ON LARA TUCKER
Lara is one of the worst instructors I've had at Columbia. Every class was like pulling teeth it was so painful. First, she would get in front of the class and give her interpretation of the texts. This interpretation was like law for her but the sad reality was that it was normally pretty superficial. Next, she would ask the most pedantic and insulting questions imaginable: she would point to a sentence, and then ask "what does this mean?" The meaning would be blisteringly obvious to everyone in the class and I personally felt demeaned answering these obvious questions. Someone, however, would eventually cough up the answer she wanted and then we'd move on. Next, Lara would give us a handout that asked more of these absurd questions... we had to do a scavenger hunt to find examples of the things she was looking for. Once for example, we had to pretend to be psychiatrists and "diagnose" what was going on with a culture by looking at the "symptoms" in the text. (This is when I would want to bash my brain in...)
Lara also very clearly had an opinion about what the texts "meant" and she didn't really jive when people wanted to debate her. She would tense up and become defensive and would be totally unwilling to concede a point. Great way to lead a discussion based class!
Finally, Lara just seem disorganized. She was always changing the dates of when assignments were due and it was hard to keep track of what was due when.
ON THE CLASS
So much of the readings were abstract bunk... No one would do them because of this. Crazy, wandering stuff that would be near impossible to understand even in English. I honestly would prefer to (a) either read literature or (b) have a real history course. This critical theory / cultural studies middle way drives me up the wall. If you're considering doing the Hispanic Studies minor or major, I would try and talk to people who've taken these courses (Intro to Study..., Hisp Cult I, and Hisp Cult II) and then decide. They are SO painful... honestly one of the least intellectually satisfying experiences I've ever had. Also, they don't really improve your language. At best, they help you maintain it, but I'm not even sure of this.
All that said, these courses are THE easiest As at Columbia. I know this for a fact b/c on the back of my transcript it says everyone gets an A in these courses and everyone also says that this is true. If you want an A+ without that much sweat, I guess you might be able to deal with all the above (Lord knows I've managed!).