Elites In Democratic America

Oct 2011

I have taken Professor Khan's The Sociological Imagination and loved every minute of it. His energy, enthusiasm, and, sometimes, cynicism immediately convinced me to follow through with the major. I have not turned back since. When it comes to the intro material, Khan is an amazing professor. I was excited to take his course on Elites, since I very much wanted to have the opportunity to take a class with him again. I was unfortunately very underwhelmed. Once again, Professor Khan's lectures are superb. However, his approach to the class (historical, sociological, and literary texts in a single themed "module") did not fit my tastes. The texts were very well chosen, but I personally found many of them not too interesting. Additionally, his lecture style was a bit all over the place, which I feel works in an introductory course, but just confused me here. He usually would supplement a text by going through a "Sparknotes" version of more classical accounts of that phenomenon. Oftentimes, I found he would try to tackle too much in a lecture, which made the overall experience unsatisfying. Professor Khan is clearly well-read and does knows what he's talking about. He also explains these authors fairly well, and always checks himself to stay away from academic jargon. Still, this does not mean that to bring in all these ideas is appropriate for an undergraduate class. He throws a ton of ideas at us and gives us no opportunity to practice or digest them, nor does he even suggest that we do this. I felt as though we were being trained in "who to source" without being give the opportunity to practice these ideas. It is possible that Professor Khan works better with broad material; by the end, I felt most fulfilled by the lectures as "a place to go to hear some cool ideas," and would treat it that way when I wasn't too tired in the morning. I have faith that he will revise his curriculum, since this was the first time for him teaching this class.

Apr 2011

Fairly straightforward course, a novel, empirical text and a theoretical text due every three weeks or so although you can easily skate by only doing one of the three readings every three weeks as the four paper assignments due periodically during the course of the semester are only on one of the three texts. Important to note that Khan informs his TA's to grade the papers poorly although he enforces a curve at the end to bring up the class average on these papers. One longer assignment due at the end of the semester.