i think the other review posted is very unfair. i think the many disapprove "ticks" of the review prove that. he was a really great guy and professor. i really learned a lot from him. he is always encouraging of your ideas and willing to help! he is really old and completely adorable. meeting with him outside class is never the awkward experience it can be with other profs. He is happy to take the time to engage with you. he taught me a lot of things that I use in other classes now and the profs think im a genius. lool. The books we used in his class are so essential to understanding sociology and class issues in the US and abroad. I have used/mentioned the works from his books many times in papers for other classes. I am dead serious when I say that he saved my grades more than once in other classes. This class is very straight forward I will admit. But sometimes lets be real you need that. the simplest explanation is really the best. if you want a long convoluted lecture but a tenure-seeking newbie good for you. go elsewhere. If you want a more sedate discussion oriented forum (although he does talk for most of the time) take this class. Its very chill and I think a majority of the people taking it really had a good time. he doesnt really try and trick/test you at every turn because thats stupid in an institution of learning. he just wants you to learn and honestly i and everyone else did the readings because of it. the one person who stopped showing up for the class was an extremely self-involved chatterbox graduate student who WAS advised by him multiple times at the start of the semester to take his graduate course when "they" kept prodding him for more indepth discussions. However, "they" obviously wanted an easier A with less required work. Why is this a negative for him???! Should he have kicked you out? I can't sometimes...oh columbians.
This is by far the worst professor and pseudo-seminar in the sociology department. The man can't tell time, so I wonder how he's teaching a class that thankfully is no longer required for certain sociology majors. He is fairly abrasive, makes many factual errors and always explains skims through seemingly important details by saying they are discussed in the graduate version of the seminar. I stopped going after the middle of the semester because I felt it was a waste of my time. If you want a four point A, then take the class and don't bother showing up except for the midterm and final and you'll be the wiser. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but this is still the worst class at our overpriced ivory tower.
Don't let the "seminar" title of the class fool you -- this class really isn't too serious. Once a week, Spilerman breezes into class, lectures you for an hour or two (depending on whether or not he's made other plans for the second hour of class), throws some handouts at you that you can't keep, and tells you to do the reading because you'll be tested on it (even though he never discusses it in class). I was pretty frustrated with this class at first because his approach eluded me, but I found that if you go to every lecture and you do in fact complete all the readings, there's no way that you can do badly in this class. Spilerman is not the most wonderful lecturer in the world, and he repeats himself a lot, but he's a nice guy that doesn't care for term papers or class participation or anything else that cramps his very direct approach to this course. He comes in and tells you what you need to know -- and as long as you understand that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer, as well as a few basic trends, then you'll do fine. At the first lecture, I felt that he tried to initimidate kids out of the class with his staunch emphasis on statistical knowledge as a course requirement -- all you really need to know is how to read a graph and do some simple arithmetic. As the core class for the Urban/Stratification path, this course is ideal if you're looking to do well with minimal effort relative to other courses. All in all, not such a bad experience.