I am also writing this as an alum. While taking Freshman English, I also struggled with the eccentric Ellsberg, trying to figure out what she wanted and how to get an A in her class. The workload was easy and the class, it seemed, a breeze, a cop-out to the more difficult professors offering the course. Now as an alum (who majored in English and now teaches English) I can say conclusively, no one at Barnard helped improve my writing like Ellsberg did. She was brilliant, teaching us to cut the self-important, self-indulgent "intellectual" nonsense out of our papers and condense everything into two pages. She taught us how to cut the superfluous out and say what you need to say as effectively and concisely as possible. She taught us that good writing was easy to comprehend, effective at conveying a point, and free of pointless popcorn words. "Simplicity is genius," as Einstein said, and Ellsberg taught us how to apply that to our writing. Super grateful I took her course and highly recommend her. Sure she was late sometimes, went in tangents, etc but she was so effective and taught us so much, I have no complaints.
I took Legacy of the Mediterranean for First Year English and I really loved Wendy. She has such an upbeat and happy vibe every class. Her enthusiasm and passion for teaching is great. She is very friendly and approachable and is always willing to help students. We read Euripides, The Bacchae, Hymn to Demeter, the Odyssey, Dante's Inferno, The Canterbury Tales, The Book of Margery Kempe, and a few short readings here and there. Even though I found some of the reading challenging once we went over it in class I understood it much better. I also really liked that the class size was small, it was about 14-15 students. So far Wendy has been my favorite professor at Barnard and I know other girls in my class really loved her too. I thought her comments and meetings were so helpful and I feel like after this class my writing improved. I definitely recommend taking a class with her! :)
Professor Johnston was a great although inexperienced professor. His goal was to teach us to write at a college level, and I think he succeeded in his goal. I came away from this class with a much better understanding of how to do a close reading of text and utilize it in a paper. I also really enjoyed the texts we read, although I was frustrated that in some cases we only read selections from the books, not the entire things. Professor Johnston was very good at moderating our discussions and keeping them on track, and seemed well-versed and knowledgeable about the information. In particular his knowledge of philosophy and art helped to make our discussions of the text even richer. One of my favorite instances in class was when he invited a friend of his from Princeton to come and give us a guest lecture about architecture in The Aeneid. However, Professor Johnston was not perfect. Towards the second half of the semester he was continually late to class, a couple times by more than 15 minutes. Also, his feedback on papers was often very difficult to read and attempting to meet with him in office hours was a little hectic since he has to hold them in Liz's Place because his adjunct's office is very small. Some girls in the class felt like he was unclear in explaining how to do close reading and felt frustrated by how he graded their papers but I didn't really have the same experience. Also, he took four weeks to turn in our grades for the class (he turned them in yesterday), which seems a little excessive to me given that we handed in our final papers on the 19th of December and we didn't have any final exams. I think as Professor Johnston gains more teaching experience these flaws will iron themselves out and those who take his class in the future will find if they work hard and pay attention they will have a rewarding experience.
Great Professor! Was not disappointed at all to have her as my professor. She's very friendly, funny, and humble. She is willing to meet with students after class to discuss about their essay. Professor Fredman really knows what she's talking about. Although her class meets 3 times a week I thought it was worth it. Her class really improved my writing skills. She is very easy-going and lenient, you can always email her if you have any questions. Usually for the essay she assigns us to write a rough draft first and she not only edits the paper but also give us a predicted grade. So that was fantastic because you know what she expects from you and you can correct it on your final draft. During class you pretty much discuss about the readings or else peer-edit your essays. It was a fun class!