i was waiting to receive my grade from last sem before writing this review, and just got it this morning. so here we go. i feel like i should mention grades were due on January 2nd and it's currently the morning of January 30th, and my GPA has just been tanked, so im a little heated. At the same time though, I feel like the laziness and disorganization that brought about my grade being nearly a month late is the most important thing you need to know about him. this man is the only professor ive ever had who has been lazier than i am. and i mean that. mans literally promised us our grades by the next class, then canceled that class because of the "flu", just to do the same thing the next week. to be fair, prof mann's a pretty nice guy. always free for office hours and will genuinely work with u to develop your ideas. lectures can be unbelievably boring tho, and class is a lot less interactive than some other lit hum sections. it's basically just him talking for 2 hours straight as you try your hardest not to doze off (especially because class is at 8am). another thing-- you will have absolutely no idea how u did in the class until the end of the year. Im not sure how he usually grades, but last semester it went something like this: 3 in class passage id quizzes 1 textual analysis (like 2 pages) 2 longer essays (1400-1900 words) final THATS IT. THATS ALL WE WERE GRADED ON. no homework or anything else (besides reading). so like, if u dont like doing much work, then yeah this is a good class for u if u know how to write a good essay. unfortunately, not my forte. as for these grades, I did okay on the quizzes (never did the reading), got a check plus on the textual analysis, did decent on the first essay and thats all i got back until my final grade just now. so u basically have no idea how ur doing in the class bc he wont rlly give u feedback (im sure he would if i had gone to OH but id rather not fall asleep to the sound of his voice while meeting with him 1 on 1, and im sure that would happen because it's basically become an instinctual response by now). TLDR: prof doesn't give much work and is a really truly nice guy, but lectures are boring, he will likely email at 6am on the day of class telling you to bring a book you forgot you had, grade everything 3 weeks late, use made up illnesses or family emergencies as excuses for aforementioned late grading at least twice per semester (we're on to you prof...) and has the audacity to tank your GPA nearly a month after u thought it was stable. 6.5/10 + 1 for the fire fits = 7.5/10
He lectures the entire time, I found them to be somewhat hard to follow. 6.5/10
Was VERY fortunate to be able to have this man as my Lit Hum professor my first year. Although he seemed very disorganized/lazy, his lectures are actually pretty interesting once you get past his monotonous voice. I say lectures because his "seminars" just turn into him lecturing for 2 hours. However, after all is said and done, the class is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to get a better grade in than other classes. I would most definitely recommend to take this class. For example, I NEVER EVER read, only looked at the material when he TOLD us when the quizzes were happening, and on the midterm (only one) he took out a major section and told us to skip it. For the final, he completely changed the Quote ID's and Essay questions. I got an A- for literally just showing up to the class.
Disorganized, unresponsive, not transparent, uncommunicative and ineffective. We have been behind since week 2. The syllabus was never updated but rather, Professor Mann would send us email updated every week to tell us what to read. Those email updates came later and later throughout the semester until he emailed them on Monday morning when my recitation section was scheduled for Monday afternoon. I never knew what reading to do, I never knew what the lecture was going to be about. He never updated us about the first paper and gave us the topic very late and pushed the deadline. He updated us about the second paper the LITERAL LAST DAY OF CLASS when it was supposed to be due in early December. He pushed the deadline to December 19th and made the final due on December 22nd!! ON TOP OF THAT, he scheduled make-up classes for both Tuesday and Thursday during reading week and only when enough people complained about his ineptitude did he finally cancel the Thursday make up class. He is a horrible professor and frankly a boring lecturer. Make someone else teach that class. Take this class only if it required for you.
