« Forward 50: You might actually know one of them | Main | What happens when you don't come to meetings »

November 25, 2007

Shmooze Course Guide


If you are philosophy student, take a class with Darwall because he is leaving for Yale. He is teaching the History of Ethics.

Mika Levakmonte teaches political theory. He is a great teacher. There is a quite a bit of reading and he is a tough grader. No busy work, though. He is an outstanding lecturer. You need to do the readings.

Elizabeth Anderson has a great dry wit. You never get bored in lecture or discussion. She is a difficult grader, though. She is teaching Global Justice. She will also write a law school recommendation for you if you do well in her class. That applied for her other class, but I don’t know if it applies in this class.


Psych 111: (Brian Malley): Had him for a social psych research lab, not this class. He didn't actually teach us a lot (might have been because it was a research class though) but personality-wise he's a funny guy and has a lot of research experience.

Psych 240: (William Gehring): As a teacher, I think Gehring is effective. The class was kind of challenging- there's a lot to remember for his tests, lectures are intense and you should take notes to help you understand the processes when you study for tests later.

Psych 323: (Nnamdi Pole): He's extremely detail-oriented, pretty thorough, and has a lot to offer students.

Psych 474: (Edward Chang): Didn’t have him for this class, but I liked his Abnormal Psych class. He expects a lot out of students. His discussion section was kind of a separate class from the lecture. Discussion was really informative though, and I learned a lot there.

Communication Studies

Comm 102: (Brad Bushman): Did not enjoy this class. Bushman kind of treats you like a 5-year old, explaining things really slowly and doesn't expect a lot out of you. You might be forced to take it because of a comm requirement... good luck.

Comm 371: (Paddy Scannell): Didn't have him for this class, had him for a Reality TV and Radio class. As a teacher, he's a little disorganized, but he's got a great personality and is great to be around. His accent alone (he's British) might be reason to take the class.

Political Science

Avoid William Clark.

Inglehart’s class is relatively easy, and the discussion was interesting. He is much better for small classes (e.g. POLISCI 389) than large ones (e.g. POLISCI 140).

Don’t take a class with Greg Markus unless you want to hear about the Detroit Project.

Don’t take a class with a visiting professor from Germany unless you want to pull your hair out.

Comparative politics is one of the best classes Lizzy ever took.

Don’t think that if a POLISCI course sounds interesting that it actually will be.

Don’t think that a course may look too advanced for you.

Keep up on the news when you are taking a poli sci course.


POLISCI 300 - Contemporary Political Issues… Lynn Rivers- former US representative…likes to talk extensively about her experiences.  Good for someone who wants to go into politics. Many short papers. EASY.

POLISCI 317- courts, politics, and society—Prof. Lawrence Greene.--- good overview of law.  Professor has been around forever.  relatively easy course.

POLISCI 389- Comparative Electoral Behavior- Prof. Jose Molina-  not a difficult class but the prof lectures by reading slides…one by one…extremely boring.

POLISCI 497- Jewish Political Tradition.  Prof. Zvi Gitelman.  Awesome professor but very demanding.  Difficult class. Hard grader.  Average grades are usually high C’s and low B’s. You learn a lot, though.

Another really great class that everyone loves is Law & Social Change (polisci 496 I think).  It's taught by Richard Bernstein & every single week he brings in a different speaker to discuss an aspect of legal social action which they had been involved in. Bernstein is really passionate and you can get whatever it is you want out of the class.


Art History

Matthew Biro is a good professor. He does photography and surrealism. He’s teaching HISTART 272 (20th Century Art: Modernism, The Avate-Garde, and The Aftermath)



Lots of people take environ classes for NS credit.  This is a good choice, but don't be fooled into thinking that they are necessarily going to be really easy.  Environ 201 is easy, but extreme weather has a lot of tests (I haven't taken it, but that's what I hear.)  However, even thought they can be easy, they cover really important and useful topics, so an environ class is always a good choice if you're looking for something.

Intro geology is a sweet course if you like geology, but the professor is a terrible lecturer.  he is really funny looking though and has a funny name.  But I still read my geology book sometimes when I don't have a lot else to do.  Which happens a lot.

