I took this class after reading the previous review and after speaking to other students who had previously taken this class, and now feel it necessary to share my experience, which was somewhat less positive this semester than it seems students had in previous semesters. While Hussein Rashid is not a bad professor and is clearly an extremely intelligent man with a lot of interesting information to share, this course is painfully disorganized, to the point where I feel like I came away from it with little understanding of what the point was supposed to be. To be clear, this is not to say I didn't learn anything - I got a lot of interesting tidbits of information from this class, but the overall structure lacks clear cohesion, which was frustrating, and made it hard for me to sum up major themes of the course in my writing assignments. Professor Rashid often seemed to get stuck on certain topics (for example, gender identity - once Professor Rashid had a TA lead a class in which all we did the entire time of 1 hour and 15 minutes was read quotes about 9/11 and debate whether we thought a man or a woman had said them) and it was hard for me to understand how these topics even connected back to the broader theme of the course (a theme which I don't even feel able to sum up in this review.) The readings for this course were often only vaguely connected to the lecture topics, and the discussion sections were completely unhinged from everything else. (For two weeks, my TA had us write characters for a play, for example. We never did anything else with these characters, they were not related to any reading we did or anything we talked about in the course. My character writing group spent a lot of time looking up different causes of gluten intolerance - definitely interesting, but not at all what I thought I was getting into when I registered for this course.) Basically, while I did learn new things in this course, I feel that there is a clear issue in any course where a student walks away unable to summarize what she spent the last semester learning about.

Further, this course is NOT easy. The grading is done by the TAs, which may explain some of the disparity between my experience and the experience of others, but I found the grading to be extremely harsh, and the standards for grading to be unclear. The professor and the TA spent a lot of time talking about grades, and we in fact spent multiple lectures reading through random papers and editing them (painfully slowly, and again not what I pay $70,000 in tuition to learn about in my religion courses) but I was still never really clear how to improve my own work/ write assignments that would earn good grades in this course. There are weekly 1 page reflections, which I felt expected a ridiculous amount of effort for a 1 page paper - come up with a thesis that ties back to the "main themes of the course" (still unclear what they were) and demonstrates that you have done all the assigned readings (often huge amounts of dense, dense reading.) I spent HOURS agonizing over each paper to earn passing grades, and I am a humanities major who has never struggled with writing or response papers in all my many other classes that require them. So be warned, while this is not necessarily a reason to not take this course, it is not easy, and a rather large time commitment.

I do not mean with this review to completely turn students off from this course, but I do want to present what I think to be an honest critique of the course, and make sure students don't just waltz in expecting a fantastic and easy A semester. I think there are better designed classes to take if you are interested in any of the subjects this course touches on, it may be worth looking into them as well.

Workload:

Weekly response papers, a 4 page midterm paper, and a 6 page final paper - doesn't sound like a lot of work, but given that this class is basically about nothing and the grading standards are insanely high, you will have to work!