Review Comment

Christianity

February 17, 2014

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

Before I delve into this review, let me state that this was one of the most average classes I took while a carefree coed at CU. The class's contents were intrinsically boring, as nothing that has occurred historically prior to 1986 is at all interesting. That said, it's saving grace —its savior, if you will— came in the form of its impressive prof.

Ol' Bob Sommerville is commendable for a number of reasons, not least among them his remarkable age. Born before reliable record keeping, it's unknown how old he is, but rest assured, he is a primary source on biblical studies. Every day he walks into class, it's a goddamn miracle. I theorize that he has been dead for some time, but that his synapses still errantly fire, his daily affairs sorted our by dying muscle memory.

He knows how to captivate a classroom, only to trail off at the end of his statement, rendering the preceding background information useless. Furthermore, he gets a ton of mileage off self-disparaging regarding his age and death. Like any good biblical scholar, he has ammassed a following of effeminate graduate student followers, and for his class's TA's he selects the meekest members of his intellectual harem.

Of course, Bobby S. does toss you the occasional curveball by wearing a backward baseball cap or vomiting up blood in class, and for these reasons I rate the class 4/5 stars. Would take again.

Workload:

Light. Never did the readings. Two easy midterms and a final. Sections that I have no idea if you have to go to. I did but I don't think I got anything out of them.

June 23, 2008

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

Lectures were boring and the room was always hot. But Sommervile is literally the coolest and sweetest dad professor ever. I only went to a few classes, and when I did go, I fell asleep, and still came out with an A. Definitely attend the Discussion sections, there aren't many and they go over exactly what you need to know for the quizzes. Not all of the readings in the course packet are necessary but can pop up on the final. There are two or 3 quizzes which are based on primary texts (ones from the packet) and which were discussed in the discussion section. If you read the pieces and maybe do a little background info on the internet you will be more than fine. Take it for an easy A with little work.
The final wasn't bad except for the True/False at the end which were only about the books we were supposed to buy for the course - which I never bought.

Workload:

3 half-hour essay quizzes-text id's from the packet, a one page description of a church and the final-which is tougher if you aren't familiar with the texts in the packet or if you don't know which author goes with which book in the required readings

December 29, 2006

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

This intro to christianity course was good if you want an easy course with very little work and you want to learn a little something along the way. Go to lectures, take a couple of notes, and listen. Don't bother doing the readings (except for the coursepack). Oh - and go to the discussion sections. This will boost your grade and tell you EXACTLY what is on the quizzes (aka midterms) and what to write for them. Prof. Somerville is a dry and somewhat boring lecturer and the material covered was pretty general nonpsecific. it was a bit of waste of time, but a poretty good way to get an easy A.

Workload:

2 quizzes which are passage analyses that are 25% of your grade. An ungraded response to visitng the St. John the Divine Cathedral. A final, 50% of your grade which you've been given the essays to before, a passage analysis, and some true and false questions that are pretty easy. There isn't that much reading and the only part necessary is the coursepack.

July 20, 2006

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

As many reviewers have said, Bobby Somerville (as I affectionately came to call him), is a great professor. He does deliver whole lectures without notes, filled to the brim with facts, helpfully writes the main points on the boards, tells adorably corny jokes, and is an overall nice guy.

The TA's too: nice and approachable, if just a little awkward, guys. Extremely, if just a little scarily, intelligent too. Who speaks 7 languages including Aramaic?
That said: the class. Its a little boring. For the sake of your grade, you should probably attend every lecture, but sometimes that seems overwhelmingly painful to do. But you should do it. The class can be interesting (especially if you are at all familiar with modern Catholicism), but sometimes spending a whole class on the inclusion of two words into the Nicaean Creed can be.... excruciating (etymology joke for y'all). At other times though, like I said, if you're familiar with modern Catholicism, the reason for some obscure thing will just click, and you'll find yourself noticing it in every mass you go to thereafter. If you're not Catholic though, I don't know how interesting that would be.

There's not a lot of work, that's true. But that's not to say the little bit of work you have is graded easily. Its not. Two midterms worth 25% each, and a final worth 50%, with the question "read this passage and relate its importance to Christianity" sounds easy, but you're expected to include EVERY RELEVANT PIECE OF INFORMATION. A text analysis, text summary, historical context (past, present, and future consequences of the text), other movements it was related to, etc. Really hard. I think most people were unpleasantly surprised at the grades they received on them (especially since these expectations weren't related to you till after the test). Easy A? Pah. 16% A's does not an easy A make.

Final word of caution: the syllabus will craftily inform you that attendance of discussion sections is not mandatory, and not attending "will not hurt your final grade". But that's not entirely true. Say you received B+'s on your two midterms, and a B on your final. 50/50. If you attended discussion sections, your final grade will be a B+. If you didn't, B. This criterion as part of your final grade is also conveniently never mentioned. And sucks. Go to the discussion section. There's only 4 anyway.

Overall: Bobby's great, the TA's are great, but going to a pretty boring class twice a week where 84% receive less than an A? Why would you do that?

January 20, 2006

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

this was the most boring class that i have ever taken! though my ta was very nice and very friendly, somerville was such a tremendous bore that nothing could redeem the class for me. the subject matter is actually interesting, but somerville kills it as much as possible and the 'jokes' that he tells are the msot atrocious things i have ever heard. the class fills up because you can do little reading and get a decent grade, but IT IS NOT WORTH IT! DON'T DO IT TO YOURSELF!

