Hamid Dabashi

May 2019

Interesting class that has really opened my mind to different ways of thinking. Dabashi repeatedly says this is not a class for "use"- it's not a specific skill set to be applied. And I came to really enjoy that. Zero technology allowed in class and he fucking means it. He does his whole lecture from his mind in conversation and technology apparently distracts him and his students from engaging. Very low work load- just reaching a few chapters a week for section and in mine we did a 5 minute casual presentation twice. A book review midterm paper from the syllabus list and a final paper 10-12 pages. Just show up sit down and listen. Sometimes Dabashi can ramble a little, but in general a very interesting critical class.

May 2019

This course is designed to be about “global critical theory in the 20th-century,” and it ends up becoming a mixture of postcolonialism, Islamic history, world cinema, and the ideas of some modern critical thinkers from “the West”—a hodgepodge which can seem a little messy at times but is ultimately enriching. In a certain sense, the syllabus can be read as Dabashi’s own mind map of the intellectual history of the 20th-century. Although the subject of this course is critical theory, the course is not designed as a normal content course you might find in the Philosophy or Comp Lit Department that covers a series of chronologically ordered materials at a steady pace. Instead, Dabashi uses, or at least tries to use, the materials he chose as spring boards to address larger issues that are supposed to be relevant to every Columbia undergrad sitting in the classroom. My feeling after taking this course is that I did not necessarily get the most authoritative or insightful interpretations of every single text we covered (which is by nature quite impossible), but I really got to learn about the way Dabashi thinks, which is not a bad thing, considering the knowledgeable, intelligent, and prolific intellectual he is. You can get a lot out of this class if you are willing to teach yourself, which means writing down the names and titles Dabashi mentions in class and googling them afterwards; in that way the scope of your knowledge will surely be expanded. This course introduced me to many thinkers I have never heard of before and brought to my attention an array of interesting problems that I was not aware of previously, and I very much appreciate what I have learned. Each session/class deals with a different topic. Sometimes Dabashi has something very interesting to say and the class is enjoyable; when he does not have many original things to say, he has the habit of opening a book and reading the first few pages sentence by sentence, stopping at every sentence to give a three-minute elaboration, simply to fill up the time. Despite some obvious shortcomings, the course is a valuable one overall and I by no means regret having taken it.

Aug 2017

Dabashi shows off his knowledge as often as he can. At first it is engaging but it gets tiresome very quickly, especially since he spirals into long soliloquys about irrelevant topics to the class. Coming into the course, I was really looking forward to getting some basic, knowledge of Islamic civilization since i had very little coming in. I don't feel like I got that knowledge here. he's a very poor instructor and pretty much assumes you will get something out of what he's talking about. He's not very interested in bring there, except when he gets to talk about his own politics. He really slips into irrelevant topics a lot, things he is passionate about but which will make you roll your eyes after just a couple of lectures. It's also very easy for him to put his opinion up on a pedestal and to talk about how amazing it is. You get the idea pretty fast that he's not giving you a very wide scope of view points. He doesn't really get into theological differences between sunnis and shiites or the history of conflict between the two. He is pretty fixated only on modern Arab and Iranian politics as it relates to Israel and the US. When he scratches the surface he fails to avoid talking about his own political opinions. He is incredibly bias professor. It's a real mind-suck for the middle of the afternoon (I took the 2:40-3:55 class). You would be better off taking an intro course and doing extra reading about the topics that interest you the most.

