Professor MacAdam is the sweetest person ever. He will talk to you about whatever and will put in a lot of time to help you figure out your point of view on the book. He is really accessible outside of class. On the course itself: First part is mighty boring. But after your first set of essays you start getting why did you have to read all the boring ancient stuff. As you progress through the course, you see why each book was included. Bottom line, each previous book helps you read the next one. I thought the course was very well made: I enjoyed it far better than another survey lit course I've taken. Professor MacAdam oftentimes made the entire class laugh to tears. I promise, you will be falling asleep listening about distant pasts of obscure people, and then you will find yourself falling off the chair, laughing. One of the most memorable instances was when we were reading Goethe, I believe. Professor MacAdam stood before class, explaining why did he choose that specific translation of the book. "My close friend translated it. Yeah, we're very close. In fact, I think of him every_day! *long pause, looking at the back wall over our heads* Because I have his sofa in my living room!"
I want to write a review for Professor MacAdam because I believe he is a bit misunderstood. Many on here have talked about how much they love him, but some believe he's just a pervy old man with dry lectures. This is not true! He DOES want his students to participate- he would always ask our class like 3 times over the course of the hour & 15 minutes if they had any questions or wanted to contribute something...and no one ever said anything. This genuinely disheartened him. I remember going to office hours one day and he expressed his disappointment that no one seemed to want to have any discussion...so if you feel as if he's just talking at you about the books, remember that he will ALWAYS welcome questions, comments, connections, or anything. He is so, so, SO knowledgable about pretty much every piece of literature to ever be written, in like every language...so make use of his brilliance! Engage in some debate! He really cares about his students and enjoys teaching them. And he is not a pervert. The class is literally about love and sex in literature; how can you not expect him to NOT talk about how the characters are gettin' it on? I recommend taking any class this man teaches. You will learn a ton, and I guarantee you will enjoy his sarcastic, deadpan sense of humor. Come to him with any issue (or even just to talk) and he'll be your best friend.
I took MacAdam's Mad Love class. While many of the texts were compelling and interesting stories, the class was a total bust. I love Euripides, Shakespeare, and Nabokov, however MacAdam's would have ruined them for me had I not already found my passion for them. Class is boring and feels like you don't need to go, which many people in fact, don't actually attend. He summarizes the texts and then adds his own personal opinons. He says funny, quippy things every now and then, but he never provided analyse for the books, only his opinions. Writing essays for this class, which is the final and midterm, became difficult because I have little to say. His topics for essays are terrible, and he has a weird writing requirement. Bottom line, this course sounds cool. But MacAdams completely ruins it.
Boring. The books were really good but he mostly just summarizes the plots rather than delving deeper. He encourage questions but his answers are usually confusing. The essay topics are only slightly related to what was discussed in class, and are much harder than expected, I spent hours on the midterm and final. Class was quiet and uninvolved. The only reason I would recommend the class is for the chance to read great books like the Symposium and Death in Venice, not for the course content.
Although this course should have been fabulous-- the books we read were AWESOME, MacAdam is an awful lecturer. I'm convinced that his rave reviews must come from students who slept with him. He makes inappropriate comments in his mostly all-girl class. He He doesn't hear so well, so although he doesn't encourage questions anyway, if you ask them, he usually doesn't hear them. Furthermore, he not only lectures from his notes, but he stands there and more or less reads a paper-- notes that are structured to be an article and not a class lecture. I don't recommend him at all.
MacAdam's classes are lectures, so if you like to have discussions about what you're reading in class, this probably isn't the class for you. BUT if you want to hear some of the most brilliant lectures about any of the texts (from One Hundred Years of Solitude to Lolita), take either of these classes. MacAdam is funny as hell (sometimes a little on the sleazy side), so his classes are often entertaining. Unfortunately, he spends a little too much time giving summaries of the texts (which can be great if you're not into actually doing the reading). His lectures are really helpful when you're writing the exams, and they can be really interesting, but he doesn't take attendance, so you don't HAVE to go (but you should).
....Whatever you choose to believe, there is one, undisputed fact about this professor: people take class with him over, and over, and over again. I was a little embarassed about taking my second MacAdam class, felt slightly stalkerish when I signed up for my third. But guess what? In each successive class there were other people I'd seen before, and at the end of Mad Love all the MacAdam virgins were asking what he is teaching next semester... I have no idea where people get the idea that Mac Adam has a wandering gaze, but I suppose this would insinuate that we veterans don't seem to mind. So fine. The charge is not only untrue, but irrelevant. As to the allegation that MacAdam "may be too smart to be teaching" , I, for one like it when my professors are smarter than I am, and can fill me in on works which inspired the authors we read (see, THAT'S what Faulkner has to do with Marquez). One of the best things to do in a MacAdam class is take down a list of works he references - my entire summer reading list is pretty much drawn from there. His lectures are fabulous, his knowledge of the material (esp. in the Latin American classes) unparalleled, and who doesn't appreciate having a professor who has translated Fuentes or written critical reviews of Cortazar? In addition, Prof. MacAdam is accessible outside of class, willing to help with essays, reading questions, or your own existentialist dilemmas. He is truly one of the most intellectual professors I've had at Columbia; I have taken away so much from his classes... The proof is in the numbers: and every semester, the majority of his students all say the same.