course
Junior's Colloquium

Dec 2009

I very much enjoyed this class. No, Professor Bender never knocked my socks off in amazement, but the class really isn't structured for that kind of thing, anyway. It's a one-weekly seminar in which you discuss an important work of religious study and the theory behind it (later in the semester, you switch from an emphasis on theory to one on method). Sometimes the reading (often a whole book) took quite a while, but if you spaced it over a few days then it's not a problem. Discussions were very engaging, and I always felt like I had learned both a lot about the book itself and about the theory and method of religious study. There was one 6-8 page midterm paper (for which we were given topic questions) and the option to either write a take-home final paper or to research and write your thesis proposal (a great opportunity for majors to kill two birds with one stone). Professor Bender was engaging, she was very familiar with the subject matter, and she was both nice and welcoming. I went to office hours a few times and walked away feeling like it was time well spent, my questions answered. One thing to be aware of: Bender does not like to give paper extensions, so work to get it done on time!

Dec 2004

Platt is a kind, respectful, extremely intelligent man, and I loved his class. He really listens to and considers what his students has to say and never makes anyone feel that, in this case, her opinions or interpretations are invalid. I was really impressed at how quickly he can evaluate and idea and intelligently respond to it. I would definitely reccomend Platt to anyone who enjoys analyzing lit.

Aug 2003

I can't agree with the above review of Prof. Proudfoot. I think I can speak for most of the majors and concentrators who took this class with me in saying that this professor alienated the interested and did nothing to bring the uninterested in. The reading list isn't really his fault (well, maybe the inclusion of his own book is), but really much more could be done with this material, not to mention this subject matter. The key flaw is that his long-winded, noteless, graphic-less, disorganized spoken explications took up 1-1.5 hours of each class meeting. That's 50-75% of total class time. Then more time went to "student presentations", a Colloquiums 101 trick that i can't really get behind, especially when you ask a student to present on a book you wrote. The guy is smart and has a clear head for philosophy but is not well suited for running a colloquium on a topic as complex and emotional as "the study of religion"

May 2002

This course was a good experience. The readings were, for the most part, pretty interesting and a useful introduction to the study of religion. Discussions were usually lively, and the class has a good "vibe" -- lots of joking around. Prof. Bender is very nice and a good discussion leader, as was the TA. But not giving us a break in a two-hour long discussion class is pretty rough.