof. Dehejia is extremely knowledgeable and approachable.

Dec 2003

It was great to be taught by someone who has so much authority in this field -- simply put, Professor Dehejia is outstanding. Her quiet, calm manner and vast knowledge of the material made for one of the best experiences I've had with the Art History department yet. She is thorough, engaging, and loves to answer questions and to hear different ideas from students. She breaks down a part of the world about which little is known and makes it accessible and fascinating. Take this class to fulfill the non-Western distribution requirement. You won't regret it.

Dec 2003

Professor Dehejia is really solid on her material. She's worked extensively in both research and curating fields, and is a pretty well-renowned figure in Indian art circles. Her lectures are extremely informative and insightful, and she tends to encourage student participation at all times, especially on class readings. Her command of the subject is overall terrific. The only problem that I found, and it wasn't really a huge issue at all, was her lack of warmth. While she occasionally liked to joke with students, she was one of my least personable professors, which was particularly frustrating as she's such an authority in her field. Other than that, it's a great class to take if you're interested in this topic.

Dec 2003

Prof. Dehejia is a great professor, and her classes are definitely worth taking. She's well-informed and well-organized, and the workload she assigns is eminently reasonable, as are her tests. The focus here is on learning rather than memorizing, which is welcome in a department whose profs and TAs can be overly anal when it comes to memorizing details. It's a fantastic subject, and not one that most people know much about. This is a great class to take if you know nothing about the subject -- you'll learn a hideous amount without having to stress.

Dec 2002

If you don't want your GPA to plummet, if you don't want to sit pointlessly in a lecture where you'll know as much about Indian art as when you started (absolutely nothing), if you don't want to be taught by someone who makes your life miserable, then don't take this course!! Save yourself!! She takes points off for putting the correct answers in exams and papers, and seems to have a policy of giving hard workers a C or D. It was a horrible mistake. Please avoid it.

Nov 2002

Excellent! She's a winner. Her lectures are both informative and allow for dialogue in a class of 40: ask questions as she likes it and you'll learn more. For GSers dreading that Art Hum requirement - THIS IS THE WAY TO GO! Made herself readily available for assitance with readings and assignments, and in general a very approachable professor.