Love and Literature

Dec 2020

I really enjoyed this class, although I can see why some might not. Even though the class was small (around 16 people), Professor O'Keeffe taught it mostly like a lecture. Class time was largely devoted to him explaining the texts on a line-by-line or paragraph-by-paragraph basis, although, towards the end of the class, there was more participation from the students. This class is great if you like a low workload: you never have to do the readings, as he explains them all VERY thoroughly in class. There were 3 papers, each about 2500 words, that made up the entirety of your grade. I got As on all of them with decent effort; I never conferenced with him or sent him a draft, and I wrote them all in the three or so days before they were due. Taught over Zoom, I thought this class was excellent because it was very easy to just sit back, take notes, and zone out/check your phone whenever you felt the need to do so. Even though this is a higher-level French class, Professor O'Keeffe spoke in English almost as often as he spoke in French, especially when he was explaining a difficult point. Even some of the texts we read were in English. Overall, this is a great course if you're interested in the subject, and you want a class that won't stress you out, as long as you're confident in your French paper-writing abilities. The pacing was a little off, as we rushed toward the end and spent way too much time on the texts in the beginning, in my opinion. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this class and Professor O'Keeffe's teaching style.

Dec 2020

OKeeffe definitely knows what he's talking about. The class tends to take on more of a lecture format rather than a discussion-based class, but he is always open to any input from students, it really just depends on whether or not you speak up. I found his lectures very helpful because the reading was super confusing (the first half of the course focuses on french philosophy)and I usually needed it to be broken down and analyzed. OKeeffe switches back and forth between French and English but mainly sticks with french.

May 2017

Of the two classes I've taken with O'Keeffe (one in French, one in English), I've found that they have a similar structure. You have 4 essays that will be your grade (despite what his syllabus says, with several more writing assignments than we ever actually do) and you basically get some reading for every class. Sometimes you read one or two books, but mostly it's texts that he scans for you (either literature texts or philosophy and academic discourse on the subject). It's clear the man knows a fair amount of what he's talking about, and that's basically what he shows you during the class. You essentially come to class and he talks for the entire period, with some engagement from the class. If it's a particularly exciting topic there may be more of a back-and-forth dialogue, but I've found that fairly reliably you can go to class and expect to be talked at for the entire time. I know that he says he gives mostly Bs, and that he reserves the As for good work, but I'm not entirely sure how true that is. I got A's in both classes that I took with him, even though I feel my writing in French is not really up to snuff. Regardless, it's not impossible to get an A. I will say it is near impossible to get an A+. I have gotten only a single A+ on an essay, and it was because I based an argument of mine on a Said essay that I had picked up in another class (Black Paris with Brent Edwards). I based a lot of my essays around Derrida, Levinas, Butler, Said, and Hegel (and if you mention hermeneutics and the hermeneutic circle you're golden), and if you stay within that milieu, you should be able to find something that he's going to like. He doesn't necessarily have to like the philosopher to give you a good grade (after all, he had Things to say about Said's Orientalism on my paper, but I still got the A+), but he will tend to find your argument more interesting/persuasive/engaging if you stay around that region of philosophy. His classes aren't incredibly difficult, and I tended to shirk the reading a lot because he goes over it very thoroughly in class. I used his courses to fulfill some of my Barnard 9 ways, and overall it wasn't such a difficult thing to do because his classes are fairly lax.