course
American Civilization to the Civil War

Oct 2019

APUSH ain't got nothing on this course. The fact that we barely made it through the Revolution by the midterm is honestly my favorite part about this course. Lipman spends a long time (for a survey course) digging through American history - not just colonial history, not just US history - but actual American history. He'll change the way you see so much of American history, and gives so much context to what APUSH leaves out. Even if you're not that interested in US history, you'll really get a lot out of this course. Lipman is a really engaging lecturer. He goes fast, and missing lecture means a lot of catch up, but he's funny and explains everything really well. The readings don't directly relate to lecture - they tend to cover a specific part of the time period in more detail. Discussion section is honestly pretty boring, but the readings are interesting.

Feb 2019

I would highly recommend this course with Professor Lipman. He is probably one of the most interesting teachers I've ever had. His lecture styles is basically framed around a questions and key words each day. There is no textbook, and this course is not about memorizing names or dates. Instead, his lectures feel like he simply comes in and starts talking. He is very personable, funny, and the topics are interesting. In one class, for example, he talked about how the shoreline from the crustacean period matches up with southern voting demographics today. In another class, he talked about how the branching language families among indigenous people indicated the environment in which the different groups lived. Also included was an outdated Brangelina joke and the use of a breakfast sandwich to describe the war of 1812. It was actually really enjoyable to come to class each day because the lectures were that enjoyable. The workload is pretty reasonable. Each week there were about 100 pages to read, though the last book is a graphic novel, and a paragraphish long response to a quotation and a question. There were 3 essays, but the topics were very specific and they were all using the homework reading, so they were not that difficult. Additionally, there were midterm and final exams, which were basically just on the key terms in the lectures and on the questions that framed the lectures. They were very thematic based vs about memorizing names and facts.

Dec 2017

This course was very manageable with an interesting and cohesive overview of early American history. I appreciated that Professor Lipman drew on a range of historical texts to challenge dominate narratives of early American history and incorporate a range of voices into the historical narrative.

Dec 2016

I had Professor Lipman for American Civilization to the Civil War. He is great. Class style is lecture and discussion based. I always felt comfortable asking questions or reviewing concepts.

Mar 2014

Professor Sloan knows so much, and that is apparent from his lectures. That having been said, he can be boring and a bit dry, and lectures can tend to drag on a bit. There were definitely times I feel asleep in lecture. You have a textbook, which I found was good because it gave the background to what Sloan would discuss in lectures, but you could really get by without reading it and just going to lectures and taking notes -- for the final, Sloan gives you a list of terms that you will have to know, which do a good job of encompassing everything covered in lectures. He would pick specific overarching themes of the period, and spent several lectures over the course of the semester on historiography, which I found was interesting, but, again, was a bit dry. You also have to read six other books over the course of the semester, some of which are interesting, and some of which are boring, useless, and did not contribute anything to my knowledge of American History (Robert Cole's World, I'm looking at you). There is also weekly mandatory discussion sections. My TA, Eric, was okay, and did a good job of facilitating conversation about the texts we were reading. Grading is done randomly, so you can have a TA or Professor Sloan grading your paper and your final, making grading a bit of a mixed bag -- you win some, you lose some. You also don't know which one is grading, which makes it hard to figure out how to do better. The class was also part of the Barnard Writing Fellows program, so you had to hand in mandatory rough drafts of your papers that get reviewed by a writing fellow before you hand in a hard copy. It was good to have someone look at my writing, but it could be tedious at times.

Mar 2013

Sloan is awesome. He sits down a few minutes before class and waits for someone to bring up some small talk until he actually begins his lecture. I would always throw out current events and enjoy his cynical yet objective-ish response. As a pretty conservative person I'm always weary of the position professors will take when re-telling history, but he usually steered clear of politics. The readings were alright, and I skimmed every single book assigned. The lectures were interesting because he was a never ending pool of facts. When he would ask a question and someone got it wrong, he would yell "NO", but make it funny-- it was never intimidating to have the wrong answer, and actually made class more fun because his response was so hilarious. Good intro history class. If you put in the time you can learn a lot of dates and facts.

Jan 2008

Professor Sloan is obviously a very smart man. He is however one of the most boring and un-engaging lecturers there is. Looking around the room it was clear that most students were pretty bored as well, occupying themselves with solitaire and email on their computer. In retrospect I really didn’t need to go to class to do well on the final.

Jan 2007

This man is nothing short of a genius. Wonderfully dry sense of humor and anything but smug. Approachable and easy to talk to. He is the crown jewel of the History Dept. Sloan offers unique and in depth perspectives. And he does acknowledge his students outside of class--just say hello to him. Don't miss taking a class with him

Nov 2006

Professor Sloan seems like a good person. That said, his lectures bored me to tears. I like history enough to be a major, I even like American colonial history. I can't put my finger on WHY his lectures were so boring... maybe it has to do with taking too many Thad Russell classes (damn you Barnard/Columbia for getting rid of him!). I just found most things about this class pretty tedious.

Sep 2006

Herb sloan looks like a southern plantation owner. However, hes REALLY nice, REALLY smart, and includes anecdotes and very interesting theories into his survey. His side notes keep you awake and you dont have to read the textbook if you pay attention to his lectures.

