I went in for help formulating an idea for my final paper and he told me that at this point in my college career, I should already know the answer to the question I am asking. (first semester junior undergrad). I do not care what he thinks I should know, as a professor, he needs to help me where I lack. "Hmm... how can I help you while expending as little energy on my part" was said twice. He then started asking me about the readings (again, I went in there for help with a paper and had a focus on other readings I wanted to use) and when he asked me questions that I couldn't answer, he told me I was lazy, he couldn't feel sorry for me. He then gave me MORE assignments (that no other student had to do) and said that if I was able to complete this I maybe could get a C in the class. Also said in his office while I was asking for help: "Are you like this in all of your classes" "Like what?" "Like this... never mind, I can easily tell you are" The material in the class is very interesting. The readings were great, but that office experience outshone any positive experience I've had in the class. I complained to another student and she reported a similar feeling of disappointment in his office. She asked him to define a word and he told her she probably needed to take some english classes, which especially stung because she was an ESL student.
Professor Pemberton is brilliant. I came into this class undeclared, and came out an Anthropology Major. One of the great things about this class was Pemberton's focus on including people from all walks of life; He loved hearing the opinions of the theatre majors, dance majors, music majors, philosophy majors, language majors, etc. Because of this, I felt like my presence was needed in the class, as I was adding a unique perspective that only I could bring. The reading can get a bit heavy at times, but as long as you skim all the readings (reading as many of them as you can closely) and bring in hard copies to class you should be able to participate in class discussions just fine. That being said, the majority of the readings are fascinating and probably unlike anything you've ever read for other classes before. Pemberton can get a bit disorganized, and loves to talk in long, rambling sentences that make it impossible to take notes, but you really don't need many notes. As there is no Midterm and only a final paper, there is no need for regurgitation of information. There are also short, one page, single spaced response papers you also turn in from time to time, that aren't graded but rather discussed in class. This was a great way to see if you actually understood the material and the readings, without the pressure of a letter grade. Pemberton weaves the curriculum with his fascinating stories about Java and his knowledge of literally everywhere else in the world, so you really get the feeling the man knows what he is talking about as opposed to reading it from a book and spitting it back out at you. If you are an open thinker and willing to change the way you look at things, definitely take this class.
First off, Pemberton is a wonderful guy: kind, crazy intelligent, thoughtful, available to students. Despite all that, however, this seminar was a disaster. It would have been better if Pemberton had lectured the entire time; instead, "discussions" took place, which were essentially lonely students telling barely-related personal stories. Followed by Pemberton calling them "fantastic". And repeat. Some of the readings were really good, but we never discussed them in a thorough way (again, the focus was on personal experience) or connected them to one another. I learned a lot of wild facts (especially about Java -- & Pemberton talking about Java is something not to be missed), but ultimately I would not recommend the course.
Professor Pemberton is brilliant! I am a senior Anthropology major, and I can't imagine graduating without taking at least one course with him. Text, Magic, and Performance is a great course that focuses on the concept of "otherness" and its relation to language (the signified and the signifier). Pemberton encourages creative writing and open discussion. Just having access to his amazing stories of times that he spent in Java is worth taking the class! If you have the chance to take a class with Pemberton don't hesitate...you won't regret it.
I signed up for this class out of curiousity, and I was rewarded with an open-minded professor who encourages creativity in all his students. Though the class size is larger than in earlier years, Professor Pemberton makes an effort to get to know everyone. He encourages you to experiment in your content and style of writing. I don't think I've ever written such honest papers; I never felt afraid or intimidated to share my thoughts. The readings cover similar texts as Intro to Socio-Cultural Theory, but it is not necessary to have read these before. This is truly one of the gems of the Anthropology course listing. My only complaint would be that Pemberton doesn't answer email, but he makes up for it by offering to write recommendations for everyone.
Professor Pemberton is absolutely wonderful. It will take you a minute to sense just how amazing he is, but once you do, you will find that in a subtle, "hands-off" manner, he encourages very creative, alternative writing styles, urging you to explore the boundaries of what it means to write "ethnographically." Instead of simply analyzing readings, you will be inspired to experiment with style and content. He is so open-minded that you will feel free in both your writing and your class comments. Ultimately, this course is about perspective. It is not about believing in ghosts or magic--these are merely tools to think in new ways. Pemberton is the type of professor who takes academia outside of its traditional confines. He might even care about YOU!
I really really enjoyed this class. It only meets once a week and the reading can be a bit heavy, but if you're at all interested in linguistics and literary theory, this is most definately for you. He approaches anthro through semiotics, so it's all about the relationship between the sign and the signified. The readings are mostly excellent, occasionally bad, and we have weekly response papers of about 2-3 pages. I found him really intimidating, but he's really a sweet guy and wound up being the most lenient grader (you have to meet with him once during the semester and I was sure I'd get a C based on what he said but I wound up doing very well). Overall, I got what I wanted out of the class, and that's about the best anyone can say.