You must take this class. Barolini is a queen and a world-renowned Dante expert. She is also an excellent pedagogue (if slightly, but perhaps necessarily, repetitive), very willing to talk to all students (even non-majors), and in total command of the text. This course will open your eyes to so much more than Dante and give you a prism into Trecento Italian politics, the lyric tradition, medieval culture, and so much more. Very life-affirming.
Professor Barolini's classes on Dante are a treasure. I'm so glad I got to attend to them. Her knowledge of the book, the man and the epoch exceeds the encyclopedic. Her passion for the peculiarities of the author's genius and her insight into the workings of his mind are simply astonishing. But, perhaps even more importantly, she is an articulate and talented lecturer, and she actually cares about your learning the Commedia. Moreover, she's a total sweetheart. For a professor so busy and famous, it is amazing how available she makes herself for her students. She can easily spend a full two hours talking to you in her office, even if you are an undergrad from a different major. And, if you approach her with honest and interesting questions about Dante or the Italian Middle Ages, you're in for a great intellectual reward. If you are interested in literature for any reason whatsoever, this course will provide you with invaluable knowledge. If nothing else sticks to you, at least you will learn how to develop an argument about a text beginning with the text itself, with a close, attentive, intelligent reading of the actual words that it presents you with; and that is an invaluable skill.
Professor Barolini is a god. There is no other way I can explain her merit, and her teaching I applaud-- for a lecture course a studentâ€™s bane can be, if taught by someone ignorant. But here, instead, no moment was mundane nor was our teacher cold or arrogant; though her vast knowledge she never did hide, but shared with us her musings brilliant. In short, I believe we should take much pride in having in our midst a mind so fit to act to many pilgrims as a guide and her great love for Dante to transmit.
OMG....an amazing professor. My favorite class at Columbia. Ok, so it's a grad level course, but don't be discouraged. I'm an undergrad who doesn't know Italian fluently and yet enjoy every second of her lectures. The assignments and readings aren't long, just two cantos per class (less than any class i have ever taken). She will expect u to read them and please do, it's not hard at all. Come to class prepared, read the cantos, jot down some notes on the margins to keep yourself on track, and read the notes/commentary. You will enjoy every second of the class- I have. First semester, undergrads have a take-home midterm and a regular final. Grad students just have 5 write-ups and the final. Prof. Barolini is very accesible and wants to help her students. I spend 10-20min with her after every class because of the questions and observations I come up with and she's willing to listen and argue about them. Definitely take her course on Dante.
Professor Barolini has been one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. She gives really good lectures (during which she allows students to offer up their own thoughts & comments) and is open to students with less than stellar Italian skills taking her classes...she'll lecture in English but usually the bulk of the reading is in Italian. She gives me the impression that she won't put up with any b.s. or time-wasting ego-indulging comments, but if you have something worthwhile to say, she'll gladly listen. The 3 classes I have had with her have been great and I'm definitely going to take another one with her. She's a fair grader--but she does expect you to come to class prepared and with the reading done. Likewise, she'll welcome you to office hours, but don't dither when you're there: just get to the point. (She won't, for example, spoonfeed you a paper topic, but if you have the slightest clue, she'll whip out a file of potential articles, etc. to look up.)
Awesome professor. She has lots to say, and she is really nice to students. Her class is fun. And she is open to opinions that do not reflect exactly her own. She is a professor worth studying with, and she is an extremely fair grader.
You might be interested to know that Barolini is a 1996 Faculty Teaching Award winner.