Review Comment

Literature & Empire: The Reign of the Russian Novel

January 16, 2020

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature & Empire: The Reign of the Russian Novel

Big fan of Prof Popkin. She is one of those professors that actually cares about her students' understanding and will do anything for students who actually want to learn.

In response to what someone said about being lost during her lectures: that's sort of your own fault. If you don't do the assigned readings before the lecture, yeah it gets pretty confusing. But if you do, Prof Popkin pace feels quite refreshing. In a lot of literature classes professors tend to over explain/analyze a single element of the novel while they neglect the rest. Prof Popkin tries her best to touch on everything. I really appreciate how she jumps from idea to idea. There simply isn't enough time in class to discuss everything, yet still she tries. And yea, after presenting an idea she asks some open-ended questions about it... but is this bad? it's obviously to make you think deeper. She won't necessarily answer these questions because 1. there's no time & 2. she wants you to think for yourself & discover your own meaning to the texts... With that said, if you are unclear about anything said in class, her office hours and review sessions are super helpful. Definitely take advantage of them.

Workload:

Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov are pretty thick and easy to fall behind on, so definitely recommend reading over breaks and long weekends.

January 07, 2005

Knapp, Liza Silver_nugget
Literature & Empire: The Reign of the Russian Novel

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

I can't say enough about Professor Knapp. She is caring, insightful, and really one of the best lecturers I've had at Columbia. In a class with very heavy reading, it is necessary to have a teacher who will reward you (intellectually, at least) for all the time you spend-- and Professor Knapp does just that. Each class, she provides organized commentaries on the themes and plot of the novel, and she asks you to do 'scavenger hunts,' which allow you to find some of the novel's themes and plots for yourself. I liked these, because, for once, I was finding things on my own, without having a teacher simply telling me what is and is not in the novel. She knows Anna Karenina and Tolstoy so unbelievably well. Even if you have read the book before, you will get a thousand times more out of it with her as your guide. Most importantly, she is truly excited about what she is teaching, and you can tell that she loves it -- this will definitely rub off on you.

Workload:

A ton of reading (Eugene Onegin, Hero of Our Time, Fathers and Sons, Dead Souls, Anna Karenina, Brothers Karamazov, Chekhov's Stories). 1 paper (7-10 pages), 1 take-home midterm (7-10 pages), 1 open book final. She is definitely a fair grader.

December 22, 2004

Knapp, Liza Silver_nugget
Literature & Empire: The Reign of the Russian Novel

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

Two things combined to make this class generally wonderful: the incredible reading list of Russian novels and Professor Knapp's often hilarious (& inspiring) enthusiasm & passion for the subject. Though I was occasionally annoyed by the lack of organization in the lectures and the slightly remedial ungraded exercises (for instance, scavenger hunts), on the whole I found the class very interesting & felt like Prof Knapp really focused on the important aspects of the novels and tied them together thematically. Her vast knowledge of the subject and her screeching, unpredictable outbursts of excitement also made the class well worth attending.

Workload:

A good deal of reading: The Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, Dead Souls, A Hero of Our Time, Fathers and Sons, Eugene Onegin, and short stories by Chekhov. Prof is not offended, however, if you're a couple classes behind. 2000 word take-home midterm, 2000 word paper, in class final, all graded very leniently.

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