Myles McDonnell

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Jun 2008

Here was my chance to take a class with a well-known scholar of Roman history! Myles McDonnell was probably my favorite teacher because he actually CARES about the information and has been to Rome so many times that it is impossible not to think of the social attitudes of Rome. There were many reasons that I liked Myles, mostly because he raises questions about the subject (Etruscans, Political Leadership, Vestal Virgins) that you don't often find in your reading. If you have an appreciation for the material, he will pick up on that facet and try to draw that out of you. Yes, there are things that he spends more time on..namely walls, and buildings and less on Livy and issues of women, but that you will get with every scholar. He's also a real person, so if you have an issue of not getting the work done, he will understand that. My laurels really go off to him! Vale Magister!

Sep 2006

Prof. McDonnell is a very nice guy and ridiculously knowledgable about Roman history. That being said, the class could get boring as you realize that over time Roman history just endlessly repeats itself. He also fell quite behind on the syllabus and ended about 200 years short. He also packs a ridiculous amount into each lecture; I would have 6 or 7 sides of pages filled each class. The workload is not bad, a midterm, a final, a paper, and 4 maps. There are some reading but just skim them, though the total amount is not really that bad anyways. There is a discussion section; if you can, get James. All in all, a basic history class that should not be too bad, you just might get bored.

Jun 2006

I really liked this class; McDonnell was a very good lecturer, and the class was interesting. The readings weren't too heavy either. I'm not sure what else to say, but all in all it was a good class.

May 2006

Overall, I was really disappointed with this class. I looked at the syllabus on the first day and was excited about the readings and lecture topics, as I had no previous experience studying the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, it didn't take long (about a week) for Myles to fall behind schedule, and we never caught up. As a result, I feel like the course did a very good job covering the Roman Republic (he's more interested in that, anyway) but failed when it came time to focus on the Empire. We literally covered the last two hundred years in the final eights minutes of the last lecture, and that is simply unacceptable. I know the syllabus was a tall order, but I think we could have stayed on track if Myles had been a more disciplined lecturer. He obviously knew his stuff and was even kind of funny (his anecdotes about other historians are gold), but that doesn't change the fact that this course lost momentum and fell apart at the end. (Attendance reflected this; the class became smaller with every lecture until the final week.) I definitely wouldn't take another course from him (and I'm a history major).

May 2006

First of all, the course title is misleading: the course goes up to Constantine (d. 337) and comes to a precipitous halt. Anyway, this is a class worth taking. McDonnell is an engaging lecturer who packs a lot into every class. The occasional story is always priceless (you'll never forget the one about the nationalistic Italian archaeologist). Only serious qualm is with the pace of the class. McDonnell dwelled too long on the Republic and rushed the Empire, especially the late Empire. He covered everything from the soldier-emperors to the Tetrachy to the House of Constantine (read: a lot) in the last lecture. Still, if you go to class and do the readings you'll come away with a really good sense of the institutional structures and political and cultural norms throughout the Roman period, as well as a lot of chronology and terminology.

May 2006

this class was awesome. all mcdonnell does is give really interesting (although sometimes disorganized) lectures with his great sense of humor. the TAs do everything else, but they are smart and have sexy accents so it is ok. minimal work, so you can really just take it for fun. a fascinating topic, although by the end i kind of wondered what had possessed me to learn about so much trivia. we got really far behind on the syllabus, and as a result the second half of the semester was jumbled up and i didn't really know what to study for the final. for the midterm he gave out a study guide, and so it was really easy. this class has something in it for everyone, whether you're interested in women's issues, military history, science/technology, wine, good italian food, archaeology, or just entertaining stories. there were also many attractive men enrolled, making the class even more fun for me.

Dec 2005

Professor McDonnell's CC class is for a very specific type of student. If you're really interested in history and you want to have a lecture-driven CC class, then take him! If you enjoy class discussion, then do not take him. It's really as simple as that. Professor McDonnell will straight up lecture for an hour and a half. No Joke. He is a huge history buff and knows a ton of information. As such, he will lecture about the context of the book for a good hour and then will spend the next 30 minutes (yes, class is only 1 1/2 hours, he usually lets you out early) lecturing about the content of the book. Personally, I had a rough time with Professor McDonnell because of two reasons. First, 25% of your grade is "participation" and it's impossible to ever know what to do about it because there are NO opportunities to participate. I seriously think that eight people spoke all year and the rest just sort of sat around shocked when he would RANDOMLY ask a ridiculous question (e.g. "What is 'progress?' or "What does math help us do?"). He didn't even ask us our names in the beginning of the year so when people would raise their hand and force in a comment, he would just point at them and have no idea who they were. By the end of the year, I THINK he knew some names because people went to his office hours. Secondly, he assigns five essays. This is heavy for a CC class, but should by no means be a reason to deter you from taking his class. What SHOULD DETER YOU are his topics, which are utterly ridiculous and not CC-related at all. For example, we wrote one essay with the topic: "In a nutshell, what factors led to the Scientific Revolution?" This topic, while great for a history class, is a BOOK in the making, not a five-page essay, and is completely not textual! Another essay was also an extremely broad topic: "What caused the West to become a modern culture while the East is still a theocracy?" Not only is this essay a BOOK in the making, but it is extremely ignorant. In every essay, we'd have to work with Professor McDonnell's assumptions and just regurgitate class notes. I learned a lot in Professor McDonnell's class because his lectures were extremely informative and he would really cram a ton of information into the class session. Nevertheless, his essays, his "participation," and his attitude that really didn't make it seem like he cared about his students at all made the class unenjoyable overall.

May 2005

Fantastic class. Take it. McDonnell is a great lecturer who takes on a vast subject and organizes it in such a way that transcends chronology and terms (though there's massive heaps of those too). And on top of that, his stories about his Roman archaeologist friends are actually funny. Lectures were better at the beginning of the semester than later, primarily because he couldn't keep up with the syllabus and ended up missing a few lectures due to personal reasons. Still, the quality failed only slightly. A good way to fulfill your premodern history requirement.

Jul 2002

Professor McDonnell was awesome. He was engaging and funny in his lectures. The class fell very far behind the syllabus and so sometimes he moved through lots of material very fast. When he did, the lectures made little to no sense. Overall he was a fairly easy grader