I agree with everyone who says Mann is not an easy professor. As another reviewer says, if "you're just in that stage of 'being curious about philosophy,' " don't take Mann's class first. It's harder than your standard intro classes. This is especially true if it's your first time taking philosophy, or if you're a freshman new to college (because college classes are structured very differently from high school classes). Also keep in mind that it is a HISTORY of philosophy class, so there's not that much philosophizing done. Most of it comes from the readings (which you should 100% keep up with if you hope to pass the final). I'd take intro to philosophy instead if you're not a philosophy major. And if you're taking this for a major requirement before you're officially sure you want a philosophy major, DON'T TAKE THIS CLASS. Save yourself the "unprecedented stress" (see other reviewers) that it will definitely give you. As for Mann's lecture style, he tries to structure things on the board, but ideas invariably end up crossing all over the place. If you do the readings beforehand (aka on time), it'll help you a lot. Yes, he is a boring lecturer - I managed to nod off in his class though I never fall asleep in any other class - but only if you're not 100% invested in the subject. Usually what happened to me was that my mind glazed over his words (confusing/abstract philosophical ideas from classical philosophers). IN CONCLUSION: I was one of those people agonizing over "should I take Mann for fun or not." Answer: If you're willing to be dedicated (eg your life is philosophy, I'm saying this seriously, you do NOTHING with your time except philosophy), fine, take his class. If not (eg You enjoy life outside the library and spend your hours on things not philosophy), DON'T TAKE THIS AS YOUR FIRST PHILOSOPHY CLASS. Save yourself the trouble.
I took this class in the first semester of my freshman year. At first, I was really concerned that I would be lost because I hadn't taken any 1000-level philosophy courses, but it turned out that this is a pretty good introductory class. My TA, Nick Engel, kept asking me if I'd taken any basic logic classes, but apart from those exchanges, I don't see any reason why you can't start out in this class. Nick Engel was a decent TA. He led good discussions, and he was very patient. However, when I met with him to discuss my essays, it was always clear that he hadn't read my drafts. One time, he admitted this right off the bat, then proceeded to spend the next half hour telling me things I already knew. He eventually read my essay draft and gave me comments -- the day before it was due. To be fair, though, I did decently well on all three of the essays - B plus to A range. From what I heard, the other TA, Moss, was better. Mann is a good lecturer -- I can see why people get annoyed with him for sounding monotonous, but that didn't bother me, since the content was interesting. He assumes that you've read and more or less understood the material before each lecture. His lectures are all based on the ambiguities and multiple interpretations of "wrinkles" in the material. Writing essays was kind of a pain. I struggled, especially with the first one, but the struggle probably helped me understand the course material more than the discussion section. And like I said, the TAs grade VERY generously. For the first philosophy essay I ever wrote, I was expecting a gentleman C, but I got an A minus. The final is passage IDs (he gives you the author & book, you just explain the importance of the passage), and then a brief essay. I didn't study very much for the test -- how could you, except by rereading everything? -- but I thought it was pretty easy. I ended up with an A minus. Interesting class, TA could have been better, don't hesitate to take it if you're a freshman who's interested in philosophy -- you can do it!
This was my first philosophy class and I was really excited to study the great philosophers whose names were ubiquitous on libraries, statues, etc. Suffice it to say that I was genuinely curious about philosophy. Unfortunately, this class was extremely difficult and caused me unprecedented stress as a first-year. The works were, of course, challenging to get through and writing philosophically was something I had never done before. I really needed guidance, but lecture did not provide me with this. Worse, I went to every single lecture and struggled to stay awake every single time. For those insomniacs out there, get your hands on a recording of Mann lecturing and I can guarantee you that you're problem will be solved. Okay, that's a little harsh, but you get the idea. Maybe that's my fault... The point is, however, by falling behind in understanding lectures and readings, I never felt comfortable talking directly with Mann. I never asked him questions and I had plenty. Despite all the trouble I had with this class; I made it through, thanks to the TA, Matt Moss. If you're looking up Matt Moss to see how he is as a teacher - whatever it is- take it! He's phenomenal. His recitations made philosophy exactly what I envisioned when I signed up for this course: engaging. He is an upbeat character, listens to students really well when they pose ideas, and is ultimately quite understanding that members of the class are at different levels. Moreover, he provides support to everyone and does a thorough job every single time. All this is only possible because he loves thinking and wants to help others do the same! All in all, I recommend Matt Moss and I do not recommend Mann or this course if you're just in that stage of 'being curious about philosophy.'
Oh man, what a terrible professor. I've seen people locked in their ivory towers, but nothing quite like this. He called someone's question outright stupid, was intolerant for the most part of other opinions and questions, and did not show intent to engage the class critically. He also delayed giving us assignments beyond the dates provided, but still expected us to do everything (he did cut down the third paper a bit, but it was still long and under time constraints). That said, I do have to give him credit for well-constructed (and super-boring) lectures, analyzing the material painstakingly in order to make the material as clear as possible. He was challenging and his assignments compelled us to think about the readings, not just read them. Still, I would have far rather taken this with pretty much anyone else.