May 2015

Worst class I have ever taken. Dabashi clearly has some kind of big-shot rep, but this class was no evidence for why. I have seen Facebook posts from him that show more effort than this entire class. This class was pain, and everyone spent the entire thing on Facebook He arrives with no notes whatsoever, says 'What are we doing today?' and riffs on a couple sentences unhelpfully for the rest of the class. There is no structure or substance. The syllabus was a hilariously ambitious list of history books, films, poetry collections, books and blogs - none of it organized by date or session, in no particular order, and with no excerpts, just whole works. Some of this impossibly large collection of assignments was at Book Culture - I bought the books; we ended up never reading them. We were, however, apparently meant to read things that were out of print, unavailable from Butler, or from Book Culture, or anywhere in New York. Dabashi would say things like 'Isn't it all on the internet? You'll find it.' At any rate, that didn't really matter, because the class's absurd 'presentation' format meant we were never accountable for doing the reading anyway. The class was entitled 'Film, Fiction, Poetry, History'. We spent about half the class on history and about half on film - or rather, on Dabashi's book about film, with no watching of the actual films, apparently. Fiction was barely skimmed over, poetry just did not happen, and the 'blog'/internet section we were meant to get to at the end obviously did not happen either. I was taking the class for fiction and poetry, which we just didn't do. On the second to last session, Dabashi expressed surprise at the date, and tried to get through about half the syllabus in the last class. If I were convinced about a kernel of this man's supposed massive genius and well of knowledge it might have been OK, but he actually seemed to know nothing whatsoever and have the least sophisticated thought process of any prof or TA I've ever had. The midterm paper was never graded, so the class has ended and I have no idea how I'm doing. The sum of what Dabashi actually said during the class would probably fit on two sides of paper. He has 2 or 3 spiels that he trundles out, more or less verbatim, now and then, in extensive monologue, apparently without remembering that he has already said them. (Once, we spent about 20 minutes discussing a film scene and watched it in class; several sessions later, Dabashi brought up the scene apparently thinking it was entirely new to us, introduced it, and summarized the whole thing to make the same point.) These spiels can be found in his books, which he assigns. Neither sheds any light on the other, it's just more repetition. On the rare occasion that Dabashi manages to elicit a comment from a student, he tends to misunderstand it. His response is usually patronizing, and tends to consist of side-eyeing your supposedly problematic phraseology before launching in to rant A, B, or C, as outlined in one of his books. NEVER TAKE ANYTHING WITH THIS AWFUL MAN

May 2014

Dabashi is arguably brilliant, as he seems to know everything about anything within his field and beyond it. The drawback, though, is that sometimes you’re not sure if he might be BSing a little bit of it and being overblown in his own self-importance. Because Dabashi is fairly full of himself—at least half of the assigned works on the syllabus were prefaced in class with “I wrote this” or “I inspired the filmmaker to make this,” etc. Dabashi told us at the beginning of the semester that no question was a stupid question, but he then proceeded to make people terrified to speak by summarily shooting down some people’s ideas that didn’t agree with his own or that he thought were not terribly intelligent. Most of the class is based solely on his own ideas and opinions, no matter how much he claims to be adding in a lot of different perspectives. Half the time, when Dabashi was lecturing, I couldn’t even tell that this was a class on Islamic civilization. We talked about Kant and Habermas and other Western philosophy and political theory, and there was no real indication as to how we were supposed to connect it to the theme of Islamic civilization. Because Dabashi enjoyed talking about all of the off-topic topics so much, we got incredibly behind on the syllabus very quickly and never really discussed the last five or six items on the syllabus. The workload for this class was completely unrealistic and absolutely murderous if you attempted to do every reading assigned. We generally had an entire book or movie (or “selections” of one, which generally meant about ¾ of it) assigned for each class, but soon enough, I realized that it wasn’t completely necessary to read all of it. As the two big assignments of the class were papers that you could pick and choose among the assigned texts for, you could choose the texts that interested you and focus on getting a good handle on those (the only drawback to this approach was that if Dabashi randomly called on you to give a summary of the reading for that class—which he did frequently—and you hadn’t read it, you were in the hot seat and subject to his public censure). On one day (two weeks before finals), when it became apparent that literally no one had watched the assigned movie for that class, he asked, “If you weren’t watching this movie over the last two days, what could you have possibly been doing?”—the classic move of a professor who doesn’t realize that we have classes other than his to worry about or might possibly need to have lives that are not 24/7 studying. By the end of the semester, though, Dabashi lightened up a bit, because the only people left who still came to lecture were the ones who could deal with him. He even started joking a little bit with the ones of us he had come to know. But on the whole, the only thing to redeem Dabashi’s shortcomings in this class was the fact that he clearly has a passion for the Middle East. My TA, Sahar, however, was AMAZING. She was the shining light in the darkness that this class sometimes was. She knew so much about all of the topics the class covered (from what I saw, it seemed like she knew almost as much as Dabashi himself), and she, at least, made sure that we got through everything on the syllabus in our discussion section. She had a way of explaining things that made it all clear, and she always had suggestions for further reading or research—titles of countless relevant books and movies that she could just pull straight out of her head—if a certain topic interested us. She was also extremely helpful in her office hours, and helped me work through all of my ideas for the final paper and gave me some tips as to what I could do better. She was always sunny and excited to teach, and got almost all of us in the section involved in and excited about the discussion by making us realize that the class material was actually really interesting and full of depth. Sahar was legitimately the one reason I was able to make it through this class with my sanity. If you’re looking just to fulfill your global core requirement, I would recommend that you take this class (at least if Dabashi’s teaching it; I get the sense that this class is much different when Saliba teaches it)—there are infinitely easier ways of getting that requirement.

