May 24, 2010

Saliba, George
[ASCM V2008] Contemporary Islamic Civilization

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

Honestly, this course was very disappointing.

It really takes an academic or philosophical approach to issues in the Islamic world. Rather than discussing the modern Islamic world concretely, the course focuses on the intellectual movements of Islamic (mostly Arab in the case of this course) thought over the course of the last 150 years. This was not bad, per se, just not what I expected.

What is bad is that Saliba is a horrendous lecturer. He doesn't plan out his lectures, goes on 20 minute digressions, and pays only lip service to the readings. He thinks making good powerpoints distracts students. One week, we did nothing but listen to Umm Kulthum. There is an attendance sign in sheet, so you can't skip too much.

The recitation was useful, but at only 50 minutes a week, we never had time to cover the all of the week's material.

Grading was arbitrary. The midterm and final were both not particularly in depth or demanding, so your grades depended on how your recitation leader liked your style of response.

Workload:

Anywhere from an hour to four hours of reading a week (30 to 100 or so 8.5 x 11 single spaced pages). Midterm 40%, Final 40%, attendance and participation 20%. Grading was arbitrary.