Mann's class is difficult. His papers are difficult and he makes no attempt to soften his explanations for student. At the end of the class however, you feel as if you have accomplished something so if you are looking at being a Philosophy major, you should definitely take Mann's class. It is not an unrealistic class however. If you are an independent learner who is comfortable with reading difficult texts, you will probably get a good grade in the class. Mann's lectures are difficult to stay awake in if you have not already done at least some of the reading. His spoken sentences are long and convoluted -- you will either hate this aspect of lectures thoroughly or will get used to the idiosyncrasies that make Mann a peculiar but definitely interesting character. If you stay abreast and develop a real interest in one of the texts, talking to him after class or during office hours will prove to be a rewarding experience as he expects an intellectually maturity from his students.
An incredibly engaging class, but Mann does not make it easy. That is, he has so much thoughtful analysis to share that it is easy to be overwhelmed. The whole lecture from beginning to end is filled with complex concepts and rarely gets anything repeated. Prepare to be taking notes and going over them after class if you want to understand the material fully. Being now 'treated' to the Hist-Phil II by John Morrison, I look back sentimentally to the days were I needed to attend lectures. Mann did not explain the readings, but rather gave additional perspective and introduced the work of different scholars (which made the already large reading load just more intense, since long and dense scholarly articles were added to a 'recommended' reading list). I hear Katja Vogt does this segment at least equally well and I am inclined to believe it, but this class was certainly no waste of the significant time I spent on it. The only downside in my perspective was that Aristotle took up some time initially alloted to the Hellenistic period and Augustine. Suffice it to say I'm no fan of Aristotle.
There is no doubt that Professor Mann is absolutely brilliant. Every single class, he delivers a lecture profound enough to be the thesis of an articles in scholarly journal. That said, the lectures may be too profound for the class. To appreciate the lectures depends on your coming to class with a full understanding of the content of the readings, as Professor Mann devotes zero class time to a study of what the readings are actually saying. My favorite Mann lecture was about Plato's Republic, because I had already studied it in CC. Because I was already pretty familiar with the text, I was literally blown away with what Professor Mann had to say about it. However, when we begin reading harder material, despite having done the reading, it was difficult for me to keep up. For this reason, many people in the class don't do the readings: because unless you spend a lot of time working to understand the readings on your own, it's easy to get nothing out of the class. It's also worth mentioning that Professor Mann is not very approachable, and seems to dislike taking questions during class. Students probably ask one question a class, and he usually waits to call on them until he's done making a point, sometimes even appearing annoyed about being interrupted. That said, if approached after class or during office hours with a legitimately worthy question, Professor Mann is willing to talk to you. This is not a bad class, it's just too advanced for a 2000 level survey course. Overall, I'm glad I took it, especially because the TAs were really great.
Look, I understand why Mann gets a bad rap. I didn't like him at first, either. He doesn't interact with the class much, snaps at people who show up late or text each other during class or just drop things, and he has this way of moderating every clause in his sentences -- "Socrates' message, if Socrates can be said to have a message, which is debatable given the ambiguity of the Greek word 'eudaimonia,' might be intended..." -- but after a few classes and a few cups of coffee, I realized that there's a great reason for all of those things. The reason is simply that this man is brilliant. He zeroes in on distinctions in the texts that seem insignificant at first; but if you do the reading and make an effort to follow his lectures, you realize that he's actually giving you a nuanced and completely fresh way to read the text. He does take questions at the end of class, but they tend to be questions that don't reflect an understanding of his lecture, and he can be a bit short in answering those. However, if you ask him something worthwhile -- which is difficult to do; make no mistake -- he'll sometimes devote a whole lecture to working on the problem. After class, he's generous with his time (he reads everyone's papers, even though the TAs have already graded them, and leaves comments), and he's a walking library of scholarship, ready with an article for any topic you can think of. In short, he's the opposite of pedantic. He's a good-natured and profoundly wise person under the gruff facade. His classes are not for the intellectually lazy, but if you demonstrate a real desire to learn from him, he'll hold your hand the whole way. He's not even a particularly tough grader, although you find yourself wanting to work for him. And he's actually very funny. He's often making jokes during class that go by totally unnoticed -- "To the extent that this is a good chair, what attributes make it such? Perhaps this question is too difficult." He is also surprisingly self-aware and will make subtle and clever jabs at his own jargoned speaking style. I'm about to be a senior, and as far as professors go, I've had them all -- Dames, Gray, the Kitchers, Mercer, Moyn, Neuhauser -- but no one has made me fall in love with a book the way that this man has. Take anything he offers, do the reading, and drink a cup of coffee before class. Your life will turn around.