Mar 2014

I came into this class really looking forward to it. There were mixed reviews on CULPA, but I thought I was blown away during the first lecture. Dabahi walked around the room, talking about all of these super intellectual things. He went through the syllabus, explained the different books, and I was so intrigued. I was genuinely excited for the class. I was so, so wrong. Dabash doesn't teach -- he let's the TAs present on the books, and then scribbles down loose notes on whatever he thinks up and then walks around the room, pontificating and making jokes. The TAs do all of the heavy lifting here, and he doesn't really explain what's going on. He just pontificates about Kant and tries to amaze the class with catchy phrases like "We have to make the unfamiliar familiar by making the familiar unfamiliar." He gave us supposedly a book a lecture, but was so entrenched in his desire to pontificate that we quickly fell behind, and the TAs, who were responsible for telling us which parts of the books we were assigned, seemed to have given up around spring break, possibly because no one bothered to do the readings because *they didn't matter to the class.* My TA, Sahar, was the only redeeming merit. She was clear, well-spoken, and actually made an effort to make the texts understandable, and she, at least, seemed to care more than Dabashi did. Don't do what I did, and fall for his theatrics and his talking points. The man is too busy thinking about how amazing he is, and doesn't really care about the class. If you're interested in this, wait until Saliba or someone else teaches the course in the future, or find a copy of the reading list and read the books yourself. They were the only redeeming merit of this course.

Feb 2014

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR BEFORE REGISTERING FOR THIS CLASS: read professor dabashi's article (which is the course's first assigned reading) titled "For the Last Time: Civilization." if you like the article, then you should definitely take the class, and you will love the lectures because dabashi has the exact same personality as a lecturer as he does as a writer. if you think that the article is combative, indulgent, overblown, immature, fanatical, myopic, self-righteous, and utterly gratuitous, then you probably shouldn't enroll, because that's exactly what you'll hear for an hour and 15 minutes, twice a week, all semester. just as dabashi's paper belittles countless authors (simply because they hold a viewpoint in opposition to his own) in a crude, mean-spirited, and grossly unacademic manner, dabashi's lectures will belittle your intelligence with snobbish ramblings about post-colonialism and racism in which dabashi thinks he's blowing your mind with pathetically trite quips like: "i'm going to make the unfamiliar familiar... by making the familiar unfamiliar!" (don't get your hopes up that he'll end the show with a flashy disappearing act where he strikes the crucifixion pose and vanishes in a cloud of smoke - he doesn't even have showmanship to go along with his two-bit act). hamid dabashi is the archetype of non-scientific academia gone wrong. not only has dabashi convinced himself that his perspective on the world is valuable enough to constitute a field of study unto itself, he has developed such unshakable self-importance that anyone who dares to enter that field as anything other than a grateful disciple will be tarred and feathered as an ignorant orientalist. you win, dabashi. the west consists of nothing but blind mobs and their evil masters who spend all day trying to turn every culture into an insulated carnival attraction. sorry for ruining the world.

