May 20, 2007

Becker, Priscilla Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Prof. Becker isn't as bubbly or immediately outgoing as some other teachers, but over the course of the semester, I noticed how good her ideas and suggestions were. She is a good teacher. The grades we (or me, at least) were getting back over the course of the semester seemed a little low at first, but they get revisited after revisions and the final portfolio are turned in, and I was pleased with my final grade (I know another reviewer said the grading seemed a little harsh, but I would disagree). She does have a slight problem with time management though. Overall, it was a good course.

Workload:

One short story, a play, and three poems--experpts from longer works are accepted for the story and the play, and probably for the poems too but it didn't come up. Each section is worth a third of the grade, and smaller assignments and such are included in the grade for that section. The works are workshopped and revised for the final portfolio, like most writing classes.

February 18, 2007

Becker, Priscilla Silver_nugget
[W3001] Structure and Style I and [W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Priscilla is a truly wonderful teacher, probably one of the best I've had at Columbia.I took Structure and Style 1 with her and then ended up (happily) in her Structure and Style 2 class as well. Unlike other writing teachers that make themselves the focus of the class, she really runs a great workshop, where she allows students to develop and advance their own critiques of other student's work. Her suggestions, however, are always insightful and thorough, inspiring creative criticism from the rest of the class. She doesn't have a standard style or subject matter that she favors, but rather allows students to improve their work while guiding them to develop their own strongest points. Often writing excercises can feel limiting or confusing, but Priscilla uses them as a way to open up new voices or ways for expressing familiar ideas. She encourages students to take risks, but also appreciates simple, well-written pieces. She is really serious about writing - she is a talented and highly acclaimed poet - but she is equally serious about teaching. Perhaps those students that reviewed her negatively mistook her seriousness for a lack of caring or openmindedness. The truth is, if you put yourself into the class - both the writing and the workshopping aspects - you will get twice as much back. Especially if you go to office hours, as she encourages everyone to do, Priscilla really will help you become a better writer and more appreciative reader of good writing. She is not an easy teacher, but it is possible to do well in her class if you care about the work and take risks.

Workload:

Two or three poems, one short story, and a one act (or one scene from a longer play).

February 18, 2007

Becker, Priscilla Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I strongly recommend Priscilla Becker to any students interested in taking a writing course at Columbia. She creates an incredible classroom environment which is fun and inspiring but best of all buttressed by real support and encouragement. Priscilla keeps you actively writing with in-class assignments and additional writing exercises on the weeks that you are not due to hand in a longer piece. This was vital to me as it allowed me more outlets than just the three banner assignments (poem, scene, short fiction). Priscilla made herself totally available and encouraged if not expected each student to meet with her about each of his/her three large assignments. In class she spent little time on her own comments but encouraged the group discussion instead. In addition to the texts she handed out great readings – some of which she was inspired to distribute by the writing styles of students in the class. Priscilla even added an extra session at the end of the semester to get that much more out of the class. She was very appreciative of the vast variety of writing styles in the class and all of her comments were constructive and postive.

Workload:

in-class writing assignments, several poems, one piece of short fiction, one scene

February 17, 2007

Becker, Priscilla Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

DO take any creative writing class you can with Priscilla Becker. She is a writer’s writer and this is reflected in the way she teaches. She considers her students writers and demands a disciplined and respectful workshop. She seems to care deeply for words and makes you consider every one you use- she is not interested in the “gist” of things and if you pay attention you will learn how to say what you mean. (Or at least start to really think about it). She does not condescend to students nor does she preach her own sensibilities. She listens and absorbs the dynamics of the room and offers insight and encouragement outside of class. She is not afraid to question what she does not “get”- out of an actual curiosity- nor is she afraid to tell you that something isn’t working.
She does not pull punches and this is a great thing if you want to take writing seriously. She assigns a lot of reading and a lot of exercises- including a poem recitation- but it seems to me that a lot of reading etc.
is what writers are supposed to be doing. She held an extra class at the end of last semester because everyone wanted to continue meeting. It was optional but most everyone showed up.

Workload:

Standard structure and style- short story, 3 poems, One Act with required re-writes. Lots of exercises, reading.

February 10, 2007

Becker, Priscilla Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

The instructor of any writing course has what I think is a very difficult job. In my opinion, there is no feasible way to TEACH someone how to write creatively. All you can really do is identify what is good about someone's, identify what is bad, and encourage good habits.

This is exactly what Priscilla does. She assigns several exercises and tries to workshop as often as possible during class time. This forces the students to actively work on their writing and at the same time affords them many opportunities to figure out what is working and what is not working about their writing with Priscilla.
Whether or not you always agree with her, she is always insightful and perceptive with her comments. She forces you to think critically about your own writing. I was very impressed by how nuanced her understanding of writing was.

Although she may seem standoffish at first, I think in actuality she is hiding her own shyness from the class.
She is truly invested in helping her students and tries to foster a safe and fun environment for the students. By the end of the semester, we all felt at ease with each other.

Workload:

Three (3) poems; one (1) short story; one (1) play; handful of exercises; weekly readings.

