October 04, 2003

Mercer, Christia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V2201] History of Philosophy II: Aquinas to Kant

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

As the last reviewer felt compelled to emphasize Professor Mercer's alleged gender-favoritism not once, but twice, I'll begin my review by pointing out that I am (gasp!) male. I took her class as a sophomore, with only a poorly-taught Methods and Problems class and a generally disfavorable impression of the department under my belt, and the experience encouraged me to eventually major in philosophy.

In-class discussions did what historical surveys are intended to do: introduce, elucidate, and contextualize, and all in an engaging manner. She didn't go incredibly in depth, but, ummm, did you read the course title? That's a pretty hefty chunk of material to cover. While I sympathize with students eager to plunge deeply into a particular text of interest, I also think that it's fair to point out that it's nearly impossible to reconcile the desires of hardcore philosophy jocks taking a required-for-the-major course, and sweaty, nervous, first-time philo kids.

*CULPA edit* It's ludicrous to pronounce on how a professor would teach an upper-level seminar based on how they teach an introductory survey.

The reviewer also points to the abundance of positive reviews as evidence of Mercer's alleged favoritism, and that Mercer "so desperately wants" us to see her as caring. That seems like a bizarre interpretation. Maybe, just maybe, a professor that wants us to think of her as a caring professor, and a bunch of students thinking that she is a caring professor, is actually evidence that Mercer IS a caring professor.

That was certainly my impression. I received my first paper--which, incidentally, I had turned in late--back with lengthy and thoughtful comments about specific points of my paper, as well as an invitation to discuss it and any other general questions during office hours. Since then, I have found her to be unfailingly generous with her time and advice--a helpful and, yes, even caring, professor in an aloof and sometimes difficult department.