Don't take a course with Michaela Zint unless you want to be infantilized.  She is knowledgeable in her field, but a really annoying professor.

ENVIRON 306 - GLOBAL WATER is an AMAZING class with a sweeeeet professor.  Not too hard either.

ENVIRON 309 - haven't taken it, but GIS is a very marketable skill, so if you are looking to make yourself marketable, you should take this class.

ENVIRON 418 - I hear Ivette Perfecto is an incredible teacher.  I haven't had him, but I am taking a class with him next semester, so come hang out with me and we'll see if he lives up to the hype

James Diana is in charge of the U-M bass fishing team.  He teaches ecology of fishes.  Who woulda thunk it?  Oh, but he's not that great of a professor.  Nice guy though.


Screen Arts and Cultures (Formerly known as Film and Video Studies)

When looking at SAC classes, there is a distinction between a SAC major and someone who is just dabbling in the department.

To take production classes, you need to have taken SAC 236-Art of Film (which is a class I would recommend)

SAC 309 - Take Screenplay as Literature, taught by Victor Fannuchi. In the class, you learn how to analyze screenplays. You read 10 of the greatest screenplays ever written. It is also cross-listed in English

Mark Kligerman is a great teacher. He teaches a number of classes: from French cinema to sci-fi. He’s a great guy (Jewish, also). This semester, he is teaching SAC 366 (The Road Movie and American Culture), SAC 441 (French Cinema), and SAC 455 (Post-classical Hollywood Cinema).

SAC 351 - Richard Abel is a great teacher. He’s teaching early film history.

It is not being offered next semester, but you should look into to taking Perspectives of Shakespeare in Film. I believe it is offered in the fall.

If you have taken SAC 236/290, take Screenwriting with Terry Lawson.

If you are looking at spring courses, that’s the best time to check out the film classes, especially if you are not a film major. They will often test out the niche classes then, which can be really interesting.



The three most oft-mentioned professors in Shmooze meetings are Eric Rabkin, John Rubedeau, and Ralph Williams. You should look into taking their courses, but they are hard classes to get into.

Ralph Williams - He is a university legend. If you have never taken a class with Ralph Williams, that is why you need to take a class with him. Rumor has it that this will be his last semester at Michigan. He’s offering ENGLISH 483 (Primo Levi –just one credit [I audited this class two years ago and it was a great decision]), ENGLISH 371 (1600-1830 Literature), ENGLISH 401 (The English Bible: Its literary aspects and influences). He is also involved in Great Books.

Eric Rabkin – What I’d like to suggest to you is that you take this class. He insists upon excellence from his students while he demonstrates (daily) that excellence in English education—whether in terms literary theory, innovation, or tangential anecdotes—still exists. Texts are engaging (and quite manageable), lectures are well-structured and informative, and weekly responses comprise most of the course grade. He teaches ENGLISH 313 (Science Fiction) and ENGLISH 417 (Graphic Narrative). If you can take the graphic novel class (I’m not quite sure whether non-English majors/non-seniors can take it, but everyone can take Sci-fi), take it. It’s a small class. If you are interested in it, it’s very cool. It’s a hard class to get into. In other words, he’s a pretentious asshole, but you’ll learn a lot. He once kicked Adam Milgrom out of class for doing a crossword puzzle. He was so intriguing that Shmooze programming director emeritus Aaron Kaczander created an Amazon.com listmania of the books he’d like to suggest to you: (books that are outside of the syllabus). http://www.amazon.com/Professor-nbsp-Rabkin-nbsp-What-nbsp-I-d-nbsp-Like-nbsp-To-nbsp-Suggest-nbsp-To-nbsp-You/lm/R2U4U7BK08DRSN/ref=cm_srch_res_rpli_alt_1

John Rubedeau – Take ENGLISH 325/425! Regardless of your major, this should be a prerequisite for graduation.

Another great English teacher is Julian Levinson; he teaches Jewish American Literature. He's a bit of a hard grader, you need to stay on top of the reading, but his class is a pleasure to go to.

