Overall, I enjoyed this class. We read 10 plays this semester plus a narrative poem and 60 sonnets, so it's very heavy reading. There are 5 response papers due throughout the semester, approximately every other week. A lot of people didn't put effort into them, but they are very helpful when prepping for the midterm and final, which is basically the same format. The final paper was supposed to be 8-9 pages, but Prof. Eisendrath cut it to 6-7 pages. Professor Eisendrath was good at facilitating class discussion with a 60-person class in a 200+ people lecture hall, but she did not finish analyzing each play every week and we had to often rush through some aspects of the discussion to finish discussing every play by the end of the semester. She also decided to switch the syllabus and read another play with less than 2 days' notice and postpone the other one for two months, which was irritating because I had already started reading the play.
Honestly, this is one of the best classes I've taken. I am a person who isn't all that fond of frequent class participation, and this is a class that involves a lot of participation, but Professor Eisendrath makes it seem so EASY. She is kind, thoughtful, and genuinely so so good at facilitating discussion. She considers everything everyone says so carefully and often helps you articulate the weird floating thoughts in your brain you didn't think were worth anything. Plus, she was super great about reading how we were feeling as a class. She could tell when we were tired, and would sometimes shift her plan for the day accordingly or just chat with us for a few minutes at the beginning of class to help us wake up. But beyond Professor Eisendrath being amazing, the class itself was so so interesting. There was a lot of reading, and a discussion post due weekly, but doing the reading was always worth it. I went into this class not knowing much about literary theory, and while I still don't know as much as many people, I do feel that working closely with texts that range from Aristotle to Walter Benjamin to Shakespeare to Freud has helped me think way more critically about what I read and how I read it. I also found the feedback I received on my paper really helpful and constructive, and the instruction we received before we even wrote the first paper really effective as well. If you're considering an English major at Barnard and don't know which professor to take Critical Writing with -- take it with Professor Eisendrath.
Professor Eisendrath specializes in Renaissance poetry, and while not specifically a Shakespeare scholar is very well versed in the material. Her lectures are interesting and entertaining, and she makes sure to encourage in-class discussion despite the large size of the class (60 students). Professor Eisendrath never pushed her own interpretations of the work, but allowed students to express their own while guiding the discussions. Key passages are read aloud by the students. Participation is strictly voluntary. The class covered a new play every week, and took a field trip to see a production by the visiting Royal Shakespeare Company. If you are a casual Shakespeare lover or need a literature class for a requirement, I would recommend this course.
Professor Eisendrath is PHENOMENAL - one of the best instructors I've ever had at Barnard/Columbia. She facilitates discussions well and is incredibly intelligent, approachable, funny, kind, and attentive. She also grades very fairly, provides thoughtful and helpful comments on papers, and truly cares about her students. I highly recommend taking a class with her.
Just noticed the dearth of reviews for Professor Eisdendrath so I have to say that she's a fantastic professor & nobody could regret taking a class with her. She's very knowledgeable in Medieval Literature & art. Before going into academia, she actually attended art school. She's so passionate that it's dorky, and this makes her really approachable. She makes a lot of time for students outside of class, even if you want to talk about something other than school. She's very reasonable in grading and will improve your writing a lot. She handles discussions very well, facilitating great conversation with pointed questions. I really recommend taking a class with her in her specialty, the Renaissance.
Eisendrath is the most attentive, knowledgeable, understanding, funny, and fascinating professor I've ever had. She leads really engaging discussions, knows everything about the Renaissance, and spends so many hours writing paper comments. Her passion for all things 1600s is palpable and that's really important when taking English requirements you ordinarily wouldn't have signed up for. The course goes beyond just the literature. She gives you an in-depth look at the history and politics surrounding each play. I recommend taking any course with Rachel Eisendrath.