Professor Mann is very intelligent and capable, he is good at explaining complex ideas and conveys information splendidly. If you pay attention in class, you will do well - no need to go above and beyond outside of the classroom, Mann chews your food for you. However, he is NOT very sociable and throughout the entire semester there must have been 3 or 4 questions asked in total. Get ready to be talked at. No interaction. He is also a very easy grader.
Oh, Professor Mann. How I disliked your class. Let me count the ways. You are ever so knowledgeable about Plato, but when you speak you are so boring I cannot follow what you say. You know ever so little about everything else, and yet you still lecture instead of having even one discussion. You say "you might think" so often, but you never ask us what we do, indeed, think. You are hands down one of the least interesting teachers I have ever taken at Columbia, and although your reviews were bad I thought you might be controversially interesting. I was wrong, Professor Mann, and I had to sit through the driest lectures known to Man(n) <--haha. I almost cried of joy when you said you weren't teaching next semester, not because I dislike you as a person, but because hopefully I won't feel my brain bleed every time the new professor speaks. I didn't know CC could be so uninteresting, but you rose above my hopes and made it literally the worst class it could possibly be. Thank you for my pain and suffering, and I hope you stick to not-CC in the future. I did quite like your rainbow plaid shorts with the high white socks, however. I might attend a Wolfgang Mann fashion show, if indeed such a thing existed.
A melange of disasterous delivery and eloquence, if such a thing is possible. Overall an erudite, intelligent, damn smart man with a thorough grasp of Greek and a ferocious attention to textual detail. He definitely knows what he's talking about, unlike some professors in this department. However, the fact that he knows what he's talking about does not mean that you will too. At moments, when I was able to follow his arguments, I found him brilliant, though more than ninety percent of the time it felt like the class was running after him while he was off somewhere floating on a socratic cloud of revelation. Professor Mann is very approachable during office hours and he will take time to go over whatever you need help with, be it the material or papers, but be aware that you likely will not go to office hours because you will not know even how to begin asking for help. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that he requires that you do all of the reading, and no my sparknote-reading friends, sparknotes won't help, and that's a given. This is philosophy, not lit hum. Because his lectures consist of jumping through theoretical hoops in a monotonous, circuitous, agonizingly slow speech that makes you feel like jumping out the window or anestesizing yourself with that ten pound complete works of Plato, if you do not understand the works for yourself, from your independent reading, you will not get anything out of this class. With that said, he's really trying and I am by no means saying this is a horrible class. Be sure you are aware that you need to put work in, otherwise you'll feel like you went scott free all semester and then at the end the final will draw and quarter you (bulshitting does not seem to be an option, ever). He's a generous grader, however.
For some people this class is probably a godsend. I did not like it at all. Mann's lectures are very clear. He is very, very, very passionate about ancient philosophy, as I discovered by looking up his resume. He is the ultimate philosophy geek. He showed up to the first few days of classes with his thick rimmed glasses, unkempt beard, and disturbingly greasy hair wearing a shirt and tie with grimy old tennis shoes. He later ditched the tennis shoes, but you get the point. The readings are, as expected, extremely dry, and as you can guess, Mann assigns quite a lot. This was the trouble with the class for me. I think that if I had enough passion for philosophy to wade through the hundreds and hundreds of pages of insanely dry philosophical texts, I would've enjoyed the lectures a lot more and would've loved the class in general. As it was, I didn't do many of the readings, often became lost or bored during lectures, and scraped by with a B. My advice is to take this class if you know you LOVE philosophy (specifically ancient philosophy, and by that I mean READING actual philosophical texts by those guys). If you don't, DO NOT take it. One other thing that I should mention is that I found Mann's demeanor to be MOST unpleasant. He is one of the most high-strung people I have ever laid eyes on, and he seriously snapped at students on several occasions for their cell phones ringing in class. You could hear a pin drop. Once he snapped very rudely at someone for accidentally dropping a book.
