It's been about a year since I took Rachel's class, so I don't remember a ton of details on grading and stuff, but I felt compelled to write a review because Art Hum with Professor Silveri was the best class I've taken at Columbia. Rachel is smart, competent, engaging, and funny. I left class every day feeling challenged and fulfilled and like I'd actually gained something tangible. She is also kind and caring and makes the class worthwhile without overburdening the students. I respect her so much and think about stuff I learned from her class all the time. She made Art Hum actually feel like what the admissions brochures pretend that Columbia is like. I can't praise her enough.
Rachel is great! As someone who took Art Hum as a junior, her class makes me regret not exploring art history earlier. We were her 10th+ semester teaching Art Hum and she really has it down (often anticipates our questions/reactions in a funny way, and is very in touch with the student experience). Rachel created an environment where I really felt like I could participate even though I had no prior exposure to art history. She basically asks "what do you notice?" about each work of art making it easy to speak up. She's great at facilitating conversation, although students really drive it with their raw observations. She also posts her slides after class (although they're mostly images with artist and date) which is nice to look back on for papers. The readings were generally short (10-20 pages), but not required to participate well. You do have to write a 1-page double-spaced reading response for each class (part 1 is summary, part 2 is your thoughts/impressions), but these can easily be accomplished by skimming the reading. She grades on a check-minus/check/check-plus basis. I felt like the reading responses were a good way of making us extract the main points without being too onerous. She likes to get student feedback on the reading, especially when it is one she hasn't assigned before or conceptually challenging. Other than reading responses and participation, the class is entirely paper-based. For the first two papers she gives prompts on specific works (all on display in NYC, and you have to bring a ticket to show you saw it). You have to integrate at least 1 reading in some way, but that makes finding something intelligent to say much easier. For the third paper, you can write about any piece of art on display in NYC as long as you get it approved. She has you submit an outline which she comments on and grades before the final paper is due which is super helpful. She's always very responsive to email and is very accessible during office hours.
This was actually my favorite core class at CU largely because of her. She's engaging and interesting, but also creates a really low stress environment. You have to go to class, like most Art Hums, but I really enjoyed attending and the class material-- coming from someone who could not care less about these things. Both the midterm and final were take home and super easy/ not that long, and if you get lucky, you can reuse your observations form past paintings. 10/10 would recommend as Art Hum.
I took this class over the summer and was pretty happy with it. You'll spend a lot of time in the dark looking at slides but that's to be expected I suppose. I found that Rachel graded fairly. The exams were open note. The only thing I would warn about it messing around during class with your phone or something like that, because she will basically cut you. Also, she doesn't seem to love being disagreed with, which was odd. However, the lectures weren't boring and the material wasn't difficult.
I had Rachel as my Art hum instructor in fall 2011. I basically knew nothing about art history coming into the class, but I learned a lot and plan on taking many more classes in the department. She's a fantastic lecturer and the readings weren't bad at all. The material gets way more interesting near the end of the semester when you hit Pollock and Warhol. For the first two papers, she gave us a list of works to choose from and write about (if you wanted, you could propose any other relevant work as long as it could be tied back to concepts we learned in class). For the third paper, we could write about any work. I really loved the flexibility she allowed with our topics/thesis choices for our essays -- I found that it was enjoyable and engaging to do research about an artwork that truly interested us. Overall, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I loved this class, it was by far my favorite. I am an art history major as a result. I thought that Albero was great but I absolutely LOVED my TA, Rachel. There were weekly assignments of readings but she outlined all the important points so there was no need to actually do them. She was so knowledgeable and super engaging...discusssion section was the best part. Albero was a pretty good lecturer, at points he was a bit boring but BRILLIANT. I loved when he would deviate from his notes and expand upon something he was so passionate about. Do yourself a favor, no matter what you are interested in, TAKE THIS CLASS.