Thaddeus Russell

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

May 2006

He is pretty entertaining professor who teaches in an unusual style and isn't afraid to make his viewpoints known and admits his biases and the directions he is going to take the class and why. While I found it a bit odd to be so openly opinionated for a survey class, I suppose all history is biased so admitting upfront and expressing it openly isn't so bad. Reads over a lot of primary sources in lectures and goes over them which I found a bit unusual as well, but got to be pretty entertaining. This class is not dry by any means but not spectacular either. He is also a very friendly professor and fairly easy on grading and workload.

Apr 2005

The man can be an ass, and is proud of that, but take his class anyway. No one has ever made boring, confusing parts of history interesting like he has. My love-hate is strong, but as much as I want to pull out my hair at the end of class, he is an invaluable professor and Columbia is stupid for letting him go...last chance, get on it.

Jan 2005

I completely disagree with the other review written about this colloquium. TAKE THIS COURSE! This class, like all other Thad classes, was intellectually stimulating, engaging, and the highlight of my week. Although Prof. Russell is certainly a liberal, he makes his views clear from the get-go and not only welcomes his students to argue his theories, but seems to thrive on the challenge. He makes a genuine effort to make sure that each and every one of his students does well in the class and really grasps the material. That being said, the readings, while mostly very interesting, can be very repetitive and tend to drag on. As good as the course was, it is as much a factor of who else is in the class as it is effected by the professor. Overall, the colloquium was by far one of the best courses IÂ’ve ever taken at Barnard and made me proud to be an American Studies major.

Nov 2004

Thad is terrific. I loved him as a professor, he was great on a personal level, and, despite his height and presence, he is easy to talk to, even if you disagree with what he says. His lectures are interesting and interactive, and the readings he assigns add greatly to the class. That said, he is biased like none other. This may be part of what makes him a good lecturer, but it is definitely something to keep in mind while taking his class; but, on the upside, at least you know exactly where he stands.

Jun 2004

I enjoyed the class and the professor. Obviously, he could not have covered everything, but he managed to do a very good job, covering the major themes of pretty much all the time periods (including Clinton and Bush), particularly concentrating on the importance of work and family in politics and culture. Understandably, the lectures are packed. He does go pretty fast, but you don't need to write most of it down, so no worries and enjoy.

May 2004

Russel is an amazing lecturer. He talks a lot and VERY quickly but the lectures are interesting, interactive, and fun. He has a lot of Barnard pride so if you're CC, GS, or SEAS don't get too offended. My one main criticism is that he manipulates the facts to support his arguments so under no circumstance don't take his lectures as pure fact. He tends to ignore the other side of the argument and it's very easy for him to brainwash you because he seems very knowledgeable. If you would like to argue with him he's approachable after class and makes you think that he's open to other interpretations. While this may be frustrating it is definitly worth it to argue with him. Also discussion section is a good time to discuss what you agree/disagree with. Overall good class but you must investigate all the facts before you make a judgment about anything he tells you.

Jan 2004

I agree with what one other reviewer said. This class is definitely taught in the style of an upper level high school history course (think AP but less memorization). Thad lectures and the class takes copius amounts of notes. He's a labor historian, so he tends to focus on his area of expertise which can get boring if you're not all that into the labor movement. Reading is light for a history course. He mostly emphasizes the documents that he expects you to analyze. With that said, it's an OKAY class. A note on his grading style. He gives you the essay topics in advance for the midterm and final, but it seems no matter how well you prepare, he just doens't give out As on the exams. But if you want to be truly inspired, take Mark Carnes' 'America Since 1945'. You will not be disappointed. Guaranteed.

