course
Re-Acting to the Past II

Jan 2009

Hands down the best course I've taken at Columbia. Combining politics, history, debate, law and theatre, I've learned and retained more from Reacting than any class I've taken in my 17 years of education. Mark Carnes is a genius and will first teach you the material in an exciting way, and then will let you act out the material for yourself. He will work with you in developing any ideas or strategies you may have. As someone who is terrified of public speaking, I have become so much more confident after this class. I have made friends (who can say THAT after any other class at Columbia??), and come away with solid memories. TAKE THIS CLASS! Grade recieved: A

Dec 2005

Amazing class! fantastic way to bond with your classmates, cover interesting material, and really feel like you are LEARNING. I know i will retain waaaaaay more information from this class than any other history class i've ever taken. Carnes is great and is totally into the class. At times things could get pretty crazy, but that was part of the fun. This is definately one of those classes where the more put in it the more you'll get out of it. I would totally recommend this, or any other reacting class.

Oct 2005

Take Reacting with Carnes. It's his baby. Gill was good, and I learned a lot, but you should really take the class with the man who invented it.

Jun 2005

First of all, Reacting II is NOT like Reacting I. Reacting I was super easy, I wrote all my speeches randomly whenever I felt like it during the hour before class. Reacting II is hard core, and it's largely because of Gill. She expects a LOT out of her student, so definitely don't pick this up as a 5th course or if you think your semester is already so busy you can't handle an intense course. It's 4000-level for a reason. You have to do heavy heavy reading before each game, particularly the India game where the workload will be insane for a couple weeks, and you are expected not only to do research for everything you write or your speeches, but also to be able to off-handedly dispute everyone else's argument in class. That said, you'll get a lot out of Reacting, particularly if you put a lot into it. Reacting is such a unique class that is both challenging and interesting and frustrating at the same time, and Reacting II is far more so than Reacting I. The games are a LOT more complex and you're expected to really know the background information and how to manipulate tricky situtions. For some reason, the games also seem a lot higher stakes in Reacting II. It was fun, but a lot of work sometimes. Gill is a great Reacting professor--she is one of the most intelligent, articulate, and brilliant women I have ever met. Her smarts can be intimidating at first, but by the end she really warms up to the class and is a very helpful and deft Gamemaster throughout. She expects a lot (I think she said "research" more than any other word) but she turned out to be a generous grader (I was surprised to get an A at the end of the semester, sure that I would be getting an A-). The one complaint I have is that she NEVER handed anything back. By the end of April, we were all complaining because we had no idea how we were doing or if we should improve upon our papers or any way of measuring what type of improvement we should be doing, so I think she handed back one paper. That's one thing that would be good to see changed in future semesters. You turn in 3 newspapers for the French Rev. game, one per week, and you get absolutely no assessment for that entire game expect via the awards she gives for the best papers, which give you more clout in the game. But Gill is very accessible, urging (sometimes even requiring) us to go to her office hours for 15 minutes before class and immediately responding to e-mails. She'll really help you with anything that you need in a second. Don't forget to use her as a resource--Gamemasters know more than the players. I don't think I'm going to take another Reacting class, but I'm glad I continued with this one. It was a great educational experience and one of those classes that make you happy you're at such a prestigious institution so you get opportunities like this. I miss my fellow Reactors, as you become a big family by the end of class, and I have fond memories of the experience--that's really what Reacting is, an experience.

May 2004

One critical thing that Professor Gill must learn when teaching this course is that it is NOT her Philosophy of Education class. While it is appropriate for a professor to expect hard work, preparation, and dedication from her students it is not appropriate for her to expect the same type of performance for Reacting that she might receive in her Philosophy of Ed course. I repeat, Reacting is not a Philosophy course! Professor Gill is very approachable and kind, but her comments can be somewhat off putting at times. She doesn't ever take into account that some students need to be drawn out a bit more from their shyness and is quick to criticize the "quiet ones" of the class. This, however, does nothing to encourage students to be more vocal. What prepetually annoyed me was the professor's utopian ideals regarding learning and the fact that one is bound to always feel quite stupid in her presence. Also, she ought to keep in mind that students have classes other than hers and cannot spend eons in the library researching every tidbit regarding France or India. Watch out for this course as you are bound to get much more than you bargained for.

May 2003

Yes, I'm one of them! One of Professor Carnes's obsessive fans who would tell anyone that if they have the chance to take a class of his, they should jump at it! I haven't taken his America since 1945 class(although my roommate says it's amazing and he's unbelieveable) but if you have the chance to be in Carnes's reacting class, when you can really get to have an intimate class with him, do not pass up the chance. Professor Carnes is soo interesting, brilliant and fun...He is soo cool and will talk to you anytimeee, even at 1 am on AOL, which you def. will have many conversations wiht him because he knows everyone's screenname and makes sure to use them. The class is really an unbelieveable experience-while sometimes it does get annoying , you learn to appreciate the style of learning really quickly and realize that you're getting more out of this class than all your other classes combined. I would recommend Carnes and this class to anyone!

May 2003

Professor Carnes is AWESOME! He's absolutely amazing, and I highly recommend him! I love Re-acting because it opens your mind to different ideas you may never have given a second thought to or accepted before in your life. You learn about history, philosophy, and you definitely become a better impromptu speech-maker! Carnes challenges you and he is always willing to take time out to chat with you if you need help clarifying your position. He also likes to get people involved in their roles and really getting to the point of whole-heartedly fighting for their part. He taught me that even a "losing role" can be a rewarding one (as cheesy as that sounds!). He even throws celebration parties after each game so that the sparring factions can talk about their roles and let go of the tension from the games! If you like a challenge and you like public-speaking (or would like to become a better one)...actually, if you have any room in your schedule under any circumstances I COMPLETELY recommend that you take this class. You will not be disappointed!