January 18, 2007

Snyder, Scott B. Gold_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

What to say about Scott? The man is amazing. If this man told me to jump off a bridge, I would, and I suspect many of my classmates felt the same. If you want to be a writer and don't manage to take a class with Scott, you're missing out in a way that actually makes me pity you. I doubt Columbia ever had or ever will have such a nurturing writing professor. Don't get me wrong--unlike most profs in the department, if your writing sucks he won't just blow smoke up your ass and say it's fine. He'll tell you it's broken and, more importantly, he'll help you fix it. He has an amazing knack, actually, for zeroing in on where your work is weak and making just the right suggestion to get you back on track. This guy will beyond bend over backwards to help his students. He happily looks over work generated outside of class, he'll suggest books he thinks you'll like (and loan you copies from his own collection). He'll share his love of Titanic. He takes the course very seriously. You have to type up comments for each piece of your classmate's work, and while this can be kind of a drag when you're having a busy week, you'll really really appreciate it when it comes your time to be workshopped. He's also strict on attendance and punctuality, but you won't want to miss a minute of his class anyway. Seriously, take him. Or at least read his book, Voodoo Heart - you'll become a better writer just reading each of his stories.

Workload:

The usual poem/play/story, plus 3-5 typed critiques each week.

December 16, 2006

Becker, Priscilla Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I do not recommend taking Structure and Style II with Priscilla. I disagreed with all of her opinions on others people's work and found that everytime she liked something, i disliked it. She made the class buy three books, one of which was really expensive and all were unnecessary. She gave out tons of handouts and harped on her love of Sylvia Plath almost every class. Her comments were occasionally helpful, but i get the feeling that if you don't change your work to relect her style, your grade will suffer. Class was boring and painful and she went off on tangents constantly. She even made us have an extra class during reading week because she couldn't manage time efficiently. Nevertheless, we didn't get to workshop all of our pieces. If you like creative writing, don't take her class because it will not inspire you and will frankly become torturous.

Workload:

tons of pointless readings, normal S&S II load--a couple poems, 1 play, 1 fiction piece

December 13, 2006

Berlin, Adam Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Adam is a really great writing teacher. He can see what work you need to put in where, but won't tell you how to do it. He's very encouraging and sometimes seems to know where a piece is going before the writer does. On the first day of class, I was very skeptical of him because he gave a little speech about how he likes character-driven work and "heart pieces" not "head pieces." I later learned that I actually agree with him, because he means he doesn't want you to write a science fiction novel or a crazy, experimental story. This is good because you probably cannot write those things well anyway, since this is structure and style 2 and you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. He also respects his students enough that he doesn't assign trite writing exercises. If you want to take this class you should know how to get going on your own without someone forcing you to keep a weekly journal or whatever. He doesn't give a lot of guidelines in general, which is nice.

Adam is always available and clearly cares about his students. He held an extra class so we could have enough time to workshop everyone's work thoroughly. He also writes up page-long reviews of your work for everything you turn in, which is really helpful for revisions. Yes, he wants you to revise your work, but you also need to revise your work because you are not a genius.

Also, someone in an earlier review insinuated that he only likes guys' writing. That's completely false.

Anyone interested in writing could learn a lot from Adam.

Workload:

2 poems, a short story, 2 scenes from a play/a 2 scene play

November 14, 2006

Thames, Susan Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I don't understand why there are more negative reviews of Susan than positive. I loved her class, even more than Structure and Style I, which I loved as well. She does show a little more of her own opinion than I have seen other writing teachers do, but still lets everyone else contribute to the discussion, so this is not a problem. In fact, not being afraid to voice our opinions created a very open and warm class environment. She was extremely helpful to me personally, and seemed to show real interest in our work, outside of just leading the workshop. I found her perspectives on things interesting; she also often recommended things for us to read that related to discussions in class. She was tough and sweet in just the right mix, opinionated but not domineering. I hope I can work with Susan again in the future.

Workload:

One piece every week (I really generated a lot this semester), some extra readings which she phased out, portfolio at the end

November 12, 2006

Snyder, Scott B. Gold_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Scott Snyder-- A great instructor... or the greatest? After taking this class you'll agree with one of these and my guess is that it'll be the latter. Scott is one of the most involved instructor on the sixth floor of Lewison. Much has been written about his strict policy on being late (don't even think of falling asleep in class... he'll kill you) but he does it out respect for the students. It's clear that were the ones that are important to him and you are reminded of this everyday of class.

Workload:

Standard for the course--one poem, one scene, one short story. The only addition is that you have to type out your comments which is actually well worth the effort when it's your turn to be critiqued.

July 20, 2006

Snyder, Scott B. Gold_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

If you get scott snyder, you're a lucky dog. His first book: Voodoo Heart is out now, which is fantastic. So that's big: you're working with someone whose work you can respect. Who's got a taste of success and makes you think you too can make it.
And he's a great guy. Gentle-mannered, friendly and very available for help on your work.

