Review Comment

Literature and Empire

February 16, 2020

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Um to the person below who said I didn't read the books, I did. I still wasn't following along with the discussions in class. xx

Workload:

heavy reading at times

December 26, 2019

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Professor Popkin was a kind and enthusiastic instructor, but I was lost during her lectures. She bounced from idea to idea, rarely close read with the class, and asked lofty questions about the texts that she admittedly had no answers to. There was little to no historical context discussed, so I felt like I didn't learn much about Russia. The TA didn't provide helpful feedback on discussion posts. I enjoyed the books we read but felt lost in the class and I don't think I took much out of it.

Workload:

Manageable readings for most of the books -- Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov required a lot of time to read

December 28, 2011

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Popkin is a real treat. She is always so excited about the reading and full of infectious energy. She always had a well-prepared organized lecture, which she would deviate from based on comments and questions from the class. (Speaking of which, it's been my experience that the students in the Slavic Studies department are really impressive. You can't make culpa reviews of classmates, I guess, but mine were so insightful!) Every week she posted a discussion question which absolutely stumped me, in the best possible way, making me see patterns in the reading that I could only barely bein to make sense of. She's not one of those professors who ask questions with one correct answer. She is completely open to the possibility of a student pointing out something she'd never considered, and it was so great to watch her reanalyze the work in light of a student's remark. At the same time, she doesn't beat around the bush to call someone out on their bullshit. If you like Russian literature, take this class!

Workload:

A LOT of reading, often 100 pages for each session, but occasionally skipping a section won't kill you. Paying attention in class is the most important. Weekly responses to a discussion question. A brutal midterm and final, simple identifications but then way more close readings than you could do in the allotted time, although I have a hunch she considers your annotations of the prompts along with your actual essays. A poorly defined class participation grade (She said you wouldn't be penalized for never saying a thing in class, but it's listed as 10% on the syllabus. Who knows.)

December 12, 2008

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

The reading list for this class is wonderful and well worth the time it takes to get through all of it! Professor Popkin is also a great teacher; she is incredibly enthusiastic and it is clear that she truly cares about the material and the students. However, expect a LOT of participation from students even though it is listed as a lecture course. Popkin (and sometimes the TA) also takes a lot of time and effort giving feedback on the weekly question sets, which is nice to receive. If you're interested in Russian lit, this is a good class to take!

Workload:

Lots of reading, 2 paragraphs-ish of questions/response per week, midterm, final (no papers)

January 01, 2007

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Popkin is an engaging, enthusiastic professor. She put together an interesting, well-rounded reading list for the class. The class is supposed to be a lecture but it really a discussion. Prof. Popkin is respectful of all students and encourages everyone to speak. My favorite class thus far at Columbia!

Workload:

Very light - you write two questions for each assigned reading. Although it's a Russian lit class, there are only two or three novels over four-hundred pages, and Professor Popkin spaces the readings out well, so the longer assignments are mangeable. A mid-term and final that allow you to review what you've learned during the semester and which don't require studying if you've gone to class and paid attention .

December 24, 2006

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class was worse than Frontiers. It was more like Oprah's Book Club than an actual class. Professor Popkin asks questions like "do you guys like Anna?" By asking questions that could only produce incredibly subjective answers, no one learns anything. You will not learn anything about Russia. Whenever a book contained long passages about Russian politics, history, or religious thought, she would say things like "don't you just want to skip all over that" and "I don't think that's really important." Basically, don't be misled by the "and Empire;" Professor Popkin does not encourage you to read the books in their historical context. You also don't learn much about the authors, how the books were received, where the criticism stands. It's basically a bad Lit Hum section instead of an upper-level literature course that posits itself as a historical analysis of Russian literature. The 20th century survey that's taught by Professor Stanton, "Literary Avant-Garde and Revolution" is a MUCH better class.

Workload:

Midterm, final, 2 questions per class (which was actually kind of time consuming; most of us wrote about a page single spaced for each class) However, this shouldn't be important to you because hopefully, you will not take this class.

March 25, 2006

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Cathy Popkin is simply amazing. With an excellent book list, and her knowledge, she is by far one of the best literature profs I have had. She is passionate and enthusiastic, interested in what the students can contribute to class and runs a discussion based class very well. I highly recommend, she can seriously help shape the experience of 19th century Russian lit.
Grading: Popkin says that she believes in recognizing the amazing from the less than amazing, so don't expect to breeze through even though the assignments are pretty easy. If you read the texts and engage with them, there is no need to worry about the grade.

Workload:

She assigns students to write two developed questions based on the text for every class. There is also a midterm and final.

December 24, 2005

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I'm not quite as big a fan of this class as previous reviewers. Prof. Popkin is very nice and intelligent and knows the novels inside and out. She is also totally approachable, and in a class of about fifty students she learned every name, which is amazing. And yes the reading list is great. But this class is too heavily dependent on the students. If you're in a boring section, the class will be boring. If people haven't done the reading, the discussion will stagnate (though this only happened a couple of times toward the end of the semester). In my class some of the most interesting students didn't speak that much, and some of the least interesting babbled profusely. I have a low tolerance for students who talk even when they have nothing of interest to say, so this really drove me crazy. Overall, though, the reading list makes this class worth taking.

One very good piece of advice--Popkin's main concern is themes. The whole midterm consisted in identifying five paragraphs by work, author, and a brief (like one sentence) explanation of where the paragraph fit in the story, and then listing themes from the novel that came up in, were hinted at by, or in any way related to the paragraph--you didn't even have to use full sentences. The themes are the most important part, and the more good themes you can come up with the better your grade will be. When reading, and in class notes, make sure to note down every theme you can, then make lists of themes for each novel and use them to study for the tests. If you have read the books, then studying your theme lists is all you have to do to prepare for the midterm (and get an A--geeze I with someone had told me this). The final was the same as the midterm with the addition of an essay. She gave lots of choices for the essay topics, all pretty straight forward, and many allowing lots of room for personal opinions, interpretations, etc. Themes, themes, themes...you'll thank me.

Workload:

lots of reading (especially after the midterm), midterm, final, 2 discussion questions a week (if you pick up on important themes she will love your questions)

December 20, 2003

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Cathy Popkin is a fabulous teacher. The secret is she teaches courses that she feels really passionate about-- that's why everyone in this class enjoyed it so much. Even though there were literally thousands of pages of reading to do, almost the entire class shouldered through them because in her discussions the books just seemed so interesting.

Workload:

Weekly questions (they can be very brief), simple midterm and less simple final. Her grading system helps the student out a lot-- every question on the midterm was worth 20 points, but you could earn 25... you could actually get a perfect score without touching a question.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section