Russia and the Soviet Union in the 20th Century

May 2015

This was a pretty good class. Lectures could be a bit dry but informative - i learned a lot about Russia. He was earnest and passionate about his material.

Apr 2013

Overall, I definitely do not recommend Professor Amar's class. He is a very nice guy, but his lectures can literally put you to sleep and can be difficult to follow.Personally, I think the history of Russia and the Soviet Union is fascinating and am very interested in it, but he manages to make the subject painfully dull. There is really just no reason to waste your time in a class as mind-numbingly awful as this one when there are so many amazing professors in the history department that teach great courses with really interesting lectures.He does not take attendance, so I would recommend taking the class with a friend and that way you can switch off who has to go and take notes. If you do take the class, be very, very strategic about which TA's section you sign up for. Professor Amar does not monitor the TAs at all to ensure that grading is standard across the course, or to make sure each discussion section is more or less doing the same thing, and as a result whether or not you get a good grade is pretty much pre-determined by whichever section you are in. If Alana Hein is one of the TAs, do NOT sign up for her section. The discussions are a waste of time, and she is very unclear about what she expects from you. The class has well over 100+ pages of reading per week, and she expects you to print out a hard copy of every single reading every week (so even if you do the reading on an iPad or whatever, you still have to go kill a bunch of trees before class). She will also be overly critical of details in papers that I assure you no professor would ever take points off for. The average grade from her sections on the first short essay this semester was a B-. Also, be sure to sit closer to the front in lecture because Professor Amar has a thick accent which can be difficult to understand from the back rows.

Sep 2011

The class was interesting, but I don't know if I would recommend Amar as a professor. To begin with, he is extremely knowledgeable about Russia and the Soviet Union. He knows his material really well, never failing to answer a question. He is also very obviously passionate about what he does, and seemed to put a lot of work into making the lectures information-packed and intriguing, preparing a powerpoint of interesting pictures and telling us anecdotes. He is also very helpful when it comes to papers. Amar is approachable and will actually spend a long time talking to you about your paper if you go to office hours. He will suggest multiple paper topics, giving you a lot of guidance, and he will also suggest what the best thing to write about would be, guiding you rather than leaving you in the dark. That said, I wouldn't say he was a very good lecturer. This is possibly because he was young and not too experienced, but he almost always let us out at least 5 minutes late. He didn't seem to really know how to plan his class, resulting in his not being able to cover everything he should in lecture. He would spend an excruciatingly long amount of time on whatever his first few points were, only to confusingly rush through the last ones. I also didn't feel as if I gained any profound insight from him. He's smart and a good guy, yes, but does not take the extra step to really make you passionate about the material (as Prof. Wortman does).