Scott is organized, dedicated, punctual and genuinely caring. He runs a tight ship. You arrive at his class on time, having reviewed your peers' work thoroughly or you get penalized. Which can suck when you're a flake like me.
On the upside, you get real feedback from people who have actually read your work. And classes are not bogged down by the idiotic granstanding of people who have only read two pages of your story.
The result is not stuffy. You might hear "tight ship" and think of detention. What I mean is that Scott keeps things moving. He runs the kind of functioning workshop that is worth your time.
So, as I said, Scott is gentle. He won't tell you that your work sucks or really give you a handle on your grade moving forward, but he's easily excited by work he likes, which you'll notice. So, you know when you're doing well...

What more can I say? If you're interested in taking SSII as a slack, easy class, don't take scott. If you want two hours of solid workshop every week, with a published author who knows his shit and is, by the way, an awesome guy, then he's for you.

Workload:

SSII. Poems, Short Story and Screenplay. A final portfolio ~30 pp of work due including edits. Weekly comments on 4-6 people's work.

July 08, 2006

Worsley, C. Dale
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I absolutely DO agree with the other people who have said that Dale Worsley is a professor who brings LITERALLY NOTHING to the table. His class would have been simply a waste of my time if he was an easy grader. Instead, it is both a waste of my time AND also bad for my GPA. Seriously, if you can take S&SII with ANYBODY else, DO. The idea that you can't say anything negative about other people's work makes absolutely no sense. You are supposed to basically say that you love it because it reminds you of "Fievel Goes West". He also wastes a lot of time in class with his inability to make functioning workshop groups and often gets flustered. Also, he has this preposterous concept called a "spirit reading" in which you start reading aloud from one of the boring essays when you "feel" like you want to. Chaos. Basically, he sets you up for disaster, because he won't allow people to criticize your work constructively, and he also comes over and gives comments like "Wow, that's really interesting" and then tears the work apart in the grading process. The rubric makes things worse because it is impossible to decipher and has no actual concrete information on it. Stay away.

Workload:

Not TErrible, but not good either

April 17, 2006

Worsley, C. Dale
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Dale is borring. Dale brings in useless articles and makes us read them. Dale talks often about his seemingly unsuccessful career. The class is run like so: Free write in the beginning, a little talking about the useless articles, break up into small groups of peers that aren't allowed to say anything bad about each other's work, but only say what it reminds us of (basically we chat), we all come back into the room where Dale tortures us with more uselessness, look at your watch several times, and run out of the class thanking God it only happens once a week so you won't have to be back again soon.

In terms of grading, there is a very intense rubric. Dale takes it upon himself to give the bad criticism that no one in the peer group was allowed to give, so the grades are never as high as expected. Plus he loves taking off for stuff like not referencing enough work of other authors in your personal reflection.

Don't take this class. It is bad.

Workload:

A portofio of poems, a short story, a play, and some little projects. There is work every week.

January 09, 2006

Worsley, C. Dale
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

This was one of the worst classes I have taken at Columbia. If I had been able to drop it, I would have. Worsley does not believe in "criticism", he believes in "reflection and response". In the poetry unit, he ACTUALLY had us DRAW PICTURES of how the poems made us feel. This made me feel like I am wasting a lot of time and money on my Columbia education. He also said that he believes "a B is a good grade" which makes him have NO redeeming qualities because he's not even an easy grader. During the fiction unit, he had us talk about what movies the person's story reminded us of. This did not help me in the editing process. When I was trying to make my fiction better, what I had to go on was stuff like "this reminds me of the movie "Talk to Her"." This class has seriously made me reconsider doing the creative writing program at all. Literally torturous.

Workload:

Not bad, but he'll tell you it's good to your face in workshop because of the no criticism policy and then give you a crap grade on it later on.

December 03, 2005

Snyder, Scott B. Gold_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Take this class with this teacher. That is all. When you will take it, you will thank me, so here is your pre-emptive "you're welcome."

okay, if you are not convinced, here's a little more insight: Scott is not pretentious. He actually *wants* to be there (or if not, he is a very good actor) -- he gets really excited before every unit and always has something good to say about everyone's writing -- truly constructive criticism. Yes, it humbles you if you go in thinking you're Hemingway, but after you get over the blows (which he really tries to soften), you realize that he was probably right, and you rethink your piece. And if you think he's wrong, he'll actually listen to you!

Like the other reviewers said, he's a stickler about attendance...but again, it is because he fosters a respect for each individual student... he doesn't want to have anyone's writing given less attention because people were late... and the writing classes are at night, so really, it is not hard to get there on time.

The only flaw he has is timing: I don't think there was one class (except for maybe the first one) when we didn't go over the 1hr 50 mins... but you don't even notice until you look at the clock afterwards and realize you were in there an extra 5-10 minutes... it is just a truly enjoyable, educational class. I think everyone grew as writers and had a fantastic time while doing so. Really, really, really, a gem in the otherwise mediocre writing department.

Workload:

Same as other classes: 3 weeks on poetry, 3 weeks on drama/film, 3 weeks on fiction. You go one of each 3 weeks in the units.. and you critique about 5 pieces of writing a week. It's more work for the fiction, and the least amount of work for the poetry (just because of reading), but it isn't all that time consuming...also, he expects you to be revising all semester, and encourages attendance of outside class events like readings around the city. These are not required and don't give you any extra pull, but they are worth considering if you have time...on the whole, I didn't.

