Here's the deal: In Schuessler's class you have to take the good with the bad. The bad parts might be considered to be things like doing workbook exercises (yes, like in high school), attendance and participation counting for your grade and what some might say is self-propaganda (i.e. bringing in books he authored, talking repeatedly about his personal friendship with elena poniatowska, when he met Marquez, etc). That being said, Schuessler has a lot of good points too. The reading really isn't too heavy and he leaves plenty of room for discussion. He will entertain just about any remotely affiliated comment and he does have an honest-to-God extensive knowledge of all things Latin-American related (especially women writers of the 16 century)... he did get a Fulbright after all. He does pick favorites, but just about everyone in the class did well - the lowest grade in the class on the midterm was an 85. So. In terms of logistics, his accent is super clear, he speaks pretty slowly (that's on purpose though) and he appreciates effort and intellect. I'd definitely recommend it - whether or not you find his personality pleasant, you will either way end up with a nice intro to major literary movements and pieces in Latin America.
The topics discussed in class are important to Mexican history and women and are enlightening. Some of the articles chosen to be on the reading list are redundant. Still, for the most part, they are interesting and fill you in on a lot. The presentations in class were helpful, but Schussler always interrupts your presentation to correct you and / or add, like, a 15 minute commentary. Seriously, he'd go on a tangent for 15-20 minutes in the middle of people's presentations and we could never finish the assigned presentations of the day. Still, he's so intelligent. He has so much knowledge that he can't help but to interrupt and, when he does, he gives you only awesome information. But interuppting is still rude and nerve-wrecking at first. Then you get used to it and he even jokes about it. He's a great guy and intelligent professor, but needs to learn to facilitate discussion, especially in a class of 12. lol. You may well get away without doing any of the reading since the classes are purely based on student presentations which summarize the readings. We never get to analyze / discuss them 'cause he .... interrupts!
I feel compelled to write a review to counter all the negative reviews about Schuessler. I really valued this class, a requirement for the Spanish major, because it gave me a truly solid core of Latin American Literature; abroad in Latin America I was the only (North) American student who knew the literary references in my literature and anthro classes. Do not take this course if you are not interested in the subject -- it will be a bitch, I do not doubt that. I tutored a student who took his Intro to Literary Analysis and I understand why it was so frustrating for her -- he assumes that Spanish will not be an issue for you, and that you are interested in the subject, want to be there, and are willing to work.
He is obsessed with himself. This love can at times make the class extremely entertaining but not always. He is extremely condescending. He will like you if you have a perfect accent, but correct you on every single word if you donÂ’t. Yet I will say that he is extremely fair about moving assignments and tests to more convenient times for the class, and can even be a push over.
While I was aware the class was pretty boring at times, I really didn't mind for whatever reason. Prof. Schuessler is a nice guy (he modified the homework schedule when we told him we were having a hard time, he actually does like to talk to you, etc.) who has a lot of amazing experience in his field. The best part about the class for me was that it did help me improve my Spanish and prepare me for the literature classes I am taking now, even though I wasn't sure if it was helping while I was in it. You get a lot better at listening and reading especially. There is not a lot of focus on grammar, which was a problem for some. You write A LOT, but it is usually not graded so it is possible to not improve if you don't work hard yourself. Overall, this class could have been more interesting (but a lot of that was the lack of discussion, and that wasn't always the professor's fault -- more like we hadn't read the story and had nothing interesting to say) but it did it's job as a bridge between language classes and literature classes very well.
The only reason I took this class was to make my h.s. spanish teacher happy... I got a 5 on the AP... and I wish to God I had dropped it when I had the chance... This class was EXTREMELY boring and the largest waste of my time ever. The hw was ridiculously long and tedious...but I still managed to get an okay grade even though I missed a lot of class due to "sickness" When the class explained that we were dying from his workload though, Schuessler was understanding and modified the syllabus to help us out. He is generally compassionate but does not know how to make a class interesting at all... my favorite time in class was at the end of the semester when we read Garcia's play La Casa de Bernarda Alba aloud (this is probly because I had already read and understood this play in tenth grade!) He does give extra credit though...and dont work as hard as we did on the hw...he doesnt grade it, just makes sure you did it. The hardest thing is probably the exam...which was three hours long and guess what... i didnt write one of the essays and still did okay...dont do more than you reallly want to do...do as much as you can to get away with it. He also requires a lot of vocabulary memorization (which I also didnt really do)
Where to begin? If you can avoid taking a class with this professor, at all costs, please do so. Personally, I learned absolutely nothing from this teacher because of his disorganization, digression, and tendencies to show off all of his knowledge (such as his abilities to "speak" Latin, Italian, and French). I had to teach myself everything for the final (which counts for 40% of your grade). We had no grades throughout the course, and so it was impossible to judge how I was doing. I dreaded attending each and every class- they were boring (I looked at the clock every 5 minutes, praying it would end soon) and I came out only confused. We never even learned anything about literary analysis! I cannot possibly begin to explain the misery this man caused my classmates and myself.
If the hallmark of an awful teacher is the required memorization of hundreds of irrelevant terms, and the inability to respect your students, then Michael Schuessler ought to win some sort of prize. His class pets (a handful of Barnard freshpersons) sat in the first row and soaked up any affection or good humor that he may have had. While the literature itself isn't hard, he doesn't bother to explain it, instead choosing to lecture on several hundred slides, which are the subject of his midterm and final (I thought this was a lit class!?!). It's a requirement for Spanish majors, so try and wait until someone else is teaching it. Your GPA and your sanity will thank you.
I hated that class. The man is boring as sin...you'll sit there staring at the clock until class is over or have some serious doodling time. (My notebook has quite a collection of artwork) There is no real conversation in the class - so don't take this class to improve your Spanish. If you like history or Mexico, maybe you'll like this class. But, no guarantees. After this class, I learned that there are no countries in Latin America other than Mexico. This man has studied Nahuatl, as in the language of the indigenous Mexicans, and thus, expects you to know it too for the midterm and final. If you've taken any of his classes before, by all means, take more of his classes since you won't have to do any work! His syllabi are all the same.