Professor Nadasen is an excellent lecturer and given the topic, it seems difficult to make a history lecture riveting, she did manage to make the topics interesting. She does however maintain a very liberal political point of view, which she does not attempt to hide, and it is evident in her lectures. I did enjoy this class and would recommend it to anyone looking to take an introductory American history course.
An argument against the critiques of Esch: 1) "She doesn't use facts in her lectures, only her opinions" No. First of all half of what she talks about the most in class are POLICIES. These are real legislative documents that exist. Half of my notes for this class are various laws, acts, executive orders, or Supreme Court rulings. Also she frequently brings in statistics and raw numbers relating to the economic conditions of what period she is talking about. Also the reading she assigns is loaded with numbers and facts, but if that isn't reassuring enough here are some numbers for you to look at: 457579348577. That just happened! that is a fact! Feel better? 2) "Her lectures aren't organized" No. She has a microsoft work document up on the screen at all times that has key terms and dates that take place during the period she is discussing. If you find yourself in class and are frightened and confused simply lift up your head and point your eyes at the screen and then read the words, this should help with your feeling of bewilderment. 3) "She's biased!" Yes. Everyone is, just sometimes we don't agree with it or sometimes people don't make interesting or compelling arguments to back up their own arguments. As already noted in #1 Esch uses many facts and statistics as evidence for her particular interpretation of history. Every professor you take a class with is biased, whether its history, literature, economics, or science. There is no way to convey knowledge to other without interpretation and through this process we must use our own subjectivity. If you don't agree with her politics then fine, but to say her politics make her a bad professor is ridiculous. I've had many professors who are liberals and I don't agree with their politics but some suck at teaching and others don't, see the difference?
Anyone who wrote a negative review of the powerhouse that is Elizabeth Esch is a complete and utter fool who probably should just stick to taking classes where they know that they will get an A without having to produce any writing that is actually of quality. Having Elizabeth Esch in front of the classroom is like having Jay-Z himself spitting rhymes of fire in your bedroom--it was awesome. Esch is firey, fierce, and the kind of professor that will not let anyone get away with saying an inane comment in class just for the sake of putting their arm in the air and feeling important. If I may, let me say that Elizabeth Esch is the dominatrix of the History Department-- she will own you, and you will like it. If you want to leave a lecture feeling inspired, overwhelmed, stimulated, and able to actually change the world, then you absolutely should take Esch's class. If you are afraid of being challenged by a paper or having a powerpoint slide not match up with a lecture, then I suggest you not only stay away from her class but that you immediately attach a bucket around your neck in order to capture all your tears that will most likely result from the realization that an essay concocted off a Sparknotes idea will not score you an A and then send me the concrete manifestations of your sadness for I bathe in the tears of such fools as yourself to stay young and fresh.
Professor Esch is vibrant, passionate and obviously mad about the subject she teaches. She has a wry sense of humor, and seems to enjoy student input and participation very much in the classroom (she began each lecture with "so, does anyone have anything interesting they would like to talk about?"). I found her to be an interesting and effective lecturer, but I had a problem with the prompts for our papers. We only had two papers to write over the course of the semester, along with which our participation (determined by weekly discussion postings, and an oral preparation of questions on a particular reading we were assigned in sections), and our final exam, made up our final grade. I found that many students, as well as our three TAs, were confused and a little exasperated by the essay prompts. For our first one we had to respond to a quotation by a dunning school scholar and for the second we had to write a 7-10 page research prospectus for a 40 page research paper that we would never write. The final was long-- we had 15 IDs and 2 essay questions, but was easy to prepare for because she gave us all the questions ahead of time.
