Clifford Siskin

Jan 2005

Professor Siskin is a brilliant scholar whose passion for what he teaches is obvious. He is really interested in what his students have to say, and makes himself available outside of class. This was the first time this class was offered, and it was really remarkable. I always looked forward to it, and that says a lot for a 2-hour seminar. The first day I thought I would hate it, because the syllabus reads like the outline for a dissertation on Romanticism and social/political factors, and focuses on critical works a bit more than creative ones. Even though I was expecting a typical course on Romantic literature, I was not disappointed. It was absolutely fascinating. There are few scholars studying print culture the way Professor Siskin does (he relates it to today's "digital culture"), so you will learn something truly unique. The students were sucked into his interpretation so much that we developed a class vocabulary ("Writer-I," "Reader-I"). I was so taken with it that I used it as the framework for my English senior thesis. Professor Siskin brings things like Law and Order or science fiction movies into the discussion so you can relate the things you know as media to the things people in the 1800s knew as media. The previous reviewer seems to have found this condescending, but I found it refreshing. True, he lectured even though it was supposed to be a seminar, but I was never bored. I really appreciated how he used our weekly courseworks postings, referring to them and using them to further his arguments. So many professors require them but never really give you feedback. This time they didn't seem pointless. Don't miss your chance to take a class with Professor Siskin!

Jul 2004

This class was really awful. The prof. was condesending, bringing the material "down to the student level" by making lots of references to Sex and the City. Though I'm sure he's a nice man and he was readily available for office hours, the class itself was a waste of time. Oh, and he takes attendance, and takes it personally if you don't show up.