American Film History: 1930-1960

Jan 2021

Pena's classes, I've taken two now, are head-bashingly boring. He simply reads off slides, with a bunch of useless facts and figures that you will never use again. He always takes role call, which is fine but does so on average 3-4 minutes before class, which is incredibly frustrating as lectures have been in Lenfest (if classes ever go back to in-person). He often pauses for questions or comments but gets annoyed when the student actually asks a question that does not afford him to show off his vast amounts of film knowledge and anecdotes, and god forbid if the comment does not fully corresponds to his interpretations. Personally, I believe he wants to be less of a professor with actual discourse, and more he just wants an audience to be amazed by him. (Also, the man signed that Polanski petition back in 2009, so let's ruminate on that.)

Jan 2009

Jane Gaines is certainly one of the more insane teachers in the film department (she's visiting from Duke—though unknown for how long), but her lectures were the best out of any professor in the department I've had so far. She's willing to go there and in terms of being frank about sex and what not. And she was always making off-hand ridiculous comments, which were always gold. She chose an extremely curious line-up of films looking at the studio history, sometimes which felt really didn't fit with the point of her lectures though. They were often great films though. But while Gaines was a fun lecturer, her class workload was demanding for a 3000 level class. She put the midterm the week AFTER spring break, and included many subtle questions about who said what in what reading, most of which I totally blew. Additionally, she had a second midterm right in the middle of our final research papers, which was a take home, of which she wanted to be 10 pages long in responses to questions. Our TA lowered the amount, but it was still very ridiculous. Take Gaines at face value—or pass/fail the class and skip the unnecessary course load.