Jan 2014

Professor Dabashi is clearly more interested in himself than in his students, as a quick glance at his website will make apparent. The readings for Theory and Culture are very interesting. I thought this course could have been as valuable as CC, covering a wide range of canonical texts. I did not anticipate Dabashi's incompetence as a lecturer. He frequently missed class, and on one occasion waltzed in and asked the students what he was supposed to be lecturing about. He is the classic case of a professor caught up in himself and academia, paying little attention to the--what's it called again--real world, which probably explains his obsession with the phrase "fictive imagination." That being said, he is clearly intelligent, and his lectures were occasionally interesting. I just wished he actually focused on the texts instead of rambling about more or less the same thing every class.

Jan 2011

I had Dabashi for "Colonization: Film, Fiction, History, Theory." The class had around 15 students and was heavy on the discussions-- a high point for some students, not so much for others. Dabashi seemed to have seldom prepared for class. Sometimes this leant itself to his mystique as a brilliant-- and I do mean brilliant-- off the cuff academic who could weave together anecdote, hermeneutics, and political economy in a way that was as much poetry as prose. Sometime he would lapse into a tired, familiar story and impose these immense pauses on the class while he fumbled to connect the ends of his argument. It was hard to tell at the beginning of class which kind of day it was. Inconsistencies aside, Dabashi put together a memorable syllabus and created an engaging atmosphere with a lot of intellectual lateral. His ideas are provocative, durable, and (surprisingly) productive. I couldn't help but quote him up over the winter break and friends were definitely intrigued. WIth that said, I'm not really interested in taking another course with him. I think I got all I can from him this past semester, and I would guess that he would start to repeat himself. All in all, If you like discussion-based classes and can endure a sometimes bumbling, sometimes brilliant professor; if you're interested in understanding the colonial project as more than economy but not circumscribed by writers like Fanon and Said; if you want to develop a language and an analytical lens through which to contextualize the sensibilities and aesthetics of films like "Laurence of Arabia" and "The Battle of Algiers" WITHOUT relegating them to footnotes in such-and-such's post-colonial theory, you should take Dabashi. Definitely. You and your friends will be glad you did.

Apr 2007

The negative reviews of Dabashi are quite accurate, based on my experience with him. I was not around during the 2004 year (year of the MEALAC controversy), which one student gives as a possible reason for negative reviews of Dabashi's classes. The student may be trying to excuse Dabashi, but frankly, there is no excuse. We pay good money to learn from the best, and it is difficult to learn anything from him. Yes, he is ego-centric, yes, he is impatient, yes, he does not seem to care for his students (unless you are one of his advisees - then he takes great care of you), etc. There are so many other wonderful professors at Columbia that I see no logical reason to take a course with someone like Dabashi.

Mar 2007

Prof. Dabashi is the WORST professor I have had at Columbia. In our seminar of only 10 students, he couldn't even be bothered to learn everyone's names, and always started class late. He often seemed distracted and unprepared, frequently not even knowing what reading he had assigned to us. The class itself was a waste, for all we did in class was compare a micro reading of the Persian version to the English translation. *Every* single class. This was not supposed to be a class on translation! And it was evident he had not read the English translation because each time he'd ask us how it went. Did he even put any time into teaching this class? His arrogance is astounding as well. Making time for students is not something he likes to do, it seems. Keeping his office hours did not seem to be important to him, for I went twice during his "official" office hours and he wasn't there. Another time I went to see him during his hours, he was on his way out the door and seemed quite peeved to be interrupted by a student. He assigned us to write a proposal for our paper topic for him to review and approve, but two weeks later still had not returned them to us. How were we supposed to get started on our papers? More frustratingly, the only grade for the class was the paper, but he gave no firm guidelines for what he expected in the paper, only that we should "have fun with it" and make it a "conversation" between us and the text. At the end of the semester, he did not return our graded papers, and I had to repeatedly ask for mine. Shouldn't it be common-sense to return students' papers? If he actually seemed like he enjoyed teaching us students and was somewhat prepared for class, I could let all this slide. But his haughty demeanor only made everything worse.