September 08, 2005

Becker, Priscilla Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

As with the previous poster I too was confused by my grade. However I don't think that the laid back atmosphere blocked any sort of improvement. Priscilla genuinely wanted to help her students and sometimes went to lengths to turn criticism from other students into something constructive. Priscilla has very subtle ways of helping, you just have to be attentive and looking out for it. Odd behavior for someone who said once that she doesn't like to know personal information about the author.

Workload:

3 poems in the beginning, 1 dramatic act from a play, 1 short story (all are in the style of your choosing)

May 09, 2005

Berlin, Adam Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Adam is a good writing teacher. He requires everyone to legitimately workshop everyone else's pieces, and he always gives you a very detailed written critique of your work. He seems big on revisions. He mentioned them rather frequently throughout the semester, but the vibe from the class was that most people did them right before they were due. So it goes.
People have said this before, but it's quite true so I shall restate: Adam loves writing "from the heart." "Head pieces" are not his thing, and he will frequently say that. Being clever and funny (and entertaining) is always well received during the actual workshop, even by Mr. Adam Berlin, himself. However, if you are "GPA-type" with a great sense of humor and wit, Adam will like you, but he won't give you an "A". Ouch! That's ok though, stop obsessing about your grades. You should have given that up in high school. Enjoy your better than a B+, not quite an A or whatever he chooses to give you.
It's probably best to extend yourself outside of your comfort zone in writing for this class. You only write 2 poems, a short story, and part of a play (2 scenes) ...It's really not much to prove yourself and show development (if you choose to have any.) If you just can't help being funny... run with that on the short story, but when it comes time for your play... write it about a canoe builder or carpenter or something like that... write about how his craft is his art. Working with his hands etc etc. Have him be soft-spoken, yet profound. Adam likes John Updike a lot... throw in some of that too. You will have a total winner. I guess you could do the reverse and have the short story be dramatic and "low to the ground" ... your call. As far as poetry goes... if you think you are good at poetry, you probably aren't. That's all I have to say about that.
You see, even my CULPA review is a "head piece." So it goes. Anyway, Adam is a good guy and you will learn stuff from his comments and the rest of the class, even if you don't write in the preferred form. Also, who wouldn't want to take a class from someone named Adam Berlin. It's probably the greatest name in the Columbia Writing Program.... although, Loren-Paul Caplin provides some fierce competition... and who could forget Aaron Hambuger, who gets an honorable mention.

Workload:

2 poems, a short story, 2 scenes from a play.

April 14, 2005

Yoshikawa, Mako
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Not helpful. Indoctrinated. Rigid views on writing and a cloying manner of speech. You'll write as much in any class in this department; the benefit of disclipine is nothing peculiar to a class she is teaching. Choose another teacher if you want to hear honest, invested responses to your work. She's good for a few canned, tired phrases that you've heard too many times already...Not worth the money. Scott Snyder teaches most of the same classes and is infinitely better, more hardworking, and more caring.

January 19, 2005

Yoshikawa, Mako
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Mako's class was all right. She has written a few books of her own and has some impressive credentials. You'll get more useful critiques out of other students than from her, though. I found it kind of hard to follow her train of thought and a lot of what she said was not too clear.

I also though she led the class very slowly and sometimes did not give people their fair share of workshop time. Maybe it was just me, but I thought that the pieces she liked got loads of time, and those she didn't got much less. In a class based on workshopping, that is a big, big downside. Fortunately, you actually get to do a lot of writing! Lots of creative assignments, loosely guided so that you can really do your own thing. So yes, this class was worth it.

December 28, 2004

Berlin, Adam Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

As others have said, the student who reviewed professor Berlin in April 2003 could not have been more wrong. Adam is a good teacher and a respected writer. His comments are always spot on and he can point you to the exact problem of every scene, but he waits for the class to talk it out and brainstorm it first before offering his suggestions. As to the accusation of him being "offensively manly" and that "gender is everything" in his class.... forget it. Everyone is treated equally. If you want to talk, he lets you talk. If he disagrees with you, he says "fair enough" and lets it lie. There is no favoritism at all. This is a good class. You'll be a better writer at the end because he honestly cares about you and wants you to do better. So please, take this class

Workload:

2 poems, 1 story, 2 scenes + class participation and attendance. (Honestly, I would have liked to have turned in a few more revisions to really fine tune our work, but I really like hard work.... that's just me.)

December 16, 2004

Worsley, C. Dale
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Do not take this class with Woresley. It's fourth grade all over again. The content of the class is laughable AT BEST and you will get punished for laughing, which is the only way to sanely pass the time during class. I did appreciate that Dale made the class a somewhat easygoing experience. That's pretty much the only plus- he will tell you that your writing is good no matter what. However, this made me lose all motivation and I'm pretty sure my writing got worse over the course of the semester.

Workload:

3 assignments; 1 short story, 1 play, several poems; however there is a catch- process narratives must be written with each assignment that are essentially 5 pages of BS. You may actually feel stupider after writing these.

