July 19, 2004

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
Religion and American Culture II

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

Impressed by Balmer’s extensive brochure-of-a-syllabus and encouraged by a genuine interest in the subject matter, I made the worst mistake of my academic life and registered for Religion and American Culture II. Week after unbearable week I scribbled his immaculately organized PowerPoint presentations into my notes while languishing bored by his total dullness, and stark lack of analysis. Lectures read like the driest textbook, "In 1900 this happened, 1902 this event.... blah blah blah blah." He had impressive credentials for sure but threw on a video (staring him) instead of lecturing on the topics of his expertise. He never read any papers (a TA-only job) and never once did I find comments explaining my grades. I've heard all sorts of horrors about his grading and fared pretty well at first. I got overall good grades (all A's) on all assignments until one. Unfortunately, on one occasion personal matters conflicted with a due date and Prof. Balmer made an already shitty situation so so so much worse by being totally inflexible, unavailable and just plain mean. I managed to turn in a pretty good paper late (which really wasn’t so bad considering the circumstances). On account of the tardiness of one response paper he thought it appropriate to drastically cut my final grade from an “A” to a "D". Grrrrrr. So um basically..... DO NOT TAKE HIS CLASS IF YOU HAVE HALF A BRAIN AND WANT TO DO MORE THAN MEMORIZE DATES!!!! (and if you do enroll pray for a tranquil personal life)

Workload:

three 8-page response papers or one long research paper, difficult midterm and final exam.