Feb 2007

I've decided to write because I don't think it is fair to necessarily evaluate Dabashi based on 2004 - a year that shook his department to its core. Moreover, I disagree with the number of disparaging and generalized remarks made about him. Dabashi is brilliant no questions. Political views aside, his work stands on its own and should not be an issue. In terms of class work, while he may not hold us (the students) accountable for much of the reading, the fact remains that we are paying good money so if we want to learn, then we read. Dabashi has nothing to do with that issue. Moreover, in class, he seems quite willing to answer questions and takes the time to instruct students on how they may be asking and attempting to answer questions in a manner that is not subtle or nuanced enough for academia. In fact, when asked, he will even spell out those difficult names that he spits out at the drop of a hat and elaborate on ideas that seem confusing. If you disagree with him, you better be prepared to support your argument with facts. For those who are intimidated or unable to procure those facts, I recommend you grow up, do your homework, and then join the real world in the process. I went into his class thinking the man was a monster and left wondering why I originally believed all nonsense. Can he be moody, yes - but can't we all? Thus, I highly recommend taking a Dabashi class.

Sep 2004

Professor Dabasi may be brilliant but he is also an ego-maniac who is rude and condescending even to the female professor that he was co-teaching with. He shows up late and then yells at people who have to leave early. The class required no knowledge of Persian/Farsi and yet most of the handouts were in Persian and he said find them in English. When the class informed him that none of us could find it...he said...oh well you don't need it....well if I am paying a shit load of money for a class...I personally want all of the materials. He treated those of us who were not Iranian like none of us could have a clue about Islam or Iran. He would stop every five minutes and ask us if we knew what the Qur'an was...or was so irritating that I left the class and was even willing to pay half if I had to. Luckily I got out right under the wire. If you are inspired by teachers who get off on their own intelligence and treat you like shit...well by all means he is your guy. If you are a stronger person than me...He really is brilliant...when he wants to be...I recommend reading his literature and essays...instead of actually taking his class.

Sep 2004

For the first half of the course, I couldn't believe my luck. Dabashi is a brilliant, if eccentric, teacher whose extremely controversial opinions and lecture style really got me thinking. Unfortunately, about 7 weeks into the course, he starts to repeat himself--often, and without realizing it--and the class becomes very dull. Also, there are always a couple of overly vocal students in the class who feel it is their right to call out every inane thought that flits through their minds during lecture, which Dabashi ignores but can get extremely irritating to the other students. If you're a Comp Lit Major, enjoy the class while you can, then start skipping the extra required session at night.

May 2004

I want to disagree with the last reviewer and say that of all the classes I took this semester, I learned most in Dabashi's class. His tangential ramblings are like gold, and you will learn simply by sitting there listening to him deconstruct something like "Spider-Man." He does come off as pretty caustic and seems to enjoy silencing students, but he is also a very nice person. He often smiles and says funny things. But yes, if you are not a comp lit major or a freshman, do not take this class--not because it will be too difficult for you but because you are douche for wanting to take a seminar only sophomore majors are supposed to take. But Dabashi is AWESOME, so take other classes offered by him, even if it has nothing to do with your major.

May 2004

Prof. Dabashi is indeed a brilliant man, and has seemingly endless knowledge of the material, but somehow he never manages to get any of that knowledge across in his lectures. He decries professors who simply read off a speech instead of actually teaching, but what he fails to realize is that his own method is just as ineffective: rambling on about tangents and discussing ad nauseum unrelated albeit interesting side-notes to the material. I learned much more from reading the texts than going to class, unfortunately. He schedules class once a week, but then insists on another meeting each week - okay, I don't know why he didn't just make it a normal twice-weekly class, but fine - except both meetings are on the same day! I mean, come on, you have to actually PLAN the class ahead of time. He enjoys cold-calling students, which is a valid method except he uses it more as a cautionary method of embarrassment ("see what happens when you don't do everything I say") than an actual teaching method. He says he is open to any and all theories, but he is very discouraging of any actual dissenting opinion. Unfortunately, this class is required for students majoring in Comparative Literature. If you are not a major, do yourself and the actual majors a favor: don't take this class. You won't enjoy it and you will just crowd the class for the people who actually have to take it (Dabashi refuses to kick out the non-majors and the freshman who think it's an "intro course," much to the chagrin of students who actually have to learn this material).

