Review Comment

religion and american culture

December 21, 2009

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

This class is one long simplistic powerpoint presentation. The minimal amount of reading (almost all at least co-authored by Balmer) meant that it was really a course on Balmer's view of American religious history. Each day consisted of him flipping through powerpoint slides, waiting as the class copied down names and dates, and then reading the contents of the slides more or less verbatim. He presents US religious history as a serious of bullet points. This felt like a high school class. Sparse on analysis, heavy on apologies whenever he happened to accidentally overburden us with 'too much theology.' Never mind that this is a religion course. Intellectual lightweight is correct. Academic disappointment.

Workload:

Minimal reading, almost all from his book. 2 4-6 page papers on simple topics. Midterm and final with multiple choice and matching sections.

December 17, 2007

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

This guy is the man. The material isn't challenging at all, but he's a really good, entertaining lecturer. He can make fun of the more conservative Christian groups sometimes, so don't take the class if you can't take a joke. But he's just awesome, it's so much fun, and I learned a surprising amount. The exams were easy, but annoying, because they focus on random details rather than concepts. I highly recommend this class.

Workload:

non-cumulative midterm and final (you can finish in 15 minutes if you know your stuff), 2 response papers or a research paper. Some reading that you should do.

December 11, 2003

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

Take this class. Professor Balmer is a fantastic lecturer and a truly brilliant man. Try "Googling" him if you're curious about the man's credentials - he is a bona fide religious historian and expert, a prolific writer, and even an Emmy nominee! The class is fascinating and relatively simple, and though you'll get frustrated that he never starts on time, you'll appreciate his interesting stories and obvious love of the subject matter. It bothered me that some topics were rushed through, but, I can't blame the guy for trying to fit all of pre-Civil War American religious history into a semester.
Overall, he does a fanastic job and will keep you very much interested.

Workload:

Not too bad. The readings were somewhat excessive, but not entirely necesary. A short 40 minute midterm (they give you the IDs ahead of time!), three 4-8 page papers, and an easy, noncumulative final. You won't be struggling to get an A in this class, either. If you do the work, and at least some of the reading, it's easy as peas.

November 18, 2003

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

This class is great! If you are at all interested in the impact that religion had throughout American history then definitely take this class. Balmer is a wonderful lecturer, every class was engaging and you definitely come away with a great understanding of the material.

Workload:

You have to write three 4-8 page papers based on readings and lectures. They aren't too bad and you can resubmit them Also a Midterm( which was very easy), and final. The midterm, final, and each of the essays count for 20% of your grade. NOTE: TA's do ALL the grading, but they were pretty cool so it shouldn't make much of a difference either way.

May 12, 2003

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

This class is amazing. This teacher is amazing. He organizes all the lectures on power-point so taking notes is a breeze. Balmer is fascinated by what he is teaching and eager to convey that fascination by funny antidotes, wonderful texts and unbeatable energy.

Workload:

4 papers (4 pages each), and a 1/2 hour midterm and final.

May 08, 2003

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

Prof. Balmer is an interesting lecturer. He uses engaging materials, including different films and speakers. However, he is unorganized in the class structure in that he did not plan how long to spend on each topic. So, while we spent over a month on one unit, we spent only two days on another.

Workload:

The workload is not bad -- four papers, an EASY midterm and final. Really not a big deal. But, in your response papers, be sure to put in your personal opinion. This is not a class where you should avoid using your own voice. Write "I think" and draw in comparisons to your own life -- he loves that!

April 07, 2003

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

If you care at all about the material in the course, take this class. The man is brilliant and a dynamic lecturer. He also organizes the course very well, and the readings are great. One of the books on the syllabus is his own, but it's worth it-- the book is incredible as well. Balmer can come off a bit pompous, but he has reason-- he knows his stuff.

Workload:

four short (4-6 pages) papers, short midterm and final.

December 25, 2002

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
religion and american culture

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

great course! laid-back and really interesting. you get to watch a few documentaries, lectures are easy to follow, organized and interesting. balmer is arrogant, and your personal interaction is all with the TAs, but he has a right to be and is really a great lecturer.

Workload:

write 2 papers (you get to chose which units to write on, so can fit it in with the rest of your schedule), midterm and final with IDs he gives you in advance. don't have to do most of the reading.

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