Robert McCaughey seems like a very interesting professor, but unfortunately that does not come through in his class. For every major text that we speed through, you have to write an essay and a critique in which he obsesses over your essay title. I found all of our texts really interesting (a word that he insists you do not use) and the essays that were written was thought-provoking and a perfect set-up to an engaging class discussions. But to my disappointment, he would stifle discussion when we got to class. I am sure that he would be a great history professor, but in my experience as a seminar professor, he is very dry. My class was full of passionate, avid readers but every class was very quiet after the first few classes.
This class is an overload. In total I think we wrote 11-12 papers this semester. Half of which are 3-4 pages and on the content of a section of the book we're covering. The other half are 2 pages long and are critiques of the aforementioned papers. We went through books like the Odyssey in three 1 hr 15 min classes. The material you cover is very superficial and I found myself not even caring about the quality of my essays since he grades all papers pretty much 87%-93%.
This year we read The Odyssey, The Tempest, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, Sailing Alone Across the World, Diving into the Wreck, At the Fish Houses, The Country of Pointed Firs, and Moby Dick. Professor McCaughey is jovial and can crack surprisingly good jokes. His grading is generous; I doubt that anyone in my class is getting lower than a B this semester. Most classes are spent by looking at the papers that people in the class wrote and then gradually leading into a class discussion about something. There's a strong focus on the mechanics of writing. Don't use the word "however" in your papers...ever. Professor McCaughey lets his students get creative with writing; it's acceptable to write a paper in poem form as long as you don't do it all the time. Overall, I would recommend this class.
while professor McCaughey really knows what he's talking about history-wise, this seminar is not worth it. Take his maritime history class sometime.