Severin Fowles

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Apr 2020

This is the best class I have taken at college so far! Sev is the coolest professor and he really cares about his students. His powerpoints are next level and you must at least shop his class to see how advanced and elite the quality of his powerpoints is. I don't think its possible to not be interested in this class. Sev is so passionate about what he teaches and wants to impart the most information possible on us to the point that we often don't finish the powerpoints each class session. Sometimes the amount of information and the rush to finish the powerpoint is a little bit overwhelming but Sev is just really good at his job and the information itself its very interesting so its not bad at all. Sev also has optional discussion sections that are kind of like labs, for example for one of them we got to see the skull casts of different hominid species, and for others we just reviewed with TAs and talked about essays. He also has "dangerous optional exercises" which include flint-knapping on Futter field and making and throwing paleolithic style spears at Riverside park. There is a decent amount of reading in this class around 50 pages per week in the beginning and by the end he gives us books to read but we usually have two weeks to finish those. We had two 5 pages essays, and one 10 page essay (all 3 essays were pretty open and allowed for creativity), a take home midterm, and a take home final which is not usually take home but there was recent tragedy and Sev was very flexible and accomodating. The grading is not harsh at all so while it might seem like there is a lot of work, as long as you go to class and the review sessions you're good! Personally I barely did the readings and just went to class and I ended with an A- (also I'm not a strong writer at all, so if you have more writing talent than me which is very likely you could easily get an A). I 100% recommend this class to all majors! It fulfills a social science requirement and two MOTs. Sev rocks!!!

Dec 2017

Sev is such an amazing teacher! He is so passionate about what he is teaching. I generally really liked the class, though it was a lot of work and I found out anthropology/archaeology are frustrating fields because a lot of the material we learn is mere speculation, sometimes I felt like I didn't actually learn anything real because we learned a lot of theories that weren't proven. But that is just the nature of the subject, nothing wrong with Sev. He is just such a sweet guy, everyone loves him!

Dec 2017

Amazing teacher and truly amazing class. Severin is really talented at teaching and engaging a very large class: I never skipped once, and genuinely never wanted to. The class is so interesting and is not typical: he explores the history of changing theories on human origins, especially the feminist theories, which was so great. He always takes questions and responds to them fully, but never compromises disagreeing with you while still respecting the point. Despite a large class size, he asks students to answer questions about their own theories about a certain burial site. He is one of the few perfect men in the world. I really can't emphasize enough how amazing, life-changing he was.

Dec 2017

Nicest man on earth. I'm not particularly interested in archaeology but he makes the topics very interesting and easy to follow, and the readings are spaced out well and easy to get through. If you're looking to fulfill requirements easily I'd recommend this course.

May 2017

I think that Sev is a great teacher. He tries to connect with students on a personal level, albeit a large sized class. Work in this class is minimal, with my specific semester consisting of 4 short papers (4 pages, double spaced) and 1 term paper (10 pages, double spaced). Attendance to lecture is not required. Attendance to recitation is not required. if for whatever reason you cannot make it to either, Sev is very open and willing to work with you one-on-one for both class-related reasons or not. I highly recommend this course. Sev is interesting as a lecturer, has insightful things to say but also opens up the conversation and allows for students to make their own conclusions and discuss them in class as well as explore through papers. The readings assigned are of the lighter workload, not nearly as much as in classes like lit-Hum or CC. For the most part you can even get away without reading them before class. But it is necessary to read them at least in part, since they are to be used as references on the shorter papers. Sev even goes as far as to provide the readings as PDFs so that you don't need to pay for the whole book! 10/10

Jan 2017

Read the other reviews. Sev (he's not one for formality) is a phenomenal professor and engaging lecturer who has changed the way I see human history. (Sounds dramatic, but take the class, pay attention, and it won't sound so crazy.) I'm not gonna spend my time going into this, because I mostly want to talk about the workload. There was a LOT of it, but not all was necessary. The key to doing well is actually paying attention in lecture and taking good notes (big surprise there). Since he goes over everything important in class, and the stuff he talks about for a long time is generally what's on the exams, it feels pretty straightforward. Feels like a lot for an intro, but if you don't do all the reading, the bulk of the work is in the end when you need to write a total of between 4500-5500 words in the last couple weeks. Definitely doable, and it was way too interesting for me to mind that much. Take this class.

Nov 2013

I took Origins my first semester of my freshman year to fulfill part of my major requirement. I am an anthro major so I was really excited to take this class, and Sev didn't disappoint. The beginning of the semester is more sciencey in that it focuses on the physical differences in hominin species. But then it becomes really deep and philosophical when it comes to tool making and cave art. Sometimes, I felt lost because it was just too vague and there weren't many concrete facts. Sev is a really great guy though, he doesn't just lecture at you. He answers questions and makes jokes, and I would highly recommend taking at least one class with him.