December 14, 2004

Berlin, Adam Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

After reading the April 2003 review, I was terrified when I was switched into Adam Berlin's class from another section of S&S2. Now that the semester is almost over, it has been my favorite class and he's the best instructor I've had at Columbia. By contrast, the ONE full professor I've had at Columbia has been far less accessible, timewise and intellectually.
It seems to me that the April 2003 reviewer wasn't familiar with the concept of a workshop, they aren't meant to give you exercises to get the juices flowing. At this level, you're expected to do that yourself and come to class prepared. A first draft needn't be perfect, but there's no hand-holding, either. We worked hard, we carefully read and critiqued one another's work and I think everyone got a lot out of it. Adam led the discussion in a way that was respectful and encouraged participation. And it was fun!

Technically, he's conservative -- he cares about good, old-fashioned, character-
driven (e.g. characters the reader can care about, rather than crazy plot twists) prose with a beginning, middle and an end. Compared to another class I had here, which was full of nonsensical, metafiction where I felt like I was underwater while reading, this is the real deal.

Although he's clearly a fiction guy, he was patient enough to read several extra poems and revisions, as well as give me extensive feedback on them. He consistently went above and beyond the call of duty. I was especially impressed that he wrote about 700 words of feedback for each assignment, and was available before and after class, as well as by email. That's more than I can say for a lot of my Columbia instructors. Bottom line: Adam Berlin has made me a better writer.

They really should hire him full time or at least for a fiction workshop, which he'd obviously excel in. I can't recommend Adam Berlin's class highly enough.

Workload:

Very reasonable -- 2 poems ("somewhere between a haiku and an epic," he said, seems to prefer prose poems and no picture poetry), 1 short story, 2 scenes from a play -- he wants to see REAL revision, not just a couple of line changes. Thanks to the department policy, I am not sure what my grade will be.

November 15, 2004

Berlin, Adam Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Great professor. He writes a full page of comments about anything you write and is very accessible during office hours (an hour before & after class). He is no-nonsense - don't come late, hand in work ontime, etc. - but this is a good thing. I've personally got a lot out of his comments. His short stories are really good and his novel Belmondo Style is awesome. (he's also written another novel, Headlock, and teaches full-time at John Jay College in addition to teaching @ Columbia) In addition, he is accessible via e-mail and is willing to help you a lot if you put in the effort. I've heard nightmare stories about other S&S2 professors - Berlin is a great professor and I wish he taught more classes in the writing program. Take him!

Workload:

2 poems, one short story, 2 scenes. Revise works during the semester. Hand in portfolio at the end of the semester. Attendance and lateness affect grade, so come and be on time!

November 15, 2004

Berlin, Adam Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Whoever wrote the April 2003 review must not have taken the same class that I did. Adam Berlin takes the time, after every piece of work you turn in, to write a page or more of typed commentary on your work and ways to improve. Something I have never seen any professor at Columbia do. He is always around before or after class and his comments are always insightful and quite helpful. He has published 2 books and many short stories but still finds time to help any student who asks. He isn't a flashy post modernist or anything like that, but instead a proponent of the conservative story with a sound plot, something all beginning writing students should master. I recommend this class to all writing students, it is one that I have enjoyed. And I don't see how that reviewer could find any problems with this teacher.

Workload:

2 poems, short story, 2 scenes

November 15, 2004

Berlin, Adam Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Take his class! Yes, he's a conservative writer but for a semi-intro writing class I think this is a good thing. By conservative, I mean that in short stories he wants a beginning, middle and end, a theme and a resolution of sorts. Everyone in the class is not yet a published novelist, so I think it's important to learn the structure of a story in this class.
Berlin's comments are always great, and he really knows how to help you out. He makes himself accessible an hour before & after class, and moderates the workshopping well. While the level of excitement in the class depends on the students (and their writing), Berlin is always interesting and makes great observations.

I've really learned a lot from his class and I think I've improved a lot since S&S I. In the meantime, read his novel, Belmondo Style (which you can borrow from the writing center) and you'll understand his comments and writing style better.
In a word, he likes your writing to be REAL. He wants you to struggle with the words, and even put yourself into your work so that it feels closer for the reader. Take his class. You'll love it.

Workload:

Not bad. 2 poems (any length aside from haikus), 1 short story (~8page min, though he sets no official minimum), 2 consecutive scenes from a play (4-6pg total). Portfolio of the "heavily revised" work is due at the end of the semester. No idea on how he grades, but I think he wants a large change between original draft and conclusion.

October 30, 2004

Rosario, Nelly Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I'm surprised nobody has put up a review of Nelly Rosario yet. She's my favourite professor so far in the writing department I'll definately take any other class she teaches if I get the chance. She's young, easy-going, a great teacher, and very accessible if you want to talk to her about your writing.
She also has a sense of humor and doesn't get too pretentious concerning writing which is kind of rare among writing department faculty.
Her own writing is fiction but she was great in giving fiction, script writing, and poetry equal attention in class.
She's gives good critique, she's not overly harsh but will let you know if she thinks you can do better, and is not scared of letting you know (in a gentle way) if your writing is bad or if its just not working.
I felt that I became way more conscious of my strenghts and weaknesses as a writer in her class, and that my writing improved vastly from it.
As for her own writing she's written a novel, and was listed among the most promising young writers in the Village Voice a couple of years ago (look her up on the Village Voice website).