These reviews are pretty much on the opposite ends of the spectrum -- and I'm pretty convinced that the reviewer below me is in my discussion section. In any case, Professor Esch is...i'm honestly not sure. I was not particularly pleased with this class, or her lecture style. She had missed a good amount of lectures because of health issues, and it may be the reason why we rushed through so many things. But this is an 1000-level history course, and I'm simply taking it for my history req. at Barnard. History isn't my forte. Esch's lectures jump around in topic a lot and she goes on these tangents that lead to the end of the class question, 'Wait what was the topic of today's lecture again'. I do agree about the readings. They are interesting (some of them, except for the unholy book, The Golden Gulag) , but she fails to integrate them properly into the lecture. The TA's are great, but an hour a week can only help us understand the readings by so much. Esch seems to concentrate on the corruption of every aspect of American history, which is a good thing. But she also assumes that we know this and that we agree with her standpoints. Her lectures are peppered with random facts and then a 5 minute long rant about 'I want you to think about this....and its effect......'. And her finals ID's will include terms like "1877" and "Feminism". Essentially, how you experience Esch's class is how you prefer your professors. She is definitely one of these professors where you can just sit back and listen, learn some interesting stuff, etc, etc. But it's not one of those classes where you can take coherent notes, and if you're that kind of person, then don't take this class. Her essay prompts are horribly unclear, and while they are challenging in a somewhat good way, her lectures did not help me at all with writing it (aka spamming my TA's inbox for dear life hoping he'd help me). I wouldn't recommend this class, but take it if you have background about American history because she probably won't help you with that. Oh and she never uploads anything she gives out/outlines onto Courseworks.
This was by far the WORST history class I have taken in my time at Barnard. The lectures are poorly organized and she rarely sticks to the outlines she has up on the screen. She also does not post any of her outlines or the syllabus online so good luck figuring out what reading to do or when something is due if you loose your syllabus. The most frustrating thing about this class was that it was full of her own personal opinion. I felt that I didn't really learn any American history. I was expected to know all the events we covered and then she just added her own opinions. These opinions could be quite offensive and when a student tried to question her, she got defensive and nasty. I can honestly say that all I know from after World War Two is that she dislikes consumerism and hates Reagan. If this was a seminar I think it would be great because there could be discussion and plenty of room for her input but for a introductory survey course, it is horrible! If you are unsure about how you feel about history DO NOT take this class. I really believe the only reason I made it through this course without screaming was because I had an amazing TA.
I really have absolutely no idea what anyone of these review are talking about! This was by far the WORST class I have ever sat through in my entire life. She teaches nothing at all. All she does is throw out her negative opinions- which 99% of the time make 0 sense- and makes it impossible to differentiate between fact and stupidity. Both paper assignments were extremely unclear, poorly written, and had little do with what we were learning. The reading list was ok except they were all pretty much silly books that got boring after awhile- not to mention she has yet to mention a single one in class and the entire final is based on those books. She reads off her notes which sound like wikipedia articles- but worse- and teaches from a slide show consisting of 3 terms per page ( of which none are explained). Perhaps every discussion section was spent bashing her and talking about how horrendous the class was. Half the time we could not even have a conversation because none of us had any idea what the hell the class was about. I really do not know how she has great reviews being that I have spoke to around 40 people in the class who HATE it. DO NOT take this class unless you want to be miserable!
Professor Esch is one of the best lecturers and professors I have had. She is passionate, engaging, and truly cares about the students' interaction with the material. She is enthusiastic and ensures that lectures are never boring. She also incorporates video footage into lectures, and is very approachable to talk to. The class itself is a great introduction to American history, though it is not a cut-and-dry names and dates course. The focus is definitely on race and social movements. Definitely take this class if Esch is teaching it!
What a phenomenal woman and intellectual. There are many professors at this University revered for their academic accomplishments and reputations but out of this pool there are few who actually can teach. Professor Esch is destined to be one of the star professors like Foner, and like Foner she is also a professor who can actually teach! She is phenomenal at conveying history and theory and communicating with students, and what makes her even more impressive is that she genuinely cares about students. She doesn't act like meeting with students constantly or regrading papers again and again is a chore but she really does all this work with enthusiasm and compassion. If she doesn't get tenure here I will seriously have to build a mass student movement to protest, she is amazing!
Prof. Esch is amazing! I took the course just to take a history course in an area I was familiar with to see how it was, and now I'm a history major considering getting a PhD in history (switched from poli sci). She is engaging, approachable, and passionate about what she was teaching. I looked forward to the readings every week. We read W.E.B. Du Bois' Black Reconstruction in America, Upton's Sinclair's The Jungle, and Fast Food Nation, among other readings. If you are looking for an introduction to the history major, or just want to take a great class, take it!