Overall, I enjoyed the class. Professor Mann is very intelligent but can get boring in his presentation at times. He has a very academic approach to the works and often provides interesting insights into how they relate to one another. He has tough standards for his papers so be prepared to write papers that are in accordance with what is expected of philosophy papers. The class has a nice balance between providing the different philosophies of the time period and going into detailed analysis.
Mann really isn't that bad. The key is to do the readings beforehand. I didn't do this for Aristotle and I thought he was pretty bad. For Plato, I did do the readings beforehand and realized that he's actually pretty damned good despite his horrible speaking style. He's a really easy grader, too.
Professor Mann is without a doubt intelligent; however he is consumed with the pedantry of a classical philologist. At no point during his seemingly endless lectures did anything of philosophical interest emerge. The majority of the class was spent pondering how to translate and re-translate various Greek terms, I guess in the hopes that such a futile exercise would give fuller meaning to AristotleÂ’s already dry and ponderous texts. The result was an exquisite torture that not even Dante could have concocted. Abandon all hope ye who enter this class.
Three words to describe Prof. Mann: verbose, circuitous, and confusing. Although he knows the material well, you won't get much out of his classes thanks to his miserable delivery and penchant to dwell upon seemingly irrelevant minutiae of the text. Discussion is reduced to some token questions and answers that lead nowhere. He's a nice guy, but like the reviewer before me said, is in dire need of social skills.
I think many of the other reviews were a lot harder on Prof. Mann than necessary. Granted, he's not the kind of professor with whom you will develop a deep personal relationship, but he definitely knows his stuff. He's very smart and his lectures are well-structured and interesting. No matter how stupid the question, he answers fully and seriously, and he grades very generously. He is very concerned with his students understanding of the texts and always available and ready to explain further. Conversation in class was a little stunted at first, but the class warmed up by the end of the semester. Mann was a fine professor *CULPA censor*
Way boring; way weird. hard grader.
First of all, Augustine was not touched on in this class, and the pre-socratics were only covered briefly as a useful background setup for some of Plato's ideas etc. Mann himself made a joke about this the first day. His lectures were absolutely precise, and any complaints about boredom (see virtually all other Culpa postings on this professor) reflect a lack of true interest in learning the subject material. For a survey course, a surprising level of depth was reached on all the material, but Plato in particular, since we spent the majority of the first half of the semester reading his dialogues. Mann draws illustrative diagrams, and comprehensively plans every single lecture, building up a solid framework for the class to attempt to wrap their minds around. Unlike the stand-up-comic-like Christia Mercer (who teaches the second survey history of philosophy course), Mann's lectures do not stray from the subject material; this allows, in my opinion, for a much greater depth to the understanding of each philosophy. He does not approach it, like some do(mercer...), from a standpoint that his students aren't capable of fully understanding the concepts presented...doesn't dumb down everything to examples from holywood, etc. just for a laugh. You will not become buddies with Wolfgang Mann, but, if you are dedicated to the subject, you will learn a lot about plato. Highly recommended.
Prof. Mann's lectures are fairly informative, and relatively well structured. However, his delivery is so bad that I never managed to pay attention for more than a few minutes at a time and eventually just stopped going to class. The material is interesting, and Mann seems like a good guy, but I (and all my friends who were in the class,) found his lectures pretty unbearable. He is however, a somewhat easy grader, and one does learn a good deal about philosophy. I would strongly advise against this class for non-majors and say it's a fine way to fulfill the requirement for majors.
This man comprehends the material, but doesn't necessarily know how to communicate it smoothly to the class. He fails to motivate the students to actually partake in discussions because he either dictates the integral points of each work or opinionates over the material. In addition, he has trouble returning papers or quizzes on time. Nevertheless, he's a compassionate, well-educated man who is in need of social skills.
