U.S. in the Era of Civil War and Reconstruction

Jan 2020

One of the best lecturers the school has to offer. She shows the outline of her lecture on the first slide of her power points (which you should hastily copy down to organize your notes) and then proceeds to speak without stuttering for the next hour and a half. Sometimes she may go to fast, but for the most part she is clear and it is really enjoyable to be there. Because she covers so much, you end up with over a hundred pages of single spaced notes by the end of the semester. You're gonna work really hard in this class, but it's worth it. She's a pillar in her field.

Apr 2018

I'm not a CULPA review kind of person, but course selection is coming up and the immortal Stephanie McCurry has no reviews and that is unacceptable because this class is earth-shatteringly good. everyone deserves to experience the grace, brilliance, and wit of Professor McCurry. Is she terrifying? Yes. Is she hilarious and warm and genuinely interested in her undergraduates? Also yes. She takes difficult material and spins it into some of the most powerful, fascinating lectures I've ever heard. Everyone in the class adores her. I'm not going to lie, its a lot of reading. I guess you could get away with not doing it but there's a lot of information so the reading is helpful.

Dec 2010

Trent has the prowess of a Columbia doctoral candidate and the charm of a Texas boy. Together, it's quite a delightful combination in a very cute package (too bad he's married). I really enjoyed his discussion section. He is very knowledgeable about the material, and creates an environment where everyone feels really comfortable participating in discussion. I also like that Trent is interested in social history- he's writing his dissertation about the popularization of birth control (As he puts it, he's interested in when western cultures shifted from the view that children just happen to when they decided it was something they themselves could control.). I really liked that discussion often center around big social questions such as "Why did poor white southerner fight?" or "Did the slaves actually work for their own freedom?". However, Trent was also really knowledge about the political and economic factors of the times, and could talk at length about these things. I actually wish he talked even more though. My least favorite thing about the discussion section was that Trent often took a backseat and let the students talk amongst themselves. Of course he would intervene sometimes, but for the most part he really left us in charge of the direction of discussion. As a result, sometimes the discussion section was too full of the thoughts of undergraduates, which I didn't feel was extremely productive. The only improvement would be if Trent actually taught us more. In addition, he is really available outside of discussion. He says he lives kind of far away, so he not on campus a lot, but he's willing to set up a time to meet with you. The best way to get in touch with him outside of class is via email. Also, he's willing to look at drafts of papers, which is always nice.

Dec 2010

Eric Foner may be the most impressive lecturer in the historical profession in the world. He's certainly the best I've had, and this comes from a history major who makes a point of filling her electives with 3000+ level history classes. People can say whatever they want about Foner's political predilections - and he's certainly far to the left of "mainstream America" (whatever that means), myself included. But Foner presents a compelling, fact-based interpretation of a profoundly important period in American history that proves far more objective than those who would seek to criticize him typically offer as an alternative.

Nov 2010

I'm in this class now, and I feel like the reviews from six years ago are just as applicable today. Professor Foner is an absolute leader in this field, and it is a privilege to take a class with him. Each lecture focuses on one pretty narrow topic, such as the Southern antebellum economy or Northern patriotism in 1863, and the class is impeccably organized. Every class, Professor Foner stands just next to the podium, and talks to the class very conversationally, glancing at his notes once or twice the whole class. He talks so easily, at the end of each class, it's hard to believe it's been 75 minutes. The class is wonderful, and Columbia is very lucky to have Professor Foner on faculty.

May 2004


May 2004

I could not possibly do justice to how good this class is in writing. There is no better lecturer at Columbia, or anywhere, and Foner is the leading scholar in his field. You simply cannot give up the opportunity to take every possible class from him. I'll just say this: he got about 3 straight minutes of applause at the end of the last class. He's just unmatched.

May 2004

If you are a history major, this class will be a breeze. Foner, a great writer and important scholar, caters to the absolutely lowest common denominator in his lectures, which means you can skip them if you either know something about the time period or plan on doing the reading, which is substantial. The advantage to taking this class from a history major's perspective is being able to read the books on the list (some of which are skippable) and being able to go to his office hours. The great disappointment is that all of his lectures on Reconstruction, his specialty, come straight out of his book, which you can read on your own instead of listening to him read to you. The other students in the class are mostly non-history majors who don't do the reading and think he's an amazing lecturer because he's got a little personality and tells them things they should already know. If you want your money's worth, do the reading and pick his brain during office hours so that you can do more interesting things during class time.

Jan 2000

To quote Flavor Flav, believe the hype. Foner really is is an amazing historian, an engaging lecturer and one of the best writers in the academic world today. He is also funny as hell, armed with the self-deprecating humor of a white opener on Russell Simmons. Some find his Radical Tradition in American Politics course to be a bit scatterbrained, but the bottom line is, if he is teaching a lecture this semester, take it. And if the course is full, sit in on it anyway.