literally i think he works here just so he can fight students who he thinks arent as smart as him and feel good about himself
This dude is pretentious and didactic, constantly waxing poetic about things he thinks are interesting but that everyone in the class is bored by. He's just kind of frustrating to talk to -- takes words out of your mouth, becomes really combative if you even deign to question the "genius" of the authors. Likes to name drop going to Oxford and Harvard every class. If you like those types of professors, you'll like this guy. But the class made me want to bang my head against the wall. Only good thing is that it is relatively easy.
Absolutely brilliant man. So intelligent and his assignments are designed to test creative boundaries; he does not assign yet more dry, expository essays. He is incredibly enthusiastic, invested in his students, and kindhearted. Should unquestionably have a gold nugget. He facilitates discussion well, is a dynamic lecturer, and gets so excited about everything that has to do with Samuel Johnson and the men and women who surround him. I learned more from this class and remember more than any other simply because of Basker's attention to important, relevant material and engaging class discussion. TAKE HIM, you won't be sorry!!
This truly is a great course. Upon first look, it may seem that 18th century literature would be a dry subject and perhaps it would be with a different professor, but with Professor Basker, who is impassioned and excited about this subject, the class is anything but dry. He is obviously very well-learned on this subject and it is obvious that he loves what he is teaching. He is very approachable and even requires that you meet with him at least once during the semester. I would definitely recommend this course, and probably any other course taught by him.
Professor Basker is one of the nicest professors I have encountered. Like other reviewers have mentioned, his passion for and knowledge of the Age of Johnson are obvious, and he wants every student to share his enthusiasm. In terms of the readings, I thought Basker did a nice job dividing the syllabus between Johnson/Boswell and other writings of the time. But, because they're from the 18th century, the readings could be convoluted and boring--I rarely felt like I understood them much on my own, which is why I was glad that Basker was there to illuminate the important and interesting ideas within. If anything, I wish he had framed the class as more of a lecture rather than trying to get the class to interact. Even if people did the reading, it seemed I was not alone in my troubles with interpretation. All in all, though, a pretty painless way to fulfill the English major pre-1900 requirement.
James Basker obviously loves 18th century literature. His sincere excitement is addictive. He's brilliant, but also very approachable. He was a Rhodes scholar back in the day, and is still working in some capacity for Oxford, I think. Be ready to speak up in class-- discussion isn't always a big part of the lesson, but he'll be disappointed and you'll feel guilty if he does ask for impressions or questions and everyone stares at their desks. This is a teacher you'll want to make happy.
What I really enjoyed about Professor Basker's class was that he was genuinely enthusiastic about everything he taught. Though I must admit, 17th and 18th century literature is not quite my choice area of study (frankly, I find it rather dull), just listening to him lecture about it made me want to enjoy what I'd read, or maybe wish I could've enjoyed reading it more (since usually about 90% of the reading went over my head). Professor Basker really succeeded in exposing why these works are so great and why they should be and have continued to be read -- and I guess I can't ask for much more than that from a compulsory major requirement I really wasn't that keen on taking to begin with.