Workload:

Moderate. Some reading, but mostly writing. I seem to remember handing in written assignments most weeks, but not every week. At the end of the semester you'll hand in your portfolio, consisting of your revised work from the whole semester. In addition to our own work, and the standard in-class workshopping, we were asked to give written in-depth critique each piece of work of a "reading partner."

November 17, 2003

Green, Joshua Silver_nugget
[W3001] Structure and Style I and [W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I've taken Josh Green twice. That in itself should say a lot. The man knows how to work with student writers. He definitely takes all styles of writing seriously; we had a range of voices in our class and I feel like he respected everyone's style and tried to help students acheive the effect that THEY were striving for, not the effect that he personally would prefer (which is something I think a lot of writing teachers end up doing). What I respect most about Josh is that he does not feed anyone fluff about their writing. He is critical yet fair and gives so many helpful comments written on the work itself, during the workshop, and especially during office hours. Bad writing workshops can go one of two ways: the teacher can be offensive by being too critical and disrespecting the students' voice and aims, or the teacher can be offensive by being so condescending (or even just too kind) and praising any kind of work that's turned in, giving no contructive criticism whatsoever. Josh takes the middle path. On top of that, he's a funny guy (weird in a cool way), and he's BRILLIANT (when did he get a chance to read all those poems, books, critical essays--and retain everything?).

There are some drawbacks, of course. Occasionally workshops meandered a bit...tangents were really interesting but once in a while a bit much. And he gives a lot of reading (like most writing profs, i believe) and requires occasional courseworks postings (unlike most writing profs, i believe), and though the work all seems worth it (it VERY MUCH IS), it's a bit overwhelming on at some moments throughout the semester.

Workload:

same as most structure and style classes (poetry--including narrative poem, prose poem, stuff like that--manifesto, scene for a play--a whole play for SS2 i believe--short story, microfiction/flash fiction). something's due just about every week, except for the end of the semester when the assignments are longer (like the short story and play). lots of critical essays and examples of contemporary writers to read, courseworks reflections on the readings sometime each week....sounds hardcore, and feels like it on occasion, but he's laidback and it's manageable in the end.

November 14, 2003

Green, Joshua Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Josh is a rarity in college level writing classes in that he really puts effort into trying to understand a student's own goals. So, his comments on anything you write have you in mind, not what he thinks that you should be writing. I agree that Josh is demanding and critical, but not in a bad way. He makes even his criticisms sound as if they were poetic. At the same time, he is tactful in his suggestions. And he'll never, never, impose anything on you. If I had my way, I'd take more writing classes with him.

Workload:

weekly postings on readings, final portfolio of work.

November 13, 2003

Budhos, Marina
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I really regret taking Marina's class. She spent more than an hour of the weekly class session babbling about one of her favorite short stories (which usually weren't liked at all by the class). Then, when we finally started discussing our own material, she preferred to nitpick and avoid commenting on the meat of a piece. S&SII could be a valuable opportunity to fine-tune one's skills, but Marina's class was without a doubt the LOW POINT of my Columbia writing program experience. Only recommended to teen magazine writers.

November 09, 2003

Pousson, Martin
[W3001] Structure and Style I and [W3002] Structure and Style II

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

GREAT instructor! A pleasure to have his class. He provides good, solid feedback on your writing. He NEVER makes you feel bad, even if what you've written is total garbage. He has a nice balance of positive and negative criticisms.... A little bit of a tough grader despite his laid back attitude and numerous tattoos (ask about them and he'll explain each one for you).... Always helpful and insightful. Highly recommended!

Workload:

Not bad AT ALL -- one poem, one short story, one piece of drama and a portfolio at the end of all edited work... MUST attend all classes and don't be late! And make sure you REALLY edit well if you expect an A. Very manageable workload.

February 03, 2003

Thames, Susan Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

A- for arrogance. Unfortunately I realized this when it was too late to drop the class, namely the second week. The first week I thought: Oh wow, a crunchy old dyke with a tattoo: I didn't think sacharine, I thought spacey; I didn't think arrogant, but opinionated. Basically, if she doesn't like your kind of writing which is anything that isn't AIDS/RAPE/INCEST (i.e. nature, in her eyes) related you're fucked, and trust me, you don't want that. Prepare to hate the students she favors--they are often just as self-absorbed as she is. This is a particular breed of arrogance which doesn't stem from intelligence or mental masturbation like Conan O'Brien's does--it's quite humorless. Writing for this woman is like throwing shit against the wall. What a lovely wall, she'll say. But wait, what's that smell? Not me, is it? No, this is just not me! But never fear: It's not so much a grades issue, so don't worry if you too made it to the add/drop date before realizing what i did, you'll get a lot of writing done, and comments in response that will be easy to laugh off--which is harder to do when one has a teacher who is capable of formulating opinions and ideas about anything more than two inches from herself. That's where the minus comes in.

