April 26, 2012

Proudfoot, Wayne Silver_nugget
Religion and Its Critics

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

Proudfoot is an immensely long individual. He’s long, long, long—his body, his lectures, his papers, his assignments… and all these things even SEEM longer than they actually are. Paradoxically, Proudfoot’s lectures always start and end promptly within the allotted 75 minute period, his papers are by no means unreasonable and even rather lenient, and his reading assignments are far from the longest I have been assigned at Columbia (his body is actually just plain long, though). That’s why I say that, despite reality, all these things SEEM longer than they actually are. His lectures, for instance, tend to ramble. He repeats himself with regularity and constantly rephrases things several times during a lecture. On one hand, this is very helpful for grasping some of the harder concepts. Yet again, it can be quite boring. I found the texts that Proudfoot selected for this class to be interesting, but not much more than that. Nothing seized or enthralled me. Where the blame for this lies—with the text, the professor, or me—is a mystery. It’s probably a combination of all three. As for the papers, Proudfoot very kindly replaced the midterm with a take-home version. This made everyone happy. In fact, Proudfoot is immensely kind and approachable all around. He’s a solid grader. Not an easy A, but not a stick in the mud either. My main complaint is that the class only revolves around three grades: the midterm, the final, and one paper due on the last day of class. Although this is not the most consolidated grading format that I have ever experienced, it is among the more compact. My hope is that some day Proudfoot will assign the paper to be due during the first half of the semester. This will give students a better idea of what he expects from them earlier, and make the class a less mystifying experience. Ultimately, I’m not sure that I enjoyed Proudfoot’s class, although it was very decent. Proudfoot teaches other classes that seem equally as fascinating in print as this one did, but I doubt that I will take them.

Workload:

Midterm, one paper, final. Fair grades. Reasonable reading assignments that are quite interesting but often dry.