Just to add to the one other review of Rosenberg teaching this course... She's amazing. The class is a fairly easy survey course, and you could probably skip the whole semester (other than the discussions where they take attendance), but you wouldn't want to. Rosenberg is thoroughly engaging. I _loved_ coming to class to hear her lecture. She tries to make it entertaining, citing examples of famous music and art from the particular era/decade. Rosenberg gets a gold star for managing to involve the class with her questions during the lectures (no small feat when there are well over 100 people in the room). Lastly, she puts all of her lecture notes online, so if you do have to miss a class, they're a pretty thorough substitute (between 6 and 30 pages per week). She happily makes time for every student, even if you don't have her for a discussion. I would definitely try to take this class!
I really don't think the previous reviewers have been very fair. Robert was not THAT bad. I thought that our discussion sections were quite interesting, especially because he worked hard to connect the historic material to current events. I will agree that yes, he is an annoying grader, but I think that he is suffering the most. For instance for one of our small "spark" assignments (basically a 5 paragraph essay meant to "spark" a class discussion on courseworks) he spent 3 sigle-spaced typed pages making comments, on a 1 page assignment I really spent 10 minutes on. If you didnt know how to write a basic history essay coming into this class, you'll leave knowing how. If you already knew, then good for you but it is an important skill that no, NOT everyone in the class knew from day 1. So be patient when he takes 30 minutes explaining how to connect topic sentences to your thesis, it just might come in handy on the final. Overal, I think Robert is a decent guy who really knows the material.
He is pretty entertaining professor who teaches in an unusual style and isn't afraid to make his viewpoints known and admits his biases and the directions he is going to take the class and why. While I found it a bit odd to be so openly opinionated for a survey class, I suppose all history is biased so admitting upfront and expressing it openly isn't so bad. Reads over a lot of primary sources in lectures and goes over them which I found a bit unusual as well, but got to be pretty entertaining. This class is not dry by any means but not spectacular either. He is also a very friendly professor and fairly easy on grading and workload.
A great professor (and one who puts his lecture notes on courseworks) and a fantastic lecturer, Professor McCaughey makes a survey history course a fun (and often funny) and engaging class. I would take him again for sure (even if he does talk about boats a lot).
Thad is terrific. I loved him as a professor, he was great on a personal level, and, despite his height and presence, he is easy to talk to, even if you disagree with what he says. His lectures are interesting and interactive, and the readings he assigns add greatly to the class. That said, he is biased like none other. This may be part of what makes him a good lecturer, but it is definitely something to keep in mind while taking his class; but, on the upside, at least you know exactly where he stands.
Prof. Sloan is a decent teacher, except for the fact that he has the TAs grade everything, which makes the grades pretty biased and unfair. Some of his lectures are more interesting than others, but he is absolutely knowledgeable on the subject. You could definitely skip the lectures and skim the books and still get by.
I enjoyed the class and the professor. Obviously, he could not have covered everything, but he managed to do a very good job, covering the major themes of pretty much all the time periods (including Clinton and Bush), particularly concentrating on the importance of work and family in politics and culture. Understandably, the lectures are packed. He does go pretty fast, but you don't need to write most of it down, so no worries and enjoy.
Russel is an amazing lecturer. He talks a lot and VERY quickly but the lectures are interesting, interactive, and fun. He has a lot of Barnard pride so if you're CC, GS, or SEAS don't get too offended. My one main criticism is that he manipulates the facts to support his arguments so under no circumstance don't take his lectures as pure fact. He tends to ignore the other side of the argument and it's very easy for him to brainwash you because he seems very knowledgeable. If you would like to argue with him he's approachable after class and makes you think that he's open to other interpretations. While this may be frustrating it is definitly worth it to argue with him. Also discussion section is a good time to discuss what you agree/disagree with. Overall good class but you must investigate all the facts before you make a judgment about anything he tells you.
Adina is one of the best ta's I've had since I've been here. Although she may seem to be a little standoffish it is only because she is shy. If she doesn't have the answer to your question, she will look it up and bring the relevant material to section the next week. She is a fair grader and genuinely wants her students to do well. She is also very willing to meet to discuss and review the term paper.