Apr 2004

Professor Dabashi is hardly a brilliant thinker and rarely a good professor. Before enrolling in this course, i heard alot of positive hype surrounding Professor Dabashi. Most of it however seems to be associated with his controversial political views. The course itself, while offering an excellent screening list, is inadequate to provide students with the necessary analytical tools for critiquing film. Professor Dabashi is indeed colorful and dramatic and the course is from afar, a good idea, but his syllabus needs to be revamped and so do his lecture notes. It didn't help that he decided to take three whole weeks off and let his TAs, who did their best to substitute for him, run the course. I was put off by his personality (very haughty) and by his sweeping generalizations about american and european films. i will admit that he did (twice) deliver excellent lectures, but these were exceptions, and when he is in a good mood (again, hardly a trend) he can be approachable and even supportive.

Mar 2004

Professor Dabashi is by far the absolute worst professor i've had during my graduate career at Columbia, and that he manages to garner teaching accolades, attract groupies comprised of nubile undergraduates, and remains the chair of two departments despite sheer incompetence, arrogance, total lack of organization and general smarminess, I'm sure are signs that the four horsemen of the Apocolypse have just touched down, and will be galloping among us quite soon. For all his dramatics and colorful metaphors, Dabashi is really himself what he enjoys calling his critics, "a failed academic". Dabashi not only manages to avoid discussing intelligently or coherently the films he screens , he completely neglects to mention anything from any of the books he's assigned. Instead he rambles incoherently about Hegel, Nietzsche and a host of other German philosophers who have nothing to do with this class. As a previous reviewer noted, Robert Stam's "Subversive Pleasures", was the only book worth buying, and frankly it was the only book from which i learned anything about film!! Dabashi's assigns his own book (i wouldn't call it a book, actually- it's more like a large, badly written brochure) on Iranian cinema, entitled "Close-Up" ( the cover of which Orientalizes/exoticizes Muslim women by repeating the cliche of one in full burka, standing in a beam of light no less). If you are unfortunate enough to shell over $ for a copy and spend time reading it, you just confirm what you already knew before buying it: Dabashi doesn't really know much about Iranian cinema(or any cinema). He's just friends with alot of Iranians who happen to be world renown filmmakers and he enjoys cooing about them. I could put up with all the patronizing and indignity in the world from any professor as long as i learned SOMETHING from him or her! Dabashi, however, is incapable of either formulating or inspiring any original thought, though he's quite fluent at speaking out of his 'arse'. If you catch him doing this, he will bring the full force of his tongue bearing down upon your sorry head. He has no respect or patience for opinions contradicting his own, no matter how well and respectfully articulated, and he has no time for his students outside the classroom. It would be quite apt for him to one day screen "The Wizard of Oz" as he shares so much in common with the title character: flashy, moody, and full of hot air. Do not waste your money or time taking this class or any class by him.

Feb 2004

Professor Dabashi is a brilliant man with little commitment for his students. Part of what makes him a fantastic lecturer is the depth to which he is entrenched in his own thought. This is also what makes him an ineffective teacher. All he can do, in his own words, is to take his students to the kitchen of his mind and to show them what's cooking. (The man's speech is full of incredible and often extended visual metaphors.) He is either incapable of or too lazy to listen to people who are either not on the same page as he is or don't particularly like the page that he is on. His dismissals and his disinterestedness result in minimal participation by his students, even if the class is a senior or graduate seminar. Many very competent students I have spoken with came out of his classes feeling inadequate. This is unfair. [I disagree with the previous student's reading of the screening room incident in that I think the first student's remarks were misinterpreted. The second student's mistake was in her hasty reading of his remark, not in her reaction to the terrible thing she thought he had said. I agree that Dabashi overreacted massively by lashing out at her the way he did, silencing her for the rest of the semester. Foul.] Brilliant man. Bad listener.

