Review Comment

Literature and Empire (Russian Lit)

November 22, 2019

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire (Russian Lit)

Cathy Popkin is the type of professor that you want to be homies with. She's so informed about Russian everything; it's super impressive to hear her rattle on and on about Pushkin's foot fetish and how she finds some of the most famous characters in literature like Anna Karenina to just be whiney and annoying. She's one of those fun teachers that says expletives and speaks about literature in a completely non-pompous way, which I really love about her. Our class was kind of awkward during discussions, partly because the classroom we ended up in was more of a mini lecture hall and partly because she always moved on from her difficult-to-answer questions before the class could think of a response. It set a weird precedent for a lack of class participation, but honestly Cathy talks so much in class that I didn't mind this at all. She's so passionate and sweet. Love her. There's a reason she has a silver nugget.

Workload:

Shorter works like A Hero of Our Time and Fathers and Sons don't take long to read at all (maybe 4 hours a week), but reading longer works like Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov in their entirety took probably 8+ hours a week.

November 16, 2016

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire (Russian Lit)

Listen, I know that all these reviews basically state, "yada yada yada, the woman is a delight". But she absolutely is - and it's worth the reiteration.

Cathy Popkin is considerably more than just a highly qualified academic. Despite the fact that she must have read, heard or considered nearly everything there could possibly be to say on the subject matter, my often half-baked ideas have never been so engaged with by somebody in the teaching profession. Her love for the readings is palpable, and her patience and enthusiasm for discussion verges on superhuman. In all sincerity, the hardest thing about the class is not having enough hands to have one in the air, one in the book, and one taking notes at any given moment. If I could come back as an animal, it would be an orangutan, just so I could take this class again and type with my feet. And yes, I'm keenly aware that the tone of this review has gotten well out of hand. You might well conclude that I'm some kind of sycophantic lunatic... but I regret nothing. If you're even remotely curious about Russian lit, please take one of her classes.

I've also had a class with the equally lauded Liza Knapp. If you're deciding between the two... take both. It's a horrible choice to have to make. If there was any justice, both of these instructors would have gold nuggets. God bless them. God bless Russian literature.

Workload:

There's a lot of reading, but it's all literature rather than non-fic, and you'll be surprised at how fast you get. Other than that, the only regular work you'll have to do are postings. And as mentioned in other reviews - the posting prompts are great. Honestly the answers write themselves, and it'll help you engage with the material.
The tests are graded fairly.

January 12, 2004

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire (Russian Lit)

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

It is a challenge to describe what Professor Popkin has done to me, how she has influenced me, how incredibly powerful her classes are and how intelligent, knowledgeable, intellectual, nice (extremely nice)... she is so complete. She is definitely the best teacher I've had in Columbia. And about the syllabus -WOW!!! Yes, it's a lot of reading, but reading the last lines of Fathers and Sons or Brothers Karamazov can make you see the world in a very different way, while inviting you into the complex but unique realm of word and metaphor, of color and painting, of PURE PASSION! (You can see how much this course excited me!!!) And as one of the other reviewers comments, the students who took this course with me were quite incredible (of course we got more than one boring and sometimes irrelevent comment -but there's a con to every pro). Also, visit her during her office hours. She is always open to any questions/comments... and I can say that this goes beyond the classroom topics. She's a theacher in both Russian lit and life in itself. A must take course, a MUST KNOW PROFESSOR!!!

Workload:

Two questions per week (a kind of reaction to the readings) which are challenging but not impossible. A midterm and final. No papers.

April 10, 2002

Popkin, Cathy Silver_nugget
Literature and Empire (Russian Lit)

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

An incredible course. ItÂ’s hard to find a more interesting reading list, though be ready for some long hours especially when you hit Anna Karenina and Brothers Karamazov. This was a lecture course, but run basically as an engaging discussion. Popkin is passionate, knowledgeable, and very very kind. She honestly cares about students and their ideas, and believes that she can learn from them. She loves meeting with students and provides thorough, insightful comments on exams. Russian literature also seems to attract an interesting group, so look forward to good discussions.

Workload:

Two questions/comments about the reading o be submitted for each class. Say what you think and feel and you will do fine. Mid-term and Final, challenging but thought-provoking. No papers, if that jiggles your jelly.

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