Workload:

I got a lot of writing done in this class which was important to me. One "thing" per week.

January 09, 2003

Sharpe, Matthew Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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Matt Sharpe is the bomb. His comments and written feedback on work are lengthier and more insightful than those of any other professor I've had, at Columbia or otherwise. I really felt he had read my work and put serious effort into the advice he later gave me, and when I got my grade I knew why I had gotten it. He's also a creative guy who runs a witty, well-done class. His in class writing exercises always pushed me in new directions of thought and style. He does a fairly good job at getting classmates enthusiastic about workshopping, though inevitably, workshops can drag if the piece stinks or if the class is beat-street.

Workload:

Sharpie Sharpe collects assignments pretty regularly throughout the semester, a poem here, a scene there, so you have to keep on top of it. Word to the wise - his own word has been described as "absurd". If you're ever stuck on an assignment, just write something wack as shit and he'll probably dig it. "Ah, yes.... this is quite absurd....I don't really see why the innkeeper isn't wearing any pants, but I like the weirdness of it." It worked for me.

December 25, 2002

Thames, Susan Silver_nugget
[W3001] Structure and Style I and [W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Absolutely incredible. Susan is both tough and caring at the same time. If you want theory or a regimented writing class, this class is not for you. There is little structure-you are basically free to write whatever you want within the genre, and Susan will give you helpful comments. The class is largely up to the students-Susan encourages free discussion and most time is spent critiquing each other's work. She's not embarrassed to discuss any subject, and cares about and encourages her students as both writers and as people.

Workload:

very light, interesting reading. 1 assignment due each week, you have to workshop once a month, and hand in a portfolio of 4 revisions at the end. You also go on a date each week with a classmate, to get to know them.

May 27, 2002

Worsley, C. Dale
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

The first half of the semester, I wanted to kill myself. I was upset that Dale's writing workshops were not really workshops but more like gatherings so that students could only say good things about others' works. As an intro-level writing course, S&SII is bound to have some seriously bad writers and some negative--though constructive--criticism would have been a more productive use of time. I was also disappointed that only two out of the three genres could be workshopped; the excuse that there just isn't enough time to do all three is lame because my other writing workshops were able to accomplish this with no problem. Another frustrating aspect was not being able to read the pieces before the workshop; and trust me, with the really bad pieces, you'll need a few days to try to make sense of the writing. So the writing workshops easily and quickly crumbled into disorganized meetings, which Dale led with more of an interest in not hurting people's feelings than improving writing. But towards the end of the semester, I warmed up to Dale. He did not exactly become a better teacher but I did appreciate his efforts to make the workshopping process easygoing. (By the way, he is much better at offering constructive criticism during office hours) Dale is also a very nice guy and it was comforting to know that I had at least one understanding professor I could turn to. And as for the rest, the Structure and Style classes are chump classes and really only work for people who have little writing experience and want a broad introduction to all three genres. Plus, with the class being so large for a workshop setting (15-20 students) and meeting only once a week, it's almost impossible to walk out of one of those classes really feeling like your writing has improved a gazillion times. So even though I fully admit that Dale isn't the most fabulous writing teacher to have, I also think that a good chunk of it is due to the departmental organization of the course. If you're looking for an easy and laidback section to get rid of that pesky S&S requirement, try Dale's. From my experience with the requirement, neither class I or II is going to have that big of an impression on your writing. Take the class and move on to the better ones.

May 27, 2002

Charlotte, Susan
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Susan Charlotte insists on having all the workshopped pieces read aloud in class, which serves the dual purpose of wasting time AND pissing everybody off. The best part of this class are the days when she wears her Sir Walter Raleigh-esque blouse. Oh heck, most S & S sections are pretty terrible. At least you can tell amusing stories about this one.

Workload:

story, poem, play; mandatory pinter enjoyment every other week

May 22, 2002

Worsley, C. Dale
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I hesitate to slam Mr. worsley but definitely recommend that serious writers steer clear. the class is a cruise for everyone but he makes the very act of writing feel trivial and spends more of his energy teaching various poetic forms than encouraging (much less engaging in) serious or exciting criticism. probably the biggest problem is that the workshopped papers are read aloud immediately before criticism, leaving no time for digestion or inspection. jocks and slackers, his arms are wide open for you.

Workload:

same as every other workshop, except no final.

May 17, 2002

Thames, Susan Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Susan is your stereotypical head in the clouds writer who has a lot of ideas about writing and what a writer should be. Unfortunately she doesn't seem to be open to other ideas, though she claims to be a very open minded person, it is obvious that she comes from a very flightly background. Her classes are good though she obviously plays favorites giving over an hour to workshopping poems of people she likes, and spending fifteen minutes on other people's poems. The people who like her did like her, but they tended to write about sappy emotional subjects. If this is not your area of interest don't take her class. Her comments are marginally helpful, though often they just reflect her inability to step out of her "writers" box.

Workload:

The workload was also large with a short story, or poem or dramatic piece due everday. Her grading was fair if you consider it on a curve, but if she doesn't like your type of writing, you will not get above a B.