Nov 2012

I really assumed that this class would be a great way to try out Anthropology, a subject I'd never studied before, and after reading the reviews, I was confident in my choice. However, this is NOT an introduction to anthro whatsoever. It is confusing and unclear. The readings are extremely lengthy, and despite the fact that there is not much graded work, I constantly feel bogged down. The expectation in this course is that everyone will go on to pursue a career in either anthropology or archaeology, neither of which I have any interest in. I also have a problem with the way in which Sev organizes his lectures, specifically there is no organization. He is obviously very passionate about it, but he jumps around, goes too quickly, and talks at the same time as having something obviously important written on the powerpoint without explaining it. We will talk about something very vaguely for probably 3-4 class sessions and then finally he will explain it clearly by the end, but it's all very confusing. In other words, unless you want to be an anthro major, I would not recommend this class.

May 2012

Sev is a glorious teacher. He is inspired and inspiring. He teaches using slides of funny, insightful, problematic, and thought-provoking images to supplement his knowledgeable discourse on the native american peoples who inhabited this continent before european colonialism. he is intimately familiar with this area of study. he is good at being responsive to student input while not compromising the facts (he'll tell you when an idea is brilliant, or interesting, or wrong). he is very friendly and very helpful, so talk to him about your interests/research/assignments. He also gives good feedback--useful feedback that will help you work better in (and out of) his class. he is not a harsh grader and it is very possible to do well in this class if you read the assigned texts and if you're a decent writer. we covered fascinating, surprising native american cultures and examined their relationships to our world today. when you take this class, you'll realize how bizarre it is that most americans know so little about real native american civilizations. highly recommended.

Dec 2011

Sev is absolutely unbelievable. He and this class changed how I view the world. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's absolutely true (and it's not something that happens often). If you have the opportunity to take a class with him - take it. I took this one because it was a major requirement; I expected it to be a run-of-the-mill intro level course. It ended up being my favorite class at Columbia so far.

Oct 2009

awesome awesome class. this anthro department is really balanced out by Sev Fowles. It seems that everyone is writing good reviews on him, so I will focus on the class. This class moves from idol worship through fetishism and anthro theories on magic into iconoclasm and art theory. its awesome He loves archaeology, but really engages in a ton of other theory- and never fails to make it relevant to us and whats happening in our world. current events are not tangents, but rather excellent illustrations of what we are talking about and great ways to tie the theory together and animate it. i love him and his classes. couldn't praise his classes enough

Jan 2009

Sev is absolutely fantastic. I took this class not really knowing anything about anthropology and left it seriously considering a major/minor. Somehow, he manages to make lectures full of the same stone tools and unrecognizable old bones fresh and intriguing. He has a great sense of humor and goes out of his way to be available to students (great considering how large the classes is: 100+ students). You can tell that he absolutely loves his work (he focuses in archaeology) and wants to spread that. He's an incredibly fair grader and is willing to recognize tests and due dates that are unfair.

Jan 2009

a very engaging professor. he combines archaeology with a lot of philosophical questioning to make for a fascinating class. the papers and exams were well-designed to encourage that fascination. it's possible to not do the readings because he covers them well in lecture, but you'll want to anyways. this class made me decide to major in archaeology.

Dec 2007

Sev's basically a rockstar professor. So organized in lecture, accessible outside of class, totally into his material/loves teaching it, very fair in terms of grading, and just overall rad. He presents sometimes boring material in the best way he can, really wanting you to learn. He calls archaeological sites sexy, and just gets generally excited about the material. The paper topics were cool, and the midterm/final reasonable. Reading was what you'd expect for an anthro course, but he picks really interesting articles/texts that you don't mind reading. I oftentimes treated the readings for this class as reprieve from my other classes. I'm hoping to take more classes with him.

Apr 2007

Sev is great. He asks you to call him that by the way. He's very friendly and open with students and always willing to help out after class or meet with you elsewhere. As far as the lecturing goes, it gets a little boring at times, but most of the matieral is very facinating, you just have to get beyond his quiet voice and dry humor. As far as grading goes, he's easy on the papers and hard on the exams. The exams are extremely hard and encompass every single thing you learn in class, so when studying, dont leave anything out. Other than the hard grading, he's a wonderful teacher and great friend, actually!

Jan 2007

The material for this class is boring and dense, but Sev really does try his best to get through it. He always runs out of time, and he seems rarely to make a succinct, clear point about any of the theorists' work--not that any of their work can actually be translated into simple terms--but the personal responses he wants in the papers demonstrate his desire to make the class applicable to students' own interests and experiences. If you have to take anthro theory, you're probably better off taking it with Sev than with anyone else.

