course
Revolutionary America 1750-1815

Dec 2014

A good, light, enjoyable introduction to the American Revolution. Prof. Haselby is nice, approachable and knowledgable. The class isn't tightly organized, but that's mostly intentional- Prof. Haselby always tried to keep students involved in discussions about the Revolution and its impact today. This often means 30 minute long Q&A sessions, so this isn't a class bursting at the seams with information, but that's just as well. The title is a bit misleading- the class spends a lot of time on the pre-colonial and early colonial period and ends with the Constitution ratification of 1787-1788. I also wouldn't be surprised if Prof. Haselby meant to cover more than he did. The history is well taught, with a lot of quotes and anecdotes sprinkled in. The strongest point of the class is a kind of "myth busting"- Prof. Haselby loves to deconstruct some common misconceptions of the Revolution and to talk about its contemporary perception as a mythological event. This may be a little hard to follow for anyone who doesn't really know American political discourse, e.g. how the Founding Fathers are perceived and how the Constitution is treated. I should note that this class talks mostly about the "bottom-up" part of the Revolution, so this is not a great class to learn about the great figures of the period, with the possible exception of Washington and some Jefferson (through anecdotes and Jefferson's book). This is one of the lightest history courses I've taken, which for different people could be good or bad, but you should know that going in. Readings are light, there's no discussion section, the only paper is short and the two exams are straightforward. So this is not a class you want to take as a challenge or as some kind of total immersion experience. If you're a history major who likes to come out with a very deep knowledge of the material and to read a lot and write a lot, or if you already have a very good grasp of the history, this class might not be for you. But it is rather fun no matter how you slice it.

Mar 2010

This class is amazing. Aside from a bizarre tendency to spend several minutes at the beginning of lecture writing a vague and difficult-to-follow outline on the blackboard only to speed through the rest of the material, Professor Haefeli is a great professor. The material is clearly presented and I found his numerous asides to be funny and entertaining. Each lecture is organized around an argument that is presented along with other possible explanations so that I left the class with a far more universal picture of the American Revolution than I had ever imagined could have existed. You also get to spend part of one class watching 1776--a definite bonus. The reading is always interesting and related to the lectures. Definitely necessary for the papers.

Jan 2010

I loved this class. If you are interested, just take it and you won't regret! You will get to learn what America was like before and after the revolution, and you get to explore how American identity is formed or transformed during these critical years in the American history. The class approaches the subject in many different perspectives: intellectual, economic, political, military, etc. I personally found the military history part really boring and skipped the entire Fisher book, but I read everything else since they were all very interesting and well-written. Another great thing about this class is the lectures. You can see that professor Haefeli comes to every lecture well-prepared, and lectures were all very interesting and well-organized. In retrospect, I wish I took my notes on my laptop, but he prohibited laptops in the beginning of the class (However, half-way through the class, I think handful of people were typing in their laptops anyway). All the TAs were awesome, too. It was one of the few classes in which so many TAs had their presentations, and each had something interesting to say. I think this class was the best history lecture class so far at Columbia.

Dec 2009

I enjoyed Revolutionary America with Professor Haefeli. The lectures were for the most part interesting and he provides you with an understanding of early American history far beyond what you previously had. His lectures could be a bit slow at times, but they were always well organized and each class had a clear goal. The weekly readings could be a bit heavy, but it is not necessary to do them all, just enough to make weekly Courseworks postings and discuss the material in section. That being said, you may want to do all the readings simply because they are interesting and truly enhance the class experience. Section was generally pretty interesting, with a heavy emphasis on participation and discussion. The TA grades the papers and pretty much determines your grade. All in all, a worthwhile course which leaves you with an in depth knowledge of early American history (1750-1815) and professor Haefeli does a good job structuring the readings, his lectures, and the course overall.

Dec 2009

Loved it. Attend class on a regular basis. His lectures rest on clear arguments, and provide a useful context for your papers. The final allows you to use information he provided, so organize and date your notes. Also, he has a dry wit. Very entertaining. (His favorite punching-bags are Canadians and George Washington's questionable military leadership.) On the first lecture, he will make you aware of the Revolution's historiography: Whig, Progressive, Imperial, etc. He does this to make you aware of the various interpretations of the subject. You don't need to be an expert to understand it, however. The readings--especially some by Gordon Wood--provide useful outlines of the time period. The workload is pretty comfortable. Three take-home exams, and participation at weekly discussion sections comprise your graded work.

Feb 2007

Prof. Haefeli made this a great class. Considering how popular US History is here, it was surprising that this lecture class had only about 30 kids (perhaps the bad CULPA reviews had something to do with it?). But Haefeli was an excellent and clear lecturer, who led a very cogent historical narrative of the period. The TA Nathan was the best TA I've had at this school, and in some ways offered the most insightful commentary. I would reccomend this class for anyone whose a fan of the time period or any other History Major.

Dec 2006

I like Prof. Haefeli. He's young, and you can tell that he really is enjoying himself. Also, he improved so much over the course of the semester that I think he was still unsure of himself in September. I really enjoyed this class. It was not too hard, and he speaks SO CLEARLY. It's great for taking notes. The TA, Nathan, is really nice, too. See if you can get him. The only bad part about this class is that Haefeli writes the notes on the board for the first ten minutes of class, but otherwise...