Workload:

a lot is assigned, most not necessary

December 03, 2003

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

This course is the best course I have taken in college so far. Prof. Somerville is one of the most amazing lecturers I have ever had the privilage of listening to. He comes into class, writes terms on the board, and just TALK S at you, no notes and all. He is SO articulate, just listening to him improves your vocbulary. Many a day passed when I would skip all my classes, and then walk all the way from my dorm just to go to Prof. Somerville's class. I am a Religion major because of him. Take this class! Oh yeah, and his not funny jokes make him such a cutie!

Workload:

Nothing. Two ridiculously easy quizzes, you don't even have to do the reading just take good notes in lecture; a one page paper that is not graded; and a final. Easy--very!

October 13, 2003

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

Ok he's a really nice guy probably and obviously very intelligent but i must agree with these other reviewers that this class was painfully boring. his lectures are monotone and you can barely hear him (which is interesting because he can barely see you without his glasses). the material is pretty interesting and he chooses interesting readings. i attended about less than half of the lectures and that was more than enough. not as easy a grader as other people might lead you to believe

May 17, 2003

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

Somerville is a great professor. His lectures are very straightforward, and he writes the key terms on the board before class, so if you write them down, your notes will be in very good order and chronological for the most part. This course is more of a History-based Christianity course than a Religion-based one... not too much theology but it is still very interesting. This is probably because Somerville is a religious historian. Nevertheless, this is good for history majors as it can be used to fulfill part of the major requirement. Somerville's lectures are great, and he had 4 guest lecturers (2 of whom were TAs), and each of them added another facet to the class, ranging from Dr. Boynton's lecture on Music in the Church, complete with sound clips of psalms, to Steven Schoenig SJ's lecture on St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. The reading may seem heavy, but he usually writes the reference book & pages where you can find more info about a key item, so you can usually look it up rather than reading the whole book, although some of the course books are really interesting. He has everyone buy a course reader (and apologizes profusely over the $25 cost), which is composed of primary sources ranging from the Didache to writings of Martin Luther, and he goes over some in class. 2All of these readings create further understanding of the lecture, and they are really helpful to read right after his lectures. There are 6 additional books, 3 of which are sort of reference about the time period (2 are good, one's pretty dense), and 3 shorter books, 2 used for discussion sections and one used for the alternative paper. All of these are really interesting. As far as his exams go, they're pretty fair, and it is definitely ideal to go to the lectures as it's easier to make connections between what he says and what the books say, as they're more complementary than anything. And if you don't go, then you're missing out on one of Columbia's clearest, most dedicated lecturers and professors.

Workload:

2 "quizzes" (1/2 hr each), final. The first quiz was IDs, the second was True-False, but the results on the second one were so varied that he offered a "balanced retake" and will probably not use this format again. The final was pretty difficult, although he gave the essay questions (which equated to appx 60% of the test) ahead of time. Discussion sections, which meet 4x during the semester, discuss primary sources (Rule of St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, Martyrdom of Perpetua, Calvin/Satoledo) and participation in these helps your grade, but are not mandatory. Also, in lieu of the second test you can opt to write a paper/ reaction/ review up to 8pgs on Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi.

May 12, 2003

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

Sure, Somerville is interested in Christianity of the Middle Ages and it is an easy good grade, but I urge you only to take this class if you are compelled by early Christianity and willing (and able) to start drooling over your notes from boredom. If you long to learn anything even slightly associated with the theology of modern Christianity and you are not fascinated by the intricacies of medieval cannon law then .... stay away!

Workload:

easy, two short midterms a final with questions that are handed out prior to the exam.

April 25, 2003

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

This is not a review of Prof. Somerville, he is an excellent lecturer, clear and fair. That being said, before you sign up for this course, please be aware that it is heavily history based. If you love history, you'll love this class. For the most part it was names and dates, with little or no analysis of theological/philosophical/sociological undercurrents. Also, it only goes up to the Reformation, so if you want to learn anything substantial about Protestantism, the Enlightenment, or modern Christianity, you'd best go elsewhere.

Workload:

The reading list is moderate, but contrary to what most people have said, it is difficult to do well on the quizes without having done a substantial amount of the reading. Even Somerville himself says that its difficult to do well if you can only regurgitate what he says in lecture. 2 quizes, final, one 1 page pass/fail paper.

April 08, 2003

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

Although I'm currently taking the class, and have therefore not had the full Somerville experience, I felt the duty to review him prior to fall registration. I registered for this class because it fulfills a history major requirement and because I read that Somerville is a God. I must agree, Somerville is AWESOME!!! His lectures are very consise & he is extremely articulate. The class right now is 140+ and in a huge lecture hall, and from the back of the room I can here him perfectly. The class is not a theology class (you're not going to learn about how to worship Jesus), but instead talks about the religious history of Christianity. Somerville's lectures are easy to follow, and he writes the key terms on the board, so you can take notes that follow his lecture. The readings are really interesting, and he compiles a course reader with primary sources. DEFINITELY TAKE THIS CLASS!!!

Workload:

4 or 5 books... readings in course reader... there are discussion sections that meet 4 times over the course of the class & help your grade... they are also REALLY interesting, because everyone can talk during them, unlike in the lecture... 2 quizzes and a final... our first quiz was term identification (mini-essays) and our next one will be true-false... the grading depends strongly on the TA..... a short paper on St. John the Divine (1 page)... you can opt to write a paper instead of taking the 2nd quiz

May 07, 2002

Somerville, Robert Silver_nugget
Christianity

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

Very clear lecturer but can get a little boring. He is very easy to follow becasue he writes all the key terms for the lecture on the board before class starts so you know where class is going. He does try to spice things up with his jokes but inevitably he can get boring. The best part of the course is his course reader which is all primary sources. Those readings are pretty interesting.

Workload:

2 quizes and final. The reading list is completely optional except for one book by augustine and the course reader. The tests are all easy. They are essays on excerpts from texts which he tells you about beforehand so it is an easy A.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section