Brent Edwards

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Feb 2019

Most cultured man I've ever met. I'm terrified to speak in class most of the time, but when I do I never regret it. He is incredibly good at listening to what we say and synthesizing it into something that sounds even better than what you actually said (or even meant). Definitely go to office hours, as it is so helpful in this class. The projects he gives are very open ended and up to your interpretation, which I really enjoyed.

Nov 2017

"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture" ... (I will never forget the first time I heard him lecture) He moves through literature with the grace of a dancer. Any course offering with Professor Brent Hayes Edwards is sure to be nothing short of top notch, for he is --far and away-- one of Columbia's finest. Not only is he knowledgeable, (and I mean knowledgeable), he is equally engaging. His scholarship has altered the course of my academic pursuits in profound ways. Do the work/readings and you will find his courses rich and challenging in ways you may never have imagined possible. His pedagogical approach is both creative and generous and he often brings an audio and/or visual component into the mix in an effort to enhance the literary analysis ---and does he ever dig deep, y'all. Get in there already! Professor Brent Hayes Edwards leads his fields of scholarship for a reason. A masterful educator overall.

Sep 2016

Professor Edwards is simply a spectacular teacher. As a first-year, I personally struggled with the workload (the majority of the students are either achieving their masters or are upperclassmen), but nonetheless I still looked forward every day to coming to class and hearing what Professor Edwards had to say. His knowledge for the topic of African American and African Parisian studies is exceptional and I find it personally impossible not to be engaged in his class. It is a must-take course for all prospective history majors, art history majors, film studies majors, popular culture majors, and english majors. Just a supremely spectacular class.

Jan 2013

I took this class my freshman spring. I was one of two freshman in the class and was very intimidated at first. Even so, this class is by far one of the best classes I have taken at Barnard or Columbia. Not only is the syllabus engaging but Professor Edwards is a fabulous professor who really cares about his students and is very knowledgable on the subject of Jazz, harlem renaissance and the black diaspora. As an english major I really enjoyed how class time consisted of dissecting some of our readings and really getting into the niddy gritty details of style and meaning. Before this class I simply liked the idea of jazz, after I was completely blown away by the amount of history and social aspects there was connected to the musical development of jazz. In this class we learned not only about the musical forms of the blues and jazz but also the written forms, which was really interesting. Professor Edwards was also very approachable after class and in office hours, and not a hard grader at all especially if you take the time to go to office hours and run your ideas by him. I went in pretty much the day before our final paper was due with a strange idea of a thesis and he helped talk me through it. He was also very helpful via email. Honestly, take this class if you are at all interested in the history behind jazz and the harlem renaissance. You wont be sorry after reading such a fabulous syllabus and just hearing Professor Edwards speak on the subject - it is pretty much adorable to watch him get quietly excited about something we analyzed in a poem

Aug 2011

I'm not sure what to make of this class. It's definitely different than anything I've taken as an English major. Coursework covers a fairly large range of writing for which form and conceptions of form is paramount—Burroughs, Gertrude Stein, and the Dadaists make up the most "traditional" writing that you read—and as an English major used to analysis that starts from close reading, I was totally confused as to how to approach the seminar. I wasn't alone; most of the class circled awkwardly around making a broad point about form while admitting complete intimidation by the pieces we were working with. Discussion was fairly nonfunctional, but the course was new, and it got a lot better by the end of the semester. I'd only expect it to get better in subsequent semesters as Professor Edwards has clearer idea of how students are approaching the material. The course is also as much a writing workshop as anything else; three short pieces integrating visual form, distinct narrative choices, or "new-media" tools, graded on a check-minus, check, check-plus basis were the only assignments besides (heavy) reading, presentation, and a final term paper (though the paper could also be a project of your own design). The goal is something like using actual (or inspired) application of the techniques used by the artists in the course, though Professor Edwards is interested in you exploring your own voice as writer. The course, as a whole, is not one where your hand will be held the way through. Professor Edwards exposes you to material, but he doesn't necessarily pave a way for you through it—and it probably wouldn't work too well with the material you look at. GO TO OFFICE HOURS—it really helps to talk through your ideas about the material on a one-on-one basis. I'd recommend the course, as long as you're prepared to be frustrated at times. Artists: Spading Gray, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Bill T. Jones, Martha Rosler, Shelley Jackson, Alison Bechdel, Langston Hughes, Jonathan Lethem, Walker Evans and James Agee, Kurt Schwitters, Yvonne Rainer, among others, as well as a bunch of criticism that's hugely helpful. Forgiving grading, but tough to tell how you're doing throughout the semester.

Mar 2011

CLEN W3300 Black Paris I strongly recommend this class. Mr. Edwards is the best English professor that I had at Columbia. He's a man of great intelligence, a real expert on the topic of Black diaspora and actually wrote a fantastic book about it. The reading list was amazing, a well-balanced selection of the major works as well as relatively less familiar but totally worthwhile, thought-provoking books. His deep knowledge of African American as well as African European music and the way he presented it over the course alongside the readings made the topic and the discussion all the more interesting. He also has a great sense of humor which kept the class always quite enjoyable. Towards the end of the semester, we fell a little bit behind the schedule, but it wasn't due to laziness or lack of enthusiasm like the case of some other professors; he was just so eager to introduce many interesting materials to the class. He was always thoroughly prepared for each class and also very kind & approachable despite his busy schedule. A fair grader, neither too harsh nor too generous. No bsing, no empty dropping of jargons regarding obvious concepts.