Jan 2006

While this period in history is interesting Professor McCaughey chose to discuss what was interesting to him when he strayed from the main historical events (i.e. various forms of sailboats, the character of various presidents' wives, the evolution of Columbia University, etc.) His lectures were fairly interesting, but the workload for this class was ridiculous when you take into consideration that it is an introductory course. He posted all of his lecture notes online so if you missed class you could get them. The syllabus had no deadlines for the massive amount of reading; it just stipulated that a certain amount should be completed by each test. The tests were difficult with identifications, that the McCaughey himself said were intended to "trick the student", a section where a quote was given from a primary document and you were asked to identify who wrote, its title, and its date, as well as essays. The required discussion sections with TA's were somewhat trivial and didn't further my knowledge in the class. My TA made you post questions and responses each week we had section for the various supplemental novels we were required to read. If you want the workload of an upper level history course then take McCaughey. Overall his likeable and interesting personality doesnÂ’t outweigh the demand of the class.

Jan 2006

You technically don't need to attend his lectures because he posts his outlines and powerpoints online, but his sense of humor and enthusiasm make lectures worth attending anyway. People rarely ask questions in his lectures, but when they do he's willing to answer and thoroughly knowledgeable. Discussion sections are run by TAs, but he leads one as well, so if you get a chance sign up for his because he leads fabulous sections as well.

Jan 2006

I suggest avoiding sections with this guy as a TA. He's friendly and laid-back, but his discussion sections left a lot to be desired. He wanted only remedial analysis from the students and seemed pleased when we regurgitated the texts for him. He is also bad at replying to emails. For our final paper, Russell didn't give us a limit or minimum length, which I liked, but some people were unhappy with. Unfortunately, he assigned the paper late in the semester and we didn't have much time to work on it. He was considerate with extensions, but his paper idea lack inspiration. We wrote critiques of authors' historiographical approaches. People under other section leaders had more interesting options that allowed them to write at different levels and explore a variety of ideas. For example, another TA had his students do Wikipedia entries--and they were assigned in the beginning of the semester, so the students had a lot of time. I general, I would avoid taking a section with Russell. You won't work hard, but you won't get _anything_ out of it either.

Dec 2005

I enjoyed Professor McCaughey's class. He certainly knows what he's talking about; I came away from just about every lecture having learned something new. His lectures sometimes wandered a bit, but not so much as to be an annoyance. His tests do sometimes ask for minor details, but if you read the books and the online documents he posts the tests should be no problem. I would highly recommend this class to anyone interested in taking an introductory history course.

Nov 2005

McCauphey is a good lecturer with lots of knowledge of the course material. He enjoys being the smartest person in the room and also flaunts it. His tests (2 tests and a cummulative final) consist of ID's, document IDs and a long essay. He gives a choice for the essays but does not grade them the same. IF you answer the "easier" of the two, he will assume you're taking the easy way out. He is a picky grader and expects lots of time to be spent on preparing for his class. He assigns two books per "period" (3 periods in a semester which line up with the 3 tests) but not all books are relevent. Some will appear on the tests, others you will just read because he presents them as "very important." Loves to pick small, trifling events/people for test ID's.

Mar 2005

By the end of the semester my discussion group would spend time both before and after discussions complaining about Thomas non stop. If you get this TA I would actually try to switch out, no matter how convenient the time is for you. I wanted to be a history major and he was one thing that really turned me off to it. He actually also made me extremely uncomfortable; he is on a power trip on many levels from his grading techniques to his basic relationships with students, which for me was bordering on unwanted flirtation. I got Bs on all my papers and he would MAKE me meet with him, then later changed my grades to As. He's also not that intelligent to begin with and he's just ridiculously egotistical and power hungry. Loves to hear himself talk, loves it when students are wrong, loves to give bad grades. Try not to have him, but if you do you could probably prostitute yourself for a better grade!

Jan 2005

by far one of the most BORING history classes I have ever taken. Going to lecture was a drag--reading those seemingly "useless" books was also relentlessly boring. Sloan will fill his lectures with seemingly meaningless information and trivia questions. But for many American history majors its a requirement--so go to some lectures, skim the books & you'll b fine.

Jan 2005

i thought professor sloan was great as a lecturer. is unafraid of sharing his opinons and biases, but can appreciate opinions opposed to his own. i learned quite a bit in his class, even if i was not always the most intent listener. i did find the discussion sections to be fruitless. the main text was pretty boring, but the others were better, except for one that was ridiculous.

Jan 2005

Professor Sloan is a very entertaining lecturer and gives a highly opinionated view of American history. Do not expect to get a good outline on American history out of him, you'll have to read the textbook or have a working knowledge of American history to get that. Sloan will give you different ways to look at US history and historiography and will give you meaningless but interesting trivia in the process.

Dec 2004

Robert is the type of TA who can make or break a class experience, and in this case he breaks it. If you get stuck in his discussion section, he ends up grading every paper (there are 3) and your final exam, but don't think you can get away with handing in an A paper to this guy. Basically, he gives you a rigid outline of how a proper has to be written. in fact we spend most of our discussion sections talking about the structure of a good essay- consisting of a summary paragraph, thesis and supporting evidence- which is all fine, but every single topic sentence of every paragraph MUST relate back to "key words" in the summary paragraph. I feel like this is more like an English composition class than History, and he treats us as if we are eighth graders just beginning to write essays for school. As a history major i have written plenty of essays before, and i feel that i would have gotten all A's throughout the term if a different TA had been grading them. Basically, i thougth this class was going to be easy if you put in work, but i put in tons of work and got B's all the way through. Don't sign up for this class if there is a chance that Robert will be your TA

Aug 2003

Prof. Sloan knows what's what about Thomas Jefferson (he's the leading expert) and a lot of other American History... up to the Civil War. He's not the most enthusiastic lecturer, but he's fair and the workload is generally pretty manageable. However, if you don't already like history, don't take one of his courses or prepare to be bored.