He's a really nice guy and is very willing to help students during office hours. He knows the material well but tends to be pretty boring in class. The class is more of a question and answer session than a discussion section which also adds to the boredom (b/c the same 5 kids answer every question). He grades pretty easily and everyone gets an A or a B.
This professor speaks in a monotone and in a very slow pace. I used to photocopy people's notes for classes i attended because i slept through them. His lectures are very clear, however, but elementary. It is a good intro. to philosophy because the readings are not very abstract and not too difficult to read. I would have loved this course if it was taught by a different professor because the actual content was philosophy before it is really abstract and complicated.
Prof. Mann usually gets a bad rep for being a dry lecturer, but his Plato class was really outstanding. Clearly, he knows his stuff backward and forward, but the nice part about it is that he seems to want to put out questions that interest him to the class, rather than just recapitulating questions to which he already knows the answer. He was able to get some pretty exciting discussions going in the class, and we ended up talking about a range of philosophical issues with regard to the texts. Mann seems more interested in language and knowledge than in politics, which is good to know if you're thinking about taking the class and expecting/worrying that it will be about how to form a just government or something like that. The paper topics for the final paper, although very straightforward questions, turned out to be quite difficult--not in the tricky way, but in the way that good philosophy is supposed to be difficult.
Mann is one of the most brilliant professors I have had at Columbia. His understanding of the material as well as his critical insights make his course very worthwile. I found his lectures to be powerful and very educational, but you do need to be able to stay alert during them. He is extremely kind and always willing to chat further about subjects during office hours. I found that I learned a great deal during his course, especially in my ability to structure a philosophical argument.
If you do all the readings thoroughly you'll find the lectures are really helpful - he talks about the authors, the purpose of the text, and the context. Don't expect it to be entertaining though - especially not if you haven't read up. Also, don't rejoice too much if he has to cancel class, he will have a make-up session for every single one of them. Only take this if you're very into the material... or if you have no choice.
First of all, the course is really pre-Socratics through Stoics (with a moment of Epicureanism). He certainly is dull, but my greatest criticism is that he taught the class to the lowest common denominator, often taking 20 minutes to explain concepts that warrant 5 or less. I feel like there's some amazing intelligence under the drawl (he knows Greek, Latin, and Kant, as well as he knows Plato). He doesn't handle questions too well, but there are a lot dumb questions anyway. Aristotle is pretty turgid and tiresome to begin with, but he doesn't really make it any better. And while he's very, very sweet (no pomposity at all), he's so shy he avoids eye-contact, even in office hours.
Having read other CULPA reviews, I decided to take this class anyway and found that Mann wasn't nearly as bad as everyone said he was. True: he does not have a dynamic lecturing style, but the content of his lectures is good, and sometimes he's actually funny. I wouldn't just take this class for shits and giggles, you should have a serious interest in philosophy in order to enjoy it. His lectures do NOT just rehash the readings. He is more interested in talking about how we should organize our thinking about what these philosophers were trying to say. Gave me a good sense of what ancient philosophy is really about.
Do NOT even think of taking this class unless you're a torture-loving masochist. Prof. Mann manages to take thoroughly interesting material (like Plato and Aristotle) and turn it into pure mind-numbing nonsense. His lectures only address a few unimportant aspects of the books you read, and the bordom they induce qualifies them as the worst lectures I've ever heard. Prof. Mann sucks all the life from philosophy, and I'm not sure why. I honestly feel bad for him because he's so bad at his job. He can't even hold a conversation in office hours. (Forget about any questions or discussions in class; they just don't happen.) This guy needs some serious advice on how to be a philosophy professor.
Mann is one of the best teachers in the department, solely because he is extremely intelligent and cares deeply about the material. That said, he is also one of the driest lecturers I've ever encountered. If you are not interested in the material, you will probably be bored to tears. If you are interested, you will find his lectures challenging, stimulating, and very useful. He is a hard grader, but his grades are fair. The final paper that I wrote for his Plato class was one of the hardest assignments I've ever had to do.
Boring. But smart. He really teaches philosophy and seems like he doesnt fit in Lit Hum. He's a pretty cool guy outside of class and he grades easily. He also assigns readings that are not too heavy so the readings are spaced out. No class discussion but he likes kids making jokes in class and makes a lot of good points. Once you get to know him you'll want to go out drinking with him, on your own little symposium.