course
Introduction to the English Major

Mar 2008

I felt compelled to correct the previous review. Hannah is very clear about grading; in no way does she mislead (and if one needs to argue with a professor about a grade, any grade, let alone one in the *introduction* to a major, a re-evaluation of self is in order...). Moving on. I like Hannah a lot. She is very kind and conciliatory but a little sharpness would probably serve her better. In discussion, she rarely challenges points, even those that are just wrong, and on papers she's complimentary when harshness would be more instructive. She introduces you to the major with a warm, bosomy embrace, when perhaps a brisk slap in the face would better reflect the realities of (the good) English seminars--for which this class is a prerequisite. My criticism, really, is of this course (reintroduced just this year), not Hannah. You receive seminar credit (4 credits), though you only meet 3 hrs. a week and write 3000 words (!) for the entire class. You can also get away with only reading 250 pages of stuff the entire term (a short novel, a play, a poem). It's a total mis-representation of the major, which is reading-heavy, writing-heavy, and discussion-heavy.

Feb 2008

Hannah has this annoying policy where she undergrades on all the essays to try to make you work harder, and then she gives you a higher overall grade at the end. And of course you dont know this during the course and are frustrated that you're getting bad grades on good essays, and you're worried about your final grade. Also, if you agrue a grade with her, she will change it.

Apr 2002

Braverman is definitely not one of those professors a student can be decisive about. He's not terrible, but I'm not quite sure how good he is, either. He most definitely knows his stuff; the man is brilliant. He doesn't always communicate all that brilliance to the students, however. I always had this feeling when class ended that I'd been yanked away from a good movie right before the climax. In other words, just when I felt we were getting to one of his original and insightful ideas, he'd veer off into something trite and end class. But the books he chooses are great to read; he also discusses a lot on the development of genres and fuses pop culture ideas with the more conventional.

Apr 2002

The most amazing english teacher i have ever had. not only is sacks hillarious (and he does his best to be entertaining), but his brilliance defies words. he is not afraid to just bask in the beauty of a poem or even a sentence. be warned, however, that he is serious about literature. he will spend hours on one passage, and he 'analyzes the hell' out of everything, as another reviewer wrote. but if you're serious about english, then his class is an unforgettable (and very valuable) experience.

Apr 2002

Cocky S.O.B., but absolutely hilarious. keep your mouth shut in class and watch him rip everyone else up. he's full of trivial knowledge and obviously is extremely well-read. not overly concerned with grades - seems like one of those anti-established education types (he mocks the college admission process constantly and always laughs at the 'importance' of gpa's.) likes to give out lots of "n.g.'s" (no grade) instead of anything lower than B-. in other words, he'll tear your first few essays to shreds, but won't really penalize you. yerkes recognizes that there's nothing that he really has to cover, so his discussions are based primarily on digressions that have little to do with the reading. you can get away with not reading the novels if you BS well enough, but you might like them. in general, class atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed for everyone except the person yerkes is making fun of. its a light class, worth taking if for no other reason than to be entertained.

Jan 2002

I really loved Axcelson. He's a nice man and a brilliant thinker. His curriculum is wonderful and his insights are deep. I am now positive that I want to be an english major and I recommend his section for anyone who is serious about the subject.

Jan 2002

I just can't say enough about Prof. Kroeber. He's everything you'd ever want in a professor x 10! His lectures are actually discussions in which he encourages you to think for yourself. And as long as you can back up your opinion, you're good-to-go. He makes sure that EVERYONE speaks up in every single class, but believe me, you'll definitely want to participate anyway. If you're looking for a professor that does what he does because he's genuinely interested in motivating students, then you've found your guy. An absolutely wonderful professor!

Jan 2002

Okay, so the other reviewers aren't so keen on Prof. Braverman. Yes, he does have a almost too lax attitude in class, but when it comes down to it...he teaches the historical background, genre characterisitcs, and modern criticism of the works clearly. The works he puts on the syllabus are really diverse and interesting. We read everything from Shakespeare to Frankenstein to Wordsworth. I thought his class was very worthwhile.

Jan 2002

For this section we had to read 3 books-Hamlet, to the lighthouse, and omeros (a 300 page modern epic) and a handful of poems. Because these texts are all incredibly dense and there's a good chance you've read them before, Professor Sacks analyzes the hell out of the language. Sometimes this can be really interesting, especially with the poetry, but others, he goes overboard and spends entire classes on minute sections with little emphasis on the whole and/or themes. In the end, it depends on whether you care about the larger stuff. Professor Sacks is ridiculously smart and I can't imagine anyone doing close textual analysis better than he can, but it's not a course in the lit hum tradition of big ideas. His style is scattered, with him throwing out ideas more than organizing them, but he's such a brain it's at least interesting to watch. he's also an incredibly nice guy and is very understanding. I recommend him and the class, but it's important to know what you're getting into with the close reading.

Dec 2001

Professor Braverman is a nice enough guy, but it seems pretty obvious that he doesn't have much interest in teaching this course. He always arrived late for class, then engaged in several minutes of "small talk" before talking about anything relevant. Beyond that, the class discussions were generally dull and unfocused, and Braverman's contributions (usually large, since only half the class showed up on a regular basis, and even they didn't want to talk) are not particularly enlightening. Braverman is an easy instructor for Intro to the Major, but you probably won't learn much from him.