Jan 2004

I love professor Russell - and not because I am a groupie. He knows his stuff and he is genuinely interested in what students have to say. I was able to participate and have some interactions with him without being a groupie (this was the first class I took with him). The class is challenging enough but not difficult (very light reading) and above all else, the material is so interesting it's hard to not look forward to his well-organized lectures. Though are often loaded with terms and dates, you don't have to get everything down because he gives possible ID terms and essays for both midterm and final. Professor Russell is a labor historian and teaches lots of pop and working-class culture. He's not big on politics and usually only teaches them as background. He is also big on primary texts, if that is your thing. You read 3-4 every lecture - compiled in a coursepacket. A good lecture to take if you want minimal commitment and maximal interesting material.

Jan 2004

Stay away! Unless you are a flaming radical you will hate this class. Unfortunately, you probably have to take it for the major. I often felt I was at an unsophisticated rally rather than in a classroom. As for the teaching, Professor Russell if very arrogant for his young years, and his lectures don't require careful reading. He is also really hard to get in contact with...this was especially true when the final 4,000 word paper was due and he suggested I change the focus of my paper less than two days before it was due...then he gave the class an extension on the first day of finals. Result: one hell-bent week.

Dec 2003

This was like an above-average High School class. Thad is a nice guy, and he's well organized, but the class is not particularly challenging. There's hardly any reading, and in the end, you get a basic grasp on what happened and when, rather than anything that academic. As an English major, this was a nice class in which I could take it easy and learn a little that I should have picked up in AP US.

Mar 2003

thaddeus, or thad as the ladies like to call guy, good lectures, interesting readings, and full of himself. much of this is attributed to the barnard groupies that worship him. much like the other kid said, if your not a radical, or someone who will say exactly what he wants to hear, then unfortunately he is a waste of your time. his ta's were great--good comments. but when he grades himself there are no justifications-even if you ask. too bad-if he could get over himself he would be a great professor. might be worth it for the material.

Jan 2003

By the end of September, I started to wonder why everyone wants to take this class. Using responses from the essay on the application, he chooses all the radical students as well as his favorites to be in the class. If you don't fit into these categories, and you happen to make it in, you won't get much talk time. He'll cut you off in favor of someone who will say what he wants to hear. He argues with students until they conform to him opinion wasting lots of class time. However, the readings are great, and he incorporates music and film into the syllabus.

Jan 2003

I feel I may have learned the most from this class than I have from any other at Barnard/Columbia. Russell helped explain the extremely difficult and dry readings from Marx, Foucault, and Gramsci into something palpable and relatable to our lives. Eminem was a current running through our class that we kept coming back to in light of our discussion about race, class, and discipline. This class covered such diverse and interesting topics as slavery; the struggle of black and working women to gain autonomy in an oppressive workplace in the 20th century; zoot suit riots; blackface; and wwii film propaganda (to name just a few!!). I liked Russell's teaching because he really challenges students' arguments, and makes themdefend and take responsibility for their opinions, and tries to let students with opposing points of view argue it out. He really makes you think creatively and thoroughly. I highly, highly recommend this course. It is meant for American Studies majors, but if you can get yourself in otherwise, I would do it.

Jan 2002

Thad is a fantastic teacher. I would major in him if it were possible. He is both interesting and knowledgeable and is an expert at creating interesting class discussions. He is so smart, and funny and he is so so so great. I cannot stress enough how awesome he is! Take any class you can with him.

Dec 2001

I LOVED this man. He finds out where people stand on issues and then pits them against each other, stands back, and lets them argue. I took a role playing class with him, so he didn't lecture much (only a total of six classes), but the lectures he did give were amazing, and I loved the class. If you like public speaking and debate, reacting is definately for you.

Jan 2000

Young and fiesty, Russell is excited about teaching and exciting as a lecture and discussion leader. At first, I wasn't sure if his sarcasm and pretendings to ignorance of the material (to stimulate discussion) were working. Now, I know they are not working... Instead, his incorrigibleness has made him trustworthy, because he is predictable. But, his stubbornness translates well to an attitude towards history that raises eyebrows at idols and prizes innovation in the work of history. He wants to move the field forward, and he has the background knowledge, the sense of what's exciting about the field, and the student rapport to do it.