Jan 2007

Sev is a great teacher, an amazing lecturer and the nicest person I have ever met. His lectures are very well-structured and his presentations are so interesting that the attendance was almost 100% on every lecture (something that is extremely rare for a class of over 100 people). We covered a lot of material and millions of years of human history so expect lots of reading. BUT every single assigned reading is so interesting that it was hard to put the book down. Grading is fair, exams and papers are enjoyable and fun. Overall the best course I have ever taken at Columbia!!! If I wasn't a graduating senior I would have definitely become an anthro major after this class!! He is THAT GOOD!!!!

Dec 2006

I love Sev because he is genuinely interested in the contributions of his students. He speaks to us like we are the next generation of anthropologists. He also tries hisdamnest to make dusty old texts relevant - omissions from the anthropology canon and more nuanced sentiments of particular anthropologists uncovered and contextualized within his meta-narrative of the field (he draws great ugly pictures of the ever-receding homunculus and diagrams of "the third thing" to boot). Sev's enthusiasm and investment in the class compelled me to think deeply about the material. Class often ran a minute or two late but I usually wanted to stay longer. Sev hand-grades all submissions and gives each one considerable thought (5 4-5 page response papers responding to different units in the class, worth 50% of grade. 30% of grade is class participation, 20% is a profile of a scholar, presented in collaboration with a couple other students via power-point the first ten minutes of class. All of this is highly doable, especially because with deadlinesSev is fuzzy around the edges). He is generous in his feedback, provided you put a real effort into your ideas. As a teacher, Sev is humble, well-read and idealistic - these qualities trounce any delay in handing back writing or forgetting to look at the clock.

Dec 2006

Sev is a great guy--no question about that. He loves the material, is excited and engaging, and really cares about his students. At the same time, however, I absolutely hated this class. The material is boring and repetitive; Sev's lectures were longwinded and always got derailed by unrelated student questions; the student presentations were a joke--obviously just copied off wikipedia. Every class we ran out of time and as Sev struggled to get in a last few thoughts I looked at my notes and realized he'd been talking for 75 minutes but I hadn't learned a thing. It's a requirement for the Barnard Anthro major, so there's no way around it, but hopefully they'll come to their senses soon and revert back to "Living in Society" which apparently was the one mandatory course they offered that uses contemporary ethnographies and theory that still is useful and relevant today.

Dec 2006

This man is amazing- great professor, always accessible in and out of class, funny, organized, and a clear lecturer. This class covers A LOT of material (around 8 million years worth), and some of it can be a little dry. Although I have little interest in prehistoric humans and communities, I enjoyed this class because Sev's passion for the subject overflowed into every single lecture. He showed us clips of "2001: A Space Odyssey," organized a flint-knapping day AND a field trip to Baker's Field for an atlal throwing contest. Needless to say, he is enthusiastic and dedicated to his students. Always open to questions in class (which is rare in classes of 100+), very organized lectures, but since there is so much material sometimes it moves very fast. Take this class not for the subject but for the privilege of experiencing Sev.

Nov 2006

He is the nicest profesor ever that I have had so far. Very understanding and flexible; he really cares about his students and is receptive to their concerns. He cares that his students are actually learing something and you learn a lot from him. He is very organized, extremely brilliant, and very good lecturer. He loves what he teaches and this comes across to the student and as a result the student comes to appreciate the material of the class as well. I highly recommend any class with him.

Oct 2006

Sev is absolutely amazing! He made this lecture class come alive with material that could have been brutally boring with the wrong professor. I knew nothing about archaeology before this course and had no problem with the material. Sev is incredibly approachable and always answers e-mails within an hour or two of sending them. This class is also extremely interesting, and definitely not slide/memorization based. There is a lot of reading, but it's pretty cool and very thought-provoking. Highly recommended! Sev is an excellent professor with a huge enthusiasm for archaeology.

Sep 2006

Severin Fowles (a.k.a. Sev) is awesome. He is a very organized professor and incorporates loads of interesting facts and images to enhance the world of anthropology. Though his classes are sometimes extremely large, he always takes the time to answer questions and concerns especially during office hours. The workload is what one would expect from an anthropology course...lots of reading. He's very fair in what he assigns and spreads the work out over multiple sessions.

Mar 2006

Severin Fowles, nicknamed Sev, is an AWESOME visiting professor. Please take advantage of his classes while you can!! He is very passionate about his work and really tries to convey what he loves about it to the class. He wants you to like his subject too! He is perfectly fair in everyway, grading wise and workload. For my course, he had a very organized powerpoint presentation every class. He makes the dullest topics interesting! He also encourages people to visit him during office hours for help or just to have a debate on some theory. highly recommended!