May 13, 2002

Budhos, Marina
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

I didn't really like this class. There was a lot of structure, not much style, and i feel like she definitely had her favorites. I have a horrible premonition that she's going to give me a crappy grade. she claimed that a B+ is for very good work. i get the feeling i wasn't "very good" this semester.

Workload:

bunch of little assignments that you never use for anything in particular, few poems, one longer poem, short story, scene

April 11, 2002

Adams, Glenda
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Glenda Adams makes you want to drive screws in your eyes, becuase she is so boring and unhelpful. She is attentive to you writing, and remembers characters' names, but that is where her helpfullness stops. The previous two comments were correct: this woman should not be at Columbia University. Nice woman. Bad Teacher.

Workload:

light. One poem, two stories, one play, two excersizes.

March 19, 2002

Rose, Louise Silver_nugget
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Professor Rose is phenomenal. She has re-fueled my desire to become a writer. She encourages tough critique of pieces, but isn't reluctant to give praise where it's due. There is more reading involved in this class than in my previous Structure and Style course, but the reading is ALWAYS amazing and really helps your own writing. Professor Rose is very big on personal experience informing your writing. This slant on writing has been incredibly beneficial to my work and really improved my voicing and style. Definitely get to her office hours if you can. My one-on-one time with Professor Rose has been priceless. She's really easy to open up to about everything and anything (and i mean ANYTHING). Don't worry about censorship of your work...it doesn't exist here. Rose doesn't care what you write about, as long as it's written well. Being an entry-level course, the class is a mixed bag of really talented writers and not-so talented writers. This can be frustrating at times, but your own writing will improve exponentially nonetheless so who cares?!?! TAKE SOMETHING WITH LOUISE ROSE!!!

Workload:

There's something to do for every class period. There are two writing "exercises" in the beginning of the semester which were actually two of my favourite assignments. Readings for most classes are light and enjoyable. Being Structure and Style: 1 narrative poem, 1 short story, 1 one act play. What I like about Professor Rose is that she allows you to continuously rewrite your pieces and fine-tune them throughout the semester. A final draft of each is due at the very end of the semester. As a rule every single thing you write is workshopped. If, however, certain things are too personal etc...you can opt to pass on workshopping something.

December 15, 2001

Charlotte, Susan
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

If you like being force-fed 5-step formulas for great short stories and think that creative writing can be reduced to a limp set of tired maxims, then Susan is definitely the professor for you. Be prepared for her skeptical attitude toward anything that doesn't sound like watered-down Pinter. Workshopping tends to be nasty, brutish, and long, with people trashing other people's work at will until Susan at last sails in with a final judgment that admits no argument. An English professor of mine once described Susan as "Fascistic," and her assignments reflect this quality, even by the standards of S&S. Assigning a description is one thing; assigning a description of a lake from the point of view of an e.e. cummings "is 5" character who has just killed someone is quite another. The class does not seem to be a priority for Susan. She frequently misses appointments and "loses" assignments--or when she doesn't lose them, can take anywhere from a month to never in getting them back to you. Of course, never is often a good thing. Apparently, Susan's writing credits include both GUIDING LIGHT and LOVING, and believe me, the class is held to the same stratospheric level of artistic achievement.

Workload:

Light, yet surprisingly inane.

December 13, 2001

Charlotte, Susan
[W3002] Structure and Style II

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

Susan is a wonderful woman, a real big playwright, who loves teaching writing. She comes up with some innovating, amazing assignments. Only problem for some was that she doesn't really make deadlines hard and fast; you never know when she's going to make something mandatory and something else optional (give it a try etc.). Obviously for some this is better than others. Light workload, interesting assignments, wonderful, capable instructor (who, incidentally, works at NYU and is difficult ot get in touch with at times).

Workload:

Regular S+S, maybe a bit less.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Scott Snyder 2006 Fall R / 5:10- 7:00 PM 4
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Susan Thames 2006 Fall W / 4:10- 6:00 PM 2
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Priscilla Becker 2006 Fall M / 2:40- 4:30 PM 3
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Adam Berlin 2006 Fall T / 2:40- 4:30 PM 1
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Susan Thames 2004 Fall M / 4:10- 6:00 PM 3
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Dale Worsley 2004 Fall M / 7:10- 9:00 PM 1
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Mako Yoshikawa 2004 Fall W / 7:10- 9:00 PM 4
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Adam Berlin 2004 Fall T / 2:40- 4:30 PM 2
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Martin Pousson 2003 Fall T / 7:10- 9:00 PM 4
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Susan Thames 2003 Fall W / 4:10- 6:00 PM 3
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Dale Worsley 2003 Fall M / 7:10- 9:00 PM 1
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Marina Budhos 2003 Fall T / 2:40- 4:30 PM 2
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Dale Worsley 2002 Fall M / 7:10- 9:00 PM 1
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Marina Budhos 2002 Fall R / 7:10- 9:00 PM 2
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Matthew Sharpe 2002 Fall T / 7:10- 9:00 PM 4
WRIT / WRIT WRIT WRIT W3002: Structure and Style II Susan Thames 2002 Fall W / 6:10- 8:00 PM 3