Feb 2004

This class is my first Dabashi experience - and I have to say that despite the excellent screening list, I am sorely dissapointed. While I have no problem admitting that he may indeed have a great knowledge of issues pertaining to colonialism (I hear that class is good)- when it comes to film, this professor is sorely lacking. He throws about the term "auteur" with regard to the directors/films we are discussing - but if you begin a sentence with "the director's intention could be..." he shoots you down most contemptuously. His goal in the course is to create a "collective mind" and has stated that even if your paper is of publishable material, if there is no evidence of the collective mind, "you will not get a good grade." Does this mean he is against individual thought? I assume what he requires is to see his own misreadings and misinformed ideas on film regurgitated back to him in any paper we happen to produce - in order to get a "good grade." His overarching argument is that society is codified and that film is not. Has he never heard of the term "cinematic codes?" If cinema was not codefied, how would we be able to "read" films? He makes sweeping statements such as, "the sign of a true master director is when you don't notice the camera..." Kubrick and Godard are turning in their graves right now. He patronizes the huge number of college students in this class, through comments like "Foreign films have long shots and subtitles, and you will think them boring - there is no Hollywood/Swartzenneger action in them.." He makes his mind up about what is the be screened weekly - on a whim almost, on his way to class - even may be a few days after class that we find out what next week's screening or reading is! If you know absolutely nothing about film, you will still be in the dark after taking this class - other than the fact that you will see some great films that you might not have exposure to otherwise. (but again - this class will try and force you to "read" these films in the "Dabashi way" - as if you interpret them in an alternate way - he won't want to hear about it!) If you have only a mild interest in film, you may do ok - but you HAVE to have some sort of prior knowledge to be able to realize that most of his film-related comments are misinformed. My heart goes out to the TAs who, due to the class size, are forced to have to deal with all the complaints about the disorganization - which really has nothing to do with them.

Dec 2003

Professor Dabashi does incredible work for the world and the community except when it comes to his teaching. He arrived to class 10-15 minutes late each session and consistently let us out ten minutes late. We read one book per week and discussed the book for approximatey five minutes every class, though he chose to subject an unsuspecting student to giving a well-reasoned argument and synopsis of the book at the beginning of each class. His syllabus included several books which were out of print and many he chose to remove after we purchased them. If a student chose to disagree with his Marxist conception of the definition of colonialism "the abuse of labor by capital" (also known as capitalism) you would be ridiculed and ignored. He frequently had arguments with students about films and books not assigned for the course (Kant, Adorno & Horkheimer, the film "the battle of algiers"). His classes follow no structure whatsoever and he makes leaps in the conversation by telling stories which are only mildly relevant to the topic of discussion. Sometimes it is difficult to be sure what he is actually talking about. He also made us come to a film screening and discussion for two hours every wednesday night, doubling the amount of classtime. During one such meeting, a student made an unbearably misogynist comment which amounted to "one can tell that a woman has been raped if there is some indication of sexual pleasure." A young woman in the class was offended and said so, asking the young man to refrain from such doltish and offensive commenting.The ever-so-progressive Dabashi screamed at her for asserting her right not to listen to that sort of offensive and violent language in the classroom. The professor was extremely condescending to her. This sort of behavior is indicative of the general Dabashi way, which appears progressive and yet is so completely egoistic and control-bound that you won't learn a thing by questioning. Famous Professors often suffer from these groupie diseases, it becomes a disservice to their work and their students. The grades reflect only the degree to which you agree with everything he says and grovel at the Dabashi altar.

Jul 2003

I have taken two courses by this man and he truly is one of if not the best professors I have ever had. He can light a fire under any one. The man has extream views at times, but is not afraid to admit when he might be wrong or have erred in the past. He has truly been a great part of my columbia education. Take any class this man offers if you can get into them. He normaly makes sure he has great TAs to help guide his class. While he will hand out a plan for the material to be covered on the first day, throw it out right after class; as he will compleatly forget about it by the seond class. Work load is up to you. He will give you a the chance decide your level of involvement in the class. The grading is done almost entierly by his TAs and I have never gotten below an A (even though I took about two weeks of pesonal health days !read vacation!) in the middle of both classes of his I have taken. My advice do the reading and raise your hand, you will get more out of his class than any other you take at columbia.