Dec 2001

This was a great class. Professor Blount made excellent choices about the readings for this section, and our discussions were really good. His speaking style is a bit unsettling at first; he talks very slowly, with long pauses, but it's because he's choosing his words extremely carefully, not because he's from the South. You get used to his speaking style fairly quickly, though. He has really good things to say and is good at facilitating discussion in this small class (15 people or so). Our section was a little heavy on the poetry -- Shakespeare's sonnets, Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and selections from Gwendolyn Brooks. I don't really like poetry, but I had a good time anyway (ended up really liking Whitman), and I'm glad I had to read it.

Nov 2001

This is a "note to self" course. After it's over, you say, "Note to self: Don't take any more Yerkes classes." The most annoying thing about all this is that you either get a review saying how great he is, and i took this class based on one such review, or you get somebody, or many people, who says, "Yerkes is a jerk." He is a jerk. Unless you are spectacularly good looking or naturally brilliant, you probably won't be getting an A from him. He once called a kid in my class "the handsomest man in the world" when making up a sample sentence during one of the many painstakingly boring grammar discussions. He is also bad-comment happy, so you'll find yourself getting C- comments, but a B for a grade, with no real explanation. He's full of hypocrisy, telling you that he really just wants you to "be clear," but then dismissing your clear paper as "too superficial and obvious." He'll run you around in circles while you try to figure out exactly what it is that he wants, but there is no CLEAR answer, which is a pain in the ass. He also wrote a few sample papers that he might have handed in, which we later picked apart as a class, which you might think would give you a better idea as to what to give him, but it only confused me more. I think i'm pulling a steady B from him, and i don't understand how anyone can call his class "easy" because it's the most emotionally exhausting and aggravating class I've ever taken in my life (with the notable exception of Joseph Massad's Israeli and Palestinian politics and societies, but that was still more educational and more pleasant than this). Yerkes really made me question becoming an english major; if this is the intro, i'd hate to see what the major actually is. don't pick him . . .

Nov 2001

An excellent instructor for Intro to the Major, which can make one either despise or adore the subject. The readings are taken mostly from a familiar canon of English lyric poetry, with some Shakespeare and Milton thrown in - Yeats, Keats, Wordsworth, and the like. Axcelson is very knowledgeable and thankfully doesn't suffer fools glady - if you're wrong, he'll let you know, and if you wander off into speculation, he'll shut you up. The class consists of close reading, with careful attention to language and more attention to devices than some professors, which some students, I think, found unimportant, although I thought very useful . . . a VERY light workload, which doesn't reflect on the quality of the class. All in all, an excellecnt class, and one of the rare intro classes you'll actually look forward to.

Apr 2001

While Sacks often appears to be interested in sparking discussion, his monologues and tangents lead the class nowhere. He dotes on the insignificant and fails to keep the class's attention. To his benefit, he is understanding about missed classes and late assignments.

Jan 2000

Intro to the Major with Prof. Yerkes filled me with existential confusion--and not in the good way, either. Whether this was a factor of the class or of the professor, I'm not sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that people in other sections had a far clearer sense of purpose and were happier people for it. What the hell was that class *for*? I have no idea. Prof. Yerkes is a fun and funny guy, although in class I often felt like he was trying to trick us, somehow. I definitely didn't get the impression that he thought we were anywhere near his level of native erudition. But he does tell good anecdotes.

Jan 2000

Yerkes is entertaining and frustrating at the same time. Above all he is weird, weird, weird. If you, for some reason, actually need to be introduced to the english major, do not take his section. If you are looking for a diversion, go ahead. His antics usually make up for the infuriatingly boring digressions that often occur. He WILL spend whole classes discussing punctuation and grammar. But then if you feel that you can really write, you might win one of the numerous cash prizes/bribes that he hands out as motivation (?) - from $5 to $50! The reading is fairly light...a few photocopied handouts, a few poems, and then two novels. The entire last month's class meetings are optional (most people showed up anyway) and consisted of him sitting, possibly sleeping, in the corner while the class discussed. This would go on until he would get bored and arbitrarily end the class. He's can be a tough grader at first, but doesn't count the first assignments - as many as the first three of four of them. There is a final paper, but he may or may not read them - honestly, i brought him a draft and he told me i didn't even need to finish it. Overall, an easy way to fulfill a stupid requirement for english majors.

Jan 2000

His lectures vary wildly from terribly boring to engaging, though classes where he spends most of the time talking tend to lean toward the former. We spent one entire class discussing a misplaced comma and an uncapitalized 'i' in Great Expectations. The best classes were actually those that he spent sitting on the floor in the corner of the class, letting the students lead the discussion. Is often hilarious and talks a lot about his interesting career. Offers students money, which can be interpreted as hilarious or somewhat insulting. Not a difficult grader, but hard to predict. Though I mostly enjoyed the class, I feel that it was not an apt "intro to english" class. The topics discussed barely scratched the surface of the works assigned and I often left class feeling a bit cheated.