A recommendation from a Shmoozenik from abroad: Take the New England Literature Program in the spirng. A testimony: It is the best thing I did in school (besides attending two or three Shmooze meetings). The professor is Rubedeau-esqu.

Not being offered next term, but keep in mind for the future: Jewish literature with George Bornstein. A great class, especially for Shmooze.

Joyce Meier is great. It’s essay writing. She teaches ENGLISH 326 (Community Writing and Public Culture)

Leigh Woods does a English/theater class ENGLISH 444. It’s intro to drama and theater. It’s very interesting. He’s a good guy, good teacher. It never hurts to familiarize yourself with drama and theater.

For senior English majors, take English 417 with Nicholas Delbanco- The Sincerest Form. You read 20th century American short stories and write your own.

English 225 - with Nick Harp specifically…excellent teacher… I think he also teaches 125 (or maybe 325). great writing coach. Topics of the course vary by semester. When I took the class, we had 4 writing assignments and we could write on whatever we wanted.



Environmental econ is a good class.

(I hope to expand this section but haven’t received any advice to pass on yet



Matt Lassiter won the Golden Apple Award. History of Suburbia is a fall class you should take it. He also teaches post-1945 American history.

HISTORY 201 - Rome is an easy class. It’s straight forward. Van Dam. It’s a great class. It can be part of your intro sequence for History majors and minors.

Paolo Squatriti is a good teacher in history department. HISTORY 391- Medieval Catastrophes and HISTORY 211 – Late Middle Ages

Jonathan Marwil- excellent professor, harsh grader, If you want something out of the class, take it with him.

History 384- Jewish History- Prof. Howard Lupovitch—awesome visiting professor. I don’t know if he will be back next semester because he only a visiting professor. But he has been at Michigan twice in the last two years, so odds are he might come back. If he does, take his class. It is awesome.

For the history-major in you, Social History of 20th Century American Wars is great. I think it may only be offered in the fall, the teacher is a hard ass, but it is definitely worth it and the reading is actually enjoyable.  For any history majors who need to fulfill their colloquium requirement, there's a class on the history of American Medicine (taught by Martin Pernik) that was really enjoyable.



Sociology 389 – Very little work. You go and tutor one day a week. There are many sections. You can even be taught by me (well, not myself but somebody with the same name)

Don’t shy away from things that sound stranger (e.g. Congolese Dance) because it might be the best thing that will ever happen to you.



You need to look at it two different ways: majoring vs. pop culture. For lower-level classes with no intention of majoring, try to find someone who has taken the professor. It’s all about the professor.

Any class with Richard Meisler is worth taking.

Bruce Conforth is another professor worth checking out


Hebrew and Jewish Culture Studies

If you have any questions about these classes, let me know. I haven’t found anybody to write about them for this course gudie but I could find answers to specific questions about professors.

HJCS 200 - intro to world religions.  great class--- co-taught by three professor….Williams (great), Jackson (awesome), ginsberg (very fair).




We will get a more thorough rundown of the psych department.

Psych 418- Psychology of Spirituality. Dick Mann.  Highly recommended.  Students grade themselves at the end of the semester (lots of reading, though).  Hard to get into the class…applicants must submit an essay about their experience with spirituality and Mann selects the class members.



For anyone who is quantitatively challenged, stats 350 could or couldn't be the way to go.  It knocks out your QR requirement and Gunderson has a reputation for being great. Being the number-hater that I am though, it was impossible for me to like the class (though I think most people do when it's taught by her)

And lastly, for any science haters, bio 118 is a nice, whole 4 credits with the reputation for being the biggest blow-off on campus. The teacher (Robert Bender) is absolutely nuts, but it definitely keeps class interesting. One piece of advice would be: study his old tests! Seriously, all his tests are largely based on old ones. And, for anyone looking for a 1 credit natural science credit: avoid Climate & Mankind, take Coral Reefs.

The following does not represent the opinion of all of our members or our parent organization, University of Michigan Hillel. It is just the compilation of the opinions of some of its members and receives the Shmooze Club stamp of approval.

Posted by irobi at November 25, 2007 04:10 PM


Login to leave a comment. Create a new account.