May 2003

Fabulous class- great works of art and a great Professor. The structure of the class is malleable, thus the input of each student counts. I don't recommend it to those who like their thoughts and ideas spoon fed to them; otherwise it's an absolute blast! Suffice it to say that you will actually get something out of this class; don't miss out!

Mar 2003

What a good guy. He's at the protests, at the boycotts, writing letters to the spec - always standing up for what he should. the class is interesting and the films entertaining. I like it a lot. The tas are great too.

Oct 2002

Awful. Awful. Awful. Dabashi is a classic example of a professor so assured of his brilliance that he ignores his responsibility to impart that brilliance to others. Anyone hoping to learn something about the films or the cultural contexts in which they were produced will be sorely disappointed. Dabashi's lectures are unresearched, unsubstantive, and largely free-associative; often, a student will ask a question and change the course of the entire lecture. Topics covered include Kant, Sartre (neither of whom is on the syllabus), Hamid Dabashi's Traffic Light Theory, Hamid Dabashi's Gas Station Theory, Hamid Dabashi's Amir's Falafel Theory, and Hamid Dabashi's Knife and Fork Theory of Civilization, which states that humans were able to establish civilizations because, unlike cats, they have opposable thumbs. He'll occasionally mention one of the films you've watched, usually only to proclaim that it is a masterpiece and leave it at that. He never brings up the reading, much of which ("Sites of Vision," for instance) is on the syllabus for reasons only he can understand. It may not be hard, but the class is a painful and frustrating time-waster. Avoid it at all costs.

Jan 2000

One of the funniest, sweetest and most brilliant people you'll ever meet. Unconventional in every way; you either love him or you hate him, and you love him. He's one of those "changed my life" profs. If you have even a faint interest in the Middle East, or in cultural relativism, or in thought at all, take anything this man offers, while you still can. No one else in the school can casually compare Latin and Arabic versions of a translation from Persian, and correct them both. Only one warning: his courses tend to involve lots of discussion, and lots of him correcting your statements and your assumptions. If you are looking for academic rigor, or you don't like know-it-all professors, he may not be the one for you.

Jan 2000

Do whatever you can to get into this class. Trust me. If it means sending flowers to Eileen Gillooly, that is a worthwhile step to take. This man constantly makes you rethink your philosophy on life. I am a big sleeper in general, and I have never come close to napping during his class. He makes the texts come to life and makes you want to take 'History of Iran' just so you can have him again. He is anti-order, anti-ordinary, and anti-traffic lights. A rebel WITH a cause. Knows his stuff and brings a refreshing spin to the "western" core curriculum. Highly, highly recommended.

Jan 2000

In this class, we read old persian epic texts and poetry, and watched a few modern films. We were encouraged to bring the readings into the class and discuss line-by-line. We read the texts for what they mean now, as literature, and not for historical, anasthetized meanings. Dabashi is suitable for anyone who is keen on thinking clearer in general - he can be convoluted, but he agitates and moves. He finetuned my vision.

Jan 2000

Eccentric anti-capitalist who makes you feel disconnected from the world and as if you must constantly be redefining yourself. Actually you can't really define anyone... he makes you think, is a beautiful lecturer and runs class more like a discussion than a lecture. He's not afraid to shock either. He's wonderful. Nice pony tail too [editor's note: alas, the pony tail is no more]. Grab him whenever you can; he teaches infrequently, due to unfortunate recent health problems, which seem hard to believe -- who has a stronger heart than Dabashi?

Jan 2000

Dabashi has an incredible love for teaching and his students. Knows the texts very well but is committed first and foremost to ensuring meaningful discussions with everyone participating before teaching the texts ('I could teach this class out of the Yellow Pages'). A professor to seek out.