March 27, 2014

Dabashi, Hamid and Ullah, Sahar (TA)
[ASCM V2008] Contemporary Islamic Civilization

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

I came into this class really looking forward to it. There were mixed reviews on CULPA, but I thought I was blown away during the first lecture. Dabahi walked around the room, talking about all of these super intellectual things. He went through the syllabus, explained the different books, and I was so intrigued. I was genuinely excited for the class.

I was so, so wrong.

Dabash doesn't teach -- he let's the TAs present on the books, and then scribbles down loose notes on whatever he thinks up and then walks around the room, pontificating and making jokes. The TAs do all of the heavy lifting here, and he doesn't really explain what's going on. He just pontificates about Kant and tries to amaze the class with catchy phrases like "We have to make the unfamiliar familiar by making the familiar unfamiliar." He gave us supposedly a book a lecture, but was so entrenched in his desire to pontificate that we quickly fell behind, and the TAs, who were responsible for telling us which parts of the books we were assigned, seemed to have given up around spring break, possibly because no one bothered to do the readings because *they didn't matter to the class.*

My TA, Sahar, was the only redeeming merit. She was clear, well-spoken, and actually made an effort to make the texts understandable, and she, at least, seemed to care more than Dabashi did.

Don't do what I did, and fall for his theatrics and his talking points. The man is too busy thinking about how amazing he is, and doesn't really care about the class. If you're interested in this, wait until Saliba or someone else teaches the course in the future, or find a copy of the reading list and read the books yourself. They were the only redeeming merit of this course.

Workload:

Midterm 5-page response paper (no citations needed) to one or two of the readings, and a 10-page research paper using the texts assigned on the syllabus (citations needed). There is basically a book a lecture, but you only have to read part of it (assuming the TAs are kind enough to tell you what you actually have to read). Discussion sections are mandatory.