The Boom

Dec 2010

Professor MacAdam is an amazing intstructor who is extremely knowledgeable of Latin American authors, history, art, etc... He will regularly mention current interesting art exhibitions and events regarding Latin America in Class which shows his interest and gives students the opportunity to see things that connect to what is studied in class. Additionally, the books selected for this course are amongst the most amazing ones in literature- and a must read- especially if you have the chance to read them in the language they were written.

Feb 2005

This type of class is what I came to college for, and Mac Adam is the type of professor I came to college to learn from. If you are interested in Latin American history, culture, or literature, especially between 1962-1970 (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes and Manuel Puig are some authors from this time), then Mac Adam is the man, and the Boom is the class. Every day I went to class I learned more, just by sitting there, than I knew there was to know. His ways of reading the books are nuanced and insightful. There is very little to no discussion, but he analyzes the books for you. This isn't to say you don't have to do anything -- you have to try and understand what he's saying. Every once in awhile he'll throw in something nonchalantly like, "One time, when Manuel Puig and I were walking down the street in Buenos Aires..." ...excuse me?! Not all of us are used to walking down the street with famous authors! But that's what makes it cool. His sense of humor is great, if a tiny bit old-school (as in maybe only 99% PC) -- but again that's what made the class fun. I've read on CULPA that some people comprise their summer reading lists based on the works he references in class. I'm not surprised. If you're the type that's intimidated by not having read or by not knowing about every little reference a professor makes, this isn't the class for you. But if you can swallow your pride and admit you don't know everything in the world, you can learn a lot. We read six authors and seven books. With the exception of two 100-page books by the same author, most books were in the 300+ page range. You don't have to read all the books to do well in the class. He summarizes every book and points you to important passages and recurrent themes. There is a lot of reading if you do all of it. But the books that I finished reading have become some of my favorite books of all time. Mac Adam’s midterm and final essays are some of the most enjoyable and the most difficult essays I’ve ever had to write. He is completely flexible about deadlines and extensions for the midterm. It’s refreshing – he truly would rather have you write a good essay that’s a little late than have you turn in a crappy one just for the sake of some random due-date. The midterm: three 600-word essays, one on each book we’d read. The final: three 600-word essays, we could pick which three of the four authors we wanted to write on. The 600-word word limit is great because it means you cut the junk. He doesn’t want to read ten pages of bull, and god knows we don’t want to write it. He wants you to get in, make your point, and get out. The end. The downside is that the questions appeared incomprehensible at first. I had to spend a week just reading them over and over before I began understood them. Once I did, they were doable because they related to the things he discussed in class. He was happy to meet with students to discuss the essays and he was also happy to take email questions. Great class, great prof. Class is taught in English. Books are read and written on in English. Can read and write in Spanish for departmental credit.

Jun 2003

....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.